Santorum, Hoekstra seeking further declassification of WMD docs

In today’s Wall Street Journal Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Peter Hoekstra lament the sloth-like movement of the intelligence community in response to the lawmaker’s requests for declassification of documents containing proof that Saddam had WMD. Having succeeded in partial declassification proving the existence of various WMD including sarin gas, the duo are seeking further disclosure with the expectation that information regarding more WMD exist:

In fact, the public knows relatively little about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Indeed, we do not even know what is known or unknown. Charles Duelfer, former head of the Iraq Survey Group, stated that the ISG had fully evaluated less than 0.25% of the more than 10,000 weapons caches known to exist throughout Iraq. It follows that the American people should be brought up to date frequently on our state of knowledge of this important matter. That is why we asked that the entire document be declassified, minus the exact sources, methods and locations. It is also, in part, why we have fought for the declassification of hundreds of thousands of Saddam-era documents.

The president is the ultimate classifier and declassifier of information, but the entire matter has now been so politicized that, in practice, he is often paralyzed. If he were to order the declassification of a document pointing to the existence of WMDs in Iraq, he would be instantly accused of “cherry picking” and “politicizing intelligence.” He may therefore not be inclined to act.

In practice, then, the intelligence community decides what the American public and its elected officials can know and when they will learn it. Sometimes those decisions are made by top officials, while on other occasions they are made by unnamed bureaucrats with friends in the media. People who leak the existence of sensitive intelligence programs like the terrorist surveillance program or financial tracking programs to either damage the administration or help al Qaeda, or perhaps both, are using the release or withholding of documents to advance their political desires, even as they accuse others of manipulating intelligence.

We believe that the decisions of when and what Americans can know about issues of national security should not be made by unelected, unnamed and unaccountable people.

2 Responses to “Santorum, Hoekstra seeking further declassification of WMD docs”

  1. actus Says:

    Why don’t they just trust the president to classify things?

  2. TimChapmanBlog.com » Blog Archive » Santorum gives blogger exclusive interview Says:

    […] John Hawkins today posts an exclusive interview with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum is the third ranking Republican in Senate Leadership and faces the political fight of his life this fall against Democratic challenger Bob Casey, Jr. Hawkins covers the differences between Santorum and Casey in this interview as well as other issues. Of particular interest to me were Santorum’s comments on the recent revelations that the intelligence community has known about the discovery of certain Saddam WMD for a few years: John Hawkins: What do you say to people who now know that we discovered 500 WMDS in Iraq, that Saddam had stockpiles of weapons, and yet they still say, “Aww, that’s not a big deal. What does it prove?” What do you say to those people, Rick?Rick Santorum: Well, I say that it was one of the pieces of the puzzle that we believe helps put together the threat that Saddam was to this country and the world… One of the things that we asserted was that he had not destroyed his stockpiles of weapons from the previous war. We sent in weapons inspectors, as people will recall, not only to look at whether he had current weapons programs in place, but to determine whether he had destroyed the weapons he said he had destroyed. It is very clear that he did not destroy those weapons and that those weapons would have been available and unfortunately still are available to…terrorist organizations that could use them against us or other countries around the world. […]

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