"We have no intention of ruling Iraq," Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's special envoy to Iraq, told a gathering of Iraqi leaders on April 15. "We want you to establish your own democratic system based on Iraqi traditions and values." On April 19 the New York Times reported that the Pentagon is planning "some kind of a long-term defense relationship with a new Iraq," that would include access to four military bases. An unidentified "senior administration official" asserted that such relationship did not contradict the policy of rapid withdrawal from Iraq.
Administration officials from Bush to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers have all been quoted saying some variation of the phrase that "Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people." Yet economists at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with ties to the administration, have developed a plan for privatization of Iraqi oil. And earlier this month the Israeli daily Ha'Aretz reported that Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky would meet with Jordanian officials to discuss reopening a pipeline from Mosul in Iraq to the Israeli port city of Haifa. The pipeline was shut down in 1948 at the end of the British mandate.
While the sets of statements are not easily reconciled, the events represent a continuation of the unfolding of a neoconservative plan for the Persian Gulf region that Khalilzad helped architect. Key policies and key individuals who will help determine the future of postwar Iraq have been influenced to an extraordinary degree by a group of conservative think tanks and advisory groups with overlapping membership, and ties to the right-wing Likud party in Israel.
The Basketball Player
Zalmay Khalilzad was born in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif in 1951. His family moved to Kabul where his father went to work for the Afghan government, which was a monarchy at the time. Khalilzad visited the US as an AFS exchange student, and after his return played basketball for the Afghan national team, which was coached by a visiting American "academic" Thomas Gouttierre.
Gouttierre worked for the Peace Corps in Afghanistan, where government radio accused him of working for the CIA. Later he became the director of the Center for Afghan Studies at the University of Nebraska, which was funded in part by a $1 million grant from US oil company Unocal. Gouttierre was also a member of the Afghanistan Relief Committee. Founded in 1980 at the start of the Reagan administration, the ARC had a decidedly anti-communist tone. Researcher Sayid Khybar has suggested that the ARC was created to organize support for a puppet regime under Zia Khan Nassery that would be controlled by the CIA. Others have argued that the ARC's primary function was to funnel covert aid to the Afghan mujahadeen preserving the appearance that they represented indigenous resistance. (As has often been noted since September 11, 2001, among the mujahadeen was Osama Bin Laden.)
After finishing high school in Kabul, Khalilzad obtained his undergraduate degree from the American University in Beirut, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. One of his mentors at Chicago was mathematician Albert Wohlstetter, sometimes referred to as the godfather of the neoconservative movement. Wohlstetter was influential in the development of US defense strategy during the Cold War. He also mentored other key members of the neoconservative establishment, many of whom now work in and around the Bush administration, including Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle (who recently resigned as chairman in response to conflict of interest allegations), and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Wohlstetter's name adorns the conference center at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), whose current list of fellows includes, in addition to Perle:
- Lynne Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's wife
- Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
- R. Glenn Hubbard, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers
- Michael Ledeen, who was Oliver North's liaison to Israel during the Iran-Contra affair
In the early 80s Khalilzad taught political science at Columbia University, and served as executive director of Friends of Afghanistan -- another group providing support for the mujahadeen. During the Reagan administration he served as a special advisor to Wolfowitz, who was then undersecretary of state for policy planning. Khalilzad focused on the Iran-Iraq war and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Khalilzad was among those who pressed Reagan to provide aid to the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. In the first Bush administration he was undersecretary of defense during Gulf War I, again working with Wolfowitz. It was during this period that Khalilzad caught the attention of then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.
After "Poppy" Bush lost the election to Bill Clinton, Khalilzad joined the RAND corporation, a think thank that performs military policy studies. He subsequently went to work for Cambridge Energy Research Associates, where he conducted risk analyses for the US oil company Unocal.
The Bush family's connections to Unocal date back to the 1980s, when Bush associate Nicholas Brady helped defend the firm from a takeover attempt by Mesa Petroleum. Brady subsequently became Secretary of Treasury during Reagan and Bush I administrations, and figured in the Kerry committee investigation of the Iran-Contra matter.
