Frequently Asked Questions
What is the vision for the CRRC and for the Minerva Initiative, under which the CRRC resides?
The CRRC finds its genesis in Secretary Gates’s vision for obtaining new insights into the workings of authoritarian regimes. As the Secretary explained,
"To date, only a small number of documents [from Iraq and terrorist networks] have been exploited. In its breadth and potential value, this collection can only be compared to the Smolensk archives on which Soviet scholars like Merle Fainsod based much of their work. Further research could yield unprecedented insight into the workings of dictatorial third-world regimes.
A few documents have some immediate tactical value and would be kept within government channels. But most items, however, contain strategic, ideological, and practical considerations – and day-to-day debate – that I think would be of great interest to scholars. We cannot realize the full value of these resources unless we find some way of making them widely available. Currently we are funding an effort to open a Conflict Records Research Center at the National Defense University. We would, however, prefer that the center’s permanent home be a consortium of universities. We welcome any thoughts on how best to accomplish this goal."
Secretary Gates explicitly emphasized the need for transparency and academic freedom to govern all aspects of CRRC activities. He explained,
|"Let me be clear that the key principle of all components of the Minerva Consortia will be complete openness and rigid adherence to academic freedom and integrity. There will be no room for 'sensitive but unclassified,' or other such restrictions in this project. We are interested in furthering our knowledge of these issues and in soliciting diverse points of view – regardless of whether those views are critical of the Department’s efforts. Too many mistakes have been made over the years because our government and military did not understand – or even seek to understand – the countries or cultures we were dealing with."|
For a full text of this speech, see http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1228.
Do other collections of captured records exist from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq?
Yes. When US and US-allied troops entered Iraq in 2003, they seized millions of pages of Iraqi state records in buildings associated with Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, Mukhabarat, and other organs of the Ba’athist regime. CRRC records constitute a subset of this larger collection. Other noteworthy collections of captured Iraqi records, entirely unconnected to the CRRC, also exist. For instance, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution houses a large number of Ba’ath Party records. A collection of Iraqi records captured by Kurdish forces during a 1991 uprising is located at the Archives of the University of Colorado. The timing and manner in which each collection of records was captured and transferred out of Iraq differs markedly as, presumably, would the timing and manner of any future returns of the originals. While these other archives likely contain copies of some of the same records as the CRRC, scholars will find many records unique to each collection and might well benefit by visiting more than one archive.
Do other collections of captured Al Qaeda and Associated Movement (AQAM) records exist?
Yes. For instance, West Point’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) makes available online a number of AQAM records. These records are a subset of a larger collection of records that were captured by US and US-allied forces, primarily in Afghanistan. The CRRC and the CTC draw from the same larger collection.
How do I cite CRRC records?
Citations of records from the CRRC can be constructed as follows:
CRRC record number, “Record title,” Record date, Conflict Records Research Center, Washington, D.C.
Are only US citizens allowed to see CRRC records?
No. There is no nationality restriction to access the CRRC’s researcher database.
Does the CRRC contain cultural artifacts, such as the Iraqi Jewish archive?
No. The CRRC contains no cultural artifacts. It consists solely of digital copies of digital copies of captured state records from Saddam’s Iraq, and from AQAM terrorists.
Is the CRRC involved in negotiations with the Government of Iraq (GOI) regarding the potential return to Iraqi custody of original records?
No. The US Government conducts these negotiations. The CRRC contains only digital copies of digital copies of the original records, and is in no way involved in such negotiations. If and when original records are returned, this would presumably have no effect on the CRRC’s ability to make digital copies of these historical records accessible to scholars.
I lack an affiliation with which to obtain Institutional Review Board approval. Is it impossible for me to access CRRC records?
Virtually every research university in the United States has the necessary IRB procedures already in place. On rare occasions the CRRC might be able to assist accomplished independent scholars in obtaining IRB approval for research at the CRRC; in the vast majority of cases, however, scholars will need to secure IRB approvals from their home institutions. CRRC staff stands ready to assist in answering IRB-related questions.
How reliable are CRRC records?
The vast majority of records captured by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be authentic, with forgeries usually fairly easily identifiable. CRRC employees do not populate the Center’s researcher database with any known forgeries. For an insightful authentication of a captured Iraqi document, see Combined Media Processing Centre-Qatar / UK CI Report.
How reliable are the CRRC translations?
The English translations in the CRRC database prove invaluable to the vast majority of CRRC researchers, yet scholars should not rely on the translations as the quality of these translations varies considerably. The Arabic audio file or document is the CRRC source, not the English translation.
Does the CRRC plan to place copies of records on the Internet?
The CRRC may release records online as part of CRRC sponsored or co-sponsored conferences. One such conference, on the Iran-Iraq War, is in the planning stage. More information on this conference will be announced here. Staff and resource constraints, along with stringent measures to protect Personally Identifiable Information, necessarily restrict the number of records that CRRC staff can make available via the Internet.
How might I access copies of captured records from earlier conflicts involving the United States?
Historians have long benefited from analyzing captured state records. Collections of captured records from US wars in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II have proven enormously useful to scholars and practitioners alike. For a brief analysis on the history and legality of seizing records during wartime, see Trudy Peterson’s Archives in Service to the State.
Is capture information included for the records?
Most of our records do not have capture information. Those that do provide only very general information.
Back to Top of Page
What is the symbolism of the CRRC Crest?
Gold = Elevation of the mind
Silver or White = Sincerity, Peace
Blue = Strength, Loyalty
Orange = Worthwhile ambition
The lamp = Light, Pursuit of knowledge
The open book = Learning
The globe = To relate to INSS logo
Laurel = Immortality, Peace, Academic achievement
Thoth / the ibis:
Appearance: A man with the head of an ibis holding a scribe's palette and stylus. He was also shown as a full ibis, or sometimes as baboon.
Description: Thoth is an unusual god. Though some stories place him as a son of Ra, others say that Thoth created himself through the power of language. He is the creator of magic, the inventor of writing, teacher of man, the messenger of the gods (and thus identified by the Greeks with Hermes) and the divine record-keeper and mediator.
Thoth's role as mediator is well-documented. It is he who questions the souls of the dead about their deeds in life before their heart is weighed against the feather of Maat. He was even sent by Ra to speak with Tefnut and ask her to return when she abdicated her position and went to Nubia. He is also the great counselor and the other gods frequently went to him for advice.
Thoth is considered a lunar deity and is often depicted wearing the lunar crescent on his head. There is a story told of how Thoth won a portion of Khonsu's light, and this may be the reason. As a lunar deity his totem animal is the baboon, a nocturnal animal that goes to sleep only after greeting the new day.
Latin: patefacio et percipio = to open and to understand
How do I find my way to the National Defense University?