Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Overview Of America’s Policy Towards Iraq: From The Clinton Years To The Sectarian War of 2006
Note: I originally wrote this in 2006.
I. Clinton’s Containment Policy
II. Neoconservatives Critique Of Clinton
III. Warnings About Iraq’s WMD
Early Bush Administration
IV. The Power Of The Vice President
V. Bush’s Dysfunctional Iraq Policy
VI. Ignoring Bin Laden For Saddam
VII. Beginning Of Covert Public Relations Campaign Against Iraq
9/11 and Iraq
VIII. Is Iraq Behind Al Qaeda?
IX. A Traditional View of States And Terrorism
X. Bush Doctrine of Preemption
Planning For War
XI. Creating Links Between Iraq & Al Qaeda
XII. The Axis Of Evil
XIII. Turning Iraq Into A Threat
XIV. Conflicts Over Military Planning For Iraq
XV. Resistance To The U.N.
XVI. Congress Supports the President
XVII. Undercutting U.N. Inspectors
XVIII. U.S. And Its Allies
XIX. Failing To Plan For After The War
XX. The U.S. Will Be Greeted As Liberators
XXI. War Was Not The Last Resort
XXII. Continued Chaos Over Postwar Planning
XXIII. The Rush To Baghdad
XXIV. War Leads To Chaos
XXV. Rationales For War Evaporate
XXVI. Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority
XXVII. Cutting Out the U.N.
XXVIII. The CPA’s Early Work
XXIX. Bremer’s Long-Term Plan For Iraq Cut Short
XXX. The CPA’s Reconstruction Plan
XXXI. The U.S. Military And Occupation
XXXII. The Shiites In Southern Iraq
XXXIII. The Insurgency
XXXIV. The First Campaign Against the Insurgents
XXXV. Iraqi Prisoner Abuse
XXXVI. Everything Would Be Great If It Wasn’t For The Media
XXXVII. Troop Levels
XXXVIII. The Turning Point?
XXXIX. Things Fall Apart: Fallujah and the Sadr Rebellion
XL. Can Things Get Worse? The Abu Ghraib Scandal Breaks
XLI. Training Iraqi Forces
XLII. The Kurds
A New Iraq?
XLIII. A Change In Leadership
XLIV. The Insurgency – Part II
XLV. January 2005 Elections And A New Constitution
XLVI. Iraq’s Security Forces And The Militias
XLVII. The Counterinsurgency Campaign
XLVIII. Failed Reconstruction
XLIX. December 2005 Elections
L. Descent Into Civil War
In October 2004 the New York Times Magazine reported on an interview with a “senior advisor” to President Bush. The article stated:
The aide said that guys like me [i.e. reporters and commentators] were “in what we call the reality – based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
This elitist statement on the ability of the powerful to shape the world and perceptions is in a nutshell, what happened not only during the lead up to the Iraq war, but for a long time afterwards. It was only as the number of American deaths mounted, the insurgency grew beyond control, and people started talking of civil war, that the Bush administration lost the ability to shape reality for others.
America’s problems in Iraq have three major causes: 1) A lack of strategy about what to do in Iraq, especially after the invasion. 2) A president and administration who relied on beliefs rather than facts, and then never owned up to being wrong when those assumptions proved to be false. 3) A dysfunctional administration that had no set decision-making process on foreign policy, and was so divided by in-fighting that beating one’s bureaucratic opponent was sometimes more important than carrying out good decisions. Besides President Bush, the main culprits in this fiasco have been Vice President Dick Cheney, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, commander of the U.S.’s Central Command Gen. Tommy Franks, and the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority that ran Iraq after the invasion Paul Bremer.
1st there was no strategy for Iraq. Strategy is knowing who you are, what you are trying to do, how to do it, and the resources necessary to accomplish that goal. Tactics are the means to achieve your goal. The U.S. knew the answer to the first two questions, but failed at the rest. The neoconservatives and Bush believed that the U.S. needed to use its power to spread democracy and freedom around the world. This goal was to be carried out in Iraq, which was believed to not only threaten the U.S. with WMD, but had alleged ties to Al Qaeda that it could give WMD to. A brutal dictator also ruled it. Other than knowing the U.S. was good and Iraq was bad, there was no strategy made by the administration. The U.S. considered reaching Baghdad victory, but if the goal was to disarm Iraq and transform it into a democracy, getting rid of Saddam was only a tactical move at the beginning of a long process. What that process was to be, no one knew or even planned for within the government. As a result, American soldiers would fight and die in Iraq blindly because they didn’t have a strategy and the tactics to carry it out. This problem continues to this day.
The man most responsible for this mess is the President of the United States. Bush put forth a forceful image to the American public, but knew next to nothing about Iraq other than that Saddam was evil. After 9/11 his staff convinced him to go to war with Iraq, but he never really questioned the reasons why. In fact, he was known for hardly asking questions at all. After the war he was faced again and again with information, which challenged these underlying reasons for war, but ignored them for a never-ending story of success in Iraq. After his re-election, Bush was even more convinced that he was right and his critics were wrong. He said, “We had an accountability, and that’s called the 2004 elections. The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates and chose me.” He has held no one responsible for any mistakes in Iraq, because he doesn’t think any major mistakes have happened under his watch. This has been to the country’s detriment. As a study by the Center for American Progress found, “As the war has grown worse, the Bush administration has been increasingly disconnected from reality. With the security situation deteriorating, the president has continued to peddle the same poll-tested slogans like ‘freedom is on the march’ and we are ‘fighting the terrorists over there so we do not have to fight them here.’ Most glaring of all, the administration has rewarded failure by giving medals, accolades, and promotions to the architects of its Iraq disaster.”
Cheney is the most powerful Vice President in U.S. history. He is the behind the scenes power on U.S. foreign policy and intelligence. He was the main official to convince Bush to go to war. He became enamored with the neoconservative idea that overthrowing Saddam could transform the entire Middle East. In arguing this policy he used his vast power to shut out his political opponents in the administration, namely Colin Powell, the State Department, and the CIA. When things didn’t go as planned, he blamed his opponents rather than owning up to his own culpability. He also held onto claims against Iraq long after they proved false.
Allied with Cheney was the Pentagon and its top officials, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Gen. Franks. Rumsfeld was more interested in transforming the military than making a sound war-postwar plan, and constantly ignored the advice of his military commanders in the process. He also knew nothing of tactics and strategy, yet micromanaged the invasion right down to individual units and their support. He held onto his ideas even after they proved to be the wrong approach to fighting the insurgency in Iraq. Like Cheney, he disliked the State Department and got control of postwar Iraq from them even though he didn’t believe in nation building and didn’t want responsibility for it. It was simply a prize to be denied his bureaucratic rival, Powell. Wolfowitz was a neoconservative ideologue within the Defense Department who gave some of the major justifications for war based upon an idealistic vision of Iraq and its outcome. Wolfowitz and the other neoconservatives were stuck in 1991 and the 1st Gulf war because Saddam hadn’t been deposed. Getting rid of him became a decade long obsession. Gen. Franks was the head of Central Command (CENTCOM). He came up with a war plan that included no ideas about what would happen after the war. It was a tactical document with no strategy. All of these individuals did nothing after the invasion other than claim success, pass the buck for problems, and refuse to send the soldiers and money necessary to successfully occupy Iraq.
Paul Bremer was the civilian head of Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) after the invasion. He helped create the insurgency with his incompetence, mismanagement and hubris. He staffed the CPA with officials with even less experience than him. He also failed at the reconstruction of Iraq.
Below is a history of America’s involvement with Iraq beginning with the Clinton administration and its critics to the present events in 2006 to try to explain how America got involved in this mess.
I. Clinton’s Containment Policy
“Containment worked. Look at Saddam – what did he have? … He didn’t threaten anyone in the region. He was contained. It was a pain in the ass, but he was contained. He had a deteriorated military. He wasn’t a threat to the region.” Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, former commander of CENTCOM, 2006
While Clinton was president in the 1990s he had three main policies towards Iraq. The first was to militarily contain Iraq through U.N. sanctions, and two no fly zones, one in southern Iraq, and the other in the northern region. The second policy was to maintain the U.N. weapons inspectors who were still looking into Iraq’s WMD and nuclear programs after the 1991 Gulf War. As disputes over these inspections grew, Clinton would periodically launch military strikes against Iraq. The final strategy was to order several failed CIA coup attempts against Saddam.
As part of this effort, two major events occurred. The first was in 1994 when Hussein Kamal, Saddam’s brother-in-law and head of the country’s weapons program, defected to Jordan. Kamal told U.N. officials that he had destroyed Iraq’s WMD after the Gulf War. “All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear – were destroyed,” he told inspectors. Iraq had only maintained the facilities and the know how to produce them in the future. Kamal also said that Iraq had two plans for a nuclear bomb. The problem was that both of them were so heavy that they could not be used by any plane or missile that Iraq possessed. He also detailed how Iraqi officials had been able to deceive U.N. weapons inspectors about their programs. Kamal’s testimony made the U.S. believe that Iraq would never give up its weapons, and that Saddam could never be trusted. The fact that Kamal had said Iraq had no more WMD was basically ignored though. In 1996, Kamal was persuaded to return to Iraq where Saddam executed him.
The other major event happened in 1998 when Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox. The cause was Iraq’s refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors anymore. Desert Fox was the largest U.S. military strike against Iraq since the Gulf War. At the time, Republicans denounced the attack as a means for Clinton to distract attention from the Monica Lewinsky affair. As it turned out, the attack was more effective than anyone knew at the time. Gen. Anthony Zinni, the commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) at the time, received intelligence that Saddam was teetering and was seriously afraid that he might lose power after the attack. Not only that, but after these bombings, Iraq gave up on its weapons programs. Most programs were ended and labs were shutdown as Iraqi officials believed they could never work under U.N. sanctions and American bombings. Many in the U.S. military believed that Desert Fox proved that containing Iraq was working. Gen. Zinni said, “Containment worked. Look at Saddam – what did he have? … He didn’t threaten anyone in the region. He was contained. It was a pain in the ass, but he was contained. He had a deteriorated military. He wasn’t a threat to the region.”
To a small group of Republican foreign policy experts and magazine editors known as neoconservatives, the mere fact that Saddam was still in power and mistreating his people made them think containment was both a military and moral failure. Richard Perle, who had formerly served in the Reagan administration, expressed their view of Clinton’s policy well when he said, “The Clinton administration was totally risk averse. … They allowed Saddam over eight years to grow in strength. He was far stronger at the end of the Clinton administration than at the beginning.” That actually wasn’t true, but neither Clinton nor the neoconservatives could really tell how effective Desert Fox had been because before the bombing started the U.N. inspectors left and would not return until November 2002 under the Bush administration. The inspectors were the main source of intelligence within Iraq. When they departed at the end of 1998, America was blind to most of what was happening within the country. This would play a huge role during the Bush administration when intelligence reports about Iraq’s WMD and nuclear programs became based upon the flimsiest of evidence and assumptions since they had no eyes and ears within the country.
II. Neoconservative Critique Of Clinton
“Containment was a very costly strategy. It cost us billions of dollars – estimates are around $30 billion. … The real price was giving Osama bin Laden his principal talking point. If you go back and read his notorious fatwah from 1998, where he called for the first time for killing Americans, his big complaint is that we have American troops on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia and that we’re bombing Iraq. That was his big recruiting device, his big claim against us. … Finally, containment did nothing for the Iraqi people.” Paul Wolfowitz, in article written when he was Dean at Johns Hopkins University, Spring 2000
Paul Wolfowitz would become one of the major movers and thinkers behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Wolfowitz, like his fellow neoconservatives, was an opponent of containment. He gave three specific reasons why in an article he wrote in 2000 while he was a dean at Johns Hopkins University. 1st it cost too much. At the time, the U.S. was spending $1-$1.5 billion a year maintaining the no fly zones over Iraq. Wolfowitz argued that if Saddam had been overthrown after the 1991 Gulf War, none of this money would have been spent. 2nd, Wolfowitz said that Osama bin Laden used the American presence in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War as a rallying cry for Al Qaeda. If U.S. troops hadn’t been in Arabia to enforce the no fly zones, bin Laden wouldn’t have had this excuse for his terrorism. Wolfowitz wasn’t much concerned about Al Qaeda however because his real issue was with Iraq who he saw as the main cause of terrorism and the source of America’s problems in the Middle East. Last, Wolfowitz touched on one of the main points of the neoconservatives, Iraq’s treatment of its own people was horrible and had to be stopped, by the use of Americans arms if necessary. These were some of the early ideas of the neoconservative movement that were then coming together.
According to Professor Francis Fukuyama, a former neoconservative himself, the neoconservatives held four major principles: 1) A concern with spreading democracy and that the internal affairs of countries mattered, 2) A belief that U.S. power could be used for moral purposes such as spreading democracy, 3) A pessimistic view that international law and institutions such as the U.N. could solve the world’s problems, and 4) Skepticism towards grand theories of social engineering. In Fukuyama’s view, neoconservatives such as Wolfowitz embraced the first three ideas when looking at Iraq, and forgot about the last as they believed that they could transform not only Iraq into a democracy, but the entire Middle East as well through military power. For example, the head of the American Enterprise Institute’s Middle East division, David Wurmser, who would become Vice President Cheney’s Middle East advisor and work in the Pentagon’s Policy Counterterrorism Information Group, wrote a book in 1999 entitled Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein. Wurmser argued that getting rid of Saddam would destabilize both Syria and Iran and lead to regime change there, isolate Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, and allow Israel to force a peace agreement upon the Palestinians. Thus the entire Middle East would be remade to suite America’s interests, only if Saddam was gotten rid of.
In 1997, Wolfowitz joined the Project for a New American Century. The group included Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Francis Fukayama, and others. Like Wolfowitz, they too were against Clinton’s containment policy and wanted regime change instead, although they never agreed on how. On 1/28/98 Wolfowitz and other members of the Project sent a letter to Clinton urging the overthrow of Saddam. The letter stated, “The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” The Project’s statement shows how the future war proponents in and outside the Bush administration were stuck in 1991 and the 1st Gulf War. All of them were still angry that Saddam had been left in power after that war and wanted to go back and correct the mistake. This was a driving force for many neoconservatives who would rise to prominent positions in the U.S. government’s foreign policy establishment when Bush was elected president.
In 1998, Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act that stated, “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power.” This law, and Clinton’s authorizing of $97 million to go to Iraqi exile groups for the overthrow of Saddam, seemed to put Clinton in line with the neoconservatives. However, this was not enough for them. Many war supporters have used this law to claim that Clinton too was for regime change. However, he was never for using a military invasion to do it. Rather he would stick to the containment policy.
III. Warnings About Iraq’s WMD
“Since the Gulf War, Iraq has rebuilt key portions of its chemical production infrastructure for industrial and commercial use, as well as its missile production facilities. It has attempted to purchase numerous dual-use items.” CIA report to Congress on Iraq, February 2000
Even before the Bush administration took office in 2001, the U.S. intelligence community began disseminating warnings about Iraq’s weapons programs. They believed that although U.N. inspectors had destroyed most of Iraq’s weapons, there was still a small stockpile remaining. More importantly they believed that Iraq must be rebuilding its programs. There was no direct evidence to support this view rather it was based upon pure speculation. U.S. intelligence experts believed that since Saddam had been so reluctant to give up his weapons after the Gulf War he must have restarted them after U.N. inspectors left in December 1998. The CIA even admitted their limitations and guesswork in a February 2000 report to Congress when it said that it had no direct intelligence on Iraq’s WMD programs, but that that it was “likely” that it had been restarted given Iraq’s past history. This turned out to be completely false, but became the basis of all subsequent intelligence reports during the Bush administration. As Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institute wrote, “After 1998 many analysts increasingly entertained worst-case scenarios – scenarios that gradually became mainstream estimates” about Iraq’s WMD.
These claims were made despite contradictory evidence. For example, in 2000 CIA Assistant Director Charlie Allen began a program to contact family members of Iraqi scientists working on WMD programs. The relatives told the CIA that the programs had ended. The CIA did not believe these reports and did not include them in any major intelligence assessments. Rather, the CIA believed that they were part of an Iraqi deception campaign. The intelligence community would develop a strong bias to not believe any reports that countered their claim that Iraq had active weapons programs.
Early Bush Administration
IV. The Power Of The Vice President
“We have swept that problem [Iraq] under the rug for too long. … We have a festering problem there.” Dick Cheney, candidate for Vice President, Fall 2000
Cheney is the most powerful Vice President in American history. Bush basically gave him control of foreign policy matters within his administration. All of the paperwork dealing with foreign affairs has to go through his office. He also keeps close watch over intelligence matters as well. When Dick Cheney had been Sec. of Defense under the 1st George Bush and afterwards, he had supported containment. While running for Vice President in 2000, he stated his unhappiness with Iraq policy. It would become an obsession of his in the coming years. When he was elected in 2001 he was put in charge of staffing many offices in the new administration. In his office, Defense and State Departments, and the National Security Council he placed various neoconservatives in key positions that were all united in their belief to take some kind of military action against Iraq. Cheney would eventually move towards their vision of changing Iraq and the Middle East, especially after 9/11.
Within the first few months of the new administration, he was already pressuring U.S. intelligence to come up with new details on Iraq. At his morning intelligence briefings he would ask, “Tell me about Iraq, tell me about Iraq, tell me about Iraq. What’s the status of their WMDs? What’s their support of terrorism?” When he was told there was little new, Cheney told them, “Try harder. Need to know more.” Later he would be known for maintaining charges against Iraq’s WMD and terrorist ties long after they had been disproved.
V. Bush’s Dysfunctional Iraq Policy
“He [Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are the policies that we are going to keep in place.” –Colin Powell, Secretary of State, 2/24/01
“I think there’s no question that the whole region would be a safer place, Iraq would be a much more successful country, and the American national interest would benefit greatly if there were a change of regime in Iraq.” – Paul Wolfowitz at Congressional confirmation hearings to be Deputy Secretary of Defense, February 2001
The Bush administration’s foreign policy establishment is and has been dysfunctional. Rather than having a set chain of command and coordination, various factions within the administration were able to do what they liked with little to no direction from the President. In fact, in fighting and backstabbing was the name of the game. National Security Advisor Rice was suppose to be in charge of the National Security Council that coordinates policy, but rarely had control. The real power broker was Cheney who sidestepped the normal channels of communication, and went directly to Bush or Rumsfeld and made decisions that others only found out about after the fact.
In general, the Bush administration was divided into two opposing camps. On the one side you had the neoconservatives and Cheney. Rumsfeld, while not sharing their ideology, was Cheney’s closest ally in the government. In opposition were Powell, the State Department, the CIA, and the military that are known as realists who believe states act out of self-interest and should act to protect those interests. What happened within other states didn’t matter to realists as long as America could get what it wanted. The neoconservatives on the other hand, thought what happened within states was just as important as what happened between them. To the realists Saddam was not a threat because he was contained. To the neoconservatives, the fact that he remained in power and was a brutal dictator to his people was an open sore. As UC Berkeley Prof. Mark Danner noted, “You can identify two strains in this administration, one of which would be the [neoconservatives] – officials who take a somewhat ideological and almost evangelical view of the world. … [They hold] the notion that American power should be used to change the world, not simply manage it. … The other group … are pragmatists, so-called realists. They believe that foreign policy is the patient management of alliances, competitions and, to some extent, conflict. … Insofar as you recognize that there are two strains, we have a struggle going on here for George Bush’s attention and for his allegiance.”
The Bush administration’s initial policy towards Iraq is a perfect example of this dysfunction and division. While Bush did not think Iraq was a priority when he first took office, it became a running battle between his underlings. The neoconservatives and Rumsfeld argued for regime change and some kind of military action against Iraq, although plans differed. On the opposite side were Colin Powell and the State Department who wanted better sanctions on Iraq and to maintain the containment policy. The battle between the two started at the first meeting of the National Security Council on 1/30/01. Bush told Powell to work on new sanctions, and Rumsfeld to look into military options against Iraq. Thus each faction got to do what it liked with no central policy or real coordination.
VI. Ignoring Bin Laden For Saddam
“Well, I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden.” Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, April 2001
Richard Clarke, the head of Counterterrorism, gave his first briefing to the deputy Cabinet secretaries about terrorism and the threat of Al Qaeda on April 2001. At the meeting, Wolfowitz objected to talking about bin Laden. According to Wolfowitz, Iraq was the major threat to the U.S. in the Middle East and the main state supporter of terrorism in the region. Clarke and Wolfowitz then got into an argument over the matter. Clarke told Wolfowitz, “I’m unaware of any Iraq-sponsored terrorism directed against the United States, Paul, since 1993.” Wolfowitz retorted, “You give bin Laden too much credit. … He could not do all these things … not without a state sponsor.” That same month the State Department issued its annual report on terrorism for 2001 stating that Iraq had not been involved in any anti-Western terrorism since the 1993 attempt to assassinate former Pres. Bush. Despite claims to the contrary, before 9/11, the major figures in the Bush administration were not that concerned with either terrorism or al Qaeda. Iraq was a much bigger priority with many.
VII. Beginning Of Covert Public Relations Campaign Against Iraq
“U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest For A-Bomb Parts.” New York Times Headline by Judith Miller, 9/8/01
By the Fall of 2001, those within the administration who were for military action against Iraq such as Vice President Cheney, began leaking stories and providing Iraqi exiles from the Iraqi National Congress (INC) to major U.S. newspapers about the threat of Iraq. One of the major recipients of this “news” was Judith Miller at the New York Times who began writing a number of stories about Iraq’s weapons programs beginning in September 2001. This was the beginning of a covert public relations campaign to convince the American public of the threat posed by Iraq that would culminate in war. In 2005 Miller would admit that almost every single one of her stories came from the INC. None of her reports proved to be true.
9/11 and Iraq
VIII. Is Iraq Behind Al Qaeda?
”The best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein]” Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, 9/11/01
9/11 gave the regime change faction within the Bush administration the excuse they needed to push for war with Iraq. According to CBS News, within 5 hours of the 9/11 attacks Rumsfeld asked whether Iraq was behind things, and whether there was enough evidence for a military strike against Saddam. Rumsfeld then ordered Wolfowitz to look into connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq. On 9/12/01 Rumsfeld pushed his point again in a meeting with national security officials when he said he wanted to bomb Iraq after 9/11 because there were no good targets in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld also argued that the U.S. would have to go after Iraq eventually, so why not use 9/11 as an opportunity. Richard Clarke objected and argued for going after Al Qaeda and Afghanistan. Powell agreed with Clarke. Clarke would later write about the encounter, “Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.” Vice Admiral Wilson, head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), shared Clarke’s view. Wilson said, “It was clear since 9/12 or 9/13  that some in OSD [Office of Secretary of Defense] were aiming for Iraq.”
While Bush would tell everyone to focus on Al Qaeda and Afghanistan, he too was becoming swayed by the arguments about Iraq. Bush asked Clarke, “I want you to find whether Iraq did this [9/11]” after the 9/12 meeting. Clarke told him, “Mr. President al Qaeda did this,” and “we have looked several times for state sponsorship of al Qaeda and not found any real linkages to Iraq.” Bush responded by telling Clarke, “Look into Iraq, Saddam.” Clarke and FBI experts later wrote a report that found no connection between Iraq and 9/11. The report was rejected by either National Security Advisor Rice or her deputy Stephan Hadley, and told "Wrong answer … Do it again."
On 9/15/01 Bush and his top advisors met at Camp David to discuss responses to 9/11. Rice warned that the U.S. might get bogged down in Afghanistan and brought up attacking Iraq instead because it would be an easy victory. Wolfowitz agreed and said that there was a 10-50% chance Iraq was involved in 9/11 (a claim based upon nothing but his own assumptions and biases) and that the U.S. had to go after Saddam if it was serious about the war on terror. Rumsfeld joined in with the attack Iraq line as well. Powell said that the U.S. needed to stay focused on Al Qaeda because there was no link between Iraq and 9/11. He was supported by CIA Chief George Tenet and Bush’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Cheney too thought the U.S. needed to handle bin Laden first. Bush finally ended the discussion by saying that Iraq was off the table and the meeting needed to focus on Afghanistan. The next day on September 16, however, Bush told Rice that Afghanistan would be the first priority, but that Iraq would have to be dealt with in the future. Bush said at a National Security meeting on 9/17/06, “I believe Iraq was involved [in 9/11], but I’m not going to strike them now. I don’t have the evidence at this point.”
Iraq was obviously on the president’s mind and the Executive Branch would begin to search for links with 9/11. On 9/19/01 Bush asked CIA Chief Tenet to look into Iraq-Al Qaeda links and Cheney told Tenet that his staff had heard reports of a meeting between Iraqi intelligence and Mohamed Atta, leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in Prague 5 months before the attacks. Tenet said he would look into both, and got back to them on 9/21/01. Tenet told Bush that Iraq was not involved with 9/11, and that there was little evidence of collaboration between Saddam and bin Laden. This briefing was later turned into a longer report and given to Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, and others. Tenet also said that the alleged meeting between Atta and Iraqi intelligence in Prague probably didn’t happen because records showed that Atta was in the U.S. at the time. Cheney didn’t seem to believe that part of the briefing. By the next month, Cheney’s office had leaked the Atta story to its friends in the press. William Safire in the New York Times and James Woolsey, Clinton’s CIA chief and a neoconservative, in the Wall Street Journal both wrote columns stating that the Atta meeting happened and it was proof that Iraq was behind 9/11. U.S. intelligence continued to claim that the Atta story was false in various reports. The U.S. later captured the Iraqi intelligence official who supposedly met with Atta and he said it never happened. To this day Cheney and other neoconservatives still cling to this story as being true.
On 9/20/01 Bush would meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. British Ambassador to the U.S. Christopher Meyer said, “Rumors were already flying that Bush would use 9/11 as a pretext to attack Iraq.” During their meeting Blair told Bush to concentrate on Afghanistan. Bush replied, “I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan we must come back to Iraq.” Bush asked Blair whether he would be with him if the U.S. attacked Saddam, and Blair said yes.
IX. A Traditional View of States and Terrorism
”We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” Pres. Bush speech to Congress, 9/20/01
On 9/13/01, just two days after 9/11 Wolfowitz gave a press briefing at the Pentagon where he said, “I think one has to say it’s not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. And that’s why it has to be a broad and sustained campaign.” This was the first time someone in the administration had expanded the new war on terror from fighting terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda to states. The President would champion this view in a televised speech to Congress on 9/20/01 when he said, “We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” Bush, Wolfowitz and the neoconservatives had a traditional view of the world. States were the main actors, and states fight other states. Al Qaeda however, was a non-state terrorist group. Al Qaeda had been the one that supported the Taliban government in Afghanistan with money and fighters. Al Qaeda had gotten information about WMD off the internet. They had contacted Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist who was dealing nuclear technology secretly. Al Qaeda had not really relied on states, yet Bush and company mainly focused upon countries, first Afghanistan, and then Iraq, as the causes of terrorism. Wolfowitz’s and the President’s new talk alarmed Powell and the State Department however. They wanted to fight terrorists not “end states.” After hearing Wolfowtiz’s comments, Powell told reporters, “We’re after ending terrorism. And if there are states and regimes, nations that support terrorism, we hope to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop doing that. But I think ending terrorism is where I would like to leave it, and let Mr. Wolfowitz speak for himself.” The divisions within the administration were now coming out in the open.
X. Bush Doctrine of Preemption
“The overlap between states that sponsor terror and those that pursue WMD compels us to action. … To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary act preemptively.” National Security Strategy of the United States Of America, 9/17/02
Each administration in America is required to issue a National Security Strategy (NSS) to outline its foreign and security policy. On 9/17/02 Bush issued his first that introduced his new policy of preemption that would become known as the Bush Doctrine. The Doctrine had three main tenets: 1) The U.S. would not allow any country to challenge its power in the world, 2) The U.S. would work to spread democracy around the globe, and 3) If necessary, the U.S. would launch unilateral preemptive wars against its enemies based upon coalitions of the willing. The need for preemption was stressed because of the new threat posed by non-state terrorist organizations. According to the NSS, “The gravest danger our nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed. … And, as a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.” What the document put forth was an expansion of preemption, the effort to stop an imminent military attack, to prevention, a war to stop a threat far in the future. The Bush administration argued that in the age of terrorists and states seeking WMD and nuclear weapons, this old distinction between preemption and prevention needed to be dropped. The world was simply too dangerous after 9/11.
All of these ideas converged in Iraq. The U.S. saw Iraq as a threat to its power, especially because it was located in the oil rich Persian Gulf. The U.S. hoped to spread democracy throughout the region by overthrowing Saddam. The U.S. claimed that Iraq could give its WMD and nuclear weapons to terrorists such as Al Qaeda, and ultimately the U.S. would strike first, without a direct provocation, and launch a preventive war with only those countries willing to follow our lead. The problem with this policy was that in order to prevent a future threat the U.S. needed to be sure one existed. In the case of Iraq, the administration would get everything wrong. Bush, like most of the world thought Iraq had WMD, but it was the only country arguing that Saddam was a threat to world security. Likewise, there was little evidence to support an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection. After the war, neither WMD nor ties with Al Qaeda would be found in Iraq, undermining the whole basis for the invasion and Bush’s new doctrine. The administration would first claim that it had been right, and then simply blow off its own reasons for war.
Planning For War
XI. Creating Links Between Iraq & Al Qaeda
Within a very short period of time, they [the Pentagon’s Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group] began to find links that nobody else had previously understood or recorded in a useful way. They [noticed] things that nobody else had noticed. It was there all along, it simply hadn’t been noticed … because the CIA and DIA were not looking.” Richard Perle, Head of Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, October 2003
To find evidence to support its argument for war against Iraq, Rumsfeld told Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, to create the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group in October 2001. The policy group would go through existing intelligence reports to find links between Iraq and terrorism. The group would also illegally collect intelligence directly from Iraqi exiles, mainly the Iraqi National Congress (INC). Two neoconservatives with no experience in intelligence originally staffed the group. Their main thesis was that old divisions within the Muslim world, such as between Al Qaeda’s Islamists and secular Arab nationalists like Saddam, were breaking down and that various Islamic terrorist groups and states were all working together to attack the U.S. They claimed to have found dozens of examples of cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The group’s findings and intelligence were passed directly to Cheney and the White House, and later leaked to the press.
It was based upon these reports that Bush told reporters, “You can’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.” Officials throughout the administration would repeat this message in various speeches and testimony to Congress in the coming days. The propaganda campaign worked so well that a majority of Americans came to believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and was behind bin Laden. The problem was that the Pentagon unit was the only organization in the U.S. government telling the administration this. The president and his staff received over two dozen intelligence reports saying that there was no connection between Iraq, Al Qaeda or 9/11. Even the British, the U.S.’s closest ally on Iraq in the secret Downing Street memos said, “U.S. scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Aaida is so far frankly unconvincing.” The British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw went on to say, “In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL [bin Laden] and Al Qaida.”
Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives however were biased against the U.S. intelligence community, and especially the CIA. To them, the CIA had failed to predict past events such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, and therefore were not to be trusted about Iraq. To some such as Richard Perle, they were incompetent, “Let me be blunt about this. The level of competence on past performance of the Central Intelligence Agency, in this area [terrorism], is appalling.” Rather than listen to their intelligence reports, and even the views of their ally Britain, the war supporters in the administration turned to two neoconservatives in the Pentagon to prove that Iraq was behind the terrorist threat to the U.S.
XII. The Axis Of Evil
”I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.” Pres. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” State of the Union speech, January 2002
In Bush’s famous Axis of Evil State of the Union speech, he went public with some of the ideas laid out in his National Security Strategy. Not only was the administration going to argue that Iraq was behind terrorism and the 9/11 attacks, but it was also going to link terrorism, Iraq and WMD. According to the Bush administration, the gravest threat to the U.S. after 9/11 was that rogue states like Iraq would give its WMD or nuclear weapons to a terrorist group like Al Qaeda to attack America. As Bush said, “Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. … Alliances with terrorists could allow the Iraq regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.” There were various intelligence reports that Al Qaeda had wanted to acquire WMD and nuclear weapons but nothing solid to link them with Iraq. There were also intelligence reports that specifically refuted the idea that Iraq would give its weapons to any terrorist group let alone Al Qaeda, and that Iraq and Al Qaeda never cooperated anyway. None of this stopped the administration from making these claims against Iraq. The speech was in fact the opening public salvo in the push to war. David Frum, the man who wrote the speech was told, “Make the best case for war in Iraq, but leave exit ramps.”
