Magazine article The New American

Costs of War-And Bad Intelligence

Magazine article The New American

Costs of War-And Bad Intelligence

Article excerpt

In September 2002, then-White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey predicted that war with Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. His candor about the costs of the war got him fired. After all, Lindsey's estimate was denounced as "very, very high" according to Budget Director Mitch Daniels, who stated that the war would cost no more than $60 billion--substantially less than the first Gulf War, which cost $80 billion. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz underbid even that figure, predicting that Iraq's oil revenues would be used to pay for the war--meaning that the conflict would effectively pay for itself.

The initial Bush administration cost projections assumed that the conquest of Iraq would be brief, complete, and almost entirely unopposed. This was the conclusion promoted by the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (OSP), an ad-hoc group created through Vice President Cheney's office to circumvent established intelligence channels in the CIA, Defense Department, and State Department. Most of the intelligence community rejected the OSP's conclusions about Saddam's arsenal, connections to al-Qaeda, and the likely consequences of invading Iraq. However, the administration chose to act on the OSP's intelligence, which proved to be nothing but ideologically motivated disinformation. And the costs of that decision will mount into the foreseeable future.

A Congressional Research Service report published in April "concluded that Lindsey's estimate was, indeed, way off--but in the other direction," notes Matthew Yglesias in the July 5 issue of American Prospect. …

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