Nuclear Bomb in Iraq in 2002 & Wikipedia as a WMD (Website for Message Distribution)

There was a NY times story today on a webpage stating this:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990’s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

European diplomats said this week that some of those nuclear documents on the Web site were identical to the ones presented to the United Nations Security Council in late 2002, as America got ready to invade Iraq. But unlike those on the Web site, the papers given to the Security Council had been extensively edited, to remove sensitive information on unconventional arms.
The deletions, the diplomats said, had been done in consultation with the United States and other nuclear-weapons nations. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which ran the nuclear part of the inspections, told the Security Council in late 2002 that the deletions were “consistent with the principle that proliferation-sensitive information should not be released.

was on a web located here: Interestingly, it has been taken down and wayback machine has nothing on it. Now the information was on the website back in April, but the NY Times brings it up today stating how it was irresponsible for this information to be allowed in the public. Perhaps that is so…

A couple related articles:
Today’s NY Times article
The Chicago Tribune’s take on the papers
A conservative blogger’s view on it: NY Times Story PROVES Saddam Was Making Nuclear Bomb

I’ve yet to judge the material, though I certainly can understand why it is being discussed this week. I’m interested in this from the geek aspect, because, to me, it is fascinating that this whole thing, which really just broke today, has already been covered over on WikiPedia. Wikipedia, a versioning tool, will keep all records of what was recorded here. Will wikipedia become a weapon in these political debates? What happen since wikipedia includes information that has been removed from a governmental site?

This is how Wikipedia summarizes the documents:

