Saddam papers come to Bay Area

June 18, 2008 12:42:59 AM PDT
A car bomb ripped through Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 51 people. It was the deadliest blast in the capital in more than three months. Meantime, historical insight into Saddam Hussein's reign in Iraq is now in the hands of researchers at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Amid the chaos of the U.S. lead invasion of Iraq there was discovery. There are volumes of records found in the basement of the Baath Party's regional headquarters in Baghdad. Seven million pages are now in safe storage at Stanford's Hoover Institution. Richard Sousa says the internal documentation of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime is meticulous.

"We should have a whole compete dossier of everything that happened from the initial thoughts we hope of what the party was thinking about and right up until the end of the regime," said Sousa, the Hoover Institution's senior associate director.

The original records were gathered by a U.S. non-profit organization called the Iraq Memory Foundation and turned over to Hoover Institution for preservation and public examination.

In addition to the Baath Party Papers, there are 300 hours of Baath videos and 150 individual testimonies.

Abbas Kadhim fled Iraq after taking part in a failed uprising against Saddam Hussein in 1991. Now a professor at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Kadhim says the high level communications will read like a horror story.

"They eliminated their rivals by exile, by murder, and many other oppressive means," said Kadhim.

The Hoover Institution has been trusted with 5,600 political and historical collections dating back to 1900. Some people feel the Iraqi records belong to the Iraqi people and should remain in Iraq. Kadhim wants them returned as soon possible. Richard Sousa says that is exactly what will happen.

"As soon as things quiet down, and we, we means the Hoover Institution, the Iraq Memory Foundation and the Iraqi Government agree that it's safe to move these materials back to Iraq, we will do that," said Sousa.

Digitized copies of the Arabic documents will be available for public viewing in September or October.