Truth, War and Consequences
Produced by Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria
Coproduced by Ben Gold and Chris Durrance
Written by Martin Smith
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH: The war on terror is not confined
strictly to the al Qaeda that we're chasing. The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein.
ANNOUNCER: The President said the war would make
the world safer, but did the Bush Administration know what it was really
ROBERT M. PERITO, National Security Council (1988-89): Their basic approach was that they couldn't really foresee exactly what
was needed, so they were going to wait until they got there, and then they were
going to make recommendations.
ANNOUNCER: Did the administration listen too much
to this man?
CHALABI, Iraqi National Congress: Saddam Hussein was a threat to the West
and he was the most dangerous threat.
Pres. DICK CHENEY: Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass
ANNOUNCER: And were we told the truth?
THEILMANN: The administration made statements
which I can only describe as dishonest.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith
travels to Iraq to investigate Truth, War and Consequences.
NARRATOR: The drive from Kuwait City to Baghdad
takes about 12 hours. We made our
first trip in late April, just two weeks after the fall of Saddam. We accompanied Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi
exile who has been at the center of efforts to topple Saddam for more than a
decade. He hadn't seen southern or
central Iraq since he was 18.
KANAN MAKIYA, Author, Republic of Fear: This was once upon a time the Fertile Crescent. Saddam's turned it into a desert.
NARRATOR: Along the way, U.S. convoys were busy
moving in additional equipment and troops, while soldiers manned crude
checkpoints. The roads are not
secure. Bandits are a common
hazard. We traveled in a convoy with
other returning Iraqi exiles. With
less than 300 kilometers to go, they paused for a picture.
As we drove into Baghdad, the bombed-out hulks of Iraqi
tanks and anti-aircraft guns littered the sides of the highways. In the city center, buildings had been
blasted by missiles. Others were
destroyed by fire. The capital of
one of the world's biggest oil-producing nations was also suffering from years
of U.N. sanctions, as well as underdevelopment and neglect at the hands of
Saddam and his Ba'ath Party.
KANAN MAKIYA: I suppose a shock was to realize just
how rundown the city had been allowed to become by the Ba'ath. I thought of the Ba'ath as a
modernizing force, an ugly, brutal, deformed kind of modernity, but modernizing
nonetheless. And here I entered a
city that was ramshackle, broken apart, buildings cracking at the seams,
filthy, smelling garbage on the streets. It just-- it was-- it was-- it was tragic. There was a true sense of dilapidation everywhere.
NARRATOR: On top of the dilapidation came
KANAN MAKIYA: When you take the lid off of a
repressive system of 30 years in the making and you don't have an alternative
law-and-order system to replace it, the population went wild.
NARRATOR: The looting had gone far beyond the stealing
of furniture and air-conditioners. Looters had deconstructed entire buildings, stripped out wires,
insulation, plumbing, stealing any reusable, resalable materials. They torched what remained. When General Jay Garner and his
reconstruction team arrived they found nearly all the buildings they needed to
run post-war Iraq demolished.
MARTIN SMITH, FRONTLINE Correspondent: Did
you plan for looting?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER, U.S. Army (Ret.): Well,
I knew there would be looting, but I didn't think the looting would have the
impact that it did have. Seventeen
of the twenty-three ministries were gone when we got to Baghdad. And more than that, there's no
communications. So you know, I-- I
didn't know that the looting would be as-- I never suspected it would be as
serious as it was.
NARRATOR: We'd heard about shortages. We saw what it meant. To buy a tank of gasoline, the wait
could be more than eight hours. Tempers flared. We came
upon this station, where one man had fired a gun in anger. The bullet hit a gas tank, and an
explosion and fire ensued that killed four, including this boy's brother. Weary residents were calling on the
U.S. to either take control or go home.
MARTIN SMITH: Couldn't the military have done a
better job of putting in police patrols or bringing in more soldiers to try to
tamp things down a bit?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: Well, you'd have to ask the military.
MARTIN SMITH: Well, you're a general. What's your opinion?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: Well, I think-- you are always better
off with more troops.
MARTIN SMITH: So we didn't have enough troops.
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: I think there's-- I think we could have
used more troops inside Baghdad at the end of the war, yes.
NARRATOR: There was still some looting going on
when we arrived. And when we came
across soldiers, they didn't seem sure of their role.
SOLDIER: That child don't need to be here.
NARRATOR: We filmed these GIs after they caught a
group of Iraqis stealing wood.
U.S. SOLDIER: We try to stop them from looting, and
they don't understand, so we take their car and we crush it, the United States
Army tankers. That's what you get
when you loot.
NARRATOR: Later, the car's owner told us, "I am a
taxi driver. The car was my
Gen. JAY GARNER: [Baghdad conference] You represent a culture that brought forth civilization. It's your people and your land that
brought forth the codification of the law.
NARRATOR: The day after we arrived, General
Garner was speaking to a political conference. The U.S. had invited 300 Iraqis: tribal sheiks, religious,
business and political leaders. Kanan Makiya came with his own ambitions about how to build a new
KANAN MAKIYA: It was important, I think, for one
salient fact sort of emerged from the meeting. The sense of the mood of that meeting was, "We want a
government and we want it now."
MAN: We are asking British and the United
States to put the principal system for us, how to go to democracy, OK?
KANAN MAKIYA: And the American officials who were up
there on the platform were on the edge of losing control of the meeting because
they didn't have answers. The
central fact on everybody's mind was the lawlessness that had taken place, the anarchy,
MARTIN SMITH: Looting was going on as the meeting
KANAN MAKIYA: Looting. And authority was needed-- here, now, immediately, instantly.
NARRATOR: Kanan Makiya has been involved for over
10 years with an Iraqi exile opposition group dedicated to the overthrow of
Saddam Hussein. We followed him to
their new Baghdad headquarters.
The Iraqi National Congress was founded in 1992. The INC is headed by a former banker,
Ahmad Chalabi. Before the war,
Chalabi was a key player in efforts to help establish the case that Saddam was
an imminent threat.
AHMAD CHALABI, Iraqi National Congress: Saddam
Hussein was a threat to the West, and he was the most dangerous threat that--
that could have been envisaged in this time, after-- especially after September
NARRATOR: According to top Pentagon adviser
Richard Perle, Chalabi was without question the single most important source of
intelligence the U.S. had on Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
RICHARD PERLE, Defense Policy Board: He's a
very capable guy. He's quite
brilliant -- Ph.D. in mathematics, with a background at the University of
Chicago and MIT, committed to secular democracy -- and is the kind of modern
liberal leader that we would hope to see not only in Iraq but throughout the
MARTIN SMITH: People say that there are two men who
are responsible for the fall of Saddam Hussein. One is George Bush and the other is Ahmad Chalabi. You agree?
AHMAD CHALABI: If somebody else said it, I'm not going
to disagree with them. This is--
MARTIN SMITH: Well, you nagged the U.S. government
for 12, 13 years to accomplish this task.
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, I did. I worked very hard because I came to the conclusion very
early on that if the U.S. is not heavily involved in helping the Iraqi people
get rid of Saddam, Saddam is going to stay, and his son is going to come after.
NARRATOR: When we caught up with Chalabi, he was
no longer preoccupied with making the case for war. A steady stream of visitors was coming to his headquarters. Chalabi was busy navigating post-war
MARTIN SMITH: Many people that supported the war no
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes.
MARTIN SMITH: They feel that they were suckered.
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes, probably.
MARTIN SMITH: They say so.
AHMAD CHALABI: OK. I mean, I don't-- you know, I'm not a--
MARTIN SMITH: Well, I mean, the-- you know, half the
people now feel that the war wasn't justified on the grounds that it was argued
AHMAD CHALABI: OK.
MARTIN SMITH: Do you feel any discomfort with that?
AHMAD CHALABI: No. We are in Baghdad now.
