The five critical personnel subsystems discussed in the foregoing essay, those of political
appointees, professional careerists, general civil service, unionized workers, and contract employees, are some of the most influential, for the various reasons outlined by the author. Though they do not operate in a vacuum as groups or as individuals, they closely interact with each other and their degree of cooperation or conflict decisively determines the extent of their influence, the sorts of issues they handle, and what they achieve—or fail to achieve—in their work. Perhaps the following case, "The Decision to Go to War with Iraq" by Professor James Pfiffner of George Mason University, is the most recent illustration of the enormously vital role that political appointees and professionals play within modern American government, both in setting policy and in carrying it out. Here we can vividly see how politically elected and appointed officials, especially so-called neocons (neoconservatives who held top defense policy positions in the Bush Administration), contended with the pros from the military, foreign service, and (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), p. 159. 14. David S. Arnold and Jeremy F. Plant, Public Official Associations and State and Local Government: A Bridge across One Hundred Years (Fairfax, VA: George Mason University Press, 1994), p. 59. 15. The best account of the development of civil service remains Paul P. Van Riper's History of the United States Civil Service (Evanston, IL: Row Peterson, 1958). 16. Patricia W. Ingraham and Donald F. Kettl, Agenda for Excellence: Public Service in America (Chatham, NJ. Chatham House, 1993). 17. Eugene B. MacGregor, "Politics and Career Mobility of Civil Servants," American Political Science Review 68 (1974): 24. 18. As cited in Heclo, Government, p. 142. 19. The Hudson Institute, Civil Service 2000 (Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 1988). 20. Paul A. Volcker, chair, Leadership for America: Rebuilding the Public Service (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1990). 21. William A. Winter, chair, Hard Truths, Tough Choices: Agenda for State and Local Reform, Winter Commission Report, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993). 22. Kaplan, pp. 42-43. 23. David T. Stanley, Managing Local Government under Union Pressure (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1972), p. 136. 24. Joel M. Douglas, "Public Sector Collective Bargaining in the 1900s," in Frederick S. Lane (ed.), Current Issues in Public Administration, 5th ed. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994), p. 261. 25. Frederick C. Mosher, Democracy and the Public Service (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 178. 26. PL 95-45, October 13, 1978, Section 7106. 27. As quoted in Harry H. Wellington and Ralph K. Winter, Jr., The Union and the Cities (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1971), p. 30. 28. As Joel M. Douglas concludes, "Bilateralism has replaced unilateralism in the decisionmaking processes." In Douglas, "Public Sector Collective Bargaining in the 1990s," op. cit., pp. 271-72. Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. James P. Pfiffner / The Decision to Go to War with Iraq 195 To understand how the United States decided to go to war with Iraq, one must go back to the Gulf War of 1991. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, President George H. W. Bush assembled a broad international coalition to confront Saddam and throw his troops out of Kuwait. After a buildup of nearly half a million troops in the area and an extended bombing campaign, U.S. armed forces and their allies were able to defeat the Iraqis within 100 hours.1 As U.S. troops drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, Bush made the decision not to slaughter the retreating Iraqi troops on the "highway of death" from Kuwait City back to Basra in Iraq. More important, the president decided not to invade and occupy Iraq. To have done so would have exceeded the U.N. mandate and would have moved well beyond the coalition's support and the U.S. military mission. Bush and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Brent Scowcroft, put it this way: 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," . . . We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see. . . . Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.2 President George H. W. Bush's restraint in limiting the coalition's military victory to driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait without completely destroying it and invading Iraq was to come under considerable criticism from intelligence agencies in defining the war policy agenda and its implementation, yet their actions and interrelationships were hardly neat or clear-cut, or at least not as neat and clear-cut as the foregoing conceptual essay outlines. Indeed, the complexities and difficulties of these working relationships—especially under such difficult, high-pressure controversies involving war and peace, life and death—are fraught with fundamental conflicts and ethical dilemmas. As you read this case, try to reflect on issues raised in the foregoing conceptual reading, such as: Who were the key political appointees involved? How did their ideas evolve? Why were some involved and others excluded from planning for the Iraq War? Did this affect the choices that were made—namely, by who was included? And by who was excluded? How did professional careerists and political appointees who opposed the war attempt to exercise influence and try to shape the critical choices about going to war? Who were they? Why did they fail, in your opinion? Can you generalize from this case study about the role of professionals versus appointees, their power and influence, and their working relationships within American government today? In the modern global context, how do they profoundly shape "public purposes"? The Decision to Go to War with Iraq JAMES P. PFIFFNER This case study is an original contribution prepared for the eighth edition of this text by Professor James P. Pfiffner, School of Public Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. 196 Chapter 7 / Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration a group of public figures and defense intellectuals known as neoconservatives (neocons).3 This loosely connected group of critics of U.S. defense policy believed that the decision not to remove Saddam Hussein was a profound mistake. The neocons organized "The Project for the New American Century" and published a "Statement of Principles" in 1997. The statement noted that the United States was the sole remaining superpower and advocated an assertive U.S. foreign policy and increased defense spending to "accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles."4 In 1998 the organization wrote an open letter to President Clinton arguing that Saddam's Iraq was a major threat to the United States as well as a destabilizing force in the Middle East. They stated that U.S. national security strategy "should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power," which "means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing."5 The letter was signed by, among others, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle. When George W. Bush became president in 2001, he appointed Rumsfeld to be Secretary of Defense and Wolfowitz to be his deputy. Other neocons also joined the administration; Perle became Chair of the Defense Policy Board, advisory to the Secretary of Defense; Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney; Stephen Hadley, Deputy to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice; John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Vice President Cheney was a strong ally in their hostility toward Iraq and shared their desire to use U.S. military power to topple Saddam. For the first six months of the Bush administration, however, their arguments did not persuade President Bush. During his presidential campaign, Bush tended to favor disengagement from the rest of the world, compared to the Clinton administration. Bush believed that the U.S. had been too involved in the Middle East peace process, and he thought that the U.S. should reconsider its commitment to peacekeeping in the Balkans. He also rejected the Clinton administration's attempt to foster a reconciliation between North and South Korea. In commenting on foreign relations during the presidential debates, Bush said, "It really depends on how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us."6 With his support of increased military spending and reservations about an active foreign policy, Bush seemed to echo Theodore Roosevelt's advice to "speak softly but carry a big stick." All of this changed, however, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The Public Debate over War with Iraq Although the public campaign for war with Iraq did not begin until 2002, President Bush and part of his administration began considering it immediately after September 11, 2001. At the war cabinet meeting at Camp David on September 15, 2001, the issue of Iraq was raised by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who strongly favored going after Saddam Hussein and argued it might be easier than war in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Colin Powell, however, argued that the coalition backing the United States would not hold if the target was shifted to Iraq. Powell said, "If we go after Saddam Hussein, we lose our rightful place as good guy." CIADirector George Tenet and Chief of Staff Andrew Card agreed with those opposing the attack. The president finally decided not to pursue Iraq at that time and recalled, "If we tried to do too many things . . . the lack of focus would have been a huge risk."7 Nevertheless, on September 17, 2001, President Bush signed a top-secret plan for the war in Afghanistan that also directed the Defense Department to plan for a war with Iraq.8 White House officials later said that Bush decided soon after the terrorist attacks that Iraq had to be confronted but that he did not make his decision public because "he didn't think the country could handle the shock of 9/11 and a lot of talk about dealing with states that had weapons of mass destruction."9 President Bush publicly signaled his decision to pursue war with Iraq in the State of the Union message on January 29, 2002, though his decision was somewhat obscure and stated at a high level of generality by including Iraq, Iran, and North Korea in what he termed an "axis of evil."10 In the speech, Bush declared that the United States would "prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. . . . The United States of America will not permit the world's most Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. James P. Pfiffner / The Decision to Go to War with Iraq 197 dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. . . . History has called America and our allies to action. . . ."11 According to the State Department Director of Policy and Planning, Richard Haas, by the summer of 2002, Bush had already made up his mind that war with Iraq was inevitable (barring capitulation by Saddam Hussein): "The president made a decision in the summer of 2002. We all saluted at that point. That is the way it works."12 Haas said that he raised the issue of war with Iraq with Condoleezza Rice: "I raised this issue about were we really sure that we wanted to put Iraq front and center at this point, given the war on terrorism and other issues. And she said, essentially, that decision's been made, don't waste your breath."13 The president may have made up his mind even earlier. In March 2002, the president told Rice, when she was in a meeting with several senators, "F——Saddam. We're taking him out."14 By spring 2002, military planning for Iraq had begun, and the administration started talking publicly about "regime change" in Iraq. The next major public pronouncement by the president on national security and Iraq came in the 2002 commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The president asserted, "Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies."15 Over the next three months, some professional military officers voiced reservations about U.S. plans to attack Iraq. Although it was not unusual for military professionals to disagree with White House decisions, it was unusual for their concerns to be voiced so openly to the press. Washington Post articles noted that "senior U.S. military officers" and "some top generals and admirals in the military establishment, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," had argued for a cautious approach to Iraq. They were not convinced that Iraq had any connection to the 9/11 terrorist attacks; they felt that containment had worked up until then; they thought a military invasion would be costly; and they thought that a likely U.S. victory would entail a lengthy occupation of Iraq.16 By August, members of President Bush's father's administration came out publicly against war with Iraq. Brent Scowcroft, George H.W. Bush's National Security Advisor and Rice's mentor, wrote in an op-ed piece entitled "Don't Attack Saddam" that "there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. . . . An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken. . . . Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time."17 James Baker, Secretary of State for Bush Senior, also expressed reservations about an attack on Iraq: "If we are to change the regime in Iraq, we will have to occupy the country militarily. The costs of doing so, politically, economically and in terms of casualties, could be great."18 General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said, "We have not gone far enough in the war on terror. . . No evidence supports the Bush administration's assertion that the United States may need to invade Iraq soon, or else suffer terrorism at the hands of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein."19 Combat veterans also expressed reservations about the wisdom of war with Iraq.20 Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said, "It is interesting to me that many of those who want to rush this country into war don't know anything about war."21 Retired General Anthony Zinni, senior advisor to Secretary of State Powell and former Chief of the U.S. Central Command (which includes the Middle East), stated: "We need to quit making enemies that we don't need to make enemies out of. . . . It's pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way and all the others who have never fired a shot and are not to go to war see it another way."22 James Webb, Vietnam Veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration, argued that war with Iraq was ill-considered. Webb wrote: American military leaders have been trying to bring a wider focus to the band of neoconservatives that began beating the war drums on Iraq before the dust had even settled on the World Trade Center. Despite the efforts of the neocons to shut them up or dismiss them as unqualified to deal in policy issues, these leaders, both active-duty and retired, have been nearly unanimous in their concerns. Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long-term occupation of Iraq?23 General Norman Schwartzkopf, Commander of U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War, also expressed reservations about attacking Iraq in early 2003: "I don't know what intelligence the U.S. government has. . . . I guess I would like to have better information. . . . I think it is Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. 198 Chapter 7 / Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration very important to wait and see what the inspectors come up with, and hopefully they come up with something conclusive."24 The Lead-up to War On August 5, 2002, at Colin Powell's initiative, Condoleezza Rice arranged for him to spend two hours with the president in order to explain his own reservations about war with Iraq. He argued that it would destabilize the whole Middle East, that an American occupation would be seen as hostile by the Muslim world, and that war should not be undertaken unilaterally. If the president wanted to pursue a military attack, Powell urged him to recruit allies, preferably through the United Nations.25 Although Bush was not persuaded by Powell's reservations about war with Iraq, by midAugust the administration decided that the President's scheduled speech of September 12 to the United Nations should be about Iraq. Meanwhile, the Bush administration felt that opposition to war with Iraq was building and had to be countered. So after close consultation with President Bush and without informing Secretary of State Powell, Vice President Cheney took the occasion of an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention on August 26, 2002, to bluntly lay out the administration's case:26 "Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network or a murderous dictator, or the two working together, constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined. . . . The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action."27 Cheney's public argument that a preemptive strike against Iraq was justified and that further U.N. inspections were useless undercut Powell's argument to seek further U.N. inspections and approval of U.S. action against Iraq. At a meeting on September 7, the president reaffirmed his decision to go to the United Nations in early September, though Cheney and Rumsfeld pressed their argument that the United States should move against Saddam Hussein and that a new U.N. resolution to do it was not necessary. In his September 12 speech to the United Nations, the president framed the issue as one of credibility for the United Nations and stressed the urgent need for its many resolutions to be enforced. Citing Saddam's "flagrant violations" of U.N. resolutions, Bush declared that "we have been more than patient. . . . The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations and a threat to peace."28 Shortly after Bush's U.N. speech, the administration released a new national security doctrine for the United States that echoed the earlier neocon arguments and justified preemptive military strikes by the United States.29 Anticipating the congressional vote on a resolution authorizing war with Iraq, the president gave a speech to the nation from Cincinnati on October 7, 2002, in which he explained the need for authorizing military action: Some citizens wonder, "After 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now?" And there's a reason. We have experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate Americans are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing, in fact they would be eager, to use biological or chemical or a nuclear weapon. Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.30 The president forcefully argued that America was vulnerable to terrorist attacks and that a hostile regime in Iraq might be willing to share its weapons of mass destruction (WMD: chemical, biological, nuclear) technology with terrorists. Thus, the United States had to act preemptively to prevent such a nightmare. Although there was a debate in Congress and statements by those supporting and opposing the resolution to go to war with Iraq, there was never much doubt about the outcome. The deliberations lacked the drama of those in 1991 over the Gulf War Resolution. A number of Democrats voted for the resolution from fear that a negative vote could be used against them in the upcoming elections, and Majority Leader of the Senate Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt both voted for the measure. The resolution passed in the House by 296 to 133, with 6 Republicans and 126 Democrats (and 1 independent) voting against it. In the Senate, the resolution passed 77 to 23, with 21 Democrats, 1 Republican, and 1 independent voting against it. The final resolution, passed by the House on October 10 and by the Senate on October 11, stated: "The president is authorized to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate, in order to: (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. James P. Pfiffner / The Decision to Go to War with Iraq 199 (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."31 After the administration convinced Congress to give the president the necessary authority to attack Iraq, Colin Powell, along with other U.S. diplomats, worked to build an international coalition to convince the U.N. Security Council to pass a new resolution on Iraq. After much negotiation within the Security Council on a strongly worded, unanimous resolution, Resolution 1441 was formed. It gave Iraq one week to promise to comply and until February 21, 2003 (at the latest), for the U.N. inspectors to report back on Iraq's compliance. U.N. weapons inspectors searched Iraq with seeming carte blanche and surprise visits to sites of possible weapons manufacture, but by late January, they had found no "smoking gun." Chief U.N. inspector, Hans Blix, said that he needed more time to do a thorough job. But as the initial reporting date for the U.N. inspectors (January 27, 2003) approached, President Bush became increasingly impatient with the inability of the U.N. inspection team to locate evidence of Iraq's WMD: "This business about, you know, more time—you know, how much time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming?. . . . This looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I'm not interested in watching it."32 In his State of the Union address, January 28, 2003, President Bush said that the United Nations had given Saddam Hussein his "final chance to disarm" but "he has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations and for the opinion of the world." Bush declared that "the course of [the United States] does not depend on the decisions of others" and that "we will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding. If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."33 The War in Iraq Throughout February and early March, the United States and Britain continued to build up troop strength and military supplies in the Middle East in order to prepare for war. As various last-minute peace attempts failed, President Bush decided to attack. At 8 p.m., March 17, the president declared that "Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours" or the United States would commence military action against them.34 Two days later, 130,000 U.S. and British troops began a land invasion of Iraq and a rush to Baghdad. Within two weeks, U.S. forces were at the outskirts of Baghdad, but supply lines were overextended and had to be secured before further advances. After another week of combat, however, American troops overwhelmed the Iraqi Republican Guard. With only limited street fighting and relatively few American deaths (about 150 at that point), U.S. forces successfully occupied Baghdad. U.S. and British troops continued to mop up remaining resistance, and Iraqis began to realize that Saddam Hussein's rule was over. Jubilation marked the end of Saddam's reign for many, but looting along with general disorder and the destruction of government buildings also erupted. U.S. troops guarded parts of the infrastructure, but not before hospitals, libraries, and the Iraq National Museum were severely damaged by looters. As U.S. forces began to restore order throughout the country and sought to assist the Iraqis in establishing an interim government, President Bush declared the end of combat on May 1, 2003. In a national televised address from the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of California, the