Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Bushies assume they'll be able to put a big red bow on Iraq and essentially hand it over to a joyous, rose-petal-strewing citizenry next summer as TV cameras roll, Bush beams in olive drab, and a crestfallen Howard Dean scours the want ads. They may be jumping the gun just a bit:

Concerns surface about Iraq timetable

President Bush's top envoy in Iraq has told Washington that he wants as many as 1,000 additional personnel to beef up the U.S. occupation authority amid growing concern that the effort to return Iraqi sovereignty by next summer is falling far behind schedule.

The recent request by L. Paul Bremer, which is being fiercely debated by the president's aides, underscores growing alarm in some sectors of the government that Bush's exit strategy for Iraq is in trouble....

"Clearly, CPA is behind schedule on the accelerated timeline for handing over to the Iraqis," said one senior official....

Bremer has asked for experts in running elections and finance, as well as people with expertise in telecommunications, this official said....

Naturally, Rummy is pinching pennies like a lean-'n'-mean CEO, while his Pentagon is taking a harder line with the State Department than it is with Osama:

Another top official said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is resisting Bremer's request, arguing that the CPA should be slimming down, not beefing up, in anticipation of the sovereignty handover.

"Rummy tells me downgrade, and I need more," a State Department official quoted Bremer as telling Secretary of State Colin Powell in recent weeks.

...[A] State Department official said Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official, is continuing to block some people on a list submitted by State for deployment to Baghdad.

As the story points out, a major reason Bremer thinks he needs more people is that he's worried about the logistics if Iraq is to hold proper elections next year; Rummy, presumably, has a few ideas about where Bremer can stick his logistics.

(Link via Rational Enquirer.)

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