XIII. Turning Iraq Into A Threat
”Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” Dick Cheney, Vice President speech, 8/26/02
There were internal disputes within the intelligence community about what exactly Iraq was doing for example over the aluminum tubes that Iraq had tried to buy, were they for centrifuges to enrich uranium for an atomic bomb, or were they simply rocket tubes, and whether Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger. However, the general consensus opinion had not changed since the end of the Clinton administration. Individual reports included plenty of “probably has”, “could be used for”, “suggests”, and even “no reliable information on”, but U.S. intelligence still believed Iraq had restarted its WMD and nuclear programs after U.N. inspectors left in 1998.
The CIA, DIA, and others were making report after report about how Iraq had not only restarted its weapons programs, but that they were actually larger than before the Gulf War. The proof was usually very thin, and would prove to be completely false after the war. For example, in April 2002 the CIA claimed that Iraq was expanding its nuclear weapons program based upon two reports. First, there was a report that Iraq had a new building for its atomic agency. The new building was to replace the old one that had been bombed by the Clinton administration. The CIA had no idea what was going on within the building, but because the atomic agency had worked on nuclear weapons before the Gulf War, it was assumed that their new building would be used for the same purposes. Also, the CIA received a report that a new PhD program offering studies in nuclear energy was to be begun in Iraq. It was simply assumed that this was part of Iraq’s covert weapons program. Likewise, in early 2002 there was photographic intelligence of a suspicious vehicle that might be a decontamination unit parked outside a Republican Guard munitions dump that had been used for WMD before the Gulf War. The photo was used as evidence that Iraq still had WMD munitions. When U.N. inspections began again in late 2002 this vehicle turned out to be a fire truck and no traces of WMD were found at the site. This was some of the “proof” the intelligence community used to support its claims.
Even Bush, when presented with the best evidence on Iraq by the CIA didn’t think there was enough to convince the American public that Iraq was a threat. He asked whether that was all the U.S. had on Saddam. CIA Chief George Tenet famously replied, “It’s a slam dunk case!” Within the administration it was decided that WMD was the one issue that could unify the fractured foreign policy establishment. As Wolfowitz would tell Vanity Fair, “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason.” Tenet, in making his “dunk” comment, was throwing in his lot with the war party.
By the fall of 2002, the administration was including its claims against Iraq in its public statements. Cheney gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on 8/26/02 outlining the threat of Iraq and the certainty that he had about them possessing WMD. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 9/10/02 that Iraq had plans for 2 nuclear bombs. He didn’t mention that neither of these bomb plans were practical. The administration continued to feed stories to the press and provide Iraqi defectors to support their argument as well.
These facts weren’t adding up to some though. In the summer of 2002 as part of the on-going war planning, lists and documents were drawn up on Iraqi targets to be hit during the war. A senior military officer who reviewed some of these stated, “The target list didn’t match the text. The text was full of ‘We’re not sure, we don’t know this.’” When he looked at the target list it had, “About one hundred ‘confirmed or possible’ weapons of mass destruction sites.” Another military officer complained to the CIA when given the lists because they were exactly the same as those given out during the 1991 Gulf War. When pressed, the CIA said that was all that they had. A friendly foreign government told the U.S. that while Iraq retained its nuclear establishment, many of its engineers and scientists had died, retired or left Iraq since 1999. The British released a report stating that U.N. sanctions had worked to block Iraq’s nuclear program, “While sanctions remain effective, Iraq would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon.” Overall Tony Blair’s government in England, America’s closest ally in the Iraq war, felt America’s case was weak. The secret Downing Street memos written in July 2002 noting a conversation amongst Blair’s national security advisors said, “Case against Iraq was thin. Saddam not a threat to its neighbors and WMD was less than Libya, North Korea or Iran.”
The administration itself could never get its figures to match up. Two examples were Iraq’s anthrax stockpile and missiles. When U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998 they said Iraq only had 2 unaccounted for SCUD missiles. During the Bush administration, Iraq was charged with hiding 6 missiles, then 12, then 20, then a couple dozen. Likewise, the U.N. speculated that Iraq had the capability to produce up to 30,000 liters of anthrax in 1998. Bush, in his 2002 State of the Union Speech said that Iraq could produce up to 25,000 liters of anthrax. By October 2002 Bush was claiming between 30,000-120,000 liters. On 12/9/02 the State Department claimed that Iraq had produced 26,000 liters, and finally in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union the amount had fallen back to 25,000 liters. There was no proof that Iraq had actually produced this stockpile, it only had the capability, but as time passed the administration began claiming that they had.
The administration also presented the worse case scenarios about the threat posed by Iraq as it cherry picked intelligence reports. As a January 2004 study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found, “Administration officials systematically misrepresented the threat from Iraq’s WMD … by: Insisting without evidence – yet treating as a given truth – that Saddam Hussein would give whatever WMD he possessed to terrorists. Routinely dropping cavets, probabilities, and expressions of uncertainty present in intelligence assessments from public statements.” For example, beginning in September 2002 the administration began claiming that Iraq could have a nuclear bomb within a year. On 9/8/02 administration sources leaked the story to the New York Times and included their new catch phrase, “The first sign of a ‘smoking gun,’ they [the administration] argue may be a mushroom cloud.” That same day Rice went on CNN and repeated the phrase, to be followed by the President himself in a speech in October 2002 in Cincinnati. What the administration failed to say was that intelligence reports did say that Iraq could have a nuclear device within a year if they were able to smuggle in enriched uranium and gain foreign technical assistance to process it for use in a bomb, neither of which they had. Their warnings again skipped the fact that Iraq never had a workable bomb plan to begin with. The claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger was even a worse case of the Administration trying to paint Iraq as a threat. The validity of the claim had been a major source of debate within the intelligence community, and when the administration had tried to include it in a previous speech CIA Chief Tenet told them not to. When it came to Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address, the Niger claim was finally included, this despite another warning by the CIA. To cover itself, the White House changed the language so Bush said that Iraq was looking to purchase uranium from “Africa” according to “British” sources. In May 2003 the President’s own Foreign Intelligence Board found after an investigation, that the White House was so desperate to find evidence against Iraq that it included the Niger claim despite warnings not to use it.
XIV. Conflicts Over Military Planning For Iraq
“Here may be the clearest manifestation of OSD’s [Office of the Secretary of Defense] contempt for the accumulated wisdom of the military profession and of the assumption among forward thinkers that technology … has rendered obsolete the conventions traditionally governing the preparation and conduct of war.” Prof. Andrew Bacevich, retired Army colonel, Boston Univ., 2006
At the first meeting of Bush’s National Security Council in January 2001, the president told Rumsfeld to begin revising military plans against Iraq. After 9/11 this became a greater concern within the Pentagon. The planning caused all kinds of tension.
First, some in the military did not understand why the U.S. was going after Iraq when it hadn’t even finished with Al Qaeda. Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, the Director of Operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed this opinion in the summer of 2002, “Why Iraq? Why now? … All of us understood the fight was against the terrorists, and we were willing to do anything in that regard – so ‘Why are we diverting assets and attentions?’” Newbold would be the only senior military officer to resign because of his opposition to the Iraq war.
Second, there were disputes about how much the civilians in the Defense Department were going to have in the actual war planning. Rumsfeld was known for his micromanagement and dismissal of counter views. Deputy Sec. of Defense Wolfowitz was seen as an ideologue obsessed with Iraq, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Feith was considered an ideologue as well, but also an idiot. Gen. Tommy Franks, head of CENTCOM, said that Feith was “The dumbest fucking guy on the planet.” The military felt that the civilian leadership lacked the experience and knowledge to make sound military judgments and continually ignored the advice of senior generals. There were even some meetings in the Pentagon where military officers were banned from attending. For example, a few months before the war started there was a planning session at the Pentagon. Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, then director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was waiting outside when he was told he couldn’t take part. A senior officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt, “They [the civilian leaders of the Pentagon] did not take the best military advice. … To this day I feel I let people down and the dead American soldiers have paid a price for that.”
The main point of contention became over how many troops to send into Iraq. Rumsfeld did not like the war planning because it called for hundreds of thousands of troops. Rumsfeld was into transforming the military into a lean, high tech force. The easy victory in Afghanistan had convinced him that the U.S. could go into Iraq light and fast. Therefore, every time Rumsfeld sat down with military officers he low-balled the troop levels. At one of the very first meetings on the subject, he threw out the figure of less than 10,000 soldiers. Gen. Franks was finally able to work out a troop deployment of around 175,000, which included British units, a number many, like the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq Lt. Gen. David McKiernan and his number two, Maj. Gen. James Thurman, were unhappy with. When the invasion actually began in March 2003 Gen. Thurman said, “We wanted more combat power on the ground.” These disputes would continue after the invasion as the President and Rumsfeld would continually claim that the military was given all of the troops it wanted to occupy Iraq. That was far from the truth.
There were also casualties in this feud. On 2/25/03 General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that several hundred thousand soldiers would be needed to occupy Iraq. Immediately after the hearing Wolfowitz called up Secretary of the Army Thomas White to complain. Wolfowitz later told the House Budget Committee that Shinseki was “way off the mark,” and Wolfowitz would personally confront Shinseki over his testimony. Afterwards an Air Force officer said, “After seeing Wolfowitz chew down a four-star, I don’t think anyone was going to raise their head up and make a stink about it [the war plans].” Shinseki was eventually forced out. Later Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz forbade the Pentagon from making estimates about the cost of the war. They repeatedly said that since wars were uncertain, they couldn’t make predictions about their costs. Wolfowitz told the House Budget Committee on 2/27/03, “Fundamentally, we have no idea what is needed unless and until we get there on the ground.” People in the bureaucracy and military got the message that if they spoke up it would be professional suicide.
XV. Resistance To The U.N.
”Our position … was that Saddam was an outlaw. … We already had all the U.N. resolutions we needed to go to war. We didn’t think we needed any more arguments to justify it, or its legality.” White House official, April 2002
Another argument over the Iraq war broke out within Bush’s cabinet about whether the U.N. should be involved. Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives were distrustful of international organizations, especially the U.N., which they saw as ineffective and full of anti-American countries. They also argued that there were plenty of U.N. resolutions already about Iraq and its WMD and that those were enough. Powell and the State Department, however, argued that in order to legitimize a U.S. invasion it needed to get international support in the form of a U.N. resolution. Tony Blair also pushed Bush in this direction. In a face-to-face meeting with Bush in August 2002, Powell was finally able to win the bureaucratic wars when the president said that he would go to the U.N.
Even though Powell was able to win a temporary victory within the administration, he still faced many opponents. Cheney and Rumsfeld were both against the plan and tried to undercut Powell’s position. Wolfowitz, as far back as January 2002 was attempting to find faults with the U.N. weapons inspectors. In that month, he ordered a CIA investigation into chief weapons inspector Hans Blix. Wolfowitz believed that while head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in the 1990s, Blix had been soft on the Iraqis. When the CIA delivered its report stating that Blix had done a good job and that weapons inspectors had worked, Wolfowitz “hit the ceiling” according to a former State Department official.
On 9/12/02 Bush gave a speech to the U.N. calling for a new resolution on Iraq because it was hiding illegal WMD. After the speech the U.S. began drafting the new resolution 1441 and what new demands would be made on Iraq. Problems immediately arose between the U.S. and France over those demands, while the U.S. put huge pressure on the members of the Security Council, to get them to support 1441. The Mexican U.N. ambassador, who was then on the Security Council, said, “We were constantly told that there were certain positions that could not be changed, because the Defense Department or the White House will not allow this to be changed.”
Opponents of the U.N. route within the administration continued to attack the process. The White House Information Group that was in charge of propaganda on Iraq released a report entitled “A Decade of Deception and Defiance” that said Iraq had never complied with previous U.N. inspectors, implying that they wouldn’t in the future. Time magazine ran an article that quoted neoconservatives within the administration saying that Iraq had been able to fool inspectors before and that they expected the same this time. They also attacked the competency of Blix. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the inspection team was weak and that, “The more inspectors that are in there, the less likely something’s going to happen.” On 10/30/02 just before inspections were scheduled to begin, Hans Blix met with Cheney in the White House. Cheney told Blix that if the U.N. didn’t find WMD the U.S. would discredit the inspectors as a waste and move onto other methods to disarm Iraq. All along, the U.N. route was not an end, but a means. The U.S. did not believe that the U.N. could actually disarm Iraq rather the administration was hoping that either Saddam would reject the inspections or accept them, but lie about his weapons programs. Either way, the U.S. would find its excuse for war.
XVI. Congress Supports The President
”Members were intimidated.” Sen. Robert Byrd, October 2002
During the run up to war, Congress was fairly silent. In October 2002, it voted on a war resolution authorization Bush to use force against Iraq if necessary. Bush had gotten the vote moved up to right before the November elections so that Republicans could use it against any Democrats who didn’t support it. The Democrats were already scared of being called weak on defense, especially after 9/11, so the Democratic Caucus had decided to get the vote out of the way as soon as possible. The vote took place in mid-October with 77 out of 100 Senators and 296 out of 435 Representatives supporting the resolution. The Republicans obviously endorsed the resolution, and a majority of Senate Democrats backed it, while in the House the majority of Democrats were against it. As Sen. Robert Byrd said, “Members were intimidated” by what could happen to them in November, just as Bush had planned.
As events spiraled forward toward war in early 2003, Congress still raised very few questions. Several administration officials such as Wolfowitz and Feith testified to congressional committees, but refused to give specifics about war planning and were never pushed about it. The Republicans obviously didn’t want to question Bush, and the Democrats either couldn’t or wouldn’t. Congress would basically rubber stamp the war, and would remain largely silent in the preceding years even as events flew out of control. Sen. Josef Biden would lament at the time, “The American people have no notion of what we are about to undertake.”
XVII. Undercutting U.N. Inspectors
”[Cheney] stated the position that inspections, if they do not give results, cannot go forward, and said the U.S. was ‘ready to discredit inspections in favor of disarmament.’ A pretty straight way, I thought, of saying that if we did not soon find the weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. was convinced Iraq possessed (though they did not know where), the U.S. would be ready to say that the inspectors were useless and embark on disarmament by other means.” Hans Blix, Chief U.N. Inspector, 6/9/05
When U.N. inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally returned to Iraq in November 2002 they ran into the usual foot dragging and opposition by Iraqi authorities. The main issues were over interviewing Iraqi scientists and aerial flights over the country, but both of those were eventually resolved by early 2003. At the same time the U.S. was not really helping with the inspections either. When the U.N. asked for intelligence from the U.S. it would not share everything. Months after inspections had ended Blix told the BBC that only 3 of the sites the U.S. told the U.N. about turned up anything, none of which was related to WMD. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s July 2004 report on pre-war Iraq intelligence found that the U.S. never fully cooperated with the U.N.
Administration officials also continued their attacks on the ability of inspectors to find anything. In January 2003 when the IAEA issued its initial report that found that the aluminum tubes the U.S. claimed were for centrifuges were really for rockets, the administration told the New York Times, “I think the Iraqis are spinning the IAEA.” That same month when Blix issued a report saying that inspectors had found no WMD, but that Iraq had not fully accounted for its previous stockpiles, was working on illegal missile programs, and hadn’t allowed U-2 flights, the White House chose to attack the report. Towards the end of inspections an administration official told the New York Times on 3/2/03 that, “Inspectors have turned out to be a trap. They have become a false measure of disarmament in the eyes of the people. We're not counting on Blix to do much of anything for us." Whatever inspectors found, the U.S. was not listening. In March 2005 the Bush appointed Robb-Silberman Commission found that the administration routinely ignored findings of U.N. inspectors.
The peak of the U.S.’s critique of the U.N. process came in February 2003 when Powell gave his speech to the Security Council. Powell’s main point was that Iraq was not cooperating with the United Nations inspectors, and was trying to hide its weapons programs. Powell was given a 90-page dossier by Cheney’s office to be the basis of his speech. Most of the information came from the Pentagon’s Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group. Powell didn’t trust his rivals though so he spent days at the CIA going over intelligence to be used in his speech. This information didn’t prove to be any better than what he got from Cheney’s office, as almost everything he said would prove to be false. The Senate Intelligence Committee later found, “Much of the information provided or cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency for inclusion in Secretary Powell’s speech was overstated, misleading, or incorrect.” The public was unaware of these deficiencies however and Powell’s speech generally calmed critics. The administration’s stance had always been trust us, and Powell convinced many to do just that based upon his prestige and standing. As an example, a few days later when the IAEA found no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program, the story was largely ignored.
XVIII. U.S. And Its Allies
“Why now? … Are we in a situation where we should resort to violence now? … Excuse me, I am not convinced.” Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister at western security conference, February 2003
Blix told the media that inspections were working and that the U.N. only needed more time. Most of the world seemed to agree with him. While the international community believed that Iraq had WMD, few of them saw Iraq as a threat or immediate danger, and thus were willing to give the inspectors all the time they needed. The U.S. however had never thought that the inspections would really work, they were just looking for an excuse for war. An officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff commented, “If we don’t find weapons, that means Saddam is cheating and that means we go to war. If we find weapons, that means Saddam is cheating, because he is hiding them.”
In February 2003 Rumsfeld went to an annual security conference in Germany where he berated the NATO allies about their lack of support for the U.S.’s effort against Iraq. He asked how could reasonable people not support the U.S. and warned that the U.S.’s patience was waning for Europe to join the Coalition of the Willing. Rumsfeld’s comments only aggravated America’s allies. After his speech came German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer who asked, Why now? Why war? Was the U.S. really ready to occupy Iraq? Did they really believe that democracy would blossom there? The two views showed the divide between America and many of its European friends who Rumsfeld dismissed as the “old Europe.” The neoconservatives and Cheney believed that if America acted decisively and used its power with purpose, its allies would eventually follow suite. Instead, the administration’s heavy handed tactics and dismissal of countries that didn’t follow its lead left the U.S. isolated, and in many areas hated and distrusted, as it went to war with a coalition made up mostly of small nations, Britain, Spain, Italy and much of Eastern Europe. Today the U.S. still finds itself isolated on many foreign policy initiatives because of its actions leading up to the war.
XIX. Failing To Plan For After The War
”There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.” Sir Richard Dearlove, British MI6 Intelligence Chief, Downing Street Memo, 7/23/02
The U.S. worked on the war plans for Iraq for over a year before the actual invasion. It was a top priority of both the civilian and military leadership within the Pentagon. Planning for after the war on the other hand, was uncoordinated, haphazard, and derided by the top brass in the Defense Department. Since the Pentagon was out front in pushing for war it felt that the Iraq operation was its baby. Thomas White, Secretary of the Army said, “With DOD [Department of Defense] the first issue was, we’ve got to control this thing – so everyone else is suspect. And the second thing was, we had the mind-set this would be a relatively straight-forward manageable task, because this would be a war of liberation and therefore the reconstruction would be short-lived.”
While Rumsfeld continued to argue with the military about how many troops were to be sent into Iraq, he put his Deputy Feith in charge of the political side of the war and to take care of post-war planning under a new organization called the Office of Special Plans (OSP). Feith was already known for being disorganized, and OSP did little in the way of actual planning. Things got so bad the Pentagon transferred postwar planning to CENTCOM. That failed as well, so the task was sent back to the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s planning was limited by the fact that Army training and doctrine emphasized winning the battle at hand. What happened afterwards was someone else’s problem. The Army believed that the war would be short and quick, afterwards the international community would step in and handle reconstruction and security, the Iraqi bureaucracy would still be around to handle day to day affairs, and the military could go home in just a few months. None of this proved right.
The State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Senate Foreign Relations were also looking into postwar planning. In total, there were 10 separate government organizations at one time or another working on this task. None of this work was coordinated, and their tasks were carried out with varying degrees of success.
The State Department, which historically had dealt with postwar situations got started first in October 2001 and was the most extensive. It spent millions of dollars to bring together Middle East experts and Iraqi exiles in its Future of Iraq Project that produced 13 volumes of information about what could happen in the country after a war. One of those volumes said that security and law and order immediately after fighting stopped would be the top priority. The CIA carried out a series of gaming situations to make predictions about what could happen in Iraq. One recurring problem was public disorder after the invasion. Similarly, an Iraqi exile told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “The system of public security will break down, because there will be no functioning police force, no civil service, and no justice.” On the first day after fighting he continued, “There will be a vacuum of political authority and administrative authority. The infrastructure of vital sectors will have to be restored. An adequate police force must be trained and equipped as quickly as possible. And the economy will have to be jump-started.” These predictions would become prophetic, and tragic because they were completely ignored by the Pentagon and military.
Some within the administration simply carried out public relations stunts, while others proved to be symbolic of the dysfunction within the Bush administration. An example of the former would be the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that brought together non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in postwar and humanitarian situations, only to tell them that everything would be fine after the war because the U.S. would be seen as liberators. They were told to dispense this message by the Defense Department, and no actual planning took place at their meetings. Other organizations were victims of the vicious in fighting within the administration. National Security Advisor Rice twice tried to take control of the planning by creating interagency groups within the National Security Council (NSC). The first was destroyed by rivalries between State, Defense and the NSC, while the second came up with a comprehensive plan for Iraq, briefed Bush about it, but than never sent its idea to the Pentagon, OSP, or the U.S. invasion force. The Defense Dept. relied upon neoconservatives and Iraqi exiles led by the Iraqi National Congress for most of their planning and was told that the U.S. would not really have to worry about postwar Iraq because the U.S. would be freeing the country from Saddam. Rumsfeld also banned Pentagon officials from working with others in the government working on Iraq. Iraq was suppose to be the Defense Department’s show and no one else. A four star general felt frustration over this approach when he said, “There was a conscious cutting off of advice and concerns, so that the guy who ultimately had to make the decision, the president, didn’t get the advice. … Concern was raised about what would happen in the postwar period, how you would deal with this decapitated country. It was blown off. Concern about a long-term occupation – that was discounted. The people around the president were so, frankly, intellectually arrogant. They knew that postwar Iraq would be easy and would be a catalyst for change in the Middle East. They were making simplistic assumptions and refused to put them to the test. … These are educated men, they are smart men. But they are not wise men.”
On 1/20/03 the White House officially gave postwar Iraq to the Pentagon instead of the State Department who had historically handled such situations. This was a victory for Rumsfeld over his rivals within the administration. The irony was that Rumsfeld didn’t want to deal with Iraq after the war. Getting control of operations was simply a prize to be denied his rivals. Not only that, but the Pentagon had no experience in running a post-conflict situation. A RAND Corp. study done after the invasion noted, “Overall, this approach worked poorly because the Defense Department lacked the experience, expertise, funding, authority, local knowledge, and established contacts with other potential organizations needed to establish, staff, support and oversee a large multiagency civilian mission,” like was required in Iraq.
The Pentagon created another new organization for the task, the Office Of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Aid (ORHA). Retired Gen. Jay Garner was put in charge. ORHA was supposed to be under the authority of Feith’s Office Of Special Plans (OSP), but the two never talked. ORHA had a similar attitude with the military in the Pentagon. Garner came up with 3 operations to be conducted after the war: humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and civil administration. Humanitarian planning was the only part that was given serious consideration. Garner said this was because he was never given much money to work with and the Pentagon didn’t seem to care about the other two. For example, during a planning session with CENTCOM postwar looting was brought up, but the CENTCOM officers said they couldn’t talk about that. Not only that, ORHA had little information about the internal working of Iraq anyways such as what Iraq’s ministries did so they didn’t plan for how to make them work after the war. Cheney and Rumsfeld also tried to bar Garner from hiring officials outside of the Pentagon, especially if they were from the State Department or not sufficiently pro-war.
Garner would run into his own problems when he gave his one and only press conference before flying to Kuwait in March 2003. He was asked whether the U.S. would hand over power to Ahmad Chalabi and the INC. He said no. Immediately afterwards he was called several times by Feith and told that his comments had damaged the INC and embarrassed Chalabi. Garner told Feith why didn’t he call his own press conference and say that the U.S. was going to put Chalabi in power. Feith said he couldn’t do that. Garner told him, “Then get off my ass.” Garner wasn’t allowed another press conference by the Pentagon on orders of the White House. After that Garner and ORHA were on a tight leash. Feith sent two Pentagon officials to oversee ORHA and help Chalabi in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s own spokesman Larry Di Rita was assigned to follow Garner everywhere. ORHA officials felt like the Pentagon was spying on them so they stayed in line with the administration’s message about Iraq.
The neoconservatives within the administration had hopes that Ahmad Chalabi would become the new leader of Iraq after Saddam. To further this goal the Pentagon formed its own Iraqi exile organization, called the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council. Only individuals and groups that supported Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC) were allowed to join. Feith also set up a program to train 6000 INC fighters to go in with U.S. forces to give the INC prestige in liberating the country. Camps were set up in Hungary but only 70 Iraqis showed up. Long after the war, Chalabi and various neoconservatives blamed the chaos in Iraq after the war on the State Department for not creating this force. They forgot to mention that it was a Pentagon program that never materialized.
The cause of the chaotic state of postwar planning started at the top. Rumsfeld refused to consider the postwar situation because he was against nation building. To him, what happened after the war was someone else’s responsibility. Gen. Franks at CENTCOM, and Gen. McKiernan, head of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, agreed with Rumsfeld because that was official U.S. military doctrine. Wolfowitz and the neoconservatives believed that the INC could take over after the war. Either way, postwar planning was not important and even considered a detriment to the more important war phase.
Just as with the war planning, people who spoke up or questioned the leadership were reprimanded and eventually forced out of office. An example is the issue of the cost of the war. Because the war planners thought conquering Iraq would be so easy they threw out a series of low estimates for reconstruction. The head of USAID told Ted Koppel on Nightline that rebuilding Iraq would only cost the U.S. $1.7 billion because other countries would pay for the majority of rebuilding Iraq. Who those other countries might be, especially after how the U.S. had treated its allies, was not elaborated upon. The Office Of Management and Budget only asked Congress for $2.5 billion in reconstruction funds, while Wolfowitz testified to the House that Iraq’s $15-$20 billion a year oil revenues would pay for the whole thing. Bush’s economic advisor however, Lawrence Lindsay told the Wall Street Journal that the war and occupation could cost up to $200 billion. In the long run Lindsay proved much closer to the truth than others in the administration, but he was fired within a month after the article appeared.
XX. The U.S. Will Be Greeted As Liberators
”I think people are overly pessimistic about the aftermath.” Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, December 2002
One of the reasons why people like Wolfowitz didn’t pay much attention to postwar planning was their assessment of what Iraq would be like after Saddam. While the administration tended to give the worst-case scenarios about Iraq’s threat to the U.S., they gave the best-case situations about postwar Iraq. Cheney, Wolfowitz, and others made various statements about how the U.S. would be greeted as liberators. Cheney for one told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002, “As for the reaction of the Arab ‘street,’ the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets of Basra and Baghdad are sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.” They also believed that after years of dictatorship the Iraqi people would embrace Western style democracy. This would cause a domino affect throughout the region. By one simply act, the invasion of Iraq, the entire Middle East could be transformed and terrorism undermined. As Cheney argued at the same August speech, “Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. When the gravest of threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace. … Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of Jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.” It was the neoconservative utopian vision of revolution.
On a more practical level, they also believed that Iraq’s government would continue to run the day after the war ended. Bush and other war supporters liked to compare the future occupation of Iraq to the handling of Germany and Japan after WWII, which led to the reconstruction and transformation of those two countries into democracies. The analogy failed to note that Germany and Japan had been parliamentary democracies before WWII, and thus had experience and institutions to support democratization. Iraq had no such history. Germany and Japan had also been unified countries with a strong sense of nationalism, this was also lacking in Iraq that was divided along ethnic and religious lines. Finally, the Axis were thoroughly defeated by the Allies and their publics were ready for peace. The same thing could not be said about postwar Iraq.
Based on these beliefs, Rumsfeld made plans for the majority of U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq three months after the war was won. As Secretary of the Army White said, “Their view was almost theological in nature – that it was going to go the way they said it was going to go.”
XXI. War Was Not The Last Resort
“There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” Downing Street Memos, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Cabinet, July 2002
The Bush administration always publicly claimed that war was the last resort. If war was going to happen Saddam made the choice, forcing Bush into being a reluctant warrior. As Bush said in a speech in October 2002, “Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action. Yet, if Iraq is to avoid military action by the international community, it has the obligation to prove compliance with all the world’s demands. It’s the obligation of Iraq.” That was far from the truth.
Earlier in July 2002, Tony Blair’s cabinet had a meeting after a trip to the U.S. The discussions were included in the secret Downing Street memos. British intelligence chief Sir Richard Dearlove reported, “There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” War plans at the Pentagon and CENTCOM were already being worked on and the government’s public relations campaign was in full swing to convince the public that Iraq was connected to Al Qaeda, had WMD, and wanted a nuclear bomb to threaten the U.S. By December 2002 Bush ordered the deployment of troops to the Persian Gulf for the invasion.
In January 2003 Bush and Blair directly discussed their war plans during a meeting at the White House. This was recorded in another secret British memo from 1/13/03. The U.S. and England had already decided that the war would begin on March 10, 2003. The problem was that they didn’t have an excuse to start it. U.N. and IAEA inspectors were in Iraq at the time, but finding no evidence of WMD, which had been Bush and Blair’s main case for war. Bush said that they did not need a second U.N. resolution, but they still needed a rationale. Faced with this dilemma Bush came up with several different scenarios to provoke war. One plan was to paint a U.S. spy plane in U.N. colors and fly it over Iraq with U.S. fighter protection in hopes that Saddam would order an attack on it. Bush also hoped that an Iraqi defector would come forward with claims about Iraq’s WMD. Another faint hope was that Saddam would simply be assassinated. Both sides went away to ponder how to start the war.
By March 2003 Bush was ready and willing. Powell told the U.N. that Iraq had not disarmed based upon the fact that it was not cooperating with weapons inspectors. Blix and the IAEA reported the exact opposite. The IAEA found no renewed nuclear program, no evidence to support claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger, and said that most of Iraq’s nuclear facilities had deteriorated since 1998 rather than been rebuilt and expanded as U.S. intelligence and the administration claimed. Blix said inspections were working, that Iraq was finally cooperating, and that the process needed more time. Despite the U.S.’s claims of thousands of WMD munitions and materials, inspectors had only found 16 empty WMD shells, 16 empty WMD rockets, and one 155 mm artillery shell filled with WMD that had been left over from the Iran-Iraq War. None of that mattered to Bush because he had already decided upon war no matter what the U.N. found. The U.S. set a unilateral deadline of 3/17/03 for Iraq to disarm. When that day came, Bush gave Saddam 48 hours to leave Iraq. Bush said, "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." Bombing started on the night of 3/19/03 when U.S. intelligence believed that it had found Saddam and his top advisors in Baghdad. Bush OK’d a cruise missile attack to try to take Saddam out. Like most intelligence about Iraq, this proved to be wrong, but the war was on.
XXII. Continued Chaos Over Postwar Planning
“We don’t owe the people of Iraq anything. We’re giving them their freedom. That’s enough.” Larry Di Rita, Rumsfeld’s Spokesman, April 2003
Postwar planning for Iraq fared no better after the war actually started. On 3/16/03 Garner and his ORHA staff flew to Kuwait. There Garner and his inner circle of advisors disappeared into their hotel rooms where no one saw them for two days. Garner had almost no contact with his staff even after that. ORHA couldn’t get phones and Pentagon officials usually shut out the State Department at meetings leading to little serious work. In Kuwait, the ORHA finally came up with a plan for Iraq called “A Unified Mission Plan for Post-Hostilities Iraq.” It called for the rebuilding of Iraq’s infrastructure, reform of the government’s ministries, an interim government would be appointed, a constitution would be written, elections held, and then Iraq would govern itself. All of this was to be accomplished by August 2003 when the plan called for a U.S. withdrawal. Garner also got the OK of Bush and the Pentagon to use the Iraqi army to help with reconstruction. Garner said he planned on working on this project for 90 days and then he would go home. There were two big problems with this plan, one, Garner never sent the document to Washington to be officially okayed, and he never told his staff about it.
