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Paul Bremmer

Paul Bremmer was the most senior US civilian during the occupation of Iraq in charge of adminstration and reconstruction.

From very early in the US occupation of Iraq, it became clear that the accounting and accountability of those in charge was totally inadequate. Paul Bremmer was at the heart of this failure of governance and the management of a huge fund flow. The idea that many billions of dollars are unaccounted for is a disgrace and a scandal that still calls for investigation ... and the punishment of those that failed in their duties.

Lewis Paul 'Jerry' Bremer III (born September 30, 1941) is an American diplomat. He is most notable for being the U.S. Administrator to Iraq charged with overseeing the country's occupation after the 2003 invasion. In his role as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, he reported primarily to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and exercised authority over Iraq's civil administration. He served in this capacity from May 11, 2003, until limited Iraqi sovereignty was restored on June 28, 2004.

Early life and career

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Bremer was educated at New Canaan Country School, Kent School and Phillips Academy. Bremer's father was president of the Christian Dior Perfumes Corporation in New York. His mother was a lecturer in art history at the University of Bridgeport. Bremer graduated from Yale University in 1963 and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard University in 1966. He later continued his education at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, where he earned a Certificate of Political Studies (CEP).

That same year he joined the Foreign Service, which sent him first to Kabul, Afghanistan, as a general services officer. He was assigned to Blantyre, Malawi, as economic and commercial officer from 1968 to 1971.

During the 1970s, Bremer held various domestic posts with the State Department, including posts as an assistant to Henry Kissinger from 1972–76.[1] He was Deputy Chief of Mission in Oslo, Norway from 1976–79, returning to the US to take a post of Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of State, where he remained from 1979–81. In 1981, he was promoted to Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to Alexander Haig.

Ronald Reagan appointed Bremer as Ambassador to the Netherlands in 1983 and Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism in 1986[2] (and Coordinator for Counterterrorism). Bremer retired from the Foreign Service in 1989 and became managing director at Kissinger and Associates, a worldwide consulting firm founded by Henry Kissinger. A Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, Bremer received the State Department Superior Honor Award, two Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, and the Distinguished Honor Award from the Secretary of State. Before rejoining government in 2003, he was Chairman and CEO of Marsh Crisis Consulting, a risk and insurance services firm which is a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., a trustee on the Economic Club of New York,[3] and a board member of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Akzo Nobel NV, the Harvard Business School Club of New York[4] and The Netherlands-America Foundation. He served on the International Advisory Boards of Komatsu Corporation and Chugai Pharmaceuticals.

Bremer was appointed Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in 1999. He also served on the National Academy of Science Commission examining the role of Science and Technology in counterterrorism. Bremer and his wife were the founders of the Lincoln/Douglass Scholarship Foundation, a Washington-based not-for-profit organization that provides high school scholarships to inner city youths.

On the day Al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two hijacked American commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York City, Bremer and 1,700 of his employees at Marsh & McLennan had offices in both towers. Bremer's office was in the North Tower. He and his people occupied floors at and 'above where the second aircraft hit.'[5] At the time of his television interview with CNN on September 14, 2001, 450 of his colleagues were unaccounted for; 295 were eventually counted as dead.[6]

Three hours after a commercial airliner crashed into the South Tower, Bremer appeared for a televised interview. As a leading counterterrorism expert, Bremer offered his opinion on what would likely happen and pinpointed Osama bin Laden as the terrorist leader responsible for the attack.[7]

In late 2001, along with former Attorney General Edwin Meese, Bremer co-chaired the Heritage Foundation's Homeland Security Task Force, which created a blueprint for the White House's Department of Homeland Security. For two decades Bremer has been a regular at Congressional hearings and is recognized as an expert on terrorism and internal security. Some of Bremer's published work includes 'Warfare & Defence Military Science Alliance Response to Nuclear Weapons Proliferation', 'The Alliance Response to Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Deterrence, Defense, and Cooperative Options', and 'Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism: Report from the National Commission on Terrorism', the New York Times article 'What I Really Said About Iraq', and his first book, My Year In Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope.

This is from Wikipedia as of September 2011

Paul Bremmer ... Criticism and controversies

A concern has been raised that this article's Criticism section may be compromising the article's neutral point of view of the subject. Possible resolutions may be to integrate the material in the section into the article as a whole, or to rewrite the contents of the section. Please see the discussion on the talk page. (November 2009)

This article is written in the style of a debate rather than an encyclopedic summary. It may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards and make it more accessible to a general audience. Please discuss this issue on the talk page. (January 2011)

Disbanding of the Iraqi Army

On May 23, 2003 Bremer issued Order Number 2,[26] in effect dissolving the entire former Iraqi army and putting 400,000 former Iraqi soldiers out of work.[27]

The move was widely criticized for creating a large pool of armed and disgruntled youths for the insurgency to draw recruits from. Former soldiers took to the streets in mass protests to demand back pay. Many of them threatened violence if their demands were not met.[28][29]

It was widely asserted within the White House and the CPA that the order to disband the Iraqi Army had little to no practical effect since it had 'self-demobilized' in the face of the oncoming invasion force. This was revealed to be false, however, insofar as the CIA had conducted psychological operations against the Iraqis, such as dropping leaflets over the Army's positions prior to the invasion. The leaflets ordered the Iraqi Army to abandon their positions, return to their homes, and await further instructions.

