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Paul Bremer

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Paul Bremer

Paul Bremer
Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq
In office
May 12, 2003 – June 28, 2004
Prime Minister Mohammad Bahr al-Ulloum (Acting)
Ibrahim al-Jaafari
Ahmed Chalabi
Ayad Allawi
Jalal Talabani
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
Adnan Pachachi
Mohsen Abdel Hamid
Mohammad Bahr al-Ulloum
Massoud Barzani
Ezzedine Salim
Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer
Deputy Jeremy Greenstock
Preceded by Jay Garner (Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance)
Succeeded by Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer (Acting President)
Coordinator for Counterterrorism
In office
October 16, 1986 – May 25, 1989
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Robert Oakley
Succeeded by Morris Busby
United States Ambassador to the Netherlands
In office
August 31, 1983 – August 25, 1986
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by William Dyess
Succeeded by John Shad
Personal details
Born Lewis Paul Bremer III
(1941-09-30) September 30, 1941
Hartford, Connecticut, US
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Frances Winfield
Children 2
Alma mater Yale University
Harvard Business School
Paris Institute of Political Studies

Lewis Paul Bremer III (born September 30, 1941) is an American diplomat. He is best known for leading the occupational authority of Iraq following the 2003 invasion by the United States. He served in this capacity from May 11, 2003 until June 28, 2004, serving as head of state of the internationally recognized government of Iraq.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Early career 2
    • Foreign Service 2.1
    • Private sector 2.2
    • National Commission on Terrorism 2.3
  • Governor of Iraq 3
  • After Iraq 4
    • Public speaking 4.1
    • Memoir 4.2
    • Painting and writing 4.3
    • Board activities 4.4
  • Criticism and controversies 5
    • Disbanding the Iraqi Army 5.1
    • "De-Ba'thification" of the Iraqi civil service 5.2
    • Iraq's oil revenue 5.3
    • Financial 5.4
      • Failure to perform month-end cash reconciliations 5.4.1
      • Failure to employ qualified internal auditors 5.4.2
      • Unaccounted-for funds 5.4.3
    • Progress of reconstruction 5.5
    • Shutting down the newspaper Al-Hawza 5.6
    • Granting foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi law 5.7
    • Early departure 5.8
  • References 6
    • Further reading 6.1
  • External links 7

Early life and education

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Bremer was educated at New Canaan Country School, and Phillips Andover Academy. Bremer's father was president of the Christian Dior Perfumes Corporation in New York and his mother was a lecturer in art history at the University of Bridgeport.

Bremer graduated from Yale University in 1963 and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard University in 1966. He later continued his education at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, where he earned a Certificate of Political Studies (CEP).

Early career

Foreign Service

That same year he joined the Foreign Service, which sent him first to Kabul, Afghanistan, as a general services officer. He was assigned to Blantyre, Malawi, as economic and commercial officer from 1968 to 1971.

During the 1970s, Bremer held various domestic posts with the U.S. State Department, including posts as an assistant to Henry Kissinger from 1972 to 1976.[1] He was Deputy Chief of Mission in Oslo, Norway, from 1976 to 1979, returning to the United States to take a post of Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of State, where he remained from 1979 until 1981. In 1981, he was promoted to Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to Alexander Haig.

Paul Bremer (1983)

Ronald Reagan appointed Bremer as Ambassador to the Netherlands in 1983, despite the fact that he did not know any Dutch, and Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism and Coordinator for Counterterrorism in 1986.[2]

Private sector

Bremer retired from the Foreign Service in 1989 and became managing director at Kissinger and Associates, a worldwide consulting firm founded by Henry Kissinger. A Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, Bremer received the State Department Superior Honor Award, two Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, and the Distinguished Honor Award from the Secretary of State. Before rejoining government in 2003, he was chairman and CEO of Marsh Crisis Consulting, a risk and insurance services firm which is a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies.

He also served as a trustee on the Economic Club of New York,[3] and a board member of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Akzo Nobel NV, the Harvard Business School Club of New York[4] and the Netherland-America Foundation. He served on the International Advisory Boards of Komatsu Corporation and Chugai Pharmaceuticals.