People in ORHA were questioning whether Garner was really in control anyways by that time because of the presence of Rumsfeld’s spokesperson Larry Di Rita who followed Garner everywhere as a kind of watchdog. In early April 2003 a USAID member said that the U.S. needed to show early success to win over the Iraqis to which Di Rita replied, “We don’t owe the people of Iraq anything. We’re giving them their freedom. That’s enough.” As if that wasn’t enough, officials from Feith’s OSP showed up in Kuwait, leaving the ORHA staff with more evidence that the Pentagon was spying on them.
To Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Gen. Franks, things were fine. It seemed like the U.S. leadership had no plan, but they did. It was a vision of the best-case scenario for postwar Iraq, which proved to be completely wrong. They didn’t want any extensive postwar planning because they thought this would be a quick, fast and simple war. The U.S. would march in with a small force that could technologically dominate the battlefield as Rumsfeld envisioned. The people would greet the troops as liberators for freeing them from the oppression of Saddam Hussein just as Cheney and Wolfowitz claimed. Garner would take care of any humanitarian crisis and get the Iraqi army and government back to work as the ORHA was set up for. The international community, although spurned at first for not following America’s lead, would step in with aid once it saw America’s power just as the military predicted. Finally, Iraq’s oil industry would pay for almost all the reconstruction just like Wolfowitz told Congress. In the end, the U.S. would be out of the country in just a few months, exactly as Gen. Franks had outlined in his war plan. Mission accomplished as a banner behind Pres. Bush would say in May. The realities were about to slap the taste of victory out of America’s mouth.
XXIII. The Rush To Baghdad
”The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we ‘war-gamed against.’” Lt. Gen. William Wallace, Commander V Corps in Iraq, March 2003
The war itself was progressing quickly, but not smoothly. The Coalition went in with five divisions totaling 175,000 troops including the British. On 3/22/03 the U.S. experienced its first irregular attack by Saddam’s Fedayeen, which was a big surprise. A few days later four U.S. soldiers were killed in the first suicide bombing in Iraq. One week into combat Lt. Gen. William Wallace, commander of V Corps told reporters, “The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we ‘war-gamed against.’” These problems led to public complaints about the light invasion force Rumsfeld had put together by ex-officers turned media consultants. Things were made worse when Rumsfeld cut the final division that was suppose to enter at the end of the war as reinforcements. The division was suppose to sweep through western Iraq’s Anbar province. This would prove to be a fateful decision as Anbar would be the birthplace of the Sunni insurgency in just a few weeks. Overall, the war was portrayed as a shining success with mistakes such as Jessica Lynch turned into heroism and fierce battles such as in Nasiriya only remembered by viewers of the History Channel.
The immediate problems would arise when the U.S. reached Baghdad. Military historian Kenneth Kagan has written that “The most important component of war … [is to provide] a reliable recipe for translating the destruction of the enemy’s ability to continue to fight into the accomplishment of the political objects of the conflict.” Basically how do you turn your tactics into achieving your strategic goals? Rumsfeld and Franks had not even considered the political side of the Iraq war. When U.S. troops controlled Baghdad the Pentagon declared fighting over on 4/14/03. The next day Bush attended a NSC meeting where they discussed four international peacekeeping divisions taking over Iraq. Even though many countries had opposed the war, it was just assumed that they would help the U.S. afterwards. Gen. Franks arrived in Baghdad on 4/16/03 and told his commanders to be ready to withdraw in 60 days. Because Franks, Rumsfeld and others lacked a strategic vision for their campaign, they had no idea what to do next. If the goal was to create democracy, overthrowing the government was only the first step. Yet that was all that the Pentagon had really planned for. The rest was simply suppose to take care of itself. As Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellog of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “There was no real plan. The thought was, you didn’t need it. The assumption was that everything would be fine after the war, they’d ‘be happy they got rid of Saddam.’”
Back in Washington the war supporters were too busy having victory parties to think of the consequences of their actions. Administration officials were feeling triumphant and issuing public warnings to Syria, Iran and others that they might be next. Military intelligence on the other hand sent out the following warning, “It is premature to be doing victory laps. The hard part is going to be occupation. The Israelis won in six days – but have been fighting ever since – for thirty years.”
XXIV. War Leads To Chaos
”Stuff happens and it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes, and commit crimes and do bad things.” Donald Rumsfeld, Sec. of Defense press conference, 4/11/03
On the 2nd day of the war, a USAID contractor for ORHA asked some military officers in Kuwait what the plan was for policing Iraq. He found out there was no plan. ORHA was supposed to take care of that but no one told them. There were few military police around anyway. As part of Rumsfeld’s light invasion force he cut the number of military police companies from 20 to less than 3. The lack of security became apparent as soon as the English reached the southern city of Basra. Iraqis began swarming out into the streets, not so much to greet the British, but to rob and steal. The same occurred in Baghdad and various other cities around the country when Coalition forces arrived. In the midst of the anarchy Rumsfeld told reporters, “Stuff happens! But in terms of what’s going on in that country, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over, and over, and over again of some boy walking out with a vase and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, you didn’t have a plan.’ That’s nonsense. They [U.S. forces] know what they’re doing, and they’re doing a terrific job. And it’s untidy, and freedom’s unity, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that’s what’s going to happen here.” Somehow Rumsfeld equated robbing and stealing with expressions of freedom. U.S. troops were never told what to do after hostilities had halted, which was why they stood by doing nothing as Iraq exploded in civil disorder. “There was not thought given in the planning, obviously, to the possibility that as soon as U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad, that the people in Baghdad would go on a systematic campaign to loot the city. This is just ignoring the lessons of history. … U.S. military forces that were there, on scene, stood by and watched. Why? Because they had no instructions to intervene, and because there is this feeling that the U.S. military doesn’t do police,” explained Robert Perito of the United States Institute of Peace. The Pentagon had not only ignored history, but various reports by the State Department, CIA, the Army War College, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and think tanks that had predicted just such a breakdown in Iraq after the war. The Defense Department didn’t listen to this advice because it didn’t fit their best-case scenario for Iraq, and they bore the fruits of its stubbornness.
Besides the famous Iraqi National Museum, government offices were robbed of almost everything that could be carried away. Garner explained, “What happened in Baghdad is not only did they take everything out of the buildings, but then they pulled all the wiring out of the buildings, and they set it on fire. So the buildings were not usable at all.” Not only were material possessions lost, but also thousands of files on Iraq’s intelligence services, Saddam’s Fedayeen, and Islamists that had immigrated to the country that could have been used by the U.S. later as the insurgency took off. The looting quickly turned violent as organized gangs joined in. Carjackings, kidnappings, rapes, murders, revenge killings of Baathists, and sporadic attacks on Americans all began, all of which have continued on to the present day. The U.S. estimated that the looting cost $12 billion, the entire projected revenue for Iraq for the 1st year after the war. The looting caused more damage to Iraq than the U.S. bombing did during the war.
Before the war a Justice Department official was put in charge of rebuilding the Iraqi police. He came up with a plan, okayed by Garner, to send in 5,000 police trainers after the war. The White House didn’t think that was necessary and didn’t want Americans doing the work anyway. Instead it was agreed to send in a group of assessors to see what the Iraqi police needed. These arrived in May to find no functioning police force. They recommended 6,663 advisors and estimated that it would take $4 billion over several years to rebuild the police. Washington said there were no advisors to be had, and little money either appropriating just $25 million that paid for the assessors and 150 advisors. The police would not become a priority for American planners until 2006, a three-year lapse that would cost them dearly.
The war also caused a general breakdown in basic services like water, electricity, phone service, etc. For example, three months after the war had ended Baghdad was averaging only four hours a day of electricity and widespread blackouts at a time when the temperature was routinely over 110 degrees. Iraqis blamed the U.S. for not taking care of them. “How can we believe that the Americans, who are so good at war, could be unable to fix the electricity. We can’t believe them,” said a resident of Baghdad.
Just as important, the anarchy in the country and the inability to take care of Iraq’s infrastructure gave the impression to many Iraqis that the U.S. was not in control. Fred Ikle, Reagan’s former policy chief and one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century said, “America lost most of its prestige and respect in that episode. To pacify a conquered country, the victor’s prestige and dignity is absolutely critical.” The postwar situation led Maj. Gen. James Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division to send a memo to the Army saying that the U.S. lacked the troops necessary to successfully occupy Iraq.
The worsening situation finally forced the U.S. military to act. Lt. Gen. McKiernan, commander of ground forces in Iraq, declared the U.S. the military authority in the country to put a stop to looting. When the order was relayed to the State Department, they were surprised to find out that this was the first legal responsibility for an occupying power under the Geneva Conventions. No one had checked. Rumsfeld and Gen. Franks didn’t support the order because they didn’t want the U.S. to be responsible for Iraq. Rumsfeld had already cancelled the deployment of additional troops and gave orders for the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal by April. Wolfowitz told reporters, “We’re not going to need as many people to do the peacekeeping as we needed to fight the war.” ORHA, not the military was suppose to take care of these matters people were told.
ORHA was in no shape for such a task. Garner didn’t get to Iraq until 4/21/03 because Gen. Franks wouldn’t give him permission to come earlier. When Garner finally did arrive he went to work on creating an interim government made up of the Pentagon’s hand picked Iraqi exiles and some leaders from within the country. Chalabi and Ayatollah Mohamed Baqr al-Hakim of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI) killed the plan because they didn’t want anyone from within Iraq to challenge their leadership. Already Chalabi was getting a head start on his rivals. Without telling the White House, the Pentagon flew Chalabi and 700 INC fighters with U.S. uniforms and weapons into Iraq. The idea was for them to get to Baghdad where they could take over. Instead, the INC began seizing government documents, snatching up prime property, and joined in the looting.
When ORHA’s staff arrived there was still looting, so it stayed in its offices for the most part. They didn’t know what was happening outside, didn’t have enough translators, didn’t really know how Iraq worked, and the White House never wanted to give it much money. Garner was still attempting to form an Iraqi government, but to little effect. He held a meeting in Baghdad with 350 Iraqis where he told them they needed a democracy. The Iraqis complained about the looting, the chaos, and the lack of basic services such as water and electricity, to which Garner told them they had to fix it themselves. An American present said, “They were losing faith in us by the second.” Garner later claimed that this meeting was a success and the birth of Iraqi democracy.
Despite all the chaos Bush flew to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft career on 5/1/03 with a banner in the background declaring, “mission accomplished.” In his speech, Bush said that establishing democracy in Iraq would take time, but that victory over Saddam was a victory in the war on terror that had started on 9/11. After seeing Bush’s speech, Colonel T.X. Hammes, who would later go to work in Iraq expressed his frustration by saying, “’Oh, shit.’ It struck me that, my God, we don’t have any understanding at all of how bad this can be.”
Back in Iraq local Baathists had joined in the chaos to destroy files and offices, and ORHA was sending back desperate messages on the situation to Washington. No one listened. The 3rd Infantry Div. was in charge of Baghdad and was told that it had to come up with its own plan for how to handle the city. They came up with some heavy-handed tactics that angered many Iraqi residents. Gen. Franks had removed himself from most of his work and was just thinking about retiring. Years later in his memoir he would blame the media for not taking action after Baghdad fell. According to him, he saw such rosy pictures of victory on TV and in the press that he didn’t feel like there were any problems in the country. Rice and Wolfowitz said that there was no problem with the war plan it just needed a few adjustments to adapt to the situation on the ground. The reality was from April to May 2003 the U.S. lost the initiative in Iraq and never got it back. If America had a real plan for postwar Iraq this might have been prevented. The 3rd Infantry Division’s official after action report blamed Franks, Rumsfeld and Bush. “The president announced that our national goal was ‘regime change,’ yet there was no timely plan prepared for the obvious consequences of a regime change.”
XXV. Rationales For War Evaporate
”We know where they are [Iraq’s WMD]. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” Donald Rumsfeld, Sec. of Defense, 3/30/03
Weapons of Mass Destruction were the main rationale given by the Bush administration for war. Before the war, Feith’s Office of Special Plans sent in special forces teams to locate them. When they came up with nothing they even considered planting some for a public relations stunt, but that was cancelled. When the bombing started the U.S. sent in additional special teams to find them. They were to check a list of 578 suspected WMD sites throughout the country. It became quite apparent early on that the government’s claims weren’t proving to be true. One site was at a girls’ school that had a newly cemented playground. Intelligence said WMD were hidden underneath. It turned out to be just a playground. Another site turned out to be a swimming pool, a WMD factory was a whiskey distillery, another WMD storage facility was a license plate factory, a cache of documents said to be about WMD turned out to be a grad student’s master’s thesis. Rumsfeld tried to assure the public by saying, “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrti and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” Hans Blix said that the U.N. inspectors could have been right there were no WMD in Iraq.
Things seemed to turn in April when Kurds and U.S. troops found what looked like the mobile labs Powell had talked about in his U.N. speech. Bush said that the trailers proved that Iraq had banned weapons. Nothing else was found though, and the labs turned out to be used for weather balloons. Captured Iraqi scientists said that Iraq’s weapons programs had ended in the 1990s, but U.S. interrogators thought they were lying. The New York Times’ Judith Miller wrote story after story predicting that WMD stockpiles were just about to be found. Like her earlier reporting, these stories were based upon Ahmad Chalabi and proved to be propaganda rather than fact.
By May the original military search teams had been disbanded and many came away saying that U.S. intelligence had been wrong about Iraq’s weapons. A new organization, the Iraq Survey Group was formed to continue the search. At the same time the administration began changing its story about huge stockpiles of thousands of WMD. Instead of “25,000 liters of anthrax – enough doses to kill several million people … more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin – enough to subject million of people to death by respiratory failure … as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent,” as Bush had claimed in his January 2003 State of the Union address, the U.S. was now claiming Iraq only had a program that could produce WMD sometime in the future. As Bush said in June 2003, “Iraq had a weapons program. Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we’ll find out that they did have a weapons program.” The U.S. never did, and by October 2003 Rice was reduced to justifying the war by saying that Saddam “had ambitions” to build WMD that could threaten the world.
It was not surprising that the U.S. didn’t find WMD since all of the intelligence on the matter had been faulty since 1998 and the end of U.N. inspection regime. In September 2003, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of pre-war intelligence found that “circumstantial,” and “fragmentary” information with “too many uncertainties” had been used to conclude that Iraq possessed WMD. The Committee explained the distorted mind think of the intelligence community after 1998 that used, “The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs [had] been destroyed” to prove that “they continued to exist.” According to the Iraq Survey Group, Saddam never came clean about his weapons programs because he needed them to scare the Kurds and Shiites within Iraq from rising up again, and to deter long time rival Iran.
In an attempt to absolve itself, the White House began blaming everything on the CIA; everything the administration said about WMD was based upon the Agency. CIA analysts began fighting back by leaking stories to the press about how Cheney and others tried to pressure them about intelligence reports. The larger problem was the loss of American prestige and credibility over not finding the weapons. The U.S. had launched a preemptive war on what it claimed was fact, but was now proving to be myth. As John Wolfsthal from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said at the time, “We’ve had a huge intelligence failure that puts us back to square one, and two, clearly costs the U.S. credibility in terms of other problem countries we face. If we were so wrong on Iraq, how accurate could we be about North Korea, Syria and others?”
In the summer of 2003, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an Op. Ed. piece claiming that the administration had distorted intelligence when it claimed that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger and restarted its nuclear program. Cheney would launch a campaign to discredit Wilson by leaking information about his wife that would later lead to the indictment of Cheney’s chief of staff.
The final word on Iraq’s WMD was made by the Iraq Survey group that said Iraq had destroyed its WMD in the 1990s and only had the intellectual and physical capability to restart its weapons programs sometime in the future. David Kay would testify to Congress, “We were almost all wrong.” The administration tried to spin the findings to suite their case by saying that the Survey Group proved their case for war, Iraq wanted to produce WMD. That was far from what Bush had said about Iraq. In an added twist, the White House began calling its critics “revisionists,” changing the history about the administration’s claims against Iraq. It was actually the administration that was revising its facts.
The administration fared no better with its claims that Iraq was behind Al Qaeda. No Al Qaeda camps or operatives were found within the country and the White House had to backtrack a bit by saying that it had never claimed that Iraq was behind 9/11. After Saddam was captured documents were found on him that warned his supporters not to cooperate with foreign jihadists because they had different agendas and couldn’t be trusted. Two top Al Qaeda leaders were also captured in 2004 and said there was no alliance between Saddam and bin Laden. Finally, the 9/11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on pre-war Iraq intelligence said that there was no relationship between the two. Just as with the WMD reports, the administration would come out after each revelation and claim that the reports in fact supported their belief that Iraq was behind Al Qaeda. As usual, Bush would admit no mistakes as he said, ”Knowing what I knew then, and knowing what I know today, America did the right thing in Iraq.”
Surprisingly, the majority of the American public didn’t seem to care that the main arguments for war with Iraq had proved to be false. In the U.S., Bush’s poll numbers were up, and the administration went on to other matters. As Bush’s spokesman Ari Flescher said, “The president has moved on, and, I think, frankly, much of the country has moved on as well.”
XXVI. Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority
“People in Falluja told me, ‘We were happy when you threw out Saddam. It’s what you did after you threw out Saddam that’s pissed us off.’ Our whole approach was wrong.” – Top Advisor to Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2005
The White House was disappointed that WMD wasn’t being found, but still didn’t seem to understand the chaotic situation on the ground in Iraq. A State Department official believed that it was Tony Blair who told Bush that Iraq was not going well and something needed to be done. Suddenly on 5/6/03 Bush announced that Paul Bremer would take over from Garner. Bremer was given 10 days to ship out. On 5/9/03 the U.S. presented the U.N. with a resolution to officially become the occupying power in Iraq. Rumsfeld suddenly changed his tune and said that U.S. troops would stay in Iraq as long as it took to secure the country. At the same time the Pentagon began discussing permanent military bases in Iraq. As Bremer took over the ORHA was turned into the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).
Bremer was a former ambassador and counterterrorism expert who knew nothing of Iraq or any of the planning, or lack thereof, for the postwar situation. Bremer’s ignorance of facts on the ground in Iraq was matched by Bush’s. Before Bremer went to Iraq he met with Bush at the White House who’s only concern seemed to be that a new Iraqi government be put in place so that it could thank the U.S. for liberating the country.
When Bremer arrived in Baghdad he issued four orders that were to make a bad situation in the country worse. He started a deBaathification program, disbanded the security forces, ended Garner’s effort to form an interim government, and disarmed the INC.
On 5/16/03 Bremer issued CPA Order Number 1 the DeBaathification of Iraq. The order came down from Cheney and Rumsfeld. Bremer argued that the Baath party was so evil and had penetrated so far into Iraqi society that it needed to be swept away. The plan was based upon de-Nazification that occurred in Germany after WWII. The order got rid of the top three to four levels of the party from ministries, government-run businesses, universities, and hospitals. Chalabi and the INC were put in charge of the DeBaathification Commission, which he also used against his political enemies. It immediately purged 85,000 Baathists. The process was supposed to allow Iraqis to appeal their cases to the CPA, but it never had the staff to deal with it. In total, only 9,000 Iraqis would be exempted. Garner and the CIA immediately objected to the plan. The CIA Station Chief in Baghdad warned, “By nightfall, you’ll have driven 30,000 to 50,000 Baathists underground. And in six months, you’ll regret this.” Garner’s plan was to only get rid of the very top two or three government officials in each ministry and let the Iraqis deal with the rest. Rice and Powell were not informed of the decision until it was already made. In the end, they didn’t matter because Cheney and Rumsfeld made an end run around the policy process as usual.
Bremer claimed that this was his most popular decision, but one of his senior advisors noted, “The people it was popular with were already on our side. … If you want to come in and restore things, you want to come in with malice towards none and charity toward all – you want to take a Lincolnian approach. You don’t want to take a carpetbagger approach. People in Fallujah told me, ‘We were happy when you threw out Saddam. It’s what you did after you threw out Saddam that’s pissed us off.’ Our whole approach was wrong.”
5/23/03 CPA Order Number 2 was made public, the disbanding of Iraq’s security forces. This was the most controversial decision. The U.S. military didn’t want thousand of unemployed soldiers in the country with guns when there was already massive unemployment. The CPA claimed that the security forces had already disbanded themselves when it gave up rather than fight in the war. Walter Slocombe, one of Bremer’s top security advisors said, “There wasn’t any army left. The assumption we had, which was that we were going to have substantial intact units, was wrong. What are we going to do? There was nothing to decide.” Garner’s staff however, had been talking to Iraqi officers to re-form Iraqi army units and distribute salaries to soldiers. They had collected the names of 100,000-125,000 soldiers. Separately, the U.S. military and the CIA had also taken a similar course drawing up plans to form 3 Iraqi divisions. Bremer didn’t seem to care about their ideas however. When the order came down 385,000 soldiers, 285,000 Ministry of Interior officers and police, and 50,000 presidential security forces went to join the 85,000 Baathists on the unemployment line. An American colonel in Iraq noted, “Anyone who’s done postconflict work says do not get rid of the military. You’ve got to control them – if you don’t control them, you don’t know what they’re going to do.” He continued, “From the Iraqi viewpoint, that simple action took away the one symbol of sovereignty the Iraqi people still had. That’s when we crossed the line. We stopped being liberators and became occupiers.”
In two swift acts Bremer had created approximately 805,000 very mad, and mostly armed Iraqis. At the end of May to early June 2003, many of these soldiers and officials took to the streets of Baghdad protesting their treatment at the hands of the Americans. On 6/18/03 2000 ex-soldiers protested outside the Green Zone in Baghdad where the CPA was based. An ex-soldier expressed his anger to the press by saying, “We are all very well trained soldiers and we are armed. We will start ambushes, bombings, and even suicide bombings. We will not let the Americans rule us in such a humiliated way.” Overwhelmed by the protest, U.S. soldiers would fire into the crowd killing two. The pressure led the CPA to okay paying pensions to Iraqi veterans, and the situation seemed to quell the unrest. They were wrong. Many of these discontented Iraqis would join or support the insurgency that had just started. By the spring of 2004 Bremer was forced to reverse both the DeBaathification and demobilization as the insurgency and resistance to the U.S. occupation spread.
Bremer was not done. Garner had tried several efforts to create an Iraqi interim government, and had planned a national conference in July 2003 to form one. Bremer didn’t think this was possible and hand picked a Governing Council instead to put an Iraqi face on the CPA. The group had no authority or legitimacy with the Iraqi people, most of the members were Iraqi exiles who spent most of their time outside of the country, they were known for nepotism and corruption, and alienated even more Iraqis from the American project.
Bremer also acted against the Pentagon’s favorite the INC as well. Chalabi was still favored by Cheney and the neoconservatives and he had a small force of U.S. armed and trained soldiers. Bremer on the other hand didn’t like him, and issued an order to disband all militias in the country. The CPA only disbanded the INC. Later Cheney and the neoconservatives would blame Bremer for the instability in Iraq claiming only if Chalabi and the INC were allowed to set up Garner’s interim government they would be in power, a pro-American regime would have been created, and the U.S. wouldn’t have been seen as an occupier. Cheney also accused Powell and the State Dept. for screwing up the situation. “If you hadn’t opposed the INC and Chalabi, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” Powell was told as Cheney stuck his finger in his chest. Instead of admitting its mistakes, the pro-war faction in the White House blamed its opponents.
XXVII. Cutting Out the U.N.
”If there is no consensus, do you think the money and the troops will be made available? Who will offer? Few countries will rush to enter Iraq without a real U.N. mandate. It will be a false victory, because it will not produce any real results.” Jean-David Levitte, France’s Ambassador to the U.S., 9/22/03
After the invasion, the role of the United Nations was again brought up, and like before, it raised all of the divisions within the administration. Powell, the State Department, and Tony Blair had all brought up internationalizing the process in Iraq using the U.N. Bremer, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives were all in opposition. They believed that Iraq was going to be a U.S., and more specifically a Pentagon, operation period. What the U.N. offered in postwar Iraq was exactly what the Defense Department was lacking, namely, experience in nation building, a corps of Arab staff who knew the area, language and customs, the ability to reach out to groups within the country that would not talk to the U.S., and the possibility of bringing in more troops and aid from countries that could not or would not work directly with the U.S.
The U.N.’s envoy in Iraq was Brazilian diplomat Sergio de Mello. He offered his assistance to Bremer, but was rejected because he had the same contempt for the international body as Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives. De Mello’s political advisor believed that the Americans were “missionaries” in Iraq with an ideological master plan for Iraq that excluded everyone else. Independently, de Mello went to Najaf and met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the leading Shiite clerics in the country. Sistani refused to meet with the CPA, but agreed to talk to de Mello. Sistani wanted elections immediately and a constitution written by elected officials. This would obviously benefit the Shiites who were roughly 60% of the population. De Mello tried to pass on these ideas to Bremer, but again, he was rejected. Bremer was determined to carry out his own political plan for Iraq. De Mello’s work was cut short in August when he was killed in a terrorist truck bombing of the U.N.’s headquarters in Baghdad.
The following month Blair and Powell were able to convince Bush to return to the U.N. and ask for a new resolution that would allow more international troops to be sent to help with occupation, and open up more foreign aid as well. The main sticking point in negotiations was over who would control Iraq. U.N. representatives, France, and Germany wanted the U.N. to have some kind of influence over political reforms in the country, but Bush refused. As it turned out, the U.S. was only going to ask for a token force of 20,000 international troops as well, which would be symbolic, and not really help the security situation in Iraq. Bush finally went to the Security Council on 9/23/03 where he presented a speech more about defending the invasion and telling the international community they were either with the U.S. or against it, than asking for help. Like with the weapons inspections, the U.N. was cut out, and no international support would come to help America with Iraq.
XXVIII. The CPA’s Early Work
”It was obvious to me that we could not run a country we did not understand. We were not prepared. … It was very much amateur hour to me.” Robin Raphel, former ORHA official, 2006
When the CPA took over, most of the career diplomats and area experts that had been working for Garner left. Rumsfeld fired Barbara Bodine, former ambassador to Yemen who had served in Iraq in the 1980s. Rumsfeld had never wanted her to join Garner’s staff because she was a senior State Dept. official. Tim Carney, former ambassador to Sudan who had led reconstruction efforts in Cambodia and Haiti left and attacked the administration’s postwar planning in an Op. Ed. piece in the Washington Post. Robin Raphel, former ambassador to Tunisia, went back to the State Dept. in disgust. “It was obvious to me that we could not run a country we did not understand. We were not prepared. … It was very much amateur hour to me.” Ryan Crocker had been an ambassador throughout the Middle East and worked in Iraq in the 1980s as well, left to teach. Bill Eagleton who also had previous experience in Iraq went to go get surgery, only to find out that Bremer wouldn’t let him return afterwards.
In comparison, the new CPA staff was mostly young, college educated, idealistic, with no work abroad, no knowledge of Arabic, knew nothing of Iraq, and almost all Republican. They were hired by the Pentagon whose main priority was support of the President, rather than experience in the work they were to do. Hardly any were qualified to carry out Bremer’s ambitious program to completely transform Iraq.
Bremer wanted to reform Iraq’s economy as well as its politics. To do this he advocated free market reforms. This would take the form of privatizing the economy, closing state-run businesses, opening up trade and ending government support of farming. Tom Foley, a Bush fundraiser was put in charge of the program. He had no experience and only lasted a few months before Michael Fleischer replaced him. He told the Chicago Tribune about how he had gotten his job through his brother Ari, Bush’s press secretary, and then without a hint of irony said that he was going to root out nepotism and cronyism that were rampant in Iraq. Privatization never happened because it was illegal under international law for an occupying power to carry out, something the American officials never checked on, but the CPA did start shutting down government run businesses, liberalizing trade, and cutting subsidies. The immediate effect of these polices was that hundreds of small businesses and farms were closed, thousands of Iraqis were fired including many middle class managers at government run industries at the exact time when more jobs, not less were needed. This undoubtedly increased resentment against the occupation. It seemed like almost everything the CPA did was creating more enemies for the U.S.
The inexperience of the CPA also knew no bounds. A 25-year old law school student oversaw the creation of Baghdad’s Stock Market. It opened four days before the CPA ceased to exist with only 51 shares of six companies being traded. Today it is one of the smallest exchanges in the Middle East. For this, the CPA spent several hundred million dollars on the project. The CPA replaced the ORHA’s Dr. Frederick Burkle, who was working with humanitarian organizations to rebuild the country’s health system, with James Haveman, a friend of the Republican Governor of Michigan. He claimed to have had experience in international affairs because of all the countries he had visited while on vacation. Haveman thought he was promoting private enterprise in the country when he only focused on the private hospitals that only served half the population. A 25-year old from Feith’s OSP was assigned to help write the Iraqi constitution. Six new college graduates were put in charge of Iraq’s $13 billion postwar budget. All got an e-mail from the Pentagon about working in Iraq. None of them were interviewed and none given security clearances. When they got to Iraq they were told that they were going to get low levels jobs, but because the CPA was understaffed they were given responsibility for Iraq’s budget. None of them had any experience in that field and didn’t even know how the Pentagon had gotten their names. It turned out they were all Republicans who had put in applications to work at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Scott Erwin, an intern for Cheney, was put in charge of Iraq’s security budget. He said his favorite job before going to Iraq was driving an ice cream truck. He only lasted 3 months.
Finding qualified staff was not the only problem the CPA faced, it could never find enough workers period. In the summer of 2003 it was only staffed 50%, and that number never rose above 70%. The turnover of workers was fast, they were never fully budgeted, and Bremer tried to micromanage everything. They lived in the Green Zone in Baghdad, a former Saddam palace complex. Few ventured out, especially as the insurgency picked up pace, and in turn never really knew what was going on outside the Zone just like the ORHA staff. A CPA officer said they were living in a “bubble, [and] never got out to speak with Iraqis.” Their inexperience meant the CPA was often disorganized and incompetent. Many came to say its initials stood for “Can’t Produce Anything.” Bremer was also involved in a murky chain of command. He was hired by the Pentagon and reported to Rumsfeld, but ignored Wolfowitz and Feith. Rice began demanding that he report to her as well, but Bremer believed that he was acting for the President. As the insurgency started, Rumsfeld wanted even less to do with Iraq, and told Bremer so. Bremer and the military were also often at odds over policy with the former wanting to transform Iraq like the Bush administration said, and the latter wanting to secure the country. The lack of experienced staff, funding, and a chain of command were more signs of the disarray in the administration’s approach to postwar Iraq.
XXIX. Bremer’s Long-Term Plan For Iraq Cut Short
“First there was the arrogance phase, and then there was the hubris phase. The arrogance phase was going in undermanned, underplanned, underresourced, skim off the top layer of leadership, take control of a functioning state, and be out by six weeks and get the oil funds to pay for it. We all know for a variety of reasons that didn’t work. So then you switch over to the hubris phase: We’ve been slapped in the face, this is really much more serious than we thought, much more long-term, much more dangerous, much more costly. Therefore we’ll attack it with everything we have, we’ll throw the many billion dollars at it, and to make Iraq safe for the future we have to d a root-and-branch transformation of the country in our own image.” Brad Swanson, CPA Economic advisor, 2005
Bremer’s early moves had caused much dissension with both Americans and Iraqis in the country. When Bremer announced his long-term plan for the political transformation of the country, he raised eyebrows back in Washington. After sweeping away the old regime, he came up with an ambitious plan for creating a new order in Iraq. He set up a timetable to train Iraqi security forces, write a constitution, hold several elections, create a new government, and reform the economic, legal and educational systems. He was going to transform the entire country and then turn back sovereignty in at least four years if not more. This created a paradox, the U.S. was suppose to be creating a democracy where the Iraqis would rule themselves for the first time, but all of the power, authority, and changes would be controlled by a foreign country under the guise of a single man, Paul Bremer. Not only that the plan would cost billions of dollars from the U.S. Congress. Bremer had not cleared his plan beforehand and was met with shocked responses in Washington who did not want an open-ended engagement with Iraq like Bremer’s plan implied.
