Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb. [...]
[...]The government had received earlier warnings about the contents of the Web site. Last spring, after the site began posting old Iraqi documents about chemical weapons, United Nations arms-control officials in New York won the withdrawal of a report that gave information on how to make tabun and sarin, nerve agents that kill by causing respiratory failure.[...]
[...]Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.[...]
[...]In Europe, a senior diplomat said atomic experts there had studied the nuclear documents on the Web site and judged their public release as potentially dangerous. “It’s a cookbook,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of his agency’s rules. “If you had this, it would short-circuit a lot of things.”
The New York Times had examined dozens of the documents and asked a half dozen nuclear experts to evaluate some of them. [...]
A senior American intelligence official who deals routinely with atomic issues said the documents showed “where the Iraqis failed and how to get around the failures.” The documents, he added, could perhaps help Iran or other nations making a serious effort to develop nuclear arms, but probably not terrorists or poorly equipped states. The official, who requested anonymity because of his agency’s rules against public comment, called the papers “a road map that helps you get from point A to point B, but only if you already have a car.”
OK, I think everyone knows that the reason the New York Times ran this story is to damage the President and the Republicans in the run up to the election.
The story they want out there is that thru carelessness the Bush Administration has aided the Iranian Nuclear Program, thereby showing that the Republicans aren't the party that is serious about national security. Unfortunately that may not be the story they get.
After 3 years of the constant drumbeat of "Bush Lied, there were no WMD", "Sanctions were working Saddam had abandoned his WMD programs", and "Saddam was never a threat", what a lot of people are going to see is "48,000 boxes", "Cookbook" "Atom Bomb 1 year away", "Sarin" "Instructions for making nerve gas". I am beating that the next thought that goes thru their heads is, "Wait a minute I thought Saddam wasn't a threat".
Whether or not this will change opinion on the war I am not going to hazard a guess on. Whether or not it hurts Republicans I am thinking No.