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Register of the Hizb al-Ba'th al-'Arabi al-Ishtiraki in Iraq [Ba'th Party] Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Custodial History Note

  • Collection Summary

    Title: Hiẓb al-Ba'th al-'Arabī al-Ishtirākī in Iraq [Ba'th Party] records
    Dates: 1968-2003
    Collection Number: 2009C50
    Creator: Hiẓb al-Ba'th al-'Arabī al-Ishtirākī (Iraq)
    Collection Size: 10 million digitized page images and 108 digital video files
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: Correspondence, reports, membership and personnel files, judicial and investigatory dossiers, administrative files and registers, and videorecordings relating to political conditions in, and governance of, Iraq. Collected by the Iraq Memory Foundation from the Ba'th Regional Command headquarters and from secondary sources.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Languages: Arabic

    Administrative Information


    All datasets are open except for the Kuwait dataset. The digitized documents in the Kuwait dataset are closed, but the descriptions of those documents (in the IMF database at the Hoover Institution) are open.
    Users must sign an "Access Criteria and Use Agreement" form that stipulates:

    (1) The materials may not be duplicated;

    (2) Quotations may be protected by copyright law;

    (3) Actual names of persons found in the collection, except persons named in the Dujail Tribunals (October 19, 2005 - November 5, 2006), may not be published in any form;

    (4) No interviews, video/audio reports, podcasts, or commentary that uses or quotes from the materials is allowed without prior written permission from the Iraq Memory Foundation;

    (5) The Hoover Institution and Iraq Memory Foundation do not verify the accuracy of the content of these materials; and (6) Violation of this agreement may result in forfeiture of research privileges.

    This is only an unofficial summary of the main provisions of the "Access Criteria and Use Agreement" form. Please contact the Hoover Institution Archives to obtain the precise legal language.
    Use copies of all videorecordings in this collection are available for immediate access.

    Publication Rights

    Quotations from this collection may be protected by copyright law. The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, does not hold copyright to any of the materials in the collection; it is the researcher's responsibility, when necessary, to obtain copyright permission. The Hoover Institution is not responsible for any misuse by researchers of quotations obtained from this collection.

    Preferred Citation

    North Iraq dataset and Kuwait dataset: [Identification of item] (Electronic Record), [Serial number], [Dataset title], Hiẓb al-Ba'th al-'Arabī al-Ishtirākī records, Hoover Institution Archives
    Oral history project video documents: [Identification of item] (Electronic Record), [Filename], Oral history project video documents, Hiẓb al-Ba'th al-'Arabī al-Ishtirākī records, Hoover Institution Archives
    Other materials: [Identification of item] (Electronic Record), [Page (which actually is a file name], [Dataset title], Hiẓb al-Ba'th al-'Arabī al-Ishtirākī records, Hoover Institution Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives from the Iraq Memory Foundation in 2009.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Location of Originals

    Original documents of the Ba'th Party in the custody of the Iraq Memory Foundation have been or will be returned to Iraq. Those in Baghdad were returned to the Iraqi government by 2009. Those in the U.S. will be returned at an undetermined future date.

    Related Materials

    Captured Iraqi Secret Police Files, University of Colorado at Boulder Archives. This is a larger version of the North Iraq Dataset (NIDS) at Hoover, containing 5.5 million digitized documents (as opposed to 2.4 million pages in the North Iraq Dataset at Hoover)
    Saddam Hussein regime collection (electronic copies), Conflict Records Research Center, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
    Iraq Memory Foundation issuances, Hoover Institution Archives
    Kanan Makiya papers, Hoover Institution Archives

