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L. Paul Bremer
Bremer is the chief civilian administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the U.S.-appointed organization charged with overseeing Iraq's reconstruction and transition to democratic rule. A former diplomat and ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, Bremer concedes that his task is daunting. "We weren't planning for the kind of situation we found," he tells FRONTLINE. "What we do here is going to have a major impact on the geopolitics of this region for decades to come." This interview was conducted on Aug. 1, 2003.

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ahmad chalabi
As the founder of the London-based Iraqi National Congress [INC], Chalabi, an Iraqi expatriate, spent more than a decade lobbying the U.S. government to overthrow Saddam Hussein. A controversial figure (he was convicted in absentia of embezzlement by a Jordanian court in 1992, and he has recently been a close adviser to the civilian leadership at the Pentagon), he is now a member of the Iraqi governing council. Chalabi and the INC provided Iraqi defectors to the U.S. government, as well as to the media, who claimed to have knowledge of Saddam's weapons programs and ties to Al Qaeda. News organizations, including FRONTLINE, used Chalabi's defectors in their reports. The credibility of these defectors has since been questioned. In two interviews with FRONTLINE, conducted in Baghdad on July 29 and July 30, 2003, Chalabi maintains that Saddam did indeed have weapons of mass destruction as well as concrete ties to Al Qaeda.

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james conway
As commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), Lt. Gen. Conway was responsible for holding and patrolling southern Iraq. He was surprised that the Iraqi military never used chemical or biological weapons on his troops. He was also openly skeptical about finding stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. "We thought indirect fire capability -- artillery, rockets, missiles -- would be [Saddam's] means for putting the chemicals on us," he tells FRONTLINE. "I don't know how we got it wrong." This interview was conducted on Aug. 19, 2003.

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jay garner
Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (U.S. Army-Ret.) was the first American administrator to oversee the interim administration and reconstruction of Iraq. He was chosen for this role, in part, because of his experience assisting displaced Kurds following the 1991 Gulf War. Garner's one-month tenure as the director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), the precursor to the Coalition Provisional Authority, was fraught with controversy, and he was replaced by Paul Bremer. "The day you start building the war plan is the day you start building the postwar plan," Garner tells FRONTLINE. "We didn't do that, not in this case." This interview was conducted on July 17, 2003.

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richard haass
Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, was, until recently, the director of policy planning at the State Department. A former Rhodes Scholar, he also served as the U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and was senior director of Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. Haass was instrumental in persuading the U.S. government to support the founding of the Iraqi National Congress in the early 1990s. "It's clear that the U.S. did not do all that it could have and should have done to set up the aftermath [of the Iraq war]," he tells FRONTLINE. This interview was conducted on Sept. 15, 2003.

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laith kubba
Although he helped found the Iraqi National Congress in 1992, Kubba worked for the past decade as an independent opposition figure. He is the president of the Iraq National Group and a senior program officer for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy. In this FRONTLINE interview, which was conducted on Sept. 11, 2003, Kubba recounts the history of Iraqi opposition movements, and he explains the role of the State Department's Future of Iraq Project, which brought together exiled Iraqis to plan for the postwar period. "What happened post-Saddam was low performance," he says. "And Iraqis have the right to ask why the planning went so wrong."

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Kanan makiya
Makiya, a writer and MIT-educated architect, is an advisor to Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and was one of the most prominent Iraqi exiles who lobbied for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. His books Republic of Fear and Cruelty and Silence, both of which chronicle the brutality of Saddam's reign, were influential to American policy makers and war planners. "If you have a successful American enterprise in Iraq that succeeds in not only overthrowing a dictatorship, but in transforming the rules of the game in the Middle East," Makiya tells FRONTLINE, "that eventually changes the perception of the United States in that part of the world." This interview was conducted on July 27, 2003.

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Robert M. Perito
A special advisor to the Rule of Law program at the Unites States Institute of Peace, Perito helped organize peacekeeping and post-conflict operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor. In February 2003, Perito, a career Foreign Service officer who served on President Ronald Reagan's National Security Council staff, gave a talk to the Defense Policy Board, which advises the Pentagon's top brass. His warnings that the U.S. should prepare for postwar lawlessness in Iraq went unheeded. "There was no thought given to the possibility that, as soon as U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad, people would go on a systematic campaign to loot the city," he tells FRONTLINE. "This is just ignoring the lessons of history." This interview was conducted on Sept. 5, 2003.

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richard perle
Before the war, Perle was the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a quasi-governmental civilian group that advises the Pentagon. A former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, his conservative views have allowed him access to President Bush's top foreign policy advisors and cabinet members. "What Sept. 11 taught us is that we can wait too long in the presence of a known and visible threat," he tells FRONTLINE. "Saddam was a known and a visible threat." This interview was conducted on July 10, 2003.

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gregg thielmann
In this interview, Greg Thielmann, a former director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office at the State Department's Intelligence Bureau, accuses the White House of "systematic, across-the-board exaggeration" of intelligence as it made its case that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the U.S. Thielmann, who left his job in September 2002, also contends that much of the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was entirely politicized. "Senior officials made statements which I can only describe as dishonest," he says. "They were distorting some of the information that we provided to make it seem more alarmist and more dangerous." This interview was conducted on Aug.12, 2003.

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edward walker
Walker is the president of the Middle East Institute. He has served as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs in the Clinton administration, as well as ambassador to Israel and Egypt. He helped the State Department organize the Future of Iraq Project, a series of meetings between the U.S. government and Iraqi opposition leaders that planned for the postwar period. In the years before the war, he also facilitated contact between Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress and the U.S. government. In this interview with FRONTLINE, conducted on July 11, 2003, Walker explains the relationships between the Bush administration and the various Iraqi opposition groups and details the interagency disagreements over reconstruction planning.

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joseph c. wilson
In 2002, Wilson, a retired ambassador and former director of Africa policy for the National Security Council, traveled to Africa to look into reports that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from Niger. His conclusion: the accusations were bogus. But when President Bush stated in his 2003 State of the Union Address that Iraq had tried to purchase nuclear material from Africa, Wilson wrote an op-ed article in The New York Times accusing the Bush administration of twisting intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq. The article caused the administration to back away from its original claims. "The intelligence was manipulated and twisted to support a political goal that had already been established," he tells FRONTLINE. This interview was conducted on Aug. 12, 2003.

 

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posted october 9, 2003

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