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    Default Iraq - What Went Wrong?

    Sunday, Sep. 28, 2003

    So, What Went Wrong?

    Ever since America's decisive military victory, Iraq has been nothing but trouble. TIME reports on the errors and bad guesses, before and after the war, that got the Bush Administration into this spot

    By MICHAEL ELLIOTT

    On May 1, off the coast of California, president George W. Bush landed in flying gear on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln—which sported a banner reading mission accomplished—and said, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

    The war, said Bush, had been carried out "with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before."

    But the mission wasn't accomplished then, and it still is not. The reconstruction of Iraq has proved far more difficult than any official assumed it would be. Since May 1, 170 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, as sporadic guerrilla attacks have continued. Two potential leaders of the new Iraq—Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim and Akila al-Hashimi, a member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council in Iraq—have been assassinated. Also dead is Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. chief representative in Iraq, who was killed when a bomb exploded at U.N. headquarters last month. After a second bombing last week near the building, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan ordered a reduction in the size of the organization's mission—already much smaller than it had once been—for reasons of safety.

    Over the long, hot Iraqi summer, frequent power cuts made life unbearable for millions, while the flow of oil, which the Administration had hoped would fund Iraq's reconstruction, was, on some days, less than half what it had been before the war. And despite five months of searching, the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), whose possession by Saddam Hussein had been the principal reason advanced by Bush for the war, are still nowhere to be found. "There are challenges greater than we anticipated," said a White House official last week, while insisting "In time, the benefits of our actions will be quite obvious."

    The number of Americans to whom those benefits are obvious right now is in decline. In the latest Gallup poll, Bush's approval ratings dropped to 50%, the lowest since right before Sept. 11, 2001. Some critics of the Administration's hard-liners pull no punches. "It reminds me of Vietnam," says retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, who headed the U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000. "Here we have some strategic thinkers who have long wanted to invade Iraq. They saw an opportunity, and they used the imminence of the threat and the association with terrorism and the 9/11 emotions as a catalyst and justification. It's another Gulf of Tonkin."

    On Capitol Hill, Bush's eye-popping supplementary budget request of $87 billion in the current fiscal year for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan—which includes $20 billion in grants to rebuild Iraq—has left even Republicans gasping. As it becomes clear that there will not be a sudden influx of non-American troops into Iraq, the Pentagon is having to extend tours of duty there of regular soldiers and reservists. Bush's travails have invigorated the Democratic Party; all the Democrats running for the White House make criticism of Bush's record in Iraq a part of their pitch. And although few are brave enough to say it, other world leaders—most of whom opposed the war—can hardly hide their sense that the Bush Administration is getting what it deserves. When Bush spoke before the U.N. General Assembly last Tuesday, he faced an audience he has often described as having the enthusiasm of a "wax museum." The applause that greeted his speech was tepid, while that reserved for war opponent Jacques Chirac, the French President, was, at least by the U.N.'s decorous standards, positively thunderous.

    In the speech, Bush said the U.S.-led coalition is "helping to improve the daily lives of the Iraqi people," rebuilding schools and reopening hospitals. The claim is well made. For most Iraqis, everyday life is steadily improving, helped by the onset of cooler weather. But the missteps and violence of the summer, and the realization that the U.S. and its allies will be paying for Iraq in blood and treasure for years, have altered America's politics and foreign policy, making it likely that the 2004 election will be competitive and practically ensuring that if the U.S. wants to embark on another adventure like the pre-emptive war in Iraq, it will do so virtually alone.

    Those consequences flow from a series of flawed assumptions and decisions made before the war started—some based on resolute optimism, some based on naivete, and some that carried unfortunate unintended consequences. The Administration's leading members, said Democratic Senator Joseph Biden last week, "believed we would find an oil-rich, functioning country, that we'd be met by cheering crowds, that all we had to do was sweep out the top Baathist layers, implant our favorite exiles and watch democracy take root as the bulk of the troops returned home by Christmas." Allowing for Bidenesque hyperbole, that is not far off the mark. Bureaucratic infighting, wishful thinking and—at least according to his many rivals—an undue influence in Washington exerted by Ahmed Chalabi, the exile leader who is the darling of the neoconservative faction in Washington, contributed to a process by which the Bush Administration got Iraq wrong. Here's how:

    WHAT WEAPONS?
    Of all the miscalculations on Iraq, few have been as surprising as the inability to find real evidence of Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Pentagon officials say the 1,200-strong team led by cia weapons expert David Kay, whose interim report is expected soon, has not found any stockpiles of deadly chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. So far, says an Administration official, "they have come across only parts and pieces and things—and that's about the best they are going to come up with." Members of Bush's senior national security team, says this official, "are as surprised as anyone—they really thought that it would be a lot easier to find, identify and show the world everything that was there." Iraqi sources involved in Saddam's WMD programs, meanwhile, insist that there was nothing to find; all weapons, they say, were destroyed long ago (see following story). For Bush, the failure to find WMD has been a source of political embarrassment. For his principal ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, it has been a disaster, as allegations that his government exaggerated a nonexistent threat have sapped confidence in his leadership.

    Critics insist that Bush and Blair stretched the available intelligence on WMD until it fit their predetermined decision to go to war. But that can't be the whole story. There is no doubt many British and U.S. officials really believed that Saddam had at least chemical and biological weapons—the British government, certainly, would never have taken the risk of waging an unpopular war if it had genuinely thought there was nothing deadly to be found in Iraq. And in their conviction that Saddam was hiding something, Bush and Blair were not alone. Top members of Bill Clinton's Administration were also convinced that Saddam had WMD programs, and in an interview with Time in February, even Chirac said it was "probable" that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. U.N. weapons inspectors had long said that Iraq had not accounted for all the WMD discovered in the 1990s.

