The vision for the CRRC and for the Minerva Initiative, under which the CRRC resides:

The CRRC finds its genesis in former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’s vision for obtaining new insights into the workings of authoritarian regimes.  As the former Secretary explained,

To date, only a small number of documents [from Iraq and terrorist networks] have been exploited.  In its breadth and potential value, this collection can only be compared to the Smolensk archives on which Soviet scholars like Merle Fainsod based much of their work. Further research could yield unprecedented insight into the workings of dictatorial third-world regimes.

A few documents have some immediate tactical value and would be kept within government channels. But most items, however, contain strategic, ideological, and practical considerations – and day-to-day debate – that I think would be of great interest to scholars. We cannot realize the full value of these resources unless we find some way of making them widely available. Currently we are funding an effort to open a Conflict Records Research Center at the National Defense University. We would, however, prefer that the center’s permanent home be a consortium of universities.  We welcome any thoughts on how best to accomplish this goal.

Secretary Gates explicitly emphasized the need for transparency and academic freedom to govern all aspects of CRRC activities.  He explained,

Let me be clear that the key principle of all components of the Minerva Consortia will be complete openness and rigid adherence to academic freedom and integrity. There will be no room for “sensitive but unclassified,” or other such restrictions in this project. We are interested in furthering our knowledge of these issues and in soliciting diverse points of view – regardless of whether those views are critical of the Department’s efforts. Too many mistakes have been made over the years because our government and military did not understand – or even seek to understand – the countries or cultures we were dealing with.

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