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Profile: Karen Kwiatkowski

 
  

Positions that Karen Kwiatkowski has held:

  • Air Force lieutenant colonel
  • Employee at the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia Desk


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, July 2003

   “...groupthink was, and probably remains, the predominant characteristic of Pentagon Middle East policy development. The result of groupthink is the elevation of opinion into a kind of accepted ‘fact,’ and uncritical acceptance of extremely narrow and isolated points of view. ... Groupthink, in this most recent case leading to invasion and occupation of Iraq, will be found, I believe, to have caused a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-opting through deceit of a large segment of the Congress. Shortly before my retirement I read a secretary of state cable answering a long list of questions from a Middle Eastern country regarding US planning for the aftermath in Iraq. The answers had been heavily crafted by the Pentagon, and to me, they were remarkably inadequate, given the late stage of the game. I suggested to my boss that if this was as good as it got, some folks in the Pentagon might be sitting beside Saddam in the war crimes tribunals.” [Knight Ridder, 8/1/03]

Associated Events

Quote, December 1, 2003

   “I came to share with many NESA colleagues a kind of unease, a sense that something was awry. What seemed out of place was the strong and open pro-Israel and anti-Arab orientation in an ostensibly apolitical policy-generation staff within the Pentagon. There was a sense that politics like these might play better at the State Department or the National Security Council, not the Pentagon, where we considered ourselves objective and hard boiled.” [American Conservative, 12/1/03]

Associated Events

Quote, March 10, 2004

   “The director's job in the time of transition was to help bring the newly appointed deputy assistant secretary up to speed, ensure office continuity, act as a resource relating to regional histories and policies, and help identify the best ways to maintain course or to implement change. Removing such a critical continuity factor was not only unusual but also seemed like willful handicapping. It was the first signal of radical change”

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

No related entities for this entity.


 

Karen Kwiatkowski actively participated in the following events:

 
  