NARRATOR: They are in Baghdad now. The story of how they got here begins
Ever since the end of the Gulf war, a small group of
influential policy makers has wanted to rid the Middle East of Saddam
Hussein. But going to war to
achieve it was not politically feasible until after September 11th, 2001.
RICHARD PERLE: Well, I believe there was a strong
argument for looking at Iraq before September 11th. What September 11th taught us is that we can wait too long
in the presence of a known and a visible threat.
NARRATOR: On the afternoon of September 11th,
Richard Perle, phoned one of President Bush's speechwriters, David Frum.
RICHARD PERLE: I had a conversation with David.
NARRATOR: And what was the content of that?
RICHARD PERLE: That we are not going to deal
effectively with global terrorism if states can support and sponsor and harbor
terrorists without penalty.
GEORGE W. BUSH: The search is under way for those who
are behind these evil acts.
NARRATOR: At 8:30 that evening, President Bush
spoke to the nation. He laid out
his policy, echoing the words that Perle had suggested to his speechwriter
earlier in the day.
GEORGE W. BUSH: We will make no distinction between the
terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
NARRATOR: Four days later, the president and his
cabinet gathered at Camp David to formulate strategy in the war on
terrorism. President Bush told
cabinet members that if Saddam Hussein was to become a target, they needed to
dig up evidence that he was cooperating with al Qaeda.
Within days, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
directed one of his deputies, Douglas Feith, to set up a special office inside
the Pentagon that would examine the intelligence regarding Iraq's possible
connection with al Qaeda.
It started as a small, secretive operation.
RICHARD PERLE: It was very simple. It was clear that no one had been
looking for links of a kind that it was reasonable to consider might exist. We didn't know whether they existed,
and the evidence might have been that they didn't exist. So some people were brought in to take
a look. And within a very short
period of time, they began to find links that nobody else had previously
NARRATOR: When it came to Iraq, the special
intelligence office didn't trust what the CIA or even their own Defense
Intelligence Agency had to say. They did apparently listen to Ahmad Chalabi. According to one Pentagon source, he visited once every
other month. Across the Potomac,
Greg Thielmann had analyzed intelligence for the State Department for seven
GREG THIELMANN, U.S. Dept. of State (1977-02): That
office was largely invisible to us in the intelligence community because they
didn't-- they didn't play in the-- in the normal bureaucratic process of making
intelligence assessments and reporting on those assessments.
MARTIN SMITH: What did you understand that office to
GREG THIELMANN: I am still trying to figure out what
that office was about. The office
wasn't big enough for them to really have the expertise in-house, and the mere
creation of the office was odd, since the secretary of defense had the entire
Defense Intelligence Agency at his disposal. So it's a little mysterious what exactly they were doing.
RICHARD PERLE: Let me be blunt about this. The level of competence of the Central
Intelligence Agency in this area is appalling. They had filtered out the whole set of possibilities because
it was inconsistent with their model. So if you're walking
down the street and you're not looking for hidden treasure, you won't find it.
MARTIN SMITH: Conversely, if you look for something,
you will find it, simply because you are looking. And the nature of intelligence is -- is very often vague, and
things can be interpreted one way or another.
RICHARD PERLE: Of course. There's no absolute truth in this.
[www.pbs.org: View more of Perle's interview]
NARRATOR: It is not publicly known what
intelligence was provided by the special intelligence office, but FRONTLINE has
learned that a report from the Czech Republic that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta
met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague got their attention and was
passed on to the White House.
Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," December, 2001] There is a report that has been pretty well confirmed that he did go to
Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service
in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.
NARRATOR: But the meeting in Prague was never
confirmed. In fact, the FBI
established one month later through car rental records that Atta was in Florida
when the alleged Prague meeting would have occurred. The vice president, however, would still be citing the story
over a year later.
Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September, 2002] On at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague
with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the
World Trade Center.
GREG THIELMANN: I think it's very unusual, the amount
of influence they had. What seems
to have happened is that the conclusions or the work that they did somehow
entered from the side into the policy community--
MARTIN SMITH: At a very high level.
GREG THIELMANN: --at a very high level, in a way that
was invisible to those of us in the intelligence community producing
NARRATOR: While the Pentagon was building a case
for war, the State Department was planning for the aftermath. In the spring of 2002, they launched the Future of Iraq
BOUCHER, State Dept. Spokesman: We've organized the Future of Iraq
project to draw upon both independent Iraqis and representatives of political
groups, in order to plan for many of the practical issues--
NARRATOR: The State Department invited Iraqi
exiles to participate in working groups on how to keep law and order in the
streets and how to keep oil, electricity and water flowing after the war.
GROUP MEMBER: The marsh issue is huge. And until we go and look at the soil in
some more detail--
EDWARD WALKER, U.S. Dept. of State (1967-01): There
are committees set up to consider each aspect of the future life of Iraq and
how you could deal with it in the immediate days thereafter. It involved an awful lot of very bright
people, many of whom have the credentials in economics and banking and
agriculture, and so on, that--
MARTIN SMITH: This was a real effort--
EDWARD WALKER: This was a real effort to--
MARTIN SMITH: --to plan.
EDWARD WALKER: Right, to be there on the ground the
day after and ready to go.
NARRATOR: Laith Kubba, a prominent Iraqi exile,
participated in three working groups.
LAITH KUBBA, Iraqi National Congress (1992-96): The
reality is, by the beginning of 2002, Iraqis have not mobilized their expertise
to map out what the issues and challenges are in a post-Saddam Hussein. Everybody agreed that Saddam should
go. Everybody would like to have
democracy afterwards. Nobody had a
clue what the challenges are ahead. So for the State Department to have started to gather Iraqis, 200 of
them in 15 working groups, was a good step.
NARRATOR: Most Iraqi exiles were enthusiastic
about the Future of Iraq Project, though some -- notably, Ahmad Chalabi and
other INC Iraqis -- were skeptical about the usefulness of a series of
seminars. They wanted to talk
about who was going to rule Iraq after the war. Initially, Kanan Makiya declined an invitation to
KANAN MAKIYA: The State Department wanted to talk
about how best we can collect garbage in the streets the day after liberation,
or how can we recruit a thousand health workers to go to this or that area the
day after. And I said I didn't
have anything to contribute to such questions. Unfortunately, I-- I'm sure there were people inside Iraq who
would know much better than I how to go about doing these things.
NARRATOR: Kanan Makiya has been making a case for
ousting Saddam for over 10 years. FRONTLINE first filmed him in Washington in 1992. In his books, he had exposed Saddam's
history of brutality.
MAKIYA:  Don't look to the United States for help. That is gone.
NARRATOR: In the wake of the first Gulf war, he
was one of the first Arab intellectuals to openly criticize America for failing
to topple Saddam.
MAKIYA:  The future of Iraq is in the hands of Iraqis alone today.
NARRATOR: After one of his talks, he began a
friendship with Paul Wolfowitz.
KANAN MAKIYA, Author, Republic of Fear: I was giving a talk and he was in the audience. And I remember him seeking me out, and
a very touching moment when he said that he felt the United States had been
wrong in 1991. And to have sought
me out to say this thing was something special, which I-- I took an immense
liking to the man because of it.
NARRATOR: Wolfowitz was then a professor at Johns
Hopkins University. He remained a
friend of Makiya's and a supporter of the INC. He wouldn't have a chance to help them, though, until he
became Secretary Rumsfeld's right-hand man.
Ahmad Chalabi was also in Washington in the early
1990s. He had aggressively lobbied
Capitol Hill and made friends with influential Republicans, who helped him get
a meeting in the first Bush White House with National Security Council advisor
AHMAD CHALABI, Iraqi National Congress: I went
to Haass. He told me, "I'm seeing
you only because you impressed some congressman." I was supposed to meet him, I don't know, for half an
hour. We stayed 90 minutes. I explained to him the strategy. He said, "We will support an Iraqi
political movement that will come out endorsing democracy in Iraq, a democratic
government, pluralistic government in Iraq, renunciation of weapons of mass
MARTIN SMITH: Haass says, "If you do these things, we
will support you"?
