Wednesday, August 17, 2005

U.S. Documents Support Downing Street Memos

It's not just British memos anymore. Newly declassified State Department documents confirm that State warned U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) early in 2003 about the lack of planning for postwar conditions in Iraq. The documents also provide additional evidence that the Bush administration was planning an Iraq invasion long before any indication of those plans was made public -- in fact, as early as October, 2001.

Newly declassified State Department documents show that government experts warned the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in early 2003 about "serious planning gaps for post-conflict public security and humanitarian assistance," well before Operation Iraqi Freedom began.

In a February 7, 2003, memo to Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, three senior Department officials noted CENTCOM's "focus on its primary military objectives and its reluctance to take on 'policing' roles," but 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 adds "We have raised these issues with top CENTCOM officials."

By contrast, a December 2003 report to Congress, also released by the State Department, offers a relatively rosy picture of the security situation, saying U.S. forces are "increasingly successful in preventing planned hostile attacks; and in capturing former regime loyalists, would-be terrorists and planners; and seizing weapons caches." The document acknowledges that "Challenges remain."

Since then, 1,393 U.S. military fatalities have been recorded in Iraq, including two on the day the report went to Congress.

The new documents, released this month to the National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, also provide more evidence on when the Bush administration began planning for regime change in Iraq -- as early as October 2001.

The declassified records relate mainly to the so-called "Future of Iraq Project," an effort, initially run by the State Department then by the Pentagon, to plan for the transition to a new regime after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. They provide detail on each of the working groups and give the starting date for planning as October 2001.

Richard Cranium at Daily Kos reproduces a Powerpoint slide that gives a history of major planning markers, and asks us to look at the first date:

Digest the date in the first bullet point for a moment. 10/2001 - barely one month after the events of September 11th, when all efforts of the U.S. government should have been focused completely, and without hesitation, on finding Osama "Who?" Bin Laden.

But instead, Bush's attention was on Iraq -- where the architect of 9/11 was not.

Shakespeare's Sister has a blogswarm round-up on the State Department documents.

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