April 2002-March 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       The US State Department begins the “Future of Iraq” project aimed at developing plans for post-Saddam Iraq. The project eventually evolves into the collaborative effort of some seventeen working groups involving more than 200 exiled Iraqi opposition figures and professionals including jurists, academics, engineers, scientists and technical experts. These groups meet on numerous occasions over the next eight to ten months, preparing plans to address a wide range of issues. The seventeen working groups include: Public Health and Humanitarian Needs; Water, Agriculture and the Environment; Public Finance and Accounts; Transitional Justice; Economy and Infrastructure; Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, and Migration Policy; Foreign and National Security Policy; Defense Institutions and Policy; Civil Society Capacity-Building; Public and Media Outreach; Economic and Infrastructure; Local Government; Anti-Corruption Measures; Oil and Energy; Education; Free Media; and Democratic Principles. [US State Department, 4/23/03; US News, 11/25/03; New York Times, 10/19/03; Washington Times, 6/5/02; United States Mission to the European Union, 10/4/02; United States Mission to the European Union, 10/11/02; Assyrian International News Agency, 10/31/02; US Department of State, 10/11/02; Washington File, 12/16/02; Washington File, 12/16/02; US Department of State, 12/19/02; Washington File, 1/23/02; Free Press, 2/10/03; Washington File, 2/12/03; US Department of State, 2/3/03]
Problems and setbacks - The project suffers from a serious lack of interest and funds. In July, the Guardian reports, “Deep in the bowels of the US State Department, not far from the cafeteria, there is a small office identified only by a handwritten sign on the door reading: ‘The Future of Iraq Project.’ .... [T]he understaffed and underfunded Future of Iraq Project has been spending more effort struggling with other government departments than plotting Saddam's downfall.” [Guardian 7/10/02]
Achievements - The $5 million project ultimately produces 13 volumes of reports consisting of some 2,000 pages of what is described as varying quality. The New York Times will later report: “A review of the work shows a wide range of quality and industriousness.” [New York Times, 10/19/03] The newspaper cites several examples:
“... the transitional justice working group, made up of Iraqi judges, law professors and legal experts, ... met four times and drafted more than 600 pages of proposed reforms in the Iraqi criminal code, civil code, nationality laws and military procedure.” [New York Times, 10/19/03]
“The group studying defense policy and institutions expected problems if the Iraqi Army was disbanded quickly.... The working group recommended that jobs be found for demobilized troops to avoid having them turn against allied forces ...” [New York Times, 10/19/03]
“The democratic principles working group wrestled with myriad complicated issues from reinvigorating a dormant political system to forming special tribunals for trying war criminals to laying out principles of a new Iraqi bill of rights.” [New York Times, 10/19/03]
“The transparency and anticorruption working group warned that ‘actions regarding anticorruption must start immediately; it cannot wait until the legal, legislative and executive systems are reformed.’” [New York Times, 10/19/03]
“The economy and infrastructure working group warned of the deep investments needed to repair Iraq's water, electrical and sewage systems.” [New York Times, 10/19/03]
“The free media working group noted the potential to use Iraq's television and radio capabilities to promote the goals of a post-Hussein Iraq ....” [New York Times, 10/19/03]
Impact of the project's work - After the US and British invasion of Iraq, Knight Ridder will report, “Virtually none of the ‘Future of Iraq’ project's work was used.” [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] It was “ignored by Pentagon officials,” the New York Times will also observe. [New York Times, 10/19/03] Iraq expert and former CIA analyst Judith Yaphe, who is one of the American experts involved in the “Future of Iraq” project, will tell American Prospect magazine in May 2003: “[The Office of the Secretary of Defense] has no interest in what I do.” She will also complain about how the Defense Department prevented the State Department from getting involved in the post-war administration of Iraq. “They've brought in their own stable of people from AEI [American Enterprise Institute], and the people at the State Department who worked with the Iraqi exiles are being kept from Garner,” she will explain. [American Prospect, 5/1/03] One of those people is Tom Warrick, the “Future of Iraq” project director. When retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the first US administrator in Iraq, requests that Warrick join his staff, Pentagon civilians veto the appointment. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; New York Times, 10/19/03] Other sources will also say that the Pentagon purposefully ignored the work of the “Future of Iraq” project. Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who retires from the Pentagon's Near East/South Asia bureau on July 1, will tell Knight Ridder Newspapers that she and her colleagues were instructed by Pentagon officials in the Office of Special Plans to ignore the State Department's concerns and views. “We almost disemboweled State,” Kwiatkowski will recall. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] After the fall of Saddam Hussein, critics will say that several of the post-war problems encountered could have been avoided had the Pentagon considered the warnings and recommendations of the “Future of Iraq” project. [New York Times, 10/19/03; American Prospect, 5/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Tom Warrick, Jay Garner, Karen Kwiatkowski, Judith Yaphe
          

