And Why Scholars Need to Learn the Full Truth
This paper builds upon the existing literature regarding the Iraq War and Occupation and the Coalition Provisional Authority’s (CPA) Orders 1 and 2. The paper follows from an analysis of the key experts and authorities involved directly in the decision to remove hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their civilian and security jobs in May 2003, which many consider to be the primary source of the Iraqi insurgency and tens of thousands of American and Iraqi casualties. It focuses on what is considered to be the most important question that has yet to be recognized or answered convincingly by the current literature: Who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2? It is a critical question in terms of history, the Iraq War and Occupation, and democratic leadership and accountability. To this day, no one from the Bush Administration, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ever declared publicly that they officially authorized the creation of CPA Orders 1 and 2. The blame is passed to CPA head L. Paul Bremer III for announcing the orders and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith for drafting the orders. Yet, nobody has ever identified the higher authority who told them to carry out the orders. This is critical since the orders completely contradicted the Bush Administration’s public declarations regarding the war and its objectives. It also raises serious questions regarding international law. So, either Bremer and Feith committed one of the greatest acts of insubordination in American history, or they were carrying out the wishes of their superiors, mainly Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. None of the big three, or trinity, has ever acknowledged initiating and authorizing the orders. This raises serious questions as to why there is such reticence on accepting responsibility for initiating the orders. Thus, this paper analyzes and evaluates the issue and explains more fully the implications of this unanswered question. And, it counters the attempts by some in the original policymaking group to avoid responsibility. The paper ends with a call for all scholars, journalists, and others to seek out the answer to the last remaining major question of the Iraq War and Occupation: Who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2?
As U.S. forces prepare to leave Iraq by August 2011, it is important to recognize that one of the most important questions of the Iraq War and Occupation has yet to be answered: Who officially authorized Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Orders 1 and 2? The CPA was created by the Bush Administration on April 21, 2003 in the midst of the Iraq War, which began on March 19, 2003. The CPA was intended to act as a caretaker government after Saddam Hussein’s regime was removed. It was expected to oversee the transition to a new and democratically elected Iraqi government. The CPA lasted until June 28, 2004. L. Paul Bremer III was chosen to head the CPA. Bremer’s first two official orders when he arrived in Iraq in May 2003 were targeted specifically at de-Ba’athification, i.e. the removal of all key Ba’ath Party members from their jobs (Order 1), and the complete disbandment of the Iraqi military and internal security forces (Order 2). Order 1 was issued on May 16, 2003 and led to the immediate firing of an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 former Ba’ath Party members. Millions more, however, who were required to be Ba’ath Party members as teachers, doctors, technicians, and other skilled workers, were targeted unofficially and driven from their jobs (through firing, threats, intimidation, violence, etc.) by many people, especially Shia, who wanted employment and retaliation for decades of Sunni oppression; Order 1 gave them the cover of official sanction and a very broad and open-ended directive. Order 2 was issued on May 23, 2003 and led to the immediate firing of approximately 500,000 Iraqi military and security personnel. These two orders alone are recognized by many to be the primary contributors to the creation of a large Iraqi insurgency and the subsequent long-term U.S. military occupation and mass casualties (Feith 2008; Ferguson 167-169, 186-187; Allawi 159; Tenet 426-430; Sanchez 198; et al).
Many books and articles have been written on Iraq since 2003, including those from the Bush Administration (Bush 2010; Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Tenet 2007; Gordon and Trainor 2006; Ferguson 2008; Allawi 2007; Woodward 2008, 2006, 2004; Sanchez 2008; Ricks 2006; Isikoff and Corn 2006; Dobbins 2009; Pfiffner 2010; et al.). If one analyzes the literature and wording closely, then one will notice that there is an extreme nuance at best—if not, deliberate obfuscation or outright fear of at worst—regarding who exactly authorized the CPA’s Orders 1 and 2 (see especially Bremer 2006 and Feith 2008). In fact, to this day, none of the former officials involved, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has ever taken public responsibility for officially initiating the drafting and, then, authorizing the two orders. Douglas Feith, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, drafted the orders according to many directly involved. Bremer, as CPA head, released the orders to the public, which was highly publicized. Who told Feith to draft the orders? And, who told Bremer to issue them? It is critical to know the answers since these orders were completely contradictory to the Bush Administration’s publicly declared war aims and they virtually guaranteed a mass insurgency and long-term American occupation, leading to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and American casualties and costing hundreds of billions of dollars.
