CPA Internal Memo States Missteps Threaten Iraq’s Chances for Democracy

CPA Official Portrays an Iraq Mired in Dysfunction and Corruption

Contact: Roxanne Cooper

Washington, D.C. – April 20, 2004 – A closely held memo written by a Coalition Provisional Authority official contradicts the rosy view of Iraq offered in public statements by the Bush Administration, according to a story written by freelance reporter Jason Vest, who obtained the memo. The story was commissioned by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and will be published in more than 60 alternative newsweeklies either in print and/or online this week. The story is available online now at

The memo’s author is described by the Western intelligence official who provided Vest with the communique as a steadfast advocate of “transforming” the Middle East, beginning with “regime change” in Iraq. Despite his continuing support for the US invasion and occupation, he charges in his memo, among other things, that the CPA:

* Is unwittingly “driving the weapons market” by arming the Iraqi police, who “sell their US-supplied weapons on the black market; they are promptly re-supplied (by the CPA). Interior ministry weapons buy-backs keep the price of arms high.”

* Has allowed the Iraqi Governing Council to foster cronyism and corruption, with Council members choosing “their sons and brothers-in-law” to staff Iraqi government ministries

* Is isolated from ordinary Iraqis “by [its] security bubble” in the Green Zone. The memo derides the US government for spending “millions importing sport utility vehicles which are used exclusively to drive the kilometer and a half” between CPA and Governing Council headquarters.

* Has enforced a border-security policy that is “completely irrelevant,” and is so dysfunctional that “it is undeniable that a crumbling Baathist regime did better than we have” in policing Iraq’s borders.

“Baghdadis have an uneasy sense that they are heading towards civil war,” the memo states. “Sunnis, Shias, and Kurd professionals say that they themselves, friends, and associates are buying weapons fearing for the future.”

Official Statement, AAN Executive Director, Richard Karpel:

“Alternative newspapers often lack the resources to cover international events, so we feel good about being able to break this important story.

“This is a lengthy piece about serious matters, and it represents the kind of reporting that alternative weeklies have always been committed to. Unlike the daily newspaper industry, where many companies have decided they need to dumb down their product in order to reach younger readers, we believe there are millions of smart, serious young people who are interested in reading about things besides shopping and celebrities. We will continue to cater to these influential readers.”


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