TIME National Security

Obama Warns of Dangers of Inaction on Patriot Act

Barack Obama
Carolyn Kaster—AP President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to media as he meets with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 29, 2015. 

"Heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack"

President Obama warned Friday afternoon of dire consequences for national security should the Patriot Act be allowed to expire on Sunday night.

Following a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday, Obama blamed a “handful of senators” for blocking the passage of the compromise USA Freedom Act, which would keep key provisions of the Patriot Act in place but roll back a controversial provision that the National Security Agency has used to collect bulk data on Americans’ phone and internet records.

Without the Patriot Act in place, Obama warned, the nation’s security would be at risk. “I don’t want us to be in a situation where for a certain period of time those authorities go away,” he said Friday in the Oval Office. “And heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”

Congress has been out on recess since Memorial Day and Senators left town before passing a Patriot Act reauthorization. The act expires at midnight on Sunday. Obama is pushing lawmakers to pass the USA Freedom Act, while some Senators have argued for a straight extension of the Patriot Act. Others think reform bills don’t go far enough.

Obama said he’d reached out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and urged Senators to “take action and take action swiftly.

“This is not an issue where we have to choose between security and civil liberties, this is an issue in which we in fact have struck the right balance and shaped a piece of legislation that everybody can support. So let’s go out and get it done,” he said.

 

TIME

Hastert Paid to Hush Up Sexual Misconduct, Reports Say

Several outlets reporting former House Speaker paid to hush up misconduct of a sexual nature

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert allegedly paid an individual to keep quiet about sexual misconduct, according to multiple media reports.

The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and Buzzfeed reported, citing anonymous federal officials, that the “prior misconduct” mentioned in the seven page indictment of Hastert was sexual in nature.

The New York Times reports a man told the FBI Hastert had fondled him when Hastert was a history teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School. Hastert was at the school between 1965 and 1981.

Hastert was charged on Thursday for lying to FBI agents about bank transactions he made to allegedly “compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct” against the person identified as “Individual A.”

The Northern Illinois U.S. District Attorney’s office declined to comment on the specific misconduct, noting that the 73-year-old had only been charged for the two crimes mentioned in the indictment. Calls to representatives at Dickstein Shapiro, where Hastert worked before the indictment, were not immediately returned.

Hastert will not be arrested, according to a spokesperson at the U.S. Attorney’s office, but no court date has been set. A judge, however has been assigned to the case— Obama appointee Judge Thomas M. Durkin.

TIME Congress

What Does This Mysterious C-SPAN Call to Dennis Hastert Mean?

“Hello, Denny"

A C-SPAN caller’s mysterious question to Dennis Hastert last year has taken on a new meaning in light of recent allegations that the former House Speaker illegally paid $3.5 million in hush money to an unidentified resident of Yorkville.

The call was placed during a 2014 interview on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

“Hello, Denny,” said the caller, who identified himself as Bruce. “Do you remember me from Yorkville?”

The caller then laughs and hangs up the phone, and the interview moves on without further comment. Footage of the call garnered newfound attention after a federal grand jury indicted Hastert on Thursday for allegedly paying an acquaintance in his hometown of Yorkville hush money over “prior misconduct.”

TIME Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton Comes Out in Force to Defend His Foundation

Clinton Global Initiative University
Larry Marano—Getty Images Former US President Bill Clinton attends the Clinton Global Initiative University at University of Miami on March 7, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

A response to a barrage of unflattering revelations in the press

Bill Clinton joined his allies in defending his family’s foundation in an open letter on Friday, emphasizing the charity’s philanthropic work in the face of criticism over its foreign donors and alleged entanglement in politics.

“It’s the political season in America, so the purpose and impact of the efforts your support makes possible has largely been ignored in recent coverage of the Foundation,” the former president said in his note. “But we are and always have been a non-partisan, inclusive foundation with lots of support from and involvement by people across the political spectrum and governments from right to left, all committed to our creative solutions-centered work.”

Clinton recounted in his note many of the charitable deeds the Foundation has accomplished around the world, including “helping smallholder farmers in Africa increase their yields” and supporting “women entrepreneurs in Latin America.” Nearly 10 million people in 70 countries have access to HIV/AIDS medicines through the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Clinton wrote.

