In mid-November, the Bush administration announced plans to turn over power to Iraqi authorities on July 1, 2004. On that date, the Coalition Provisional Authority will dissolve and a Transitional Assembly is supposed to assume full sovereign powers for governing the country. With only six months to go, the CPA is hustling to meet the deadline.

Monday morning on NBC's Today Show, CPA Administrator Paul Bremer said he wasn't worried about meeting the ambitious six-month deadline. But the Center for American Progress has received an unclassified Defense Department report entitled, "Draft Working Papers: Iraq Status" and dated December 15, 2003, that might cause Bremer and his colleagues in the Bush Administration to reconsider and start worrying.

  • Security Forces: The document reports that the CPA is fully 50 percent short of its current goal of training and staffing the critical Iraqi Border Police Service. Some 12,600 – out of a goal of 27,500 – trained officers are on line, with only 100 in training. This fact, taken together with reports of defections from the first trained units of the new Iraqi army and difficulties in recruiting soldiers, reinforces the view of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, who has said that July 1 is too optimistic a date for Iraqis to "be able to provide for the external and internal security of the country." General Ricardo Sanchez has similarly remarked that American forces will be in Iraq for "a couple more years."

  • Running Low on Fuel: The DoD "Iraq Status" report reveals that the CPA is failing to meet its own production goals on diesel fuel (54% of target goal), liquefied petroleum gas (45% of target goal); kerosene (45% of target goal), and gasoline/benzene (64% of target goal). The Pentagon, meanwhile, is forced to rely on fuel shipments from contractors like Haliburton, which is under investigation by DoD auditors for overcharging taxpayers by nearly $100 million.

  • Energy Crisis: National electricity production stands at less than 3500 megawatts, far short of the CPA goal of 5,000 megawatts, according to the DoD status report. As the Boston Globe reported last week, the energy crisis is "disrupting the lives not only of the poor but of the middle class, and raising anti-American rage among the people hitherto most inclined to support the US military's seizure of Iraq." According to the article, the CPA has been unable to fully explain the shortfall and continues to cite an array of problems ranging from "seasonal adjustments" to "black market manipulations."

  • Phone Connections: The DoD document reports that "Iraqi Telephone and Posts Company telephone cable splicing efforts [are] falling behind schedule; [and] may delay connecting subscribers several months." As reported in the LA Times last week, "Nearly nine months after much of Iraq's infrastructure and industry was wrecked during the U.S.-led invasion and the rioting that ensued, there is still no way to make a simple telephone call… The lack of service is slowing the recovery of every public and private enterprise and further alienating Iraqis, who are already skeptical of Washington's vision for democracy in their nation." The Pentagon's decision to investigate the awarding of licenses to those with close ties to Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi has also prolonged the delays.

  • Education: DoD reports that "1,812 schools out of 11,939 schools damaged in some way" have been rehabilitated. The document omits references to news reports about "slipshod and wasteful" work on schools by the Bechtel Corporation which holds a USAID contract to rehabilitate more than 1,200 schools. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, "One frustrated American, Maj. Linda Scharf, a civil affairs officer, ordered a survey of 20 Bechtel-repaired schools in her area. She found dangerous debris left in playgrounds, sloppy paint jobs and broken toilets. ‘The work was horrible,' she said."

  • Donor Assistance: A DoD graph indicates that less than $1 billion out of a total $15 billion pledged by international donors has actually been committed. After the October donors' conference, the Administration touted "billions of dollars" pledged to aid the reconstruction of Iraq. However, the New York Times recently reported, "Six weeks after organizers of an international donors conference in Madrid said that more than $3 billion in grants had been pledged to help Iraq with immediate needs, a new World Bank tally verifies grants of only $685 million for 2004."

Ambassador Bremer's upbeat remarks are particularly curious in light of a Philadelphia Inquirer report that he has told the Administration he may need as many as 1,000 additional CPA personnel in order to meet the July 1 deadline. The article says that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is "resisting Bremer's request, arguing that the provisional authority should be slimming down, not beefing up, in anticipation of the sovereignty handover." However, at the same time, the Washington Times cites an internal Pentagon report on the CPA as saying, "Resources, particularly personnel, are unavailable or poorly matched to needs."

The DoD status report once again demonstrates the stark contrast between the Administration's rosy public statements and the realities on the ground in Iraq. The Pentagon – and its Office of Special Plans under Douglas Feith – had access to the extensive analysis done by experts at the State Department. Yet they ignored its recommendations and warnings, failed to plan and built up unrealistic expectations. This has already cost American taxpayers $87 billion and is likely to cost billions more over the next five years – none of which has yet been requested from the U.S. Congress. Being open about the difficulties in Iraq would be a strong first step to regaining the full trust of the Iraqi people, the men and women of our military, and American taxpayers.

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