    Why were so many people so sure that Saddam had WMD? In part, of course, because he did once have them—and until challenged by U.N. inspectors after the first Gulf War had tried to conceal them. There may, however, have been another reason: Saddam himself apparently thought he had them. Sources tell Time that Western intelligence intercepted communications from Saddam that indicated he was taking a keen interest in the progress of ongoing WMD programs. It may be that evidence of such programs will yet turn up. Or possibly Saddam may have been duped by his own scientists, who didn't tell him their work on WMD was not getting far. (It would have been a brave Iraqi who crossed Saddam on that point.) Alternatively, in the hall of mirrors that was Iraq, Saddam may have been trying to fool everyone into thinking that he had something he hadn't. But if the assumption that Saddam had deadly weapons looks, at least for now, to have been mistaken, it was to an extent understandable.

    VICTORY WITHOUT PACIFICATION
    The fruitless hunt for WMD has not cost American lives. The failure to understand that the war was not over—and in some ways, had barely begun—when Bush stood on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln, has. The war that was fought in Iraq—with a swift march from the south to Baghdad—was not the war that Pentagon planners had anticipated.

    Right up to a few weeks before the start of hostilities, plans had called for the 4th Infantry Division to advance from Turkey through northern Iraq. Administration officials, especially Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who led the negotiations with Ankara, had believed that Turkey would support the U.S. But the prospect of war in Iraq was deeply unpopular in Turkey, and on March 1, the Turkish parliament, dominated by the Islamist A.K. (Justice and Development) Party, turned the U.S. down.

    Diplomats and observers in Ankara allocate responsibility for the fiasco in many ways: some blame inexperienced A.K. ministers who overplayed their hand with the U.S., while others point the finger at Wolfowitz, who, say his critics, never understood that with the election of the A.K., military and secular leaders with strong ties to the U.S. no longer monopolized power. Says Emin Sirin, an A.K. parliamentary deputy and Istanbul businessman: "The Americans thought that if you talk to two or three people, you have Turkey in your hands. The whole system has changed, and they didn't appreciate that."

    Whoever is to blame, the Turkish mess made it harder to fight the war. With a substantial force coming down from Turkey, there was a chance—though no certainty—of pacifying the "Sunni triangle" to the north and west of Baghdad, including Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. Instead, Iraqi fighters loyal to Saddam left Baghdad and went home, where, motivated by nationalism and tribal loyalties, they could regroup and plan attacks on American forces. It was not until June—in Operations Desert Scorpion and Peninsula Strike—that the fight was taken to them. One battle, for the town of Dululiyah, north of Baghdad, involved 4,000 U.S. soldiers.

    The speed of the U.S. advance from the south, coupled with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's determination that the U.S. invading force should be as small as possible, had a further consequence. When the war was over, there were not enough U.S. troops to detain and disarm Iraqi fighters or maintain security in the cities. Governmental authority in Iraq collapsed, leaving the U.S. forces, already stretched thin, to do everything from guarding banks to hunting down guerrillas. "The Americans thought they would come and just slot in at the top," says Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman in Baghdad for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (I.N.C.). "But the whole government basically melted away, and they weren't ready for that."

    That failure was compounded by the disastrous decision by U.S. proconsul L. Paul (Jerry) Bremer in May to disband the Iraqi army, which put thousands of armed men on the streets with no pay and no reason to support the Americans. In December a blue-ribbon commission created by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University had argued the opposite case. The Iraqi army, the panel said, "could serve as a guarantor of peace and stability if it is retrained in part for constabulary duty and internal security mission"—something that has only just been started. Ron Adams is a retired Army lieutenant-general who acted as deputy to retired Army General Jay Garner, chief of the reconstruction effort in its first months. Says Adams: "There were some of us saying, right from the get-go, 'We think there's a troops-to-task mismatch here—I'm not sure there are enough troops to maintain security.'" Ibrahim al-Janabi, of the Iraqi National Accord (i.n.a.), says that in early March, i.n.a. leader Ayad Alawi, who now sits on the Governing Council, met with top U.S. officials, including Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell, to recommend that the U.S. keep the Iraqi army and police force intact to maintain security. Chalabi, for his part, had argued for a U.S.-trained, 15,000-strong military-police force to keep the peace after the collapse of Saddam's regime. "It would have made all the difference in the world," he says. But U.S. policymakers, claims Chalabi, "didn't listen to us at all."

    TOO MANY COOKS
    That Chalabi thinks he was not listened to by U.S. officials will produce a hollow laugh in both Washington and Iraq. For his opponents in Iraq, the chaos over the summer can be laid at Chalabi's door. "I think the Americans relied on information they got from Iraqis outside the country, especially Chalabi," says Rabiah Mohammed al-Habib, a prominent tribal prince in Iraq. "These people simply wanted military intervention." Sometimes unfairly, Chalabi is blamed for encouraging his friends in Washington to think that an invasion would be a breeze and reconstructing Iraq not much harder.

    Chalabi's longstanding links to top officials in the Administration are legendary. He considers Wolfowitz a good friend and the night after the statue of Saddam fell in Baghdad spoke with 12 Senators from his base in Nasiriyah, Iraq. One I.N.C. official says that in the run-up to the war, Francis Brooke, Chalabi's point man in Washington, spoke once a week to Bill Luti, who ran the Pentagon's Iraq policy from the Special Plans Office. Brooke also had access to John Hannah, who runs the Middle East desk in Vice President Dick Cheney's office. "From Day One, we were having discussions with the Bush Administration," says Brooke. "Our views were well known."

    And they were influential. A year ago, Tom Warrick, a career State Department official, assembled a Future of Iraq project that brought together more than 200 Iraqis in working groups with U.S. officials observing. The I.N.C. joined only one of the working groups. Chalabi's people dismiss the whole exercise as absurd. "We just thought it was a joke," says an I.N.C. official. Says another: "The idea that there was a well-organized project at the State Department that was producing sophisticated postwar planning is ridiculous. The scholarship was at the high school-essay level." Others believe I.N.C. and its allies in the Administration already knew what they wanted to do and undermined an effort to unite Iraqis of all persuasions around a common project. "What happened to all that work we put in?" says Laith Kubba, an Iraqi at Washington's National Endowment for Democracy. For whatever reason, the Future of Iraq project was pretty much ignored. "The White House barely knew about it," says a former official involved in postwar planning.