Unocal had plans for a cross-Afghan pipeline, and was trying to conclude business agreements with the Taliban. In October 1997, Khalilzad, Gouttierre, and Unocal executive Marty Miller testified together before the Senate Foreign Relations Near East and South Asia subcommittee, describing the "economic benefits that a set of pipelines from Central Asia can bring to the Afghan people if it is able to pass through the country." Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives when Unocal brought them to Houston in 1997 during the pipeline negotiations. At that time he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed piece that "The Taliban does not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran.... We should ... be willing to offer recognition and humanitarian assistance and to promote international economic reconstruction.... It is time for the United States to reengage" the Taliban.
In August 1998 the Clinton administration linked Bin Laden to the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and launched a cruise missile attack against targets in Afghanistan. The next day Unocal put its trans-Afghan pipeline project on hold, and in October of that year announced that it was abandoning the project. Khalilzad changed his tune, as well. In an article published in the CSIS journal Washington Quarterly in the winter of 2000, he warned that "Afghanistan is a haven for some of the world's most lethal anti-U.S.terrorists and their supporters. Bin Laden is only the most famous of a large and skilled network of radicals based in Afghanistan." He then proposed an Afghanistan strategy in six points, which became the de facto Bush administration policy, including: support for the Northern Alliance, pressuring Pakistan to withdraw support for the Taliban, support for moderate Afghanis including those in exile, advocating a traditional loya jirgha or grand assembly.
After the 2000 election, Khalilzad led the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Defense Department, and served as an advisor to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. At the start of the Bush administration he was appointed to the national security council, reporting to national security advisor Condoleeza Rice -- a position that did not require senate confirmation. The press release announcing Khalilzad's appointment notably did not mention his consulting work for Unocal.
Along with others in and around the current Bush administration, including Richard Perle, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, his four top deputies at the defense department (Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Dov Zakheim and Peter Rodman), and John Bolton (the State Department's undersecretary for arms control), Khalilzad had signed the now infamous "open letter" to President Clinton in 1998, calling for "a determined program to change the regime in Baghdad." The letter echoed policy proposals prepared by Perle and Feith two years earlier, for Israel's Binyamin Netanyahu. Khalilzad was one of the first Bush administration officials to speak publicly of "regime change" in Iraq. During a press briefing at the pro-Israel think-tank Washington Institute for Near East Policy, at which he shared the podium with former Israeli Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, Khalilzad said that the US could install a military government in Iraq, and the the US-led coalition would assume "responsibility for the territorial defense and security of Iraq after liberation."
Critics have pointed out that Khalilzad has been wrong as often as he has been right, noting his one time advocacy of groups in Afghanistan that later gave rise to the Taliban. Anatol Lieven, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, says of Khalilzad "If he was in private business rather than government he would have been sacked long ago." Some of Khalilzad's most vocal critics are among the exiled Iraqi leadership he claims to want to help. Opposition leaders in London recently objected to his attempts to involve 80-year old Adnan Pachachi in the postwar Iraqi government. Pachachi, described as an Arab nationalist, once served as Iraq's foreign minister and ambassador to the UN.
Khalilzad's views on the Israeli-Palestinian issue are apparently not consistent with those of his neocon-Likud coterie. Observers have speculated that this contributed to his being replaced as special advisor to the president for Near Eastern, Southwest Asian and North African Affairs by fellow Reagan administration veteran Elliott Abrams, a vehement opponent of the Palestinian peace process. The conservative Weekly Standard commented on Abrams appointment as a setback for secretary of state Powell's efforts to restart Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
Shortly after publication of the "open letter" to Clinton, Khalilzad, and former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey joined Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi in testifying before congress. Khalilzad, in his testimony, proposed undertaking sustained air attacks to dismantle Iraqi defenses, the destruction of the Iraqi National Guards, creation of "safe havens" for the Kurds, and arming and financing Iraqi opposition forces to control the rest of the country. Khalilzad warned that "military invasion of Iraq could involve significant casualties and might risk involvement in a protracted war".
Ahmed Chalabi's father and grandfather held government positions in the monarchic government installed by Britain in Iraq after World War I. When the Iraqi Communist party led a revolution in 1958 his family fled. Chalabi lived in Jordan, Lebanon, the UK and the US, and returned to Lebanon to teach math at the American University in Beirut after earning his Ph.D. from Chicago. In 1977 at the request of Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan, Chalabi established Petra Bank, which became the second largest bank in Jordan. In 1989 the Jordanian government seized the assets of Petra Bank, and provided an infusion of $164 million to prevent its financial collapse. Chalabi escaped, some say with the aid of Crown Prince Hassan, but was tried in absentia by a Jordanian court, and convicted of embezzlement, fraud, and currency violations. Reportedly he got away with $70 million.
