By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 3, 2006
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said yesterday that it shut down a public Web site after complaints from U.N. weapons inspectors that the site included sensitive details about constructing nuclear and chemical weapons. The documents were collected in Iraq after the March 2003 invasion but predate the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Intelligence officials said the documents do not indicate that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when President Bush ordered U.S. troops to take over the country and depose Saddam Hussein.
Chad Kolton, spokesman for John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, said the office had "suspended access" to the site pending a review of the documents. "The material currently on the Web site as well as the procedures used to post new documents will be carefully reviewed before the site becomes available again," Kolton said.
The New York Times reported on its Web site last night, and in today's print edition, that the site had been shut down in response to concerns by the inspectors and other nuclear experts. Many of the documents were copies of information Iraq had repeatedly handed over to the United States and other U.N. Security Council members over more than a decade between the two wars.
Negroponte's office began posting thousands of captured Iraqi documents earlier this year at the insistence of Republican lawmakers, who hoped the documents could shed light on Iraq's prewar arsenal.
The documents were posted on a Web site administered by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. Kolton said his office will go over the documents with the DIA to determine what can be reposted on the site. U.N. weapons inspectors in New York and Vienna, Kolton said, had complained that some documents could reveal weapons secrets.
"We are confident the DNI is taking the appropriate steps to maintain the balance between public information and national security," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council.
Staff writer Peter Baker contributed to this report.