More famously known for his stint in post-invasion Iraq, Paul Bremer was appointed by President George W. Bush to oversee as administrator, the reconstruction of Iraq. In his role as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, he reported primarily to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and exercised authority over Iraq's civil administration. He served in this capacity from May 11, 2003 until limited Iraqi sovereignty was restored on June 28, 2004. Bremer was assigned much of the blame for the insurgency in Iraq that resulted from his reportedly unilateral decision to formally dissolve the Iraqi Army in May 2003.
That same year he joined the Foreign Service, which sent him first to Kabul, Afghanistan, as a general officer. He was assigned to Blantyre, Malawi, as economic and commercial officer from 1968 to 1971.
During the 1970s, Bremer held various domestic posts with the State Department, including posts as an assistant to Henry Kissinger from 1972–76. He was Deputy Chief of Mission in Oslo from 1976–79, returning to the US to take a post of Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of State, where he remained from 1979–81. In 1981, he was promoted to Executive Secretary and Special Assistant to Alexander Haig.
Ronald Reagan appointed Bremer as Ambassador to the Netherlands in 1983 and Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism in 1986. Bremer retired from the Foreign Service in 1989 and became managing director at Kissinger and Associates, a worldwide consulting firm founded by Henry Kissinger. A Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, Bremer received the State Department Superior Honor Award, two Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, and the Distinguished Honor Award from the Secretary of State. Before rejoining government in 2003, he was Chairman and CEO of Marsh Crisis Consulting, a risk and insurance services firm which is a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., a trustee on the Economic Club of New York, and a board member of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Akzo Nobel NV, the Harvard Business School Club of New York and The Netherlands-America Foundation. He served on the International Advisory Boards of Komatsu Corporation and Chugai Pharmaceuticals.
Bremer was appointed Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in 1999. He also served on the National Academy of Science Commission examining the role of Science and Technology in countering terrorism. Bremer and his wife were the founders of the Lincoln/Douglass Scholarship Foundation, a Washington-based not-for-profit organization that provides high school scholarships to inner city youths.
On the day Al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two hijacked American commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York City, Bremer and 1,700 of his employees at Marsh & McLennan had offices in both towers. Bremer's office was in the South Tower. He and his people occupied floors at and "above where the second aircraft hit. At the time of his television interview with CNN on September 14, 2001, 450 of his colleagues were unaccounted for; 295 were eventually counted as dead.
Three hours after a commercial airliner crashed into the South Tower, Bremer appeared for a televised interview. As a leading counter-terrorist expert, Bremer offered his opinion on what will likely happen and pinpointed Osama bin Laden as the terrorist leader responsible for the attack on U.S. soil .
In late 2001, along with former Attorney General Edwin Meese, Bremer co-chaired the Heritage Foundation's Homeland Security Task Force, which created a blueprint for the White House's Department of Homeland Security. For two decades Bremer has been a regular at Congressional hearings and is recognized as an expert on terrorism and internal security. Some of Bremer's published work includes "Warfare & Defence Military Science Alliance Response to Nuclear Weapons Proliferation", "The Alliance Response to Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Deterrence, Defense, and Cooperative Options", and "Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism: Report from the National Commission on Terrorism", a New York Times article "What I Really Said About Iraq", and his first book, "My Year In Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope".
Bremer was awarded on December 14, 2004 the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civil award for "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." "He was also presented with the Department of Defense award for Distinguished Public Service and the Nixon Library honored him with the "Victory of Freedom Award" for "demonstrating leadership and working towards peace and freedom.
Bremer is married to the former Frances Winfield. They have two adult children and four grandchildren. He received an honorary doctor of law from Ave Maria University, June 19, 2005. He has competed in triathlons and in marathons. Other sports activities including hiking, cycling and snow skiing. A Roman Catholic, Paul Bremer was given the nickname "Jerry" after a renowned Bible translator and religious historian known today as St. Jerome, whom Bremer pointed out during a guest appearance on Comedy Central, is his patron saint.