Bremer was later heavily criticized[30] for officially disbanding the former Iraqi Army. Bremer, however, contends that there were no armies to disband. He says that the brutality of Saddam's rule over his people and his own Iraqi soldiers led to many simply leaving after the fall of Baghdad to go home; some to protect their own families from the rampant looting. Critics claimed his extreme measures, including the firing of thousands of school teachers and removing Ba'ath party members from top government positions, helped create and worsen an atmosphere of discontent among those who did not 'fit in' with the socioeconomic profile the Americans were working with. As the insurgency grew stronger, so did the criticisms. Bremer was also in personal danger because of Iraqi perceptions of him and was henceforth heavily guarded. Attempts to assassinate him took place a few times - one of the more publicized attempts occurred on December 6, 2003 when his convoy was driving on the dangerous Baghdad Airport Road while returning to the fortified Green Zone. The convoy was hit by a bomb and gunfire, with the rear window of his official car blown away and as bullets flew, Bremer and his deputies ducked below their seats. No injuries or casualties were reported and news of the assassination attempt on Bremer was not released until December 19, 2003, during his visit to Basra.

During Bremer's stay in Iraq, the Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden allegedly placed a bounty of 10,000 grams of gold on Bremer, the equivalent of US$125,000 at the time.[31]

Despite the messages the CIA reportedly communicated to the Iraqi army, the argument was still ventured that by the time Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003 the previous Army had demobilized, or as Bremer puts it, 'had simply dissolved....' However, as Mark Danner reports in an essay in The New York Review of Books entitled 'Iraq: The War of Imagination' and dated September 21, 2006, American agents - including one colonel and a number of CIA operatives - had already began meeting regularly with Iraqi officers in order to reconstitute the army as a working force. Implied in this is the notion that the army - temporarily 'demobilized' or not - did in fact continue to exist as a coherent entity, indeed coherent enough that it could be consulted and negotiated with. This seems to concur with the position of the first Director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, ex-General Jay Garner, who Bremer had replaced. As Bob Woodward reports in his book State of Denial, Garner, upon hearing of the order to disband the army, attempted to convince Bremer to rethink the dissolution. Bremer was reported as saying: 'The plans have changed. The thought is we don't want the residuals of the old army. We want a new and fresh army.' To this, Garner replied: 'Jerry, you can get rid of an army in a day, but it takes years to build one.'[32]

The issue of disbanding the old Iraqi Army found itself, once again, the center of media attention with two articles explaining why Bremer ostensibly did not make the decision on his own. The first press release by the New York Times included a letter written by Bremer to President George W. Bush dated May 20, 2003 describing the progress made so far since Bremer's arrival in Baghdad, including one sentence that reads 'I will parallel this step with an even more robust measure dissolving Saddam's military and intelligence structures to emphasize that we mean business.'

The second press release dated September 6, 2007 was submitted by Bremer as an Op Ed piece for the New York Times. Titled 'How I Didn't Dismantle Iraq's Army', Bremer says he did not make the decision on his own, and that the decision was reviewed by 'top civilian and military members of the American government'; which included General John Abizaid, who briefed officials in Washington that ''there are no organized Iraqi military units left''.

Bremer’s article goes into further about how the Coalition Provisional Authority did consider two alternatives: To recall the old army or to rebuild a new army with 'both vetted members of the old army and new recruits.' According to Bremer, Abizaid liked the second alternative.

Bremer also details the situation he and the major decision makers faced; especially when the large Shiite majority in the new Army could have had problems with the thought of having a former Sunni officer issuing orders.

Furthermore, a memo from U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on May 8, 2003 that said 'the coalition 'will actively oppose Saddam Hussein's old enforcers - the Baath Party, Fedayeen Saddam, etc...'we will make clear that the coalition will eliminate the remnants of Saddam's regime'' was sent to both National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell.[33]

After two protesters were killed by U.S. troops, the CPA agreed to pay up to 250,000 former soldiers a stipend of $50 to $150 a month. Conscripts were given a single severance payment.[34] Many of the former soldiers found this to be grossly inadequate.[35]

Charles H. Ferguson, director of critically acclaimed No End in Sight, created a video response to Bremer's Op Ed piece on September 6, 2007. (This was the very first New York Times video Op Ed letter in history.)

