Laura Rozen

Laura Rozen is a Prospect senior correspondent and a national security correspondent for The Washington Monthly.

Recent Articles

Ye of Little Feith

There was a time when Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith seemed to run a secret foreign policy from his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon. As creator of the Office of Special Plans, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith presided over a secretive intelligence unit that was briefed by Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi and sifted through CIA intelligence looking for evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. His underlings Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin jetted off to Rome in December 2001 for secret meetings with Iran-Contra figures Michael Ledeen and Manucher Ghorbanifar. Who knew where the revolution would spread after Iraq? But now Feith's job security is far from certain. And when he gave a talk on "Winning Iraq" at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on May 4, he found himself in the awkward position of trying to explain why we don't appear to be winning at all. He made a go of it, though, trying to put a...

Damage Control

President Bush's decision to create an independent commission to investigate what went wrong with U.S. intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (or lack thereof) is literally too little, too late, according to intelligence and proliferation experts. The commission was handpicked by White House officials and vetted by the vice president, whose alleged mishandling and manipulation of intelligence should be the subject of investigation, some experts say. In addition, the commission's Republican co-chairman, Laurence Silberman, was one of two judges who reversed Iran-Contra figure Oliver North's conviction on charges of obstructing Congress and unlawfully destroying government documents. In addition, none of the seven members on the commission has experience on proliferation issues. And only one, former deputy of central intelligence and Admiral William Studeman, has a background in professional intelligence. (Former Virginia Senator Charles Robb sat on the Senate Intelligence...

Case Closed

Let's face it. "Unresolved ambiguity" is not a phrase that rolls easily off the tongues of Dick Cheney or George W. Bush. So when chief Iraq weapons inspector David Kay told the news media this week that Saddam Hussein apparently had no weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded Iraq last spring, and that Americans were going to have to face the fact that "there will always be unresolved ambiguity" about why U.S. intelligence got things so wrong, observers braced themselves for blood -- specifically Kay's blood. After all, this is not an administration that takes kindly to ambiguity, nor has it ever welcomed onetime insiders' assertions of facts that contrast with the White House version of reality -- something to which Paul O'Neill, Joseph Wilson, and John Dilulio can attest. "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said in August 2002 at the 103rd National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "There is no doubt that...

Oil Painting

Robert Baer is the kind of contact every journalist wishes he or she could trade notes with over a beer, a gifted storyteller with a wealth of war stories from his 21 years as a CIA case officer in places such as Beirut, Sudan, northern Iraq and Central Asia. After his resignation in 1997, he wrote See No Evil, a chronicle of his career and his deep disillusionment with the agency during the Clinton years. In Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude , Baer again plays to his strengths. Here Baer turns to our relationship with Saudi Arabia, offering a glimpse into the shortsightedness and dysfunction of U.S. policy that only a veteran Middle East hand like himself -- fluent in Arabic and immersed in the study of Islamist terrorism -- could provide. According to Baer, the Saudi royal family is a deeply corrupt and degenerate bunch. Sleeping with the Devil offers a litany of anecdotes that convey the almost fin de siècle depravity of the extended Saudi royal...

Checkpoint Chalabi

For several weeks, one emerging aspect of the situation in Iraq has puzzled me: Why does the Pentagon -- longtime disparager of post-conflict nation building -- seem to want so desperately to control postwar Iraq? Unlike in Kosovo or Afghanistan, where the Pentagon's tough guys resisted playing occupier, the U.S. military in Iraq seems to be embracing a central role in the reconstruction. In the last two weeks, American forces have airlifted the neoconservatives' favorite Iraqi opposition leader, Ahmed Chalabi, and a few hundred of his "Free Iraqi Forces" into Nasariya; meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has wrestled with the Department of State over control of $2.5 billion to pay for reconstruction. (Congress finally awarded it to the State Department.) Former general Jay Garner's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) was located in Pentagon offices until being deployed to Kuwait last month; even now, Garner reports to U.S. Central Command chief Gen...

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