Originally an Episcopalian, he and his wife, Francie, converted to Catholicism in 1994. "He is a man of great personal faith", quoted Francie Bremer. "There is no doubt in my mind that I cannot succeed in this mission without the help of God", said Bremer. "The job is simply too big and complex for any one person, or any group of people to carry out successfully."..."We need God's help and seek it constantly."
Some of Paul Bremer's personal interests include gourment French cooking. He was teaching cooking classes in Vermont before he was shipped off to Iraq.. From his extensive travels throughout the world, Bremer has mentioned in an interview that his favorite cuisines include French and Chinese cuisines. He is also interested in gardening, and he owns a vegetable garden. He captures New England landscapes in oil. Bremer held his first gallery exhibit at "the Framery of Vermont in Bellows Falls" in September 2008. His original oil paintings were being sold for $200 to $450. Sales proceeds were donated to the Chester Historical Society.
As the top civil administrator of the former Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer was tasked with the challenging job of overseeing the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq until the country was deemed to be in a state in which it could be self-governed. He was empowered to issue decrees to modify Iraq's infrastructure, including such notable decrees as removing all restrictions on freedom of assembly, suspending the use of the death penalty, upholding Saddam Hussein's union laws, and establishing a Central Criminal Court of Iraq. Pre-war and post-war contingencies were different from what actually took place.
On July 13, 2003, Bremer approved the creation of an Iraqi Interim Governing Council as a way of "ensuring that the Iraqi people's interests are represented." The council members were chosen from prominent political, ethnic, and religious leaders who had opposed Saddam Hussein. Bremer retained veto power over the council's proposals. The council was authorized to select a limited number of delegates to key Coalition Provisional Authority committees, like the Program Review Board.
The other major milestone was the development and approval of an interim constitution. On March 1, 2004 after several hours of negotiations, with Bremer acting as mediator, the Iraqi Interim Governing Council resolved the disagreements the council members had with clauses written in the interim constitution. A formal signing ceremony was scheduled for that Friday, March 5, 2004. The stage was set and over 200 guests were present to witness the accomplishment of a major milestone. As the guests waited and the orchestra played, the signing was canceled due to objections by certain Shia members in the council, most notably by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a prominent religious leader in Iraq. The official signing finally took place the following Monday, March 8, 2004.
On June 28, 2004 at 10:26 AM local time, the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority formally transferred limited sovereignty of Iraqi territory to the Iraqi Interim Government, two days ahead of schedule. Bremer departed from the country on the same day. In his farewell speech broadcast on Iraqi television, he said, "I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope. A piece of my heart will always remain here in the beautiful land between the two rivers with its fertile valleys, its majestic mountains and its wonderful people..."
Bremer's office was a division of the United States Department of Defense, and as Administrator he reported directly to the United States Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States. His senior adviser Dan Senor served as coalition spokesman, working with military spokesman Mark Kimmitt.
John Negroponte replaced Bremer as the highest ranking American civilian in Iraq.
A former U.S. State Department official suggested that Bremer was the wrong man for the job. In a Newsday article, "Diplomatic About-Face/Sources: Garner out in Iraq shuffle" by Knut Royce, May 2, 2003, an unnamed former senior State Department official who worked with Bremer is quoted as saying, Bremer is a "voracious opportunist with voracious ambitions. What he knows about Iraq could not quite fill a thimble. What he knows about any part of the world would not fill a thimble. But what he knows about Washington infighting could fill three or four bushel baskets." This retired official added however that the selection of Bremer is "not all that bad of an appointment" and that "he's not going to be a rubber stamp."
The move was widely criticized for creating a large pool of armed & disgruntled youths for the insurgency to draw recruits from. Former soldiers took to the streets in mass protests to demand back pay. Many of them threatened violence if their demands were not met.
It was widely asserted within the White House and the CPA that the order to disband the Iraqi Army had little to no practical effect since it had "self-demobilized" in the face of the oncoming invasion force. This however was revealed to be false insofar as the CIA had conducted psychological operations against the Iraqis which included dropping leaflets over the Army's positions prior to the invasion. The leaflets ordered the Iraqi Army to abandon their positions, return to their homes, and await further instructions. In the defense of those involved in the decision making process, it was apparently unknown to them at the time that the CIA had done this.