Political Context and Importance
There has been much back and forth blaming, passing the buck, complete contradictions of each other, and a wide range of smoke and mirrors as to who actually initiated Orders 1 and 2. This should raise many red flags for scholars and others interested in knowing the truth. This issue went beyond scholarly inquiry and into the public light on April 6, 2008 when 60 Minutes interviewed Douglas Feith, while he was promoting his new book, War and Decision. During the questioning, Feith contradicted everyone else’s claim that he had drafted Orders 1 and 2, and then he declared that Bremer only told him about the orders just before he flew off to Baghdad. Steve Kroft, the 60 Minutes reporter, then asked Feith if Rumsfeld had approved the orders and Feith stated emphatically, “I did not find, in the record, any piece of paper in which Secretary Rumsfeld signed off on it” (60 Minutes online transcript). In other words, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush had never told Feith or Bremer to draft the orders. Yet, Feith admits in his book that he had given Bremer a large stack of policy plans, ideas, and recommendations for the CPA (Feith 2008: 423). Many others have acknowledged that Feith was directly involved in drafting Orders 1 and 2 (Bremer 2006: 39-45; Gordon and Trainor 2006: 476-483; Dobbins 2009: 55-57; Sanchez 2008: 186; Ricks: 2006: 168; et al.). Feith’s television response seemed to shock the 60 Minutes reporter, so much so that there was little follow-up questioning to this highly controversial statement. Feith has now apparently backed off the claim of complete ignorance in terms of drafting the orders, but he still refuses to say who authorized him to do so. So, with this line of argument, Feith cannot explain why he deliberately acted against his superiors’ publicly declared policy of removing only Saddam and his top henchmen from the Iraqi government. Feith also has not explained why a comprehensive policy assessment was not undertaken before the orders were drafted, let alone issued. Most experts agree that the two orders virtually guaranteed a mass insurgency, large numbers of American and Iraqi casualties, and hundreds of billions of dollars in a long-term occupation (Feith 2008; Ferguson 167-169, 186-187; Allawi 159; Tenet 426-430; Sanchez 198; et al). A gathering of the experts to assess the policy proposal would have been the prudent thing to do. Yet there is no evidence meetings ever took place regarding Orders 1 and 2 before they were issued.
In his recently published book Decision Points (2010), Bush still does not admit any responsibility whatsoever for Orders 1 and 2. Bush, in fact, acknowledges that there could have been more debate on Orders 1 and 2 and that maybe—just maybe—there could have been a policy assessment of what might occur if hundreds of thousands of Iraq civilians and security officers were fired immediately from their jobs and left permanently unemployed (Bush 2010: 259). But he does not admit initiating the drafting of the orders or tell us who did, whether it was Cheney and/or Rumsfeld. He does suggest that Ahmed Chalabi’s role in de-Ba’athification may have exacerbated the situation, though everyone knew Chalabi would do this, and Bush cannot explain why Chalabi (or his nephew) was appointed to the Iraqi de-Ba’athification Council in the first place (Bush 2010: 259). It is important to stress that “de-Ba’athification” suggested the removal of all Ba’ath Party members, which included millions of teachers, doctors, and others who were required to be members. As Allawi (2007: 152) and others have described it, de-Ba’athification also meant de-Sunnification and, thus, crossed beyond political boundaries and into religious and tribal ones. Bush and other administration officials’ responses to this day seem to suggest that the question of who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2 may be the most feared question among the “big three.” Thus, scholars, journalists, and the public should be asking this very question and demanding a simple answer from this trinity of decision makers, such as “Yes, I (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2.” It is a question that needs to be addressed and answered by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. One could describe this mission to obtain the answer as Operation Trinity.
