The Iraq Study Group grew out of concern expressed by Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va) in late 2005 that the U.S. was on the wrong path in Iraq and his request to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to facilitate an inquiry task force. Consultations over the next few months brought together the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies as sponsoring organizations of a bipartisan task force, to be co-chaired by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton. They were joined by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry; former Governor and U.S. Senator Charles S. Robb; former Congressman and White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta; Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., advisor to former President Bill Clinton; former Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson; former Attorney General Edwin Meese III; former Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, and former CIA Director Robert Gates until his nomination as Secretary of Defense. The group was launched on March 15, 2006 on the premise that with the best efforts of a bipartisan group, it was possible to solve our most intractable national problems.
Four expert working groups of 44 leading foreign policy analysts and experts on Iraq, working with the staff of the United States Institute of Peace, focused on Strategic Environment, Military and Security Issues, Political Development, and the Economy and Reconstruction. Through nine plenary sessions, a five-day trip to Baghdad, and interviews with over 170 experts, military men, and political players in Iraq and the region, they developed over the next six months an assessment of the current situation and the 79 recommendations contained in their report, for which they lobbied strenuously over the ensuing year.
The collection consists of the electronic and paper files created by Lee Hamilton; Christopher Kojm, his Senior Advisor to the Study Group; and Benjamin Rhodes, his Special Assistant to the Study Group. It documents the formation of the group, its work, the creation of the final report, and follow-up to that report and includes research resources used by the group. Electronic records were printed out upon receipt to ensure preservation of the complete collection.
Although the goal of the digital collection was to create a complete set of records with minimal duplication, duplication between records received in paper form and electronically has not been addressed. However, where all three creators had compilations of the same documents, as in the case of briefing books for the plenary sessions, Hamilton's has been completely digitized but from the other two copies only documents not in Hamilton's copy or annotated documents have been digitized. Duplicates with unique annotations have been digitized throughout the collection. Also, duplicates in the Senior Advisor and Special Assistant files have often been maintained because of the possible importance of their context for research purposes. The many drafts of sections of the final report, often with very small changes, have been digitized. With the exception of the Electronic Files, the Special Assistant files contain copious annotations by Hamilton, particularly in the ISG Process binders.
Correspondence from private citizens has not been digitized for copyright reasons, nor has material obviously under copyright, such as newspaper articles. In lists of contact information for ISG principals and staff, cell phone numbers and home information have been redacted to protect personal privacy.
Status of the Collection
The collection is fully processed and available online. There is an online finding aid available.
The collection is intended to be used in digital form. Where digital images are not available, copyright for the materials is held by others. With the exception of documents restricted for privacy reasons, the portion of the collection available only in paper may be consulted with prior arrangement. Contact Kate Cruikshank, Political Papers Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, 812-856-4601.