Under pressure from Washington and Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Bremer eventually abandoned his grand plan in November 2003. Instead, Bremer set the date of return of Iraqi sovereignty as 6/30/04. At that time, the CPA would end, an interim government would be formed, a constitution drafted and voted on, and elections for a new parliament would be held in January 2005. The problem became that the U.S. had lost so much legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis because of Bremer’s policies that they could not form an interim government that would be respected by the citizenry. The U.S. was forced to ask the U.N. for help who sent an Algerian diplomat to negotiate the transfer of power. This would have been the perfect time for the CPA to focus on the two most important issues to ensure elections, security and the economy. Instead the CPA started promoting democracy while continuing its ambitious reconstruction program, none of which it was able to do effectively.
XXX. The CPA’s Reconstruction Plan
”The ultimate aim is for the infrastructure to be the best in the region.” Pres. Bush, 8/8/03
President Bush had ambitious plans for reconstructing Iraq. He once said he wanted it to have the best infrastructure in the Middle East. The problem was no one in the U.S. had been paying attention to how much Iraq had been run down by years of sanctions, made worse by the looting. The situation was so bad that entire industries would have to be rebuilt basically from scratch. A pre-war study by the Council on Foreign Relations had predicted that rebuilding the electrical and oil industries could cost up to $60 billion alone. The Pentagon wasn’t even considering a fraction of that amount, partly because Rumsfeld was opposed to nation building, and partly because Wolfowitz and others had painted such a rosy picture of oil revenues paying for everything, that funds were never appropriated for the task. The CPA had to rely on seized Iraqi assets and the U.N.’s Oil for Food Program, which the U.S. took over, to pay for reconstruction. By August 2003 they had spent $23 million on more than 2000 projects, but that averaged out to only about one dollar per Iraqi.
The Pentagon had also inexplicably predicted that other countries would step in after the war to help, even if they’d been opposed beforehand. The Defense Department predicted that other countries would contribute up to $42 billion in aid for reconstruction, but by September 2003 Wolfowitz could only report $2 billion in contributions. The following month a donors’ conference was held in Madrid where $13 billion was pledged for Iraq, but most of that came in the form of loans not aid, and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were the major sources rather than other countries as was hoped. A top European Union official told the papers, “You can’t expect European taxpayers who felt pretty hostile to the military intervention to feel hugely enthusiastic about spending a large amount of money on Iraq.” In December Wolfowitz made the situation worse when he issued a directive saying it was essential to the national security of America to limit contracts for Iraq’s reconstruction only to those countries that provided troops to the occupation. The next day the U.S. asked many of the countries that had just been banned by Wolfowitz to forgive Iraq’s debt. A column in Time magazine noted, “The Bush Administration has such limited central control over policy that officials can say what they like, when they like, without anyone attempting to coordinate a coherent message.”
In the end, Bush would have to go to the American public to foot the bill for Iraq. On 9/7/03 he gave a televised speech to ask for $87 billion in additional funds for both Iraq and Afghanistan. He claimed that Iraq was now the central front in the war on terror and that “We are fighting the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities.” Congress approved Bush’s request and $18.4 billion was ear marked for reconstruction projects. The public voiced its first uneasiness with Iraq when public opinion polls found 60% of Americans were against the additional money, but 52% still supported how Bush was handling the war overall. At the same time some think tanks were estimating the final bill for Iraq would cost the American taxpayers up to $600 billion. The lack of initial funds meant that the CPA wasn’t able to start major reconstruction projects until five months after the war was over. Precious time had been lost and Iraqi resentment had grown.
The kinds of projects the CPA set out to build in Iraq were huge infrastructure projects like building entire power plants. The projects took time, cost huge amounts of money, which the CPA was reluctant to spend, and were plagued by massive problems. When the CPA ended in June 2004 it had only spent 2%, $366 million, of the $18.4 billion budgeted by Congress. Most of the country’s reconstruction had been funded by $19 billion in Iraqi funds, rather than American money. Out of the $366 million, most was spent on administrative costs rather than building actual projects. 25% also regularly went to security as the insurgency took off, and much more was pocketed by corrupt Americans and Iraqis. A report by the Inspector General for Iraq reconstruction found that $9 billion went missing under the CPA. The CPA also contracted out mostly to American companies that charged ten times as much as Iraqi firms for construction work. The corruption and lack of trained staff made the CPA even more reluctant to spend more. As a senior Bush administration official said, “They were too scared. They were scared to death to let that money go out because they already saw what was happening with some of the Iraqi money.” It was no surprise then that despite the CPA’s promises to provide better water, electricity and sewage, production never reached prewar levels. The CPA had also promised 250,000 jobs, but only provided 15,000. Yet again the U.S. had disappointed the Iraqi population. “We looked like an occupation power. And we were – we behaved like one. The message we were sending was, we don’t care much about the Iraqis, because we didn’t do what we needed to do on things like electricity. And we also looked incompetent,” noted an officer in the 4th Infantry Division. Bush would go back to Congress and ask for $25 billion more in May 2004 and an additional $80 billion in January 2005 for both Iraq and Afghanistan as Iraq became the most expensive war in American history since WWII.
XXXI. The U.S. Military And Occupation
”For eight years, Clinton and Gore have extended our military commitments while depleting our military power. Rarely has so much been demanded of our armed forces and so little given to them in return. George W. Bush and I are going to change that, too.” Dick Cheney, speech as Vice Presidential candidate, 8/2/00
When Bush ran for president in 2000 he accused Clinton of stretching the military too thin with various overseas deployments. This was exactly what Bush did in Iraq, but on a much larger scale. Since Vietnam, the U.S. has had a volunteer army. This force proved to be unprepared for the fighting in Iraq. Volunteer armies tend to be smaller than conscripted ones, and therefore the U.S. military became hard pressed to provide the troops necessary for a protracted occupation of Iraq. To fill this need the U.S. would turn to the National Guard and the Reserves. Many of these units were not equipped for combat. For example, in October 2003 there were 40,000 troops in Iraq with no body army and armored Humvees. In December 2004 Rumsfeld was confronted with this problem when at a town hall meeting of National Guardsmen heading overseas he was asked why all their vehicles didn’t have armor. Rumsfeld replied, “As you know you go to war with the army you have. … They’re not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Rumsfeld was more concerned with transforming the military than taking care of the soldiers heading to Iraq. The Defense Department’s budget was still aimed at new stealth fighter planes and ships rather than the basic equipment for foot soldiers. In 2006 the head of the National Guard admitted that 2/3 of his units were still not combat ready because of equipment shortages. Units could also only be deployed for a year, plus a few more months with stop-loss orders from the Pentagon to extend their tours. This caused a constant rotation of troops in and out of the country. Each time one unit left, all of their knowledge and ties in Iraq would be lost. Because of the troop limits, the same units would also serve in Iraq several times, but they were often sent to new regions so they would have to start from scratch again on working with Iraqis.
When soldiers began to realize that they were going to stay in Iraq longer than they were told in the summer of 2003 they began asking for orders. They were told there were none. Each unit was left up to its own initiative to carry out reconstruction and security operations. Troops that had been trained for tank warfare, airborne assaults, artillery, engineering, etc. not only had to go out on patrols and fight the insurgency, but they also began small development projects such as providing clear water, or handing out school books, and creating local governing councils. None of it was coordinated, and the military had to ask the CPA for funds, which were always slow to come. The U.S. also began building huge military bases throughout the country, eventually outfitted with all of the amenities of home. Ironically, the military bases were the only parts of Iraq where the U.S. was able to actually raise the living standards in the country. This was not lost on the Iraqis. To add to their frustrations insurgent attacks began escalating. From Bush’s May 1st “mission accomplished” speech to the end of August 2003 574 U.S. soldiers were wounded and 143 had died, more than during the actual invasion. Insurgent attacks were averaging around 15 a day and 10 American soldiers were being wounded in the process. The deteriorating security situation was also dramatically escalating the cost of military operations. When the war ended in April the Pentagon was spending $2.1 billion in Iraq a month. By August that figure had almost doubled to $4.1 billion.
All of these factors combined to create immense stress among American troops. In October 2003 the Stars & Stripes military magazine had an unscientific poll that found ½ of the troops in Iraq said their unit had low morale, 1/3 said their mission lacked clarity, and ½ said they would not re-enlist.
XXXII. The Shiites In Southern Iraq
“The Iran-backed parties had a strategic vision, which was more or less take over the south politically, cooperate with the coalition, enhance their religious position in Najaf, and then be in a position to get national power.” British official in southern Iraq, 2006
Iraq is divided into regions, and not every region had the same experiences after the U.S. invasion. In Southern Iraq controlled by the British, things were considered more peaceful, and the Shiites there were building their own power bases outside of the control and even concern of the CPA.
Immediately after the war was over Shiite groups began filling the power vacuum left by the overthrow of the regime in southern and central Iraq. The three main groups were the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and its Badr Brigade militia who had operated in exile in Iran, the Dawa Party, and the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his militia the Mahdi Army. These and other smaller groups began seizing local councils, hospitals, schools, etc. An English official noted, “The Iran-backed parties had a strategic vision, which was more or less take over the south politically, cooperate with the coalition, enhance their religious position in Najaf, and then be in a position to get national power.” In Basra, the SCIRI and Sadr imposed a strict Islamic ideology. They assassinated Baathists, harassed women who didn’t wear a veil, shut down DVD stores, fire bombed liquor stores, attacked Christians, and took over the university. The British held an uneasy truce with these parties, which could sometimes breakdown with protests, shootings, attacks, etc. The Sunnis were alarmed at the growing power and influence of the Shiites who had always been kept down, while Washington was worried about the religious parties strong ties, funding and arming by Iran. Some of these southern communities would explode in rebellion against the U.S. in just a few months.
XXXIII. The Insurgency
“The real question is, did there have to be an insurgency? Did we help create the insurgency by missing the window of opportunity in the period right after Saddam was removed from power?” Senior U.S. military officer, Oct. 2004
There are various stories about how the insurgency began in Iraq. One thing is clear, it was not inevitable, but the U.S.’s policies helped it grow to what it is today. All insurgencies need three things: weapons, money, and recruits. All three proved to be easy in Iraq, partly because of America’s actions. Saddam had hidden caches of arms before the war to launch irregular attacks on the Americans during the invasion. The undermanned U.S. military was not capable of guarding these munitions dumps, and they were later raided by the insurgents to provide weapons and explosives. Saddam also sent money and people to Syria before and right after the war. This became the financial base of the insurgency. Again, because of the lack of manpower, the U.S. left the Iraqi-Syria border unchecked for over a year. The foreign fighters and Islamist elements were also able to rely on donations to Islamic charities for money. Finally, Bremer’s DeBaathification, disbanding of the security forces, closing of many private and state-run businesses and farms and the ensuing unemployment made recruiting easy amongst the Sunni population. There was also a rise in Sunni-Arab nationalism after the war as they felt a loss of political power and prestige, and didn’t want to be occupied. Islamists also used religion to appeal to both Iraqis and foreigners to fight the American invaders. Overall, the insurgency was made up of angered Sunnis, Baathists, Islamists like Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq, and foreign fighters.
The Sunnis claim that the insurgency began in Anbar province. Rumsfeld cut the division that was suppose to go to Anbar leaving most of the province to its own devices after the war where the population never felt defeated by the U.S. Eventually the 82nd Airborne Division was sent there. On 4/27/03 a hand grenade was thrown at U.S. soldiers wounding two. On April 28 and 30 soldiers from the 82nd fired into demonstrators in Fallujah after shots were fired at them, killing several civilians. Soldiers didn’t know the local customs of compensating families with payments for their deaths so they refused when asked. These events became the rallying cry for the population of Anbar province. Sunnis began attacking Americans in the province claiming to be acting in revenge. The first bombings however, started in Baghdad. Troops were hit with a suicide bomb right after the city fell. Within a few weeks, soldiers began being hit by roadside bombs. These attacks made Americans weary to interact with Iraqis, and turned it into an us vs. them situation. Many felt that Iraqis either didn’t care or were for the insurgency. By May 2003 there were already 20 attacks a day on U.S. forces, by June there were 20 attacks in Baghdad alone.
Baathists make up the backbone of the Sunni insurgency. Saddam was able to get some of his family and commanders out of the country to Syria. These people became the financers and organizers of Baath party cells throughout the central section of the country. There were reports that Saddam actually planned on fighting an insurgency against the U.S., but this is not true. Saddam wanted his Fedayeen forces to fight the American invasion using unconventional tactics and stashed money and weapons throughout the country to accomplish this. When the regime fell many of these fighters were then organized into the insurgency.
In August 2003, the foreign terrorist element introduced itself with a series of bombings throughout the capitol that lasted for months. On August 17 the 1st terror bombing was against the Jordanian embassy killing 19. On the 19th the U.N. headquarters were hit killing 23 including the U.N.’s special envoy. The U.N. reduced its staff from 650 to around 40, with none in Baghdad as a consequence. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Oxfam and others followed suite. At the end of the month a car bomb killed 85 in Najaf including Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Back in Baghdad in September an Iraqi police training center was attacked killing 1, the U.N. headquarters was struck again killing 2, and a member of the Iraqi Governing Council was assassinated. October followed with another police station struck killing 10, the Baghdad Hotel killing 8, and the Turkish Embassy with 2 fatalities. All of these attacks were blamed on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, although a few may have been the work of Baathists. As U.C. Berkeley Prof. Mark Danner noted, the terrorist bombings were meant to show, “That anyone who helps the Americans will be a target; that the Americans cannot protect their allies and provide security to Iraqis; that the disorder is growing and that deciding to work with the Americans, who in their isolation are looking like a less than dominant and in any event ephemeral presence, is not the most prudent of bets; that the war, whatever fine words President Bush may pronounce from his aircraft carrier, is not over.”
Zarqawi used the Iraq war to turn himself into an international terrorist star rivaling even bin Laden. Zarqawi was spotted in Iraq before the war started and was used by the administration as proof that Al Qaeda was cooperating with Iraq. The Jordanian was actually the leader of his own independent terrorist cell who had gone to Iraq to prepare to fight the U.S. invaders. He saw it as his opportunity to assert himself in the Islamist movement. His group that became known as Attawhid wal Jihad (Unity and Holy War) mostly relied upon foreign fighters and suicide bombers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, but also had networks reaching into Europe. Through Zarqawi’s bloody terrorist attacks and the tendency of the Americans and Iraqis to blame every suicide bombing on him, he rose to prominence as bin Laden’s heir apparent. Zarqawi eventually reached out to bin Laden in 2004 to gain more respectability amongst his peers. It was then that Zarqawi’s group became known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. In total though, Zarqawi’s organization never accounted for more than 10% of the insurgents.
Bush claimed, “The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment Saddam Hussein is disarmed.” In fact, the armed international Islamist movement was revived by the war in Iraq. After the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Islamist movement was demoralized and started soul searching for why they had not beat the Americans there. Some interpreted the defeat as punishment by God. The U.S. invasion ended this period of reflection and doubt and provided a new battlefield to fight Americans and rally the troops. U.S. intelligence warned about this before the war, but was ignored. The war also created a new generation of young Islamists willing to fight for their religion. Two studies of foreign suicide bombers in Iraq found that the vast majority had never been involved in radical politics until the U.S. invasion. In November 2004 the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board released a report saying that the invasion of Iraq had raised the stature of radicals in the eyes of ordinary Muslims. “The dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulares. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims.” By January 2005 the CIA said that Iraq had replaced Afghanistan as the major training ground for Islamist terrorists.
The first large-scale insurgent operations began in October 2003 with the Ramadan offensive. The offensive started with a rocket attack on the Rasheed Hotel in the Green Zone where Wolfowitz was staying, followed by the assassination of the deputy mayor of Baghdad, the bombing of four police stations in the city, and the Red Cross office. Insurgents also began directly attacking U.S. units for the first time. Attacks grew from 10-15 a day in the summer of 2003 to 20-35 in October, to 45 by November. The insurgents also started shooting down helicopters and tried missile attacks on airplanes at Baghdad International Airport. By November they attacked the Oil Ministry, the Sheraton and Palestinian hotels in Baghdad where foreign journalists, contractors, and CPA staff stayed, and bombed the Italian military headquarters killing 18 Italian soldiers, the first attack on Coalition forces.
The rise of the insurgency was a complete surprise to the U.S. The CIA had issued several prewar reports warning of the possibility of an insurgency, but the Pentagon ignored them. Early on Pres. Bush, Rice and Gen. Franks all said that the insurgency was in fact the inadvertent result of the success of the American invasion. According to them, the Baathists were so desperate after the fall of Saddam they were resorting to terrorist attacks. The CPA also downplayed the insurgency at first by saying most of the country was calm and progressing towards democracy, while the military said they posed no military threat and lacked organization and ideas. By November 2003 the Pentagon estimated that there were 5,000 insurgent fighters. Their goals were splitting the coalition, attacking U.S. forces, attacking Iraqi security forces and politicians, attacking international organizations, and isolate the U.S. Zarqawi was also intent on starting a civil war because he felt the Shiites were not real Muslims, and to create such disorder in the country that the American effort would be untenable.
All of this violence had a tremendous affect on the American occupation. Reconstruction projects were slowed because of constant insurgent attacks, especially on the oil industry. Americans took an adversarial approach to the Iraqi population because of fears of insurgents. The ability of the insurgents to attack any time any where made the U.S. look weak and impotent in the eyes of the population. In the process, the goal of creating a democratic society was also deeply undermined. One example was provided by Larry Diamond who runs the Democracy Project at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Diamond was contacted by Rice to help build democracy in Iraq. One day he was giving a speech to an Iraqi women’s group when he had a revelation about the effects of the insurgents. “I had one of those moments when you cut through the bull. I was speaking to this women’s group, and one woman got up and asked, ‘If we do all these things, who’s going to protect us?’ That was the moment when I said to myself, ‘Oh my God, some of these women are going to be assassinated because they are here listening to me.’ It just struck me between the eyes.” The insurgents made sure people who collaborated with the Americans paid a price, while the U.S. was mostly powerless to stop them.
President Bush likes to say that the war in Iraq is part of the larger war on terror. As Peter Bergen, a terrorist expert at the New American Foundation would claim though, “The president is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism, but this is a front we created.” The administration’s constant focus upon Zarqawi made that connection easier. However, rather than stem terrorism, it increased terrorist attacks on Americans, created a new leader in Zarqawi, revived the Islamist movement, and made a whole new young generation of Arabs turn towards violent extremism.
XXXIV. The First Campaign Against the Insurgents
”The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish … the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.” Clausewitz, Germany military theoretician
The U.S. faced a growing insurgency not knowing what kind of war it was fighting, what kind of force it was itself, and not having any strategy or tactics. It was the worst of all worlds. The U.S. military was based upon winning decisive conventional battles using overwhelming force and technological superiority and then leaving. Iraq required a counterinsurgency approach, which contradicted almost all American military thinking. The U.S. had fought a long and bloody insurgency in Vietnam and learned some important techniques, but forgot all of them afterwards. The main thing the military learned from that experience was not to fight another one. A counterinsurgency war requires a long-term commitment, and a complete change in strategy and training for American troops. The U.S. military was slow to make these changes and is still in the process to this day. The political leadership dragged even farther behind.
Just as the insurgency was beginning, there was a huge turnover in American military leadership. The Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shinseki, and the head of CENTCOM Gen. Franks both retired. Command of Iraq was downgraded from CENTCOM to the much smaller V Corps under a new commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the most junior Lt. Gen. in the U.S. Army. The Pentagon didn’t take the insurgency seriously yet so they didn’t appoint a more senior officer. Many believed that Sanchez was in over his head, and his subordinates did not like his demeaning style. He proved to be an ineffective commander in Iraq. Sanchez was never given the support he needed from the Pentagon either. He was given a staff of 495 when he needed about 1400. Sanchez and Bremer were the joint commanders in Iraq and lacked a unified command. The two hated each other and hardly talked. Their immediate boss was Rumsfeld back in Washington. This lack of a unified command was a major detriment to dealing with the insurgency.
Like the officers in Iraq, the soldiers were not ready to fight an insurgency either. They were told to come up with their own occupation plans right after the war ended. The first policy was called “presence” – putting as many soldiers out on patrol and on the streets as possible. This was meant to show the population that the U.S. was in control and bring a sense of security. That was needed during the looting, now it became counterproductive because Iraqis were seeing the U.S. increasingly as occupiers. Not only that, there were never enough troops to cover all parts of the country because of Rumsfeld’s faulty planning.
Besides tactics the U.S. didn’t understand the insurgency and had little to no intelligence on it. Since the insurgency was fragmented it had no center to strike or ideology to understand. It also didn’t follow classical insurgencies by trying to win over the population or going to the local pres to exploit their deeds. It relied on the internet and Arab language TV to show its exploits and used violence to show its power and claim that it was protecting the Sunni population. The U.S. also never had enough Arabic translators in the country. In the Summer of 2003 a report said that military intelligence was unprepared, lacked numbers, lacked focus, and concentrated on foreign fighters when Iraqis were the backbone of the insurgency. That led to a massive reorganization in the winter.
To complicate the matter the U.S. leadership refused to believe it was fighting an insurgency in Iraq. In June 2003 Bush was given a briefing by the CIA that the U.S. was facing a classic insurgency. That was followed by a November 2003 National Intelligence Estimate to Bush and Rumsfeld that said the insurgency was worsening and could lead to a civil war. Neither report was considered credible by Bush and the White House. Robert Hutchings, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council said, “Frankly, senior officials simply weren’t ready to pay attention to analysis that didn’t conform to their own optimistic scenarios.”
The administration’s dismissal of the insurgency was seen in Rumsfeld’s ever changing description and naming of what was going on in Iraq. In the summer 2003 Rumsfeld said, “I guess the reason I don’t use the phrase ‘guerrilla war’ is because there isn’t one [in Iraq].” When the Secretary of Defense finally started talking about the attacks he blamed it on “dead-enders” who were holding onto the old regime. That was the beginning of Rumsfeld’s never ending terminology for the anti-U.S. forces in Iraq. There were Former Regime Loyalists (FRLs), then Former Regime Elements (FREs), then Anti-Iraq Forces (AIFs), and for a short time Violent Extremist Groups (VEGs). In mocking the Secretary, a senior CPA officer said, “Now they’re just POIs – pissed-off Iraqis. But there was always this desire to say that they were people that were bad guys, either diehard Saddamists or foreigners, not that they could just be regular Iraqis.” In June 2003, Rumsfeld tried to make an incredulous comparison between Washington D.C. and Iraq. He said that Washington D.C. was a big city like Baghdad and since D.C. had about 215 murders a months, 42 soldiers dying in Iraq was no big deal. “There’s going to be violence in a big city,” he argued.
Bush played his own part when he upped the ante in July 2003. He told a press conference, “There are some who feel that the conditions are such that they can attack us. My answer is: Bring em on. We’ve got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.” Bush’s attempt at acting strong backfired. His comments were circulated throughout the Middle East, and insurgents even mocked his comment in communiques. Just a few days later Gen. Abizaid, the new commander of CENTCOM, said Iraqis “Are conducting what I would describe as a classical guerrilla type campaign against us.” It took Rumsfeld until November 2003 to acknowledge as much.
Gen. Sanchez was the first one to lay down a set plan to confront the insurgency in Iraq. Unfortunately, it was completely misguided. Sanchez decided to concentrate on mass raids and sweeps along with “presence” operations to show the power of the U.S. and crack down on insurgents. Family honor is very important in Iraqi society, and the house searches and arrests that came with Sancehz’s plan were usually very humiliating, and often required some kind of face saving act on the part of the Iraqis. As one Sunni from Fallujah explained, “For Fallujans it is a shame to have foreigners break down their doors. It is a shame for them to have foreigners stop and search their women. It is a shame for the foreigners to put a bag over their heads, to make a man lie on the ground with your shoe on his neck. This is a great shame, you understand? This is a great shame for the whole tribe. It is the duty of that man, and of that tribe – to kill that man … to wash away the shame.” Gen. Sanchze’s plan thus increased the Iraqi resentment against the U.S.
Gen. Sanchez also failed to coordinate the implementation of his policy, leaving each unit to implement its own tactics. Thus the sweeps were conducted with varying degrees of competence. The 82nd Airborne Div. arrested 3,800 Iraqis, but screened them and only sent 700 to Abu Ghraib prison. The 101st Airborne Div. was the only one that set up an actual counterinsurgency program that worked with the population and hardly made any detentions. The division distrusted Abu Ghraib because so few Iraqis ever came out of the system. The 4th Infantry Division was the most indiscriminate and abusive. It usually conducted mass sweeps where any man from 18 to 65 were arrested and few if any were screened. Thus it contributed the most prisoners to Abu Ghraib. It also took family members hostage of people they were looking for. The division’s actions were so bad some officers even accused it of fueling the insurgency with its heavy-handed tactics. There were also examples of indiscriminate force. A sniper from a building kept on firing upon one Army unit. It was suggested that an ambush be set up to kill the sniper since he was being so consistent, but that was turned down. Instead, the entire building was emptied and destroyed. The U.S. also began to use heavy artillery, mortars, plane gunships, and bombings to show its overwhelming power. All of these were meant to deter the insurgents. Instead it just made more angry Iraqis. The lack of an overarching strategy or coordination also meant that when one unit like the 101st was successful, its tactics weren’t copied throughout the country.
XXXV. Iraqi Prisoner Abuse
“Take them [Iraqi prisoners] out back and beat the fuck out of them.” Commander 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Summer 2003
As a result of Gen. Sanchez’s policy abuse of Iraqis became systematic throughout Iraq. The initial abuse was the result of troops who were not trained well, weren’t prepared to interrogate or detain prisoners, didn’t speak Arabic, and were frustrated by the insurgents’ attacks. Many units weren’t even frontline combat ones, so they were not use to the stress. They too had to conduct operations because of the lack of troops. Almost every unit in Iraq had cases of abuse. In one incident, the commander of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment told his troops to, “Take them [Iraqi prisoners] out back and beat the fuck out of them.” A sergeant refused to carry out the order because he thought the troops were better than that. Instead he had the prisoners stripped naked and let loose. The 1st Armored Div. decided that captives that cried would not commit crimes or attacks, while those that didn’t would. Each time they detained Iraqis they tried to make them cry to teach them a lesson. There were two incidents where they took Iraqi prisoners and carried out fake executions to make them cry. In one, they told a father they were going to shoot one of his two sons and he had to pick which one. They arbitrarily took one behind a truck and fired a shot by his head to fake an execution. When the father and other son started crying, all three were released. A colonel in the 101st Airborne Div. became suspicious of abuse after a detainee was reported to have a broken jaw after his arrest. An investigation was launched finding that, “Detainees were being systematically and intentionally mistreated.” The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment had a company that was known for beating and abusing detainees. One prisoner was tortured, beaten and killed in custody leading to three soldiers being charged with murder. The 82nd Airborne Div. allowed its soldiers to get out their frustrations by beating Iraqi detainees. “Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the [detention facility]. In a way it was a sport,” a sergeant in the unit said. The 4th Infantry Div. was again the worst offender. The commanding general sanctioned the abuse. He said that the U.S. was fighting terrorists and that they should be treated as such. This was when Washington was saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to captured terrorists. Their treatment of Iraqis was so bad that other units filed formal complaints about the 4th. There were several charges of murder of Iraqis within the division.
Gen. Sanchez directly contributed to the abuse when he issued an order in August 2003 saying, “The gloves are coming off regarding these detainees.” Gen. Sanchez said the military needed to protect its soldiers and asked for suggestions on interrogation techniques. The vast majority suggested beatings and abuse. That same month, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of the Guantanomo prison came to give his advice to Iraq. He suggested that Iraqi prisons needed to be like Guantanomo where the conditions helped break detainees even before they were interrogated. By September, Sanchez issued a list of 29 approved techniques. The memo even said that some were violations of the Geneva Conventions. The next month 10 techniques were taken off the list because CENTCOM thought they were too extreme.
Because there weren’t enough troops many of the detainees swept up in Sanchez’s sweeps were sent to Abu Ghraib prison where they disappeared into the system for months because there were not enough guards, interpreters, interrogators, or intelligence officers. All of these would lead to the prison scandal. Like many things, U.S. war planners did not think about prisons because they thought that an Iraqi government would be able to handle the problem. Prisoners were suppose to be turned over to the Iraqis, but there were no Iraqis to do the job. The CPA took over the job, but didn’t want it so it was given to the military that didn’t have the personnel to effectively carry it out. Sanchez’s policy led to a swelling of the Iraqi prisoner population. From the end of the summer to the fall of 2003 10,000 Iraqis were detained. That led to 7,000 prisoners in Abu Ghraib with only 360 military police. By Autumn there were 10,000 detainees there and growing. Military intelligence would later say that 90% of them were innocent who were just caught up in indiscriminate American sweeps.
The overcrowding and lack of staff led to reports of abuse for months. In October 2003 the 372nd Military Police Company took over and the abuse went to a new level. The unit was made up of Army Reserve units with low morale. Two of the unit’s soldiers led the abuse that would later become public such as stripping prisoners, putting them in homoerotic poses, using dogs to intimidate them, forcing them to masturbate in front of female guards, sodomizing one with a stick, and killing another before interrogation and hiding the death. The prison was also subsumed in violence. There were constant mortar attacks by insurgents, prisoner escapes, no leadership or supervision, and a riot in November 2003. It was these conditions and practices that would be exposed in the prison scandal in 2004.
XXXVI. Everything Would Be Great If It Wasn’t For The Media
”The situation is improving on a daily basis inside Iraq. People are free, the security situation is getting better.” Pres. Bush, October 2003
Things were not looking good to everyone in Iraq by the fall of 2003. The administration’s major claim against Iraq, WMD, were not found, an insurgency was growing, and not everyone, even in Washington, was believing Bremer’s claims about progress in the country. To counter the negative image, the White House launched a new public relations campaign in October 2003. The key element was to stress all of the things going well in the country and blame the press for not reporting on it. Bush told reporters, “The situation is improving on a daily basis inside Iraq. People are free, the security situation is getting better.” Bush actually said the insurgents’ Ramadan offensive was a sign of the success of the U.S. effort. He said the insurgents were desperate because of all of the positive things America had done in Iraq. “They can’t stand the thought of a free society,” he claimed. Bush said if people just asked those in Iraq how things were, they’d have a much better picture of conditions, rather than relying on the press that concentrated on everything wrong in the country. Some commanders on the ground mirrored Bush’s positive message. The commander of the 1st Armored Div. said that the insurgents were losing support. Gen. Sanchez went against the campaign by saying that the insurgency was evolving and that the U.S. would have to be in Iraq for years. In November 82 U.S. soldiers were killed, the highest one month loss so far.
XXXVII. Troop Levels
”Senator, if anybody tells you we have enough troops over there [Washington] when you get back, tell them to go to goddamn hell.” Marine general in Iraq to Sen. Joe Biden, 2003
From the beginning of war planning in Iraq, troop levels were always a point of contention between the military and civilian leaders at the Pentagon. The civilians wanted as few soldiers as possible because it fit their vision of military transformation and their rosy picture of events within Iraq, while the military wanted as many as they could get to cover security. In May 2003 Powell told Bush several times that there weren’t enough troops in Iraq. Bremer also asked Bush for more twice. In this dispute, Bush listened to Rumsfeld who was reluctant to send more. Rumsfeld in turn always claimed that the generals in Iraq got all the troops they’d asked for. When one general actually asked for more Rumsfeld told him not to put it on paper so that he could maintain his claim. Each year the topic of troop withdrawals also came up. In fact, the number of troops went down to as low as 108,000 by February 2004, only to be increased to meet the growing insurgency and provide security for the series of elections in the country that started in January 2005.
The examples of the costs of such a low troop rotation were apparent everywhere. Besides the prison problems, there was no security along the highway from downtown Baghdad to the airport. There was a major crime wave and kidnappings that became endemic after the invasion. There were not enough guards at munitions dumps all over the country to stop them from being pillaged by insurgents. There weren’t enough troops on the borders to stop foreign fighters, money and arms entering from Syria, not enough soldiers to escort CPA officials around Iraq, or to protect the various reconstruction projects throughout the country. All of this cost American lives. When Sen. Joe Biden was leaving Iraq after a visit, a Marine general told him, “Senator, if anybody tells you we have enough troops over there when you get back, tell them to go to goddamn hell.”
