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Sunday | October 05, 2003

White House Centralizes Control Over Afghan, Iraq Missions

By Meteor Blades

Get ready to start hearing a lot from Anna Perez. She’s Condoleeza’s Rice's communications director. As part of the Administration’s reorganization of the way it is operating in Afghanistan and Iraq, she will "focus on a coordinated media message — a response to concerns about the daily reports of attacks on American troops and lawlessness in the streets."

In a profoundly parsable front-page article in the Monday New York Times, the Administration has established the "Iraq Stabilization Group," which Rice will run.

The creation of the group, according to several administration officials, grew out of Mr. Bush's frustration at the setbacks in Iraq and the absence of more visible progress in Afghanistan, at a moment when remnants of the Taliban appear to be newly active. It is the closest the White House has come to an admission that its plans for reconstruction in those countries have proved insufficient, and that it was unprepared for the guerrilla-style attacks that have become more frequent in Iraq. There have been more American deaths in Iraq since the end of active combat than during the six weeks it took to take control of the country...

Inside the State Department and in some offices in the White House, the decision to create the stabilization group has been interpreted as a direct effort to diminish the authority of the Pentagon and Mr. Rumsfeld in the next phase of the occupation. Senior White House officials denied that was the case, and said in interviews on Sunday that the idea had been created by members of the National Security Council and embraced by Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a lightning rod for criticism about poor postwar planning.

Nothing in the Times article suggests that this overhaul amounts to anything more than rearranging the deck chairs.

"This puts accountability right into the White House," a senior administration official said.

Golly, we’d thought that’s where it was supposed to be all along.

"The president knows his legacy, and maybe his re-election, depends on getting this right, " another administration official said.

Ah, now we're getting warmer.

The same official added, "This is as close as anyone will come to acknowledging that it's not working."

Bingo. Who says you can never get the truth from this Administration?

If you really want Anna Perez to catch our attention, Ms. Rice, focus some of your reorganizational energy on figuring out whether those Halliburton contracts, now at $3.1 billion and climbing, are making things better for Iraqis and American soldiers, or worse.

Posted October 05, 2003 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)