AHMAD CHALABI: He said, "If you get a political
movement with such a program, we will support you." And that was the genesis of the INC.
NARRATOR: Under the proviso that the INC would
represent all Iraqis -- Kurds, Shias and Sunnis -- the U.S. government gave the
INC CIA money and contacts. But in
the mid-'90s, when Chalabi tried to launch an Iraqi uprising, he found he had
miscalculated the depth of American support.
EDWARD WALKER: They needed support from the United
States, and we refused to give it to them.
MARTIN SMITH: But we'd encouraged them in the first
EDWARD WALKER: Absolutely.
RICHARD PERLE: He attempted to build on what he
thought was American support, which was not forthcoming.
NARRATOR: The Clinton administration feared
Chalabi had misrepresented the strength and the breadth of his movement and had
provided shoddy intelligence about Saddam's military. The White House ordered the CIA to abandon the operation.
EDWARD WALKER: That got shot down largely because I
think people were afraid it would be a one-way street for military
intervention, our military intervention. And the military-- our military wasn't prepared for that at that time.
LAITH KUBBA: I think that fall-out was the final
straw that broke the camel's back because there were other issues to do with
how the INC was run, how the money was spent, the quality of intelligence that
was gathered at that time, a number of issues. But ultimately, that led to a breakdown.
NABIL MUSAWI, Iraqi National Congress: After
'96, after the events of the summer of '96, we had to go back to the drawing
board and decide on a strategy. And we had to think of what we considered to be a real strategy to get
us to Baghdad.
CHALABI: [1998 congressional hearing] Saddam is the problem. He
can never be part of any solution!
NARRATOR: Chalabi turned back to Washington. With the help of friends in Congress,
he lobbied for the passage of a bill, the Iraqi Liberation Act, that would make
regime change in Iraq official U.S. government policy.
CHALABI: The Iraqi people know full well the
horror of chemical and biological weapons.
NARRATOR: The Iraqi Liberation act funneled
millions of dollars to the INC.
CHALABI: The Iraqi National Congress asks your help
in removing the threat of Saddam's doomsday weapons from our people, from the
region, and from the world.
NARRATOR: Chalabi used some of the money to
attract and pay defectors. He then
passed them to the government, as well as to the media. Many news organizations, including
FRONTLINE, used Chalabi's defectors in their reports.
Saddam's Iraq has always been hard to penetrate. Weapons inspectors knew Saddam once
used chemical weapons, but whether he still possessed any or had programs for
biological or nuclear weapons was much harder to determine. In Baghdad, we visited Dr. Hamid al
Bahali, one of the founders of Iraq's civilian nuclear program.
HAMID AL BAHALI, Tuweitha Nuclear Plant: [subtitles] I believe that both the British and the
Americans had reason to believe that Iraq had a program. The intelligence services must have
wondered why there were so many tons of uranium here. What are the uranium-enriching facilities and centrifuges
here for? These things they could
NARRATOR: Dr. Bahali believes that despite all
its money and equipment, Iraq didn't have the expertise to assemble a weapon.
HAMID AL BAHALI: [subtitles] They led the
world to believe that Iraq is manufacturing something, but I believe this is
not true. I believe there may be
theoretical plans on paper. But
how to implement this? That is not
NARRATOR: Today Dr. Bahali is more concerned with
the radioactive contamination of villagers living near the looted nuclear plant
Tuweitha, where he worked for the last 10 years.
AL BAHALI: Salam aleikum.
AL BAHALI: [subtitles] How are you? How is your health? So what happened? The girls
have a rash?
Yes, they have a rash.
AL BAHALI: [subtitles] Who?
The two of them here.
NARRATOR: The army has now secured the gates of
Tuweitha, which had once been a major point of interest for inspectors. For months a CIA/Pentagon team has
scoured Iraq, but it reportedly has found no evidence of weapons of mass
destruction, in spite of past claims by Ahmad Chalabi and the INC.
AHMAD CHALABI: We believe that he was developing
weapons of mass destruction.
MARTIN SMITH: But what-- based on what evidence?
AHMAD CHALABI: Evidence that we had from his people. But we never gave this to the United
States because we knew that this kind of evidence will be unacceptable and it
MARTIN SMITH: Why?
AHMAD CHALABI: Because it is not verifiable for the
United States. We get a piece of
information from an officer.
MARTIN SMITH: So it was hearsay.
AHMAD CHALABI: We believed it. We knew it-- well, we did not present
MARTIN SMITH: But it-- it looks as if, right now-- I
mean they-- the American people feel that they were told that there were going
to be storehouses of weapons on the shelf.
AHMAD CHALABI: Not by us!
MARTIN SMITH: Well--
AHMAD CHALABI: Not by us!
MARTIN SMITH: By whom?
AHMAD CHALABI: From their own intelligence services.
RICE, National Security Adviser: You will get different estimates about
precisely how close he is. We do
know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon--
NARRATOR: Prior to the war, the administration
was reading intelligence that was often vague, sometimes contradictory, rarely
GEORGE W. BUSH: But America need to know I'll be making
up my mind based upon the latest intelligence.
NARRATOR: Unlike the intelligence, though, the
message the administration rolled out in the fall of 2002 was sharp and clear.
Pres. DICK CHENEY: Simply stated, there is no doubt that
Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing--
NARRATOR: What was missing from all the speeches
and television appearances were the caveats and contrary evidence from their
own intelligence agencies.
GEORGE W. BUSH: The Iraqi regime could launch a
biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes.
NARRATOR: In a classified report circulated
within the administration in late September, 2002, the Defense Intelligence
Agency stated that there was, "no reliable information on whether Iraq is
producing or stockpiling chemical weapons."
RICE: --a nuclear weapon. But we don't want the smoking gun to be
a mushroom cloud.
NARRATOR: At the same time, the Pentagon's
special intelligence office was coming up short of proving Saddam had current
and active links to al Qaeda.
MARTIN SMITH: As you watched this growing divergence
between what was being said by policy makers and what you knew was the intelligence,
what conclusions were you drawing?
GREG THIELMANN, U.S. Dept. of State (1977-02): Well,
the conclusion that I ultimately came to was that this was a matter of, as I've
called it, faith-based intelligence. They were cherry-picking the information that we provided, to use
whatever pieces of it that fit their overall interpretation. And worse than that, they were dropping
qualifiers and distorting some of the information that we provided to make it seem
more alarmist and more dangerous than the information that we were giving them.
NARRATOR: The fall campaign would culminate with
a speech by President Bush on October 7th in Cincinnati.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Facing clear evidence of peril, we
cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form
of a mushroom cloud. Information
from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that
despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to
NARRATOR: The defector mentioned in the
president's speech came to the administration's attention via Ahmad
Chalabi. Chalabi was also making
claims about Saddam and al Qaeda.
GEORGE W. BUSH: We've learned that Iraq has trained al
Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gasses.
[www.pbs.org: The selective intelligence debate]
NARRATOR: We talked to Chalabi at INC
headquarters in Baghdad.
MARTIN SMITH: You had argued for a long time that
they were tightly connected with al Qaeda. As far back as '98, I remember meeting with you--
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes, there were.
MARTIN SMITH: --and you told me there were lots of
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes, there were.
MARTIN SMITH: Well, those have not quite been
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, we have very strong leads on
that. And we have very strong
evidence that they have.
MARTIN SMITH: You have strong evidence that there's
links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes. You see, the point is that U.S.-- U.S.--
MARTIN SMITH: Where are these -- where is-- where is
this evidence, though?
AHMAD CHALABI: In U.S. hands. We gave the names of the people. There were visits of al Qaeda here, and
there was money that changed hands.