September 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, adamant hawks, rename the Northern Gulf Affairs Office on the Pentagon's fourth floor (in the seventh corridor of D Ring) the “Office of Special Plans” (OSP) and increase its four-person staff to sixteen. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski] William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Vice President Cheney, is put in charge of the day-to-day operations. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The Office of Special Plans is staffed with a tight group of like-minded neoconservative ideologues, who are known advocates of regime change in Iraq. Notably, the staffers have little background in intelligence or Iraqi history and culture. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, A Pentagon adviser] They hire “scores of temporary ‘consultants’ ... including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing think-tanks in the US capital.” Neoconservative ideologues, like Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich, are afforded direct input into the Office of Special Plans. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The office works alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau, also under the authority of Douglas Feith [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The official business of Special Plans is to help plan for post-Saddam Iraq. The office's staff members presumably “develop defense policies aimed at building an international coalition, prepare the secretary of defense and his top deputies for interagency meetings, coordinate troop-deployment orders, craft policies for dealing with prisoners of war and illegal combatants, postwar assistance and reconstruction policy planning, postwar governance, Iraqi oil infrastructure policy, postwar Iraqi property disputes, war crimes and atrocities, war-plan review and, in their spare time, prepare congressional testimony for their principals.” [Insight, 12/2/03] But according to numerous well-placed sources, the office becomes a source for many of the administration's prewar allegations against Iraq. It is accused of exaggerating, politicizing, and misrepresenting intelligence, which is “stovepiped” to top administration officials who use the intelligence in their policy decisions on Iraq. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Telegraph, 7/11/2004; CNN, 7/11/2004 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] Colin Powell is said to have felt that Cheney and the neoconservatives in this “Gestapo” office had established what was essentially a separate government. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/2004 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] Some of the people associated with this office were earlier involved with the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also known as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). Among the claims critics find most troubling about the office are:
The office relies heavily on accounts from Iraqi exiles and defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), long considered suspect by other US intelligence agencies. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] One defector in particular, code-named “Curve Ball,” provides as much as 98% of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/2004] Much of the information provided by the INC's sources consists of “misleading and often faked intelligence reports,” which often flow to Special Plans and NESA directly, “sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service and sometimes through the INC's own US-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] According to Karen Kwiatkowski, the movement of intelligence from the INC to the Office of Special Plans is facilitated by Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich. [Newsweek, 12/15/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Salon, 3/10/2004 Sources: Memo, Karen Kwiatkowski] Bruner “was Chalabi's handler,” Kwiatkowski will tell Mother Jones. “He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks.” [Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
The Office of Special Plans purposefully ignores intelligence that undermines the case for war while exaggerating any leads that support it. “It wasn't intelligence,—it was propaganda,” Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked at the NESA desk, will later explain. “They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03; New York Times, 10/24/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Ellen Tauscher, Unnamed former intelligence official, Greg Thielmann]
The OSP bypasses established oversight procedures by sending its intelligence assessments directly to the White House and National Security Council without having them first vetted by a review process involving other US intelligence agencies. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, David Obey, Greg Thielmann] The people at Special Plans are so successful at bypassing conventional procedures, in part, because their neoconservative colleagues hold key positions in several other agencies and offices. Their contacts in other agencies include: John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International; Bolton's advisor, David Wurmser, a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, who was just recently working in a secret Pentagon planning unit at Douglas Feith's office (see Shortly after September 11, 2001); Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Elliott Abrams, The National Security Council?s top Middle East aide; and Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey and Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board. The office provides very little information about its work to other US intelligence offices. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03 Sources: David Obey, Greg Thielmann, Karen Kwiatkowski, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war]
Lastly, the people involved in Special Plans openly exhibit strong pro-Israel and anti-Arab bias. The problem, note critics, is that the analysis of intelligence is supposed to be apolitical and untainted by ideological viewpoints. [American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] According to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate?s Intelligence Committee, Special Plans is the group responsible for the claim Bush will make in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country (see January 28, 2003). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03; The Nation, 6/19/03] After the existence of the Office of Special Plans is revealed to the public, the Pentagon will deny that it served as a direct conduit to the White House for misleading intelligence, instead claiming that its activities had been limited to postwar plans for Iraq. [New Yorker, 5/5/03] And a December 2003 opinion piece published in Insight magazine will call the allegations surrounding the Office of Special Plans the work of conspiracy theorists. [Insight, 12/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Elliott Abrams, Colin Powell, Stephen Hadley, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, Colonel Bruner, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey, Elizabeth Cheney, Kenneth Adelman, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, Karen Kwiatkowski, Douglas Feith  Additional Info 
          

December 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       Elliott Abrams, a special assistant to President George W. Bush on the National Security Council [NSC] is appointed to senior director for Near East and North African affairs within the NSC. Neoconservatives working at the Pentagon's Near East South Asia (NESA) desk worked hard to get Abrams appointed. “The day he got (the appointment), they were whooping and hollering, ‘We got him in, we got him in,’” Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, tells Inter Press Service. Abrams, a controversial figure with close ties to Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, had been convicted of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, though he was later pardoned by George W. Bush's father. [Insight, 12/9/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03]
People and organizations involved: Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Karen Kwiatkowski
          

February 5, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       The US Department of Defense wires Turkey a 10-page document containing answers to a list of 51 questions that had been given to the US ambassador in Ankara by the Turkish government. Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who saw the list, will later recall: “The questions addressed things like after-war security arrangements, refugees, border control, stability in the Kurdish north, and occupation plans. But every third answer was either ‘To be determined’ or ‘We're working on that’ or ‘This scenario is unlikely.’ At one point, an answer included the ‘fact’ that the United States military would physically secure the geographic border of Iraq.” Commenting on this last answer, Kwiatkowski notes, “Curious, I checked the length of the physical border of Iraq. Then I checked out the length of our own border with Mexico. Given our exceptional success in securing our own desert borders, I found this statement interesting.” [American Conservative, 12/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Karen Kwiatkowski
          


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