Saturday, May 20


Another tale of Bush administration incompetence and hubris in Iraq. It's a long story, with a cast of familiar characters including Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Bernie Kerik, and rife with poor planning, rejection of good advice, abysmal execution, lack of communication and, as usual, failure to alert Congress or the American people that there was a serious problem.

Like so much that has defined the course of the war, the realities on the ground in Iraq did not match the planning in Washington. An examination of the American effort to train a police force in Iraq, drawn from interviews with several dozen American and Iraqi officials, internal police reports and visits to Iraqi police stations and training camps, shows a cascading series of misjudgments by White House and Pentagon officials, who repeatedly underestimated the role the United States would need to play in rebuilding the police and generally maintaining order.

Before the war, the Bush administration dismissed as unnecessary a plan backed by the Justice Department to rebuild the police force by deploying thousands of American civilian trainers. Current and former administration officials said they were relying on a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that said the Iraqi police were well trained. The C.I.A. said its assessment conveyed nothing of the sort.
Mr. Bremer said he repeatedly complained in National Security Council meetings chaired by Ms. Rice and attended by cabinet secretaries that the quality of police training was poor and focused on producing high numbers.

"They were just pulling kids off the streets and handing them badges and AK-47's," Mr. Bremer said.

As 2003 came to a close, criminals running rampant in Baghdad diminished popular support for the American-led occupation, Mr. Bremer said.
By December 2004, there were also signs that the police were being drawn into the evolving sectarian battles. Senior officers in the police department in the southern city of Basra were implicated in the killings of 10 members of the Baath Party, and of a mother and daughter accused of prostitution, according to a State Department report.

By then there was a growing sense among American officials that the civilian training program was not working, and the United States military came up with its own plan. It was the Americans' third strategy for training the Iraqi police, and it would run into the worst problems of all. Basra was just the beginning.

Read the whole story. It's a doozy.

Tags: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home