Not only was the Pentagon generally refusing to send in more troops to secure the country, they were sending in National Guard and Reserve units with inferior equipment and training. Gen. Sanchez told the Pentagon in December 2003 that there was such a severe equipment shortage that, “I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with rates this low.” These were all adding to the stress upon America’s ground forces. By December 2004 Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army Chief of Staff said that troop deployments to Iraq were “eroding daily our [the Army’s] ability to reconstitute into an effective operational force.” In January 2005 the head of the Army Reserve Lt. Gen. James Helmly warned that the Reserve was “rapidly degenerating into a ‘broken force,’” because of extended deployments to Iraq.
The U.S. was not getting any real support from the Coalition of the Willing either, except from the British. Few of the foreign Coalition troops had orders allowing them to defend themselves. The Japanese couldn’t secure their own perimeter and couldn’t help others. The Thais couldn’t leave their camp. The Poles thought they’d be only doing peacekeeping, but were often thrown into combat situations where the Polish government forbade them from taking offensive actions. The Polish Prime Minister said the U.S. effort in Iraq had “failed totally.” Other Coalition or U.S. troops were often required to protect these units. The U.S. was also paying for many of these countries’ troops to be deployed in Iraq, such as the Poles who were paid $200 million for their 2300 troops in 2003 alone. Starting in 2004 the Coalition began shrinking. In May 2004 Spain withdrew, followed by Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. By the end of 2004 they were joined by the Philippines, Hungary, Thailand, Tonga, and New Zealand. By 2005 the Netherlands, Ukraine, Singapore, Portugal, Moldova had pulled out troops and Bulgaria, Poland, Norway, South Korea, and Italy announced they would draw down their troops as well. Some in the administration were hoping for additional international help, perhaps in the form of the United Nations, but the U.S.’s treatment of that body and its NATO allies before the war excluded any meaningful assistance.
XXXVIII. The Turning Point?
”This is a great day in your history. With the arrest of Saddam Hussein, there is a new opportunity for members of the former regime, whether military or civilian, to end their bitter opposition. Let them come forward now in a spirit of reconciliation and hope, lay down their arms, and join you, their fellow citizens, in the task of building the new Iraq.” Paul Bremer, after Saddam Hussein’s capture, December 2003
The end of 2003 seemed like a turning point in the American occupation of Iraq. That winter, the Marines were to be sent back into Iraq. Their commanding officer, Gen. Mattis, wanted a completely new approach to fighting the insurgency. Instead of using Sanchez’s heavy handed techniques, Mattis was focusing upon a counterinsurgency strategy. In December, Saddam Hussein was captured. His two sons had already been killed in Mosul during the summer. Many were claiming the insurgency was on its last leg. The reality proved to be much different.
The 1st Marine Division had been part of the invading force of Iraq, but then had rotated out. In the winter of 2003 it was being sent back in. Many in the Corps were critical of the techniques that the Army had used in Iraq and wanted to use counterinsurgency tactics instead. “Success in a counterinsurgency environment is based on winning popular support not blowing up people’s houses,” a Marine officer explained. In general, counterinsurgency operations are based upon the following: The people are the prize, not winning battles. Armies have to win the people’s hearts and minds so that they do not support the insurgency. Force is the last resort, not the first, and when it is used, it must be minimal rather than overwhelming so that the resulting damage will not alienate the population and increase support for the insurgency. Soldiers need to constantly be amongst the people building relationships so that they are seen as helping rather than occupying. Military, political, and economic decisions need to be coordinated to accomplish this type of mission and have a unified command because politics is key, not force of arms. The ultimate aim is to undercut the support for insurgents. It was these criteria that Gen. Mattis began training his troops in as they prepared for redeployment back overseas. The Marines were full of confidence that they could turn the corner on the insurgency with their new tactics.
A more positive event happened on 12/14/03 when Saddam Hussein was captured in a town near his home city of Tikrit. The U.S. hailed his capture as a turning point in the insurgency. Finally, it was believed, the Baathists would cease their fighting with their leader in captivity. This would have been the ideal time to reach out to the Sunnis and bring them into the political process, but the CPA and military were feeling victorious and didn’t want to make any concessions to people they thought they had on the run. In fact, the entire U.S. effort in Iraq was faltering, but they just didn’t know it yet.
Dissent was growing back home over the Iraq enterprise. More military officers were expressing their displeasure with the administration’s handling of things. Eventually a group of retired generals, many of whom had served in Iraq, would go public with their opposition to the Bush administration. The Army War College published an article saying the war was a mistake because it equated invading Iraq with fighting Al Qaeda, which was not connected. Iraq was thus a distraction from the more important war on terror. The article also pointed out the extended deployment of troops would break the Army over manpower issues in the future. Washington was also losing confidence in Bremer. Relations between D.C. and the Green Zone had become more stressed as time passed. Wolfowitz and Rice both sent representatives to Baghdad to check on the situation and suggest improvements. Both reported that Bremer was overselling his success, that the CPA wasn’t having much effect outside the Green Zone, and that Iraqi resentment against the U.S. was growing. A CPA official noted, “Bremer and his most trusted CPA advisers simply did not grasp the depth of Iraqi dissatisfaction, suspicion, and frustration, even among many of our partners and philosophical allies within the Iraqi political class.” Rumsfeld even got involved formally by sending Pentagon survey teams to do an audit of the CPA. It found that the insurgency was growing faster than the training of Iraqi security forces, which led to training being taken away from the CPA and given to the military. The consensus was that Bremer needed to go, but Bush didn’t want to do anything that might effect his re-election campaign. The next year, 2004, it would become apparent to most that the U.S. was failing in Iraq. Positive opinions of the U.S. dropped to 14% amongst Iraqis in March 2004, from January to June 2004 attacks on Americans more than doubled to around 50 a day, U.S. public opinion polls showed a drop in support for the war, but the real wake up calls would happen in Fallujah and in the Shiite sections of the country
XXXIX. Things Fall Apart: Fallujah and the Sadr Rebellion
”This thing evolved in front of us. And each day it got incrementally worse, until it exploded.” Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, formerly in charge of training Iraqi security forces, 2006
In the Spring of 2004 it seemed like central and southern Iraq were in open rebellion to the U.S. presence. In March 2004 private security contractors were killed, burned and hung in Fallujah. President Bush ordered the Marines to find and punish the murderers. The Marine commander, Gen. Mattis was deeply opposed. He thought the attack on the contractors was meant to provoke an overreaction by the Americans and further alienate the population. Gen. Mattis, who was trying to implement a counterinsurgency policy wanted to have a police type investigation. Bremer was also opposed, but the White House overruled them. Lt. Gen. James Conway, the senior Marine commander in the United States would later publicly object to the attack being ordered.
At the beginning of April the Marines launched Operation Vigilant Resolve against the city of Fallujah. There were an estimated 1,200 insurgents amongst a population of around 300,000. The Marines assaulted the city with 2,500 troops, tanks, planes and helicopters. Fighting proved so intense that Gen. Mattis asked for reinforcements twice from the Army but was denied because of the shortage of troops throughout the country. At the same time, other cities such as Ramadi and Baqouba erupted. Shortly after the attack was launched however, it was called off. Civilians in the CPA and White House were afraid that the images of the assault were turning Arab opinion against them. A cease fire was called just as the Marines were about to take the center of the city and a figurehead Iraqi unit controlled by Baathists and insurgents took over control of the city. By the end of the month Bush was declaring, “Most of Fallujah was returning to normal,” when in fact, it was a great victory for the insurgents who turned the city into their main base of operations.
Fallujah was not the only problem the U.S. came to face that spring. In the South, the Shiites led by Moqtada al-Sadr rose up against the occupation in Baghdad, Kut, Amara, Najaf, Karbala, Nasiriya, Kufa, and Diwaniyah. After the war Sadr wanted to establish his own power base amongst the Shiites just as his famous father, an Ayatollah with a section of Baghdad named after him, once had. To do this his followers killed one of his rivals, Ayatollah Abdul-Majid al-Khoei and threatened Grand Ayatollah Sistani in April 2003. Sadr’s followers known as the Mahdi Army began taking over schools and hospitals, made women wear veils, attempted to enforce Sharia law, issued death sentences, firebombed liquor stores, destroyed an entire village of gypsies, held daily protests against the U.S., and generally intimidated anyone who did not support them. The CPA and Washington didn’t know what to do with him because it was afraid of raising more opposition to the U.S. occupation. In April 2004 Gen. Sanchez issued arrest warrants for Sadr initiating his uprising. It seemed like the entire South and sections of Baghdad went up in flames next. Attacks on American forces went from around 200 a week to 600. The Mahdi Army overran CPA offices, attacked Iraqi police and officials, kidnapped foreigners working with the CPA, and eventually the U.S. Army. Sadr was also supplied with money and weapons by Iran during the uprising. Not only that, but Sadr began cooperating with the Sunni insurgents. As a result, Iraqi security forces collapsed around the country. 3,000 police quit in the week of April 17th, while 12,000 soldiers deserted. In the city of Kut the entire police force joined Sadr. In April 147 U.S. soldiers were killed as well.
Like in Fallujah, the outcome of Sadr’s rebellion would not work out well for the U.S. In June 2004 negotiations led to a cease-fire with the Mahdi Army who were able to keep its weapons. The cease-fire seemed to be in name only as the Sadr’s forces continued to launch 100 attacks a week that fall, and spread its influence farther into the south. Sadr didn’t cease his violence until he cut a deal with the Iraqi interim government in August 2004.
The uprisings made clear to the CPA, the military, the administration in Washington, and the American public that things were not going well in Iraq. U.S. public opinion polls found 51% of Americans felt that the war was not going well in May 2004. Some war supporters even began questioning the U.S.’s policies as several Op. Ed pieces, even by neoconservatives, began critiquing Bush’s actions in Iraq. As with past setbacks, the U.S. tried to spin the outcomes to suite their goals, so for example, Gen. Myers, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Sanchez said that Fallujah and Sadr were signs of how successful the U.S. effort was in Iraq because they were put down, while administration officials continued to blame the press for only reporting the negative stories.
XL. Can Things Get Worse? The Abu Ghraib Scandal Breaks
”Between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib confinement facility, numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees.” Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba’s report on Iraqi prisoner abuse, 2004
Just as Fallujah and the Shiite rebellions were taking off the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib broke, destroying much of America’s already tarnished image in Iraq. Bremer had known about abuses in the prison system, but Gen. Sanchez had stopped the CPA from trying to change things as it was seen as interference in military affairs. An investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba into the scandal found, “Between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib confinement facility, numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees.” The negative image of America both internationally and domestically caused by the scandal even made Rumsfeld offer his resignation to Bush twice, but he was turned down. Never ones to admit their mistakes, Gen. Myers from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Rumsfeld told the media that the U.S. had not committed any major mistakes in policy that could have led to the prison abuse. In fact, after 9/11 White House lawyers led by Cheney’s office had drafted a series of memos saying that the Geneva Conventions and other restrictions on torture did not apply anymore in the war on terror. U.S. soldiers, already stretched by troop deployments, stressed out by insurgent attacks, and lacking proper training, saw the White House’s moves as okaying the abuse of Iraqis. After all, didn’t Bush continually say that Iraq was part of the war on terror? The government blamed low ranking soldiers, and let them take the fall with prison sentences, but the abuse was widespread and systematic throughout Iraq, with inspiration coming from the White House. An administration official and Vietnam veteran admitted, “There’s no doubt in my mind as a soldier that part of the responsibility for Abu Ghraid and for Afghanistan belongs with the secretary of defense and the president of the United States. There’s an old aphorism: Keep it simple, stupid. … You always have personalities in uniform … who will take advantage of any ambiguity, any lack of clarification in the rules of engagement, and kill people. … You don’t have rules for your good people. You have rules for that five or six percent of your combat unit that are going to be weird. … And when you make any kind of changes in them, any relaxation of even hint of it, you’re opening Pandora’s box. And I fault Gonzalez [the president’s lawyer at the time and later Attorney General], the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chain of command, Myers, Abizaid, Sanchez, the whole bunch of them.” Later investigations would come to the same conclusions. The August 2004 Schlesinger report blamed Rumsfeld for not providing clear leadership on interrogation techniques. An internal Army report found Gen. Sanchez also culpable.
Even after Abu Ghraib problems would continue with Iraqi prisoners. During the scandal it was discovered that the Justice Department allowed the CIA to transfer Iraqi and other prisoners to third countries to be tortured. After the scandal this practice continued. The U.S. also continued to hold mass detainees. By December 2005 there were 14,000 Iraqis held by underfunded and understaffed army personnel in overcrowded prisons.
XLI. Training Iraqi Forces
“Part of the mission is to train Iraqis so they can fight the terrorists. And the sooner the Iraqis are prepared – better prepared, better equipped to fight – the sooner our troops will start coming home,” Pres. Bush, January 2005
The U.S. has two separate training efforts under way in Iraq one was for a new army, and the other for police and special units. The U.S. didn’t take training the army serious until 2005 and the police until 2006. If you listened to Pres. Bush however, you might think this was the main effort going on in Iraq. Beginning in his 2004 re-election campaign the president latched onto the training of Iraqi forces as an exit strategy from the country. Bush argued that when there were enough Iraqi troops to take on security themselves, the U.S. would be able to bring its troops home. The training of Iraqi security forces has been slow in coming, plagued by false starts, corruption, and a lack of seriousness.
Originally, the military and Gen. Garner had planned to reconstitute three divisions of Iraqi soldiers immediately after the war to be used for reconstruction projects. Bremer scrapped those plans and completely disbanded all of Iraq’s security forces instead. After that the CPA planned to form three new divisions from scratch over the next three years. A private company was given a contract of $48 million to do the job. The company was suppose to train 22 battalions, but only did 6. Half of the soldiers deserted, and the rest were judged to be untrained. Gen. Abizaid and CENTCOM were so furious with the fiasco that the military took over the training mission. Even then there were major problems.
Instead of using Special Forces units that were experienced in training foreign troops, the military mostly relied on Reservists and National Guard troops and private contractors instead. Washington was not very concerned about the effort either and refused to allocate more resources for the effort. It wasn’t until the insurgency really took off that the military took the mission seriously, and then tried to throw the unprepared Iraqi forces into the fight. During the spring uprisings these troops fell apart. It wasn’t until June 2004 that training a new army was finally made a top priority. Even then the program was still plagued by problems. Thousands of soldiers went AWOL, insurgents infiltrated units, there was a severe lack of equipment, and few if any Iraqi battalions could operate without working alongside American advisors and troops. These problems continue to this day.
Plans for Iraq’s police were just as chaotic. Garner’s and the CPA’s early plans for the police were never given any money to be effective. Instead of providing training, as many former police as possible were simply asked to come back to work, usually with little to no pay. In May 2003 the Pentagon went for style over substance when it hired NYC’s ex-police commissioner Bernard Kerik to rebuild Iraq’s police. At that time there were 32,000 police back on the job when a total of 60,000 were needed. Kerik said it would take two years and 1,500 advisors to get the job done. Kerik however, only lasted three and a half months before going back to the U.S. The military would eventually take over this effort as well, calling the previous plans a “fiasco.” Even under military control, rebuilding the police was not a priority. Few received effective training. There was no system of IDs or consistent pay and equipment, and like the army when the police were put in harms way they often ran. Many were also known for their corruption, and they were penetrated even more by the insurgency than the army. Recruiting as many police as possible was what was important, not their quality or abilities.
This was the same view taken up by the Bush re-election campaign. In his speeches he often brought up the number of Iraqis that were trained on the job as a sign of progress, implying that U.S. troops could come home soon. The numbers that the White House came up with proved to be made up solely for American public consumption. By counting every Iraqi that had signed up for the security forces rather than how many actually completed the task and showed up for work, the administration gave a much inflated image of success. At the end of 2004 there were 116,000 police on duty, but only 73,000 were fully trained and equipped. Likewise, there were plans for 100,000 new soldiers, but only around half were on duty. A 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that tens of thousands of police who never reported for duty were included in the White House’s numbers. “If you are reporting AWOL’s in your numbers, I think there’s some inaccuracy in your reporting,” a GAO official said.
Like so many things in Iraq, the U.S. wasted years until it took seriously an important job to secure the country. By 2005 there were increasingly reports by think tanks that questioned whether the U.S. could ever form an effective security force after so much time had been wasted.
XLII. The Kurds
”If we can resolve this [Kirkuk] by talking, fine, but if not, then we will resolve it by fighting.” Kurdish leader, 12/27/05
Not all of Iraq was falling apart. In northern Kurdistan things were relatively peaceful, local governments were being formed, and even the economy was growing. Of course, some of that had been true even before the invasion as the Kurds were protected by a no-fly zone that allowed them to be basically autonomous. The Kurds, like the Shiites, were an oppressed group under Saddam. They had wanted their independence throughout the region and since they were the closest ally the U.S. had in the country, the Americans basically let them do whatever they wanted in the north.
After the war, the Kurds began expanding their power. For example, the Iraqi flag was banned from Kurdistan where only the Kurdish flag could be flown. The security forces in the north were almost all Kurdish with 10,000 joining the Iraqi army and another 10,000 in separate militias. Kurdish soldiers also followed the Kurdish political parties not Baghdad. Many of the American military bases in the north began being turned over the Kurds in 2005.
The Kurds also continuously expressed their desire for independence. In January 2004 the Kurds gave the U.N. a petition with 1.7 million signatures calling for a referendum on the future of Kurdistan. In the January 2005 elections the Kurds held their own poll that found 99% of Kurdish voters wanted independence.
The biggest prize for the Kurds was the oil rich city of Kirkuk. During the Saddam period, thousands of Kurds had been forced out under a policy called Arabization. As soon as the war was over Kurdish militias began evicting Arabs from the city and the surrounding area funded by Kurdish political parties. By the end of 2005 the U.S. estimated that between 85,000-350,000 had moved to the city after the invasion. By 2004 tensions were growing. The Kurds had taken over the government, insurgent attacks began, Turkey was sending weapons and money to the Turkomans in the city to stand up to the Kurds, while Kurds openly talked about taking over the city by force if necessary. Kirkuk became a symbol of what would happen to the entire country in 2005 as sectarian tensions and violence rose.
A New Iraq?
XLIII. A Change In Leadership
”Sovereignty isn’t so much a legal definition. In practice – it’s controlling a country’s present and its future. They [the Iraqis] will not have that completely.” David Phillips, Council on Foreign Relations, June 2004
The spring uprisings by Sunnis and Shiites made the U.S. re-evaluate its plans for Iraq. Bremer actually acknowledged that his DeBaathification and demobilization of the security forces might have been a mistake and asked former officers and officials to join in the reconstruction of Iraq. At the same time the military also began an internal debate about whether their approach to Iraq was working. The Army was worried that they would be deployed for years in Iraq taking casualties with no end in site. They also worried that they had lost the support of the Iraqi people. The general in charge of the 82nd Airborne Div. thought things were worse, that the U.S. was losing strategically in Iraq.
On the political side, on 6/28/04 Bremer gave Iraq’s sovereignty back to an interim government headed by ex-Baathist and Iraqi exile Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi National Accord party. The fact that the handover was held two days before planned, in a secret location, and Bremer snuck out of the country afterwards was symbolic of the tenuous position the U.S. found itself in. Bremer was replaced by U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, while Gen. Sanchez was succeeded by Gen. George Casey. Unlike Bremer and Sanchez, Negroponte and Casey got along well and coordinated their efforts.
The new interim government was in power until elections in January 2005. It had sovereignty more on paper than in practice as the U.S. continued to be the most powerful force in the country. It also faced daunting problems. It ran government ministries, but almost all of the country’s revenues were already appropriated by the U.S. Almost half of Iraqis were out of work, and there were still widespread blackouts with power only on a couple hours a day. The problems of law and order had never been solved since the invasion. The insurgency was still alive and well. Right around the handover the insurgents carried out attacks in six cities, blowing up police stations, seizing government buildings, ambushing U.S. forces, shot down a U.S. helicopter, and killed more than 10 people, including 3 U.S. soldiers in just one day.
In a move that would become familiar with each new Iraqi government, Prime Minister Allawi promised to crack down on insurgents and crime. This garnered a short term boost in support for the interim government, especially when Allawi spread a story that he had executed six insurgents himself. He formed special police commando units made up mostly of ex-Republican Guard soldiers who were known for their violent yet effective tactics. Allawi also told his Interior Minister to clean the police of Sunni insurgents that led to widespread purges. At the same time, the prime minister tried to reach out to some of the Baathist insurgents to try to end their attacks. In the end his policy didn’t work as he didn’t have enough security forces or control of the U.S. military, the talks with insurgents went no where as their attacks reached a new peak, and his government was accused by Human Rights Watch and the State Department of widespread abuses such as torture. The interim government would also be wracked with corruption. The British claimed that $1.27 billion disappeared during Allawi’s short time in office.
XLIV. The Insurgency – Part II
”It[the Iraqi insurgency]’s robust, it’s well led, it’s diverse. Absent some sort of reconciliation it’s going to go on, and that risks a civil war. They have the means to fight this for a long time, and they have a different sense of time than we do, and are willing to fight. They have better intelligence than we do.” Col. Derek Harvey, senior military intelligence expert on Iraq in briefing to Pres. Bush, 12/17/04
In 2003 many in the administration refused to acknowledge that there was an insurgency in Iraq. That cost the U.S. the initiative in the fight, and ever since then it has been the insurgency more often than the U.S. that has dictated events. By September 2004 1,000 U.S. soldiers had died and 7,000 had been wounded. The insurgency was turning to kidnappings to intimidate the population and also for simple profits. In July there had been three, by August there were 23, and by September the number had risen to 35. Despite thousands of insurgents being killed, estimates had their numbers increasing. The U.S. believed that the insurgency had grown from 2,000-7,000 fighters to 8,000-20,000. They counted at least 50 separate insurgent cells financed by Baathists, Saudi donors, and Islamic charities funneled through Syria. They had been able to infiltrate the police and army highlighted by the October 2004 massacre of army recruits who were stopped at a check point by insurgents dressed as police. They had also evolved. They were now able to deny control of large swaths of central Iraq to the U.S. and Iraqi government, were able to shape Sunni public opinion, and had become the voice of Sunni resentment. At the same time they could not overthrow the government, make the U.S. withdraw, stop the political process, or stop young Iraqis from joining the security forces. The fight in Iraq had become a long drawn out war of attrition and wills.
Because of the sharp loses during the spring offensive, the U.S. military began withdrawing from major cities to reduce casualties. They hoped that Iraqi forces would be able to take over those areas, but it was premature. Cities such as Samarra, Ramadi, Fallujah, Baqubah, and Sadr City in Baghdad became no go zones for U.S. troops, while the security forces either fled or worked with the insurgents and Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
Gen. Casey developed a plan to take back these areas before the January 2004 elections. The campaign began with the second battle of Fallujah in October 2004. Casey thought attacking the city would send a message to Sunni cities not to tolerate insurgents. It proved to be the toughest battle in Iraq. Over 1,000 insurgents were killed, but most had left the city before hand and fought in Mosul where they devastated the city’s police. The Fallujah battle lasted ten days, but the mopping up afterwards lasted six weeks. The Marines claimed victory and the administration said that it had broken the back of the insurgents.
The U.S. was again mistaking the kind of war they were fighting. While Fallujah was a tactical victory, it was a strategic setback. As Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote, “The battle of Fallujah … was a particularly striking example of a tactical victory. … The loss of the city deprived Sunni insurgents and terrorist groups of their major sanctuary inside Iraq. At the same time, Fallujah remained a troubled city more than six months later. Many of the citizens had not returned. Rebuilding was slow … and insurgents were still sporadically active. The evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents had added to hostility against the Coalition and government, and had disrupted part of the effort to register Sunni voters before the January 30th election.” In a counterinsurgency campaign, the battlefield is not in the cities, but with the people. In Fallujah the U.S. had destroyed the city to save it, and in the process continued Sunni resistance to the U.S.
The strength of the insurgency finally began to trickle up to Bush, but he wasn’t listening. In November 2004 Powell put in his resignation. During one of his last talks with Bush he told the President that there were not enough troops in Iraq to handle security. That same month a senior administration official told Bush that the U.S. wasn’t winning in Iraq. Bush was shocked. The official went on to complain that the administration never admitted its mistakes, took no responsibility when things went wrong, and didn’t fix its problems. In the same month, the CIA Station Chief in Baghdad issued a report saying that things were not likely to improve any time soon because the security situation had deteriorated so much under the interim government with insurgent attacks. In December, an Army intelligence officer and an Army report all said that the insurgency was growing, and that the situation was getting worse. Bush ignored these reports because it didn’t fit his world view of a steady, successful progression in Iraq. As a sign of how Bush was disconnected from events, he awarded Bremer, former CIA chief Tenet and Gen. Franks the presidential medal of freedom for their work in Iraq. The three had been some of the main culprits in the troubles with the war.
XLV. January 2005 Elections And A New Constitution
”It looks like it was a successful election in most respect – except for the huge glaring problem of the under-representation of the Sunnis,” Larry Diamond, former CPA official, Senior Fellow Hoover Institute, 1/31/05
The Shiites are the largest single group in Iraq. They have three leading political parties, the Dawa Party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and Sadr’s party, plus two militias, Sadr’s Mahdi Army, and the SCIRI’s Badr Brigade. The Sunnis also had organizations that worked as fronts with the insurgents or had contacts with them. The U.S. believed that if they could bring these groups into the political process through elections and representative government they would keep from using their arms. Ultimately, this didn’t work.
At the end of January 2005 Iraq held its first national elections for a national assembly that would run the government, but more importantly write a new constitution. The Shiites were organized into the United Iraqi Alliance, the Sunnis chose to boycott, while the insurgents attempted to intimidate the population. A month before the elections 66% of Iraqis lived in districts that had experienced attacks, while more than 50% resided in areas that suffered at least one attack every three days in that time period. The violence spread north to Kirkuk where tensions between Kurds, Arabs, Turkoman and Assyrians flared up. In Kirkuk Kurds carried out a wave of arrests of Arabs and Turkoman who were held in secret prisons where they were often tortured.
Despite the violence over 57% of Iraqis turned out to vote, except for the majority of Sunnis. Bush said that the election was a vindication of his policies and an example to the rest of the Middle East that democracy was spreading. In reality, the election highlighted the growing sectarian divisions within the country, and increased Sunni resentment, instead of dimming it.
The Shiite Alliance and the Kurds received most of the votes and formed a coalition government with Ibrahim al-Jaafari of the Dawa Party the new prime minister. It took two months to decide on al-Jaafari and three months to form the full cabinet. Afterwards the government worked to strengthen its ties with Iran. In Kurdistan, the local Iranian intelligence chief gave a speech in which he said, “This is a great day. Throughout Iraq, the people we supported are in power. Thank you, George Bush.” Iraq worked out a deal for a new pipeline with Iran, apologized for starting the Iran-Iraq war, signed an agreement to train Iraqi forces, and Iran promised $1 billion in aid. This raised alarms with the Sunnis who saw Iran as their historical rival, and with the United States.
Just like the previous interim government, the new regime faced an increasing security crisis and a continued lack of basic services. The insurgency launched a new campaign directed at the Shiites. From April 28 when the new government was formed and the middle of June 1,100 people were killed. The new twist was that the Shiites, emboldened by their election success began fighting back with their militias. Sunnis increasingly charged the new government with abuses. Sunni clerics began being assassinated. There was an increase in revenge killings, and murders of everyday people not even involved in politics, but being of the wrong sect. Things got so bad that Ayatollah Sistani called on the government “To defend the country against mass annihilation.” On the economic front the middle class began leaving the country because of lack of jobs and security. Unemployment was still as high as 40%, electricity was still inconsistent, but oil revenues were up due to a sharp increase in oil prices. That caused a growth in the economy, but the profits were not trickling down to the average Iraqi. All of these problems were blamed upon the new government, which was seen as incapable of providing security or basic services.
The one seeming sign of success was the drafting of a new constitution, which was submitted in August 2005. Even then, some major issues such as federalism, status of the Baath party, election rules, powers between branches, etc. were not resolved. These were to be dealt with by the next government so that the constitution could be voted on before a U.S. imposed deadline. In October another election was held to ratify the constitution. This time large numbers of Sunnis participated. The U.S. claimed that their plan of democratization and inclusion of the Sunnis was working. Rather most Sunnis were following a plan laid down by the insurgents to reject the constitution as most Sunnis voted against it. After two elections, Iraq seemed to be more divided than ever.
XLVI. Iraq’s Security Forces And The Militias
”Raids, arrests and torture are always there, and the government can’t do anything to secure the country. Iraq use to be have a dictator of mass graves, now we have the democracy of mass graves.” Gen. Muntadhar Muhi al-Samaree, November 2005
2005 was the first year that the U.S. seriously took on training and arming the Iraqi army. In May 2005 the U.S. appropriated over $5.8 billion to develop the security forces. Up to that point the Iraqi troops had performed poorly partly because of their own deficiencies and partly because the U.S. threw them into the fire before they were ready. A study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that “unprepared Iraqis were sent out to die. … The fact that some died as a result of U.S. incompetence and neglect was the equivalent of bureaucratic murder.” In May, Gen. Abizaid told Congress that there were 81 Iraqi police and army battalions, but only 3 were able to act independently. 2/3 of the army units were rated completely incapable. In October things had gotten worse as only one Iraqi battalion was rated as being independent. The Iraqis were still plagued by a lack of supply units, inconsistent pay, corruption, and shortages of equipment. The Defense Ministry didn’t even have a means of keeping track of its troops or issuing orders to commanders in the field. Under the new system, the U.S. would stop just counting how many Iraqis signed up and concentrate on their training. U.S. troops were to be directly imbedded with Iraqi units to help with their morale, leadership and supplies. By the end of the year, more than 2/3 of the Iraqi army was operating out in the field with U.S. support. Bush said that his goal was to have Iraqi security forces take over almost the entire country by the end of 2006. Some still questioned whether the program could work. Ahmed Hashim of the Naval War College said, “The Iraqi Security Forces are almost like a black hole. You put in a lot and little comes back out.”
The Iraqi police were even in worse condition. The police were still not a priority of the U.S., and faced with the April uprisings and the elections, the U.S. had pushed for a vast increase in the number of police. This allowed the insurgents to easily penetrate the force. As the Shiites and Kurds took over the government, they increasingly turned to their militias to fill the ranks of the police. This led to a whole new slew of problems as the police began being used in the growing sectarian violence.
In June 2005 the Shiite Alliance said that the militias were legitimate and began to integrate them into the Defense and Interior Ministries despite objections of the U.S. who wanted them disbanded. That summer saw a wave of death squad activity, assassination of Sunni leaders and clerics, and torture conducted out of the Interior Ministry. Sometimes these acts were done by actual police and commando units and sometimes it was just the militias acting with the blessing of the Ministry. In Basra for example, the governor of the province said that the police were controlled by the Badr Brigade. The city’s police chief said that 75% of the police didn’t take orders from him, and that the militias were assassinating their opponents. From May to August 2005 85 people were killed in such acts. In September two undercover British commandos were arrested in the city that led to a firefight between British troops and the Mahdi Army. The next month, the British said that the city was thoroughly under the control of Sadr who had pushed out his rival the SCIRI’s Badr Brigade. “The parties exercise their power through the security forces to impose their political views. The police chief can no longer control his force. It’s no longer a secret,” said Jamal Khazal, the leader of the Sunni Islamic Party in Basra. In the north the Kurdish Pershmerga militia was doing similar things. They were still operating secret prisons, and there were accusations of beatings and intimidation of opponents of the main Kurdish parties. More importantly, the Kurds tried to expand their sphere of influence to the city of Mosul that did not have a large Kurdish population. After a series of insurgent attacks made the city’s police force abandon their posts, the Peshmerga were brought in and took over. They also moved into the neighboring city of Qaraqosh where Kurds were only 1% of the population. When the Kurds arrived they promised that other ethnic groups would be protected, but at the same time said that they hoped the city would be incorporated into Kurdistan. Backed by the new Kurdish police, they told the local government officials not to follow Baghdad anymore. When they refused they were beaten and publicly humiliated. Other officials were jailed for speaking out against the Kurds.
