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Internal government documents on U.S. planning for rebuilding and bringing democracy to Iraq. Plus background on two controversial decisions made by the U.S.-led occupation government. From FRONTLINE's research for "The Lost Year in Iraq."

Planning For a Postwar Iraq

The Future of Iraq Project
This State Department project was the earliest and most comprehensive planning undertaken by the U.S. government for a post-Saddam Iraq. Begun in October 2001, "The Future of Iraq Project," as it became known, assembled more than 200 Iraqi exiles and other experts and produced a 13-volume report with strategies, recommendations, and warnings. The National Security Archive Web site offers the full report with related memos and documents.

"The Future of Iraq Project" looked at the issue of de-Baathification and endorsed de-Baathifying "all facets of Iraqi life." But it warned that this would require reintegrating former Baathists into Iraqi society because those who were not reintegrated "may … present a destabilizing element, especially if they are left without work or ability to get work."

As for the issue of the Iraqi military, the project's Defense Policy and Institutions Working Group recommended gradually halving Iraq's army and giving it tasks, including fighting terrorism and drug smuggling.

Planning for postwar Iraq was ultimately given to the Pentagon, which hiredLt. Gen. Jay Garner (Ret.) to head the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA). Garner requested that members of "The Future of Iraq Project" be part of his team, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld denied the request. Journalist Thomas Ricks tells FRONTLINE that Garner suspected Vice President Cheney was behind the decision.

The recommendations and warnings in the project's final report were, in most cases, largely ignored by the administration.

A Unified Mission Plan for Post-Hostilities Iraq
This is part of an April 2003 draft of a postwar plan written for ORHA, with an introduction by Jay Garner in which he notes: "History will judge the war against Iraq not by the brilliance of its military execution, but by the effectiveness of the post-hostilities activities."

Among its key recommendations: the need for an integrated civil-military approach; the importance of quickly setting up an interim government; and the necessity of "internationalizing" the reconstruction period. "Key to internationalizing … and therefore reducing the chance of a backlash/intifada is removing/reducing the levels of the U.S.-led coalition 'invading forces' as quickly as possible," the plan advises.

The document also notes that Iraq's oil revenues alone will not be sufficient to pay for reconstruction, and predicts an extended period of instability in the postwar period: "The most probable threat will come from residual pockets of fanatics, secessionist groups, terrorists and those [who] would seek to exploit ethnic, religious, and tribal fault lines for personal gain. The threat from these groups would manifest itself in high impact tactics such as car or suicide bombings, sniping, and 'hit and run' raids. A high level of such attacks will have an adverse impact on the creation of stability, a prerequisite for self-sustaining peace."

Bremer's Seven-Stage Plan for Sovereignty
Here is the text of the Sept. 8, 2003 Washington Post op-ed by CPA head L. Paul Bremer III that alarmed Washington. He wrote it four months after arriving in Baghdad, and published it without telling some officials in the Bush administration. Bremer's plan implied a multi-year timetable and the White House wanted the transfer of sovereignty to occur before the presidential election in November 2004. Within weeks, Condoleezza Rice sent Robert Blackwill to Iraq to rein in Bremer and convince him to aim for an earlier deadline for turning sovereignty over to the Iraqis.

Achieving the Vision to Restore Full Sovereignty to the Iraqi People
An October 2003 working document from the CPA which outlines the "core foundations" of its Iraq strategy -- security, essential services, economy and governance -- and its short- and long-term priorities for attaining those goals. According to the document, the "ultimate goal" is "a unified and stable, democratic Iraq that: provides effective and representative government for the Iraqi people; is underpinned by new and protected freedoms for all Iraqis and a growing market economy; is able to defend itself but no longer poses a threat to its neighbors or international security."

Nov. 15, 2003 Agreement on Political Process
The text of the key agreement between the CPA and the Iraqi Governing Council that lays out the timeframe for the political transition: an interim constitution with a timetable for drafting a permanent constitution to be written by Feb. 28, 2004; the election of a "Transitional National Assembly" by May 31, 2004; a handover of sovereignty to Iraqis by June 30, 2004; and a process for a permanent constitution with elections for a new Iraqi government by Dec. 31, 2005.

Transitional Administrative Law
Here is the interim Iraqi constitution, known as the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL). In his FRONTLINE interview, Bremer described its significance: "I think the interim constitution is the primary legacy of the CPA in Iraq, and most Iraqis agree, because it provided a framework for them to move towards democracy. It provided the way in which they could hold elections, which they did a year later, three elections in 2005. It provided a way to structure a federal structure for the government. It made an initial cut at trying to resolve difficult issues of resource allocation, powers of the central government versus the provincial governments. It provided for the rule of law for the first time in recent Iraq's history."

 

CPA Orders 1 & 2
On May 16, 2003, CPA Administrator Paul Bremer issued CPA Order No. 1, "De-Baathification of Iraqi Society," and a week later he issued CPA Order No. 2, which dissolved the Iraqi army and other entities. Critics argue that these two decisions, along with other U.S. policies, were major factors in fueling the insurgency that erupted in the fall of 2003. Here are some related memos and documents.

"Procedures to Implement De-Baathification Policy"
A May 15, 2003, internal draft, from Ambassador Robin Raphel in the CPA's Office of Humanitarian Assistance, outlining how de-Baathification could best be carried out. The final outline was scheduled to be sent to the newly-arrived CPA head, L. Paul Bremer, one day before he announced his de-Baathification order.

With this draft is a cover letter to staff inviting suggestions for the finalized version that will go to Bremer. This cover letter, written by Meghan O'Sullivan in Raphel's office, suggests CPA knows there will be criticism on de-Baathificiation: "This policy has been set in Washington and agreed to by Ambassador Bremer. … When providing comments, please keep in mind the purpose of the memo is not to protest the policy but rather to influence its implementation."

Recommendations Concerning Dissolution of Entities and Payment Policies
This memo, dated May 17, 2003, from Walt Slocombe, who served as director of national security and defense for the CPA, includes a draft recommendation on which organizations should be dissolved under Order No. 2 and which Iraqi government employees should continue to be paid after Orders 1 & 2 were issued. Slocombe also suggests Bremer forward the list to Secretary Rumsfeld with a note: "I believe these policies, taken together, are necessary to show both our determination to root out [Baath Party] structure, and to recognize the need for people to have some means of support during this difficult period."

Proclamation on Dissolved Institutions
WIthin days of setting off for Baghdad, Bremer wrote this memo to Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes. "It is desirable that my arrival in Iraq be marked by clear, public and decisive steps," writes Bremer. He includes an earlier draft of the recommendation on which Iraqi institutions to dissolve. "These should reinforce our overall policy messages and reassure Iraqis that we are determined to extirpate Saddamism."

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posted oct. 17, 2006

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