Published June 11, 2006
Was Saddam Hussein a security threat to the United States? Did the Iraqi dictator have connections to Al Qaeda or other terrorist ties? What happened to the weapons of mass destruction everyone believed were in his possession? Did Saddam move them? Did they ever exist?
All of those questions have been dogging President George W. Bush and his administration since the start of the Iraq war. Politicians and respected U.S. military and intelligence officials have weighed in publicly on both sides of the debate, but until recently the general public has had little of the information necessary to make a fully informed decision on its own.
But that is changing.
The U.S. government seized thousands of classified Iraqi government papers when Saddam's regime was toppled, and Washington recently released a trove of these documents on the Pentagon's Foreign Military Studies Office Web site.
The documents, many in Arabic and with no accompanying translation, provide multiple insights into events inside pre-war Iraq. The dossier, however, is huge and disorganized. Digging out its secrets is a laborious task — one that the U.S. government decided to leave to others.
One of those who has taken up the challenge is Ray Robison, currently a military operations research analyst specializing in aviation and missile research in Huntsville, Ala. Robison served on active duty as a fire support officer for the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Wash. and as a Battalion Signal Officer with the 101st Airborne. His 10 years of active service include duty in the Gulf War and on peacekeeping assignment in Kosovo.
Robison also served in Qatar as a contractor for the Defense Intelligence Agency, working as part of the CIA-directed Iraq Survey Group (ISG) that examined efforts by Saddam Hussein to build and hide weapons of mass destruction, among other objectives. (The ISG's conclusion: Saddam had substantial WMD capability, but destroyed or otherwise disposed of much of it, though he retained the capability of restoring much of it should sanctions against him be lifted.)
Robison supervised a group of linguists to analyze, archive and exploit documents and materials of Saddam's regime. He has seen thousands of these documents and translations previously, having worked with them for a year in Iraq. He was involved with briefing his group's findings to senior U.S. military and political leaders. Robison was awarded for his efforts by the Iraq Survey Group as a media shift supervisor.
With a small cadre of independent translators to support his efforts, Robison will now translate and analyze scores of the unexplored trove of documents from Saddam's regime in a FOXNews.com exclusive series: The Saddam Dossier.
In addition to translation, Robison will provide analysis based upon his work for the Iraq Survey Group and his military operations research experience. On occasion, he or a translator will remark in the translation itself for clarity, but will maintain the integrity of the document. All of their work will be linked online to the original Arabic texts, stored on the Foreign Military Studies Office Web site. Robison's analysis, however, is based on his own opinions.
"It is my belief," Robison says, "that those who just want to know the truth will find new and shocking information in these documents and may even change their beliefs about the reasons for the war."
"However, these documents may not answer every valid question, and conclusions may change based on new documentation."