For the scholar, one must ask why to this day no thorough research answer has been given on how and why orders were issued that were so completely contradictory to the Bush Administration’s publicly declared Iraq War objectives, let alone implemented with such devastating and predictable results. Moreover, it needs to be ascertained by scholars as to how secondary-level officials like Feith and Bremer could have issued such orders without even the President, Vice President, and Defense Secretary knowing anything about them until the very last moment as claimed, let alone officially authorizing them. Furthermore, every single major national security participant on the Iraq War and Occupation to this day declares that there were never any meetings, studies, or even suggestions regarding universal de-Ba’athification or the complete dismemberment of the Iraqi military (Bush 2010: 259; Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Tenet 2007: 426; Ferguson 2008 146-149, 190-193, 216-219; Woodward 2008: 20; Risen 2006; et al.). Risen, in fact, goes as far as to say that Feith declared that anyone in the Defense Department that tried to bring up the post-war issue would have been “…kicked out of Rumsfeld’s office in an instant” (2006: 134-135). The officially declared goals and all official meetings revolved around the removal of the top echelon of Iraqi Ba’ath Party leaders who were responsible for oppression, atrocities and other human rights violations. There was never any reference, discussion, or study done on the complete emasculation of Iraqi society and security forces. This becomes a critical issue there-after and a major question to this day.
There are many important aspects of this case that need to be further assessed by scholars. The apparent fear in acknowledging ownership of these two orders goes to the heart of possibly being held directly or indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of American casualties and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties, especially when the original war aims involved pulling all American troops out of Iraq within months of the completion of major military operations. Moreover, the two orders not only directly challenge the political leadership’s credibility with the American people, they also raise the issue of international legality regarding the complete overthrow of a country’s entire political, economic, and social system (which followed after the orders were issued). Had U.S. policymakers declared the two orders prior to or at the start of the war, the public and international community could have debated the issue and everyone could have gone on record and acted accordingly as to whether or not they supported a complete revolution inside a sovereign country.
In addition, this case leads to questions regarding the freedom and critical analysis of the media and scholarly research. Why there has not been any serious and direct questioning of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld on this critical topic is of key importance. It highlights a major problem within the media and research community as to forming questions that will ensure that public officials are held accountable, especially just before and during war time. Moreover, the lack of strong and persistent questioning on this issue prevented a public debate from ever occurring as to why Orders 1 and 2 completely and blatantly changed the declared political and military objectives of the Iraq War. The orders could have been easily rescinded before any major damage had been done. It is of critical importance as to why the public spotlight and pressure was not put on the Bush Administration when the first order went out and, especially, after the second order was released a full week later. Furthermore, it must be assessed as to whether it was just public submission to war fever and the supposed taste of victory, or whether the silence was really fear of appearing unpatriotic and critical of any official that was seen as being preeminently victorious and wise. All this must be asked in order to ensure in the future that a healthy political environment exists for successful policy formulation and implementation. In the end, if a political administration deliberately tries to veer the public’s focus away from such critical decision making that completely upends previously stated policy and war objectives, then who is there to say “time out” and ask the simple questions as to what, why, when, how, and who really made these decisions? If not immediately at the time of the decision, then why not soon after? These are the questions scholars need to address regarding the Iraq War and Occupation in order to enforce accountability, however belatedly, and to decrease the chances that this will ever occur again.
