Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saddam on Document Preservation in War

While working on a longer post on the missing Kuwait National Archives that will be forthcoming, I came across an interesting passage in an audiotape of Saddam Hussein about preserving documents during war that was made available by the Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC).  The audiotape is CRRC document SH-SHTP-A-000-630 (link to translated transcript), which is from a February 24, 1991 meeting of Saddam and senior advisors regarding the Coalition ground campaign.  In the meeting Hamid Hammadi is reading correspondence between Saddam and Mikhail Gorbachev.  After Hammadi finishes reading one of the letters there is the following exchange (at pp. 10-11):
Saddam Hussein: When we are in a war, important documents must have two copies in two different locations. What if this location is bombed or burned?
Hamid Hammadi: Sir, I have a file cabinet and a safe.
Saddam Hussein: They are still in the same location. What I want you to do is have two copies in two different locations.
Hamid Hammadi: Yes, Sir.
Saddam Hussein: You must have at least two copies for such materials. You should send one to the Office of the Presidency and have another with you.
Hamid Hammadi: Yes, Sir.
A policy of preserving multiple copies of government records is, of course, useful to both a besieged government seeking to preserve administrative continuity following attack as well as to invading forces who may have two locations at which they could capture the enemy records.