From Friday’s New York Times:
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.
Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”
Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.
Well, I don’t know about Iran, but I can certainly tell you that this is where I learned how to build my atom bomb. I’d already picked up some fissionable material at the local halal market and some aluminum tubes and other equipment at the Boeing Surplus Store, but I just couldn’t figure out the proper sequence for those damn nuclear firing circuits. Then the Bush administration put this handy-dandy how-to guide online, and I was well on my way towards making South Seattle a nuclear power.
Sure, it’s not much — ten, maybe fifteen kilotons tops — but I promise you, that’s the last time the District tries to close my daughter’s elementary school. (And if anybody from Sound Transit is reading this… you might want to consider putting the Graham Street station back on the Link Light Rail plans.)
All sarcasm aside, there’s a very serious point here, which can basically be boiled down to… what a bunch of clueless, blithering assholes:
The campaign for the online archive was mounted by conservative publications and politicians, who said that the nation’s spy agencies had failed adequately to analyze the 48,000 boxes of documents seized since the March 2003 invasion. With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents