April 30, 2008
by Hudson Institute
WASHINGTON—Convened by the nonpartisan Hudson Institute, four senior former officials of the Bush Administration discussed the major decisions related to the US reaction to the 9/11 terror attacks—including the decision to go to war in Iraq—on the record together for the first time.
The occasion was the release of former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith's War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism; a telling retrospective by a high-ranking Bush Administration insider, offering a documented account of the reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that led to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The April 28 panel featured a frank debate by Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense; Peter Rodman, former Assistant Secretary for Defense and Adviser to the National Security Council; and Dan Senor, former Senior Advisor to Presidential Envoy L Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Feith also took questions, which were moderated by Hudson CEO Kenneth Weinstein.
Addressing a packed audience, Wolfowitz observed that there was no attempt by the Pentagon to favor Ahmed Chalabi as leader in Iraq, describing claims to the contrary as a "myth." He noted that "no-one anticipated this insurgency"; and stated agreement with Feith's position that the State Department's Future of Iraq Project was less engaged than the Pentagon in preparing for the post-war period. Wolfowitz also addressed the serious debate that took place regarding the merits of installing the Coalition Provisional Authority, which became an "occupation" authority—a label that "sticks to us even to this day." Wolfowitz further stated that "we were clueless on counterinsurgency." Feith said that "there clearly was a problem on troop levels," noting a debate on where these troops would be drawn from. Feith also described postwar looting as a "disaster."
Click here for a full transcript and video of the discussion.
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