Decision Making Analysis, Consequences, and Contradictions
Since CPA Orders 1 and 2 are seen as the contributing factors in the breakdown of Iraqi society and the primary cause of the mass insurgency, it is important to understand completely why they came about. Many experts concluded immediately after the orders were given that they would lead to a very costly debacle (Ferguson 2008: 167-169, 186-187; Allawi 2007: 159; Tenet 2007: 426-430; Sanchez 2008: 198; et al.). There is no evidence or testimony of any debate, discussion, or study at any government level prior to the formulation and implementation of Orders 1 and 2, which is amazing given the titanic policy shift that the orders entailed (Bush 2010: 259; Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Tenet 2007: 426; Ferguson 2008: 146-149, 190-193, 216-219, 216-219; Woodward 2008: 20; Risen 2006: 134-135; et al.). One could assume that these decisions may to this day still be perceived as so embarrassing—if not, disgraceful or internationally illegal—that everyone at the highest levels still wants plausible deniability. Bremer may have announced the orders, Feith may have written up the drafts, but neither of the two has ever declared that they were the ones solely responsible for initially authorizing and approving the orders (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008).
Analyzing the word-for-word accounts of their behavior regarding the orders and their superiors’ reactions to them, Bremer and Feith are extremely legalistic in explaining their actions, coming so close to the line but never acknowledging that they acted without orders, while, on the other hand, never saying who exactly told them to act, whether orally or in writing (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Ferguson 2008). It must be stressed that no one to this day has ever stated or believed that these hand-picked loyalists to Cheney and Rumsfeld were completely insubordinate, even to the point of treason. Yet, they completely contradicted their superiors’ public declarations and their subsequent behavior virtually ensured an extremely costly occupation that was never in the public forum for debate. Both Bremer and Feith have, unfortunately, just left out the piece of the puzzle as to who officially ordered them to produce CPA Orders 1 and 2, at best implying that they were acting properly and according to the intentions of their superiors. In other words, they began their explanations for the history books at step 2, leaving it up to others to make the assumption as to whether they were following (unofficial) orders or being completely insubordinate (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008). Yet, they were never reprimanded, fired, or publicly chastised for completely contradicting their superiors’ official policy statements since the war began.
There is no evidence or statement that Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld ever contacted Bremer and Feith after the release of Order 1 to explain why it was issued, let alone telling them to cease and desist from making any new orders unless properly authorized and discussed by their superiors. A simple phone call would have sufficed. But no phone call or other form of contact was ever made. No criticism or direct contact followed Order 2 as well. Once scholars recognize these facts and come to terms with the apparent contradictions between stated war aims and Orders 1 and 2, then they can focus on the trinity of decision makers, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, to answer what may be the most important question left of the Iraq War and Occupation.
Analyzing the behavior and statements of the Bush Administration officials from 2003 to the present, it is clear that they have wanted very much to quickly jump from the Iraqi ground war and “Mission Accomplished” to the long-term occupation and eventual Surge. None of the administration officials have attempted to explain in detail the drastic policy changes right after “Mission Accomplished” was declared on May 1, 2003 to the following weeks in which Orders 1 (May 16th) and 2 (May 23rd) were announced. Bush (2010), Bremer (2006), Feith (2008) and others spend relatively few sentences or seconds on the issue, suggesting that their intent is to relegate the issue to a minor footnote in history. These few weeks, however, altered fundamentally the entire post-war developments and ensured a mass occupation and insurgency for years to come. Orders 1 and 2 were the most monumental policy changes that one could make in terms of the original political and military objectives that were stated from the beginning of the Iraq War.
Up to now, there have been numerous attempts to make Bremer out to be the fall guy who ultimately made the decision, implying that he had the power to make those decisions as head of the CPA. However, this seriously contradicts the reality that Bremer was appointed and controlled directly by Rumsfeld. Bremer, in fact, admits that Rumsfeld thoroughly vetted and instructed him before appointing him to the CPA (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008: 422-423; Ferguson 2008; Galbraith 2009: 53-54; Phillips 2006: 143-145; Gordon and Trainor 2006: 475). Bremer never had the power, let alone the character or inclination, to completely defy or act independently of his political superior. Every indication, research, and testimony suggests that Bremer from the beginning was completely on board with Rumsfeld and would never act without his master’s official approval (Bremer 2006; Allawi 2007: 159; Gordon and Trainor 2006: 475; et al.). In fact, Ferguson quotes Jay Garner, Bremer’s predecessor, as saying that he and a CIA official confronted Bremer in Baghdad just before the release of Order 1 and asked to have a full discussion with Rumsfeld regarding the consequences and, possibly, lessen the effects of the order. Garner states that Bremer’s response was “No, I don’t…I don’t have that flexibility. I’ve been given my orders, and I’m gonna execute ‘em” (Ferguson 2008: 149).