'De-Ba'thification' of the Iraqi civil service

Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath Party counted among its members a huge majority of Iraq's governmental employees, including educational officials and some teachers. By order of the CPA, these skilled and mostly apolitical people were banned from holding any positions in Iraq's new government and public service. Critics claim these extreme measures, resulting in the firing of thousands of school teachers and removing Ba'ath party members from top government positions, helped create and worsen an atmosphere of discontent among those who did not 'fit in' with the socioeconomic profile the Americans wanted to impose. This policy of 'de-Ba'thification', now widely seen as having created bitter, new divisions in the country, and fuelling the violence that has torn Iraq apart, was reversed in January 2008.[36][37]

Bremer was once again warned of the harm his actions would have. According to Woodward, when Garner asserted that none of the ministries would be able to function after this order, Bremer asked the Bahgdad station chief for his thoughts. 'If you put this out, .... you will put 50,000 people on the street, underground, and mad at Americans,' he replied. Woodward: 'And these 50,000 were the most powerful, well-connected elites from all walks of life.'[38]

Management of Iraq's oil revenue

Bremer was accountable to the Secretary of Defense for the actions he took. But, since his authority to spend Iraq's oil revenue derived from United Nations Resolution 1483, he was also accountable to the UN. The authority he derived from the UN to spend Iraq's oil revenue bound him to show that:

Expenditures were intended to benefit the Iraqi people.

The programs that were funded were decided upon, and supervised in an open, transparent manner.

Iraqis were invited to give meaningful input into how funds were spent.

The administrator of Iraq was co-operating with the International Advisory and Monitoring Board.

That proper fiscal controls were in place, so that it could be demonstrated that none of the funds were diverted, or mis-spent.

One of the concerns the IAMB raised repeatedly was that the CPA had repaired the well-heads and pipelines for transporting Iraq’s oil, but they had stalled on repairing the meters that were necessary to document the shipment of Iraqi oil, so it could be demonstrated that none of it was being smuggled.

In their final press release[39] before the CPA’s authority expired, on June 22, 2004, the IAMB stated:

The IAMB was also informed by the CPA that contrary to earlier representations the award of metering contracts have been delayed and continues to urge the expeditious resolution of this critical issue.

The CPA has acknowledged that the failure to meter the oil shipments resulted in some oil smuggling — an avoidable loss of Iraq's oil that was Bremer's responsibility. Neither Bremer nor any of his staff has offered an explanation for their failure to repair the meters.

Inadequate financial controls

Failure to perform month-end cash reconciliations

Under Bremer’s stewardship the CPA requested $12 billion in cash from the US treasury. Under Bremer’s stewardship the CPA paid out $12 billion in cash. The external auditors management notes[40] point out that the CPA didn’t perform a cash reconciliation until April 2004, eleven months into Bremer's mandate, when they started their work. See Congressional hearing when Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, testified on management of U.S. funds in Iraq.[41]

Failure to employ qualified internal auditors

In his second regulation,[42] Bremer committed the Coalition Provisional Authority to hire a reputable firm of certified chartered accountants, to serve as internal auditors, to help make sure the Coalition's finances were administered according to modern accounting principles. These internal auditors would be separate and distinct from the external auditors who would report to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board. Bremer did not make sure the CPA hired internal auditors, however.

When the external auditors arrived, they learned that Bremer had not made sure the CPA lived up to the commitment to hire internal auditors to help set up a reliable accounting system. On the contrary they learned that a single contracted consultant kept track of the CPA’s expenditures in a series of spreadsheets.

The external auditors reported that rather than use a modern double-entry accounting system the CPA used what they described as “a single-entry, cash based, transaction list”.

Unaccounted-for funds

On January 30, 2005, an official report[43] by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, cited by Time, stated that $9 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq might have disappeared in frauds, corruption and other misbehavior. On one particular salary register, only 602 names among 8206 could be verified. As another cited example, the Coalition Authority authorized Iraqi officials to postpone declaring the reception of $2.5 billion, which the provisional government had received in spring through the Oil for Food program.[44]

Bremer wrote an eight-page reply to deny the accusations and stated that, during the IG's inquiry, Bowen's people refused to interview Bremer's deputies, and the IG's report failed to mention that Bremer and his people worked under extraordinary conditions, faced a high turnover rate, and had insufficient number of personnel to carry out their rebuilding and humanitarian relief efforts.

Bremer's claim that Bowen's staff made no attempt to interview his staff is at odds with the detailed account of the external auditors, of their attempts to meet with Bremer and his staff. In their management notes they describe how some of the CPA's senior staff, including Bremer himself, just would not make themselves available to meet with the auditors. Others, like George Wolfe, the CPA's de facto treasurer, showed a total lack of cooperation.