Bremer was later heavily criticized for officially disbanding the former Iraqi Army. Bremer, however, contends that there were no armies to disband. He says that the brutality of Saddam's rule over his people and his own Iraqi soldiers led to many just leaving after the fall of Baghdad to go home; some to protect their own families from the criminal activities such as rampant looting. Critics claimed his extreme measures, including the firing of thousands of school teachers and removing Ba'ath party members from top government positions, helped create and worsen an atmosphere of discontent among those who did not "fit in" with the socioeconomic profile the Americans were working with. As the insurgency grew stronger, so did the criticisms. Bremer was also in personal danger because of Iraqi perceptions of him and was henceforth heavily guarded. Attempts to assassinate the administrator took place a few times, although none of them succeeded. One of the more publicized attempts occurred on December 6, 2003 when his convoy was driving on the dangerous Baghdad airport road. While returning to the fortified Green Zone, the convoy was attacked by rebels, hit by a bomb and gunfire, with the rear window of his Suburban blown away. As bullets flew, Bremer and his deputies ducked below their seats. No injuries or casualties were reported, and news of the assassination attempt on Bremer was not even released to the rest of the world until December 19, 2003 during his visit to Basra.
Regardless of what messages the CIA may or may not have tried on the old Iraqi army, the argument was still ventured that by the time Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003 the previous Army had demobilized, or as Bremer puts it, "had simply dissolved...." However, as Mark Danner reports in an essay in The New York Review of Books entitled 'Iraq: The War of Imagination' and dated September 21, 2006, American agents - including one colonel and a number of CIA operatives - had already began meeting regularly with Iraqi officers in order to reconstitute the army as a working force. Implied in this is the notion that the army - temporarily 'demobilized' or not - did in fact continue to exist as a coherent entity, indeed coherent enough that it could be consulted and negotiated with. This seems to concur with the position of the first Director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, ex-General Jay Garner, who Bremer had replaced. As Bob Woodward reports in his State of Denial, Garner, upon hearing of the order to disband the army, attempted to convince Bremer to rethink the dissolution. Bremer was reported as saying: "The plans have changed. The thought is we don't want the residuals of the old army. We want a new and fresh army." To this, Garner replied: "Jerry, you can get rid of an army in a day, but it takes years to build one."
The issue of disbanding the old Iraqi Army found itself, once again, the center of media attention with two articles explaining why Bremer ostensibly did not make the decision on his own. The first press release by the New York Times included a letter written by Bremer to President George W. Bush dated May 20, 2003 describing to the President the progress made so far since Bremer's arrival in Baghdad, including one sentence that reads "I will parallel this step with an even more robust measure dissolving Saddam's military and intelligence structures to emphasize that we mean business." It is reasonable to assume that Bremer interpreted the President's response - or lack of response - to the progress report as a "go".
The second press release dated September 6, 2007 was submitted by Bremer as an Op Ed piece for the New York Times. Titled "How I Didn't Dismantle Iraq's Army", Bremer discusses why the decision was not made on his own, and how the decision was reviewed by "top civilian and military members of the American government"; which included General John Abizaid who briefed officials in Washington "'there are no organized Iraqi military units left'".
Bremer’s article goes into further about how the Coalition Provisional Authority did consider two alternatives - to recall the old army or to rebuild a new army with "both vetted members of the old army and new recruits." According to Bremer, General Abizaid liked the second alternative.
Bremer also details the situation he and the major decision makers faced; especially when the large Shiite majority in the new Army could have had problems with the thought of having a former Sunni officer issuing orders.
Furthermore, a memo from Donald Rumsfeld on May 8, 2003 that said "the coaltion 'will actively oppose Saddam Hussein's old enforcers - the Baath Party, Fedayeen Saddam, etc...'we will make clear that the coalition will eliminate the remnants of Saddam's regime'" was sent to both the national security adviser and the secretary of state at the time.
After two protesters were killed by U.S. troops, the CPA agreed to pay up to 250,000 former soldiers a stipend of $50 to $150 a month. Conscripts were given a single severance payment. Many of the former soldiers found this to be grossly inadequate.