president proclaimed: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." He tied the war in Iraq to the war on terrorism by saying that "the battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on. . . . We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding."35 President Bush had been harshly critical of the U.N. weapons inspectors who had been unable to locate biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons in Iraq, but U.S. troops had not found them either. In his speech, the president said that "we have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons." He did not mention the nuclear weapons that the United States had previously asserted that Saddam was developing.36 The purpose of the speech, according to White House officials, was (1) to state that the role of U.S. forces in Iraq was shifting from war to a police function, (2) to signal that other countries could send humanitarian aid, and (3) to signal to American voters that the President was shifting his focus from war to domestic issues in preparation for the 2004 election.37 Failure to Find Weapons of Mass Destruction After the initial failure of U.S. troops to find WMD in Iraq, the CIA sent in a search force of 1200 experts led by David Kay to locate the weapons. Kay's mission was Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. 200 Chapter 7 / Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration to scour the country for WMD and report back to the president. As his search continued without success, critics of the administration began to charge that the president had misled the country about the presence of WMD in Iraq and their imminent threat to the United States. The Bush administration had claimed with some certainty that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. President Bush on September 26, 2002, asserted that "the Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons."38 That Iraq had chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s is certain, in part because some of the materials came from the United States and because Saddam used chemical weapons against Iran and against the Kurds in northern Iraq.39 Nonetheless, serious questions about the administration's claims were raised when U.S. forces could not find evidence of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons immediately after the war, despite diligent searching by both U.S. military forces and the 1200 members of David Kay's Iraq Survey Group.40 Two other aspects of the president's claims turned out to be problematic: the implied connection between Saddam Hussein and the atrocities of 9/11 and the suggestion that Iraq had nuclear weapons. Two days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a Time/CNN poll found that 78 percent of respondents thought that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attacks on New York's twin Trade Towers and the Pentagon in Washington.41 From 9/11 through the summer of 2003, President Bush and his administration strongly implied that there was a link between Saddam and the al Qaeda hijackers, despite Osama bin Laden's contempt for Saddam as the head of a secular state.42 The evidence connecting Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda was never very solid. Neither the FBI nor the CIA was able to establish that the 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta had been in Prague to meet with an Iraqi official, as the Bush administration had asserted.43 Nor could a U.N. terrorism committee find a link between al Qaeda and Saddam.44 Despite the lack of evidence, President Bush continued to link the war in Iraq with al Qaeda and 9/11. In his May 1, 2003, victory speech, he had said, "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001. . . . We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. . . . With those attacks [of 9/11], the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got."45 Yet on September 18, 2003, Bush conceded, "No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th."46 The president gave no explanation why he suddenly abandoned the previously implied connection.47 During 2002, President Bush and his administration had made a number of assertions about Saddam Hussein's potential nuclear capacity—for example, that Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program and was potentially less than a year away from possessing nuclear weapons. This was a powerful argument; even those who thought that Saddam could be deterred from using chemical and biological weapons (as he had been in 1991) might be persuaded that an attack was necessary if Saddam was close to creating nuclear weapons. The claim of Saddam's nuclear capacity turned out to be one of the strongest arguments that Bush made for initiating war with Iraq. Prior to the president's campaign to convince Congress to grant him the authority to attack Iraq, the White House asked the CIA to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq—that is, an authoritative statement of the consensus of intelligence agencies about the potential threat from Iraq.48 This NIE served as a basis for President Bush's speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002, to convince Congress to grant legal authorization for war with Iraq and, more broadly, to convince the nation of the clear, immediate threat from Saddam Hussein. In the speech, Bush said, We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gasses and atomic weapons. . . . The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. . . . He could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. . . . Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.49 Then in his State of the Union speech on January 28, 2003, President Bush said, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."50 The African country in question was Niger. The problem with these statements again turned out to be lack of hard evidence upon which the president's claims were based. Two assertions about Saddam Hussein's nuclear capacity that the administration relied upon were of dubious authenticity. The first was the claim that Iraq sought uranium oxide ("yellowcake") Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. James P. Pfiffner / The Decision to Go to War with Iraq 201 from Niger. The British assertion that Saddam sought uranium oxide from Niger turned out to have been based (at least in part) on forged documents. The CIA had serious doubts about the accuracy of the claim and had even convinced NSC aides to take it out of the president's October 7, 2002, speech to the nation.51 How the words got into the 2003 State of the Union address was not clear. In addition to the Niger yellowcake claim, the administration also adduced as evidence for Iraq's reconstituting its nuclear program reports of large numbers of aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq. President Bush said in his September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations, "Iraq has made several attempts to buy highstrength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year."52 The evidence of the aluminum tubes was also featured in the National Intelligence Estimate issued in early October 2002, which had played an important role in convincing members of Congress to vote for the resolution giving the president the authority to go to war with Iraq. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, however, dissented from the argument of the rest of the National Intelligence Estimate: "INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. . . . INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets."53 The physical characteristics of the tubes—diameter, length, composition, coating—matched closely the dimensions of aluminum tubes used in Medusa rockets but did not track as closely with the dimensions of centrifuge rotors.54 The State Department concluded: "The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."55 In his interim report to Congress in the fall of 2003, David Kay told Congress that Iraq's nuclear program was in "the very most rudimentary" state: "It clearly does not look like a massive, resurgent program, based on what we discovered."56 According to Kay's report, Iraqi scientists said "to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material."57 The administration's inference that Saddam Hussein was continuing his previous weapons programs was not unreasonable. Yet little evidence existed to support their conclusions about Saddam's nuclear capacity, and they had used claims of dubious validity to make their case to the American people about nuclear weapons and a connection between Saddam and the atrocities of 9/11. Was the Intelligence Process Politicized? One possible explanation for the administration's inaccurate claims about Iraq's WMD was that the intelligence professionals of the government were pressured to suit their analyses to the policy goals of the administration. Allegations centered around the vice president's visits to CIA headquarters, the creation of the Office of Special Plans in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the use of the Defense Policy Board. Richard Cheney and his aide, Scooter Libby, made a number of personal visits to the CIA headquarters at Langley to question the CIA judgment that Iraq did not pose as immediate a threat as the administration was arguing. Although it is appropriate for the vice president and other high administration officials to challenge intelligence agencies, it is also possible that career civil servants may see this as unwarranted political pressure. Such intrusions during 2002 concerning Iraq seemed unusual within the intelligence community and were perceived by some CIA veterans as political pressure for the agency to come to the conclusions that the administration wanted.58 Ray McGovern, who had been a CIA analyst from 1964 to 1990 and had briefed Vice President George H. W. Bush in the 1980s, said, "During my 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, no vice president ever came to us for a working visit."59 In addition to close attention from the vice president, CIA analysis was also treated with suspicion in the Department of Defense because the CIA was not coming to the conclusions about Iraq's WMD capabilities that the secretary and deputy secretary of defense expected. A number of CIA analysts perceived this as political pressure.60 In the Pentagon, according to a former official who attended the meetings, "They were the browbeaters. In interagency meetings Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt."61 From the perspective of some CIA veterans, the administration was undermining the objectivity and professionalism of the intelligence process. Former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst and specialist on Iraq, W. Patrick Lang, characterized the administration's efforts to influence intelligence as unprofessional: "What we have here is Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. 202 Chapter 7 / Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration advocacy, not intelligence work."62 One senior State Department analyst told a congressional committee that he felt pressured by the administration to shift his analysis to be more certain about the evidence on Iraq's activities. Other analysts told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration was disclosing only the worst-case scenario aspects of intelligence reports and not accurately representing the work of the professional analysts.63 Secretary Rumsfeld responded to his dissatisfaction with the analysis of the CIA by creating an Office of Special Plans headed by Deputy Undersecretary of Defense William Luti. This office was created to do intelligence analysis that brought a different perspective than the DIA and the CIA.64 One important difference in their analysis was the weight they gave to claims