    Historical Note

    The Hiẓb al-Ba'th al-'Arabī al-Ishtirākī (Ba'th Arab Socialist Party) came to power in Iraq through a military coup in July 1968. Over time, party members systematically penetrated all governmental and military institutions. The Ba'th Party was able to influence or control the Iraqi government in two ways. One was through government employees and military personnel who were also party members. The second was the party's ability to influence governmental decisions at lower levels. Because the party had units that were functionally parallel to those of the government, the party could monitor activities in all government units.
    The basic organizational unit of the Ba'th Party was the party cell or circle (halaqah). Cells had from three to seven members and functioned at the neighborhood or village level. Several cells formed a division ( firqah), which operated in urban areas, larger villages, offices, factories, schools, and other organizations. Divisions were spread throughout the bureaucracy and the military, serving as the eyes and ears of the party. Several divisions formed a section ( shabah), which operated in a large city quarter, town, or a rural district. Above the section was the branch ( fira), which contained at least two sections and functioned at the provincial level. There were twenty-one branches in Iraq, one in each of the eighteen provinces and three in Baghdad. The union of all the branches formed the party's congress, which elected the Regional Command.
    The Regional Command was both the core of party leadership and the top decision-making body. Its membership varied in number. Members were elected for five-year terms at regional congresses of the party, though this term was obscured in practice. Its secretary general (also called the regional secretary) was the party's leader, and its deputy secretary general was second in rank and in power within the party hierarchy. The members of the Regional Command theoretically were responsible to the Regional Congress that was to convene annually to debate and to approve the party's policies and programs. In reality, the members were chosen by Saddam Hussein and other senior party leaders to be "elected" by the Regional Congress, a formality seen as essential to the legitimation of party leadership.
    Above the Regional Command was the National Command of the Ba'th Party, the highest policy-making and coordinating council for the Ba'th movement throughout the Arab world. The National Command consisted of representatives from all regional commands and was responsible to the National Congress, which convened periodically. It was vested with broad powers to guide, to coordinate, and to supervise the general direction of the movement, especially regarding relationships among the regional Ba'th parties and with the outside world.
    In reality, the National Command did not oversee the Ba'th movement as a whole because a major schism in 1966 resulted in the creation of two rival National Commands, one in Damascus and the other in Baghdad. Both claimed to be the legitimate authority for the Ba'th. Michel Aflaq, one of the original cofounders of the Ba'th Party, was the secretary general of the Baghdad-based National Command, and Saddam Hussein was the vice-chairman. In practice, the Iraqi Regional Command controlled the Baghdad-based National Command.
    Theoretically, the Iraqi Regional Command made decisions about Ba'th Party policy based on consensus. In practice, all decisions were made by the party's secretary general, Saddam Hussein, who was also chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and president of the republic starting in 1979.
    Moving from the party organization to the governmental system, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) was the top decision-making body of the state. It was formed in July 1968 and exercised both executive and legislative powers. The chairman of the RCC was also the president of the republic. Since 1977 the Ba'th Party regarded all members of the Ba'th Party Regional Command as members of the RCC. The interlocking leadership structure of the RCC and the Regional Command emphasized the party's dominance in governmental affairs.
    Sources: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. A Country Study: Iraq. Edited by Helen Chapin Metz. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1990. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/iqtoc.html .

    Helms, Christine Moss. Iraq: Eastern Flank of the Arab World. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1984.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection consists of records of the Ba'th Arab Socialist Party of Iraq collected by the Iraq Memory Foundation (IMF). Materials created by the IMF since its inception in 1992 comprise a separate collection, the Iraq Memory Foundation issuances, at the Hoover Institution Archives.
    The correspondence, reports, membership and personnel files, judicial and investigatory dossiers, administrative files and registers, and videorecordings in this collection relate to political conditions in, and governance of, Iraq. They were collected by the IMF from the Ba'th Regional Command headquarters and from secondary sources. The materials were digitized by the IMF or the U.S. government, which gave digital copies to the IMF, and these digital files are at Hoover.
    Most datasets contain digitized documents scanned in color at 300 ppi, so they are very legible. However, some were scanned in black and white at 72 ppi, and they are sometimes difficult to read.


    The collection is organized in nine datasets defined and named by the Iraq Memory Foundation: (1) North Iraq dataset, (2) Kuwait dataset, (3) School registers dataset, (4) Boxfiles dataset, (5) Membership files dataset, (6) Ministry of Information selected documents dataset, (7) Jewish presence in Iraq dataset, (8) 2005 secondary collection dataset, and (9) Oral history project video documents. More datasets will be available in the future. The IMF defines a dataset as a set of digitized documents grouped together based on their form, content, and provenance.
    A database designed and populated by the Iraq Memory Foundation uses this arrangement to describe the materials. The descriptive information in this IMF database is in a mixture of English and Arabic. For each dataset, the number of digitized pages described by one database record varies considerably. Details about the database information available for each dataset are provided in the "Series Description" section of this finding aid. Descriptive information continues to be added, and the user interface continues to be upgraded.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Iraq Memory Foundation.
    Iraq--Politics and government--1979-1991.
    Iraq--Politics and government--1991-2003.