Charles H. Ferguson, director of critically acclaimed No End in Sight, created a video response to Bremer's Op Ed piece on September 14, 2007. (This was the very first New York Times video Op Ed letter in history.)
One of the concerns the IAMB raised repeatedly was that the CPA had repaired the well-heads and pipelines for transporting Iraq’s oil, but they had stalled on repairing the meters that were necessary to document the shipment of Iraqi oil, so it could be demonstrated that none of it was being smuggled.
In their final press release before the CPA’s authority expired, on June 22, 2004, the IAMB stated:
The CPA has acknowledged that the failure to meter the oil shipments did result in some quantity of oil being smuggled—an avoidable loss of Iraq's oil that was Bremer's responsibility. Neither Bremer nor any of his staff has offered an explanation for their failure to repair the meters. Neither Bremer nor any of his staff has offered an explanation for why they misrepresented their progress in repairing the meters.
By failing to repair the meters, and failing to honestly report the lack of progress, Bremer violated UN Security Council resolution 1483, under which he was accountable to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for his expenditures of Iraqi resources.
When the external auditors arrived they learned that Bremer had not made sure the CPA lived up to the commitment to hire internal auditors to help set up a reliable accounting system. On the contrary they learned that a single contracted consultant kept track of the CPA’s expenditures in a series of spreadsheets.
The external auditors reported that rather than use a modern double-entry accounting system the CPA used what they described as “a single-entry, cash based, transaction list”.
Bremer wrote an eight-page reply to deny the accusations and stated that, during the IG's inquiry, Bowen's people refused to interview Bremer's deputies, and the IG's report failed to mention that Bremer and his people worked under extraordinary conditions, faced a high turnover rate, and had insufficient number of personnel to carry out their rebuilding and humanitarian relief efforts.
Bremer's claim that Bowen's staff made no attempt to interview his staff is at odds with the detailed account of the external auditors, of their attempts to meet with Bremer and his staff. In their management notes they describe how some of the CPA's senior staff, including Bremer himself, just would not make themselves available to meet with the auditors. Others, like George Wolfe, the CPA's de facto treasurer, showed a total lack of cooperation.
As head of the CPA, Bremer bears the overall responsibility for the CPA's hiring policies that led to his staff being dangerously inexperienced and unable to provide the oversight necessary to protect the funds they were administering.
This issue also became a topic of discussion during some of Bremer's Q&A sessions with students who attended Bremer's presentations during Bremer's campus speaking tours. Some questioned Bremer if he could have done things differently in Iraq, but were notably disappointed when Paul Bremer avoided answering the question. Bremer allegedly responded to one such question with “ I will tell you what I told them, I'm saving that for my book... I need more time to reflect.”
In February 2007, Bremer defended the way he spent billions of dollars in Iraqi funds after the U.S. invasion. In a prepared testimony he said that he did the best he could to kickstart the Iraqi economy, "which was flat on its back."
Some claim these orders violate the Hague regulations of 1907 (the companion to the 1949 Geneva conventions, both ratified by the United States) and the U.S. Army’s Law of Land Warfare by fundamentally altering Iraq’s existing laws.
Al-Hawza had been started after the removal of Saddam Hussein and was considered a mouthpiece for Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. It was shut down by the United States-led administration headed by Bremer on March 28, 2004, after being accused of encouraging violence against Coalition troops. There was discussion with Jeremy Greenstock about preparations to arrest Muqtada al-Sadr, who by early March 2004 had increased his militia following, the Mahdi army, from about 200 followers to some 6,000, in a mere seven months. Bremer wrote in his book that "Greenstock said that this would be a difficult time to go after him ... I first urged [his] arrest last August...".
Iyad Allawi, leader of the interim government, explicitly gave al-Hawza permission to re-open on July 18, 2004.
Since then, violent events in Iraq involving American security companies such as Blackwater have resulted in great resentment among Iraqis, who view them as private armies acting with impunity on their soil.