provided by the Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmad Chalabi about Saddam Hussein's WMD. Chalabi, who left Iraq when he was young, and in the 1990s founded the Iraqi National Congress, was seen by the neocons as the best candidate to lead Iraq after Saddam's rule ended. The CIA had discounted Chalabi and the Iraqi exiles' claims because the exiles had a stake in the outcome of U.S. policy. Thus, the CIA did not consider them as credible as the Office of Special Plans judged.65 According to Patrick Lang, former head of Middle East intelligence for the DIA, "The D.I.A. has been intimidated and beaten to a pulp. And there's no guts at all in the C.I.A."66 Another tactic Secretary Rumsfeld used to circumvent the established professional intelligence apparatus of the executive branch was his reliance upon the Defense Policy Board (DPB). The DPB was chaired by Richard Perle, a hawk on Iraq and former member of the Reagan administration. In Perle's opinion, the CIA's judgment about Iraq "isn't worth the paper it is written on."67 The DPB also had as members other high visibility neocons and hawks on Iraq, such as James Woolsey and Newt Gingrich, as well as some other former defense officials not necessarily committed to war with Iraq. Interestingly, this board of outside advisors played a much more highly visible role in supporting the administration's war plans than the traditional outside advisory board to the president, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). Perhaps that was because the PFIAB was chaired by Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to President George H. W. Bush and critic of war with Iraq. Although all executive branch agencies should take their guidance from the president and his appointees, it is dangerous for any administration to pressure intelligence agencies to distort their professional judgments to support an administration's short-term policy goals. Once intelligence is politicized, presidents will find it difficult to distinguish the professionals'best judgment from what they think the president wants to hear. Evidence of undue pressure from the administration remains inconclusive and circumstantial at this time, insofar as the Bush administration put pressure on U.S. intelligence agencies to suit their analyses to its policy goals, but it jeopardized its own best sources of intelligence. Conclusion Disagreements in the international community and within the American public about the wisdom of war with Iraq were mirrored in divisions within the U.S. government. On the pro-war side were the neocons and the political leadership of the Bush administration: Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, along with other officials on their staffs. The neocons were convinced that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to U.S. national security, and they were optimistic about the ability of U.S. military action to establish a democratic government in Iraq with beneficial consequences for the Middle East. After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush adopted the neocon vision of how national security policy should deal with the threat. On the other side were the skeptics about the likelihood that war to depose Saddam Hussein would lead to democracy for Iraq as well as those who were dubious about some of the claims the administration made about Saddam's WMD. The skeptics included many (though not all) Democrats, members of George H. W. Bush's administration (particularly Scowcroft and Baker), some military leaders in the professional officer corps (active duty and retired), and some members of the career services in the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency. Members of the career services, however, are bound to follow the leadership of the president as head of the executive branch of government and commander in chief of the armed forces. Thus, their hesitation was generally confined to internal analysis, with some leaks to the press about their reservations. None of the doubters thought Saddam was good for Iraq, nor were they against democracy in Iraq. Their doubts sprang from their judgments that an invasion of Iraq would not achieve the goals sought by the president and might cause more harm to the United Copyright 2009 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Notes 203 States than good. They were particularly concerned that war in Iraq would divert resources from the war on terrorism, alienate other nations whose cooperation was needed in the war on terror, and spawn new terrorists among radical Muslims who might be mobilized by the U.S. occupation of an Arab country. Possible justifications for war with Iraq ranged from the idealistic goal of bringing democracy to Iraqis and the humanitarian desire to rid them of a tyrant to geostrategic concerns about the future of the Middle East. That Saddam Hussein was a vicious tyrant who tortured his political enemies, gassed his own people, and invaded other countries was known long before the Bush administration decided to go to war to depose him. But the most compelling arguments to the American people were the assertions that the national security of the United States was at risk. Hence, claims that Saddam's WMD posed a direct threat to America were most effective in sustaining political support for war. After the war, when no WMD were found, the administration began to shift its justification for the war to the argument that if Iraq could become a democracy, it would foster democracy in other Middle East countries. Whether the war with Iraq was in the best long-term national security interests of the United States depends on addressing the following questions about the future of Iraq which can only be answered with the passing of time.
Who were the professionals in this case? Would you consider them to be among the "professional elite"? Why?
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