Bremer and 1,700 of the employees of Marsh & McLennan had offices in the World Trade Center. Bremer's office was in the North Tower. In an interview with CNN after the September 11 attacks, he stated that their office was located "above where the second aircraft hit".[5]

Bremer and his wife were the founders of the Lincoln/Douglass Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit that provides high school scholarships to inner-city youths.

National Commission on Terrorism

Bremer was appointed Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in 1999. The report, "Countering The Changing Threat of International Terrorism", was published in June 2000.[6] He also served on the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism, which authored a 2002 report called "Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism".[7]

Governor of Iraq

Bremer was appointed by President Bush as Presidential Envoy to Iraq on May 9, 2003. His appointment declared him subject to the "authority, direction and control" of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.[8]

Bremer arrived in Iraq in May 2003.[9] On May 11 he replaced Lt. General Jay Garner as Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. In June, the Office was transformed into the Coalition Provisional Authority, and Bremer became the country's chief executive authority.[10][11] As the holder of the "most powerful foreign post held by any American since Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan",[12] he compared himself to MacArthur as well as General Lucius Clay, who was in charge of the American zone in Germany following its defeat in World War II.[13]

As the top civilian administrator of the former Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer was permitted to rule by decree. Among his first and most notable decrees were Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 1, which banned the Ba'ath party in all forms[14] and Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2 dismantled the Iraqi Army.[15] In 2014 he called for "a reconstituted Iraqi army".[16]

Bremer signs over limited sovereignty to Iraq's interim government, June 28, 2004

On July 13, 2003, Bremer approved the creation of an Iraqi Interim Governing Council with the stated mission of "ensuring that the Iraqi people's interests are represented". The council members were chosen by Bremer from among groups and individuals which had supported the American invasion of Iraq. Bremer retained veto power over the council's proposals. The council was authorized to select a limited number of delegates to key Coalition Provisional Authority committees, like the Program Review Board.

Bremer also empowered the CPA to develop and implement the Iraqi constitution. The constitution, however, turned into a controversial subject, when its first draft submitted by the CPA suggested banning political parties opposed to the U.S. occupation from participating in elections; privatizing much of Iraq's industries and natural resources; and allowing the unelected Iraqi Interim Governing Council to sign a binding Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the United States. On March 1, 2004, after several hours of negotiations, the Iraqi Interim Governing Council resolved the disagreements the council members had with clauses in the Constitution. A formal signing ceremony was scheduled for March 5, 2004. As the guests waited and the orchestra played, the signing was canceled due to mass demonstrations among Iraq's population. The official signing finally took place for an interim constitution, to be revised or replaced by a second constitution after Iraqi elections on March 8, 2004.

On June 28, 2004, at 10:26 am local time, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority formally transferred limited sovereignty of Iraqi territory to the Iraqi Interim Government, two days ahead of schedule. Bremer departed from the country on the same day. In his farewell speech broadcast on Iraqi television, he said, "I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope. A piece of my heart will always remain here in the beautiful land between the two rivers, with its fertile valleys, its majestic mountains and its wonderful people".

Bremer's office was a division of the U.S. Department of Defense, and as Administrator he reported directly to the United States Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States. His senior adviser Dan Senor served as coalition spokesman, working with military spokesman Mark Kimmitt.

Bremer's role as the head of the CPA is notable for being the subject of much criticism. Large sums of money have been reported to have gone missing under Bremer's leadership.[17] Bremer's attempts at privatizing much of Iraq's infrastructure and mineral wealth were also highly criticized[18] and Bremer's decision to disband the Iraqi Army is widely credited for fueling the Iraqi insurgency against the American occupation.[19][20]

John Negroponte replaced Bremer as the highest-ranking American civilian in Iraq.

