BY DOUG LORIMER
"The Iraqi people will administer Iraq", White House press secretary Ari Fleischer declared, appropriately on April Fool's Day. That same day, Jay Garner, the retired US army general who has been selected by the White House to administer a post-Saddam Iraq, set foot in Iraq for the first time, visiting the US-occupied southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
In January, Garner was appointed by US war secretary Donald Rumsfeld to head the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), which will govern Iraq after the country is declared "liberated" from Saddam Hussein's rule by General Tommy Franks, commander of the US invasion force.
A veteran of the Vietnam War and a close friend of Rumsfeld, Garner is president of SY Coleman, a subsidiary of the military electronics company L-3 Communications, which provides technical services for the Patriot missile system being used in Kuwait. Last month, L-3 was awarded a US$1.5 billion contract to provide logistics services to the US Special Operations Command.
During the 1991 Gulf War, Garner was involved in the Patriot system's deployment in Israel. He served as commander of the US Army's Space and Strategic Defence Command from 1994 to 1996. He retired from the army in 1997.
Garner was a member of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States set up by the US Congress in 1998, along with Paul Wolfowitz (now Rumsfeld's deputy) and James Woolsey, then director of the CIA. The commission, headed by Rumsfeld, singled out three countries as threatening the US with ballistic missiles — North Korea, Iran and Iraq. These are the three countries — President George Bush's "axis of evil" — that have since been singled out by the Pentagon as targets for pre-emptive US military attack.
According to the April 2 British Guardian, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are pushing to have Woolsey appointed as one of Garner's deputies. They had originally proposed that Woolsey be in charge of Iraq's information ministry "but, according to the Washington Post, that has been rejected as inappropriate by the White House and another top-level post is being sought for him".
Grab for oil
Perhaps Woolsey was considered unsuitable for the job of propaganda minister in Garner's US occupation regime because of his candour in disclosing that a key objective of the US occupation of Iraq is ousting French and Russian oil companies from the Iraqi oil industry to make way for US oil corporations to monopolise control over Iraq's oil production.
Woolsey was quoted by the September 15 Washington Post as saying: "It's pretty straightforward. France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them."
Woolsey is vice-president of the security consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which had contracts with the US government worth $688 million in 2002. He is also a member of the advisory board of the US Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, headed by Bruce Jackson, the former vice-president of the mega-defence contractor Lockheed Martin. The CLI is a spin-off of the right-wing Project for a New American Century (PNAC) lobby group set up in 1997 by Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz to advocate an aggressive quest for US global domination.
In the lead-up to the 1991 Gulf War, Woolsey was a member of the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, headed by Richard Perle, which worked closely with the Bush senior administration in mobilising support for the war, particularly in Congress. In 1998, the CPSG issued an open letter to then-president Bill Clinton calling for Washington to adopt a "comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime".
Woolsey and Perle, who served as assistant defence secretary in the administration of US President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, are both members of the Defence Policy Board (DPB), the government-appointed group that advises the US defence secretary.
Perle resigned as chairperson of the DPB on March 27, six days after the New York Times revealed that he had received a fee of $725,000 from bankrupt telecommunication company Global Crossing while the company was seeking approval to sell its overseas subsidiaries from the US government's Committee on Foreign Investment (CFI), of which Rumsfeld is a member.
According to the NYT report, $600,000 of the fee was contingent on Perle succeeding in using his influence to obtain US government approval for the transaction. In a March 7 signed affidavit that was to be filed in Global Crossing's bankruptcy proceedings, Perle claimed that his position as chairperson of the DPB gave him "intimate knowledge" of the process whereby Global Crossing could obtain the needed government clearance.
The job of co-ordinator of the civil administration in a US-imposed regime in Iraq had previously been tipped to go to Barbara Bodine, a career diplomat nominated by US Secretary of State Colin Powell. However, defence undersecretary for policy Douglas Feith, who is charge of assembling Garner's team, favours Pentagon lawyer Michael Mobbs for the job.
A former corporate lawyer and a member of the PNAC and CFI, Feith served as special counsel to Perle during the Reagan administration. In 1996, he briefly advised Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before breaking with him for not being brutal enough in suppressing the Palestinian uprising against Israeli colonialism.
Mobbs is a former law partner of Feith's and was responsible for formulating the policy of detaining incommunicado 600 POWs from the US war against Afghanistan at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to the Washington-based National Journal magazine, "If there is one name behind the Bush administration's controversial suspension of judicial rights in the war on terrorism, it belongs to Mobbs".
The April 2 British Guardian reported that "Garner has been forced to accept a number of controversial Iraqis nominated to advisory posts by Mr Wolfowitz — including Ahmed Chalabi, head of the opposition Iraqi National Congress, who is supported by the Pentagon but opposed by the state department and the CIA".
Chalabi is the son of a wealthy banking family who has not stepped foot inside Iraqi since 1956. In 1992, he was sentenced in his absence by a Jordanian court to 22 years in prison with hard labour for bank fraud after the 1990 collapse of Petra Bank, which he had founded in 1977.
From Green Left Weekly, April 9, 2003.
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