    Custodial History Note

    These digitized records were acquired by the Hoover Institution from the Iraq Memory Foundation (IMF). The IMF acquired the materials from several different sources, and it grouped them into collections and datasets according to the form, content, and provenance of the materials. Collections are defined by the IMF as hard-copy documents with shared provenance. Datasets, according to the IMF, are digitized materials grouped together based on their form, content, and provenance. Datasets may be compiled from more than one collection.
    This document describes the provenance of the following collections and datasets:
    1. Ba'th Arab Socialist Party Regional Command collection (BRCC)

    2. Baghdad Fall 2004 secondary collection (2004SC), 2005 secondary collection, etc.

    3. North Iraq dataset (NIDS)

    4. Kuwait dataset (KDS)

    5. Ministry of Information selected documents collection

    6. Topical collections
    1. Ba'th Arab Socialist Party Regional Command collection (BRCC)
    These documents were created by the Ba'th Regional Command, which was the headquarters of the ruling Ba'th Arab Socialist Party (BASP) that had authority over party organizations in Iraq. They were collected directly from the headquarters of the BASP Regional Command in Baghdad by the IMF from September 23 to 25, 2003.
    Upon capture of Baghdad by Coalition forces on April 9, 2003, Ba'th Regional Command documents fell within the restricted area (Green Zone). They were left uncollected until Kanan Makiya of the IMF secured authorization from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) for their removal. Over three days, under supervision by core IMF personnel, the documents were relocated from their original site to an IMF processing facility.
    The BASP Regional Command headquarters building was previously used as the headquarters of the BASP National Command, which had authority over party organizations in the rest of the Arab world, and some of its documents were included among those found by the IMF in the building.
    All documents in this collection were digitized by the IMF, and a complete set of digitized files is at Hoover.
    2. Baghdad Fall 2004 secondary collection (2004SC), 2005 secondary collection, etc.
    The documents in these collections were created by various units of the Iraqi government and were collected by many different Iraqi secondary sources after the fall of the regime. When the documents became problematic the secondary sources discarded them, at which point the IMF collected them.
    Many documents were acquired by individuals and organizations in the aftermath of the fall of the Ba'th regime. These documents are believed to have been widely mishandled, so that document components could be lost, and other documents could be introduced that were out-of-context, altered, redacted, or forged. A strong black market in documents also emerged immediately after the regime fell, which added to the degradation of the document pool. In many cases the documents eventually became liabilities to their current owners, and in fall 2004 many documents were dumped or otherwise disposed of. Using a local network of friends and associates, many disposed documents were rescued and transported to IMF premises. It was rarely possible to preserve the context of these documents, nor appraise their content and value.
    The bulk of this series was collected in twenty-three rounds from September 22 to November 1, 2004, from ten locations relatively close together. The collection sites were both within and outside Baghdad's International Zone (Green Zone), and varied from official sites (Military Bureau, Regional Command, al-Qadisiyyah newspaper) to private residences. Due to the nature of the collection process, individual documents are not linked to their recovery location. While the collection process was opportunistic, the content exhibits much coherence, suggesting that the document scavengers in the neighborhoods from which the series was gathered had access to the same pool of material in their proximity.
    The twenty-three rounds of collecting yielded the bulk of the 2004 secondary collection. However, document recovery in Iraq is ongoing, with new material continually being added to secondary collections that are defined and named according to the year that the documents were acquired by the IMF. Thus there is a 2004 secondary collection, a 2005 secondary collection, etc.
    The bulk of the documents in the 2004 secondary collection have been digitized by the IMF, but because new documents continue to be added to the yearly secondary collections, digitization is ongoing.
    3. North Iraq dataset (NIDS)
    The documents in this collection were created by the Ba'th Party; al-Istikhbarat al-'Askariyyah (military intelligence); Mudiriyyat al-Amn al-'Ammah (general directorate of security) and its three governorates of Sulaymānīyah, Dahūk, and Irbīl; and the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). The documents were eventually digitized by the U.S. government, and a partial set of digital copies were given to the IMF, which in turn transferred them to the Hoover Institution.
    In March 1991, after the defeat of the Iraqi armed forces in the Gulf War, Kurdish rebels revolted against the Iraqi regime, attacking and burning Ba'th Party buildings in northern Iraq. In the uprising, the Iraqi Kurds seized 18 tons of secret police files before Saddam Hussein's armed forces returned from the south to crush the revolt. The records remained with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP).
