BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Iraq Study Group Papers of former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton are now available in digital format from Indiana University Libraries, providing researchers and the public with a behind-the-scenes look at a bipartisan panel that influenced U.S. policy in Iraq.
Hamilton, now a distinguished scholar in the IU School of Global and International Studies and professor of practice in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, served as co-chair of the study group, which assessed the conduct of the Iraq War and recommended changes in U.S. policy.
The collection, donated by Hamilton, consists of the electronic and paper files created by Hamilton and by his senior advisor and special assistant to the study group. The files document the formation of the group, its work, the creation of its final report and follow-up activities.
“The Iraq Study Group marked a serious effort by Congress to examine the conduct of the Iraq War and to play its proper role by providing oversight of American foreign policy,” Hamilton said. “I am grateful to Indiana University Libraries for digitizing these records and making them accessible, and I hope that students of government and history will learn from them for years to come.”
The papers include notebooks, working papers, office files, meeting minutes, memos and records of news media coverage of the study group’s work. Archivists have prepared an extensive guide allowing users to find and view a digital image of individual documents from the collection.
“This is an invaluable addition to IU Libraries’ collection of political papers on a topic that dominated the foreign policy debate at the time,” said Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the School of Global and International Studies. “This influential bipartisan commission, whose original membership included two future defense secretaries, gave voice to growing concern about the scope and intensity of the U.S. military commitment in Iraq and the importance of broader diplomatic engagement in the region.”
Carolyn Walters, the Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries, said she appreciates Hamilton’s continued commitment to preservation of committee documentation. She said the Iraq Study Group papers represent the third fully digitized collection in the Modern Political Papers Collection held at the Bloomington campus.
“This digitization and description work – while time-intensive – is important because it makes original, primary-source documents directly available through online access,” Walters said.
The Iraq Study Group was launched in March 2006, growing out of concerns that the United States was on the wrong path three years after it began military involvement in Iraq. Hamilton and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III chaired the 10-member, bipartisan task force, made up of former senators, cabinet members and presidential advisers.
The group’s final report, issued in December 2006, was 160 pages long and included 79 recommendations. The report had a significant impact on American foreign policy in Iraq.
Four working groups of 44 foreign policy analysts – including staff of the U.S. Institute of Peace, among others – examined American policy in Iraq. The work included nine plenary sessions, a four-day trip to Baghdad, and interviews with over 170 experts, military officers and political players in Iraq and the region.
Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1999. He gained a reputation for foreign policy expertise, statesmanship and a nonpartisan approach to solving problems. He served as co-chair of the joint House and Senate committee investigating the Iran-Contra Affair in 1987-88 and as vice chair of the 9/11 Commission in 2002-04. He is founder and senior advisor at the Center on Representative Government at IU Bloomington.
The Iraq Study Group papers are part of the IU Libraries’ Modern Political Papers Collection. The collection also includes Hamilton’s congressional papers and 9/11 Commission papers as well as congressional papers of former Sens. Richard Lugar and Birch Bayh, press and political files of former Gov. and Sen. Evan Bayh, and other sets of documents.