Behind the Scenes With Project Harmony

Earlier today, we interviewed Senator Rick Santorum, who has been one of the driving forces behind the release on the internet of documents captured in Iraq and Afghanistan (“Project Harmony”). Santorum told us that he became interested in the issue when he read Steve Hayes’ original article on the subject in the Weekly Standard. He was appalled at the fact that there were approximately 48,000 boxes of documents, photographs, and audio and video tapes that were not being exploited. Santorum confirmed our impression that if it weren’t for Steve Hayes, this entire effort probably would never have been made.

Santorum began lobbying everyone he could talk to in the executive branch, from President Bush on down. Everyone he talked to agreed that it would be in the public interest for the documents to be made available to the public, but they were gunshy because the CIA and other intelligence agencies opposed releasing the captured materials. (Santorum agrees with our assessment of the war the CIA has engaged in against the Bush administration, but declined to speculate as to whether the intelligence community’s opposition was fueled, at least in part, by the knowledge that the documents would be helpful to the administration.) Santorum describes the administration as suffering from “battered President syndrome.” They have been so mercilessly abused on such flimsy grounds that they knew what would be in store as soon as a mid-level CIA bureaucrat leaked a story to the Washington Post about how the administration was “pressuring” the agency to translate documents that would be seen as helpful.

Fortunately, enough pressure built up in Congress, due largely to the efforts of Senator Santorum and Congressman Peter Hoekstra, to carry the day. The Harmony documents are now beginning to appear on the web.

But slowly: very, very slowly. Santorum is concerned about the snail’s pace at which documents are being posted–he described the pace as “unacceptable”–and he and Hoekstra are keeping a close eye on the situation to ensure that the intelligence community is not trying to frustrate the public’s ability to learn what Saddam’s regime was really up to.

The administration is handling this whole issue very cautiously, and trying to look forward rather than backward. Santorum says the administration’s policy will be not to comment on revelations that may emerge.

So let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that a meaningful quantity of documents will soon be released.

One last observation: I’d never spoken with Senator Santorum before, but he is a very impressive, very intelligent guy. The Democrats have him in their sights in November; you can help by going to RickSantorum.com and contributing money or signing up to work on his campaign. It could hardly be more important.

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