MARTIN SMITH: Do you have any documentary evidence of
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes. There is such a document.
MARTIN SMITH: That is a document that you could show
AHMAD CHALABI: Well I-- I-- I've seen it, but I don't
have it in my possession. But they
could show it to you, I think.
MARTIN SMITH: Who can show it to me?
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, our intelligence people.
MARTIN SMITH: Your intelligence people? So after this interview, we can--
AHMAD CHALABI: I-- I don't know if you can do it right
MARTIN SMITH: Well, I think its very important to
make this-- this is something you've talked about since '98, and I think its a
very important point. Its one of
the points that drew America to this war.
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes!
MARTIN SMITH: Correct? So it's very important to establish the truth of it.
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes. I agree.
MARTIN SMITH: So I mean, if there is such a document,
it makes sense for you to share it, no?
AHMAD CHALABI: I'm not saying no. No. I'm saying that I can't-- I--
MARTIN SMITH: I'm somehow not getting the feeling
that I'm going to see the document.
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, you are erroneous.
MARTIN SMITH: OK. Great. I hope
to see it.
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, we expect to show it to you.
NARRATOR: The document was supposed to
demonstrate money changing hands between Saddam Hussein's government and al
Qaeda. After repeated requests,
FRONTLINE has still not seen the document.
MARTIN SMITH: Were you uncomfortable in the run-up to
the war, in the dependence on the imminent threat, the weapons of mass
destruction rationale for the war?
KANAN MAKIYA, Iraqi National Congress: I
wasn't uncomfortable. I genuinely--
I thought it was true. I held it
to be a-- a legitimate rationale. But I never held it as the primary rationale, nor did any other Iraqi
that I know of.
MARTIN SMITH: It was the primary rationale for the
American people. It was sold as
the primary rationale for the war to the American public.
KANAN MAKIYA: It should not have been.
NARRATOR: For Makiya, the cause had always been
establishing a democracy in Iraq. In December of 2002, the INC came to a major Iraqi opposition conference
in London. In attendance were
exiles from all the groups that make up Iraq-- Kurds, Sunnis, Shias and others. At issue was how Iraq would be ruled
after the war. Kanan Makiya
arrived with his own detailed blueprint for democracy.
MAKIYA: It carries forward a completely novel
idea that doesn't exist anywhere in the Arab Muslim world. This is a completely new kind of state
that we are thinking about here, a truly democratic state that will--
NARRATOR: Makiya's paper dealt with many
MAKIYA: We are talking here about what kind of
federalism exactly we mean, what we mean by a parliament, when elections would
NARRATOR: Among them was a controversial proposal
to remove Saddam's entire bureaucracy from office after the war.
MAKIYA: We are talking here about things like
the debaathification of Iraq, a la denazification of Germany. We're talking about--
NARRATOR: The paper also called for the immediate
establishment of a provisional government in exile.
KANAN MAKIYA: The moment the report came out, the
State Department started taking distance from it because it-- it apparently
challenged a central tenet of the U.S.-- of State Department policy, which was
they were against the idea of a provisional government.
NARRATOR: The State Department and many other
Iraqi exiles wanted to prevent the INC from rushing into a power vacuum before
other Iraqis, including those inside Iraq, had a chance to organize.
LAITH KUBBA, Iraqi National Congress (1992-96): I
think they had a very simplistic
agenda that can be summed up in few words: reducing Iraq to the opposition,
reducing the opposition to the INC, and that all the post-Iraq planning should
start from that small group, to be given all the resources and support, to
become the nucleus for reestablishing authority in Iraq.
ADNAN PACHACHI, Iraqi Exile: I don't think it's a good
idea to try to impose a government from outside, so I was against the idea of
having a provisional government composed of exiles. There should be a process by which the Iraqi people,
especially those who are inside, should have a say in any provisional
AHMAD CHALABI: The United States government said, "No,
we will not recognize a-- government that is formed by the opposition which is
outside the country. We want to
get people from inside the country involved, and they should be-- play a leading
role in this provisional government."
NARRATOR: The INC left the conference frustrated. Kanan Makiya wrote in a London
newspaper that the enemies of a democratic Iraq lay within the U.S. State
KANAN MAKIYA: It's very sad to have to say it, but
the State Department and the CIA have consistently thwarted the president's genuine
attempt, I think, to do something very dramatic in this country.
NARRATOR: The INC's last hope was the Defense
Department. Here, top civilian
officials believed the early establishment of a provisional government was a
good idea. It could facilitate an
early U.S. military withdrawal. An
interagency debate intensified in Washington over whether America would go to
war backing a Chalabi-led provisional government or not.
NABIL MUSAWI, Iraqi National Congress: The
whole government turned into two camps. One of them is totally opposed to Chalabi, and the other one was so
pro-Chalabi. And I think the
problem we began to face was that, you know, everybody almost -- almost -- forgot
about the issue of Iraq, and the main focus became Chalabi. Is Chalabi going to be the
president? Is Chalabi going to be
the head of the provisional government? Well, you know, what would it mean if Saddam Hussein falls? And it wasn't--
MARTIN SMITH: What should have they been thinking
NABIL MUSAWI: Iraq!
MARTIN SMITH: So much time has been wasted over who
to support, Chalabi or not Chalabi.
RICHARD PERLE, Defense Policy Board: That's
quite right. There's been a
debilitating and I think wasteful and damaging quarrel over Ahmad Chalabi.
MARTIN SMITH: So why have you clung to Ahmad
Chalabi? Why not just find
somebody else that's acceptable to both sides?
RICHARD PERLE: No one else has been proposed who's
acceptable to both sides. And the
arguments against Chalabi have been without substance. He is far and away the most effective
individual that we could have hoped would emerge in Iraq.
MARTIN SMITH: This schism within the U.S. government,
a lot of it's centered on you, rightly or wrongly. Yet a lot of it came down to people's evaluation of you.
AHMAD CHALABI: Uh-huh.
MARTIN SMITH: The CIA and State after '96 and onwards
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes.
MARTIN SMITH: And this became all-consuming.
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes, but you see, this is a very
curious situation. I believe that
the people who did not want to do anything against Saddam took up-- took me up
as the bete noir of this, thinking that I was an easy target to discredit the
MARTIN SMITH: You became an extremely divisive
AHMAD CHALABI: Yes. Well, they made me so, not I.
[www.pbs.org: The extended Chalabi interview]
NARRATOR: On January 12, 2003, Kanan Makiya
received an invitation to meet with the president.
KANAN MAKIYA: The invitation to see the president was
very sudden, and I don't know by what channels it happened. I didn't solicit it. It began with the president very
emphatically stating his commitment to democracy and that this was what the
United States wanted to do. And he
left me with the very clear impression that he was deadly serious about it,
that this was not just rhetoric, and he was committed to it personally and in
some emotional way. We all came
away feeling that a truly important breakthrough had taken place.
NARRATOR: Though the White House backed up the
State Department in opposing an INC provisional government-in-exile, eight days
later the president handed over the reins of post-war planning to Secretaries
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz at the Pentagon.
RUMSFELD, Defense Secretary: [January 20, 2003] We have recently brought in a retired Army general, Jay Garner, to stand
up an office in the Pentagon to being the process of thinking through all of
the kinds of things that would be necessary in the early period and--
NARRATOR: Rumsfeld did not know General Jay
Garner very well. They had served
together on a panel on space and national security in 2000. Yet with two months to go before the
war began, Rumsfeld entrusted Garner with full responsibility for post-war
politics and reconstruction. Much
of the Future of Iraq project was set aside.
MARTIN SMITH: What was the attitude the Pentagon
towards the work that had been done by the State Department?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: It wasn't well received.
MARTIN SMITH: It wasn't well received?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: Yeah, but not only in the
Pentagon. It wasn't real well
received in portions of the of the executive branch, either.
