Grading The Iraq War Planners

Defense Intelligence Agency seal over a map and flag of Iraq, with weapons of mass-destruction symbols AP / CBS

Town by town, American troops are still hunting for the enemy. CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin reports that the general who commanded the army's race to Baghdad is second guessing himself for not having gotten there even faster than he did.

"Getting here 24 hours earlier may have allowed us to cut off more of their stuff," said General William Wallace. "It may even have allowed us to contain some of the regime leadership that subsequently escaped."

The speed with which U.S. forces drove Saddam Hussein from power had been credited with ending the war before any of the worst case scenarios compiled by military planners could happen.

"There's just a whole lot of things that didn't go wrong, that could have been terrible and didn't happen," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

But things did go wrong -- just not in the way the Pentagon had envisioned. One of the biggest fears was that U.S. troops would become bogged down in urban combat on the road to Baghdad. That didn't happen, but now U.S. troops in places like Fallujah are fighting an urban guerrilla war.

Another fear was that Saddam would sabotage Iraq's oil fields just as he had done in Kuwait during the first Gulf war. That didn't happen either, but Iraq's oil industry has been sabotaged nevertheless.

Oil is Iraq's most valuable asset and is expected to pay for much of the reconstruction. But one of Iraq's main pumping stations has been damaged beyond repair by looters.

It will be the middle of next year before Iraq's oil production is back to pre-war levels.

"The thieves, they come here and destroy everything," recalls an Iraqi named Ambadi.

And then there was the worst nightmare of all -- that Saddam would launch chemical or biological weapons. That didn't happen either, and so far the U.S. has not found any sign those weapons even existed.

Now the U.S. is facing a different kind of nightmare -- the possibility the intelligence that Secretary of State Powell presented to the United Nations was wrong -- the possibility, in other words, that the war was based on a false premise.
  • Justine Blau

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