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That failure was compounded by the disastrous decision by U.S. proconsul L. Paul (Jerry) Bremer in May to disband the Iraqi army, which put thousands of armed men on the streets with no pay and no reason to support the Americans. In December a blue-ribbon commission created by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University had argued the opposite case. The Iraqi army, the panel said, "could serve as a guarantor of peace and stability if it is retrained in part for constabulary duty and internal security mission" something that has only just been started. Ron Adams is a retired Army lieutenant-general who acted as deputy to retired Army General Jay Garner, chief of the reconstruction effort in its first months. Says Adams: "There were some of us saying, right from the get-go, 'We think there's a troops-to-task mismatch here I'm not sure there are enough troops to maintain security.'" Ibrahim al-Janabi, of the Iraqi National Accord (I.N.A.), says that in early March, I.N.A. leader Ayad Alawi, who now sits on the Governing Council, met with top U.S. officials, including Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell, to recommend that the U.S. keep the Iraqi army and police force intact to maintain security. Chalabi, for his part, had argued for a U.S.-trained, 15,000-strong military-police force to keep the peace after the collapse of Saddam's regime. "It would have made all the difference in the world," he says. But U.S. policymakers, claims Chalabi, "didn't listen to us at all."
Too Many Cooks
That Chalabi thinks he was not listened to by U.S. officials will produce a hollow laugh in both Washington and Iraq. For his opponents in Iraq, the chaos over the summer can be laid at Chalabi's door. "I think the Americans relied on information they got from Iraqis outside the country, especially Chalabi," says Rabiah Mohammed al-Habib, a prominent tribal prince in Iraq. "These people simply wanted military intervention." Sometimes unfairly, Chalabi is blamed for encouraging his friends in Washington to think that an invasion would be a breeze and reconstructing Iraq not much harder.
Chalabi's longstanding links to top officials in the Administration are legendary. He considers Wolfowitz a good friend and the night after the statue of Saddam fell in Baghdad spoke with 12 Senators from his base in Nasiriyah, Iraq. One I.N.C. official says that in the run-up to the war, Francis Brooke, Chalabi's point man in Washington, spoke once a week to Bill Luti, who ran the Pentagon's Iraq policy from the Special Plans Office. Brooke also had access to John Hannah, who runs the Middle East desk in Vice President Dick Cheney's office. "From Day One, we were having discussions with the Bush Administration," says Brooke. "Our views were well known."