MARTIN SMITH: But you know, I have run into-- I've
talked to a number of people in the State Department, and they're bitter about
the fact that their project was just ignored. You know,
they put a big effort into that
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: They did put a big effort, and I think
that it was a mistake that we didn't use that. And I agree with that. And it was my intent to use that, but we didn't.
MARTIN SMITH: And why didn't we use the Future of
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: I don't know. I don't know the answer to that. I was just-- I was just told that, no, it's just a decision
they made that we're not going to do that.
MARTIN SMITH: And who told you that?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: I got that from the secretary. And I don't think that was his
MARTIN SMITH: Secretary Rumsfeld?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: Uh-huh.
MARTIN SMITH: So all the work that was done on the
Future of Iraq Project did not show up in any of your--
TIM CARNEY, U.S. Dept. of State (1967-99): Not
insofar as I could determine.
MARTIN SMITH: Did you talk with your colleagues about
why we're not using this material?
TIM CARNEY: I did, and the consensus of my colleagues
was basically that it was part of the ideological food fight between the State
Department and the Defense Department.
NARRATOR: The Pentagon's plan for post-war Iraq
assumed that once Saddam, his sons and top lieutenants were gone, the remaining
soldiers, policemen and Ba'ath Party bureaucrats would cooperate with U.S.
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: I briefed the president the second week
in March. Our plan then is we were
going to use most of the army, the Iraqi army, for reconstruction. We were going to hire them and make
them, for lack of a better word, reconstruction battalions and use them to help
rebuild the country.
MARTIN SMITH: Did that seem like a good plan to you
at the time?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: Seemed like a great plan, yeah, because
they had the skill set to do everything I thought we needed to do. I mean, they know how to fix
roads. They know how to fix
bridges. They know how to move
rubble around. They are all
trained, to a certain degree. They
knew how to take orders. They have
a command-and-control system over them. They have their own transportation, you can move them around, that type
of thing. So that was a-- that was
a good concept.
RUSSERT, Host: ["Meet the Press," March 16, 2003] If your analysis is not correct and we're not treated as liberators but
as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you
think the American people are prepared--
NARRATOR: Another assumption was that Iraqis
would greet the Americans as liberators, an assurance they got from the INC.
Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," March 16, 2003] I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the
last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with
various groups and individuals, people who've devoted their lives from the
outside to trying to change things inside Iraq, men like Kanan Makiya, who's a
professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi. He's written great books about the subject, knows the country
intimately, is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq
is there's no question but what they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and
they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
NARRATOR: While the administration was listening
to Makiya, they were ignoring the warnings of others. In February, 2003, Richard Perle invited an expert in post-war situations to make a
presentation at the Pentagon. This
expert warned about the potential for post-war violence.
ROBERT M. PERITO, National Security Council (1988-89): The
thrust of it was that it was very likely that in a post-conflict situation in
Iraq, there was going to be a lot of violence. You're going to have a period of general lawlessness. You're going to need to establish the
rule of law. You're going to have
deal with prisoners, for example.
NARRATOR: Robert M. Perito, an official on
President Reagan's National Security Council staff, has studied post-war
problems in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and Haiti. In all these places, he pointed out, there was widespread
ROBERT M. PERITO: The same thing happened in Panama. As soon as the fighting ended, mobs
went into the streets of Panama City and destroyed Panama City, looted the
city, did more damage to the Panamanian economy than the conflict did. And so my presentation was largely
about the kinds of forces that we would need in order to deal with that kind of
violence. And those lessons were
We had meetings with people on Garner's staff and people,
you know, in the administration. Their basic approach was that they couldn't really foresee exactly what
was needed, so they were going to wait until they got there and then they were
going to make recommendations.
NARRATOR: We wanted ask the administration's top
officials about planning for post-war Iraq. We approached Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and
Vice President Dick Cheney. They
GEORGE W. BUSH: [State of Union address] A brutal dictator with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to
terrorism, with great potential wealth, will not be permitted to dominate a vital
region and threaten the United States.
NARRATOR: We scheduled an interview with
Wolfowitz's deputy, Douglas Feith, but just hours before we sat down, the White
House intervened. The interview
was canceled. We received no
GEORGE W. BUSH: Our intelligence officials estimate
that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin,
mustard and VX nerve agent.
NARRATOR: We wanted to ask questions about WMD,
but also about the broader rationale for the war, questions about oil and about
the prospects of an Iraqi democracy. Those close to the administration talk of an ambitious set of goals.
RICHARD PERLE: There's no question that liberating
Iraq from this vicious, tyrannical regime was thought by many of us to be a
good thing in itself. And the
added benefits, if one could bring a democratic political process to Iraq, of
shaping opinion in the Arab world, which is woefully devoid of democratic
political institutions, would also be a good thing.
NARRATOR: The public case, though, rested on
GEORGE W. BUSH: The British government has learned that
Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
NARRATOR: The White House has since admitted that
the 16 words about uranium yellowcake from Africa were a mistake. What they have not explained is how
something that had been investigated 12 months earlier at the request of the
vice president could have still made it into a State of the Union speech.
Greg Thielmann had investigated rumors of African uranium
sales to Iraq a year before the president's speech.
GREG THIELMANN, U.S. Dept. of State (1977-02): As I
recall, it was a human intelligence report that came to the United States. In this case, our specialists, who were
weapons intelligence experts, and the African experts and the Middle Eastern
experts in the Intelligence Bureau were all of one accord that this was-- this
was a bad story.
MARTIN SMITH: And then in January, you hear the
president talking about it.
GREG THIELMANN: That's right. And it was a big surprise to me because I left government at
the end of September in 2002, so I had no indication in the fall that this
story had any life on it at all. It was really a shock to me when the president gave it such visibility
in January of 2003.
POWELL, Secretary of State: [United Nations, February 5, 2003] Some of the sources are technical, such as intercepted telephone
NARRATOR: Eight days after the president's State
of the Union address, Secretary Powell would present the administration's case
to the U.N.
POWELL: I cannot tell you everything that we
know, but what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have
learned over the years, is deeply troubling.
NARRATOR: The Secretary laid out al Qaeda links--
POWELL: Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist
NARRATOR: --evidence of chemical and biological
POWELL: Saddam Hussein has chemical
weapons. Saddam Hussein has used such
NARRATOR: --and evidence of an active nuclear
POWELL: Saddam Hussein already possesses two
out of the three key components needed to build a nuclear bomb. He has a cadre of nuclear scientists
with the expertise, and he has a bomb design.
NARRATOR: Though he did leave out mention of the
Niger uranium story, the crux of Powell's nuclear case was that Iraq was
procuring aluminum tubes and other vital parts of a uranium enrichment
POWELL: Most U.S. experts think they are
intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
GREG THIELMANN: We started out being agnostic on this,
but the more that we got into it, it was not a difficult assessment for us to
arrive at, ultimately, that the Department of Energy experts were correct in
seeing these tubes as being not well suited for uranium enrichment centrifuge
rotors, but were, in fact, for something else.
POWELL: Bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi
intelligence official in Khartoum.
GREG THIELMANN: If one goes back to that very long
presentation, point by point, one finds that this was not a very honest
explanation. You had this very
tenuous link made between Saddam and Osama bin Laden in the remarks of
Secretary Powell, when his own terrorist officials and virtually everyone else
in the U.S. intelligence community said there is no significant connection
between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
I have to conclude Secretary Powell was being a loyal
secretary of state, a "good soldier," as it were, building the administration's
case before the international community.
GEORGE W. BUSH: [March 19, 2003] My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in
the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and
to defend the world from grave danger.
NARRATOR: Against the advice of some top military
commanders at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld believed that
Baghdad could be taken and the country secured with a small, mobile force. Initially, the plan seemed to be
RUMSFELD: Things are going very well. General Franks and his team are
first-rate. They're enormously
capable. They've got a plan that--
NARRATOR: The mood at the Pentagon was upbeat.