According to Chalabi supporters, Saddam Hussein put pressure on the Jordanian government to close down Petra Bank because Chalabi was using it to fund opposition groups in Iraq. Chalabi was hence in a position to obtain information about arms trading in Iraq -- information which he may have passed to the CIA. Petra Bank's US subsidiary was represented by former Secretary of Defense (and "open letter" signatory) Caspar Weinberger. As Dreyfuss points out, "the fact that Chalabi may have been prosecuted for political reasons does not mean that he is innocent of embezzlement and fraud." A reputation for self-dealing has continued to follow him.
Chalabi also ran the Geneva office of Mebco, which was closed down by the Swiss Federal Banking commission in 1989. Mebco is part of the Middle East Banking Corporation of Beirut, owned by the Chalabi family. Mebco was one of only three financial institutions in Switzerland authorized to issue Visa credit cards. In shutting down Mebco the Swiss Banking Commission pointed to bad management and lax accounting procedures, although there were allegations of issuing unsecured credit. A few months later, Socofi, another Chalabi family business in Switzerland encountered financial difficulties that, according to Le Temps ruined thousands of investors and left a debt of more than $100 million. Le Temps also reported that Socofi is believed to have paid more than $60 million in unsecured funds to family owned companies. "In September 2000 two of Ahmed Chalabi's brothers were sentenced to six months in prison in Switzerland for falsifying documents in relation to dealings at Socofi," according to the Neue Züricher Zeitung.
Chalabi's CIA contacts led to the formation of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in 1992. As noted elsewhere in The Dubya Report, the organization was in part a creation of the Rendon Group, a public relations firm retained by the CIA, which came up with the official-sounding name. Having spent about $100 million on the INC throughout the 90s, the CIA pulled the plug after the fiasco of 1996 (discussed below). Following testimony from Chalabi, Woolsey, and Khalilzad, congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act, which provided a pool of funding for the INC and other Iraqi opposition groups. The INC has been involved in repeated disputes with the State Department concerning appropriation of funds, however. In 2002 the State Department threatened to cut off funding, but the pro-Chalabi clique in the Department of Defense agreed to pick up the tab. Former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Akins, has said "He's a criminal banker. He's a swindler. He's interested in getting money, and I suspect it's all gone into his bank accounts and those of his friends."
Nonetheless, Chalabi is the favorite of the open-letter signatories to lead a postwar government in Iraq. Like Khalilzad, Chalabi was a protege of Albert Wohlstetter, who introduced him to Richard Perle. As Robert Dreyfuss wrote in his profile of Chalabi for The American Prospect, "The Washington partisans who want to install Chalabi in Arab Iraq are also those associated with the staunchest backers of Israel, particularly those aligned with the hard-right faction of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu." Chalabi is championed by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), an organization an organization with ties to Israel's Likud party that fosters "strategic cooperation" between the US and Israel, according to its mission statement. JINSA sponsors annual trips to Israel for US military officers, "interchanges between Pentagon officials and Jewish community leadership and sponsors lectures and conferences at the national military academies and leading national security think tanks." Ahmed Chalabi has been a frequent speaker at JINSA board meetings and functions since 1997, when he spoke to the board on the topic "A Post Saddam Iraq." He also participated recently in one of JINSA's trips to Israel.
"The Iraqi National Congress has been the philosophical voice of free Iraq for a dozen years," Richard Perle told The American Prospect. But the INC strategy, which included paramilitary action inside Iraq, and the creation of a provisional government, was designed to draw the US into war. "Give the Iraqi National Congress a base protected from Saddam's tanks, give us the temporary support we need to feed and house and car for the liberated population, and we will give you a free Iraq, an Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction,and a free-market Iraq. Best of all,the INC will do all this for free." Chalabi told a Senate hearing in the spring of 1998. An article in Foreign Affairs magazine, ironically co-authored by Daniel Byman who co-wrote Khalilzad's prophetic analysis of Afghanistan in 2000, declares the INC plan "so flawed and unrealistic that it would lead inexorably to a replay of the Bay of Pigs." Noting that "the INC enjoys more support along the Potomac than the Euphrates," the authors report that two Kurdish opposition leaders canceled a meeting with US congressional leaders in September 1998 when they learned that Chalabi would be present.