    In fact, by September 2002, the White House had its own exercise under way. In August of that year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had held contentious hearings on Iraq, focusing on the apparent lack of any postconflict preparation. Just after Labor Day, Rice summoned her top staff to an evening meeting and set up four working groups to try to coordinate inter-agency squabbling. State, as usual, was trying to find a multilateral approach to Iraq and to boost the status of opponents to the regime inside Iraq. The Defense Department was happy to go it alone and rely on its favored Iraqi exiles. The cia, meanwhile, was trying to warn that governing Iraq after the war would not be as easy as some of the exiles had thought.

    Rice's working groups failed on two counts. First, they never succeeded in getting State and the Pentagon on the same page. In January Bush assigned responsibility for postwar Iraq to the Pentagon—to which Garner reported—which soon made it plain that everyone else would play a secondary role. But, just as important, the Rice group responsible for postwar planning, led by Elliott Abrams from the National Security Council and Robin Cleveland from the Office of Management and Budget, woefully underestimated the cost of reconstructing Iraq. It was the work of that group that in large part led omb director Mitch Daniels to estimate a year ago that the total price tag of the Iraq adventure would be just $50 million to $60 million, a range Bush surely now wishes were true. The failure to get the costs right turned on two false assumptions: that Iraq's infrastructure was in relatively decent shape and that Iraqi oil exports would pay for much of the country's reconstruction. But Iraq's electricity grid is barely functional, and its oil installations aren't much better. "The oil refineries can't be repaired, in my opinion," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham after a visit to Iraq last month. "They have to be replaced."

    How did the Administration get its cost estimates so wrong? The conventional explanation—offered last week by Marine General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—is that "until you get in on the ground, you don't have a thorough understanding of how degraded those systems became." But Iraq isn't on the dark side of the moon. "There were plenty of people in and out of Iraq—inspectors and many other potential sources of information about the state of Iraq's infrastructure," says Ralph Peters, a retired Army intelligence officer. "This was a whopping intelligence failure."

    Peters has a point. A report on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council last year stated: "The deficit in electric power as a result of damage inflicted and nonavailability of spare parts and equipment for maintenance is a serious problem throughout the country. The network continues to deteriorate." The Council on Foreign Relations/Rice University study estimated that "rebuilding Iraq's electrical power infrastructure could cost $20 billion to restore its pre-1990 capacity." Many oil experts spent last winter publicly debunking the Administration's assumptions on oil, pointing out that 12 years of sanctions had left the industry in a terrible state. "There has been a great deal of wishful thinking about Iraqi oil," said the Council on Foreign Relations/Rice University report, noting that the oil sector was "being held together by 'Band-Aids'" and estimating that the Iraqi industry needed $30 billion to $40 billion to rehabilitate active wells and develop new fields. "Put simply," the report continued, "we do not anticipate a bonanza." According to Department of Energy figures, Iraq is pumping only about 1.65 million bbl. of oil a day now, compared with 2.8 million before the war and 3.5 million before 1990, which makes that revelation something of an understatement.

    LIBERATORS VS. OCCUPIERS
    Administration officials insist that U.S. forces were welcomed into Iraq as liberators—which, for a week or so, they were—and that there is still gratitude for their presence now—which is more debatable. In a society that has been as repressed as Iraq's for 50 years, true popular sentiment is hard to judge. Iraq is still getting used to freedom and its boundless possibilities. After the war was over, many stores in Baghdad did not take up their shutters, though it was safe for them to do so. "We're waiting for someone to tell us to open," said an elderly shopkeeper. But whatever horrors they have suffered, Iraq's proud citizens cannot be expected to be happy with the reality of foreign soldiers on their streets. "There is a real nationalistic feeling here," says a European diplomat who has worked in Baghdad for two years. "It is a real country, and it has a real national feeling that it is being occupied. And even if they don't know who will lead them tomorrow, they don't want to be occupied." Kasim al-Sahlani, a senior member of the Dawa Party, a moderate Islamic party that opposed Saddam from within, complains that Bremer said Iraqis were not yet ready to lead the country. "The Iraqis are civilized people," he says, "but Paul Bremer's words make us sound like children."

    Joe Fillmore, a contract translator with the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit, agrees that resentment is deepening. Things may look better on the surface, he says, but there is a growing frustration with the occupation. "The town is divided into two parts," he says. "Those who hate us and those who don't mind us but want us to go." Even Chalabi, who is among the most pro-American people in Iraq, says, "When the U.S. said we are not liberators, we are an occupation force, the views of people changed."

    Part of the difficulty is simply cultural. "If an Iraqi policeman stops someone on the street and asks them politely to do something," says al-Janabi of the I.N.A, "that person will be ready to be a ring on the policeman's finger. But if you shout at him like the Americans do and hurt his dignity—he will hate you." In Baghdad a U.S. special-forces officer sadly agrees. "We should have been culturally sensitive," he says. In places like Fallujah, he argues, "we should never have gone into people's houses. Saddam's soldiers never went into houses—they would negotiate and settle things with money. We don't understand how things work around here." That is an honest assessment, not an indictment. There is not the slightest reason in the world why 19-year-old boys from Kansas and Kentucky should know how to deal with Iraqi sensitivities—to get Iraq right—and it is unfair to condemn them for failing to do so. But it is not unfair to judge those who got Iraq wrong and thought five months ago that the mission of those young men, now hunkering down for a longer tour of duty than they ever expected, was over. It is not.

    —Reported by Brian Bennett, Simon Robinson, Vivienne Walt and Michael Ware/Baghdad, J.F.O. McAllister/London, Andrew Purvis/Vienna and Timothy J. Burger, Massimo Calabresi, Matthew Cooper, Viveca Novak, Mark Thompson, Douglas Waller, Michael Weisskopf and Adam Zagorin/Washington

    Copyright © 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

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    Any chance you would re-title this to:

    "Iraq - What Went Right?"



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    Going in in the first place and not finsihing the job with Bin Laden, the guy who killed 3,000 people here

  4. #4

    Arrow Tenet's "Slam Dunk" That Was Not.