RUMSFELD: --and they are proceeding with it.
NARRATOR: Coalition forces were meeting only
RUMSFELD: There is no question but that that
regime is not going to be there in the future.
NARRATOR: After U.S. troops moved into southern
Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi was flown by the U.S. military to the town of
Nasiriya. It was hoped that he
could launch an uprising of Shias long oppressed by Saddam.
KANAN MAKIYA, Iraqi National Congress: The
plan was to allow Iraqis to participate in their own liberation in some form or
another. And of course, the State
Department was dead against it. Everybody was dead against it. They were irritated at the fact that Chalabi was being flown in. And it took the personal intervention
of friends of Mr. Chalabi in the Pentagon to make it happen.
NARRATOR: The orders came from Undersecretary
Doug Feith in the Pentagon. If
Chalabi, a secular Shia, could lead Iraqis into battle, it would give him local
credibility. Chalabi arrived with
700 troops from his own militia. It was called Operation Crescent Rising.
AHMAD CHALABI: What I wanted to do was participate in
the liberation of Iraq, and also to show that we are-- can operate on Iraqi
territory without much U.S. help. My point was that the United States government should recognize an Iraqi
provisional government on any liberated territory of Iraq that was outside the
NARRATOR: At first, a crowd of several thousand
came to see what this largely unknown exile, Chalabi, had to say. It seemed to be going well.
CHALABI: [subtitles] The era of the tyrant is over!
NARRATOR: But the State Department and uniformed
military vigorously opposed the idea of marching Chalabi and his Free Iraqi
Forces into Baghdad. Other Iraqi
politicians were also opposed.
ADNAN PACHACHI, Independent Democrats Movement: I
thought it was a show of force. I
do not like to have warlords in this country, you know, each one having his own
MARTIN SMITH: So this was Ahmad Chalabi acting like a
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, but on a very small scale, of
course. But I mean, the whole idea
of having, you know, armed militias going around-- this is-- we can't start a
democracy that way.
NARRATOR: The generals were unimpressed by the
people's response to Chalabi and his army.
Lt. Gen. JAMES T. CONWAY, U.S. Marines: My
overarching observation is that those folks were generally not well
received. People were not
responding to them like we might have hoped. They were never significantly engaged. They never significantly contributed,
at least to my mind. And if you
can sort of get a snowball rolling, if you can get the local support and locals
want to join the force and that type of thing, than perhaps it becomes another
matter. But that was not happening
NARRATOR: The U.S. Army removed Chalabi and his
fighters to a nearby military base and kept him out of the fighting. A disappointed Chalabi was left sitting
in the desert without transportation. He wouldn't get to Baghdad until five days after its fall.
MARTIN SMITH: The statues are coming down. Where are you?
KANAN MAKIYA: Well, I was in Washington. And I was visiting the vice president,
and then I was told suddenly that-- rush over, that there was somebody who
wanted to see me. And it was the president. Condoleezza Rice was there and the vice
president was there. And we had
just seen the pictures of a statue come tumbling down. The president was very emotional and
And I remember telling him, "I was off by two weeks, Mr.
President, but it happened," because I had said to the president back in
January that the U.S. forces would be greeted with sweets and flowers. And of course, they weren't in the
first two weeks. So-- and it was--
it was a moment of, what can I say, of real joy for me and for him, and
obviously, for everybody concerned. And we felt we were being vindicated.
BOY: OK! OK! No
Saddam! Yes Bush! No Saddam!
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, looting of the country
MAN: Thank you. Thank you Mr. Bush!
NARRATOR: At first, the military took a passive
Lt. Gen. JAMES T. CONWAY: I saw the opulence of the
palaces. Getting to and from
there, though, you fly over these mud huts that look like something, you know,
right out of, I don't know, the birth of Jesus. And the contrast is just remarkable. So when the troops entered Baghdad and
there was a level of looting, I think I understood, so long as Iraqis were
taking office furniture out of the government buildings in the regime
headquarters locations, those types of things. And we watched it for two or three days, I think, pretty
much with that attitude.
LAITH KUBBA: This was not normal. It's not a sign of liberated
people. I think it's a sign of
people who sense there is no authority. Iraqis are used to military coups. When they take place, they tune in to their radios and they obey orders,
and people know exactly how to respond to it. Instead, there was a day, two days and three days of no
NARRATOR: It was what Robert Perito had told the
Pentagon would happen.
ROBERT M. PERITO: Secretary Rumsfeld made these now
famous remarks about this is what happens when you allow people the freedom to
act on their instincts.
RUMSFELD: Stuff happens! And it's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make
mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful
things. And that's what's going to
ROBERT M. PERITO, Dept. of State (1967-95): "Stuff
happens." I think, you know, there
were all these remarks that he made. And that struck me as-- "irresponsible" is a pretty harsh word, but
basically irresponsible. We could
have been ready. U.S. military
forces that were there on scene stood by and watched. Why? Because
they had no instructions to intervene. And two, because there is this feeling, and has been on the part of the
U.S. military consistently, that the U.S. military doesn't do police. It doesn't do policing functions.
MARTIN SMITH: And you think you could have stopped
Lt. Gen. JAMES T. CONWAY: I think so. I think-- if we had been told to stop
the looting and secure key elements of the city, we could have brought a force
to do that.
MARTIN SMITH: Did you get on the phone and say, "Why
aren't we defending these buildings?"
Lt. Gen. JAMES T. CONWAY: No.
MARTIN SMITH: "Why are we letting this country be
Lt. Gen. JAMES T. CONWAY: No.
MARTIN SMITH: You didn't do that.
Lt. Gen. JAMES T. CONWAY: No.
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, General Garner and his
Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, ORHA, remained holed up
at the Hilton Hotel in Kuwait.
MARTIN SMITH: You're ready to go, but you're on
hold. What happened?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: Well, CENTCOM wasn't going let us go in
until they felt that the environment was permissive enough for us to get in
there. I mean, they didn't want to
put the ORHA team in there and get them all shot up on the first day.
MARTIN SMITH: Do you think that was the right
TIM CARNEY, U.S. Reconstruction Team: No, it
was the wrong decision.
MARTIN SMITH: It was the wrong decision. Why?
TIM CARNEY: Basically, there was a-- a window of
time which the transition from a military mission to a political military
mission was open. And in that--
into that window, one needed to have all of the civilian staff present, to the
maximum extent possible, and beginning to function.
MARTIN SMITH: So-- but you're sitting down in Kuwait,
unable to get any of this work under way.
TIM CARNEY: That's correct.
NARRATOR: Finally, U.S. commander Tommy Franks relented and flew Garner into
Baghdad. He set up shop at the
former headquarters of Saddam's Republican Guard. Even still, Garner and his team were unable to get to work.
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: What happened is we put an incredible
requirement on the military when we got there. The ground rule was that we couldn't move one of-- like, our
ministerial team, our government team, we couldn't move people around Baghdad
unless we had an armed Humvee in front of it and an armed Humvee behind it.
NARRATOR: The army didn't have enough Humvees or
soldiers to drive them. And not
only could the reconstruction team not get around Baghdad, they couldn't call
out of the palace. Phones were
down because of U.S. missile strikes on many of Baghdad's telephone exchanges.
TIM CARNEY: The United States is the greatest
political, military, economic, cultural entity the planet has ever seen. We are particularly gifted at things
like telephones and air-conditioning. We couldn't seem to translate our capability into action on the ground,
and that proved enormously frustrating.
[www.pbs.org: More on rebuilding Iraq]
NARRATOR: Garner's team was also coping with
growing violence. On April 28th,
in the Sunni town of Falluja, U.S. soldiers opened fire on a crowd
demonstrating against U.S. troops who were occupying a local school. Within a few minutes, 17 Iraqis were
dead and 70 wounded. Two days
later, in Falluja, another crowd gathered to protest the American violence. U.S. soldiers fired into the crowd
again. Three more Iraqis were
MAN: [subtitles] Is this the freedom they want to bring
us? How do you like this
freedom? This freedom is for the
dogs! This freedom is for the
TIM CARNEY: When there's the second event, then you
grasp that-- that there had been enough ill will created and a failure to
understand what was really at issue in Iraq. And what was at issue in Iraq was not our absolute control
but our ability to get Iraqis to share our vision.