Chalabi's lack of support was evident in an abortive sortie into Iraq in 1996, nominally backed by the CIA. Chalabi had predicted that, confronted by his meager 1,000 fighters in northern Iraq, Hussein's forces would defect. Not only did they not defect, but the Kurdish Democratic Party -- assumed to be a key ally of the INC -- invited the Iraqi army back into Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq. Another assumed ally, the Iraqi National Accord, reportedly blew up INC headquarters. Since the 1996 episode Chalabi has not enjoyed support of most of the US security establishment, including the CIA.
One example of the Byzantine infighting as groups jockey for position to assume power in postwar Iraq is criticism of Khalilzad by Chalabi partisans for not unconditionally supporting the INC. An January editorial in the New York Sun (a new conservative daily that boasts Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan and American Spectator founder R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. among its contributing editors, and Richard Perle among its investors) describes Khalilzad as "a timid figure easily pushed around," The Sun's editorial writers accuse Khalilzad of failing to support "those in the opposition who are unabashed democrats," citing the influence of his assistant, Ben Miller, a CIA operative and the point man for Iraq on the National Security Council.
According the the Sun, a conference of Iraqi opposition groups, scheduled to take place in January in northern Iraq had to be postponed, not because of security concerns, as Khalilzad stated publicly, but because "the Khalilzad-Miller duo tried to impose an opposition 'secretariat' to act as an executive body for the 75-member opposition coordinating committee created at the recent Iraqi opposition conference in London." This role, the Sun complains, was historically the role of the INC, an organization that, in the Sun's view, promised to create a " truly democratic, federal, and pluralistic state." Accusing them of "incessant meddling," the Sun claims the CIA and the State Department have tried to "undermine Mr. Chalabi and the structure he worked
so hard to set up."
Fortunately for Chalabi, as Dreyfuss puts it, "Among his few friends, however, are the men running the Bush administration's willy-nilly war on Iraq. And with their backing, it's not inconceivable that this hapless, exiled Iraqi aristocrat and London-Washington playboy might end up atop the smoking heap of what's left of Iraq...." Chalabi was notably absent from the US-organized meeting at Ur to begin work toward a democratic government, having merited a private session with reconstruction administrator Jay Garner beforehand.
In looking at Chalabi's relationship to the oil-industry-dominated Bush administration it's hard to tell which way the influence flows, but it is clear that Chalabi's views on the disposition of Iraqi oil are more likely to be popular in Washington and Houston than in the Middle East. "What they have in mind is denationalization, and then parceling Iraqi oil out to American oil companies," says former ambassador Akins. "The American oil companies are going to be the main beneficiaries of this war," he continues. "We take over Iraq, install our regime, produce oil at the maximum rate and tell Saudi Arabia to go to hell." Economists at the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and JINSA have been developing plans to "de-nationalize" Iraqi oil. In a report titled "The Road to Economic Prosperity for a Post-Saddam Iraq" presented as a part of the Heritage Foundation's The Future of a Post-Saddam Iraq: A Blueprint for American Involvement Ariel Cohen, and Gerald O'Driscoll write:
In particular, the Oil Ministry and regional oil companies should be restructured to transform them into attractive government-owned oil companies as an intermediary stage before initial public offering (IPO). For example, one company may focus its work in the southern portion of the country, another in the central region (around Baghdad) and the Western desert, and the third around Kirkuk in the North. Three more companies may be created: one to operate the pipelines, the second to operate the refineries, and the third to develop natural gas.
Undoing the nationalization of Iraqi oil would be a triumph of neoconservative big-business-as-government. When Iraqi oil was nationalized in the early 1970s, it triggered a region-wide movement as OPEC nations, including eventually Saudi Arabia, took back ownership of oil production from multinational corporations. According to Dreyfuss, the INC, the neoconservatives, and the oil executives are fully aware of the implications of de-nationalization. The Heritage Foundation report concludes "Iraq's restructuring and privatization of its oil and gas sector could become a model for oil industry privatizations in other OPEC states as well, weakening the cartel's influence over global energy markets." "It's probably going to spell the end of OPEC," says Shoshana Bryen, director of special projects for JINSA.
Last summer at Perle's behest a RAND Corporation analyst spoke to the Defense Policy Board on the the topic of US occupation of Saudi oil fields. Max Singer of the Hudson Institute articulated a similar policy in an article for the New York Sun in April, 2002, titled "Free the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia." Starting from the premise that the eastern half of Saudi Arabia is "populated mostly by two groups of Shiite Muslims who were quite different culturally and religiously from their Najdi conquerors," Singer goes on to advocate "the determined exercise of American power" to create an independent province. As it happens, the eastern half of Saudi Arabia contains the majority of the nation's oil fields.