    The New York Times
    April 28, 2007
    Books of The Times

    An Ex-C.I.A. Chief on Iraq and the Slam Dunk That Wasn’t

    By MICHIKO KAKUTANI

    Since the publication of Bob Woodward’s 2004 book, “Plan of Attack,” George J. Tenet, former director of central intelligence, has become best known for two words: “slam dunk” — that is, for reportedly telling President Bush that intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was “a slam dunk case!” Those words have been quoted countless times, most notably by Vice President Dick Cheney, who, during a “Meet the Press” appearance last year, suggested that the administration had “made a choice” to go to war based on the “slam dunk” intelligence provided by the C.I.A. — intelligence that later turned out to be wrong.

    In his much-anticipated and intermittently fascinating new memoir, “At the Center of the Storm,” Mr. Tenet writes that the whole “slam dunk” scene described in Mr. Woodward’s book took his words out of context and “had been fed deliberately to Woodward” by someone in the White House eager to shift blame from the White House to the C.I.A. for what turned out to be a failed rationale for the Iraq war. In short, he says, he and the agency were set up as “fall guys,” and he was made to look like a fool — rising up, throwing his arms in the air and saying those two words, as if he were “Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah Winfrey’s couch.”

    In fact, Mr. Tenet says he doubts that W.M.D.’s were the principal cause of the United States’ decision to go to war in Iraq in the first place, that it was just “the public face that was put on it.” The real reason, he suggests, stemmed from “the administration’s largely unarticulated view that the democratic transformation of the Middle East through regime change in Iraq would be worth the price.”

    Mr. Tenet notes that his “slam dunk” remarks came “10 months after the president saw the first workable war plan for Iraq,” and “two weeks after the Pentagon had issued the first military deployment order sending U.S. troops to the region.” He points out that many senior Bush administration officials, including Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, were focused on Iraq long before 9/11, and that Mr. Cheney asked Bill Clinton’s then-departing secretary of defense, William Cohen, before the 2001 inauguration to give the incoming president a comprehensive briefing on Iraq and detail possible future actions.

    On the day after 9/11, he adds, he ran into Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative and the head of the Defense Policy Board, coming out of the White House. He says Mr. Perle turned to him and said: “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.” This, despite the fact, Mr. Tenet writes, that “the intelligence then and now” showed “no evidence of Iraqi complicity” in the 9/11 attacks.

    Alternately withholding and aggrieved, earnest and disingenuous, “At the Center of the Storm” is interesting less for any stunning new revelations than for fleshing out a portrait of the Bush White House already sketched by reporters and former administration members. Mr. Tenet depicts an administration riven by factional fighting between the State and Defense Departments, hard-liners and more pragmatic realists, an administration given to out-of-channels policymaking, and ad hoc, improvisatory decision-making.

    “There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” he writes of a war that has already resulted in more than 3,300 American military deaths, at least 60,000 Iraqi civilian deaths and already cost more than $420 billion. Nor, he adds, was there “a significant discussion regarding enhanced containment or the costs and benefits of such an approach versus full-out planning for overt and covert regime change.”

    Mr. Tenet’s book also ratifies the view articulated by former military, intelligence and Coalition Provisional Authority insiders that the White House repeatedly ignored or rebuffed early warnings about the deteriorating situation in post-invasion Iraq. Mr. Tenet writes that the C.I.A.’s senior officer in Iraq was dismissed as a “defeatist” for warning in 2003 of the dangers of a growing Iraqi insurgency, though it was already clear then that United States political and economic strategies were failing. Although the trends were clear, he adds, those in charge of policy “operated within a closed loop.” In that atmosphere, he says, bad news was ignored: the agency’s subsequent reporting, which would prove “spot-on,” was dismissed.

    Mr. Tenet writes that there was “no strategy for when U.S. forces hit the ground” in Iraq, aside from a desire to put the exile Ahmed Chalabi (who had provided administration hawks with much unreliable prewar intelligence) in charge of the country: “You had the impression,” Mr. Tenet sarcastically writes, “that some Office of the Vice President and D.O.D. reps were writing Chalabi’s name over and over again in their notes, like schoolgirls with their first crush.”

    He is not optimistic about the current surge in Iraq: sectarian violence, he argues, has “taken on a life of its own,” and he sees American forces becoming increasingly “irrelevant to the management of that violence.”

    On the controversial matters of the C.I.A.’s use of coercive interrogation techniques, its covert prison system abroad and its use of “extraordinary rendition” (whereby foreign terrorism suspects are sent to third countries for interrogation), Mr. Tenet simply stonewalls. He asserts that “the most aggressive interrogation techniques conducted by C.I.A. personnel were applied to only a handful of the worst terrorists on the planet” and that those interrogations were “conducted in a precisely monitored, measured way intended to try to prevent what we believed to be an imminent follow-on attack.”

    Mr. Tenet does not grapple with reports that the C.I.A. has possibly been implicated in the deaths of at least four detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. He does not grapple with the problem of sorting out the innocent people sometimes swept up in arrests along with genuine Qaeda suspects. And he sheds no light on the secret Justice Department memos establishing interrogation techniques. On the subject of Mr. Bush’s secretly authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a court order on calls and e-mail messages between the United States and other countries, Mr. Tenet suggests that the idea originated with Vice President Cheney, who he says called him shortly after 9/11 to ask “if N.S.A. could do more” than it was then doing under laws in place since the 1970s.

    Although Mr. Tenet acknowledges that the C.I.A. failed to predict the specifics of the 9/11 attack, he cites repeated warnings it issued, over the years, about the dangers posed by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Most notably, he describes the alarming intelligence he presented to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice at a July 10, 2001, meeting — including information from late June of that year that predicted a “big event” was coming. Mr. Tenet’s efforts to spin the C.I.A.’s own failure to watch-list two of the 9/11 hijackers when they first came across the agency’s radar screen two and a half years earlier feel particularly lame: had they been caught, he suggests that Al Qaeda would simply have replaced the two men with other recruits.