After Iraq

Public speaking

After his return from Iraq, Bremer engaged in a few speaking tours. On December 14, 2004, Bremer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush,[21] America's highest civil award for "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". "He was also presented with the Department of Defense award for Distinguished Public Service and the Nixon Library[22] honored him with the "Victory of Freedom Award" for "demonstrating leadership and working towards peace and freedom".[23]

Bremer's April 18, 2005 visit as a guest speaker to Clark University, led to protests against his role in the Iraq War.[24] Dissatisfied with Bremer's speech and answers, several students also voiced disappointment at their university for having paid him $40,000.[25] Another appearance, scheduled for the public library of his hometown, New Canaan, Connecticut, on January 18, 2006, was moved to the private St. Luke's School in the same town for fear for protests. During a February 27, 2006 public appearance at Lynchburg College, where his sister-in-law is an assistant dean, Bremer insisted that his decision to disband the Iraqi military was the correct one.

Among other things, Bremer repeatedly asserted that when he came to Iraq, the Iraqi army had abandoned its barracks, and therefore "there was no army to disband". He also repeatedly defended his decision to expel Ba'ath Party members from government posts by comparing Saddam Hussein with Adolf Hitler.[26]

On February 6, 2007, Bremer appeared before a congressional committee investigating fraud and abuse and was questioned about missing funds during his tenure as head of the CPA and to respond to a January 2005 audit, including the missing $8.8 billion of Iraq's money and the chosen accounting method of these funds.[27][28]


In 2006 Bremer published a memoir called My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope,[13] which has been described as "an almost day-by-day narrative that sticks to what Bremer was doing and with whom he was interacting, without providing much analysis or introspection".[29] Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times characterized it as "an amalgam of spin and sincerity, is partly an explanation (or rationalization) of actions Mr. Bremer took as America's man in Baghdad, partly an effort to issue some 'I told you so's' to administration colleagues, and partly an attempt to spread (or reassign) responsibility (or blame) by tracing just who in the White House, Pentagon and State Department signed off on or ordered critical decisions made during his tenure".[12]

His media commentary is generally critical of the Obama administration for not devoting more effort to promoting democracy overseas.[30] He is also a consistent advocate for continued U.S. presence in Iraq.[31] On the other hand, while many other conservatives began advocating for a withdrawal from Afghanistan, Bremer endorsed the administration's new strategy in 2010, describing it as "reasonable" and giving Obama "credit for deciding to replicate President Bush's Iraq strategy by sending more troops to the fight in Afghanistan". He has also endorsed Samuel P. Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis, stating: "It is a fact of history that Europe is based on Judeo-Christian values. But Europe seems unwilling, or perhaps afraid, to acknowledge this reality."[32]

Painting and writing

After taking art lessons at a school in Glen Echo, Maryland, in 2007, Bremer began doing oil paintings of New England country landscapes, which he sells through his company Bremer Enterprises. He sells proceeds to the historical societies of Chester and Grafton in Vermont, where he moved after his public retirement.[33] He has self-mockingly described his style of painting as "evolving American primitive".[34]

The Bremer Enterprises website also provides links to books by Bremer and his wife Frances Winfield Bremer. In addition to his 2006 memoir,[13] in September 2011 Bremer published From Sea to Shining Sea: Biking Across America with Wounded Warriors, on's Kindle platform via Bremer Enterprises.[35]

His wife Frances Bremer has published two books, Coping with His Success: A Survival Guide for Wives (1985)[36] and Running to Paradise (2000), a "true story of a young man's struggle to become a priest who runs a marathon". According to Frances Bremer, "a recent Catholic convert", she wrote the book after she "became intrigued by the young priests I came to know".[37]

Board activities

He also engages in consulting work and serves on a number of boards.[33] Bremer currently serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board for GlobalSecure Corporation, a company whose focus is "on securing the homeland with integrated products and services for the critical incident response community worldwide"[38] and on the board of directors of BlastGard International, a Florida-based company that manufactures materials to mitigate the impact of explosions.[39]