Along with Khalilzad and Chalabi, the third petitioner to congress for restoration of INC funding in 1997 was former CIA Director James Woolsey. Characterized as the most conservative of Clinton's early appointees, Woolsey resigned in 1995, in part because of failures of anti-Saddam covert operations. In 1997 with Khalilzad, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rodman, Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby, Woolsey became a charter member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). PNAC, composed primarily of Reagan administration refugees, was formed to "shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests." "[I]t is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire," the PNAC Statement of Principles declares. "The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership." This leadership, the document makes clear, is to be enforced with a "Reaganite policy of military strength...." In other words, global domination achieved through military force including pre-emptive attacks. PNAC is closely tied to the AEI, from which it rents office space.
Speaking to an open forum at UCLA on April 2, Woolsey referred to the war in Iraq as the "Fourth World War," (the third having been the Cold War). "This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I and II did for us," he said. Echoing, in part, the JINSA press release of September 2001, Woolsey divided the immediate enemies into three groups: the religious rulers of Iran, the "fascist regimes" in Syria and Iraq, and Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda. Three days later, Wolfowitz told NBC's Meet the Press program: "There has got to be change in Syria."
Independent intelligence analysts have suggested that the threats against Syria are directed toward a particular goal. A major topic of discussion between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been a renewed commitment to mediating the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In a gesture aimed at the Islamic world, and the Saudis in particular, Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasized this just before the war began. In the analysts' view, the administration faults factionalism among the Palestinians for the failure of previous efforts at mediation. Palestinians are divided between those who support a two-state solution, and so-called "rejectionists", such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who react to any approaching settlement by reinitiating a cycle of violence.
The "rejectionists" are supported, at least psychologically, by the government of Syria. The US has told Syria that it does not intend to invade. But with the US literally at the Syrian border, the Syrian government might be ready to publicly change its behavior, thereby isolating the Palestinian "rejectionists." The problem with the scenario is that it assumes that the "rejectionists" depend too much on external support -- an assumption some observers find dubious. A public change from Syria might be enough for the Bush administration, however, since they did not promise the Saudis they would actually fix the Israeli-Palestinian situation, only that they would make an effort.
With Richard Perle, and retired Admiral David Jeremiah, Woolsey serves on the Defense Policy Board as well as the JINSA advisory board. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that, as Jason Vest observed in an article for The Nation in August 2002, many of the Defense Policy Board recommendations have mirrored JINSA recommendations. Until the current Bush administration came to office, the JINSA advisory board also included current administration members Dick Cheney, John Bolton, and Douglas Feith.
Significantly, Vest notes, "Almost every retired officer who sits on JINSA's board of advisers or has participated in its Israel trips or signed a JINSA letter works or has worked with military contractors who do business with the Pentagon and Israel." This list included Iraq reconstruction head, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, whose SY Technology company's main client is the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, which in turn has several joint projects with Israel. Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. where Woolsey is a senior executive received $680,000 in Defense Department contracts in 2002. Woolsey is also a principal in a venture capital firm that is seeking investors for businesses related to homeland security.
JINSA was a key player in the successful efforts to get the US to break off discussions with Yasser Arafat. In March 2001, before Bush's first meeting with Ariel Sharon, JINSA urged Bush to agree with Sharon's view that "Israel cannot move toward the Palestinians under conditions of active warfare and incitement from the Palestinian leadership. The Bush Administration should agree, placing the onus for Palestinian misery squarely where it belongs - on Yasser Arafat." JINSA has continued to oppose any negotiations with the Palestinians. In January 2002 it issued a statement saying in part, "[I]t is no more appropriate to consider 'peace talks' now than it would have been with Hitler or the Emperor of Japan in 1943, or the Taliban in October. When someone makes war on you, you have to win the war. Only after you do, if you do, can you determine the parameters of the peace."
On September 13, 2001 JINSA issued a press release urging the US government to "confront the terrorists and their supporters," including "Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Libya, Algeria and even our presumed friends Saudi Arabia and Egypt." Asserting that "A long investigation to prove Osama Bin Laden's guilt with prosecutorial certainty is entirely unnecessary," the release continued ,"His history is the source of his culpability. The same holds true for Saddam Hussein." The first of eleven proposed action items was "Halt all US purchases of Iraqi oil under the UN Oil for Food Program and to provide all necessary support to the Iraq National Congress, including direct American military support, to effect a regime change in Iraq."
