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Saddam’s Support of Terrorism in the Philippines, And The Need for Outside Help With the Docs

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Stephen Hayes has the latest of what will be story after story emerging from the now available Iraqi documents:

SADDAM HUSSEIN’S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support–temporarily, it seems–after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group.

The danger in the overwhelming amount of information now flooding from the suddenly available docs is that MSM will simply shut down under the pressure of too many comfortable asssumptions upended.

In this respect the new docs are like the oil-for-food scandal trail –so vast and unweildy that ill-trained journalists simply throw up their hands and declare that no sense can be made of the mess.

We need scores of Claudia Rosetts and Stephen Hayes, but we also need some organization.

While the U.S. has stumbled badly in refusing open source media access all these years, the job of organizing the archive –which could proceed simulateously with the info treasure hunt under way– could be outsourced, and my suggestion would be to any major U.S. law firm that has handled complicated litigation in the Arab world. Such firms will have had the task of organizing very complicated sets of docs, arranging for their accurate and rapid translation, and of making sense of the overall themes and organization structure.

The White House should see to it that such an organizing authority is appointed, not to replace the scramble under way which has its veryu great uses, but to look long term towards making this pile of docs understandable to media and historians and any citizen interested in the data.

It might make sense to hire two such firms, each empowered to work with the public docs independent of each other –a sort of competition for clarity. Given that these docs are now open, there isn’t any security clearance issue, just a pressing need for a comprehensive layout of the material too long hidden on shelves.

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