In November 2010, Bremer joined World T.E.A.M. Sports, a

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William Dyess
United States Ambassador to the Netherlands
Succeeded by
John Shad
Preceded by
Robert Oakley
Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Succeeded by
Morris Busby
Political offices
Preceded by
Jay Garner
as Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance of Iraq
Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq
Succeeded by
Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer
as Acting President of Iraq
  • "Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia", Naomi Klein, September 2004
  • Paul Bremer profile, NNDB
  • Paul Bremer timeline at the History Commons
  • CPA Bios
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Bremer's Tale: The Top American in Iraq, NPR Fresh Air from WHYY (Audio), January 10, 2006
  • CPA Reunion Party January 14, 2006
  • "Frontline: the lost year in iraq |PBS" 2006
  • What has happened to Iraq's missing $1bn?, The Independent, September 19, 2005
  • My sadness at the privatisation of Iraq, Times Online, August 12, 2005
  • Former Bush aide turns critic as Iraq inspector, Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2005 – Contains another perspective on the conflict between Bremer and Inspector General Bowen
  • Iraq reconstruction riddled with waste, audits find The Seattle Times, July 4, 2005
  • Ave Maria University Commencement Address, June 19, 2005
  • Bremer Speaks at Clark University Worcester IMC April 19, 2005
  • Bremer, students spar The Bowdoin Orient, April 15, 2005
  • Bremer explains, defends Iraq war Brunswick Times Record, April 11, 2005
  • Oversight of Funds Provided to the Iraqi Ministries through the National Budget Process report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction that documents the unaccounted for $9 billion
  • TD Waterhouse Keynote Address @ IA Conference American Rhetoric February 4, 2005
  • Transcript: Paul Bremer, Former U.S. Administrator in Iraq Fox News July 6, 2004
  • Paul Bremer's Rough Ride TIMES Archive June 28, 2004
  • Bremer Answers QuestionsUSAToday June 17, 2004
  • In Iraq, the Job Opportunity of a Lifetime Washington Post, May 22, 2004 (about young volunteers hired by the Pentagon to handle financial tasks in Iraq)
  • Racing the Clock in IraqNewsweek February 9, 2004
  • Letter From Baghdad, War After the War The New Yorker November 2003
  • "Online NewsHour" Interview September 24, 2003
  • Frontline Interview with L. Paul Bremer August 1, 2003
  • Faith Gives Him Strength, June 19, 2003
  • How Should America Address Terrorist Aggression, CNN television interview September 14, 2001
  • Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism A Presentation by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer The Nixon Center July 19, 2000
  • Global Threat, pbs interview of L. Paul Bremer, III and former CIA official Larry Johnson, June 6, 2000
  • Terrorism: its evolving nature – by L. Paul Bremer, III US Dept. of State Bulletin May 1989

External links

  • L. Paul Bremer & Malcolm McConnell: My Year In Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope, 1st edn. (Canada: Simon & Schuster, January 2006). ISBN 0-7432-7389-3 and ISBN 978-0-7432-7389-3.

Further reading

  1. ^ Bremer memos from his service as deputy executive secretary for Kissinger are available at
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Memo to Bremer from Office of General Counsel, CPA dated 22 May 2003 Retrieved February 28, 2014
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Testimony of Ambassador Paul Bremer – Hearing Questions Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Iraq Reconstruction at the Wayback Machine (archived February 8, 2007).
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Global Secure Corporation, "Securing the homeland with integrated products and services for the critical incident response community worldwide"
  39. ^ Standard & Poor's Register
  40. ^ [1]
  41. ^ International Republican Institute web site, accessed July 16, 2010.
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Dissolution of Entities with Annex A"
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ a b Bob Woodward, State of Denial (Simon & Schuster, 2006): 194–195.
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^ Oversight of funds provided to Iraqi Ministries through the National Budget Process – Special Inspector General: Iraq reconstruction at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2005)
  60. ^
  61. ^ "Paul Bremer Grilled on Iraqi Aid Fund Management". Associated Press, February 6, 2007.
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^ Quote from My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope, page 302, 3rd paragraph
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ دار الحياة Archived October 7, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  73. ^ Bob Woodward, State of Denial (Simon & Schuster, 2006): p. 252.


Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called him "the largest single disaster in American foreign policy in modern times", stating that he should have been relieved of his duties "no later than" September 2003.[73]

Many of Bremer's senior staff left when he did, meaning that important documents required for the completion of the audit, could not be signed by the appropriate staff members.