    As for the C.I.A.’s role in the lead-up to the Iraq war, Mr. Tenet admits that the agency’s reports about W.M.D.’s, cited in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, were flawed. He adds, however, that he himself believed Saddam Hussein possessed W.M.D.’s and he contests allegations that the C.I.A. caved to pressure from administration hard-liners on the matter of W.M.D.’s: “Intelligence professionals did not try to tell policy makers what they wanted to hear,” he writes, “nor did the policymakers lean on us to influence outcomes.”

    Mr. Tenet also disputes the allegation made by Tyler Drumheller, the C.I.A.’s former head of the European division, that he — Mr. Drumheller — had raised serious questions about the credibility of a key source known as Curveball with top agency officials before the invasion. He does not, however, come to terms with Mr. Drumheller’s other allegation, made on “60 Minutes,” that a C.I.A. source in Mr. Hussein’s inner circle said in the fall of 2002 that the dictator had no active weapons-of-mass-destruction program and that this information was ignored.

    Mr. Tenet describes himself as like his father, “a very trusting man, loath to say anything bad about anyone,” and notes that his staff jokingly called him “the subliminal man” — based on a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which one of the cast members “would say normal things like ‘How are you, madam?’ and then quickly and quietly mutter something different under his breath, such as ‘You miserable twit.’ ” And while he has some nice things to say in these pages about President Bush and Vice President Cheney, there often seems to be an unspoken subtext.

    According to Ron Suskind’s 2006 book on the C.I.A., “The One Percent Doctrine,” Mr. Tenet felt indebted to the president for allowing him to keep his job after the 9/11 attacks, and Mr. Tenet repeatedly praises Mr. Bush in these pages as a focused leader, “absolutely in charge, determined and directed.” And yet, at the same time, Mr. Tenet depicts him as presiding over an often dysfunctional administration in which crucial decisions were made without a considered weighing of pros and cons, and expert advice often went unheeded.

    As for Mr. Cheney, Mr. Tenet describes thinking of him as very supportive of the intelligence community but then goes on to note numerous occasions in which the vice president delivered or planned to deliver bellicose speeches about Saddam Hussein that exceeded the available intelligence.

    Mr. Tenet is more willing to take the gloves off with lower-ranked members of the administration. Condoleezza Rice comes across here as an ineffectual national security adviser, unwilling to make hard calls or mediate among warring parties. Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, comes across as a fool who discounted the C.I.A.’s warnings about Al Qaeda in the summer of 2001, asking Mr. Tenet if he had thought about the possibility that Al Qaeda’s threat was “just a grand deception, a clever ploy to tie up our resources.” And Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, who headed a Pentagon unit that provided the White House with dubious information about a possible Al Qaeda-Iraq connection, is mocked for providing “Feith-based analysis.”

    Paraphrasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Mr. Tenet concludes: “Policymakers are entitled to their own opinions — but not to their own set of facts.”

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/28/books/28kaku.html




    AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM
    My Years at the C.I.A.
    By George Tenet
    with Bill Harlow
    Illustrated. 549 pages. HarperCollins. $30.

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    Iraq: What hasn't gone wrong. That should be the question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kliq6
    Going in in the first place and not finsihing the job with Bin Laden, the guy who killed 3,000 people here
    That sums it up.

  7. #7

    Angry What went wrong? Bush ignored pre-war assessment of situation.

    The New York Times
    May 25, 2007

    Senators Accuse Bush of Ignoring Warnings on Iraq


    By SCOTT SHANE

    WASHINGTON, May 25 — Democrats on a deeply divided Senate Intelligence Committee accused the Bush administration today of ignoring warnings in 2003 from the nation’s spy agencies that a post-war Iraq could face violence and division and that an invasion could strengthen the hand of Al Qaeda and Iran.

    “Sadly, the administration’s refusal to heed these dire warnings, and worse, to plan for them, has led to tragic consequences for which our nation is paying a terrible price,” said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Democratic chairman. It was one of many dueling statements accompanying a long-awaited committee report on the spy agencies’ pre-war predictions of the effects of toppling Saddam Hussein.

    Republicans replied that the 226-page report exaggerated the prescience of the intelligence agencies. They noted that the 2003 assessments barely mentioned the possibility of a Sunni insurgency — a point the committee’s Democratic majority voted not to include in the text — and were “certainly not a crystal ball.”

    The overall report was approved by a 10-5 margin, with two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, joining all eight Democrats on the committee. But in a strong dissent, Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, the committee’s Republican vice chairman, said the inquiry “has become too embroiled in politics and partisanship to produce an accurate and meaningful report.”

    Senator Bond called the study of pre-war assessments “a bad idea” and called on the committee to stop rehashing past controversies and focus on “the myriad of threats we face today.” But Mr. Bond, along with two Republican colleagues, could not resist adding to the report a 17-page addendum rehashing a favorite issue of their own: the role of Valerie Wilson, the former Central Intelligence Agency officer, in arranging a pre-war trip to Africa to investigate Iraqi uranium purchases by Joseph C. Wilson IV, her husband and a former ambassador.

    The committee released declassified versions of the two major pre-war assessments by the National Intelligence Council, one titled “Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq” and the other “Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq.” The main findings of both documents, originally classified as confidential, have been previously reported, but the report contains fuller versions than those already public.


    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/25/wa...cnd-intel.html

  8. #8
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rapunzel View Post

    U.S. Says Company Bribed Officers for Work in Iraq

    An American-owned company operating from Kuwait paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American contracting officers in efforts to win more than $11 million in contracts ... The Army last month suspended the company, Lee Dynamics International, from doing business with the government, and the case now appears to be at the center of a contracting fraud scandal ...

    Court documents filed in the case say the Army took action because the company was suspected of paying hundreds of thousands in bribes to Army officers to secure contracts ...

    ... Maj. Gloria D. Davis, a contracting official in Kuwait, shot and killed herself in Baghdad in December 2006. Government officials say the suicide occurred a day after she admitted to an Army investigator that she had accepted at least $225,000 in bribes from the company ...