As head of the CPA, Bremer bears the overall responsibility for the CPA's hiring policies that led to his staff being dangerously inexperienced and unable to provide the oversight necessary to protect the funds they were administering.[improper synthesis?]

This issue also became a topic of discussion during some of Bremer's Q&A sessions with students who attended Bremer's presentations during Bremer's campus speaking tours. Some questioned Bremer if he could have done things differently in Iraq, but were notably disappointed when he avoided the question. Bremer allegedly responded to one such question with, “I will tell you what I told them, I'm saving that for my book... I need more time to reflect.”

In February 2007, Bremer defended the way he spent billions of dollars in Iraqi funds after the U.S. invasion. In a prepared testimony he said that he did the best he could to kickstart the Iraqi economy, 'which was flat on its back.'[45]

Progress of reconstruction

One of the CPA's most important tasks was the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure. Compared to the rapid repair of Iraq's oil infrastructure — with the notable exception of the meters — the progress of reconstruction on Iraq's potable water, sewage and electricity systems was extremely slow. Defenders[clarification needed] argued that this was due to the unanticipated volume and fierceness of those resisting the Coalition's occupation. Critics[clarification needed] blame the CPA's preference for contracts with connected US firms; only 2% of the reconstruction contracts in 2003 were awarded to Iraqi firms.[citation needed]

Shutting down the newspaper Al-Hawza

On March 28, 2004 Bremer ordered the 759th Military Police Battalion to shut down controversial Iraqi newspaper al-Hawza for two months.[46] This move was widely criticized as running directly counter to the Bush administration's announced goal of helping transform Iraq into a modern, democratic state. This move was even criticized by members of Bremer's own appointees on the Iraqi Governing Council.

Al-Hawza started after the removal of Saddam Hussein and was considered a mouthpiece for Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.[47] It was shut down by the United States-led administration headed by Bremer on March 28, 2004, after being accused of encouraging violence against Coalition troops. There was discussion with Sir Jeremy Greenstock (UK's Special Representative for Iraq), about preparations to arrest al-Sadr, who by early March 2004 had increased his militia following, the Mahdi army, from about 200 followers to some 6,000, in seven months. Bremer wrote in his book that 'Greenstock said that this would be a difficult time to go after him ... I first urged [his] arrest last August...'.[48]

Iyad Allawi, leader of the interim government, explicitly gave al-Hawza permission to re-open on July 18, 2004.

Granting some foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi law

Two days before he left Iraq, Bremer signed 'Order 17'[49] giving all staff associated with the CPA and the American government immunity from Iraqi law. One of his former top aides is quoted as saying, “we wanted to make sure our military, civilians and contractors were protected from Iraqi law.”[50] This stipulation was later incorporated into Iraqi law.[51]

Since then, violent events in Iraq involving American security companies such as Blackwater have resulted in great resentment among Iraqis, who view them as private armies acting with impunity on their soil.[52][53][54][55]

Early departure

Bremer's early departure was sprung on the world press as a complete surprise. But the turnover of political power a couple of days earlier was suggested by members of the Bush administration to thwart any plans the insurgency may have had for June 30.

U.S. intelligence sources had monitored chatter that suggested resistance elements were planning demonstrations, or outright attacks, to coincide with the time of the official handover. An early handover would preempt the plans of resistance elements.[56]

Others read al-Hayat's version published one day after Bremer's departure. The Arabic language newspaper released a story about Bremer's alleged romantic ties with an Iraqi translator, who continued to work for Bremer despite their apparent conflict of interests. The Arabic language newspaper further details the affair stating that the Iraqi woman and her family left for Jordan three days prior to the handover to wait for their anticipated departure for the United States. The paper can be quoted as saying that close acquaintances of the 'young Iraqi lover' knew about the affair with the top American official (presumably Bremer) and knew something about future marriage plans. The subject of Bremer taking Iraqi women as 'wives' has come up before during his stay in Iraq. Bremer responded to a reporter's question about the rumor of marrying Iraqi women, 'I have the maximum number of wives permitted by my religion'.

His early departure was disruptive to the smooth transition of authority, as the KPMG audit of the Development Fund for Iraq made clear. In their management notes the external auditors describe trying to meet with Bremer, and being very surprised by his early departure.

Many of Bremer's senior staff left when he did, meaning that important documents, required for the completion of the audit, could not be signed by the appropriate staff members.

There are others, however, who feel that Bremer should have been relieved far earlier. 'Bremer is the largest single disaster in American foreign policy in modern times,' said former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. 'Bremer, no later than September [2003], should have been relieved.[57]

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