NARRATOR: The administration concluded that Iraq
urgently needed more law and order. They scrambled to find a replacement for Garner.
L. PAUL BREMER, U.S. Administrator, Iraq: I had
a call from somebody in Secretary Rumsfeld's office on a Wednesday afternoon,
must have been in early May.
GEORGE W. BUSH: I am selecting Jerry Bremer. Our country will be sending one of our
best citizens. He's a man with
L. PAUL BREMER: It was very quick because I was
basically over here about 10 days later.
GEORGE W. BUSH: He's a can-do type person.
L. PAUL BREMER: Effectively, I had only a week to get
ready for the job.
GEORGE W. BUSH: --not only on behalf of our country, but
on behalf of the people of Iraq, who deserve a free and democratic
society. Good luck to you.
NARRATOR: Ambassador Paul Bremer arrived in
Baghdad on May 12th. Bremer would
take another run at formulating U.S. policy.
BREMER: The coalition forces did not come to
colonize Iraq. We came to
overthrow a despotic regime. That
we've done. Now our job is to turn
and help the Iraqi people regain control of their own destiny.
NARRATOR: Bremer, a former ambassador to the
Netherlands, had little Middle East experience, but he was a State Department
counterterrorism chief in the 1980s and a protégé and business partner of Henry
Kissinger. Bremer moved quickly to
reassert U.S. control. Security
was tightened. Street patrols were
stepped up. The hunt for Saddam
was accelerated. Looters were to
be shot on sight. Bremer issued
decree after decree--
BREMER: [press conference] That's what we've got to do. We've got to go out, find the criminals, whether they--
NARRATOR: --on property, on prisons, on banking,
and on the press. And much to the
dismay of politicians like Ahmad Chalabi, Bremer delayed the establishment of
an Iraqi-led government. Chalabi
flew to Washington and complained to his friends on the Hill and in the
SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): How is it going? Is it really moving?
CHALABI: You see, Senator, I don't understand--
NARRATOR: General Garner complained, too, but
privately. Pilloried for being
soft, Garner was criticized most heavily for retaining Ba'athist technocrats
who ran the machinery of government.
AHMAD CHALABI: The problem with Garner was that he was
employing Ba'athists in senior positions.
MARTIN SMITH: You disagreed with him.
AHMAD CHALABI: Entirely disagreed with him.
MARTIN SMITH: Not unhappy to see him go.
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, I was happy to see the policy
NABIL MUSAWI: He was working with the wrong
Iraqis. We're talking about the
Iraqis who brutalized, traumatized this nation for 35 years.
BREMER: Shortly, I will issue an order on the
measures to extirpate Ba'athists and Ba'athism from Iraq forever.
NARRATOR: Ambassador Bremer ordered a policy of
complete debaathification: 30 to 40,000 Ba'athists were banned from holding any
MARTIN SMITH: So they scrapped the old plan that you
were working with.
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: Yeah, it got scrapped. And all that happened in about a week's
period of time.
MARTIN SMITH: How'd you feel about that?
Lt. Gen. JAY GARNER: I thought it was a mistake at the time.
LAITH KUBBA: By alienating large numbers of people
and not using them or utilizing them, was not a smart move. By doing that, you have made those
people part of the problem instead of making them part of the solution. They have become part of the organized
crime, part of the snipers shooting at the Americans, and part of the people
who see no place for them in future Iraq. And that was not the idea.
NARRATOR: Over the summer, sabotage
increased. Power plants and oil
pipelines became regular targets. At least one, sometimes two American soldiers were being killed every
day. More than 1,600 American
soldiers have been wounded since the war began. Over 300 have died.
KANAN MAKIYA: Much of this sabotage is planned, and
it's not resistance to occupation, as the Arab satellite stations are
presenting. It's Mafia-like
tactics by the remnants of the Ba'ath Party, which are quickly fusing into
fundamentalist, Islamist, Wahhabi-leaning parties. There's a dangerous, dangerous convergence. The very al Qaeda-Saddam connection
which got so discussed before the war is materializing before our very
eyes. I see it in the leaflets
that these Fedayeen put out. The
language is Qaeda language now. So
there's a very interesting sense in which all of that is coming home to roost.
MARTIN SMITH: That's an irony.
KANAN MAKIYA: Yes.
MARTIN SMITH: If, in fact--
KANAN MAKIYA: Yes.
MARTIN SMITH: --the war itself brings al Qaeda to
Iraq, when it wasn't here before.
KANAN MAKIYA: Well, I-- that's your way of spinning
it. That's not my way of seeing
NARRATOR: These are rare pictures of Task Force
20, a joint Army/CIA strike force whose brief is to find Saddam. We caught up with them in the town of
Dhuluya, just as a raid was under way. We were prevented from entering the town by soldiers providing support
for the task force.
MARTIN SMITH: How long are you going to be blocking
this road, any idea?
U.S. SOLDIER: I can't say, sir.
MARTIN SMITH: It's obviously a major operation,
U.S. SOLDIER: I really can't say, sir.
MARTIN SMITH: Where are you from?
U.S. SOLDIER: I'm from Tennessee.
NARRATOR: Dhuluya is a frequent target of
raids. It is located in the heart
of the "Sunni triangle," where most of the fighting between Americans and
Iraqis is taking place.
Afterwards, we went to talk to the villagers. The raid had apparently come up empty.
IRAQI MAN: [subtitles] I said, "I
will open it for you." But they
went ahead and busted it.
MARTIN SMITH: Do people in this area support Saddam?
IRAQI MAN: [subtitles] No. We don't like Saddam. What did he give us? Nothing. Not this
home. He gave us shit. I had a job and I got laid off.
MARTIN SMITH: You don't like Saddam. What do you think of the Americans?
IRAQI MAN: [subtitles] Americans are occupiers.
NARRATOR: The Army mounts scores of raids each
week, chasing an elusive enemy.
Lt. Gen. DAVID McKIERNAN, U.S. Army: Defining the enemy now, in this part of the campaign, is a
challenge. When you conduct the
decisive combat operations at the beginning of the land attack, your enemy is
far better defined and it's easier to distinguish friend and foe. The situation that we're in now is you
have threats against the coalition which are blended in to the population.
NARRATOR: After a land mine seriously wounded two
U.S. soldiers in downtown Baghdad, our cameraman rushed to the scene and
witnessed this shootout. Soldiers
were exchanging fire with some men in the building on the right. Then, for no apparent reason, the
soldiers began firing in our direction. A man standing five feet from our cameraman was shot and killed.
The soldiers thought the man had shot at them. Afterwards, they asked witnesses what
SOLDIER: He was a peaceful man?
WITNESS: Yes. Yes.
SOLDIER: Just a bystander?
WITNESS: [subtitles] No gun and-- he's a peaceful man.
SOLDIER: He wasn't a shooter, just somebody
standing on the side of the road.
[www.pbs.org: Read the camerman's account]
MARTIN SMITH: One of the problems I'm sensing is that
the more incursions into various neighborhoods, the more leery Iraqis become,
especially when they see sons, fathers, sisters killed by some of the roughness
-- perhaps necessary, perhaps not -- of our raids. A very delicate balance you've got to--
L. PAUL BREMER: It is a delicate balance, and it's not
one that I call myself. It's a
call of the tactical commander, and I don't-- my business isn't to second-guess
the military guys. We hope that
they always act in a prudent fashion but one which, after all, has as its goal
protecting our forces first and achieving their objective and doing that with
the minimum collateral damage to either people or property.
