Archives in Wartime: From WWII to the Invasion of Iraq
Roundtable discussion of the controversy surrounding the Iraqi state records seized during the United States invasion of Iraq. A panel of archivists and historians will examine the tangled issues which arise when government records are captured by invading forces.
From the first days of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, United States forces seized official government records created by Saddam Hussein’s regime and exploited them for valuable military intelligence. Millions of pages of these Iraqi state records were then transferred to the United States for further research. Digital copies were even made available to scholars, providing a wealth of new insights into the recent history of Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Yet their continued storage and use in the United States remains controversial. The Iraq National Library and Archive has repeatedly demanded the immediate return of all archival material captured during the war, arguing that these records are an inalienable part of Iraq’s national heritage. Negotiations have dragged on as it remains unclear if Iraq is truly ready for these records, which document decades of suppression and abuse, and contain the names of both informants and targets, perpetrators and victims alike.
The seizure of these Iraqi records is not without precedent, as archives are routinely captured by enemy forces during wartime. “Archives in Wartime” will feature a panel of expert archivists and historians who will discuss the current dispute over the Iraqi records within this larger historical context, examining the complex political questions at stake, as well as the tangled legal, historical, and archival issues which arise when state records are captured by invading forces.
Trudy H. Peterson
Bruce P. Montgomery
History and Public Policy Program
The History and Public Policy Program strives to make public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, to facilitate scholarship based on those records, and to use these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs. Read more
Cold War International History Project
The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. Read more
North Korea International Documentation Project
The North Korea International Documentation Project serves as an informational clearinghouse on North Korea for the scholarly and policymaking communities, disseminating documents on the DPRK from its former communist allies that provide valuable insight into the actions and nature of the North Korean state. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. Read more