The rise of the militias became a new headache for the U.S. Gen. Casey had received reports about their abuses as early as June 2005, but did nothing about their rise until November. The U.S. decided that it needed to reign in both the militias and the Shiite parties, not so much because they were killing Sunnis, but because Washington was afraid of their close ties to Iran. The U.S. expected a pro-American government to come out of the war, not a pro-Iranian Islamic oriented one. In November the U.S. raided a secret prison run by the Badr Brigade out of the Interior Ministry in Baghdad. 169 prisoners were found, many of which had been tortured. The Interior Ministry blamed the abuse on inexperienced troops, but then it admitted that there were another 8-10 secret prisons throughout the country. Iraq’s Deputy Human Rights administrator said that torture and abuse had been happening across the country since the CPA handed over sovereignty to the Allawi interim government. Later the Interior Ministry’s Inspector General said that death squads run by the Badr Brigade were also operating out of the Ministry. The general police on the other hand, had been taken over by the Mahdi Army in Baghdad. Sadr’s followers had formed “Punishment Committees” that went after civilians who didn’t follow Islamic law or follow Sadr. Sunnis were also a favorite target as the security forces began carrying out ethnic cleansing in the city breaking up mixed Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods by kicking the Sunnis out.
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the military put intense pressure on the Shiite led government to clean up the security forces, but to little results. One U.S. general was afraid that it would be impossible to weed out the militias because no one could really determine the loyalties of the security forces. Rumsfeld seemed more removed from Iraq as ever when he said it wasn’t up to the U.S. to stop the security forces’ abuses. He said that U.S. soldiers should report any abuse that they saw, while the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was the duty of any soldier to stop any abuse. When confronted with reports of death squads at a press conference, Rumsfeld said that they were “hypothetical,” and then when pressed he said “That’s life!”
This was the unforeseeable consequence of Iraq’s two elections and the growth of the insurgency. Kurds and Shiites, feeling unprotected by the U.S. and the government, turned to their own means to protect themselves, which only escalated the tensions as tit for tat violence spread throughout the country.
XLVII. The Counterinsurgency Campaign
”I would like to think that there are still possibilities here. … We are finally getting around to doing the right things. … I think we’re getting better, I do. … Is it too little, too late?” Lt. Col. Joe Rice, 2005
By 2005 the U.S. still did not have a coherent policy to fight the insurgency. Rumsfeld still seemed to be removed from events. At a Pentagon press conference he told reporters that he had an “epiphany.” From now on he wasn’t going to call the resistance an insurgency anymore because it gave them too much legitimacy. Somehow Rumsfeld thought that it could simply go away if he just called it something else. On the ground, the insurgency was growing, and the military was lurching from one policy to another until the winter of 2005 when Gen. Casey finally articulated a counterinsurgency program called Clear, Hold, and Build, where U.S. forces would go into a city, clear it of insurgents, hold the town until Iraqi forces could take it over, and then start reconstruction projects to win over the population. This was first applied to Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni insurgency, with 16,000 U.S. troops and 32,000 Iraqis, and then later to Baghdad.
Overall, the policy had mixed results. In the Summer of 2005 the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) conducted a very successful counterinsurgency program in Tal Afar using limited force, starting reconstruction programs, setting up a local government, and creating a police force. When the 3rd ACR rotated back home, the new unit, the 1st Armored Div. didn’t know anything about the area or the new tactics. The 1st Div. carried out mass arrests of every adult male in the city instead, something that had already proven to be a failure before. In Baghdad, the U.S. forces were deployed around the outlaying towns while most of the city was turned over to Iraqi security forces. They proved to be more concerned with killing their sectarian rivals and being involved in crime, than fighting the insurgents. Not all Iraqi forces were so corrupt, but the average unit was still undisciplined, disorganized, under equipped and conducted sloppy operations. Many U.S. soldiers said that the best they could hope from the Iraqis was that they could carry out simple police functions. The real heavy fighting and lifting would still be done by Americans. Faced with these problems, an American Lt. Colonel asked if the American effort was, “too little, too late?” There was still the ever present problem of not enough U.S. troops.
Overall, while there were small signs that the U.S. was finally adapting a real counterinsurgency policy, but overall, the effort was as ineffective as ever. Many Sunnis had turned on Al Qaeda in Iraq for its attacks on civilians and trying to insight a civil war. There were even reports of Sunni insurgents having street battles with Zarqawi’s organization. Despite that, the U.S. was still not able to exploit these divisions to turn any of the groups away from armed struggle and to fully join the political process. The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq had been conducting negotiations with some insurgent groups for months, but was undercut by the White House that refused to allow him to make any real concessions.
XLVIII. Failed Reconstruction
”It is now clear that these mega-projects, though essential, have not succeeded in providing quickly enough for Iraq’s basic needs. Iraqis throughout the country remain dissatisfied.” Barham Saleh, Iraqi Minister of Planning & Development, July 2005
The grand plans for the reconstruction of Iraq ran out of time in 2006. At the beginning of the year the U.S. said that it would complete all of the projects that it had started, but would not fund any new ones. By August 2006 the inspector general for reconstruction said that out of the 14,500 planned projects, 500 had never been started, 12,000 had been completed, and 2,000 were still under way. By October 2006 the Iraqis were scheduled to take over reconstruction and finish all the incomplete projects. The U.S. admitted that even when all 12,000 projects were completed, they still would not meet the demands of the country. “We will have completed everything that is in our budget to do. Our budget does not meet all the demands of the infrastructure,” said Kathye Johnson, director of reconstruction. This was what the inspector general began calling the “reconstruction gap,” the difference between what the U.S. and Iraqis expected and what they received.
The problems with the project were the same as when it began. Despite billions of dollars spent, the U.S. still could not provide many basic services to the people on a consistent basis such as electricity, garbage pick-up and sewage treatment. Oil production was still below prewar levels. Part of that was due to constant attacks by insurgents, part was due to corruption, and part was due to the incompetence of the Americans. An audit found that reconstruction funds were still slow to be actually spent. In October 2005 $30 billion had been authorized, but only $13 billion had actually been disbursed. $1.7 billion of that was for oil reconstruction, but only $77 million had been spent by January 2006 because of confusion, incompetence and red tape. Many of the projects completed were so huge that the Iraqis couldn’t maintain them. A July 2005 study found that $52 million in water and sanitation projects completed were either not operating or at low capacity. There was blatant incompetence on the part of American planners. An audit found that five electrical substations built in southern Iraq in 2005 for $28.8 million lacked the cables to deliver electricity, and there were no plans to install them. Corruption was another major concern. Every inspector general report from 2004-2006 noted that corruption and lawlessness were hampering the effort. An October 2004 report by Transparency International, an anti-corruption group, found that Iraq was one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie, an Iraqi national security advisors under the interim government sad, “I am sorry to say that the corruption here is worse now than in the Saddam Hussein era.” The corruption was not only rampant amongst Iraqis, some of whom worked for the insurgency, but also with Americans all the way up to the Pentagon in Washington where the Deputy Undersecretary of International Technology and Security was accused of cronyism with reconstruction contracts.
When the U.S. originally invaded Iraq Pres. Bush said that he wanted the country to have the best infrastructure in the Middle East. By 2006 a brigadier general in charge of overseeing reconstruction said, “The U.S. never intended to completely rebuild Iraq. This was just supposed to be a jump-start.” The U.S. now pushes for foreign investment, budget cuts by the Iraqi government, and free market reforms to help rebuild the country and get the economy working. Iraq also faced the difficulty of signing a debt restructuring agreement with the International Monetary Fund in December 2005 that meant major cuts in government spending and services. Few foreign countries have dared invest in Iraq because of the lack of security. The future seems bleak for Iraq’s economy to recover any time soon, even when on paper things look better because of high oil prices.
XLIX. December 2005 Elections
”I see us moving towards the end of Iraq.” Kurdish official, December 2005
In December 2005 Iraq held its third election since the American invasion. This time Iraqis were voting on a new parliament that would rule for the next four years. The Bush administration again lauded the event as a sign of the growing democracy within the country. On the positive side the Sunnis decided to run candidate for the first time. On the negative side there was violence and widespread charges of fraud, and voters tended to vote for their own sectarian groups rather than any nationalist parties. The new government took months to form, and proved to be ineffective as either the U.S. or previous Iraqi administrations had been.
One of the major developments was the decision by the Sunnis to organize and participate in the election after boycotting the January 2005 election and voting against the new constitution for the most part. Over 1,000 Sunni clerics issued a religious decree instructing followers to vote. Sunni parties also put forth a plan for ending the conflict within the country consisting of the withdrawal of troops from most urban areas, an end to U.S. raids and checkpoints, an overhaul of the Iraqi security forces to weed out the militias, release of the 15,000 prisoners, amnesty for insurgents, and negotiations. The U.S. actively sought out Sunnis in the hope that their participation would mean a decrease in fighting. The U.S. ambassador was able to work out a cease fire with most Sunni insurgent groups during the election, and insurgents actually worked as security at Sunni polling stations to stop attacks by Al Qaeda in Iraq and other groups that were opposed to the elections. The Sunni participation did not mean a turn away from violence however. Many were inspired to vote because of their anger at the U.S. and Shiites. As W. Andrew Terrill from the U.S. Army War College pointed out, “What many people don’t understand is that voting is not a renunciation of violence. It is just one way for the Sunnis to try to gain some power, but not the only way. The Sunnis will use all means to oppose the Shiites, and if that means violence they will use violence.”
The vote itself had its own problems. Before the election a truck was detained crossing the border from Iran full of faked ballots marked for the Shiite alliance. The driver said that dozens of other trucks had already passed into Iraq. In Najaf police cars drove around the city with bullhorns calling on people to vote for the Shiite alliance. There were widespread reports of Shiite militias, police and army units manipulating the vote in the South such as not giving ballots to people who weren’t going to vote for the religious parties, security forces voting more than once, and intimidation at the polls. In the north, Kurds launched coordinated protests and attacks on a Sunni party that led to the death of several of their members This led to 60 political parties threatening to boycott the new government because of voter fraud. The results showed that voters overwhelmingly voted for their sectarian political parties again with the Shiite alliance holding the most seats in the assembly. To increase the divisions, Shiite and Kurdish groups before and after the election expressed their desire to have their own autonomous regions within the country. One top Kurdish official said, “I see us moving towards the end of Iraq.”
After the election it took five months to form the new government, and the Ministries of Defense and Interior, the most contentious because of their control of the security forces, did not have permanent ministers. The negotiations were contentious because of the deep divides amongst the parties. The U.S. was also actively working to lesson the power of the Shiite alliance because of its ties with Iran, and its history of abuse with its militias and police. The U.S. tried to make an alliance with the Sunnis who ironically were the only ones with a similar to view as the Americans, namely about a unified Iraq, opposition to Iranian influence, and control of the militias. In the end, Nuri al-Maliki of the Dawa Party was named the new prime minister. Each ministry was given to a different political party and sectarian group. Like previous governments, al-Maliki’s administration seemed only to have real power within the Green Zone where its offices were. Outside the country seemed to be spiraling towards civil war.
L. Descent Into Civil War
”The sectarian violence is probably as bad as I’ve seen it. If not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.” Gen. John Abizaid, to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 8/4/06
Before the terrorist bombing of the Shiite Golden Mosque in Samarra in February 2006, most Shiites had followed the advice of Grand Ayatollah Sistani and turned the other check in the face of attacks by Sunnis and foreign fighters. Sistani told his followers that the Shiites needed to wait this period out so that they could take control of the country after elections. Since the hand over of sovereignty the Shiite militias had gained power in the security forces and carried out attacks and abuses of Sunnis, but it was still on a small scale. The February attack seemed to be a turning point. After the bombing the Shiites would not only seek retribution on Sunnis after every attack, but would start carrying out massacres of civilians as well. By April 2006 more Iraqis were dying in sectarian violence than in insurgent bombings. In March 2006 for example, 1,313 civilians died in sectarian murders compared to 173 killed by suicide bombers. The violence escalated so much that some Sunnis began calling on the Americans to stay in the country to protect them from the militias and Iraqi security forces, and even officials in Washington began to talk about a possible civil war in the country.
Much of the Shiite violence was still based out of the Interior Ministry. After the December 2005 elections, the U.S. worked hard to wrest control of the Ministry from the Shiites with little success. At the same time, the U.S. was stepping up their training of Iraqi police forces in an effort to steer them towards national service, rather than service to their ethnic group. So far that attempt has failed as the ministry refused to deploy many of these newly trained forces. At the same time, the militias are offering large salaries to troops and police who have completed U.S. training to join the militias instead. It’s estimated that several hundred new police leave for the militias each month. Rather than provide security, the police forces often inspire fear. Majid Hamid, a Sunni human rights worker said, “Whenever I see uniforms now, I figure they must be militias. I immediately try to avoid them. If I have my gun, I know I need to be ready to use it.” The fear and violence has also caused a huge displacement of people who have fled their neighborhoods to seek safety from the sectarian violence. In July 2006 the Iraqi government reported that 182,154 people had sought government aid after fleeing their homes. Once heterogeneous neighborhoods have increasingly become homogenous as Sunnis and Shiites have moved to areas where their sectarian group dominates for safety. The increase in violence on all sides has again led some Shiites to suggest that they should form their own autonomous region in the South.
The new Iraqi government announced a plan in the Summer of 2006 to begin using new Iraqi uniforms and IDs to stop militias from impersonating security forces, but only 25,000 uniforms were ordered, and the Interior Ministry said that the plan would only work for six months at best anyway.
The security forces’ actions also show the shortcomings in America’s training regime. After so many setbacks, training is coming too late for Iraq’s security forces. Not only that, but after training, who will these forces work for? Will they be loyal to the government or their ethnic group? If a civil war breaks out, will they fight for national unity or sectarian goals? The Bush administration hopes that Iraqi forces will eventually take over for American troops, but that could actually make the situation worse.
By the summer of 2006 U.S. officials finally began speaking openly of civil war. In July 2006 the out going British ambassador to Iraq said civil war was more likely than democracy, “The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy.” He said the country could break up and predicated that it would take 5-10 years to solve the problems. The same month, Gen. Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee that sectarian violence could lead to civil war. Bush even took questions about a possible civil war in August 2006. Prime Minister Maliki tried to stem the violence by announcing a multi-point plan for his new government. These included cracking down on security in Baghdad, amnesty for terrorists, departure of U.S. troops, and a crack down on militias. None of this has worked so far. The U.S. cancelled the amnesty idea and a timeline for troop withdrawals, no attempt has been made to disarm any militias, while the increase in troops to the capitol has not had any real effect. The state of Iraq today seems far away from the utopian vision Bush and the neoconservatives put forward before the war of transforming the entire Middle East by overthrowing Saddam.
”If you keep thinking, and you keep telling people, ‘It’s going right, we’re doing fine,’ then you can’t see problems when they occur. You keep doing the same thing you’re doing wrong.” James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, 2006
The Bush administration originally claimed that they were invading Iraq to protect America from WMD and terrorism, and to free Iraqis of their oppressive master Saddam Hussein. According to war supporters, failed or rogue states like Iraq were the breeding ground of terrorism, and the cause of the region’s problems. After the war, Iraq became just such a state. After the invasion the U.S. argued that it was invading Iraq to spread democracy and transform the Middle East. This has not happened either. Bush has also said that the U.S. is winning the war on terrorism by fighting in Iraq. Rather than reduce the Islamist movement, it has been revived by the invasion, and Americans are dying every week in insurgent attacks. The continued difficulties in Iraq have also hampered future U.S. foreign policy actions because of its isolation and the general distrust other countries feel towards America. The administration and Pres. Bush especially have been stubborn to admit any wrong doings and thus continue on making the same mistakes.
The administration said that failed states were ones that lacked a strong central government, had wide areas not under their control that could provide safe havens for terrorists. Today Iraq is just such a state. It lacks a government with real authority that can provide security and basic needs. Its economy is stalled, its army and police are considered a threat by certain sectors in the population, there are stretches of central and western Iraq that have no government control, and militias run the south and north.
Iraq was suppose to be the first domino in a wave of democratization across the region. While Iraq has held three elections, representative government is tenuous at best. Candidates rarely speak to the public during elections because of fear of assassination. Civil society is weak and there are few institutions or organizations to support democracy. Voters have overwhelmingly voted for their own sectarian parties rather than ones that promote a national agenda. All parties have also used violence, abuse and torture against their opponents. Not only that but the irony continues that the U.S. came to establish democracy in Iraq, yet the U.S. remains the most powerful force in the country. The U.S. exerts such influence that it almost has veto power over Iraqi policy. For example, when Prime Minister Maliki came up with the idea of giving amnesty to all Iraqi insurgents he had to reverse course when the U.S. embassy objected. With general anarchy running through much of the country, it is not a surprise that Iraq cannot be held up as a shining example of change in the Middle East.
The Bush administration claims that it is winning the war on terrorism by fighting in Iraq. By 2005 this rang hollow as Iraq was one the centers of Islamist terrorism. In February 2005 the CIA Chief Porter Goss told Congress, “Those who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks.” The next month bin Laden asked Zarqawi and his Al Qaeda in Iraq to attack the U.S. homeland. By August Islamists from Iraq had fired missiles at a U.S. navy ship in Jordan. Saudi Arabia was also warning of Islamist activities within their country conducted by Iraqi veterans. Iraqi inspired roadside bombings were foiled in Kuwait and Qatar. A few months later Zarqawi’s organization detonated bombs in three hotels in Amman, Jordan killing 57 people. Up to 100 Arabs have gone from fighting in Iraq to joining the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban and are fighting Coalition troops there now importing many techniques learned in Iraq such as roadside bombs. Iraq has become the new Afghanistan for a younger generation of Islamist, just what the administration claimed they were trying to stop by invading the country.
Future U.S. foreign policy has also been harmed by Iraq. The U.S. had a complete intelligence failure when it claimed that Iraq had WMD. Other countries, let alone the American public, will be hard pressed to believe the government the next time it speaks of the need for attacking another country over such weapons. This is already being played out with Iran and North Korea over its nuclear programs. Iran, Syria and North Korea have in fact been emboldened by the Iraq invasion. Iran and North Korea have accelerated their nuclear programs as a deterrent to the U.S. They also feel that the U.S. can do little about it as its bogged down in Iraq. Iran and Syria have increased their support of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas as well, and Iran has become a major player in Iraqi politics with its support of the Shiite religious parties.
Bush has generally ignored these problems, Cheney has blamed his rivals, Rumsfeld has said they don’t really exist, Wolfowitz claimed success, and then moved on like Feith, Franks, and Bremer. No one has admitted that major mistakes have been made, and instead claim that their plans did and are working.
There are various scenarios for the future. One is that the U.S. will be in the country for at least a decade keeping a lid on the civil war, with the Iraqis taking over more of the security duties, while hopefully U.S. troops retreat into their bases and reduce their casualties. This is close to what the Bush administration currently hopes for. The U.S. might also improve its operations, gain more Iraqi security forces, but the political will in America dries up and the U.S. pulls out. This will probably lead to a vast increase in sectarian violence, and perhaps a full-fledged civil war. Such a civil conflict could lead to foreign intervention by Turkey, Iran and Sunni Arab governments. The country could also break up into three separate areas, Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish, but even that scenario could invite intervention by the Turks against the Kurds. No matter what the outcome, things will not work out for years.
In early January 2005 Powell went to the White House to say goodbye as he was stepping down from being Secretary of State. He decided to speak his mind to Bush by telling him that the Defense Department had too much power in shaping foreign policy. He then told the president that if things didn’t improve in Iraq by the spring of 2005 then the president needed a new strategy and new people around him. Bush was taken aback. Like most times, Bush did not listen to Powell on Iraq as Cheney and Rumsfeld continued to hold sway over foreign policy with Rice, replacing Powell, as their rival. During the run up to war, a Pentagon official noted, “A country that has its own major agencies at war is not going to fight a war well.” That was the situation before the war, after the war, and continues to this day within the White House. With that kind of dysfunctional decision making process and lack of leadership, things will never get better under this administration.
Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Next Attack, 2005
Richard Clark, Against All Enemies, 2004
Francis Fukayama, America At The Crossroads, 2006
George Packer, The Assassin’s Gate, 2005
John Prados, Hoodwinked, 2004
Thomas Ricks, Fiasco, 2006
Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine, 2006
- Price Of Loyalty, 2004
Bob Woodward, Bush At War, 2003
- Plan of Attack, 2004
British Downing Street memos
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States, 2004
Senate Intelligence Committee, Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence on Iraq, 7/7/04
Laurence H. Silberman and Charles S. Robb, Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons Of Mass Destruction, 3/31/05
Think Tank Reports
Center For Defense Information “Willful Ignorance: How the Pentagon sent the army to Iraq without a counterinsurgency doctrine” 9/16/05
Joseph Cirincione, Jessica Mathews, George Perkovich, and Alexis Orton “WMD In Iraq Evidence and Implications” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace January 2004
Anthony Cordesman “Iraqi Force Development: Can Iraqi Forces Do the Job?” Center For Strategic and International Studies 11/29/05
- “Losing the War in Iraq?” Center For Strategic And International Studies 7/19/06
Carl Conetta “Disarming Iraq: What Did the UN Missions Accomplish?” Project On Defense Alternatives 4/25/03
Michael Eisenstadt and Jeffrey White “Assessing Iraq’s Sunni Arab Insurgency” Washington Institute December 2005
Gene Healy “Why Hussein Will Not Give Weapons of Mass Destruction to Al Qaeda” Cato Institute 3/5/03
David Isenberg “Little Promise in Iraqi Security Forces” Center For Defense Information; Straus Military Reform Project 12/5/05
Lawrence Korb and Brian Katulis “Strategic Redeployment: A Progressive Plan for Iraq and the Struggle Against Violent Extremists” Center For American Progress 10/3/05
Kenneth Pollack “A Switch In Time; A New Strategy For America In Iraq” Brookings Institution February 2006
Yahia Said “Misunderstanding Iraq: Recommendations for US Policy” Open Society Institute November 2005
Col. Daniel Smith Ret. “Repairing a Broken Iraq?” Foreign Policy In Focus 7/3/06
Qassim Abdul-Zahra “Ambushes, shootings kill 26 across Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 7/19/05
Agence France Presse “Iraqi forces beset by sectarian differences: US intelligence czar” 2/2/06
- “Most foreign fighters in Iraq come from Egypt: US military” 6/29/06
Larisa Alexandrovna “Secretive military unit sought to solve political WMD concerns prior to securing Iraq, intelligence sources say” Raw Story 1/5/06
Christopher Allbritton “Iraq’s Next Fault Line” Time April 200
Miriam Amie “US sees Iraqi oil production choked for years” Mail& Guardian Online 1/10/06
John Arquilla “Evolution Of Attack” San Francisco Chronicle 8/21/05
Associated Press “As U.S. focuses on Baghdad, al-Qaeda gains strength in Sunni heartland” 8/16/06
- “Blix: Don’t assume Saddam had weapons of mass destruction” 6/6/03
- “Bush Planned Iraqi Invasion Pre-9/11, O’Neil Says” 1/11/04 –
- “S. Korea OKs partial pullout of Iraq force” San Francisco Chronicle 12/31/05
- “Stature of radical Islamists is up since 9/11, study says” 11/25/04
- “U.S. Air Power Strikes Iraq Targets Daily” 12/20/05
James Atlas “A classicist’s Legacy: New Empire Builders” New York Times 5/3/03
Bruce Auster, Mark Mazzetti, and Edward Pound “Truth And Consequences” U.S. News & World Report 6/9/03
David Axe “Experts Say Iraqi Forces Not Ready” Military.com 6/23/06
Anna Badkhen “Analysts see rift growing over charter” San Francisco Chronicle 8/30/05
- “Bitter Iraqi vents anger by killing U.S. troops” San Francisco Chronicle 10/7/03
- “Election outcome might not please U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 12/16/04
- “Explosion of violence – but why?” San Francisco Chronicle 5/3/05
- “Gunmen stalk Hussein party members” San Francisco Chronicle 9/21/03
- “Insurgency And Chaos” San Francisco Chronicle 6/11/06
- “Iranian factor in Iraq insurgency” San Francisco Chronicle 8/21/06
- “Iraqi criminal gangs prey on families” San Francisco Chronicle 9/18/03
- “Kurds evicting Arabs in north Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 4/19/03
- “Lines of control shift in sands in the desert” San Francisco Chronicle 11/13/05
- “Local Iraqi militias guard their own” San Francisco Chronicle 5/27/06
- “On The Frontlines Core of resistance” San Francisco Chronicle 10/5/03
- “Sunnis won’t boycott again” San Francisco Chronicle 12/11/05
- “U.S. Reaction: Bush says his policies are paying off” San Francisco Chronicle 1/31/05
- “Violence aside, Baghdad is broken” San Francisco Chronicle 5/24/06
- “Why victory not a matter of troops” San Francisco Chronicle 7/1/05
Anna Badkhen and Vivienne Walt “U.S.-trained Iraqi guards lack guns” San Francisco Chronicle 9/23/03
David Baker “Bechtel under siege” San Francisco Chronicle 9/21/03
- “Industry ravaged by sanctions, sabotage war” San Francisco Chronicle 6/30/04
- “Iraqis sample democracy in U.S.-sponsored councils” San Francisco Chronicle 9/4/03
- “Lack of phones wearing on Iraqis” San Francisco Chronicle 8/17/03
- “Rebuilding Iraq a big, slow job” San Francisco Chronicle 3/20/05
- “Seeking Iraq’s oil prize” San Francisco Chronicle 1/26/05
- “Violence in Iraq puts kids under house arrest” San Francisco Chronicle 8/7/03
- “U.S. firms work hinges on outcome of Iraq elections” San Francisco Chronicle 1/28/05
