The United States recognizes the importance of capturing Saddam's files. It has seized 4.2 million secret police records, mostly from an Iraqi group that had collected them from the houses of former Saddam officials. (The Iraqi group, which was planning to use the docs to prosecute Baath leaders, surrendered the files reluctantly.) Eventually, Iraqis will be able to use the records to finger the really wicked guys, a process that will be much more precise, fair, and useful than simply purging all Baathists now.
7. Once the files are analyzed, establish a South African-style truth commission. In 1995, South Africa created its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the misdeeds that occurred during apartheid, assisted victims, and granted amnesty to those who confessed their crimes. The commission, which is wrapping up its work now, was by no means perfect: Too many crimes remain unsolved, too few of the apartheid regime's thugs cooperated. Still, the process enabled South Africans to grapple with their miserable past without reverting to violence. (East Timor and Sierra Leone now have similar commissions.) A commission could help Iraqis catalog the crimes of the Saddam regime and identify the worst offenders. At the same time, it could dampen zeal for violent revenge.