WASHINGTON — The Army is accustomed to protecting classified information. But when it comes to the planning for the Iraq war, even an unclassified assessment can acquire the status of a state secret.
That is what happened to a detailed study of the planning for postwar Iraq prepared for the Army by the RAND Corporation, a federally financed center that conducts research for the military.
After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.
But the study’s wide-ranging critique of the White House, the Defense Department and other government agencies was a concern for Army generals, and the Army has sought to keep the report under lock and key.
A review of the lengthy report — a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times — shows that it identified problems with nearly every organization that had a role in planning the war. That assessment parallels the verdicts of numerous former officials and independent analysts.
The study chided President Bush — and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned — as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” it said. (…)