U.S. intelligence sources had monitored chatter that suggested resistance elements were planning demonstrations, or outright attacks, to coincide with the time of the official handover. An early handover would preempt the plans of resistance elements.
Others read al-Hayat's version published one day after Bremer's departure. The Arabic language newspaper released a story about Bremer's alleged romantic ties with an Iraqi translator, who continued to work for Bremer despite their apparent conflict of interests. The Arabic language newspaper further details the affair stating that the Iraqi woman and her family left for Jordan three days prior to the handover to wait for their anticipated departure for the United States. The paper can be quoted as saying that close acquaintances of the "young Iraqi lover" knew about the affair with the top American official (presumably Bremer) and knew something about future marriage plans. Although the subject of Bremer taking Iraqi women as wives has come up before during his stay in Iraq. Bremer responded to a reporter's question about the rumor of marrying Iraqi women, "I have the maximum number of wives permitted by my religion". This story can also be found in Bremer's book "My Year In Iraq...."
His early departure was disruptive to the smooth transition of authority, as the KPMG audit of the Development Fund for Iraq made clear. In their management notes the external auditors describe trying to meet with Bremer, and being very surprised by his early departure.
Many of Bremer's senior staff left when he did, meaning that important documents, required for the completion of the audit, could not be signed by the appropriate staff members.
Bremer made several public appearances in 2005 and continues to make public appearances. Bremer was a keynote speaker at a San Diego conference in February 2005 and a guest speaker at several universities throughout the United States.
On one such visit dated April 18, 2005 at Clark University, the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the war in Iraq attracted several protestors who displayed anti-Bremer signs and hung him in effigy. The Worcester Indymedia reported during Bremer's Q&A session with his student audience:
Other students countered by asking where the criticism for the university was when other lower profile speakers were brought to campus for similar amounts.
Bremer was scheduled to speak at the public library in his hometown, New Canaan, Connecticut, on January 18th, 2006. The event was moved to the private St. Luke's School in the same town, due to the Fairfield County Ad-Hoc Bremer Belongs Behind Bars Coalition planning to demonstrate.
Bremer has even made an appearance on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The two joked about their mutual attraction for each other, but the discussion changed course to the topic of Bremer's book.
Bremer, among other things, repeatedly asserted during his 2006 book promotion tour, that when he came to Iraq, the Iraqi army had abandoned its barracks, and therefore "there was no army to disband". Defending his decision to expel Baath party members from government posts, he made public statements (e.g., during his speech to Los Angeles World Affairs Council) comparing Saddam Hussain with Hitler, saying that Saddam admired Hitler and modeled the Baath Party structure on the Nazi state. Bremer has repeated his argument about the Iraqi Army on many occasions, including in his op-ed piece in the New York Times, "How I did not disband the Iraqi Army". He repeated the Hitler comparison in a speech at the annual Almond Board of California meeting held in Modesto, California, in December 2007.
During a February 27, 2006 public appearance at Lynchburg College, where his sister-in-law is an assistant dean, Bremer insisted that his decision to disband the Iraqi military was the correct one.
The Chairman of a Congressional committee investigating Fraud and Abuse invited L. Paul Bremer, III to testify what happened during his tenure as head of the CPA and to respond to conclusions from a January 2005 audit report. The former administrator of Iraq appeared before the committee on February 6, 2007 and was in the "hot seat" as the committee questioned him about the missing $8.8 billion U.S. of Iraq's money and the chosen accounting method of these funds.
He was one of the key targets of George W. Bush "blame game strategy" to clean its record on Iraq. (see March 17, 2008, The New York Times, "Fateful Choice on Iraq Army Bypassed Debate")
Bremer currently serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board for GlobalSecure Corporation, a company whose focus is "on securing the homeland with integrated products and services for the critical incident response community worldwide,". and on the board of directors of BlastGard International, Inc., a company located in Florida that manufactures materials to mitigate the impact of explosions. (Standard and Poor's Register)
Paul Bremer and wife Francie, the spokeswoman for the National Fibromyalgia Association, travel around the country to help raise public awareness about the medical condition that afflicts 10 million Americans and five percent of the world's population.