Bremer Provides Letters to ‘NYT’ To Dispute Bush Claim

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By: E & P Staff

In an unexpected turn, former American leader in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has provided letters to The New York Times to counter claims by his former boss, President Bush, carried in a new book (excerpted by the Times last weekend).

Bush in the book says that his plan was to “keep the army intact” in Iraq after the American invasion proved victorious but this “didn’t happen.” In another quote he suggests that he didn’t know about the plan to disband the army or was not happy to hear that his wishes were not carried out.

This move has been cited as one of the most negative of the entire U.S. experience in Iraq.

But the exchange of letters provided by Bremer, the Times reports, “shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to ‘dissolve Saddam?s military and intelligence structures.'”

The Times added, “In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush?s comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House.”

One day after receiving Bremer’s May 20 message, Bush wrote back a short thank you to him in Baghdad. ?Your leadership is apparent,? the president wrote. ?You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence.? On the same day, the Times notes, Bremer had issued the order disbanding the Iraqi military, but “Bush did not mention the order to abolish the military.”

The Times added: “Mr. Bremer indicated that he had been smoldering for months as other administration officials had steadily distanced themselves from his order. ‘This didn?t just pop out of my head,’ he said in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that he had sent a draft of the order to top Pentagon officials and discussed it ‘several times’ with Donald H. Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense.”

The newspaper also republishes both letters in full. Bremer’s letter contains the following.

As I have moved around, there has been an almost universal expression of thanks to the US and to you in particular for freeing Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny. In the northern town of Mosul yesterday, an old man, under the impression that I was President Bush (he apparently has poor TV reception), rushed up and planted two very wet and hairy kisses on my cheeks. ( Such events confirm the wisdom of the ancient custom of sending emissaries to far away lands).

No doubt you have seen reports of demonstrations criticizing America. But these relate almost entirely to the continued lack of order (which is largely a Baghdad phenomenon) and basic services. No one publicly supports Saddam.

The dissolution of his chosen instrument of political domination, the Baath Party, has been very well received. Several Iraqis have told me, literally with tears in their eyes, that they have waited 30 years for this moment. While the resulting dismissal of public servants has caused some inefficiencies and griping, in most cases younger civil servants have expressed pleasure, even joy, at the measure.

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