Center for American Progress

Questions for Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense

Questions for Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is scheduled to testify this week before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. With the transition to the new Iraqi government only 10 days away, the administration has no clear strategy for repairing our international credibility and ensuring that Iraq does not become a threat to our national security. The hearings will provide Congress with an opportunity to closely question Wolfowitz on his previous statements and predictions about post-war Iraq.

Do you still believe Gen. Eric Shinseki's professional estimate of troop levels for Iraq was "wildly off the mark"?

  • In the march to war, Wolfowitz took the unusual step of publicly rebuking Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki for his estimate that "several hundred thousand troops" would be necessary to provide security in post-war Iraq. At the time, Wolfowitz dismissed Shinseki's estimate as "wildly off the mark" and said "the notion that it would take several hundred thousand American troops just seems outlandish."
  • There are now 138,000 American troops deployed in Iraq. Recently, about 20,000 soldiers who were due to return from Iraq had their tours extended. The Bush administration has effectively out-sourced the security mission to a veritable private army, which is increasing draining resources from civilian reconstruction.

Sources: Congressional Testimony, March 4, 2003; Washington Post, April 15, 2004; Associated Press, April 10, 2004.

Do you support legislation to reimburse members of the Armed Forces who purchased their own body armor?

  • As late as March of this year, soldiers heading to Iraq were still buying their own body armor despite assurances from the military that the equipment would be available before they deployed. In June, the Army's chief logistician announced that all U.S. troops were finally equipped with the livesaving vests.
  • Several bills have been introduced, including HR 4590, HR 3615, and S 1991, requires the Pentagon to reimburse members of the Armed Forces or their families who purchased protective body armor when military-issue body armor was unavailable.

Did the Bush administration failure to plan adequately for post-war Iraq lead to a shortage of armored Humvees?

  • Roadside explosives remain the leading cause of American casualties from hostile fire. At least 40 percent of the hostile fire casualties have been a result of improvised explosive devices (IED). One year after the end of the war, between 4,000 to 5,000 add-on armor kits have yet to reach lightly-armored Humvees in the region. The Army is also short of its goal of providing 4,400 heavily-armored Humvees by this summer. In March, acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee said, "I also regret that we were not more farsighted here… We simply were not prepared for the kind of counterinsurgency that attacked our convoys."

Sources: Chicago Tribune, May 28, 2004; Associated Press, June 7, 2004.

Are Iraqi forces ready to "take local control of the cities"?

  • On June 9, Wolfowitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Over the next few months, our aim is to prepare Iraqi security forces to assume greater responsibilities from coalition forces — allowing Iraqis to take local control of the cities, even as coalition forces move into a supporting role and provide forces only as needed."
  • Last month, Army Maj. General Paul Eaton told reporters that the misguided U.S. training of Iraqi police contributed to the country's instability and has delayed getting enough qualified Iraqis on the streets to ease the burden on American forces. After one full year, he said, "It hasn't gone well. We've had almost one year of no progress… We've had the wrong training focus — on individual cops rather than their leaders."
  • Only 2,808 active duty soldiers in the new 40,000-Iraqi army are currently serving. The Pentagon also estimates that while more than 75,000 Iraqis are on the payrolls as police officers, only 2,865 were fully qualified while more than 13,000 were "partially qualified" and on duty.

Did your office delay sending $257 million for the training of the Iraqi Army?

  • According to the Associated Press, "One U.S. military official said Wolfowitz was partly to blame for those shortcomings. Some $257 million in spending authority was held up by Wolfowitz's office for two months, delaying construction of Iraqi army barracks for four brigades awaiting training, the official said on condition of anonymity."
  • In his WSJ piece, Wolfowitz wrote, "No one had any expectation that Iraqi security forces would be ready this past April to stand up to the kind of fighting they encountered in Fallujah and in the Najaf-Karbala region."

Sources: Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2004; Associated Press, June 9, 2004; The Nation, April 28, 2004.

How much money will be needed in the FY05 supplemental request?

  • Administration officials have been reluctant to talk about the FY05 supplemental budget request, which will likely amount to more than $50 billion. The administration failed to include any funding for Iraq in its fiscal year 2005 budget request. After significant pressure, the administration included $25 billion in its regular FY05 budget request, enough to bridge the gap until January 2005.

Will you send it up now?

  • Two numbers are known: the United States is spending $4 billion to $4.6 billion a month in Iraq, and $700 million a month in Afghanistan. Yet, the Administration refuses to provide an honest assessment for what the supplemental will cost.

Sources: Second Quarterly Report to Congress, Office of Management and Budget, April 5, 2004; Washington Post, May 14, 2004.

If Chalabi wasn't "the favorite of the Pentagon," why did the U.S. government pay him almost $49 million, give him access to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plan, and appoint him to the Interim Governing Council?

