Skip to comments.Britain Was 'Weak-Kneed' Over Arrest Of Iraq Cleric, Says Bremer
Posted on 01/09/2006 6:09:16 PM PST by blam
Britain was 'weak-kneed' over arrest of Iraq cleric, says Bremer
By Francis Harris in Washington
The British Government and Armed Forces were "weak kneed" and displayed "cold feet" over plans to arrest a radical Islamic cleric in Iraq, the former US administrator in Iraq claimed yesterday.
Paul Bremer also turned his fire on organisations with a reputation for hawkishness, including the CIA, the US Marine Corps and the US chiefs of staff, who were berated for their timidity in refusing to arrest Moqtada al-Sadr, the firebrand Shia leader.
His accusations came in a long-awaited memoir of his 13-month role as governor in Iraq from 2003-4, in which Mr Bremer also denies responsibility for widely derided decisions taken during the critical months after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
In My Year in Iraq, Mr Bremer suggests that the detention of Sadr on charges of murder in August 2003 were critical to the stability of Iraq. Mr Bremer's advisers together with the fledgling Iraqi judiciary backed the arrest.
But the plan then ran into heavy military and political opposition. After accusing the CIA of offering President George W Bush a "near-hysterical" account of the risks posed by Sadr's seizure, Mr Bremer writes: "Now it was the turn of the British to get cold feet on the operation.
"David Richmond [Britain's special representative in Iraq] told me the Basra riots had 'unsettled nerves' in London. They doubted we should allow the arrest to go forward."
Mr Bremer said he responded furiously. "Now everyone has their ass covered in the operation except me - the US military, the CIA, the British military and now Her Majesty's Government."
He e-mailed his wife to say that the British had "gone weak in the knees".
According to Mr Bremer's military advisers in Baghdad, the US marines were furiously lobbying Washington to stop the arrest. American commanders believed Sadr's detention would provoke widespread unrest among the majority Shia population.
Heavy fighting eventually erupted between American forces and Sadr's militia in 2003 in Baghdad and 2004 in Najaf. He was never arrested and ran in last month's Iraqi elections.
Both Mr Bush and Tony Blair generally emerge with credit from the Bremer book, with both portrayed as knowledgeable and calm.
But Mr Bremer accuses the Pentagon of "institutional inertia" and the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld of failing to grasp the significance of the insurgency or the need to crush it.
Instead, he says, America's military leadership were desperate as early as 2003 to bring as many troops home as possible.
During a round of interviews to publicise the book, Mr Bremer repeated his assertion that he had warned American political leaders that the occupying forces were badly under strength.
The Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said yesterday: "Military commanders reaffirmed their belief that the level they had there was the proper level. The secretary relied on the judgment of the military commanders."
Mr Bremer also rejected responsibility for the much criticised decision to disband Saddam's armed forces.
"It wasn't me," he said, adding that the army had already disintegrated.
You know. I'm sick of Bremer already.
Bremer is at least right about Sadr. Sadr is a murderer, and should not be left on the loose.
Another worthless bureaucrat tries to cover his incompetence by blaming, literally, everyone else in the world for their failures.
have to agree with Bremer on this one as well...
shoulda dropped the hammer on Sadr after he was charged with the murder of fellow clerics. By letting him walk and kill at will, we essentially gave him permission to be a j@ck@ss and it also scared Iraqi's who were still unsure of our sincerity...
That must really be hard for the author to admit.
With so much stuff still classified I will hold back judgement on Bremer. What Iraq needed was not a State Dept guy, but a Military Viceroy like Omar Bradley and Patton were immediately following WWII.
Someone who could order enemies shot immediately without the trouble of a prison board review.
And, we needed to secure the Syrian border, which we have seemingly have not done.
One way would be to bomb the hell out of Syrian military positions.
Convince the Syrians not to support diversity training.
He should have had some balls when he was in charge. Bremer, go shine your medal, and fade away.
Add me to the growing list of posters regretting that the doughboy didn't get lead in the head.
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