His early departure was disruptive to the smooth transition of authority, as the KPMG audit of the Development Fund for Iraq made clear. In their management notes the external auditors describe trying to meet with Bremer, and being very surprised by his early departure.

U.S. intelligence sources had monitored chatter that suggested resistance elements were planning demonstrations, or outright attacks, to coincide with the time of the official handover. An early handover would preempt the plans of resistance elements.[72]

Bremer's early departure was a complete surprise. But the turnover of political power a couple of days earlier was suggested by members of the Bush Administration to thwart any plans the insurgency may have had for June 30.

Early departure

Since then, violent events in Iraq involving American security companies such as Blackwater have resulted triggered great resentment among Iraqi citizens, who view them as private armies acting with impunity.[68][69][70][71]

Two days before he left Iraq, Bremer signed "Order 17", which gave everyone associated with the CPA and the American government immunity from Iraqi law.[65] One of his former top aides is quoted as saying, “we wanted to make sure our military, civilians and contractors were protected from Iraqi law”.[66] This stipulation was later incorporated into Iraqi law.[67]

Granting foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi law

Iyad Allawi, leader of the interim government, explicitly gave al-Hawza permission to re-open on July 18, 2004.

Al-Hawza started after the removal of Saddam Hussein and was considered a mouthpiece for Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.[63] It was shut down by the United States-led administration headed by Bremer on March 28, 2004, after being accused of encouraging violence against Coalition troops. There was discussion with Sir Jeremy Greenstock (UK's Special Representative for Iraq), about preparations to arrest al-Sadr, who by early March 2004 had increased his militia following, the Mahdi army, from about 200 followers to some 6,000, in seven months. Bremer wrote in his book that "Greenstock said that this would be a difficult time to go after him...I first urged [his] arrest last August".[64]

On March 28, 2004, Bremer ordered the Bush administration's announced goal of helping transform Iraq into a modern, democratic state. This move was even criticized by members of Bremer's own appointees on the Iraqi Governing Council.

Shutting down the newspaper Al-Hawza

One of the CPA's most important tasks was the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure. Compared to the rapid repair of Iraq's oil infrastructure – with the notable exception of the meters—the progress of reconstruction on Iraq's potable water, sewage, and electricity systems was extremely slow. Defenders argued that this was due to the unanticipated volume and fierceness of those resisting the Coalition's occupation. Critics blame the CPA's preference for contracts with connected US firms; only 2% of the reconstruction contracts in 2003 were awarded to Iraqi firms.

Progress of reconstruction

In February 2007, Bremer defended the way he spent billions of dollars in Iraqi funds after the U.S. invasion. In a prepared testimony he said that he did the best he could to kickstart the Iraqi economy, "which was flat on its back".[61]

Bremer's claim that Bowen's staff made no attempt to interview his staff is at odds with the detailed account of the external auditors, of their attempts to meet with Bremer and his staff. In their management notes they describe how some of the

Bremer wrote an eight-page reply to deny the accusations and stated that, during the IG's inquiry, Bowen's people refused to interview Bremer's deputies, and the IG's report failed to mention that Bremer and his people worked under extraordinary conditions, faced a high turnover rate, and had insufficient number of personnel to carry out their rebuilding and humanitarian relief efforts.

On January 30, 2005, an official report[59] by Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen cited by Time stated that $9 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq might have disappeared in fraud, corruption, and other misbehavior. On one particular salary register, only 602 names among 8,206 could be verified. As another cited example, the Coalition Authority authorized Iraqi officials to postpone declaring the reception of $2.5 billion, which the provisional government had received in spring through the Oil for Food program.[60]

Unaccounted-for funds

The external auditors reported that rather than use a modern double entry accounting system the CPA used what they described as "a single-entry, cash-based transaction list".

When the external auditors arrived, they learned that Bremer had not made sure the CPA lived up to the commitment to hire internal auditors to help set up a reliable accounting system. On the contrary they learned that a single contracted consultant kept track of the CPA's expenditures in a series of spreadsheets.

