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Career envoy to take over rebuilding of Iraq.

Bremer will be Garner's boss; small victory seen for State Dept

Friday, May 02, 2003

By Mike Allen, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- President Bush plans to give a conservative career diplomat authority over the Pentagon's Iraqi reconstruction effort, setting a fresh course for an undertaking that has had mixed results, administration officials said yesterday.

L. Paul Bremer III, an expert on terrorism and former consultant with Kissinger Associates, will be named special envoy and civil administrator of Iraq today, the officials said. He'll report to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and will be the new boss of Jay Garner, the retired Army lieutenant general who's been in charge of rebuilding Iraq.

Officials said Bremer will have a broad charter that makes him responsible for forming an interim government and putting Iraqis on the road to choosing their own leaders. Bush hopes Bremer will elicit support from nations that have balked at underwriting a Pentagon-dominated operation, sources said.

The appointment puts an authoritative figure in charge of a process that has been marked by divisions within the Bush administration and some criticism within Iraq, where the United States has been faulted for using heavy-handed tactics and for being ill-prepared for the chaos that erupted after U.S.-led forces toppled the government of Saddam Hussein.

State Department officials said they view the appointment of Bremer, who was a top aide to six secretaries of state during 23 years as a foreign service officer, as a small victory in their bitter turf war with Pentagon rivals.

But Bremer, 61, is described as a hard-nosed hawk who's close to the neoconservative wing of the Pentagon.

He's supported by Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, officials said, and White House aides said the appointment affirms Bush's satisfaction with Pentagon control over Iraq until a new government is in place. Officials at the White House and Pentagon said the appointment has been in the works for several weeks.

Garner, director of the Pentagon's new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, will continue to oversee policing, the restoration of communications and utilities, and planned improvements to Iraq's schools and roads, officials said.

Negotiations with potential Iraqi leaders will continue to be handled by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy overseeing Iraq's political development and deputy assistant secretary of state Ryan Crocker.

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