Peter Baker “Bush says Iraqi troops to take over by year’s end” San Francisco Chronicle 3/14/06
- “In Iraq, No Clear Finish Line” Washington Post 8/12/05
Lolita Baldor “Spending lags on training of Iraqi forces” Army Times 4/14/06
Neela Banerjee “Raid prompts doubts about Iraqi security” San Francisco Chronicle 2/16/04
Neela Banerjee and Douglas Jehl “Iraqi party helping U.S. reassemble Iran spy unit” San Francisco Chronicle 7/22/03
Julian Barnes, Kevin Whitelaw and Ilana Ozernoy “Victims of Circumstance” U.S. News & World Report 9/27/04
Cameron Barr and Karl Vick “Deadliest day yet for U.S. troops – 37 killed” San Francisco Chronicle 1/27/05
Felicity Barringer “Powell makes appeal to U.N. for Iraq help” San Francisco Chronicle 8/22/03
Yahya Barzanji “Divisions mounting in Iraqi politics” San Francisco Chronicle 10/3/05
Sarah Baxter “US plots ‘new liberation of Baghdad’” Times on London 4/16/06
Sarah Baxter, Ali Rifat and Peter Almond “US forces step up Iraq airstrikes” Sunday Times of London 1/1/06
Mohamad Bazzi “Shiite cleric’s rhetoric ominous” San Francisco Chronicle 4/3/04 –
BBC News “Iraq civil war warning for Blair” 8/3/06
- “Iraq oil exports hit post-war low” 1/2/06 –
- “Iraq violence; Facts and figures” 8/17/06
Bryan Bender “2002 report found no Iraqi arsenal” San Francisco Chronicle 6/7/03
- “Bush aides press ‘preemptive deterrence’ in Mideast” Boston Globe 4/13/03
- “Insurgent attacks rise to 600 a week” San Francisco Chronicle 5/31/06
- “Study cites seeds of terror in Iraq: War radicalized most, probes find” Boston Globe 7/17/05
Brian Bennett and Vivienne Walt “Losing Hearts and Minds” Time 12/8/07
Brian Bennett and Michael Ware “Life Behind Enemy Lines” Time 12/15/03
Peter Bergen “The Wrong War Backdraft: How the war in Iraq has fueled Al Qaeda and ignited its dream of global jihad” Mother Jones July/August 2004
Tom Bissell “Improvised, Explosive, & Divisive” Harper’s Magazine January 2006
Raymond Bonner and Joel Brinkley “U.S. intelligence not consistent in analyzing attacks” San Francisco Chronicle 10/28/03
Tom Bowman “Army Reserve breaking down, general warns” San Francisco Chronicle 1/6/05
Joel Brinkley “Saudi official fears Iraq breakup” San Francisco Chronicle 9/23/05
William Broad “Some Skeptics Say Arms Hunt Is Fruitless” New York Times 4/18/03
Drew Brown “U.S. airstrikes in Iraq could intensify” Knight Ridder 1/10/06
Elisabeth Bumiller “U.S. supporters of Chalabi pressure Bush” San Francisco Chronicle 5/29/04
Timothy Burger and Douglas Waller “How Much U.S. Help?” Time 10/4/04
John Burns “If It’s Civil War, Do We Know It?” New York Times 7/24/05
John Burns and Eric Schmitt “Exit from Iraq could take ‘many years’” San Francisco Chronicle 5/19/05
John Burns and Richard Stevenson “Frustrated top GI in Iraq talks tough” San Francisco Chronicle 11/12/03
Robert Burns “Documents show top brass knew of abuse” Associated Press 12/7/05
- “War’s pressures push Army to breaking point, report says” San Francisco Chronicle 1/25/06
Bryan Burrough, Evgenia Peretz, David Rose, and David Wise “Path To War” Vanity Fair May 2004
Andrew Lee Butters “Revenge of the Kurds” Time 3/7/05
Sally Buzbee “U.S. troops go on attack in Mosul” San Francisco Chronicle 1/17/05
Thanassis Cambanis “President named, new government installed in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 6/2/04
Jill Carroll “Shiite power struggle simmers in Najaf” Christian Science Monitor 11/2/05
Ariana Eunjung Cha “$1.9 billion for Halliburton being taken from Iraqi funds.” San Francisco Chronicle 8/4/04
Thanassis Cambanis “Hussein’s outlawed former party gaining influence in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 5/15/05
Damien Cave “For Iraqis, a New Rule of Life: Don’t Trust Anyone in Uniform” New York Times 8/3/06
Rajiv Chandrasekaram “Iraq’s top Shiite assails U.S. plan to cede power” San Francisco Chronicle 11/27/03
- “U.S. drops assembly idea for interim political council” San Francisco Chronicle 6/2/03
- “U.S. spends fraction of aid on rebuilding” San Francisco Chronicle 7/4/04
Rajiv Chandrasekaram and Anthony Shadid “Iraq council member ambushed” San Francisco Chronicle 9/21/03
C.J. Chivers “Terrorist manual may link Iraqi group to al Qaeda” San Francisco Chronicle 4/27/03
David Cloud “Worry Grows as Iraq’s Defense Ministry Falls Short of Expectations” New York Times 8/3/05
David Cloud and Eric Schmitt “More Retired Generals Call For Rumsfeld’s Resignation” New York Times 4/14/06
Patrick Cockburn “As the bombs fall, Iraq’s Kurds have ‘no friends but the mountains’” Independent 5/16/06
- “Iraq is Splitting” Z Magazine 4/6/06
Zachary Coile “Ex-aide’s chargest spark blame game on 9/11, Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 3/23/04
Robert Collier “Behind Baghdad’s fall” San Francisco Chronicle 5/25/03
– “Blast highlights U.S. failure to end chaos in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 8/20/03
– “Bremer leaves, his heart still full of zeal” San Francisco Chronicle 6/29/04
– “Chalabi keeps network, could thwart U.S. goals despite fall from grace” San Francisco Chronicle 5/21/04
– “Imports inundate Iraq under new U.S. policy” San Francisco Chronicle 7/10/03
– “Include excluded rebels, clerics group says” San Francisco Chronicle 6/10/04
- “Iraq’s Sunnis urge talks with rebels” San Francisco Chronicle 12/11/05
– “Iraqi constitution in danger of being undone by factions” San Francisco Chronicle 3/9/04
– “Iraqi detainees report ‘inhumane’ treatment” San Francisco Chronicle 7/29/03
- “Iraq’s Shiites show strength on once-banned pilgrimage” San Francisco Chronicle 4/23/03
- “Iraqis swelter in 115 heat – and fume at U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 7/3/03
– “Many in Iraq feel U.N. needs to take bigger role” San Francisco Chronicle 7/20/03
- “Most Iraqis wary of nation’s new government” San Francisco Chronicle 6/2/04
– “New leaders vow to destroy rebels” San Francisco Chronicle 6/29/04
– “Pentagon retaliates against Gis who spoke out on TV” San Francisco Chronicle 7/18/03
– “Power Struggle” San Francisco Chronicle 6/30/04
- “Seeds of leak scandal sown in Italian intelligence agency” San Francisco Chronicle 10/30/05
– “Shiite support for U.S. occupation of Iraq appears tenuous” San Francisco Chronicle 7/16/03
- “Sunnis offer an exit plan” San Francisco Chronicle 8/21/05
– “U.S. pulls back a bit in Hussein stronghold” San Francisco Chronicle 7/12/03
- “U.S. risks turning Shiite cleric into contender” San Francisco Chronicle 4/12/04 –
Robert Collier and Zachary Coile “Will Insurgency Wane? In short term, maybe, but long-term effect more difficult to predict” San Francisco Chronicle 12/15/03
Robert Collier Marc Sandalow “Bush asks $87 billion for war” San Francisco Chronicle 9/8/03
Pamela Constable “Violence claims 3 lives in Basra’s searing heat” San Francisco Chronicle 8/11/03
- “Women’s rights at risk in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 1/16/04
Matthew Cooper/Peter Gumbel and J.F.O. McAllister “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” Time 12/22/03
Alan Cowell “Blair Says Illicit Weapons May Never Be Found, but ‘We Know Hussein Had Them’” New York Times 7/4/04
Alan Cowell and Christopher Marquis “British report assails intelligence, clears Blair” San Francisco Chronicle 7/15/04
John Cushman “Abuse known as early as 2002, author claims” San Francisco Chronicle 9/12/04
John Daniszewski “Iraq Civil War? Some Experts Say It’s Arrived” Los Angeles Times 1/1/06
Mark Danner “Delusions in Baghdad” New York Review of Books 12/18/03
- “Iraq: How to Not Win a War” New York Review of Books 9/25/03
– “Logic of Torture” New York Review Of Books 6/24/04
- “Secret Way To War” New York Review of Books 6/9/05
– “Torture and Truth” New York Review Of Book 6/10/04
Borzou Daragahi “Abandoned weaponry litters Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 8/26/03
- “Attacks on police kill 59 people, wound 114” San Francisco Chronicle 9/15/04
- “Big Turnout Buoys Hopes” San Francisco Chronicle 1/31/05
- “Cleric’s ragtag army takes heavy toll on troops in Sadr City” San Francisco Chronicle 9/16/04
- “Divided Kurkuk a rich political prize” San Francisco Chronicle 1/27/05
- “Hatred, fear reign after ‘liberation’” San Francisco Chronicle 10/15/04
- “Iraq’s Kurds Aim for Own Oil Ministry” Los Angeles Times 4/19/06
- “Iraqis facing year of economic and political turmoil” San Francisco Chronicle 2/13/05
- “Kurds allow Norway firm to begin drilling for oil” San Francisco Chronicle 12/1/05
- “Massacre feared a setup” San Francisco Chronicle 10/26/04
- “Nationalism drives many insurgents as they fight U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 10/26/04
- “Rebels’ Arsenal Includes Politics” Los Angeles Times 2/19/06
– “Scarce jobs, unsafe streets tarnish gains in freedom” San Francisco Chronicle 3/19/04
- “Shiite alliance appears to hold slight majority in new assembly” San Francisco Chronicle 2/14/05
- “Shiites Press for a Partition of Iraq” Los Angeles Times 8/9/06
- “Suicide bombing kills 18 Iraqi guardsmen” San Francisco Chronicle 1/3/05
- “Truckers say it’s not safe out there” San Francisco Chronicle 9/28/04
– “What Iraqis fear most – sectarian violence” San Francisco Chronicle 3/16/04
Borzou Daragahi and Colin Freeman “Countdown to democracy” San Francisco Chronicle 1/23/05
Borzou Daragahi, Paul Richter and Doug Smith “Economy in Iraq Goes in All Directions” Los Angeles Times 1/2/06
Borzou Daragahi and Alissa Rubin “Shiite-Kurd Goals Stymie U.S.” Los Angeles Times 1/22/06
Borzou Daragahi and Megan Stack “Shrine Blast Fans Fears of Civil War” San Francisco Chronicle 2/23/06
Keay Davidson “Intelligence failure, misinterpretation or deceit” San Francisco Chronicle 3/17/04
Alexis Debat “Vivisecting the Jihad” The National Interest 6/23/04
- “Vivisecting the Jihad: Part Two” The National Interest October 2004
John Dickerson “Confessions Of A White House Insider” Time 1/19/04
Tim Dickinson “West Wing Pipe Dream” Mother Jones 7/28/03
Guy Dinmore “Iraq economy falls below pre-war levels” Financial Times 2/16/06
E.J. Dionne “War needs no protection from critics” San Francisco Chronicle 6/21/05
John Donnelly, “Vice president makes case for war on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 8/27/02
Maureen Dowd “Magnet For Evil” New York Times 8/20/03
Richard Dreyfuss “The Thirty Year Itch” Mother Jones April 2003
Robert Dreyfuss & Jason Vest “The Lie Factory” Mother Jones January/February 2004
Bob Drogin “Chalabi allegedly used defectors to dupe West” San Francisco Chronicle 5/23/04
- “Internal CIA probe on ‘ghost detainees “San Francisco Chronicle 5/5/04
- “Iraqi insurgents seek chemical weapons” San Francisco Chronicle 10/10/04
– “Most Iraqis wrongly detained, report says” San Francisco Chronicle 5/11/04
Michael Duffy, “Leaking With A Vengeance” Time 10/13/03
– “One Expert’s Verdict: The CIA Caved Under Pressure” Time 6/14/04
– “So Much For The WMD” Time 2/9/04
- “Theater Of War” Time 8/12/02
– “Weapons Of Mass Disappearance” Time 6/9/03
– “When Private Armies Take to the Front Lines” Time 4/12/04
Michael Duffy and Mark Thompson “Secretary of War” Time 12/29/03
Celia Dugger “Iraq ideal for graft, group warns” San Francisco Chronicle 10/21/04
Erik Eckholm “Hallibruton overcharges pegged at $108 million” San Francisco Chronicle 3/15/05
- “Pentagon faulted for cost overruns in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 6/16/04
Economist “American military tactics: How to Do Better” 12/14/05
- “Democracy at gunpoint” 1/29/05
- “Hopeful turning point, or descent into chaos?” 1/29/05
Daniel Eisenberg “Can Anyone Govern This Place?” Time 5/26/03
Michael Eisenstadt and Jeffrey White, “Assessing Iraq’s Sunni Arab Insurgency” U.S. Army, Military Review May-June 2006
Andrea Elliott “Abu Ghraib unit says prisoner abuses reported to command in 2003” San Francisco Chronicle 6/14/04
Michael Elliott “Facing Reality” Time 9/22/03
– “If At First You Don’t Succeed…” Time 11/24/03
– “So, What Went Wrong?/Chasing A Mirage” Time 10/6/03
- “The War That Never Ends” Time 7/7/03
Michael Elliott and Massimo Calabresi “Is Condi The Problem?” Time 4/5/04
Michael Elliott and James Carney “First Stop, Iraq” Time 3/31/03
Alan Elsner “Bush Officials Change Tune on Iraqi Weapons” Reuters 5/14/03
Richard Engel “Are Iraqi police engaging in torture tactics?” MSNBC.Com 12/29/05
Edward Epstein “Bush adds $80 billion to wars’ costs” San Francisco Chronicle 1/26/05
- “Bush’s Counteroffensive On War” San Francisco Chronicle 12/1/05
- “Experts see grim times ahead – a torn Iraq – even if constitution is approved” San Francisco Chronicle 10/11/05
- “Grim milestone: Toll tops 1,000” San Francisco Chronicle 9/8/04
- “Heard on the horizon: calls to get all U.S. troops out of Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 6/23/04
- “Iraq’s prime minister visiting U.S. amid worry over nonstop violence” San Francisco Chronicle 7/25/06
- “Little evidence of banned weapons found so far” San Francisco Chronicle 4/6/03
– “Officials say methods at prison broke rules” San Francisco Chronicle 5/14/04
– “Red Cross reports lost, generals says” San Francisco Chronicle 5/20/04
– “Rumsfeld warns of photos depicting worse abuses” San Francisco Chronicle 5/8/04
– “U.S. Predicament: Military has few, if any, good options in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 5/5/04
– “U.S. says increased Iraqi resistance shows desperation” San Francisco Chronicle 10/28/03
– “U.S. sees no date for exit, aide says” San Francisco Chronicle 5/19/04
- “White House Presses Nation For resolve To Win In Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 12/19/05
Edward Epstein and David Bake “Abuse raises questions about role of U.S. contractors” San Francisco Chronicle 5/4/04
Dominic Evans “Blair aide doubted level of Iraqi threat” Boston Globe 8/19/03
Larry Everest “Cheney, energy and Iraq invasion” San Francisco Chronicle 3/21/04
Leila Fadel “Abuse of prisoners in Iraq widespread, officials say” Knight Ridder 11/28/05
Steve Fainaru “Kurds Reclaiming Prized Territory In Northern Iraq” Washington Post 10/30/05
Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid “U.S. memo tells of abductions of Kirkuk minorities” San Francisco Chronicle 6/15/05
James Fallows “Blind Into Baghdad” Atlantic Monthly January/February 2004
- “Bush’s Lost Year” Atlantic Monthly October 2004
- “Why Iraq Has No Army” Atlantic Monthly December 2005
Bay Fang “Borderline War” U.S. News & World Report 9/29/03
- “Northern Iraq’s Other War” U.S News & World Report 3/24/03
Omar Fekeiki and Jonathan Finer “Parties demand new elections” San Francisco Chronicle 12/23/05
Dexter Filkins “Armed Groups Propel Iraq Toward Chaos” New York Times 5/24/06
- “Baghdad’s Chaos Undercuts Tack Pursued by U.S.” New York Times 8/6/06
- “Car bomb warning to sheiks” San Francisco Chronicle 11/21/03
- “Fallujah now a ‘terrorist hotbed’” San Francisco Chronicle 7/8/04
- “General Says Militias Split Loyalties of Iraqi Security Forces” New York Times 12/3/05
– “Intercepted memo seeks al Qaeda aid” San Francisco Chronicle 2/9/04
- “Iraq can’t find $300 million taken abroad to buy weapons” San Francisco Chronicle 1/22/05
– “Mosul losing faith in U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 11/28/03
- “Slim margin means Shiites will need allies” San Francisco Chronicle 2/14/05
- “U.S. backpedals, drops Iraqi general” San Francisco Chronicle 5/4/04
- “U.S. forfeiting influence in growing number of Iraqi cities” San Francisco Chronicle 9/5/04
- “U.S. general rejects blame for abuses” San Francisco Chronicle 5/9/04
– “U.S. getting tough with Iraqi insurgents” San Francisco Chronicle 12/7/03
- “With no head, insurgency’s body hard to kill” San Francisco Chronicle 12/2/05
Dexter Filkins and David Cloud “Iraqi insurgents getting more sophisticated” San Francisco Chronicle 7/24/05
Dexter Filkins and James Glanz “Delegates submit incomplete constitution” San Francisco Chronicle 8/23/05
Dexter Filkins and Sabrina Tavernise “Americans Said to Meet Rebels, Exploiting Rift” New York Times 1/7/06
Dexter Filkins Vivienne Walt “85 die in Iraq shrine blast – key ayatollah among slain” San Francisco Chronicle 8/30/03
Jonathan Finer “Among Insurgents in Iraq, Few Foreigners Are Found” Washington Post 11/17/05
- “For Kurds, A Surge Of Violence In Campaign” Washington Post 12/14/05
- “Report Measures Shortfall in Iraq Goals” Washington Post 1/27/06
- “U.S. Report Cites Progress, Shortfalls In Iraq Rebuilding” Washington Post 5/1/06
Jonathan Finer and Saad Sarhan “Lawmakers reverse voting rule change” San Francisco Chronicle 10/6/05
Jonathan Finer and Bassam Sebti “Sectarian Violence Explodes Across Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 2/24/06
David Firestone “Bremer makes pitch for U.S. aid to Iraqis” San Francisco Chronicle 9/23/03
Ian Fisher “Clash in Baghdad slum roils Shiites against U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 10/11/03
- “Council President: Blast near U.S. headquarters” San Francisco Chronicle 5/18/04
Alan Fram “$81.9 billion sought for war, aid” San Francisco Chronicle 2/15/05
- “Estimated tab to rebuild Iraq put as high as $600 billion” San Francisco Chronicle 8/12/03
David Francis “US bases in Iraq: a costly legacy” Christian Science Monitor 4/3/06
Mike Francis “U.S. troops were told not to aid prisoners” San Francisco Chronicle 8/8/04
Glenn Frankel “Blair warned of Iraq attack dangers” San Francisco Chronicle 9/12/03
– “Top judge absolves Britain’s Tony Blair” San Francisco Chronicle 1/29/04
Colin Freeman “Plenty of candidates, but where do they stand?” San Francisco Chronicle 1/22/05
Peter Galbraith “Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic” New York Review of Books 8/11/05
- “Iraq: The Bungled Transition” New York Review of Books 9/23/04
- “The Mess” New York Review of Books 3/9/06
- “Mindless in Iraq” New York Review Of Books 8/10/06
Beth Gardiner “Britain stands by claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Africa” San Francisco Chronicle 7/13/03
Paul Garwood “Iraqi Kurds Take Tough Stance On Kirkuk” Associated Press 2/14/06
Barton Gellman “Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq” Washington Post 5/11/03
Michael Georgy “Number of Iraqi refugees from violence swells” Reuters 7/31/06
Aparisim Ghosh “Faces Of Resistance” Time 10/17/05
- “Oil But No Gasoline, Rivers But No Water” Time 7/11/05
- “When Violence Comes To Campus” Time 6/6/05
Nancy Gibbs “Digging In For A Fight” Time 5/3/04
- “Unfinished Business” Time 4/28/03
Stephen Glain “US role in Iraq could cost $60b more” Boston Globe 8/22/03
James Glanz “$30 billion fund for Iraq rebuilding nearly spent” San Francisco Chronicle 10/31/05
- “An Audit Sharply Criticizes Iraq’s Bookkeeping” New York Times 8/12/06
- “Audit Describes Misuse of Funds in Iraq Projects” New York Times 1/25/06
- “Audit Finds U.S. Hid Actual Cost of Iraq Projects” New York Times 7/30/06
- “Baghdad mayor sacked by armed Shiites” San Francisco Chronicle 8/10/05
- “Infrastructure below prewar levels” San Francisco Chronicle 2/9/06
- “Insurgency intensifies – dozens more killed” San Francisco Chronicle 2/13/05
- “Iraq Rebuilding Badly Hobbled, U.S. Report Finds” New York Times 1/24/06
- “U.S. put ex-con in charge of cash for rebuilding of Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 11/18/05
James Glanz, William Broad and David Sanger “Huge cache of explosives vanished from site in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/25/04
Michael Gordon “Debate Lingering on Decision to Dissolve the Iraqi Military” New York Times 10/21/04
- “For Training Iraq’s Police, The Main Problem Was Time” New York Times 10/21/04
- “Iraqi anger over raids makes U.S. back off” San Francisco Chronicle 8/7/03
– “Official report sees patterns behind attacks on GIs” San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/03
- “Poor Intelligence Misled Troops About Risk of Drawn-Out War” New York Times 10/20/04
- “The Strategy to Secure Iraq Did Not Foresee a 2nd War” New York Times 10/19/04
- “Trying to build an army in a combat zone” New York Times 8/18/06
- “Wary Iraqis Are Recruited as Policemen” New York Times 7/24/06
Bradley Graham “A Report Card on Iraqi Troops” Washington Post 5/18/05
- “Iraqi police accused of abuses” San Francisco Chronicle 5/20/05
Bradley Graham and Josh White “Independent panel tracks prison abuse to Pentagon” San Francisco Chronicle 8/25/04
Peter Grier “Expectations for Iraq downshifting” Christian Science Monitor 8/17/05
- “Why US effort to rebuild Iraq came up short” Christian Science Monitor 8/3/06
Guardian “So, Mr Bremer, where did all the money go?” 7/7/05
Gulf Times “Anti-corruption chief battles on” 7/7/06
Vicky Haddock “Who will fight the war?” San Francisco Chronicle 3/2/03
Danny Hakim, Douglas Jehl and Michael Moss “Iraq Exiles, Backed by U.S. Return to Reinvent a Country” New York Times 5/3/03
Jamal Halaby “Syrian arrested in missile attack on U.S. warship” San Francisco Chronicle 8/23/05
Tom Hamburger “Report: White House memo backed abuse” San Francisco Chronicle 5/17/04
Charles Hanley “500 felled towers keep Iraqi power at home” San Francisco Chronicle 10/2/03
– “Iraqis deny weapons claims made by U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 12/1/03
- “Powell’s ‘thick file’ looking thin” Associated Press 8/9/03
Abdelamir Hanun “Nearly 20,000 people kidnapped in Iraq in 2006” MiddleEastOnline.com 4/19/06
Toby Harnden “US Army admits Iraqis outnumber foreign fighters as its main enemy” Telegraph 12/4/05
Christine Hauser “Militants gun down aide to Iraq’s top Shiite leader” San Francisco Chronicle 1/14/05
Paul Haven “Iraq war seen as a magnet for Islamic militancy” San Francisco Chronicle 1/30/05
Stephen Hayes “Al Qaeda link exists – despite the fog” San Francisco Chronicle 6/28/04
Hamza Hendawi “Insurgent held Fallujah was under sway of local electrician and mosque imam” Associated Press 11/24/04
John Hendren “More GIs needed in Iraq, says general” San Francisco Chronicle 4/13/04
Seymour Hersh “Gray Zone” New Yorker 5/24/05
- “Selective Intelligence” New Yorker 5/12/03
– “Torture At Abu Ghraib” New Yorker 5/10/04
- “Up In The Air” New Yorker 12/5/05
James Hider “West Turns Blind Eye As Police Put Saddam’s Torturers Back To Work” Times of London 7/7/05
Robin Hindery “A year of change for Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 6/28/05
- “Adviser: Iraq ‘civil war’ places U.S. in reactive role” Associated Press 5/10/06
Warren Hoge “U.N. Council votes 15-0 for Iraq sovereignty” San Francisco Chronicle 6/9/04
Carola Hoyos “Iraq oil production on the decline” Financial Times 12/6/05
Human Rights Watch “Torture in Iraq” New York Review of Books 11/3/05
Steven Hurst “Iraqi council chooses a Shiite leader” San Francisco Chronicle 7/31/03
- “Plan B” New Yorker 6/28/04
Independent “Locating Iraq’s weapons not vital, says UK” 5/14/03
Dahr Jamail “Tomgram: Dahr Jamail on the Missing Air War in Iraq” TomeDispatch.Com 12/13/05
Douglas Jehl “2002 report doubted Iraq-al Qaeda informer” San Francisco Chronicle 11/6/05
- “CIA chief admits failings on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 2/6/04
- “CIA doubts hijacker met with Iraq agent” San Francisco Chronicle 7/9/04
- “Evidence of intent – but no WMD program” San Francisco Chronicle 9/17/04
- “Intelligence report to Bush pessimistic about Iraq future” San Francisco Chronicle 9/16/04
- “Officer says CIA attempted to avoid Geneva rules in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/9/04
- “Pentagon alleges Iraq rip-off” San Francisco Chronicle 12/12/03
- “Pentagon Reportedly Skewed C.I.A.’s View of Qaeda Tie” New York Times 10/22/04
– “Prewar reports said Iraq had no illicit weapons” San Francisco Chronicle 3/6/04
- “U.S. Action Bars Right of Some Captured in Iraq” New York Times 10/26/04
– “U.S. cuts back crew searching for Iraq weapons” San Francisco Chronicle 1/8/04
- “White House changes stance on U.N. in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 8/28/03
Douglas Jehl and David Johnston “CIA reconsidering interrogation tactics” San Francisco Chronicle 8/29/04
Douglas Jehl and David Sanger “Report of covert aid to Iraqi candidates” San Francisco Chronicle 7/17/05
- “Unit’s bleak July Iraq report not its first caution to Bush’s White House” San Francisco Chronicle 9/28/04
Douglas Jehl and Kate Zernike “Report warned hundreds held in Abu Ghraib on no evidence” San Francisco Chronicle 5/30/04
Pauline Jelinek “White House hit for refusing to estimate Iraq war costs” San Francisco Chronicle 3/11/04
Rick Jervis “Attacks in Iraq jumped in 2005” USA Today 1/22/06
Scott Johnson and Michael Hastings “Iraq’s Oil Bust” MSNBC.Com 1/30/06
Scott Johnson and Melinda Liu “The Enemy” Newsweek 6/27/05
Scott Johnson, Rod Nordland and Ranya Kadri “Exclusive: Direct Talks – U.S. Officials and Iraqi Insurgents” Newsweek 2/6/06
Scott Johnson and Evan Thomas “Still Fighting Saddam” Newsweek 7/21/03
David Johnston “Rumsfeld Okd tactics at prison, article says” San Francisco Chronicle 5/16/04
Larry Kaplow “Growing violence stirs fears of Iraqi civil war” San Francisco Chronicle 5/17/05
- “U.S. casts net for Iraqi insurgents too wide” San Francisco Chronicle 9/11/05
- “U.S. economics a hard sell in Iraq” Cox News 1/14/06
Bob Kemper “Experts review, poke holes in case for war” Chicago Tribune 8/10/03
Jennifer Kerr “Bush aides twisted findings on Iraq, former envoy says” San Francisco Chronicle 7/7/03
Glenn Kessler and Dana Priest “Bush advisers defend Iraq intelligence” San Francisco Chronicle 9/29/03
Stephenie Kirchgaessner “US ‘had no policy’ in place to rebuild Iraq” MSNBC.com 10/31/05
David Kirkpatrick “Robertson Says Bush Predicted No Iraq Toll” New York Times 10/21/04
Joe Klein “Saddam’s Revenge” Time 9/26/05
Ellen Knickmeyer “After Handover, Hussein Palaces Looted” Washington Post 1/13/06
- “U.S. Has End in Sight on Iraq Rebuilding” Washington Post 1/2/06
Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer “Iraqi Vote Draws Big Turnout Of Sunnis” Washington Post 12/16/05
Brian Knowlton “U.S. alleges rights abuses by Iraqis” San Francisco Chronicle 3/1/05
Jeffrey Koffman “Soldiers Stuck In Iraq” ABCNEWS.com 7/16/03
John Koopman “Putting an Iraqi face on the fight” San Francisco Chronicle 5/21/06
Verne Kopytoff “Black gold at the end of the rainbow” San Francisco Chronicle 10/25/03
Jim Krane “Iraqi Army May Be Light and Friendly” Associated Press 1/25/06
Tom Lasseter “Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia” Knight Ridder 12/27/05
- “Many Iraqi soldiers see a civil war on the horizon” Knight Ridder 12/27/05
- “Sectarian resentment extends to Iraq’s army” Knight Ridder 10/12/05
- “U.S. ignored Shiite militias, focused on Sunni insurgency” Contra Costa Times 4/18/06
David Lazarus “Iraq won’t be paying for itself” San Francisco Chronicle 6/30/04
Robert Leiken “Truth about the Saddam-al Qaeda Connection” The National Interest 11/04
Ryan Lenz “Hearing: GIs drank and planned” San Francisco Chronicle 8/8/06
Charles Levinson “Efforts intensify to train Iraqi police” Christian Science Monitor 1/12/06
- “Ordinary Iraqis feel pinch of free-market reforms” San Francisco Chronicle 1/23/06
- “US tries to loosen Shiite grip in Iraq” Christian Science Monitor 1/17/06
Dafna Linzer “Before Iraq war, U.S. ignored work of U.N. arms inspectors, panel says” Seattle Times 4/4/05
- “No unconventional arms, Iraqi scientists still insist” San Francisco Chronicle 5/4/03
Jim Lobe “Iraq: Democracy or Disintegration?” AntiWar.com 8/30/05
Carolyn Lockhead “Bremer says troop levels too low in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/6/04
- “Bush, Kerry agreed on need to stay the course in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/8/04
- “Bush speech alarms even war enthusiasts” San Francisco Chronicle 5/26/04
- “Ex-inspector: Intelligence to blame for claim on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 1/29/04
– “Growing worry in D.C. – What if U.S. fails in Iraq?” San Francisco Chronicle 4/15/04
- “Illegal Weapons: What if U.S. forces don’t find any?” San Francisco Chronicle 4/18/03
- “Liquid Wealth A Mirage” San Francisco Chronicle 4/12/03
– “Rice plays enigmatic role in Bush’s foreign policy” San Francisco Chronicle 6/3/04
- “Shiite clerics challenge U.S. goal in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 4/24/03
Carolyn Lockhead Robert Collier “Bush’s no-apologies speech convinces few” San Francisco Chronicle 9/24/03
Vernon Loeb “Battlefield Casualties surging” San Francisco Chronicle 9/3/03
Vernon Loeb and Barton Gellman “Rumsfeld foresees year in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 5/10/03
Los Angeles Times “Iraqi oil would be collateral for loans under bank’s plan” San Francisco Chronicle 7/11/03
– “Powell says bad data misled him on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 4/3/04
John Lumpkin “Rumsfeld: Beheadings worse than Abu Grahib” San Francisco Chronicle 9/11/04
Colum Lynch “Blix Downgrades Prewar Assessment of Iraqi Weapons” Washington Post 6/22/03
Colum Lynch and Bradley Graham “Security Council pushes for return of inspectors” San Francisco Chronicle 6/6/03
Peter Maas “Way of the Commandos” New York Times Magazine 5/1/05
Ewen MacAskill “US postwar Iraq strategy a mess, Blair was told” Guardian 3/14/06
Alastair MacDonald “Analysis – After Iraq vote success, now for the hard part” Reuters 12/15/05
Neil MacDonald “After Iraq attack, calls for militias grow” Christian Science Monitor 7/18/05
Aamer Madhani “On the ground, it’s a civil war” Chicago Tribune 4/14/06
Larry Margasak “Army overrode top official to extend Hallibruton contract” San Francisco Chronicle 10/31/04
Christopher Marquis “Ideology takes a backseat to reality in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 8/31/03
- “Iraq occupation may force U.S. to ask U.N. help” San Francisco Chronicle 7/19/03
Paul Martin “Washington seeks partial truce with Iraqi insurgents” Washington Times 12/21/05
Joshua Micah Marshall “Practice to Deceive” Washington Monthly April 2003
Tyler Marshall and Louise Roug “Key pillar of Bush policy on Iraq being questioned” San Francisco Chronicle 10/9/05
Georg Mascolo and Bernhard Zand “Is the Country Heading for Civil War?” Der Spiegel 7/25/05
Mark Mazzetti “Stretched Thin” U.S. News & World Report 2/9/04
Terry McCarthy “What Ever Happened to The Republican Guard?” Time 5/12/03
– “Where Things Stand” Time 3/22/04
Johanna McGeary, “6 Reasons Why So Many Allies Want Bush To Slow Down” Time 2/3/03
– “Danger Around Eery Corner” Time 10/27/03
- “Dissecting The Case” Time 2/10/03
– “Looking Beyond Saddam” Time 3/10/03
- “Mission Still Not Accomplished” Time 9/20/04
– “New Thugs On The Block” Time 4/19/04
– “Scandal’s Growing Stain” Time 5/17/04
- “Showdown With The Rebel” Time 8/23/04 –
- “What Does Saddam Have?” Time 9/16/02
- “What Saddam Was Really Thinking” Time 10/18/04
– “Which Way Is The Exit?” Time 3/15/04
Daniel McGrory “Exodus of the Iraqi middle class” Times on London 5/11/06
- “Militias steal new recruits with better pay and perks” Times on London 5/1/06
Renwick McLean “20 charged with aiding insurgency” San Francisco Chronicle 1/11/06
Emad Mekay “Iraqi reconstruction faltering” Asia Times 10/26/05
Dana Milbank “Allies quash Bush plan for NATO forces in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 6/11/04
- “Bush Remarks Confirm Shift In Justifying War” Washington Post 6/1/03
- “Rumsfeld’s order to end insurgency: Don’t call it that.” San Francisco Chronicle 11/30/05
– “War in Iraq Was ‘Right Decision,’ Bush Says” Washington Post 6/10/03
Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus “Cheney lashes out at policy critics” San Francisco Chronicle 10/11/03
Dana Milbank and Jonathan Weisman “Bush attempts to raise sagging support on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/10/03
Greg Miller “Cheney claims al Qaeda link to Hussein” San Francisco Chronicle 1/23/04
– “CIA chief was out of loop on Iraq special briefing” San Francisco Chronicle 3/10/04
- “CIA experts on Iraq arms shifted to different jobs” San Francisco Chronicle 6/14/03