Furthermore, the fact that Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush did not contact Feith or Bremer after the issuance of Order 1 on May 16th suggests that there was clearly approval of the act at the highest levels. It should be pointed out that details and requirements of Order 1 would have taken many months to over a year to fully implement, which meant that the order could easily have been retracted or watered down by higher-ups without any real damage; even a quick re-hiring of fired Ba’ath Party members could have occurred without significant costs. Order 2 could have been retracted at any time and all former security officials except the few highest Saddam appointees could have been brought back in an instant. The fact that no superior reprimanded Feith or Bremer, let alone had any critical comment about the orders and the decision making process or lack thereof, speaks volumes of the Bush Administration. Although, for the record, one unnamed Bush Administration official who worked extensively with Feith later declared that “Feith ought to be drawn, quartered, and hung” for what he did in Iraq (Ricks 2006: 167), to this day, no one has ever said that any higher-ups contacted Feith and Bremer after the orders were issued; all it would have taken was a few seconds to make a phone call and inquire as to why they had issued such major policy changes without any superior-level authorization. Yet, no one made the call—and, they had ample time to do so.
Scholars can choose to start with the likelihood that there was tacit approval from and, even, secret discussions between Rumsfeld and Cheney and, possibly, Bush prior to CPA Orders 1 and 2 being declared. The key questions here are whether it was Rumsfeld and Cheney alone or together in the policy decision (both were nearly completely inseparable at the time in terms of world outlook and the Iraq War) and whether the President was in on the original decision at the very beginning or thereafter. What one cannot deny is that none of the three made any public or private effort to countermand Order 1, to discipline Feith for issuing the draft to Bremer, or to punish Bremer for announcing the order without any official authorization from the White House or Defense Department. All reports suggest that the National Security Council, the military commanders, the State Department, the CIA, et al. were never consulted on the matter or even knew that it was under consideration (Ferguson 2008: 216-219; et al). No discussion or even mention was given of massive de-Ba’athification and military disbandment. What is even more important to reiterate is that Order 2 did not come out until one full week after Order 1, which meant that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld had more than enough time to deal with Feith and Bremer and order them to cease and desist from issuing any declarations that had not been discussed and approved by the highest levels of government, meaning the big three. The fact that no one, including the trinity, has ever said to this day that they actually did such a thing confirms a very important piece of the puzzle. The fact that there was not even an effort or a word—or, even, a grunt—that followed Feith and Bremer’s issuance of Order 1 clearly indicates official sanction. But, if so, then why is there such fear and avoidance to this day of the big three taking responsibility for this approval? Why is there such trembling? Why are Bremer, Feith, and others so fearful of even suggesting that one, two, or all of the big three were involved in and gave the final approval for Orders 1 and 2? Why such reticence? Why such secrecy? Why such avoidance? This should raise all the red flags for scholars to go forth and find the answers to these questions.
The Scholarly Endeavor
For the good of scholarship and the public, one must ask and answer the following question: Who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2? It is a very serious question as to why there were not any discussions or debates on this issue at any government or public level. Why there were lower level bureaucrats issuing the most critical orders that virtually guaranteed a mass insurgency, occupation, and American casualties, is another good question. Why those lower level bureaucrats were not seriously reprimanded and ordered to stop raises another set of alarm bells as to the real truth and original intentions of the Bush Administration before and during the war. Where was the chain of command? And, given the one-week interlude between Orders 1 and 2, there was an eternity of time for any higher-up to have intervened in the decision making process and put a stop to this 180-degree change in policy, at least the publicly declared policy. Why was none of this dealt with quickly and decisively? Thousands of lives, tens of thousands of casualties, and hundreds of billions of dollars resulted from this failure in the decision making structure. Holding U.S. officials accountable to their public statements and declared war objectives should be of the utmost importance, especially in terms of a properly functioning government.