    ... Two people with direct knowledge of the investigation or the contracting office in Iraq at the time said “Person B” was Lt. Col. Kevin A. Davis, who worked with an officer who has emerged as a focus of the investigation in the weapons case in Iraq.

    That officer, Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, was at the heart of the effort to strengthen the fledgling Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005.

    ... Last week, Maj. John Cockerham, a former Army contracting officer in Kuwait, and his wife and his sister were indicted on charges that they accepted up to $9.6 million in bribes for defense contracts in Iraq and Kuwait.

    ... Lee Dynamics appears to be emblematic of scores of companies formed since the Iraqi government fell to take advantage of billions of dollars in contracts to clothe, feed and arm American troops in Kuwait and to sustain Iraq security forces in Iraq.

    According to a July 9 statement by Larry S. Moreland, an agent with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, the company’s founder, George H. Lee, and an unnamed person formed American Logistics Services, a Kuwait-based company, to provide logistical support to the military.

    In 2004, the company was awarded $11.7 million in contracts ...

    In May 2005, the document said, Mr. Lee and his son, Justin W. Lee, shifted assets and contracts to Lee Dynamics ...

    That month, after Major Davis moved to the Pentagon, Lee Dynamics was awarded a $12 million warehousing contract ...

    Between August 2005 and April 2006, the company transferred more than $220,900 in three separate deposits to bank accounts controlled by Major Davis ...

    According to its Web site, Lee Dynamics’ warehouses in Taji, Umm Qasr, Ramadi, Mosul and Tikrit, all in Iraq, “have received, stored and issued a large part of the more than a billion dollars worth of materials and equipment that has been ordered for the reconstruction of Iraq."
    Putting some faces / links to those names so we know who is profiting on this misery ...

    Lee Dynamics International (LDI)

    George H. Lee – President & CEO
    Lee Dynamics International (LDI):



    CHAIRMAN & CEO
    George H. Lee
    Tel: (00965) 574-3639
    Fax: (00965) 574-3637
    E-mail: george.lee@ldikw.com


    Mr. Lee and his son, Justin W. Lee:


    The Father and Son Dynamic Team


    Ahmad F. Al-Shukry – LDI Director,
    Government Relations / Managing Director:



    Mr. Al-Shukry brings to the table a vast amount of knowledge
    and experience having worked in senior management positions
    with a renowned multinational Fortune 500 company subsidiary
    in Kuwait for several years as well as other major organizations
    within the Kuwait business community.


    Donald L. Bullock – LDI Senior Vice President,
    Operations, Contracts & Business Development:



    Mr. Bullock has over 28 years military experience with
    the U.S. Army and Department of Defense. Since his
    retirement, he has worked with several Defense Contractors
    in Program Management and Business Development positions.


    Iraq Programs > LDI Overview Iraq Programs

    Iraq Programs > Iraq Management Team

    The LDI multi-national team of experienced and highly skilled professionals
    in Iraq, has proven itself time and again to be “THE BEST IN THE REGION” ...

    ... Inspite of all the challenges, LDI personnel continued to deliver the services
    and materials to meet the requirements of our customers. During this process,
    LDI has also further refined the processes and skills that will be needed ...

    In providing a brief description of the LDI mission, it is fair to say that LDI
    warehouses have received, stored and issued a large part of the more than
    a billion dollars worth of materials and equipment that has been ordered for
    the reconstruction of Iraq.


    Iraq Programs > Management Team in Iraq


    Iraq Programs Support Manager, Wilma Diaz,
    visiting the Umm Qasar Warehouse & LDI staff.


    LDI President - Justin W. Lee,
    Adam J. Abdullah - Warehouse Specialist &
    Musttafa Abraham - Warehouse Clerk,
    at the office of the Baghdad Police College.

    ***

  9. #9
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Officer's 2005 Suicide
    A Painful Reminder of Corruption in Iraq

    muckraker.com
    By Spencer Ackerman
    August 28, 2007

    With the Pentagon's inspector general set to arrive in Iraq in a few weeks to personally investigate allegations of corruption in, among other places, the training of Iraqi security forces, it's worth remembering that suspicions of wrongdoing in the command led one officer to take his own life out of apparent shame. In a suicide note left on his bed in Baghdad, Lt. Colonel Ted Westhusing wrote, "I didn't volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves."

    Westhusing, 44, killed himself on June 5, 2005.



    Much about Westhusing's case remains a mystery. According to a definitive Los Angeles Times exploration of his death published in November 2005, the committed Christian and West Point graduate began working for the training command, known as MNTSC-I, in January of 2005. General David Petraeus, who now leads U.S. forces in Iraq, commanded MNTSC-I in 2004 and 2005. Westhusing's primary responsibility was to oversee a private company, USIS, which held a $79 million contract to train Iraqi special forces, and Petraeus told him he had exceeded "lofty expectations."


    In May, however, someone -- apparently a USIS contractor -- slipped him an anonymous four-page letter contending widespread corruption within the company and the command. Journalist Robert Bryce obtained the letter (pdf) earlier this year for a piece in the Texas Observer:
    Recently I was told that USIS... is only missing 4 weapons. Now, we just spent the last 9 months with almost 200 weapons missing so I wondered how we went from 200 to 4. The missing weapons are common knowledge within the camp and no one seems to be trying to hide it. The take on it is that the Iraqis are stealing them and it is not our problem. This is not true. A lot of weapons were signed out by instructors and never returned ...
    Our Log guys have lost total control over what is issued. If you try to match up what USIS is charging the government, the inventory on camp and what has been issued to Iraqis it will not even be close.
    The provenance of the letter is unknown, and it alleged even more serious charges -- including contractor murder of Iraqi civilians. Westhusing initially wrote to a commander, Major General Joseph Fil, that USIS was "complying" with the terms of its contract, and that the "evidence suggests the other allegations are not true as well" barely a week before his death. Investigators came to much the same conclusion, though questions about missing weapons were recently corroborated by a Government Accountability Office report disclosing that MNSTC-I lost nearly 200,000 rifles and pistols during 2004 and 2005.