NARRATOR: The administration has been critical of
the press for being too negative. Much of Baghdad is again bustling with everyday commerce. But with a guerilla war, violence
occurs randomly. The city, for all
its resilience, remains on edge. In one of Baghdad's
wealthiest neighborhoods, we came upon this scene after another raid by Task
RESIDENT: At the beginning, they surround a house
MARTIN SMITH: Who surrounded it?
RESIDENT: The American soldiers.
MARTIN SMITH: So the American soldiers surrounded a
house, and then?
RESIDENT: Then a car entered the branch [?].
MARTIN SMITH: Yes.
RESIDENT: They shoot at it.
NARRATOR: During the raid, drivers of two cars,
apparently confused by impromptu roadblocks, were stopped by gunfire.
RESIDENT: The driver intended to stop, not to do
anything. The American troops
shoot him directly.
NARRATOR: Five people were killed. In this car was one man. Down the street, a man, his wife and
child. A pedestrian was also
killed. The victims all lived in
the neighborhood and were returning home.
ROBERT M. PERITO: There's a major difference between
military and police. Soldiers are
trained to deal with soldiers. They're trained to deal with opposition armies. They're not trained to deal with
civilians. There's a different
ethos here. Police are trained to
deal with civilians. They're
trained to interact on a whole different basis. And so while soldiers are trained to, as one officer said,
shoot people and break things, police are trained to preserve and protect.
NARRATOR: It's expected to take a year before a
fully debaathified army and police force can be deployed.
SOLDIER: Where's the translator? Translator! Everyone's got to stop pushing. Act civilized! There's no rush to get in here. These people will be here for months, OK?
NARRATOR: We filmed these men, standing in
120-degree heat. Some are former
soldiers in Saddam's army trying to get their jobs back. Unemployment is currently running at
over 50 percent.
The aftermath has proven to be far more complicated than the
Bush administration had predicted. It's also far more costly.
L. PAUL BREMER: Our economic advisers think that
repairing Iraq's infrastructure will cost $100 billion dollars -- $100 billion
dollars. Big money.
NARRATOR: Ambassador Bremer is only talking about
the cost of reconstruction. The
cost of military occupation has been estimated at another $4 billion a
month. Bremer says there is no
choice. The U.S. will stay in Iraq
as long as it takes to rebuild.
In mid-July, Bremer appointed a 25-member Iraqi governing
council, but Bremer remains the real authority in Iraq. Dominating the council are exiles,
prominent among them Ahmad Chalabi. He wants the U.S. to turn over more power to the council on finances and
security, and he has begun to distance himself from his American patrons.
AHMAD CHALABI: We really don't need continued
MARTIN SMITH: Well, you need security.
AHMAD CHALABI: We need security, but we can-- if the
U.S. pulls out, we have to have our own plans.
MARTIN SMITH: You have plans, but you have nothing on
the ground. You do not have a
AHMAD CHALABI: Well, we don't-- we can develop a police
MARTIN SMITH: Are you saying that if the Americans
pull out tomorrow, you'd be OK?
AHMAD CHALABI: No. There will-- there will be fighting in Iraq. There will be a lot of bloodshed. But we will not abandon the
situation. We will fight, and I
believe we will win.
NARRATOR: Chalabi is worried that more violence
against foreigners will threaten America's long-term commitment. On August 19th, a blast at the United
Nations mission in Baghdad killed special envoy Sergio Vieira De Mello and 22
ANAN, United Nations Secretary General: I do not know
who they are and which God they pray to, but what they did will not serve their
cause nor their God.
REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, it appears that the goal is to simply make it too
painful for those trying to rebuild this country to stay.
BREMER: Well, if that's their goal, they have
misjudged their people.
REPORTER: With this new kind of massive attack, how can you secure this city or
BREMER: We have to work very hard to do our
best to find these people before they attack and to deal with them. And we will.
NARRATOR: Since this bombing and another in
September, the U.N. has pared back its mission in Iraq from 650 to just 50
international workers. Last month
in New York, President Bush came to the U.N. to appeal for money and troops
from the international community. Chalabi came to represent Iraq. But just days earlier, he had angered U.S. officials by lobbying France
and Germany for their support for a speedy transfer of sovereignty to
Iraqis. He spent his press
conference trying to patch up differences with Washington.
CHALABI: We, the Iraqi people, are grateful to
President Bush and to the United States Congress and the people of the United
States for helping us to liberate our country from the scourge of Saddam
MARTIN SMITH: What's at stake here?
L. PAUL BREMER: The future of 25 million people in Iraq. Are they going to live, as we have
promised them, in freedom, in a robust economy, at peace with their neighbors,
with an ability to provide for their kids? For the United States, what's at stake is holding good to
our word that we are going to make those things happen, and we will.
MARTIN SMITH: I guess the problem is that Americans
cautioned that this aftermath would be difficult and that we didn't sign up for
a humanitarian mission, we signed up to rid ourselves of an imminent threat. Was the war wrongly sold?
L. PAUL BREMER: I don't know. You know, I'm not a politician. I'm just trying to do this job. I have absolutely no question that this was, by anybody's
terms, a just war. By theological,
moral, political terms, if ever a three-week war ever brought about such
enormous benefits to 25 million people, this was the war.
NARRATOR: Kanan Makiya began his career as an
architect before he became an author and human rights activist. We followed him here to what was once
the museum of gifts to President Saddam Hussein. Soon Makiya hopes to turn this building into a museum of
remembrance to catalogue the torture and murder of ten of thousands of Iraqis
by Saddam and his regime. Makiya
is also still hoping to participate in drafting a new Iraqi constitution. He expects America to make good on its
promises to help rebuild his country.
MARTIN SMITH: The question Americans have is, At what
cost? Americans were sold a war
based on imminent threat, weapons of mass destruction, and now there are many
Americans who feel that they've been suckered into something that is perhaps
too great, too costly.
KANAN MAKIYA: Well, then, it is my duty and the duty
of others, Iraqis, Americans, other people who don't think that, to convince
them they were not suckered into anything irresponsible, that this is a
fundamentally big thing. This is a
huge engagement. American prestige
is at stake. American credibility
is at stake. And American
commitment to its own values, its own sense of what it's all about, is at stake
here. And the benefit will be that
the rest of the Middle East will suddenly have something upon which to cement
itself, a hope for the future, which it doesn't have at the moment. Those are real benefits, very tangible,
very real benefits that can come from the success of this experiment.
MARTIN SMITH: You call it an experiment.
KANAN MAKIYA: Yes, and I'm not ashamed of calling it
Martin Smith and
ADDITIONAL REPORTING (IRAQ)
Ehab Abdul Razaq
Issam Abu Samaha
Askold Buk and
New York Times
co-production with RAINmedia
FRONTLINE is a
production of WGBH Boston, which is solely responsible for its content.
ANNOUNCER: This report continues on our Web site,
where you'll find FRONTLINE's in-depth interviews with Ahmad Chalabi, Paul
Bremer, Kanan Makiya and others; a timeline tracing statements made by
administration officials on Iraq's weapons and links to terrorism; a
Web-exclusive interview with former Clinton and Bush envoy James Dobbins about
America's record on nation-building. Then find out how to start your own PBS Program Club to talk about the
issues raised here. Plus, you can
watch the full program again online. Then join the discussion at pbs.org.
Next time on FRONTLINE:
MAN: Right here in our neighborhood we have
NARRATOR: Six American citizens--
Gen. JOHN ASHCROFT: We must prevent first, prosecute
NARRATOR: --arrested in the name of homeland
GEORGE W. BUSH: One by one, the terrorists are learning
the meaning of American justice!
NARRATOR: Were they really a threat?
MAN: We were definitely not a sleeper
cell. I'm not a terrorist. I love my country, but my family lives
NARRATOR: Chasing the Sleeper Cell
next time on FRONTLINE.
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