In his second regulation,[58] Bremer committed the Coalition Provisional Authority to hire a reputable firm of certified chartered accountants, to serve as internal auditors, to help make sure the Coalition's finances were administered according to modern accounting principles. These internal auditors would be separate and distinct from the external auditors who would report to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board. Bremer did not make sure the CPA hired internal auditors, however.

Failure to employ qualified internal auditors

Under Bremer's stewardship the CPA requested $12 billion in cash from the U.S. Treasury. Under Bremer's stewardship the CPA paid out $12 billion in cash. The external auditors management notes[56] point out that the CPA didn't perform a cash reconciliation until April 2004, eleven months into Bremer's mandate, when they started their work. See Congressional hearing when Ambassador Paul Bremer and Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, testified on management of U.S. funds in Iraq.[57]

Failure to perform month-end cash reconciliations


The CPA has acknowledged that the failure to meter the oil shipments resulted in some oil smuggling—an avoidable loss of Iraq's oil that was Bremer's responsibility. Neither Bremer nor any of his staff has offered an explanation for their failure to repair the meters.

The IAMB was also informed by the CPA that contrary to earlier representations the award of metering contracts have been delayed and continues to urge the expeditious resolution of this critical issue.

On June 22, 2004, in a final press release before the CPA's authority expired, the IAMB stated:[55]

One of the concerns the IAMB raised repeatedly was that the CPA had repaired the well-heads and pipelines for transporting Iraq's oil, but they had stalled on repairing the meters that were necessary to document the shipment of Iraqi oil, so it could be demonstrated that none of it was being smuggled.

  • Expenditures were intended to benefit the Iraqi people.
  • The programs that were funded were decided upon, and supervised in an open, transparent manner.
  • Iraqis were invited to give meaningful input into how funds were spent.
  • The administrator of Iraq was cooperating with the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB)
  • That proper fiscal controls were in place, so that it could be demonstrated that none of the funds were diverted, or misspent.

Bremer was accountable to the Secretary of Defense for the actions he took. But, since his authority to spend Iraq's oil revenue derived from United Nations Resolution 1483, he was also accountable to the United Nations. The authority he derived from the UN to spend Iraq's oil revenue bound him to show that:

Iraq's oil revenue

Bremer was once again warned of the harm his actions would have. According to Woodward, when Garner asserted that none of the ministries would be able to function after this order, Bremer asked the Baghdad station chief for his thoughts. "If you put this will put 50,000 people on the street, underground, and mad at Americans", he replied. Woodward: "And these 50,000 were the most powerful, well-connected elites from all walks of life".[49]

Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath Party counted among its members a huge majority of Iraq's governmental employees, including educational officials and some teachers. By order of the CPA, these skilled and mostly apolitical people were banned from holding any positions in Iraq's new government and public service. Critics claim these extreme measures, resulting in the firing of thousands of school teachers and removing Ba'ath party members from top government positions, helped create and worsen an atmosphere of discontent among those who did not "fit in" with the socioeconomic profile the Americans wanted to impose. This policy of "de-Ba'thification", now widely seen as having created bitter, new divisions in the country, and fuelling the violence that has torn Iraq apart, was reversed in January 2008.[53][54]

"De-Ba'thification" of the Iraqi civil service

Charles H. Ferguson, director of critically acclaimed No End in Sight, created a video response to Bremer's op-ed on September 6, 2007. (This was the very first New York Times video op-ed in history.)

After two protesters were killed by U.S. troops, the CPA agreed to pay up to 250,000 former soldiers a stipend of $50 to $150 a month. Conscripts were given a single severance payment.[51] Many of the former soldiers found this to be grossly inadequate.[52]

Furthermore, a memo from U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on May 8, 2003, that said "the coalition 'will actively oppose Saddam Hussein's old enforcers—the Baath Party, Fedayeen Saddam, etc...'we will make clear that the coalition will eliminate the remnants of Saddam's regime'" was sent to both National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell.[50]

Bremer also details the situation he and the major decision makers faced; especially when the large Shiite majority in the new army could have had problems with the thought of having a former Sunni officer issuing orders.