  • On June 7, Wolfowitz told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "You know, one of the urban legends around is that [Chalabi] was somehow the favorite of the Pentagon."
  • Chalabi was paid almost $49 million by the U.S. government. Chalabi provided the Office of Special Plans, an intelligence unit set up within the Pentagon, with information from defectors from Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. The Office of Special Plans bypassed usual channels to make a case that conflicted with the conclusions of CIA analysts. Unsubstantiated claims from Chalabi's cronies about WMD flowed "from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President's office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals."
  • The government's own reviews show that much of the intelligence information provided by Chalabi and his exile Iraqi National Congress was misleading and even falsified. In early-March 2004, Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of defense intelligence, admitted the Iraqi National Congress provided information that "was either fabricated or embellished." The National Intelligence Council believed the group's intelligence was questionable.

Sources: CNN "Late Edition," June 7, 2004; Washington Post, April 17, 2004; Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, October 27, 2003; Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2003; Associated Press, May 30, 2003. New York Times, March 11, 2004; U.S. News and World Report, April 12, 2004.

How did Ahmed Chalabi gain access to our most sensitive secrets?

  • According to U.S. intelligence officials, Chalabi disclosed to an Iranian official that the United States had broken the secret communications code of Iran's intelligence service. This amounts to the most significant breach of our intelligence capabilities since the discovery of Aldrich Ames – raising questions about whether Tehran may have used Chalabi to trick the United States into taking out Saddam.

Source: New York Times, June 2, 2004.

Was it a mistake to abdicate responsibility of the security in Fallujah to unready Iraqi security forces?

  • On April 26, 2004, Wolfowitz told the House Armed Services Committee that the situation in Fallujah was was too much for Iraqis to handle, saying "Fallujah is unquestionably the hardest place in the country, there is no Iraqi force that can handle Fallujah today, we know that."
  • The United States turned Fallujah over to the Iraqis just days later. On May 1, the U.S. Marines withdrew, leaving control of Fallujah entirely up to a newly constituted Iraqi military unit to go in and restore calm.
  • Today, the city remains out of control. The suspects in the killing of the foreign contractors remain at large, as does much of the heavy weaponry in the hands of the insurgents. The NYT magazine reports, "insurgents still operate openly in parts of the city, even enforcing their own harsh brand of Islamic law." Journalists have been attacked and kidnapped, there are reports of masked men running check points, and violence continues to erupt; "in the second week of June, a Falluja Brigade camp was shelled by insurgents, and 12 members of the brigade were wounded."

Sources: Hearing Of The US House Armed Services Committee, April 26, 2004; Washington Post, April 26, 2004; New York Times Magazine, June 20, 2004

Why does the Pentagon continue to award billions of dollars of contracts to companies under investigation or incapable of providing services?

  • The White House continues to award lucrative contracts to companies under investigation. The Bush administration relaxed regulations that would have allowed officials to bar new government work for companies convicted or penalized during the previous three years. As a result, according to Associated Press, "Ten companies with billions of dollars in U.S. contracts for Iraq reconstruction have paid more than $300 million in penalties since 2000 to resolve allegations of bid rigging, fraud, delivery of faulty military parts and environmental damage."
  • The United States rewards contracts to companies with insufficient experience. The Pentagon recently awarded the largest contract yet – $293 million – for security in Iraq to Aegis Defense Services. For example, Aegis has been in existence "for little more than a year, has worked primarily on antipiracy efforts rather than security coordination, and has never before had a major contract in Iraq." The contract "repeats the 'cost plus' arrangement that rewards companies with higher profits the more they spend. According to expert P.W. Singer, this system is "ripe for abuse and inefficiency."

What message do we send by paying security contractors more than our soldiers?

  • The average income for a military household is about $3300 a month. The president has tried to reduce the modest monthly stipend that soldiers get for working in imminent danger from $225 a month to $150 a month. Private contractors make up to $1500 a day. Industry can afford to pay excessive salaries because up to 30 percent of the $87.5 billion supplemental appropriations law passed in November will find its way to private contractors.

Sources: Washington Post, June 16, 2004; Associated Press, April 26, 2004; New York Times, June 15, 2004; Overview of the 1999 Survey of Active Duty Personnel, Defense Manpower Data Center;

The first Bush administration concluded that invading Baghdad in 1991 would have led to "mission creep" and "incalculable human and political cost." What made you think it would be easier this time around?

  • In A World Transformed, Bush Sr. and former national security adviser Scowcroft said that "trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in 'mission creep,' and would have incurred incalculable human and political cost."
  • In a 1991 speech, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney argued, "I think that the proposition of going to Baghdad is also fallacious. I think if we were going to remove Saddam Hussein we would have had to go all the way to Baghdad, we would have to commit a lot of force… And once we'd done that and we'd gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and his government, then we'd have had to put another government in its place… it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq."
  • As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy under Cheney, Wolfowitz was in a crucial position to influence the decision when and how to cease offensive operations as Saddam's forces fled Kuwait. It was the view of virtually all senior members of the first Bush national security team that overthrowing Saddam by force and occupying all of Iraq would be difficult, costly and require extensive international support.

Sources: Origins of Regime Change in Iraq, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 19, 2003; Winston-Salem Journal, April 18, 2004; Cheney speech at the Soref Symposium, April 29, 1991.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.