One of the most controversial moves during our occupation of Iraq was Paul Bremer's dissolution of Saddam's old Iraqi army, which instantly filled the streets with hundreds of thousands of unemployed, trained, armed men with a massive grudge against us. The controversy isn't over the wisdom of the move itself -- just about everyone agrees now that it was a bad idea. But there hasn't yet been a clear account of who was responsible.
- According to one official who attended a meeting that Bremer had with his staff upon his arrival in Baghdad in mid-May of 2003, Bremer was warned he would cause chaos by demobilizing the army. The CIA station chief told him, “That’s another 350,000 Iraqis you’re pissing off, and they’ve got guns.” According to one source who was at the meeting, Garner then asked if they could discuss the matter further in a smaller meeting. Garner then said: “Before you announce this thing let’s do all the pros and cons of this, because we are going to have a hell of a lot of problems with it. There are a hell of a lot more cons than there are pros. Let’s line them all up then get on the phone to [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld.” Bremer replied: “I don’t have any choice. I have to do this.” Garner then protested further, but Bremer cut him off. “The president told me that de-Baathification comes before the immediate needs of the Iraqi people.”
Predictably, Newsweek buried the lede; this is towards the end of the article. But if you've got a blog, you don't have to.