- “Senate Panel Looking at Administration Claims” Los Angeles Times 7/11/04
– “Uranium claim linked to aide at White House” San Francisco Chronicle 7/18/03
Greg Miller and Bob Drogin “Head of U.S. weapons search quits” San Francisco Chronicle 1/24/04
- “Iraqi defector duped CIA, report says” San Francisco Chronicle 4/1/05
Greg Miller and James Gerstenzang “White House releases spy report on Iraq arms” San Francisco Chronicle 7/19/03
Greg Miller and Mark Mazzetti “Probe into Pentagon’s pro-war team begins” San Francisco Chronicle 11/19/05
Judith Miller “Chaotic search for Iraq’s weapons” San Francisco Chronicle 7/20/03
– “Ex-counterterrorism chief says Bush politicized response to 9/11” San Francisco Chronicle 3/22/04
- “Scientist says Iraq destroyed illicit arms” San Francisco Chronicle 4/21/03
Judith Miller and William Broad “Some experts doubt trailers were germ lab” San Francisco Chronicle 6/7/03
T. Christian Miller “8 Iraqis charge contractors abused them” San Francisco Chronicle 6/10/04
- “Defense official probed on contracts” San Francisco Chronicle 7/7/04
T. Christian Miller and Ashraf Khalil “Oil-rich nation to ration fuel to ease chronic shortages” San Francisco Chronicle 8/2/05
Susan Milligan “GAO investigator rips Pentagon on Iraq war finances” Boston Globe 7/15/05
Delphine Minoui “Basra’s intrusive Islamists reject Iran’s theocracy as too tolerant” San Francisco Chronicle 5/4/05
Solomon Moore “Corruption Runs Deep in Iraq” Los Angeles Times 5/22/06
- “Killings Linked to Shiite Squads in Iraqi Police Force” Los Angeles Times 11/29/05
- “Police Abuses in Iraq Detailed” Los Angeles Times 7/9/06
- “U.S. Offers Plan to Curb Rogue Iraqi Police Forces” Los Angeles Times 8/15/06
Michael Moran “Bush team united Iraq front unravels” MSNBC.Com 7/11/03
Richard Morin and Dan Balz “Public unhappy with war funds request” San Francisco Chronicle 9/14/03
David Morris “Inside the Iraqi Forces Fiasco” Der Spiegel Online 8/14/06
Andy Mosher “Swath of North Turned Over to Iraqi Army” Washington Post 8/9/06
Andy Mosher and Omar Fekeiki “Accord on Sunni involvement” San Francisco Chronicle 6/17/05
Andy Mosher and Naseer Mehdawi “Shiite Party Leader Outlines 4 Steps for Iraq to Curb
Violence” Washington Post 7/25/06
Michael Moss “How Iraq Police Reform Became Casualty of War” New York Times 5/22/06
Michael Moss and David Rohde “Misjudgments Marred U.S. Plans for Iraqi Police” New York Times 5/21/06
Sami Moubayed “Assembly faces 18 difficult steps” Asia Times 8/10/05
- “Iraq’s cabinet falls short” Asia Times 5/21/06
Bassem Mroue “Car bomber kills 7, injures 90” San Francisco Chronicle 8/10/05
- “Defense Ministry accused of corruption in overspending” San Francisco Chronicle 8/3/05
Dan Murphy “Death squads deepen division in Baghdad” Christian Science Monitor 5/8/06
- “Iraqis Thirst for Water and Power” Christian Science Monitor 8/11/05
New York Times “A Long, Difficult and Probably Turbulent Process” 10/20/04
- “A top official calls for Army contract probe” San Francisco Chronicle 10/25/04
- “Bush appoints new overseer to run Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 5/7/03
– “CIA says Iraqis dubious about U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 11/13/03
- “Dispute over Iraq’s nuclear plans” San Francisco Chronicle 10/3/04
- “Experts seek $6 billion in aid to rebuild Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/9/03
– “Militants linked to al Qaeda rallying in Iraq, Bremer says” San Francisco Chronicle 8/10/03
– “N.Y. Times admits deficiencies in Iraq coverage” San Francisco Chronicle 5/27/04
Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold (Ret.) “Why Iraq Was a Mistake” Time 4/17/06
Rod Norland, Tom Masland, and Christopher Dickey “Unmasking The Insurgents” Newsweek 2/7/05
Richard Norton-Taylor “Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo” Guardian 2/3/06
- “WMD claims were ‘totally implausible’” Guardian 6/20/05
NPR “Election Goal No. 1: Holding Iraq Together” 12/14/05
John O'Neil “Leading Shiite Says He Will Oppose Changes to Iraqi Charter” New York Times 1/11/06
Richard Oppel “Iraq oil chief suspended as fuel lines lengthen” San Francisco Chronicle 12/31/05
Richard Oppel and James Glanz “Iraqi forces wilting under relentless attacks” San Francisco Chronicle 11/30/04
Ilana Ozernoy “Now It’s Up To Them?” U.S. News & World Report 6/14/04
Scot Paltrow “Some Iraq Rebuilding Funds Go Untraced” Wall Street Journal 1/17/06
PBS’ Frontline, “A Necessary War?” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
“Analysis 2003: First Draft Of A Grand Strategy” The War Behind Closed Doors 2/20/03
- “Analyses Going It Alone?” The War Behind Closed Doors 2/20/03
– “Chronology: The Evolution Of The Bush Doctrine” The War Behind Closed Doors 2/20/03
- “David Kay - Interview” Chasing Saddam’s Weapons 1/22/04
– “Hans Blix - Interview” Chasing Saddam’s Weapons 1/22/04
- “In Their Own Words: Who Said What When” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
– “Interview: Mark Danner” The War Behind Closed Doors 2/20/03
– “Iraq, The Middle East, And Beyond?” The War Behind Closed Doors 2/20/03
– “Is This Victory?” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
– “The Middle East, Democracy, and Dominoes” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
– “Operation Iraqi Freedom” The Invasion Of Iraq 2/26/04
– “Selective Intelligence” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
– “Turf Wars and the Future of Iraq” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
– “We Want A Government and We Want It Now” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
– “What’s at Stake in Iraq?” Truth, War and Consequences 10/9/03
David Phinney “America In Baghdad” TomPaine.CommonSense.com 5/15/06
Walter Pincus “20-year-old Iraq weapons spark debate” San Francisco Chronicle 7/1/06
- “British memo shows pre-invasion doubts” San Francisco Chronicle 6/12/05
- “Bush Team Kept Airing Iraq Allegation” Washington Post 8/8/03
- “Data picked to justify war, ex-official says” San Francisco Chronicle 2/10/06
- “Doubts about Iraq’s arms lost in march to war” San Francisco Chronicle 5/22/05
– “Intelligence panel sees no intention to lie on Iraq arms” San Francisco Chronicle 12/24/03
- “No proof of Powell’s arms claims” San Francisco Chronicle 4/26/03
- “Officials Defend Iraq Intelligence” Washington Post 6/9/03
– “Report Cast Doubt on Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection” Washington Post 6/22/03
- “USAID Paper Details Security Crisis in Iraq” Washington Post 1/17/06
Walter Pincus and Mike Allen “Tenet had kept claim out of earlier Bush speech” San Francisco Chronicle 7/13/03
Walter Pincus and Peter Baker “Spies called flat wrong on Iraq’s weapons” San Francisco Chronicle 4/1/05
Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank “Iraq destroyed arms, ex-inspecctor says” San Francisco Chronicle 1/28/04
Walter Pincus and Dana Priest “Some Iraq Analysts Felt Pressure From Cheney Visits” Washington Post 6/5/03
James Pinkerton “Orwellian strategy used to sell the war” San Francisco Chronicle 10/16/03
Kenneth Pollack “Spies, Lies and Weapons: What Went Wrong” Atlantic Monthly January/February 2004
Gareth Porter “Bush seeks his enemies’ help in Iraq” Asia Times 1/17/06
- “How Basra Slipped Out of Control” Foreign Policy In Focus 10/22/05
- “Reports of Sunni Enthusiasm May Be Premature” AntiWar.Com 11/1/05
- “US-Shiite Struggle Could Spin out of Control” Inter Press Service News Agency 12/26/05
Edward Pound “Iran Connection” U.S. News & World Report 11/22/04
- “Seeds Of Chaos” U.S. News & World Report 12/20/04
- “Up In The Cellblocks” U.S. News & World Report 6/7/04
Bill Powell “No Easy Options” Time 4/19/04
– “Shifting Power” Time 4/26/04
Bill Powell and Aparisim Ghosh “Paul Bremer’s Rough Ride” Time 6/28/04
Stewart Powell “House panel takes sides on Iraq reconstruction” San Francisco Chronicle 10/11/03
Thomas Powers “How Bush Got It Wrong” New York Review of Books 9/23/04
Dana Priest “Final weapons report find no Syrian collusion” San Francisco Chronicle 4/26/05
- “Generals shift course, paint rosier picture of Iraq war” San Francisco Chronicle 10/3/05
- “House panel skewers intelligence community on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 9/28/03
- “Memo Okd secret transfer of detainees” San Francisco Chronicle 10/24/04
– “Political pressure ruled out in Iraq analyses” San Francisco Chronicle 1/31/04
- “Rumsfeld calls for more Iraqi security troops” San Francisco Chronicle 9/5/03
- “Rumsfeld confirms talks with insurgent leaders” San Francisco Chronicle 6/27/05
Dana Priest and Mary Jordan “Iraq at Risk Of Civil War, Top Generals Tell Senators” Washington Post 8/4/06
Dana Priest and Walter Pincus “2 congressional panels echo Kay on Iraqi weaponry” San Francisco Chronicle 1/30/04
- “Bush Certainty On Iraq Arms Went Beyond Analysts’ Views” Washington Post 6/7/03
– “No illegal weapons found in Iraq, U.S. investigator says” San Francisco Chronicle 10/3/03
Llene Prusher “Next in Iraq: coalition-building” Christian Science Monitor 12/19/05
Libby Quaid “Powell pushed for more troops” San Francisco Chronicle 5/1/06
Romesh Ratnesar, “Bush’s Brainiest Hawk” Time 1/27/03
- “Can This War Be Won?” Time 10/4/04
-“Iraq & Al-Qaeda Is There A Link?” Time 9/2/02
– “Vengeance Has Its Day” Time 12/1/03
– “What’s Behind a Sinister Flirtation” Time 2/17/03
Romesh Ratnesar and Paul Quinn-Judge “Can Iraqis Do The Job?” Time 5/3/04
Stanley Reed with Susan Postlewaite “Where Will All That Anger Go?” Business Week 4/21/03
Tom Regan “Pentagon studies examine ‘mistakes in Iraq, Afghanistan” Christian Science Monitor 8/16/06
Robert Reid “Troops in Iraq caught in middle of power struggle” Army Times 4/11/06
- “U.S. plans, tanks batter insurgent stronghold” San Francisco Chronicle 10/18/04
Reuters “Pentagon Expands Weapons Hunt” 5/30/03
- “Report: CIA Paints Pessimistic Iraq Picture” 12/7/04
Paul Richter “Bush tries to steel allies” San Francisco Chronicle 3/17/04
- “Iraq-Al Qaeda Link Discounted” Los Angeles Times 7/10/04
Paul Richter and Peter Wallsten “Bush Dismisses the Idea of Partitioning Iraq” Los Angeles Times 8/16/06
Thomas Ricks “Army’s Iraq Work Assailed by Briton” Washington Post 1/11/06
- “Cheney Stands by His ‘Last Throes’ Remark” Washington Post 6/20/06
- “In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam” Washington Post 7/23/06
- “Inside war room, a battle is raging” San Francisco Chronicle 5/9/04
- “’It Looked Weird and Felt Wrong’” Washington Post 7/24/06
- “Retired general lambastes U.S. policy in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 9/5/03
- “U.S. to raise troop level in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 12/2/04
Thomas Ricks and Rajiv Chandrasekaran “Attacks raise fears of guerrilla war in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 7/7/03
Amanda Ripley “Rules Of Interrogation” Time 5/17/04
James Risen “2-man committee put Iraq in spotlight” San Francisco Chronicle 4/28/04
- “C.I.A. Held Back Iraqi Arms Data, Officials Say” New York Times 7/6/04
- “Ex-arms hunter wants answers on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 1/26/04
- “Spy’s Notes on Iraqi ims Were Shelved, Suit Says” New York Times 8/1/05
James Risen and Douglas Jehl “Politics challenged analysis of Iraq, official tells panels” San Francisco Chronicle 6/25/03
James Risen and Edward Wong “Hussein was leery of jihadist ties” San Francisco Chronicle 1/14/04
Paul Rockwell “Who armed Iraq?” San Francisco Chronicle 3/2/03
David Rohde “Political Party in Mosul Emerges With Own Army” New York Times 4/18/03
Nir Rosen “If America Left Iraq” Atlantic Monthly December 2005
- “Iraq’s Jordanian Jihadis” New York Times 2/19/06
Sebastian Rotella “At least 12 Iraqis, GI killed in attacks” San Francisco Chronicle 4/1/05
Louise Roug and Richard Boudreaux “Deadly Rift Grows Among Insurgents” Los Angeles Times 1/29/06
Louise Roug and Doug Smith “Iraqi toll said nearly double U.S. count” San Francisco Chronicle 6/25/06
Louise Roug and Peter Spiegel “Iraq’s Post-Hussein Air Force Finds Its Wings Clipped” Los Angeles Times 6/18/06
Alissa Rubin “46 political groups vow to boycott election” San Francisco Chronicle 11/19/04
James Rupert “Unlikely Iraq can tap oil to pay its way” San Francisco Chronicle 11/5/03
San Francisco Chronicle “30 killed in Iraq clashes after arrest of cleric’s aide” 4/5/04
- “Army told of abuse before Abu Ghraib” 12/1/04
- “Bomb kills 15 at Red Cross in Iraq” 10/27/03
- “Bush: No evidence of Hussein, 9/11 link” 9/18/03
– “Deadly election-eve violence” 12/14/05
- “Intelligence unit involved in Iraq abuse, Gis tell court” 8/6/04
– “Iraq concedes detainees likely were tortured” 11/16/05
- “Iraq war rationale questioned anew” 5/31/03
- “Iraqi weapons may be gone, Bush says” 4/25/03
– “Majority of Iraqis eager to see foreign troops go, poll finds” 5/1/04
– “Panel reveals 10-plane plot, finds no Iraq-al Qaeda link” 6/17/04
- “Rumsfeld sees Turkey at fault for Iraq turmoil” 3/21/05
- “Toward an Iraqi democracy” 12/11/05
– “U.S. won’t cut troop levels after all, at least through ‘05” 5/5/04
– “The unfolding scandal of prison abuse” 5/6/04
- “Vote in Iraq set for Jan. 30” 11/22/04
- “What Iraqis Are Voting For” 1/30/05
Marc Sandalow “Analysis: Deceptively low-key handover is critical to Bush” San Francisco Chronicle 6/29/04
- “Appeal For Support: He says handover to Iraqis will succeed despite ‘difficult days ahead’” San Francisco Chronicle 5/25/04
- “Bush more certain than ever on Iraq war” San Francisco Chronicle 4/24/05
- “Bush’s new word on Iraq: patience” San Francisco Chronicle 10/29/03
- “Is Bush consistent or doing an about-face?” San Francisco Chronicle 6/30/05
Edmund Sanders “Draft charter leaves many tough issues unsettled” San Francisco Chronicle 8/31/05
- “Lack of jobs pushes Iraqis toward critical mass” San Francisco Chronicle 11/2/03
- “Next Time, Sunnis Intend to Be Heard” Los Angeles Times 8/20/05
Edmund Sanders and Chris Kraul “Iraqi oil flow halted for a week by attack” San Francisco Chronicle 8/17/03
Phil Sands “Various private armies still exist, threatening Iraq’s national security” San Francisco Chronicle 12/21/05
David Sanger “Bush Says It Will Take Time to Find Iraq’s Banned Arms” New York Times 5/3/03
– “Bush, U.N. to negotiate on troops in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 9/3/03
– “U.S. revamps postwar command for Iraq, Afghanistan” San Francisco Chronicle 10/6/03
– “White House shrinks its Iraqi nuclear claim” San Francisco Chronicle 7/8/03
David Sanger and Douglas Jehl “Miffed allies urged to forgive Iraq debt” San Francisco Chronicle 12/11/03
David Sanger and James Risen “Bush holds to his view of Iraq threat” San Francisco Chronicle 10/4/03
David Sanger and Eric Schmitt “U.S. to put Iraqis in frontline fight” San Francisco Chronicle 10/30/03
David Sanger and Scott Shane “Panel Criticizes C.I.A. For Failure On Iraq Weapons” New York Times 3/29/05
David Sanger and Thom Shanker “Bush weighs dismal choices for Fallujah” San Francisco Chronicle 4/25/04
- “Rumsfeld dismisses talk of diminished role in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/9/03
- “U.S. to delay turning Iraqi detainees over to Iraqi jailers” San Francisco Chronicle 12/25/05
David Sanger and Robin Toner “Bush insists on Iraq-al Qaeda link” San Francisco Chronicle 6/18/04
Saad Sarhan and Ellen Knickmeyer “Shiites Call for Own State in South” Washington Post 8/12/05
Jeremy Scahill “The Other Bomb Drops” Truthout.Com 6/1/05
Rowan Scarborough “General says Iraq army is ‘willing’ but not ready” Washington Times 5/3/06
- “In search of rebuilding billions” Washington Times 1/20/06
Robert Scheer “Misspeak first, correct later” San Francisco Chronicle 9/17/03
- “Top spys story on pre-war intel is finaly told” San Francisco Chronicle 4/26/06
Robert Schlesinger “CIA director takes blame for false Iraqi claim” San Francisco Chronicle 7/12/03
– “General in Iraq says U.S. faces a guerrilla war” San Francisco Chronicle 7/17/03
- “US edges closer in search for arms” Boston Globe 4/13/03
Robert Schlesinger and Vivienne Walt “As attacks escalate, US troops no longer sole target” Boston Globe 8/20/03
Eric Schmitt “2,000 More M.P.’s Will Help Train the Iraqi Police” New York Times 1/15/06
- “Army extends duty tour in units bound for Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 6/3/04
- “Army probe of abuses faults intelligence officers” San Francisco Chronicle 8/26/04
- “In Iraq, U.S. Officials Cite Obstacles to Victory” New York Times 10/31/04
- “Marines come up short on recruits” San Francisco Chronicle 2/3/05
- “Pentagon adviser denies politicizing Iraq intelligence” San Francisco Chronicle 6/5/03
– “Rumsfeld fervently defends Iraq war” San Francisco Chronicle 2/8/04
- “Rumsfeld Looking for Help In Finding Outlawed Arms” New York Times 4/18/03
- “Troops confront Rumsfeld, ask for better battle gear” San Francisco Chronicle 12/9/04
- “U.S. looks at adding more Americans to Iraqi units” San Francisco Chronicle 1/4/05
Eric Scmitt and Joel Brinkley “Study Foresaw Trouble Now Plaguing Iraq” New York Times 10/18/03
Eric Schmitt and Douglas Jehl “CIA had jailers conceal ‘up to 100’ Iraqi prisoners” San Francisco Chronicle 9/10/04
Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker “Estimates by U.S. See More Rebels With More Funds” New York Times 10/22/04
- “Rumsfeld ordered Iraqi suspect held as “ghost” prisoner” San Francisco Chronicle 6/17/04
Eric Schmitt and Edward Wong “U.S. Study Paints Somber Portrait of Iraqi Discord” New York Times 4/9/06
Esther Schrader and Mark Mazzetti “Insurgents threaten Iraqi elections, U.S. officials say” San Francisco Chronicle 11/20/04
Kirk Semple “U.S. Forces Try New Approach: Raid and Dig In” New York Times 12/5/05
Charles Sennott, “Iraq’s gem weapons set to go, Blair says” San Francisco Chronicle 9/25/02
– “Iraq’s oil pipelines under attack” San Francisco Chronicle 11/28/03
Richard Serrano “Bag over prisoner’s head hid fatal wounds” San Francisco Chronicle 5/18/04
Anthony Shadid “12 Marines killed by Sunni rebels – Shiite uprising rages in south” San Francisco Chronicle 4/7/04
- “Sadr’s Disciples Rise Again To Play Pivotal Role in Iraq” Washington Post 8/30/05
Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru “Militias Wresting Control Across Iraq’s North and South” Washington Post 8/20/05
Scott Shane “New U.S. tactic: Make public see victory as likely” San Francisco Chronicle 12/4/05
Thom Shanker “General: Bad start in training Iraqi army” San Francisco Chronicle 2/11/06
- “Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden, File Says” New York Times 6/25/04
- “More troops needed, new study warns” San Francisco Chronicle 9/24/04
- “U.S. to keep troop levels in Iraq unchanged” San Francisco Chronicle 7/10/03
Thom Shanker and Mark Mazzetti “Bush Said to Be Frustrated by Level of Public Support in Iraq” New York Times 8/16/06
Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt “General pledges armored vehicles for all Gis in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 12/10/04
- “New Mission for U.S. Division: To Put Iraqi Forces to the Test” New York Times 12/18/05
- “U.S. may keep bases for military in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 4/20/03
Elizabeth Shelburne “Weapons of Misperception” Atlantic Monthly 1/13/04
Katherine Pfleger Shrader “Nominee linked to U.S., CIA by decades of anti-Hussein work” San Francisco Chronicle 5/29/04
Robin Shulman “CIA’s ‘brightest prospect’ for Iraq presidency missing” San Francisco Chronicle 4/16/03
Liz Sidoti “Senate approves $81 billion to fight Iraq, Afghan wars” San Francisco Chronicle 4/22/05
Martin Sieff “Analysis: Figures show that Iraq’s civil war is underway” UPI 4/3/06
P.W. Singer “Military contractors – Above the law?” San Francisco Chronicle 5/10/04
Peter Slevin and Vernon Loeb “Cost to rebuild Iraq soars” San Francisco Chronicle 8/27/03
Peter Slevin and Robin Wright “Early alarm bells sounded, ignored” San Francisco Chronicle 5/8/04
Liz Sly “Bombs bad enough, but guns worse in Baghdad” Chicago Tribune 8/11/05
Chris Smith “A Spurious ‘Smoking Gun’” Mother Jones 3/25/03
Craig Smith “Iraqi in Iran urges Shiites to take power” San Francisco Chronicle 4/26/03
- “Sending troops to Iraq involves great risks for Turkey” San Francisco Chronicle 10/10/03
Doug Smith and Borzou Daragahi “’Marshall Plan’ for Iraq Fades” Los Angeles Times 1/15/06
Doug Smith and P.J. Huffstutter “A Deadly Surge” Los Angeles Times 10/26/05
Gareth Smyth and Thomas Catan “U.S. faulted on Iraqi oil revenue spending” San Francisco Chronicle 6/22/04
John Solomon “Hallibruton said to lose U.S. property” San Francisco Chronicle 11/27/04
Peter Spiegel “Is US Winning? Army Chief Is at a Loss” Common Dreams 7/15/06
Jackie Spinner “After bombing, Ukraine says it’s pulling out” San Francisco Chronicle 1/11/05
- “Shiite cleric renews call for revolt” San Francisco Chronicle 8/6/04
Chuck Squatriglia “Iraqi crowd tells U.S. to leave” San Francisco Chronicle 4/19/03
Megan Stack and Borzou Daragahi “Unity Government Begins A New Chapter For Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 5/21/06
Matthew Stannard “Aide to Bush’s father urges pullout” San Francisco Chronicle 1/14/05
- “Breaking free of a win-loss mindset” San Francisco Chronicle 3/20/05
- “The Challenge Of Controlling Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 9/24/04
- “Kurds, Shiites agree to resolve fat of Kirkuk” San Francisco Chronicle 3/11/05
- “Questions and answers about who told whom about Plame” San Francisco Chronicle 10/29/05
- “Somber Milestone” San Francisco Chronicle 10/26/05
- “Tough tactics in Iraq stir debate by experts” San Francisco Chronicle 11/14/03
– “U.S. hands power to Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 6/28/04
Matthew Stannard and Borzou Daragahi “Election could erode backing for insurgency” San Francisco Chronicle 2/1/05
Matthew Stannad and Edward Epstein “Elections begin yearlong political march in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 1/28/05
Jonathan Steele “Iraq’s interior ministry refusing to deploy US-trained police” Guardian 4/4/06
- “Rise in poll complaints troubles Iraq vote monitors” U.K. Guardian 12/19/05
James Sterngold “Another enemy looms – Iraq debt” San Francisco Chronicle 5/23/04
- “Bush role alleged in leak of Iraq intelligence” San Francisco Chronicle 4/7/06
- “Bush tempers argument for pre-emptive strikes” San Francisco Chronicle 10/2/04
- “Casualty of War: The U.S. Economy” San Francisco Chronicle 7/17/05
– “Iraq braces for sovereignty shift” San Francisco Chronicle 6/27/04
- “Stanford expert says Iraq spinning out of control” San Francisco Chronicle 4/25/04
– “War experts advise strategy overhaul” San Francisco Chronicle 12/11/05
– “War tab swamps Bush’s estimate” San Francisco Chronicle 5/9/04
Richard Stevenson “Powell reverses on comments about Iraq war” San Francisco Chronicle 2/4/04
Farah Stockman “US Firms Suspected of Bilking Iraq Funds” Truthout.com 4/16/06
Farah Stockman and Bryan Bender “Iraq Militias’ Wave of Death” Boston Globe 4/2/06
Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay “Intelligence agencies warned about growing local insurgency in late 2003” Knight Ridder 2/28/06
Doug Struck “Professionals Fleeing Iraq As Violence, Threats Persist” Washington Post 1/23/06
Brad Swanson “Broken, but not beyond repair” San Francisco Chronicle 10/11/04
Sam Tanenhaus “Bush’s Brain Trust” Vanity Fair July 2003
Jamie Tarabay “Iraq orders arrest of Pentagon’s onetime favorite, his nephew.” San Francisco Chronicle 8/9/04
Sabrina Tavernise “Iraqi civilians bear brunt of war casualties” San Francisco Chronicle 10/26/05
Sabrina Tavernise and Dexter Filkins “Local Insurgents Tell of Clashes With Al Qaeda’s Forces in Iraq” New York Times 1/12/06
Evan Thomas and Mark Hosenball “The Rise and Fall of Chalabi” Newsweek 5/31/04
Jyoti Thottam “The Master Builder” Time 6/7/04
John Tierney and Robert Worth “Vital pipelines attacked” San Francisco Chronicle 8/18/03
Jay Tolson, “New American Empire?” U.S. News & World Report 1/13/03
Gordon Trowbridge “White paper: Security, economy still lag in Iraq” Army Times 5/12/06
Patrick Tyler “Big step toward a new Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 7/8/03
– “Iraq pieces together its first postwar governing council” San Francisco Chronicle 7/13/03
– “Iraqi leaders to tell Congress of wasteful spending” San Francisco Chronicle 9/22/03
Patrick Tyler and Raymond Bonner “Iraqis dubious about U.S. contracts” San Francisco Chronicle 10/4/03
Ann Scott Tyson “Pentagon planner reveals doubts on Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 7/13/05
- “Strife Moving Out From Baghdad to Villages” Washington Post 8/16/06
- “What happens if civil war erupts?” San Francisco Chronicle 3/10/06
U.S. News & World Report “Spooks: No reliable intel on Iraqi weapons” 6/23/03
Walter Uhler “Foreign policy and its offenders” San Francisco Chronicle 4/25/04
Don Van Natta “Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says” Common Dreams 3/27/06
- “U.S. paying dearly for gas in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 12/10/03
Don Van Natta and Desmond Butler “Young militants making way to Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 11/1/03
Jim VanderHei “Vice president’s office at center of leak probe” San Francisco Chronicle 10/18/05
Jason Vest “The failures of occupation” San Francisco Bay Guardian 4/21/04
Karl Vick “Bombs, kidnapping in Baghdad area” San Francisco Chronicle 11/4/04
- “Malnutrition mounts in young Iraqi children” San Francisco Chronicle 11/21/04
Ed Vulliamy and Richard Norton-Taylor “Millions embezzled at Iraqi ministry” Guardian 8/22/05
Murray Waas “Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel” National Journal 11/22/05
Lee Walczak, Stan Crock, Paula Dwyer, Kerry Capell, Jack Ewing, and Laura Cohnn “America & The World” Business Week 4/21/03
Douglas Waller and Massimo Calabresi, “Politics and the CIA” Time 10/21/02
Vivienne Walt “Bombing at Baghdad police compound” San Francisco Chronicle 9/3/03
- “Civilian deaths stoke Iraqis’ resentment” San Francisco Chronicle 8/4/03
– “Foreigners in Iraq say Koran requires fighting U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 11/28/03
– “Hellish start to holy month in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/28/03
– “Iraq’s Future? These Kids Want No Part of It” Time 6/21/04
– “Iraqis anticipating security, jobs from interim government” San Francisco Chronicle 6/29/04
– “Iraqis fearful of aiding U.S.” San Francisco Chronicle 9/14/03
– “Iraqis take over Cabinet posts amid insecurity” San Francisco Chronicle 9/4/03
– “Iraqis to take charge of country by July” San Francisco Chronicle 11/16/03
John Ward Andersonand Bassam Sebti “Billion Dollar Start Falls Short in Iraq” Washington Post 4/16/06
Michael Ware “Enemy With Many Faces” Time 9/27/04
- “Inside Iran’s Secret War For Iraq” Time 8/22/05
- “Meet The New Jihad” Time 7/5/04
- “The New Rules of Engagement” Time 12/12/05
Joby Warrick “Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War” Washington Post 4/12/06
Washington Post “Bush, Cheney offer new arguments for war in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 2/8/04
- “Bush takes blame for uranium error” San Francisco Chronicle 7/31/03
- “CIA to review Iraq intelligence for bias, accuracy” San Francisco Chronicle 5/23/03
- “Iraq units called far from ready” San Francisco Chronicle 12/22/04
– “U.S. changes tactics in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 4/24/04
Al Webb “U.K. dossier on Iraq weapons ‘unreliable’” United Press International 5/29/03
Jonathan Weisman “Contracts to rebuild Iraq picking up steam, report says” San Francisco Chronicle 11/1/04
- “Tab on Iraq war could limit other military funding” San Francisco Chronicle 7/13/03
Steven Weisman “$13 billion promised by donors to aid Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 10/25/03
- “U.S. hunts Iraq funds at conference” San Francisco Chronicle 10/24/03
Steven Weisman and Felicity Barringer “U.S. gives up on idea of U.N. playing big role in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 8/14/03
- “U.S. to push in U.N. for help in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 8/21/03
Josh White “’Wish lists’ of harsh tactics against Iraqi prisoners cited” San Francisco Chronicle 4/19/05
Josh White and Scott Higham “Abuses an aberration, report says” San Francisco Chronicle 7/23/04
- “Intelligence officers tied to abuses in Iraq” San Francisco Chronicle 5/20/04
Kevin Whitelaw, “After The Fall” Time 12/2/02
- “Baghdad Blues” U.S. News & World Report 4/10/06
– “Deal Maker, Deal Breaker” U.S. News & World Report 1/26/04
– “Paying The Price” Time 4/19/04
- “Vanishing Case For War” U.S. News & World Report 10/18/04
– “We Were All Wrong” U.S. News & World Report 2/9/04
Kevin Whitelaw and Mark Mazzetti, “Why War?” U.S. News & World Report 10/14/02
Joel Whitney “A darling of the neocons tells why he bailed out” San Francisco Chronicle 5/7/06
Tracy Wilkinson “U.S. overseer tours Baghdad” San Francisco Chronicle 4/22/03
Carol Williams “Shiite figure urges halt to violence” San Francisco Chronicle 5/23/05
Daniel Williams “Japan balks at troops for Iraq: U.S. hammers rebels” San Francisco Chronicle 11/14/03
Daniel Williams and Caryle Murphy “Italy to start pulling troops out of Iraq in September” San Francisco Chronicle 3/16/05
Jamie Wilson “Iraq war could cost US over $2 trillion, says Nobel price-winning economist” Guardian 1/7/06
Steven Winn “An author’s confession – he got the war wrong” San Francisco Chronicle 12/4/05
Michael Wolff “Plot To Sell The News” Vanity Fair November 2004
Edward Wong “Constitution squeaks past strong Sunni Arab ‘no’ vote” San Francisco Chronicle 10/26/05
- “Iraq Dances With Iran, While America Seethes” New York Times 7/31/05
- “Iraq guard general arrested” San Francisco Chronicle 9/27/04
- “Iraq’s top leaders voice approval of Kurdish, Shiite militias” San Francisco Chronicle 6/9/05
- “Kurds Are Flocking to Kirkuk, Laying Claim to Land and Oil” New York Times 12/29/05
- “Kurds voting for autonomy and dream of independence” San Francisco Chronicle 12/16/05
- “New separatist push in south” San Francisco Chronicle 6/30/05
- “Top Iraqi’s White House Visit Shows Gaps With U.S.” New York Times 7/24/06
Edward Wong And John Burns “Iraqi Rift Grows After Discovery of Prison” New York Times 11/17/05
Edward Wong and Dexter Filkins “In an About-Face, Sunnis Want U.S. to Remain in Iraq” New York Times 7/17/06
Audrey Woods “Rumsfeld comments on Iraq weapons renew British criticism of war” Associated Press 5/28/03
Robert Worth and John Burns “Assembly approves Shiite-led Cabinet” San Francisco Chronicle 4/29/05
Robert Worth and James Glanz “Corrupt leaders called threat to Iraq’s future” San Francisco Chronicle 2/5/06
Robert Worth and Sabrina Tavernise “Radical Cleric Rising as a Kingmaker in Iraqi Politics” New York Times 2/15/06
Robin Wright and Colum Lynch “U.S. abandons Iraq caucus plan” San Francisco Chronicle 2/20/04
Robin Wright and Saad Sarhan “In Cities Bush Cited, Progress Is Relative” Washington Post 12/8/05
Robin Wright and Daniel Williams “U.S. set to cede power to Iraqis quickly” San Francisco Chronicle 11/13/03
Pete Yost “Al Qaeda closer to Pakistan than Iraq, panel chair says” San Francisco Chronicle 6/21/04
Adam Zagorin “Abu Ghraib Scandal You Don’t Know” Time 2/14/05
David Zucchino “Army admits invasion plagued by snafus” San Francisco Chronicle 7/3/04
(Al Nasiriya) Three protesters have been killed in recent days by police in Nasiriya the provincial capital of Dhi Qar. That city has seen t...
Dr. Michael Izady of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs recently gave an interview to the Swiss-based International Relat...
While the total number of security incidents went down from September to October in Iraq, Islamic State operations in the country have slowl...
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Cmdr Qaani has been in Baghdad twice recently to try to talk pro-Tehran groups out of targeting Amer...