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Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Administration Ignored Warnings on Insurgency
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:31 am

Via Knight-Ridder: Intelligence agencies warned about growing local insurgency in late 2003

U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House beginning more than two years ago that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war, according to former senior intelligence officials who helped craft the reports.

[…]

President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and others continued to describe the insurgency as a containable threat, posed mainly by former supporters of Saddam Hussein, criminals and non-Iraqi terrorists - even as the U.S. intelligence community was warning otherwise.

Robert Hutchings, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005, said the October 2003 study was part of a “steady stream” of dozens of intelligence reports warning Bush and his top lieutenants that the insurgency was intensifying and expanding.

“Frankly, senior officials simply weren’t ready to pay attention to analysis that didn’t conform to their own optimistic scenarios,” Hutchings said in a telephone interview.

One would think that after the optimistic version of the immediate aftermath of the invasion did not play out, that a more sober mindset would have set in. But alas, this appears not to be the case.

And I think one can link some of this up with the post-war planning failures. The obvious politics of the situation needed to be taken into account, as did the material and infrastructural conditions on the ground, yet they weren’t:

Maples said that while Iraqi terrorists and foreign fighters conduct some of the most spectacular attacks, disaffected Iraqi Sunnis make up the insurgency’s core. “So long as Sunni Arabs are denied access to resources and lack a meaningful presence in government, they will continue to resort to violence,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

That view contrasts with what the administration said as the insurgency began in the months following the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and gained traction in the fall. Bush and his aides portrayed it as the work primarily of foreign terrorists crossing Iraq’s borders, disenfranchised former officials of Saddam’s deposed regime and criminals.

Certainly I recall the SecDef, on many occasions, speaking of “deadenders” (i.e., Baathists) and foreign fighters, and downplaying the notion of local discontent.

And so:

Hutchings, now diplomat in residence at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, said intelligence specialists repeatedly ran up against policymakers’ rosy predictions.

“The mindset downtown was that people were willing to accept that things were pretty bad, but not that they were going to get worse, so our analyses tended to get dismissed as `nay-saying and hand-wringing,’ to quote the president’s press spokesman,” he said.

The result, he said, was that top political and military officials focused on ways of dealing with foreign jihadists and disaffected Saddam loyalists, rather than with other pressing problems, such as growing Iraqi anger at the U.S.-led occupation and the deteriorating economic and security situation.

The entire piece is worth reading.

Filed under: Iraq, US Politics, Global Politics | |Send TrackBack

2 Comments »

  1. Is there anything new here? We know there was extensive pre-war planning for the post-war situation and that experts in and out of government warned there would be resistance and a guerrilla war. All that planning was cast aside.

    Comment by Matthew — Wednesday, March 1, 2006 @ 9:52 am

  2. New only in the sense that it blatantly confirms that the information was wholly ignored.

    There was at least the chance, although it was increasingly clear that it was not the situation, that the warnings were heeded, but improper polices were put into place, or that the policies failed.

    However, it would seem that not even that was the case.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Wednesday, March 1, 2006 @ 11:09 am

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