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Army keeps lid on report critical of Iraq aftermath

WASHINGTON — 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 Corp., a federally financed center that conducts research for the military.

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After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called "Rebuilding Iraq." RAND researchers submitted 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.

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A review of the lengthy report - a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times - shows that it identified problems with just about 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.

Donald H. Rumsfeld's Defense Department was given the lead in overseeing the postwar period in Iraq despite its "lack of capacity for civilian reconstruction planning and execution."

Colin L. Powell's State Department produced a study on the future of Iraq that identified important issues but was of "uneven quality" and "did not constitute an actionable plan."

Gen. Tommy R. Franks, whose Central Command oversaw the military operation in Iraq, had a "fundamental misunderstanding" of what the military needed to do to secure postwar Iraq, the study said.

The regulations that govern the Army's relations with the Arroyo Center, the division of RAND that does research for the Army, stipulate that Army officials are to review reports in a timely fashion to ensure that classified information is not released. But the rules also note that the officials are not to "censor" analysis or prevent the dissemination of material critical of the Army.

The report on rebuilding Iraq was part of a seven-volume series by RAND on the lessons learned from the war. Asked why the report has not been published, Timothy Muchmore, a civilian Army official, said that it had ventured too far from issues that directly involve the Army.

"Some of the RAND findings and recommendations were determined to be outside the purview of the Army and therefore of limited value in informing Army policies, programs and priorities," Muchmore said in a statement.

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Warren Robak, a RAND spokesman, declined to talk about the contents of the study but said the organization favored publication as a matter of general policy.

"RAND always endeavors to publish as much of our research as possible, in either unclassified form or in classified form for those with the proper security clearances," Robak said in a statement.



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