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Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Did US plan properly?
Douglas Feith
Another day, another American soldier shot dead in Iraq.

Since the declared end of major combat operations dozens of US military personnel have been killed, plus there are constant complaints from ordinary Iraqis about uncontrolled banditry, lawlessness, and the continuing failure of basic public services.

Gavin Esler spoke to Douglas Feith, one of the top planners at the Pentagon and began by asking him how he answered the charge that America was completely unprepared for the task of reviving post-war Iraq.

I think we are in the process of reviving it very well. We're very pleased with the development yesterday in the creation of the new governing council which is a big step. We're proud of that and a great deal of work has been done on the provision of services to people and the restoration of infrastructure. We still have a number of challenges, I don't want to paint on overly rosy picture. There is a lot of work to be done. I think overall, it reflects careful thinking that went into it in advance.

Isn't the big gap that you didn't prepare properly to police Iraq which is why people are still being shot at and why the body bags are still coming home?

We do have security problems, the security problems are coming from a number of different sources. We understood that problem. We have plans for dealing with it and a certain amount of this chaos and disorder is inevitable with the collapse of a tightly-run tyranny such as that of Saddam Hussein. I think we're working very hard and comprehensively on getting on top of the security situation. We're working through direct action against the troublemakers but also the kind of development that I mentioned regarding the governing council and the development of political structures will also help the security situation as will some of the progress on the economic front.

There will come a time when the American people will turn to you and their political leaders and say, why are our troops over there still being killed in Iraq when we were told the war is over?

Nobody was ever told the war was over. The president said some weeks ago that major combat operations were over. That's true. But the war is not over. And, we have worked to do in stabilising the country and work to do in solidifying the foundation for a new Iraqi Government that will be representative and will be able to build democratic institutions for the benefit of the people there.

Can you explain what your office of special plans is for, we have seen American newspaper criticism over the weekend saying your office ignored criticisms from other departments. One former Pentagon colleague said we almost disembowelled the state department about post-conflict Iraq?

There is a certain amount of static from people who used to be in the administration and are not now. The office of special plans was simply a regional office created within a policy organisation to develop policy for the northern Gulf region. It was created in the fall of 2002 as part of a reorganisation and given all the political sensitivities at the time. We didn't think it was wise to create a brand new office and label it an office of Iraq policy, so it was given the name the office of special plans.

The other suggestion is it was created because you were dissatisfied with the advice you were getting from the CIA and you wanted a fresh look at that intelligence?

That question reflects a collection of garbled notions and that office that you refer to is just an office that deals with northern Gulf affairs and the war on terrorism it is not an intelligence office. It is a policy office. It is a consumer of intelligence not a producer of intelligence and it was not set to be an intelligence office or to compete with any of the departments within the intelligence community. That's just, I've read those stories and they are nonsense.

But the burden of the stories is you weren't producing intelligence you were reinterpreting intelligence. One said you came in with a world view beyond and you looked for things to fit it?

That is not the case, we receive intelligence the way policy organisations throughout the Government do. We have a lot of respect for the intelligence we get and I think there is a lot of overheated discussion about this but as I said, I think a lot of the stories are based on misconceptions.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

Gavin Esler
talked to Douglas Feith, Head of Policy at the Pentagon and a close advisor to Donald Rumsfeld.
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