Shortly after the JINSA press release, Wolfowitz dispatched Woolsey on a private intelligence operation to gather "evidence" in support of a connection between Iraq and the September 11 attacks. Woolsey was also to enlist the assistance of Iraqi opposition groups in the effort, and to determine their willingness to participate in a "popular uprising" in the event of a US attack on Iraq. Apparently more of an administrator than an operative, Woolsey's operation was blown by an alert constable in the small Welsh town of Swansea. Intrigued by Woolsey's investigation, the constable phoned the US embassy in London to determine if the Woolsey operation was official. This was the first that anyone in the CIA or the State Department had heard of the undertaking; Secretary of State Powell and CIA Director Tenet were not amused. An unidentified "intelligence consultant familiar with the operation" told the Village Voice "It was a stupid, stupid, and just plain wrong thing to do."
The Arms Dealer
Completing the picture is retired Lt. General Jay Garner. Garner is president of SY Technologies (now SY Coleman), which he joined in 1997. SY Coleman was taken over by L-3 Communications last year. L-3 provides technical services for the Patriot missile system used in Iraq. Garner was involved in deploying the Patriot system in Israel, and his company worked on the Arrow missile system, which is also deployed in Israel. In March 2003 L-3 communications was awarded a $1.5 billion contract to provide logistics services to US special forces.
Like Chalabi, Garner is a veteran of at least one JINSA trip to Israel. In October 2000 he lent his name to a JINSA statement that praised the Israeli defense force for its "remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority".
Garner's connections to Israel have not gone unnoticed in the Persian Gulf region. On April 21, the Iranian news network, Khabar, reported that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that the Iraqi administration should be composed of representatives elected by the Iraqi people, "not a retired general who is an agent or at least very close to " Israel.
Defense analysts have questioned Garner's truthfulness when he testified before Congress in 1992 that 40% of Patriot missile engagements in Israel and 70% in Saudi Arabia were effective. Ted Postol of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, who gave evidence at the hearing, told the Observer, "We believe that these figures are too high, and that it may be the case that zero engagements in Israel were effective. Garner may have been involved in covering up the deficiencies of the system." In an unrelated matter, Garner is being sued by a competitor, DESE Research, charging that he influenced officials at the Space and Missile Defense command, where he previously worked, to deny DESE a research contract. Lawyers for DESE also charge that Garner received a lucrative contract from his successors at Space and Missile Defense command as a "payoff" of some kind, although the contract was eventually cancelled.
Although Garner is leading the reconstruction effort as a civilian, he reports to General Tommy Franks, leading many to suggest that the operation is "at best a Pentagon operation and at worst a military occupation," to quote the Herald's Neil Mackay. Garner's background as an arms dealer has caused concern among members of aid agencies, already opposed to US administration of Iraq if it is outside the framework of the United Nations. Phil Bloomer of Oxfam called Garner's appointment a "worst case scenario." "The worst case scenario would be to put in charge of the reconstruction someone from the US or UK linked to the arms or oil industries" he told The Observer (UK).
Garner was likely tapped to lead the US reconstruction effort because he ran the UN-backed Kurdish relief program, Operation Provide Comfort, after Gulf War I. While Garner's efforts in 1991 have received widespread praise, the history underscores his ties to the Republican right; Garner's relationship with Dick Cheney goes back at least that far. Garner has also worked closely with Rumsfeld on missile defense policy. Recently awarded contracts for reconstruction work have lent credence to critics' suspicions that postwar projects in Iraq will be used to reward cronies and Republican contributors. British contractors have complained that they have been unable to contact the Organization for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) as Garner's agency is called.
A subsidiary of Halliburton, Cheney's former firm, was recently awarded a contract that could be worth more than $7 billion, to extinguish oil fires. And Bechtel, a company with longstanding ties to the Republican party, was awarded contracts for rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure, worth up to $680 million.
Bechtel's Republican pedigree can be traced back to the Reagan administration when Bechtel executive George Shultz was appointed to several positions, including Secretary of State. Shultz is also chairman of the International Council of JP Morgan Chase, in which Cheney Chief of Staff Lewis Libby reportedly has substantial investments. Morgan Chase lent the government of Saddam Hussein's regime $500m in 1983. Shultz was until recently a member of the Defense Policy Board.
