3,521. 4/15/2002

“A yearlong State Department study [the Future of Iraq Project] predicted many of the problems that have plagued the American-led occupation of Iraq, according to internal State Department documents and interviews with [Bush] administration and Congressional officials. Beginning in April 2002, the State Department project assembled more than 200 Iraqi lawyers, engineers, business people and other experts into 17 working groups to study topics ranging from creating a new justice system to reorganizing the military to revamping the economy. Their findings included a much more dire assessment of Iraq’s dilapidated electrical and water systems than many Pentagon officials assumed. They warned of a society so brutalized by Saddam Hussein’s rule that many Iraqis might react coolly to Americans’ notion of quickly rebuilding civil society. Several officials said that many of the findings in the $5 million study were ignored by Pentagon officials until recently, although the Pentagon said they took the findings into account. The work is now being relied on heavily as occupation forces struggle to impose stability in Iraq. The working group studying transitional justice was eerily prescient in forecasting the widespread looting in the aftermath of the fall of Mr. Hussein’s government, caused in part by thousands of criminals set free from prison, and it recommended force to prevent the chaos. ‘The period immediately after regime change might offer these criminals the opportunity to engage in acts of killing, plunder and looting,’ the report warned, urging American officials to ‘organize military patrols by coalition forces in all major cities to prevent lawlessness, especially against vital utilities and key government facilities.’ Despite the scope of the project, the military office initially charged with rebuilding Iraq did not learn of it until a major government drill for the postwar mission was held in Washington in late February [2003], less than a month before the conflict began, said Ron Adams, the office’s deputy director.

 – Eric Schmitt and Joel Brinkley, “Brinkley State Dept. Study Foresaw Trouble Now Plaguing Iraq,” The New York Times, Oct. 9, 2003

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