“We will also continue to look for ways to improve our reporting systems so that we can operate as accurately, efficiently, and transparently as possible – a goal to which we have been committed since day one,” said Clinton in the note.

The Clintons’ allies have voiced their support of the family’s charity in recent days as well, with Foundation donor Jay Jacobs penning a blog post Thursday saying one reason voters should elect Hillary Clinton is her connection to the Foundation. Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s previous presidential election and former advisor in President Clinton’s administration, wrote an op-ed published earlier this week in the Huffington Post defending the Foundation.

The Clinton Foundation has come under fire for accepting donations from foreign businesses and governments with business before the U.S. State Department, while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. No specific evidence of intervention on behalf of donors has been found, though in several cases the foundation failed to abide by Clinton’s pledge to disclose all donors during her tenure.

Bill Clinton has also been criticized for giving speeches and making appearances that appear to benefit foundation supporters on the global stage. This week, the foundation came under further scrutiny when it was revealed that Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend and adviser of the Clintons, had a $10,000 a month job at the foundation doing unspecified work during the time he was providing Hillary Clinton with purported intelligence tips about activities of various political factions in Libya.

In recent weeks both Bill and Hillary, who is now running for president, have defended the foundation. Hillary said during an event in Iowa last week that she is “proud of the foundation,” and Bill said earlier this month in an interview with NBC that the charity has never done anything “knowingly inappropriate.”

TIME

Everything We Do and Don’t Know About the Hastert Indictment

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday

The announcement that federal prosecutors had charged former House Speaker Dennis Hastert with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigations about a series of bank transactions shook Washington on Thursday.

Though the Illinois Republican isn’t exactly a stranger to scandal—he was voted Speaker of the House following a scandal surrounding Newt Gingrich’s would-be successor—the announcement and the mystery surrounding it have spurred myriad questions about the Speaker’s future, and most importantly, his past.

Below, we attempt to address the most pressing questions that have been raised amid Hastert’s indictment.

Who is Dennis Hastert?

Dennis Hastert is a former Republican Congressman from Illinois and the longest serving Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives. Hastert was born in Aurora, Ill. and attended Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University. Before heading to Washington, Hastert worked at Yorkville High School in Yorkville, Ill., a small city in Northern Illinois about an hour outside of Chicago. At the high school, Hastert taught history and coached the high school wrestling team. He worked there from 1965 until 1981. In the early 1980s, he launched his political career, first serving in the Illinois state House of Representatives and later replacing Republican Rep. John Grotberg in Washington. Hastert rose to prominence on Capitol Hill and replaced Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1999. TIME magazine called him at the time, “The Speaker Who Never Was.” Hastert is often credited for establishing a rule in the House that limits the minority party’s power by only bringing bills to vote if the majority of the majority party doesn’t support it.

What has he been up to since?

Hastert stepped down as Speaker of the House after the 2006 election and in the wake of a lurid scandal surrounding Florida Rep. Mark Foley. Foley was found to have sent sexually suggestive messages to Congressional aides. Hastert was criticized for improperly handling Foley’s actions. Hastert had served on the Advisory of the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy at Wheaton College, which was launched in 2007 after Hastert donated his congressional papers to the school. On Friday, the school announced Hastert had resigned from the Board of Directors. Hastert had also joined the Washington lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro after leaving the House. The firm announced on Thursday the former Congressman had resigned in the wake of the indictment.

What is he accused of doing?

According to the indictment, Hastert is accused of lying to the FBI. Between 2010 and 2012, Hastert allegedly made 15 $50,000 withdrawals from his accounts and various banks and gave the money to an unidentified person, referred to as “Individual A.” The reason Hastert made the payments, according to the indictment, was “to compensate Individual A to remain secret so as to cover up his [Hastert’s] past misconduct.” The withdrawals caught the eye of the banks, which are required by law to report any transaction or series of transactions over $10,000. Hastert reportedly withdrew over $1.7 million dollars over four and a half years, about half of the $3.5 million he was supposedly giving to “Individual A” as a part of their agreement, according to the indictment.

Bank officials questioned Hastert, but after questioning the congressman started withdrawing cash in increments of $10,000 or less. That raised another red flag for federal authorities who started investigating the withdrawals in 2013. A year later, the FBI asked Hastert directly about the transactions and whether he was using the money to “cover up past misconduct” or if he was storing the cash. Hastert reportedly told agents, “Yeah…I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing.”

