Do-it-yourself intelligence analysis

    So you want to be an intelligence analyst? The U.S. government, despite the objections of its own intelligence community, is giving you the chance.

    The Pentagon is posting on the Web the first of 55,000 boxes, containing a million or more pages, of captured Iraqi documents _ memos, manuals, reports, confidential communications, videotapes and audiotapes.

    The documents will be given a cursory screening to weed out forgeries, truly sensitive information and personal details like the names of Iraqi women raped by the secret police, but then they’ll be posted “to unleash the power of the Internet,” as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan put it.

    Hoekstra, publications like The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal, conservative bloggers and the freedom-of-information crowd pushed hard to have the documents released because intelligence officials were woefully behind in examining them.

    Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, with a nudge from the White House, agreed to their release, and they are posted at Be warned: A knowledge of Arabic is essential. The site tells the amateur sleuths whom to contact if they think they find something juicy.

    One fear is that ideologues with an agenda will cherry pick the intelligence to score specific points, say that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction and extensive contacts with al Qaeda. Wait a second. Didn’t that already happen?

    (Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)