New York

Morning Report 1/10/06 Bremer: Out to Launch


Ex-pasha starts book tour by blaming everyone else for the Iraq debacle

Defense Dept.


Mission unaccomplished: Bremer on his way home on June 28, 2004

A year after tearfully accepting a Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush for his disastrous reign in Iraq, preposterous pasha Jerry Bremer has rewritten history with a ghosted “diary” and started a book tour by saying, “I didn’t do it.”

Too bad Bob Woodward hasn’t given us the inside scoop on Bremer’s conversations with Bush during the past few years. We have to rely instead on NBC anchor/publicist Brian Williams, who over the weekend lobbed some questions at Bremer to get the ball rolling for the ex-pasha’s book, My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope. Here’s a snatch of their Dateline conversation:

Williams: Fairly or unfairly, you may be forever known as the guy who disbanded the Iraqi army. Is that fair?

Bremer: Well, it’s not fair in two respects. (a) It wasn’t me, (b) we didn’t disband it.

Or (c), you’re a liar. And by the way, where are the billions of dollars from the Development Fund for Iraq? You know, the oil for slush scandal and the continuing investigation by special inspector general Stuart Bowen that’s grossly underplayed in the U.S. media. Thank God that the British NGO Christian Aid has tried to stay on top of that scandal of pouring money into a gulf on the other side of the world — when our own gulf is the one that needed it — and now needs it more than ever.

As I’ve pointed out, Christian Aid noted a year ago:

An official US audit has unearthed evidence of widespread corruption in postwar Iraq, finding that the occupying authorities failed to keep track of nearly $9 billion of Iraq’s oil and other revenues.

The “occupying authorities” that Christian Aid refers to is Jerry Bremer.

If you want to know exactly what Bremer did, go to the Coalition Provisional Authority’s website to check out Bremer’s various orders, rules, and regulations of his wannabe autocratic rule over Iraq — but you’d better do it quickly. The documents will vanish from the site on June 30, 2006.

In the meantime, Bremer’s book ought to be good for some laughs. Here’s another passage from Williams’s pillow-soft interview:

Williams: Whose fault is it that no one saw the insurgency coming?

Bremer: You know I’ve thought about that as I looked back a lot, because we really didn’t see the insurgency coming.

Bull. The Pentagon’s own think tanks predicted chaos in Iraq even before our unjustified invasion, as I pointed out in May 2005 in “Shattered Illusions.” James O. Russell of the Naval Postgraduate School had written a fascinating analysis, “Shibboleth Slaying in a Post-Saddam Iraq,” in June 2002. It appeared in Strategic Insights, the journal of the Pentagon’s own Center for Contemporary Conflict.

Back in July 2004, I noted that Don Rumsfeld and others in the Bush regime were quick to say “Not mea culpa!” when it came to 9/11 warnings or Abu Ghraib abuses.

But let’s focus on Bremer’s own disastrous moves. He’s still smarting, no doubt, from, as I previously noted, this passage in crack reporter Ellen Knickmeyer‘s November 20, 2005, Washington Post story:

Bremer’s order on May 23, 2003, to disband [Saddam] Hussein’s nearly 400,000-strong army is seen by many critics today as one of the gravest miscalculations by the United States in Iraq.

Removing all vestige of Iraq’s army when there were not enough U.S. troops to fully secure the country left borders open, allowed the insurgency to flourish and encouraged the growth of private militias, the critics say. Jobless and embittered, some troops turned to the insurgency.

Again, though, I say: Let’s go to the documents. At the CPA’s soon-to-vanish site, you’ll see such beautiful examples of how the Bush regime “let freedom reign” as Bremer’s June 10, 2003, “Order 14: Prohibited Media Activity.” That gave Bremer the sole authority to conduct surprise inspections of Iraqi newspapers and TV stations and seize anything and everything. And it ordered Iraqi media to not publish anything that, among other things, “incites civil disorder.” A nice catch-all phrase.

My personal favorite, however, is “Memorandum 2: Management of Detention and Prison Facilities,” which Bremer issued on June 8, 2003, for the purpose of “recognizing the urgent necessity to ensure secure and humane prisons in order to re-establish law and order and provide for the safety of the people of Iraq.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Section 7
Clothing and Bedding
1) Every prisoner who is not allowed to wear his own clothing shall be provided with an outfit of clothing suitable for the climate and adequate to keep him in good health. Such clothing shall in no manner be degrading or humiliating.
2) All clothing shall be clean and kept in proper condition. Underclothing shall be changed and washed as often as necessary for the maintenance of hygiene.

These were rules for Iraqi-run prisons, so I guess the abuses and torture at Abu Ghraib and Camp Mercury by our self-proclaimed “Murderous Maniacs” were a case of “do as we say, not as we do.”

Hopefully, though, the red panties our soldiers jammed on the heads of Iraqi prisoners were at least clean.

The dirty laundry is Bremer’s, and we’re still sorting through it.

Archive Highlights