Thursday, August 18, 2005


The hits just keep on coming. In yet another embarrassing public revelation for the President and his advisors, a memo obtained by George Washington University through the Freedom of Information Act illustrates that a month before the start of the Iraq war, State Department officials warned military planners about "serious planning gaps" for the post-war period.

The documents, dated February 7, 2003, noted that a lack of focus and preparation for adequate policing after the invasion could have negative consequences. Specifically, the State Department officials warned that "a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally."

The memo's authors said they had "raised these issues with top CENTCOM officials" and offered to help the military "develop plans for accomplishing these goals." Obviously their appeals went unheeded and they were ignored.

The military's bungling of the post-war period, which saw widespread looting and the rise of an insurgency, has been widely criticized, including in a March 2004 British parliamentary report. The Defense Select Committee, which oversees the work of Britain's Ministry of Defense, said that Britain failed to plan adequately for the end of the war, and "squandered Iraqi goodwill" by being slow to stop looting.

At least one critical member of the Bush team views the U.S. as being equally guilty. L. Paul Bremer, former U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq said "horrid" looting was occurring in May of 2003 when he arrived in Baghdad to head the U.S.- led Coalition Provisional Authority. "We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," Bremer said. "We never had enough troops on the ground."

Earlier, Bremer had said the U.S. could have planned better. "The single most important change ... would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout." Bremer claimed he "raised this issue a number of times with our government" but allowed that he "should have been even more insistent."

The British report went on to add that the coalition failed to properly guard munitions dumps after the fall of Saddam's regime. That failure "cost Iraqi civilian lives and also provided potential enemies ... with a ready stock of easily accessible weaponry."

In October of last year, the IAEA, a UN agency, reported that 380 tons of explosives were missing in Iraq, presumably stolen by insurgents. The explosives were under IAEA control until the US led invasion of Iraq in March or 2003. Iraqi officials said that the explosives had vanished from a former Iraqi military installation as a result of "theft and looting...due to lack of security."

At the time, a senior administration official played down the importance of the missing explosives, describing them as dangerous material but "stuff you can buy anywhere." The official also noted that the administration did not necessarily see the theft as a "proliferation risk."

"In the grand scheme -- and on a grand scale -- there are hundreds of tons of weapons, munitions, artillery, explosives that are unaccounted for in Iraq," the official said.

"And like the Pentagon has said, there is really no way the U.S. military could safeguard all of these weapons depots or find all of these missing materials."

Those remarks are representative of the cavalier and nonchalant attitude that has marked the planning and execution of this war from the start. And the memo is just one more example of the irresponsibility and negligence of our war planners. There has been a total lack of accountability from the outset, and that sort of attitude and behavior is entirely unacceptable. It is time for accountability. It is time for heads to roll. It is time to legally prosecute the people, at all levels, who've bungled this charade, resulting in the loss of more than 1850 Americans lives - and there will be more to come. The death toll countinues to mount on an almost daily basis, and it is important to remember that the President claimed that major combat operations had ended in May of last year. In a time of war, the counry needs - and deserves - more than platitudes and banality.

Copyright © 2005 The Independent Report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

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