Bremer's article goes into further about how the Coalition Provisional Authority considered two alternatives: To recall the old army or to rebuild a new army with "both vetted members of the old army and new recruits". According to Bremer, Abizaid preferred the second.

The second press release dated September 6, 2007, was submitted by Bremer as a New York Times op-ed. Titled "How I Didn't Dismantle Iraq's Army", Bremer says he did not make the decision on his own, and that the decision was reviewed by "top civilian and military members of the American government" including General

The issue of disbanding the old Iraqi Army found itself, once again, the center of media attention with two articles explaining why Bremer ostensibly did not make the decision on his own. The first press release by the New York Times included a letter written by Bremer to President Bush dated May 20, 2003, describing the progress made so far since Bremer's arrival in Baghdad, including one sentence that reads "I will parallel this step with an even more robust measure dissolving Saddam's military and intelligence structures to emphasize that we mean business."

Despite the messages the CIA reportedly communicated to the Iraqi army, the argument was still ventured that by the time Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003, the previous Army had demobilized, or as Bremer puts it, "had simply dissolved". However, as Mark Danner reports in an essay in The New York Review of Books entitled "Iraq: The War of Imagination" and dated September 21, 2006, American agents—including one colonel and a number of CIA operatives—had already begun meeting regularly with Iraqi officers in order to reconstitute the army as a working force. Implied in this is the notion that the army, temporarily "demobilized" or not, did in fact continue to exist as a coherent entity, indeed coherent enough that it could be consulted and negotiated with. This seems to concur with the position of the first Director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, ex-General Jay Garner, who Bremer had replaced. As Bob Woodward reports in State of Denial, Garner, upon hearing of the order to disband the army, attempted to convince Bremer to rethink the dissolution. Bremer was reported as saying: "The plans have changed. The thought is we don't want the residuals of the old army. We want a new and fresh army." To this, Garner replied: "Jerry, you can get rid of an army in a day, but it takes years to build one."[49]

During Bremer's stay in Iraq, Osama bin Laden allegedly placed a bounty of 10,000 grams of gold on Bremer, the equivalent of US$125,000 at the time.[48]

Bremer was later heavily criticized for officially disbanding the former Iraqi Army.[47] Bremer, however, contends that there were no armies to disband, despite that American commanders at that time were negotiating with senior Iraqi army officers on how to use the Iraqi army for security purposes. He claimed that many soldiers simply left after the fall of Baghdad; some to protect their own families from the rampant looting. Critics claimed his extreme measures, including the firing of thousands of school teachers and removing Ba'ath party members from top government positions, helped create and worsen an atmosphere of discontent. As the insurgency grew stronger, so did the criticisms. Bremer was also in personal danger because of Iraqi perceptions of him and was henceforth heavily guarded. Attempts to assassinate him took place on numerous occasions—one of the more publicized events occurred on December 6, 2003, when his convoy was driving on the dangerous Baghdad Airport Road while returning to the fortified Green Zone. The convoy was hit by a bomb and gunfire, with the rear window of his official car blown away and as bullets flew, Bremer and his deputies ducked below their seats. No injuries or casualties were reported and news of the attack on Bremer was not released until December 19, 2003, during his visit to Basra.

It was widely asserted within the White House and the CPA that the order to disband the Iraqi Army had little to no practical effect since it had "self-demobilized" in the face of the oncoming invasion force. This was a contentious claim, however, insofar as the CIA had conducted psychological operations against the Iraqis, such as dropping leaflets over the Army's positions prior to the invasion. The leaflets ordered the Iraqi Army to abandon their positions, return to their homes, and await further instructions.

The move was widely criticized for creating a large pool of armed and disgruntled youths for the insurgency. Former soldiers took to the streets in mass protests to demand back pay. Many of them threatened violence if their demands were not met.[45][46]

On May 23, 2003, Bremer issued Order Number 2, in effect dissolving the entire former Iraqi army[43] and putting 400,000 former Iraqi soldiers out of work.[44]

Disbanding the Iraqi Army

Criticism and controversies

Bremer formerly served as a member of the board of directors of the International Republican Institute.[41] He received the America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation in 2013.[42]


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