In the recent book Dead Certain, author Robert Draper asks President Bush about disbanding Saddam Hussein's army early in the occupation -- putting 500,000 Iraqi men out of work and on the street, left to their own devices. Like IEDs.
"The policy was to keep the army intact; didn't happen," Bush tells Draper, who then asked Bush how he reacted to the decision, and Bush replies, "Yeah, I can't remember, I'm sure I said, 'This is the policy, what happened?'... Hadley's got notes on all of this stuff," referring to Stephen Hadley, then-Assistant National Security Adviser.
Of course, it was not the policy to keep the army intact, as Paul "Jerry" Bremer conclusively shows in his Sept. 6 guest op-ed in the New York Times.
Bremer is the guy who became "Director of Reconstruction" in Baghdad after Hussein was ousted. He had the gig 14 months, and was ultimately blamed for the "insurgency" that has devastated U.S. troops in the four long years since his May '03 disbanding order.
Whether or not he's Iraq's version of "Heck of a job, Brownie," it turns out there's a paper trail. The decision to disband originated inside the Defense Department and went all the way to the White House. It was OK'd by Don Rumsfeld, along with neocon devotees Wolfowitz and Feith. General Franks at Central Command signed off on the plan. In other words, Bremer's job was to do it, but everyone was in on it.
Almost everyone, that is.
In the op-ed, Bremer writes that he gave the president a heads-up before the announcement, for which he received a personal note of thanks in return. Why, then, would Bush now be deceptive in his interview with Draper concerning an obviously provable fact?
Let's see.....it could be that he's genetically incapable of admitting mistakes. Or perhaps he's embarrassed for keeping a key player largely in the dark, a player we'd previously learned hadn't even been seriously consulted when the final call on invasion came down.
There's new and reputable information on this disbanding business, and it sheds some light.
Bremer claims Rummy told him that the decision was relayed to both National Security Adviser Condi Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell. The former surely knew well in advance because she was very much in the loop. As for the latter, Bremer apparently received some of that bad intel this administration is famous for peddling.
We finally have Powell's own Deputy Secretary of State making his first-ever comments on the subject in a new documentary, No End In Sight, from Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner's Magnolia Pictures. It's revealing, and Powell has not denied it.
Here's what Richard Armitage himself says in the film about the Iraqi army disbanding:
Armitage: "I think most of us were caught relatively unawares, or completely unawares, by this disbanding of the army. Secretary Powell found out about it, as I did."
Q: "Which was how?"
Armitage: "Just as we found out one day Jerry announced that he's disbanded the army."
Q: "How about Condoleezza Rice?"
Armitage (sharply, derisively): "She ought to speak for herself."
So add it up: Disbanding was dumb, it emanated from the Pentagon, the White House approved, thousands of our citizen soldiers have been killed and maimed as a result, and Powell's State Department (America's chief diplomatic arm, constitutionally) was left out of the process.
Yet today Bush says -- with a straight face -- that the policy was to keep the army intact, and he "can't remember" why it wasn't done.
Conclusion? He's spinning as fast as he can to avoid history's wrath. He will not succeed.
If Bush were your small child, and you were trying to get to the bottom of how the expensive vase in the den got shattered, wouldn't you smell a rat?