It is critical that we find out who made the ultimate decision to issue Orders 1 and 2. Democracy, accountability, the rule of law, and the issues of leadership credibility and loyalty are all at stake. If certain higher-ups had intended to do what they did with Orders 1 and 2 before the war began or soon after, then one must ask why everyone was deceived and who should be held accountable for the drastic consequences. Who made the decision and who is responsible? And, if and when the next war appears on the horizon, who will believe the U.S.’s stated reasons and goals? The American public? Friends and allies? The world community? Targeted enemies? Unless the current questions regarding Orders 1 and 2 are answered and resolved satisfactorily, then the U.S.’s credibility and power will be seriously undermined in both future conflicts and attempts to unite the international community against any potential threats.
It is very important to note here and in response to some Bush Administration officials’ past comments, that all evidence suggests that the vast majority of Iraqi security forces were willing to return to work and join the U.S. in maintaining peace and stability in Iraq (Gordon and Trainor 2006: 479-485; Ricks 2006: 161; Tenet 2007: 429; Sanchez 2008: 176; et al.). The claim that the Iraqi Army had disbanded and had no intention of returning is completely contradictory to the evidence on hand. Most Iraqi security personnel followed U.S. orders to walk away and lay low until the initial combat operations were successful. This, in all likelihood, saved thousands if not tens of thousands of American lives. Once major ground operations finished, the Iraqi military personnel expected to return to duty. In fact, there were numerous accounts of Iraqi security personnel approaching U.S. military officials in Iraq and expressing their desire to return to work according to the terms laid down by the U.S. (Gordon and Trainor 2006: 479-485; Ricks 2006: 161; Tenet 2007: 429; Sanchez 2008: 176; et al.). The Bush Administration, however, decided to ignore its previous declarations and promises and declared Orders 1 and 2. It is important to emphasize that not one Bush Administration official ever asked or told the Iraqi forces to return to work after “Mission Accomplished” (Bremer 2006; Feith 2008; Bush 2010; et al.). The Bush Administration pretended that the Iraqis had dissolved their forces and handed themselves pink slips. No Bush Administration official to this day will claim that they publicly asked the Iraqi forces to return to work and, then, none of them ever returned. It is a very important point of description and explanation. No one ever made the request and, thus, the memo, so to speak, was deliberately tossed into the trash can—as was, the entire Iraq policy that had been declared originally to the public.
The fact that to this day no one in the Bush Administration is willing to say that they actually asked the Iraqi forces to return is testament in itself. It suggests that the Bush Administration may never have had the intention of fulfilling its end of the bargain and had always expected to fire the Iraqi security personnel once major combat operations had ended and the U.S. controlled Baghdad. The sad reality that officials continue to this day pretending that the Iraqis fired themselves from their jobs and paychecks is quite astounding since there is no evidence whatsoever that the Iraqis refused to return to work. This point is very critical since it suggests that the highest U.S. officials may have had every intention from the beginning to carry out a comprehensive revolution in Iraq and not just the publicly stated goal of removing only the few highest level Ba’athist Party members. If this is true, then not only does this encompass mass deception but it also raises an entirely new line of questions regarding international law and previous justifications for the Iraq War. It furthermore highlights a very important question as to how any future U.S. government will have any credibility whatsoever in a next war in which the U.S. government calls on enemy forces to submit before battle. With the Iraqi betrayal and subsequent revolution at all levels of Iraqi society in mind, it is now much less likely that any future enemy force or leadership will listen to the U.S. for fear that any limited goals declared by the U.S. are really a cover for all-out revolution. If future enemies no longer believe that the U.S. is only intent on removing the highest level leaders and culprits, then the enemy will more likely remain fully intact and the U.S. will have to face an entire force that may fight to the death instead of a much smaller cadre of the most loyal forces to the enemy regime. If this happens, then it may result in many more American lives possibly being lost as a result of the Bush Administration’s decision to betray the Iraqis and its own stated military and political objectives. To this day, no one has discussed the future consequences of Orders 1 and 2 beyond the Iraq War.