    Westhusing -- who friends describe as having fallen victim to depression that spring -- somehow came to believe the claims to be substantiated, perhaps out of a general sense of despair in his mission. He began to make ominous statements about his fate to family members. His wife later told (pdf) Army investigators that Westhusing told her, "The contractors are corrupt, the Iraqi [sic] were untrustworthy."

    On June 5, at a USIS meeting at the military complex surrounding Baghdad International Airport, Westhusing expressed anger at construction delays, funding shortfalls and delays in training Iraqis. He excused himself during a noontime break. When a colleague went looking for him, he found Westhusing face-down on the floor in a pool of blood. There was gunpowder residue on his hands; after a three-month investigation, Westhusing's death was ruled a suicide.

    Investigators discovered a note in his trailer that "lashed out" at Petraeus and Fil, and ended, "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more."

    Now, another MNSTC-I official, an Air Force lieutenant colonel named Levonda Joey Selph, faces questioning by criminal investigators for unspecified wrongdoing. Recent government reports have hinted at serious problems with the command's contracting process, leading Lieutenant General Claude "Mick" Kicklighter, the Pentagon inspector general, to travel to Iraq in the coming weeks to helm a broad anti-corruption investigation. Whether it can rectify the problems Colonel Westhusing came to believe exist throughout the contracting process in Iraq remains to be seen. But hopefully it will bring a sense of closure to his wife, Michelle, who said in a sworn statement to Army investigators, "I think Ted gave his life to let everyone know what was going on."

    ***

  10. #10
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Another debacle ...

    US Embassy opening in Baghdad delayed indefinitely

    REUTERS
    By Sue Pleming

    WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The opening of the mammoth new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has been delayed indefinitely while its Kuwaiti contractor fixes a punch list of problems, the State Department said on Tuesday.

    The sprawling complex, whose cost is edging toward $750 million, was set to open last month but U.S. lawmakers say shoddy work by the contractor and poor oversight by the State Department have delayed it.

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack rejected claims of inadequate oversight and said there was no indication how long it would be before the new embassy opened.

    "I can't tell you when the embassy is going to open," said McCormack. "We don't have an answer."

    McCormack said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was prepared to "cut everybody involved some slack" if the delay fell within the norms of opening a large embassy complex but would demand answers if it dragged on too long.

    "Anytime you have a large construction project you have punch list items, and we shall see in, I would hope, the not-too-distant future whether or not ... these delays ... fall outside the norms that one might expect for this kind of project," McCormack said.

    "We're not going to buy ourself a turkey here. We're going to make sure that we get what we paid for," he said.

    Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, who heads an oversight committee in Congress, sent a letter to Rice on Tuesday asking her to explain the delay and accusing her department of incompetence and inadequate oversight.

    OVER BUDGET

    Congress originally allocated nearly $600 million to build the biggest U.S. Embassy in the world but Waxman said the project was now $144 million over that budget.

    In addition, he said new documents showed hundreds of violations of fire codes and other regulations and electrical problems throughout the complex.

    "These problems were so severe and widespread that the inspectors concluded that none of the buildings on the new embassy compound could be approved for occupancy," wrote Waxman, a staunch critic of the State Department's oversight of its contractors in Iraq.

    McCormack said original specifications of the contract changed after it became clear that more office and living space was needed for civilian and military staff.

    "It is not a cost overrun. It is an additional contract requirement," he said.

    Waxman, in turn, accused the State Department of misleading his committee over the status of the embassy project at a hearing on July 26 when he said senior officials dismissed issues raised by his committee as minor problems.

    "It would appear to be gross negligence if the department's senior management were unaware of the defects at the embassy when they testified before the committee," he said.

    "Increasingly, it appears that the State Department's efforts in Iraq are in disarray," added Waxman, referring to an investigation involving U.S. security contractor Blackwater.

    Asked about Waxman's comments that the State Department's efforts were in disarray, McCormack replied: "That is just a ridiculous statement."

    Waxman has opened an inquiry into accusations that the State Department's inspector general interfered with investigations into waste and fraud involving the construction of the embassy. The inspector general rejected these claims.

    Copyright

  11. #11
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Chairman Henry Waxman's Letter to Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice ...

    Dear Madam Secretary:

    I am writing to raise new concems about the State Department's $600 million U.S.
    Embassy in Iraq. On July 26,2007, the Committee held a hearing to review reports
    of numerous problems with the Embassy construction project. In particular, the
    Committee asked about allegations of substandard work by the prime contractor,
    First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Company, and whether problems with
    the fire protection systems, electrical systems, and power plant would delay the
    opening of the Embassy beyond its September 2007 completion date and increase
    the costs to the taxpayer above the $592 million budget.

    At the hearing, Maj. Gen. Charles V/illiams (Ret.), the Director of Overseas Building
    Operations (OBO) at the State Department, dismissed all of these concems,
    stating emphatically:

    I am pleased to report, Mr. Chairman, that the project is on schedule and
    on budget. We are slated to complete the project in September of this year
    and personnel can begin to move into offrces and residences shortly thereafter.
    As to project quality, OBO is proud of its employees and contractors work
    on this project.
    We have received numerous accolades as to the extremely high quality
    of construction. It is among the best that OBO has managed.
    This weekend, however, it was disclosed that the Embassy construction project has
    gone $144 million over budget and the State Department has delayed its opening
    indefinitely ...

  12. #12

    Default

    IRAQ: Blood, Sweat and Tears at New U.S. Embassy
    By David Phinney

    WASHINGTON, Jun 8 - The U.S. Justice Department is actively investigating allegations of forced labour and other abuses by the Kuwaiti contractor now rushing to complete the sprawling 592-million-dollar U.S. embassy project in Baghdad, numerous sources have revealed.

    Justice Department trial attorneys Andrew Kline and Michael J. Frank with the civil rights division have been contacting former employees of First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting and other witnesses for interviews and documents, but declined to comment on the investigation other than to say they are looking into allegations of labour trafficking.

    The two investigators are said to be looking for actual workers around the world who claim they were misled or pressured to work in Iraq against their will by the company.

