Washington, DC, March 19, 2013 – The U.S. invasion of Iraq turned out to be a textbook case of flawed assumptions, wrong-headed intelligence, propaganda manipulation, and administrative ad hockery, according to the National Security Archive's briefing book of declassified documents posted today to mark the 10th anniversary of the war.
The Archive's documentary primer includes the famous Downing Street memo ("intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy"), the POLO STEP PowerPoint invasion plans (assuming out of existence any possible insurgency), the FBI interviews with Saddam Hussein in captivity (he said he lied about weapons of mass destruction to keep Iran guessing and deterred), and the infamous National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (wrong in its findings, but with every noted dissent turning out to be accurate).
"These dozen documents provide essential reading for anyone trying to understand the Iraq war," remarked Joyce Battle, Archive senior analyst who is compiling a definitive reference collection of declassified documents on the Iraq War. "At a moment when the public is debating the costs and consequences of the U.S. invasion, these primary sources refresh the memory and ground the discussion with contemporary evidence."
A decade after the U.S. invasion of Iraq (March 19, 2003), the debate continues over whether the United States truly believed that Iraq's supposed WMD capabilities posed an imminent danger, and whether the results of the engagement have been worth the high costs to both countries. To mark the 10 th anniversary of the start of hostilities, the National Security Archive has posted a selection of essential historical documents framing the key elements of one of America's most significant foreign policy choices of recent times. The records elucidate the decision to go to war, to administer a post-invasion Iraq, and to sell the idea to Congress, the media, and the public at large.
The Archive has followed the U.S. role in the war since its inception and has filed hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests for declassification of the underlying record. As the government releases these records, the Archive regularly makes them available on its Web site. In the near future, a significant collection of freshly declassified materials will appear as part of the "Digital National Security Archive" collection through the academic publisher ProQuest. (In the shorter term, visitors may visit our new Iraq War page for a compilation of currently available declassified materials on the subject.)