  • Document BIAP 2003-000654 was translated by Joseph Shahda and generated an article in the Weekly Standard. [18] The document is a memo from the commander of an Iraqi Air Force base requesting a list of “the names of those who desire to volunteer for Suicide Mission to liberate Palestine and to strike American Interests.” [19]
  • Document IZSP-2003-00001122, signed by a Ba’ath Party official, indicates that the Iraqis were worried about the Americans smuggling in and planting weapons of mass destruction (specifically, mobile weapons labs) in order to justify the invasion.[20]
  • Document ISGZ 2004-019920 is a letter from Iraqi Intelligence in 2002 warning agents to be on the lookout for Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The letter warns that Zarqawi and another individual are in Iraq and states that apprehending them is a “top priority.” According to the Associated Press (16 March 2006), “Attached were three responses in which agents said there was no evidence al-Zarqawi or the other man were in Iraq.”[21] ABC notes that “The document does not support allegations that Iraq was colluding with al Qaeda.”[22]
  • A series of “Sheen 27” documents show Saddam’s regime was very involved in training fighters in the use of “improvised explosive devices” or IEDs. In a news report by Laurie Mylroie, several documents are discussed that speak of “Arab Fedayeen” (i.e. non-Iraqis) and the use of “of the people” bombs. Mylroie asserts that one of the documents that was posted was then taken down. [23] The authors of the Iraqi Perspectives Project discussed these documents both in the report and in a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives (6 April 2006), indicating that Saddam was training a secular pan-Arab army. They wrote in the Foreign Affairs article about the documents, “In the years preceding the coalition invasion, Iraq’s leaders had become enamored of the belief that the spirit of the Fedayeen’s ‘Arab warriors’ would allow them to overcome the Americans’ advantages. In the end, however, the Fedayeen fighters proved totally unprepared for the kind of war they were asked to fight, and they died by the thousands.”[24] In the House hearing on this matter, defense analyst Lieutenant Colonel Kevin M. Woods noted that Saddam began recruiting foreign fighters into this army in the mid-1990s, and he described them as part of an “Arab liberation movement” that had been “part of Baath political philosophy going back to the beginnings of Saddam’s regime.”[25]
  • Other documents concern election laws in France, including correspondence from Iraqi intelligence “ordering the translation of important parts of a 1997 report about campaign financing laws in France.” ABC claims that these documents suggest Saddam’s “strong interest in the mechanics and legalities of financial contributions to French politicians.”[26]
  • One Iraqi document purportedly details a meeting on February 19, 1995 in which a representative of Iraq met with Osama Bin Laden in Sudan, who suggested “carrying out joint operations against foreign forces” in Saudi Arabia. Just eight months later, al-Qaeda operatives killed five U.S. military advisors in Saudi Arabia. There has been no evidence or suggestion of Iraqi complicity in that attack or linkage to the February meeting. ABC News, who reported on this document, further notes that “The document does not establish that the two parties did in fact enter into an operational relationship.” ABC also cautions that “this document is handwritten and has no official seal.”[27]
  • Another document claims that Russia had a mole inside the U.S. military who gave the Russians information regarding U.S. troop movements, information that was then forwarded to the Iraqi military. The Russians deny the story and some of the information the Russians reportedly passed to the Iraqis was incorrect.[28] According to ABC, “A Pentagon study released today concludes, however, that the information didn’t do Saddam Hussein any good because he never acted it on though it proved to be accurate.”
  • Another document suggests that the Iraqi government planned to respond to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq with “camels of mass destruction” — camels fitted with suicide bombs that would meet the invading army.[29] In another document, Saddam’s son Qusay orders captured Kuwaitis to be used as “human shields” against the invaders.[30]
  • Document 2RAD-2004-601189-ELC [31], is given the synopsis: “Abu-Zubaydah Statement on the Capability of al-Qaidah to Manufacture and Deliver Nuclear Weapons to the U.S.” Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in March 2002 and is believed to be the highest ranking member of al-Qaeda to be held. There is no indication that this document links Abu Zubaydah to Iraq in any way. Professor Fritz Umbach notes, “the ‘statement’ itself is nothing more than an Arabic summary of a 2002 CBS News story on Zubaydah’s claims. It has no identifiable link to Iraq, other than the odd fact that it appears on a U.S. government site billed as Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents.”[32]
  • Many of the documents seem to make clear that Saddam’s regime had given up on seeking a WMD capability by the mid-1990s. As AP reported, “Repeatedly in the transcripts, Saddam and his lieutenants remind each other that Iraq destroyed its chemical and biological weapons in the early 1990s, and shut down those programs and the nuclear-bomb program, which had never produced a weapon.” At one 1996 presidential meeting, top weapons program official Amer Mohammed Rashid, describes his conversation with UN weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus: “We don’t have anything to hide, so we’re giving you all the details.” At another meeting Saddam told his deputies, “We cooperated with the resolutions 100 percent and you all know that, and the 5 percent they claim we have not executed could take them 10 years to (verify). Don’t think for a minute that we still have WMD. We have nothing.”[33]
  • Document ISGQ-2003-00004530 dated Septemeber 15, 2002 is a memo from an Iraqi general about unspecified “chemical material” buried prior to 1998. Joseph Shahda translated the memo to read: “A team from the Military Industrialization Commission when Hussein Kamel Hussein was conducting his responsibilities did bury a large container said that it contains a Chemical Material in the village (Al Subbayhat) part of the district of Karma in Fallujah in a quarry region that was used by SamSung Korean company and close to the homes of some citizens.” Also: “No official visited the burial site through out the years which give the impression that it is not currently known by the Military Industrialization Commission.” One can deduce from reading the memo that the MIC made no serious effort to conceal this material from local residents, commissioning several overt lorry loads of cement in order to cover over the container, suggesting the buried material may have been some kind of hazardous by-product. [34] [35]

None of it is too “Top Secret”, but is this the beginning of the use of Wikipedia as a political tool? Look at the article, in the additional links in the middle, there is a link directly to a conservative blog. Additionally this definately relates to freedom of information, which is what Wikipedia is all about after all, but what would be the repercussions of the actual documents being fully recorded in Wikipedia? What would they do?

Any time it looks like top secret stuff or extremely sensitve issues are shown on a particular website, and it is likely that the raging storm in the media might result in the page being taken down, should we all grab a copy of it and rush on out to Wikipedia? Maybe that makes sense… Or maybe it will be the end of wikipedia’s impartiality and censorship by the public alone…

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