    Rumors of forced labour in Iraq have plagued First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting for several years, but U.S. government officials have discounted such allegations by workers from Nepal and the Philippines in the past, even as the company continued to rack up contracts now totaling several billion dollars from the Pentagon and U.S. State Department.

    Late last year, several U.S. citizens also said they boarded separate chartered jets in Kuwait loaded with work crews from the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Africa holding boarding passes to Dubai, but the planes then flew directly to Baghdad.

    More recently, another U.S. citizen told IPS that he was told by workers from Ghana on the embassy site that they thought they would have jobs in Dubai but were then taken to work in Iraq.

  13. #13
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    That ^^^ should make us all proud.

    The cesspool of Iraq is the one of darkest stains to mark our country. In terms of history-altering misdeeds our "efforts" there are right up near the top of an ugly list. It will take generations of good work for the damage to the region (as well as what has been done to the US & our true purpose) to be reversed -- if that can happen at all.

  14. #14

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    October 14, 2007
    Op-Ed Columnist

    The ‘Good Germans’ Among Us

    By FRANK RICH

    “BUSH lies” doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.

    Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: “This government does not torture people.” Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of “torture” is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

    By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques have a grotesque provenance: “Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the ‘third degree.’ It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.”

    Still, the drill remains the same. The administration gives its alibi (Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples). A few members of Congress squawk. The debate is labeled “politics.” We turn the page.

    There has been scarcely more response to the similarly recurrent story of apparent war crimes committed by our contractors in Iraq. Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.

    As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater’s sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won’t even share its investigative findings with the United States military and the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings criminal.

    The gunmen who mowed down the two Christian women worked for a Dubai-based company managed by Australians, registered in Singapore and enlisted as a subcontractor by an American contractor headquartered in North Carolina. This is a plot out of “Syriana” by way of “Chinatown.” There will be no trial. We will never find out what happened. A new bill passed by the House to regulate contractor behavior will have little effect, even if it becomes law in its current form.

    We can continue to blame the Bush administration for the horrors of Iraq — and should. Paul Bremer, our post-invasion viceroy and the recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts, issued the order that allows contractors to elude Iraqi law, a folly second only to his disbanding of the Iraqi Army. But we must also examine our own responsibility for the hideous acts committed in our name in a war where we have now fought longer than we did in the one that put Verschärfte Vernehmung on the map.

    I have always maintained that the American public was the least culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the press — the powerful institutions that should have provided the checks, balances and due diligence of the administration’s case — failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began at the top.

    As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.

    In April 2004, Stars and Stripes first reported that our troops were using makeshift vehicle armor fashioned out of sandbags, yet when a soldier complained to Donald Rumsfeld at a town meeting in Kuwait eight months later, he was successfully pilloried by the right. Proper armor procurement lagged for months more to come. Not until early this year, four years after the war’s first casualties, did a Washington Post investigation finally focus the country’s attention on the shoddy treatment of veterans, many of them victims of inadequate armor, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals.

    We first learned of the use of contractors as mercenaries when four Blackwater employees were strung up in Falluja in March 2004, just weeks before the first torture photos emerged from Abu Ghraib. We asked few questions. When reports surfaced early this summer that our contractors in Iraq (180,000, of whom some 48,000 are believed to be security personnel) now outnumber our postsurge troop strength, we yawned. Contractor casualties and contractor-inflicted casualties are kept off the books.

    It was always the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war. Part of this was achieved with the usual Bush-Cheney secretiveness, from the torture memos to the prohibition of photos of military coffins. But the administration also invited our passive complicity by requiring no shared sacrifice. A country that knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch was all too easily persuaded there could be a free war.

    Instead of taxing us for Iraq, the White House bought us off with tax cuts. Instead of mobilizing the needed troops, it kept a draft off the table by quietly purchasing its auxiliary army of contractors to finesse the overstretched military’s holes. With the war’s entire weight falling on a small voluntary force, amounting to less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of us were free to look the other way at whatever went down in Iraq.
    We ignored the contractor scandal to our own peril. Ever since Falluja this auxiliary army has been a leading indicator of every element of the war’s failure: not only our inadequate troop strength but also our alienation of Iraqi hearts and minds and our rampant outsourcing to contractors rife with Bush-Cheney cronies and campaign contributors. Contractors remain a bellwether of the war’s progress today. When Blackwater was briefly suspended after the Nisour Square catastrophe, American diplomats were flatly forbidden from leaving the fortified Green Zone. So much for the surge’s great “success” in bringing security to Baghdad.

    Last week Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war combat veteran who directs Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, sketched for me the apocalypse to come. Should Baghdad implode, our contractors, not having to answer to the military chain of command, can simply “drop their guns and go home.” Vulnerable American troops could be deserted by those “who deliver their bullets and beans.

    This potential scenario is just one example of why it’s in our national self-interest to attend to Iraq policy the White House counts on us to ignore. Our national character is on the line too. The extralegal contractors are both a slap at the sovereignty of the self-governing Iraq we supposedly support and an insult to those in uniform receiving as little as one-sixth the pay. Yet it took mass death in Nisour Square to fix even our fleeting attention on this long-metastasizing cancer in our battle plan.

    Similarly, it took until December 2005, two and a half years after “Mission Accomplished,” for Mr. Bush to feel sufficient public pressure to acknowledge the large number of Iraqi casualties in the war. Even now, despite his repeated declaration that “America will not abandon the Iraqi people,” he has yet to address or intervene decisively in the tragedy of four million-plus Iraqi refugees, a disproportionate number of them children. He feels no pressure from the American public to do so, but hey, he pays lip service to Darfur.
    Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America’s recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

    “We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he “never laid hands on anyone” in his many interrogations, adding, “I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

    Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

  15. #15
    Senior Member Capn_Birdseye's Avatar
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    Iraq - What Went Wrong?

    What do you expect when its based on a tissue of lies & deceit and "pushed" by the neo-cons in cahoots with the Military/Industrial/Oil Industry complex?

    Its been an utter disaster for the US and its allies, including Britain, it was never going to work!

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