    Kanan Makiya, Peter Galbraith of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), and representatives of Human Rights Watch/Middle East (HRW/ME) approached the Kurdish groups holding the documents about transferring them to the United States for analysis and safekeeping. In May 1992, after several visits to northern Iraq, they reached an agreement with the PUK to send the greater share of the documents to the U.S. With funding from the SFRC, the documents were transported to the U.S. by the Department of Defense (DOD) and placed in the temporary custody of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The KDP sent its official Iraqi documents to the U.S. under the same terms in August 1993. Finally, the United Party of Kurdistan sent six boxes that were added to those already in NARA custody.
    In the U.S., the material was re-housed in 1842 boxes. Research teams from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and HRW/ME processed the material. Documents were scanned and screened by research teams from the DOD and Middle East Watch. They created 40,825 screening sheets (folder cover sheets), which describe the contents of a batch of documents. There is an average of 60 pages per batch. The screening sheets contain keywords, personal names, and place names that were logged during the initial survey of the documents. HRW/ME analyzed the documents to begin gathering evidence for a possible genocide case against the Iraqi regime, and the DIA's Documentation Exploitation Division digitized the 5.5 million documents, burning them onto 176 CDs. This work was finished in fall 1994.
    In 1997, the Human Rights Initiative at the University of Colorado at Boulder negotiated the acquisition of the original and digitized files with the SFRC, the DIA, and the Kurdish political factions that had captured the files in March 1991. The release and transfer agreement outlined in a letter by Senators Jesse Helms and Joseph Biden of the SFRC stipulated that ownership resided with the PUK and KDP and that any request by them for the return of the documents must be honored. While held by the archives at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the records were made widely available to researchers seeking evidence of crimes against humanity perpetrated by Saddam Hussein and his senior leadership.
    In fall 1998, the digital contents of 1,575 boxes, representing the majority but not all of the original files, were delivered to the Iraq Research and Documentation Project (IRDP, predecessor of the IMF); screening sheets for some of the boxes not provided to the IRDP were among the materials received, and some documents among those received appeared incomplete. The IRDP designed a database system for the material in summer 1999, and IRDP research teams began entering data in fall 1999. The documents "annotated" by the IMF provide dates, names of individuals and originating offices, signature data, and descriptions of individual documents, with a focus on bringing out the oppression of Iraq's people by the Iraqi government. It is this set of digitized files that is at Hoover.
    In 2005, during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Regime Crimes Liaison Office of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) requested access to the original files for use in the Iraqi trials of Saddam Hussein and leading officials of his regime. After this work was completed, the University of Colorado at Boulder archives and the Regime Crimes Liaison Office reached an agreement providing for the transfer of the original files to the DOJ on the condition that they would be repatriated to Iraq under Kurdish control, as originally stipulated in the letter of agreement with the SFRC. In 2007, the U.S. government transported the records to the custody of the Kurds in northern Iraq (see UCB Libraries|Archives|International Projects at http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/archives/collections/international.htm ). The Archives at the University of Colorado at Boulder retains the digital database to the 5.5 million documents in the full collection.
    For more information, see Bruce P. Montgomery, "The Iraqi Secret Police Files: A Documentary Record of the Anfal Genocide," Archivaria 52, http://journals.sfu.ca/archivar/index.php/archivaria/article/view/12815/14023  .
    4. Kuwait dataset (KDS)
    The original documents in this group were created by Iraqi military and political agencies; some personal documents left behind by Iraqi soldiers and operatives are also included. The documents were collected by the Coalition forces after the retreat of the Iraqi military from Kuwait in 1991. A portion of these documents were declassified by the Defense Intelligence Agency at the request of the Department of State, and others were declassified in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. Only documents declassified by the U.S. government were given to the IMF. Digitization was performed by the U.S. government and only digital copies were received by the IMF.
    5. Ministry of Information selected documents collection
    These documents were selected for their importance by a Ministry of Information insider, who provided them to the IMF in July-August 2003. The IMF digitized all of them.
    6. Topical collections
    A few thousand pages of materials from various individuals were given to the IMF without restriction. They were grouped into topical collections by the IMF and digitized by the IMF.