The award of the infrastructure contract to Bechtel has been subject to criticism because of previous history between Bechtel and USAID chief Andrew Natsios. A former head of the Massachusetts Republican Party, Natsios was head of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority during the time of the "Big Dig" construction project -- a three-mile underground highway in Boston, built by Bechtel. The project overran its estimated costs by more than $10 billion, with the biggest rise coming during the time Natsios was Turnpike chief. Massachusetts State Senator Robert Havern, chairman of the state's Joint Transportation Committee expressed surprise that a contract was awarded to Bechtel. "'This is the biggest works project in the history of America, and it is the largest cost overrun of any project. I cannot believe that he [Natsios] would not, with the knowledge he has from here, be very skeptical." Natsios was invited to testify at a public hearing on the "Big Dig" cost overruns, but declined, saying he was too busy "directing the relief and construction effort in Iraq."
Meanwhile, one of the five firms invited by the US to bid on a $60 million contract to rebuild roads in Iraq is being sued for alleged exploitation and brutalization of its workers in South Africa during the apartheid era. Among the charges in the multi-billion dollar suit, Fluor Corporation is accused of hiring security guards dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits to attack unarmed workers protesting low pay and poor work environment. Fluor denies the allegations.
And finally, military contractor DynCorp, which has donated approximately $70,000 to the Republican party, was awarded a multi-million dollar contract earlier this month to police postwar Iraq. DynCorp has been criticized in the past for its involvement with Plan Colombia, which entailed spraying herbicide on cocaine plants in Colombia. A class action suit was filed against DynCorp by a group of Ecuadorean peasants claiming that the chemicals have drifted across the border, killing children, and destroying legitimate crops. DynCorp denies the charges.
DynCorp employees under a UN contract in Bosnia were implicated in an investigation of a sex ring that bought and sold prostitutes, including a 12-year old girl. Several employees were also accused of videotaping the rape of a woman. Kathy Bolkovac was fired when she blew the whistle on the sex ring, a British labor court found in November 2002. DynCorp was ordered to pay Ms. Bolkovac approximately $150,000.
Perhaps this is what the neocon pundits had in mind when they advocated a free market economy for Iraq.
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Yusuf, Bulent "Battle-tanks in the war of ideas" The Observer (UK) 1 Sep. 2002
Vest, Jason "The Men From JINSA and CSP" The Nation 15 Aug. 2002
Press release. "This Goes Beyond Bin Laden" JINSA. 13 Sep. 2001.
Vest, Jason "Saddam in the Crosshairs" Village Voice 21 - 27 Nov. 2001
Beaumont, Peter, et al. "Secret US plan for Iraq war" The Observer (UK) 2 Dec. 2001
Mackay, Neil "Carving Up The New Iraq" Sunday Herald (Scotland) 13 Apr. 2003
Morgan, Oliver "US arms trader to run Iraq" The Observer (UK) 30 Mar. 2003
Morgan, Oliver "Man who would be 'king' of Iraq" The Observer (UK) 30 Mar. 2003
Walsh, Conal and Oliver Morgan "Iraq bidder's apartheid past" The Observer (UK) 6 Apr. 2003
Morgan, Oliver and Ed Vulliamy "Cronies set to make a killing" The Observer (UK) 6 Apr. 2003
Barnett, Antony "Scandal-hit US firm wins key contracts" The Observer (UK) 13 Apr. 2003
"Iran calls Garner 'Israel's agent in Iraq'" The Hindu 21 Apr. 2003
Lorimer, Doug "War hawks set sights on Syria, Iran" Green Left Weekly (Australia) 16 Apr. 2003
Editorial "Bush administration puts Syria in its gunsights" World Socialist Web Site. 16 Apr. 2003
"War Diary: Monday, April 14, 2003" Stratfor, LLC. 15 Apr. 2003
Lobe, Jim "Pump Up the Pentagon" Foreign Policy in Focus 28 Jan. 2003
See also The Dubya Report's Iraqi Road, particularly the section on Defense Department efforts to counter CIA analyses, the New York Observer's President Bush's Neoconservatives Were Spawned Right Here in N.Y.C., New Home of the Right-Wing Gloat, and Cheney's old firm handed lucrative oilfield contract from the London Times.