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The persistent delusions of senior Republicans in Congress and the President have led to the leaking of sensitive documents on nuclear weapons via the Web, the New York Times reports.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (Republican, Michigan), and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (Republican, Kansas) were instrumental in establishing a Web archive called the "Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal". It was Hoekstra's, Roberts's, and apparently the President's, hope that by disseminating documents recovered from Iraq, some right-wing amateur researcher might eventually find a flaky shred of evidence suggesting that Saddam's regime had been involved in banned weapons production, which could then be trumpeted to the press.

The problem with clinging to vain hopes in this way is that a number of the documents (since removed) were believed to be far too graphic in describing nuclear weapons technology to be suitable for public exhibition.

One researcher quoted in the Times article characterised some of the portal's content as a nuclear weapons "cookbook".

It appears that European researchers had become alarmed by the site's content, and tipped off the US media in hopes of attracting the publicity needed to initiate sensible action, which occurred yesterday with the site being taken off line for a proper review of its materials.

Although the information might have proved useful to Axis of Evil cast members Iran and North Korea, a Hoekstra spokesman told the Times that the matter "didn’t sound like a big deal," and said that his office was "a little surprised when they pulled the plug." ®

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