Bremer To Bush: Not So Fast
Bush recently stated that the administration wanted to keep the Iraqi Army in place, but that it didn’t happen. L. Paul Bremer apparently has a problem with Bush appearing as if he was remixing history, and has produced evidence to show that Bush knew what was going down all along.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 â€” A previously undisclosed exchange of letters shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to â€œdissolve Saddamâ€™s military and intelligence structures,â€ a plan that the envoy, L. Paul Bremer, said referred to dismantling the Iraqi Army.
Mr. Bremer provided the letters to The New York Times on Monday after reading that Mr. Bush was quoted in a new book as saying that American policy had been â€œto keep the army intactâ€ but that it â€œdidnâ€™t happen.â€
The dismantling of the Iraqi Army in the aftermath of the American invasion is now widely regarded as a mistake that stoked rebellion among hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers and made it more difficult to reduce sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents. In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bushâ€™s comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House.
â€œWe must make it clear to everyone that we mean business: that Saddam and the Baathists are finished,â€ Mr. Bremer wrote in a letter that was drafted on May 20, 2003, and sent to the president on May 22 through Donald H. Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense.
So what to make of that? Did Brmer know that the administration would be looking to possibly rewrite history? Well, one this is for certain, he at least knew he had to keep those letters around to cover his ass. And so he did, and so it is covered.
What’s maybe even more interesting is how banal and generic Bush’s personal response to Bremer was when he was told that the Baathists were being ousted and the army was beind dismantled…
â€œYour leadership is apparent,â€ the president wrote. â€œYou have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence.â€
Doesn’t that sound like a blurb one might find written in a yearbook? “Wow, class was really hard this year! You’re really a great person and I think you’ll do well! All the best in everything you do!”
The administration’s story?
A White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House is not commenting on Mr. Draperâ€™s book, said Mr. Bush indeed understood the order and was acknowledging in the interview with Mr. Draper that the original plan had proved unworkable.
â€œThe plan was to keep the Iraqi Army intact, and thatâ€™s accurate,â€ the official said. â€œBut by the time Jerry Bremer announced the order, it was fairly clear that the Iraqi Army could not be reconstituted, and the president understood that. He was acknowledging that that was something that did not go as planned.â€
I like that…a White House official spoke under anonymity because the White House isn’t commenting on the book. So you’ll talk about it, you just won’t go on the record as having said it. Is it because, oh I don’t know, what you’re saying is potentially just spin?
More as it develops…