Bremer Says U.S. Was Surprised by Insurgency

Saturday, January 7, 2006

L. Paul Bremer, who led the civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, told NBC-TV that the United States did not anticipate the insurgency in the country, the network said yesterday.

Bremer, interviewed about his book on Iraq, recounted the decision to disband the Iraqi army quickly after the U.S. arrival in Baghdad, a move many experts consider a major miscalculation. When asked who was to blame for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and Americans after the official end of combat, he said, "We really didn't see the insurgency coming," NBC said in a news release.

The network, which did not publish a transcript of the interview, added that Bremer's comments suggested that "the focus of the war effort was in the wrong place."

The book, "My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope," is due for release Monday. The interview is to air Sunday night on "Dateline NBC."

Bremer also said he was deeply concerned about fighting insurgents and "became increasingly worried about the Pentagon's push to downsize the number of U.S. forces in Iraq by spring 2004," the network said.

Bremer said he raised his concerns about the numbers and quality of forces with President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and senior military officials.

Bremer said that he did everything he could do in Iraq and that "the president, in the end, is responsible for making decisions," according to the network.

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