April 11, 2004

Warnings on postwar chaos were ignored

NOTE TO SEN. JOHN F. KERRY (D-Mekong Delta): It is
imperative that Iraq and 9/11 be understood in the
same CONTEXT, and with CONTINUITY. Unfortunately,
CONTEXT and CONTINUITY are sorely lacking among the
propapunditgandists of the "US mainstream news media."
Richard Clark not only testified that the _resident
and his "national security team" blundered by ignoring
and downgrading the Al Qaeda threat prior to 9/11, he
also testified that their preoccupation with Iraq
*after* 9/11 seriously undermined the struggle to
crush Al Qaeda and indeed has contributed
significantly to the spread of Al Qaeda style
terrorism. Not only did the _resident fail the country
before 9/11, he has increased the danger to it
post-9/11...Now here is an excellent piece that
articulates another dimension to the disaster of
George W. Bush's _residendency. Consider this...They
had enough intelligence before 9/11 to know something
was coming and they did nothing. They also had enough
intelligence before going into Iraq to know what would
happen if we occupied it and they went in anyway.
Incredible...These two astounding failures of
leadership must be linked in the court of public
opinion...Do not let the _resident get off the mat,
John, do not let him get up off the mat. The election
in November is a national referendum on the
CREDIBILITY, CHARACTER and COMPETENCE of the
_resident. Nothing else...

Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer: It was fitting
that Condoleezza Rice testified to the 9/11 commission
on the day before the anniversary of the fall of
Baghdad. In both cases, information was available to
the White House that might have prevented disaster -
the attacks on the twin towers and Pentagon and the
postwar chaos. In both cases, the information wasn't
used. We need to know why...How, then, to explain
White House failure to act on information about what
was likely to happen in Iraq after a war? Those
dangers were not unimaginable. The CIA, the State
Department, legislators, a plethora of Iraq experts
foresaw the chaos that could follow The Day After. But
no one at the White House seems to have listened.

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/8402736.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp&1c

Posted on Sun, Apr. 11, 2004

Worldview | Warnings on postwar chaos were ignored

By Trudy Rubin


It was fitting that Condoleezza Rice testified to the
9/11 commission on the day before the anniversary of
the fall of Baghdad. In both cases, information was
available to the White House that might have prevented
disaster - the attacks on the twin towers and Pentagon
and the postwar chaos. In both cases, the information
wasn't used. We need to know why.

Out in FBI field offices were details that might - or
might not - have prevented the attacks, such as
reports that would-be terrorists were training at
flight schools. We'll never know what might have been,
because trees weren't shaken, cabinet meetings on
al-Qaeda weren't held, the President wasn't briefed by
his counterterrorism adviser on the domestic threat.

There was no full focus on al-Qaeda at the top.

Some say this was a case of an administration so
fixated on building missile defenses against North
Korea and countering China that it failed to recognize
new threats. But let's give the White House the
benefit of the doubt. Let's say this was a case of a
new threat so inconceivable that imagination failed.

How, then, to explain White House failure to act on
information about what was likely to happen in Iraq
after a war? Those dangers were not unimaginable. The
CIA, the State Department, legislators, a plethora of
Iraq experts foresaw the chaos that could follow The
Day After. But no one at the White House seems to have
listened.

Army Secretary Eric Shinseki famously warned that
several hundred thousand troops would be required to
ensure postwar Iraq security. He was sharply rebuked
by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy
Paul Wolfowitz.

The State Department's Future of Iraq project detailed
how to reconstitute the Iraqi army to provide ready
security. But the project was junked by Pentagon
civilian officials who disbanded the Iraqi army. Most
Iraq experts had warned against such a step.

U.S. officials didn't train new Iraqi security forces
to confront an insurgency. I was told by a senior U.S.
official in Baghdad in October that U.S. special
forces could handle any insurgents so long as they had
good intelligence. Iraqi forces would serve merely as
adjuncts.

And so we watch as ill-equipped Iraqi police and
paramilitary forces scatter before the threat of
insurgent violence. And more U.S. troops are being
ordered up.

So we must ask why prewar warnings were so willfully
disregarded by Bush team. Based on my interviews with
administration officials and those of many
journalists, I believe top officials blocked out any
information they didn't want to hear.

Many of the Bush team had a vision of how postwar Iraq
would look, gleaned from a handful of secular Iraqi
exiles. Wolfowitz, the intellectual father of the Iraq
war, told me that the operative historical analogy for
postwar Iraq was post-World War II France. There, you
recall, the exiled Gen. Charles de Gaulle returned to
set up a democracy and the Americans went home.

Apparently, exile leader Ahmed Chalabi was supposed to
play a similar role. Pentagon officials ignored
warnings that Chalabi had no popular base in Iraq. A
recent State Department poll in Iraq showed him with a
65 percent unfavorable rating.

If you anticipate postwar France, however, you needn't
think seriously about administering postwar Iraq or
ensuring security after the war. So the Pentagon
didn't.

When looting and crime exploded in Baghdad after the
war, Rumsfeld famously said, "Freedom is messy," and
left it unchecked. Never mind that Iraq experts, and
the best U.S. military commanders, warned that first
impressions would be crucial. The early chaos in Iraq
set the tone for everything that followed.

Iraqis, schooled for decades to the order of
dictatorship, expected a new and better order. Its
lack - and U.S. inability to produce it - destroyed
trust and bred conspiracy theories about U.S.
intentions. These still haunt the occupation. And, of
course, instability has hurt efforts to rebuild the
country.

You say all this is history, and we must think about
Iraq's future. But the mistakes of the last year have
constricted future options. Iraqis were never going to
tolerate a long occupation, and time is running out.

If order is to be restored in Iraq, and a
representative government elected, it will require
that the White House look at facts without rose-
tinted glasses. Will any Pentagon officials be held to
account for their huge mistakes in postwar planning?
Will Ms. Rice tell us why she failed to effect
cooperation between State Department realists and
Pentagon fantasists?

If a year from now there is a 3/18/03 commission
looking into why the Bush team was so unprepared for
The Day After, what will she say? This was not a
failure of imagination. It was a willful rejection of
inconvenient facts.


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Contact columnist Trudy Rubin at 215-854-5823 or
trubin@phillynews.



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Posted by richard at April 11, 2004 02:03 PM