In the end, CPA Orders 1 and 2 were tantamount to revolution in Iraq and a complete violation of the publicly stated Bush Administration policy objectives before the war. They led to a mass insurgency and a very costly American occupation in Iraq. They greatly undermined the U.S.’s leadership and credibility throughout the world. And, they raised some very critical issues of how democratic and accountable the U.S. government really is. The fact that all of the Bush Administration officials involved with Orders 1 and 2, particularly Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, have constantly dodged the issue suggests that they may greatly fear the consequences of a conclusive answer—even years after leaving office. They clearly would like this is issue to fade quietly into history unanswered and eventually forgotten, which may be more than enough testimony of how much they fear the issue. Nevertheless, scholars need to discover why the big three and their subordinates have not acknowledged their responsibility for authorizing Orders 1 and 2? Why have they been so fearful? Why was 60 Minutes shocked that no high-level discussions ever took place before the issuance of Orders 1 and 2? These are some of the biggest questions still to be answered, yet many scholars and the media have almost completely missed the boat—and, inadvertently played right into the hands of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. It is absolutely essential that we obtain the answer to this significant question. There is still time left.
CPA Orders 1 and 2 were drastic changes to a sound policy that had been advocated originally to the American public. Whether or not people supported the Iraq War, most people wanted Saddam Hussein and his top appointees to be removed. CPA Orders 1 and 2 went well beyond the limited goals presented to the public and world community. The U.S. has taken on huge casualties and costs as a result of CPA Orders 1 and 2, yet no one to this day can explain who changed the policy. Where are the big three on this issue? Who is ultimately accountable? One could suggest that, officially, it was Rumsfeld to say the least, since he was Defense Secretary and, thus, head of the U.S. military’s occupational command, as well as Bremer’s and Feith’s superior, and, then, afterwards Cheney and Bush are next in line. Given Rumsfeld’s entire relationship and history with Cheney and his official subordination to at the time, it is highly unlikely that Rumsfeld would have acted alone and without the knowledge and approval of Cheney. If so, then the question next for scholars is when exactly did the President know of the orders, let alone the plan to draft them? Notwithstanding the evidence and testimony, once Order 1 was issued on May 16, 2003, all three political leaders could have immediately intervened and put a halt to the order. And, they could easily have stopped Order 2 from being issued one week later on May 23, 2003. To this day, none of the big three has explained why they acted as they did. The silence suggests fear and, potentially, past deception. As a result, if scholars and the public do not hold the U.S.’s top leadership accountable for the Orders 1 and 2, then it opens up the door for future similar actions and results. It also would be a great disservice to all military personnel, scholars, and the country as a whole to allow three American leaders to escape their political responsibilities and not explain in full detail their actions on these two orders. It does not appear to be asking too much for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to finally come clean on this issue and own up to their political decision. A simple yes or no would be a good start. “Yes, I (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2.”
Overall, this paper argues that the most important question of the Iraq War and Occupation should be asked to Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld every time they are seen: Who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2? Sooner or later, they will answer the simple question or be perceived as deceptive and, possibly, cowards and weaklings—which may say enough and, at least, become part of the historical record. Either way, the message will be very clear to all Americans, let alone the world, that this type of behavior should never be allowed to happen again without a major public debate and official responsibility. Operation Trinity should commence. Scholars, journalists, and the public should seek out the last remaining critical question to the Iraq War and Occupation. They should put Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to the fire and ask them the one question they seem to fear most: Who officially authorized CPA Orders 1 and 2? It is the least that one can do for the hundreds of thousands of Americans, Iraqis, and others who have suffered and died because of two simple and extremely misguided orders that were never approved by the American public and the international community.
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