Questions for Paul Wolfowitz
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is scheduled to testify before the Senate and House Armed Services Committee this week. Rising violence in Iraq this month has forced the Pentagon to extend the tours of 20,000 soldiers originally scheduled to return home. The hearings will provide Congress with an opportunity to closely question Wolfowitz on his previous statements and predictions about post-war Iraq.
1. Do you still believe Army 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 Gen. 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 135,000 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.
- Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM commander, questioned how the escalating war in Iraq could have caught Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz's boss, off guard. "I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus. Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"
Sources: Congressional Testimony, March 4, 2003; Washington Post, April 15, 2004; Associated Press, April 10, 2004; San Diego Union-Tribune, April 16, 2004.
2. Last year, you testified that the reconstruction could be largely financed with Iraqi oil revenues. The American taxpayer has now spent over $18 billion on reconstruction. In light of this, can you give us your best estimate of how much Iraqi oil revenues will provide?
- A little over a year ago, Wolfowitz testified on Capitol Hill, "There's a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." Wolfowitz also told Congress "oil revenues of Iraq could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."
- Coalition Administrator Paul Bremer has said that current and future oil revenues will be insufficient for rebuilding Iraq, despite the administration's prewar promises. Plagued by poor infrastructure, outdated equipment, sabotage, and continuing attacks on pipelines, the Iraq oil industry has yet to produce at the CPA target goal of 3 billion barrels a day. According to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office, "Iraqi oil revenues are likely to cover only recurring Iraqi government costs, with little remaining for the capital investment required in the U.N., World Bank and CPA assessments."
Sources: Congressional Testimony, March 27, 2003; International Oil Daily, September 23, 2003; Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2003; Congressional Budget Office, January 2004.
3. Knowing what you know now, what is your estimate for immediate future costs? How much money will be needed in the FY05 supplemental request?
- The World Bank and the Coalition Provisional Authority estimate that the reconstruction will cost over $55 billion over the next four years. The United States has already provided close to $19 billion in assistance.
- Despite touting over $13 billion in pledges from international donors at the October Madrid conference, the United States continues to bear the brunt of the costs of reconstruction. The latest White House report to Congress confirms that "very few new pledges" have come in since Madrid. According to the World Bank, less than $1 billion in grants for 2004 have been disbursed.
- The administration failed to include any funding for Iraq in its fiscal year 2005 budget request. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, the military chiefs warned that delaying the supplemental until after the November elections could create a shortfall in funding for military operations at the end of the fiscal year.
Follow-up: Why don't you send it up now?
Sources: World Bank Iraq Assessment, Oct. 2, 2003; Second Quarterly Report to Congress, Office of Management and Budget, April 5, 2004.
4. Why would Colin Powell refer to the Office of Special Plans as Douglas Feith's "Gestapo office"?
- Bob Woodward's new book, "Plan of Attack," says that Powell felt that Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith had established what amounted to a "separate government." Woodward says that Powell called the Office of Special Plans, "Feith's Gestapo office." Its mission was to collect and cook "the most alarmist pre-war intelligence against Saddam Hussein and then stovepiped it to the White House via Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, unvetted by the intelligence agencies."
- Ken Pollack, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq, told the New Yorker that the Administration "created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership… They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information."
Sources: Washington Post, April 17, 2004; Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, Oct. 27, 2003; InterPress Service, Nov. 5, 2003; Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, 2003; Associated Press, May 30, 2003.
5. Did you place too much confidence in the Iraqi exiles? Given Ahmed Chalabi's record and 40-year absence, why did you find him a credible source?
- 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, Admiral 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.
- In an interview with the London Telegraph, Chalabi said he and his group were "heroes in error" and "what was said before is not important." On "60 Minutes", he pinned the blame on the administration for believing the information he provided, "intelligence people who are supposed to do a better for their country and their government did not do such a good job."
Follow-up: Why is the department still paying Chalabi's group $340,000 a month?
Source: New York Times, March 11, 2004; U.S. News and World Report, April 12, 2004; Knight Ridder Newspapers, February 22, 2004; "60 Minutes," March 7, 2004.
6. 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 Brent 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.
Source: 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.
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:
Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or email@example.com
Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or email@example.com
Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi (immigration, race and ethnicity)
202.741.6258 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or email@example.com
Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or firstname.lastname@example.org