Targeting Iraq, Part II: War and Occupation, 2004-2011, a New Digital Document Collection from the National Security Archive

The National Security Archive is now publishing a new collection of papers on American policy toward Iraq in collaboration with our colleagues at ProQuest. The 2,179-document Targeting Iraq, Part II: War and Occupation, 2004-2011 collection is important for academics looking at a variety of topics, such as:

  • The history of Iraq following the American invasion in 2003;
  • The establishment of a new Iraqi government and elections in Iraq;
  • Intelligence and national security;
  • American foreign policy in the Middle East;
  • Al-Qaeda’s presence in Iraq and US counterterrorism strategy.

The 77,706-page collection starts with the dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which the US had established after Saddam Hussein was overthrown, and ends with the withdrawal of all US combat troops in 2011 in accordance with conditions set forth by President George W. Bush. The documents shed light on a number of significant issues that have arisen over the intervening years, such as efforts to rebuild Iraq’s economy and security, American attempts to quell violence that was sparked by American presence in the nation, American influence over Iraq’s political and economic making decisions, oil legislation, and many more.

The documents, which were obtained through the submission of numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) requests, also cover military strategy, prisoner abuse, contractor misconduct, and the actions of private security companies, including Blackwater. Saddam Hussein’s execution for crimes against humanity is among the specific events included in the collection, as are the effects of American torture of Abu Ghraib captives and the American massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, al-Mahmudiyah, and Baghdad’s Nisour Square.

The vast majority of the documents in the new set come from the U.S. Armed Forces, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Coalition forces, United States embassies, as well as the Department of Defense. Others originate from the White House, Congress, international organizations, and non-U.S. governments.

Targeting Iraq, Part II builds on Targeting Iraq, Part I: Planning, Invasion, and Occupation, 1997-2004 and adds to and extends the knowledge in both of the Donald Rumsfeld’s Snowflakes collections in the Digital National Security Archive. The extensive set is limited by problems that also affect the sets previously mentioned: the U.S. government’s steadfast insistence on maintaining classification of information related to foreign, military, and intelligence policy; the agonizingly slow processing of FOIA requests coupled with the rising volume of documents that are born classified; and the incapacity of many federal agencies to effectively process and declassify electronic records.  There are additional challenges and delays when attempting to access documents that contain White House equities or are presidential records; this is due in large part to the fact that presidential records are not subject to the FOIA until five years after the conclusion of an administration.

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