President Bush Orders Saddam Tapes Release

President Bush has ordered that critical evidence confiscated by U.S. forces after they liberated Iraq be made public - including 3,000 hours of audiotapes of Saddam Hussein chairing his Revolutionary Command Council before the war and 48,000 boxes of records documenting his regime's military activities.

"This stuff ought to be out," Bush told National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley last month, according to the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes. "Put this stuff out," the president reiterated.

The president made similar statements during three separate meetings with congressional Republicans and several senior national security officials, the Standard said.

Bush's initial order came on Feb. 16, the day after ABC News broadcast snippets from 12 hours of Saddam audiotapes obtained by FBI translator and former U.N. weapons inspector Bill Tierney.

The recordings released so far strongly suggest that Saddam had hidden his weapons of mass destruction from weapons inspectors - and show the Iraqi dictator discussing previously unknown plans to enrich uranium as recently as 2000.
The Bush directive met with the enthusiastic approval of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra.

"This is a bold decision in favor of openness that will go a long way towards improving our understanding of prewar Iraq," Hoekstra told the Standard. "By placing these documents online and allowing the public the opportunity to review them, we can cut years off the time it will take to gain knowledge from this potential treasure trove of information."

Hoestra said that while National Intelligence Director John Negroponte had resisted the document release, his opposition softened in recent weeks.

The top Intelligence Committee Republican said Negroponte approached him during the Gridiron Dinner in Washington on Saturday to inform him that the new Saddam evidence would be made public.

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