Sunday, November 06, 2005

Plan of Attack

Well I just finished reading PLAN of ATTACK by Bob Woodward. This one took me quite some time (as yu can see from my last "book" post). I was moving and had my mind on other things, but also, I was not really expecting this book.

I expected some behind the sceens dirt on why the US went into Iraq. Instead I got a blow by blow account of HOW they did it, or more accurately, how they went about planning for it (I guess I should read titles more carefully). Once I got into the flow ofthe book though it made for an interesting read.

It was quite interesting to get a glimpse into some of the personalities of the current US administration. I dare say I now know as much as I want to know about them.

On the 17th day of the Bush presidency, Monday, February 5, Rice chaired a principals committee meeting that included Cheney, Powell and Rumsfeld. Deputy CIA Director John E. McLaughlin substituted for Tenet. The purpose was to review Iraq policy, the status of diplomatic, military and covert options. Among the first taskings were for each principal and his department or agency to examine and consider how intelligence collection could be increased on Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction.

At least on paper, the United Nations had an economic sanctions policy directed at Saddam's regime. The principals conceded that Saddam had basically won the public relations argument by convincing the international community that the sanctions were impoverishing his people, and that they were not stopping him from spending money to keep himself in power. Powell very quickly said they needed to attempt to get the U.N. to revise the sanctions to tighten them on material that might advance Saddam's military and WMD programs. Sanctions could then be eased on civilian goods.

Another issue was the weapons inspections inside Iraq that the U.N. had authorized after the Gulf War to establish that Saddam no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors had helped to dismantle Iraq's chemical, biological and surprisingly advanced nuclear programs, but suspicious accounting of destroyed munitions and elaborate concealment mechanisms left many unanswered questions. In 1998 Saddam had forced the inspectors out, and the question was what might be done to get them back in. No one had a good answer.

What should be the approach to Iraqi opposition groups both outside and inside Iraq? When should weapons and other lethal assistance be provided? Who should provide it -- the CIA or Defense? Again no one had a complete answer.

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