Friday, October 28, 2011

CRRC/Wilson Center: Iran-Iraq War Documents

The Conflict Records Research Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held a joint conference entitled "Iran-Iraq War: The View from Baghdad" on Oct. 25-27.  Coverage of the conference, including webcasts, is available here.  In conjunction with the conference media, both documents and audio, were published online by both CRRC and the Digital Archive of the Wilson Center's Cold War International History Project.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NY Times on CRRC's Saddam Collection

Great N.Y. Times coverage of documents from Conflict Records Research Center's "Saddam Hussein Collection." The piece is called "Papers from Iraqi Archive Reveal Conspiratorial Mind-Set of Hussein" with a related multimedia page with a sampling of documents.
Even in an age of WikiLeaks, such a detailed record of a foreign leader’s private ruminations — one that reveals his calculations and perceptions of American policy — rarely becomes public.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2003 doc on Iraq Jewish Archives

Following up on an earlier post on the ongoing controversy over the Iraq Jewish Archives, check out this document from Donald Rumsfeld (available at the Rumsfeld Papers Library) dated May 31, 2003 which is perhaps the documentary beginning of the controversy. Rumsfeld states:
I am told somebody found a cache of documents in the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Secret Police in Baghdad. The report indicates the documents are under water, and that some portion of them relate to the history of the Jewish Community in Iraq.
Rumsfeld also notes that he was "told that Hebrew University has offered to take possession of them, restore them and make them available in some appropriate way."



Saturday, October 22, 2011

From the archives: Vietnam War DOCEX Study

I've uploaded a 1968 U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) J2 "Study of the Exploitation of Captured Enemy Documents in SVN" (big file) which discusses, in some depth, document exploitation operations in Vietnam by U.S., Vietnamese, and Australian units as well as the work of the Combined Document Exploitation Center (CDEC) in Saigon. The annexes include examples of captured document reports and translations as well as a "Viet Cong Terminology Glossary."  Thanks to the Naval War College library for the ILL.
Other sources of information on Vietnam document exploitation operations can be found at Texas Tech's awesome "Combined Document Exploitation Center Collection Digitization Project" and in the U.S. Army's "Vietnam Studies: The Role of Military Intelligence, 1965-1967" (1994) written by Major General Joseph A. McChristian (see esp. "Combined Document Exploitation" starting at p. 32).  Microfilm of documents captured in Vietnam are also, of course, available at the National Archives, Record Group 472 (in particular see 472.3.4).

CDEC translators, photo from MG McChristian's Vietnam Study on Military Intelligence. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Threat of U.S. Court Action on Iraqi Archives

Here's a new piece by Mouhammed al-Tayyeb in AKnews, with a repeat of Iraq's Taher Hamud's threat to pursue an action in U.S. court for the return of Iraqi records from the 2003 war, this one focusing exclusively on the Iraq Jewish Archive:
The documents contained a trove of centuries old Torahs and Haggadas, in addition to marriage records, university applications, financial documents seized by the Iraqi secret police from the homes of Jews as they fled Iraq under pressure and amid persecution, with only a handful remaining.
Claiming the documents were the properties of the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government has been making efforts to return the documents, but to no avail so far.
“Iraq will go to the judiciary in case the relevant US committees continue the procrastination in handing over the Jewish archive and other national documents” said taher Hammoud.
Taher Hammoud, who is also head of a committee tasked with negotiating with US authorities to return the Jewish archive, said “The Iraqi Culture ministry is beginning to feel that the US is procrastinating” he said.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

in medias res: Update on Negotiations for Return of Iraqi Archives

How are the Iraq/U.S. negotiations over the return of Iraqi documents and archives going?  Not so well according to Radio Free Europe's Radio Free Iraq, which reports today in "Iraqi Official Urges U.S. to Return Archives":
An Iraqi official has called on Washington to return national archives that were transferred to the United States after the 2003 invasion of the country, adding that Baghdad may go to the courts to get the documents back . . .  
 Deputy Culture Minister Taher Hmud said in a statement on October 17 that Iraq had used diplomatic efforts through the Foreign Ministry in the past few months to try to get Washington to return the important Iraqi documents.
The article refers to several sets of documents from Iraq including those seized by U.S. Forces,  those "given to the Iraq Memory Foundation" which Hamud noted "are very important to Iraq and rich in information and details about the members of the Baath Party,"and the Iraq Jewish archive which was "taken to the United States for maintenance, but," the article quotes Hamud, "the Americans did not keep their word and did not give this archive back to Iraq."

The article provides some vague flavor to negotiations that appear to be continuing with U.S. officials:
Hmud explained how Iraq has been dealing in a "very smooth, respectful, and professional way" with U.S. officials when negotiating the return of the archives.
"We also abstained from sending a diplomatic note to the American side in respect for their will to negotiate in a practical atmosphere," he told RFI. "But now, Iraq is left with no other choice but to go to court -- whether here in Iraq or in the United States [in order to secure the return of the archives]."
* * * *
But Hmud also said Iraq is ready to go back to the table and negotiate in order to try and solve this problem, but only "if the Americans pledge to keep their word and promises," he said.
Back in May 2010 AFP and others were reporting that the U.S. "has agreed to return millions of documents to Iraq, including Baghdad's Jewish archives, that were seized by the US military after the 2003 invasion." The source then was also Taher Hamud who was quoted as saying:
We have reached an agreement with the United States, after negotiations with officials at the State Department and the Pentagon, over the return of the Jewish archives and millions of documents that were taken to America after the events of 2003.
Whether the reports of an actual "agreement" were accurate or overly optimistic is unclear. A much more extensive and nuanced report  by Iraqi National Archives Director Saad Eskander of the negotiations of an Iraqi delegation with the State and Defense Departments and the Hoover Institution in April 2010 was posted by Jeff Spurr on the IraqCrisis List on May 19, 2010 (located in the list archive).  In relation the Iraqi Jewish Archives see also the AP story from July 2011 called "Tug-of-war over Iraqi Jewish Trove in US hands."