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Cracks and blame- game within US administration

2003-04-01 11:28:16

US leaders caught in war blame game

Patrick Anidjar Posted Tue, 01 Apr 2003

US newspapers on Monday gave new signs of divisions within the Bush administration over the Iraq war, despite loud protests from military leaders that the march on Baghdad is on track.

The Wall Street Journal said some senior military officials are warning that the 100 000 US troops now in Iraq "may not be sufficient to stave off stiffer-than-expected resistance" from Iraqi forces.

The Washington Post also reported that some top Republican government officials and party leaders were arguing President George W. Bush has been given the wrong advice about Iraq by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Republicans quoted by the Post, are close to the line taken by Secretary of State Colin Powell, the moderate of the administration who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 1991 War.

Blame game being played

Reports quoting unnamed intelligence, defence department and military officials, have all become part of the blame game being played in Washington that has broken out since Iraqi forces started putting up fiercer-than-expected resistance to the US and British invasion.

Bush and his military and political leaders are in public united in saying that the invasion is on target, that the US war plan is good and that there are enough troops in Iraq to take Baghdad.

Behind the scenes, critics of the US strategy are leaking their views widely through the US media.

Lieutenant General William Wallace, senior army commander in Iraq, warned last week that overextended supply lines and an enemy that was "different from the one we'd war-gamed against" meant a longer war was likely.

And the blame game was started.

US has sent too few troops ? war planners

The New Yorker magazine's latest edition said several war planners had accused Rumsfeld of ignoring their recommendations to send more troops and tanks to Iraq to bring down President Saddam Hussein's regime.

The 300 000 US troops sent to the region is about half the number that went for the 1991 Gulf War.

The Washington Post followed up Wallace's comments with others from unnamed officials and intelligence sources against Rumsfeld and his aides over tactics and troop levels.

"The intelligence we gathered before the war accurately reflected what the troops are seeing out there now," said one intelligence official quoted by the Post.

"The question is whether the war planners and policymakers took adequate notice of it in preparing the plan."

CIA, FBI views not ?adequately reflected?

Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation analysts quoted by the Post said that their views had not been "adequately reflected" in the administration's public predictions about the war.

The New York Times said there were "two views of war: on the ground and at the top" in a story on differing accounts between military commanders in Iraq and those in charge at Central Command, headed by General Tommy Franks.

The Baltimore Sun said the American public could be forgiven for believing that US military commanders were fighting each other.

And US Republican Senator Chuck Hagel on Sunday urged the Pentagon's civilian leadership to listen to its military commanders in Iraq.

"I've been a little disturbed by the dismissive tone by some in the Bush administration's civilian leadership of commanders on the ground," he said.

For the moment, the divisions have not spoiled Bush's popularity or support for the war. But 55 percent of Americans, according to a Time-CNN poll, feel the administration gave over-optimistic expectations.


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