Who is “Individual A”?

The indictment does not name “Individual A,” but it does provide some vague details about the person’s connection to Hastert. Individual A has known Hastert for all of his or her life and was born and raised in Yorkville, Ill.—the town where Hastert worked as a teacher and coach between 1965 and 1981. Individual A made contact with Hastert in 2010 a number of times. At the meetings, they are alleged to have discussed the undefined “misconduct” by Hastert. After the 2010 meetings, Hastert began withdrawing and delivering the cash.

What is the misconduct?

This part is unclear. The misconduct is repeatedly referred to as having occurred “against Individual A.” But the indictment does not specify what misconduct Hastert is accused of conducting. The indictment links Hastert and Individual A through the town of Yorkville—where the individual resides and where Hastert was once a teacher. The Los Angeles Times, citing two anonymous sources, reported on Friday afternoon that the misconduct was sexual in nature. Hastert’s lobbying firm declined to comment, while his attorney could not be reached by the newspaper.

Did anyone know?

The Yorkville Community Unit School District reportedly said they had “no knowledge of Mr. Hastert’s alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the District to report any such misconduct.” In an interview with CNN, 2016 Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, a former Congressman and Senator, said the whole ordeal seems “very much out of character” for Hastert. Reporters have unearthed a C-SPAN call during Hastert’s 2014 appearance on “Washington Journal” that could offer clues. In that call, a man identifying himself as “Bruce” calls into the program to speak with Hastert. “Hello Denny,” the caller says. “Remember me from Yorkville?” The caller than laughs and is disconnected.

What happens next?

According to the Wall Street Journal, a judge has not been assigned to the case and there is no date set for Hastert to appear in court. The Associated Press reports each count of the two-count indictment carries a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

TIME

Hillary Clinton Team Lays Out New Primary Blueprint

<> on May 27, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sits with a customer as she visits the Main Street Bakery on May 27, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.

The campaign is building, but slowly

Hillary Clinton will gradually ramp up her campaign throughout the summer, but it will be months before she turns completely to a more orthodox model replete with a packed public schedule of billboard events and the regular appearance of husband Bill and daughter Chelsea, top Clinton campaign officials said on Thursday.

The former Secretary of State will present a more detailed reasoning behind her candidacy at her first official campaign rally on June 13, top Clinton officials told reporters in a briefing at the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters Thursday evening. Afterward, Clinton will begin holding larger speaking events in the primary states.

But Clinton will not significantly increase the pace of her campaigning for many months, and she will continue to hold the roundtable discussions that have marked the first six weeks of her presidential bid.

Read more: Hillary Clinton Faces the Limits of the Controlled Campaign

She will roll out more policy plans over the summer, but she will do it at a measured pace without any momentous announcements all at once. And while Chelsea and Bill will make an appearance at her June 13th announcement, campaign officials said the focus will be on Hillary in the coming months.

Clinton had originally planned to hold her official kickoff at the end of May, but the campaign pushed the rally back.

While Clinton and her top aides have insisted they plan to run a serious and competitive primary, her opponents former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders lag far behind her in the polls, allowing the frontrunner freedom to run a campaign on her own terms.

Clinton’s schedule has so far included a couple of days each week or less of campaigning in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. She has held small-scale, roundtable discussions with a selected group of primary voters in Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa that officials say allow her to connect with voters and frame her policy ideas.

Clinton’s relaxed pace of campaigning will slowly increase and will begin to include a broader mix of campaign events and venues.

The campaign officials said they hope to raise $100 million through the primary, discounting rumors about a $2-billion fundraising goal. The $100 million sum does not include donations raised by Priorities USA Action, the pro-Clinton super PAC.

Clinton’s aides insisted that the campaign has not been significantly damaged by criticism over the Clinton Foundation and her role at the State Department, saying that while those issues may rile up the Republican base, they do not register much with primary Democrats and Independents.

The campaign would not provide more details on the location for the June 13 event, but said that it would be a large, public event.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: May 29

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Once one of the biggest champions of Common Core education standards, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is leaving them behind, as public pressure and political ambition coincide. It’ll cost you money—a lot of it—to give Bill Clinton an award. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz loves Candy Crush, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has money troubles. Here are your Friday must reads:

Must Reads

The Republican Presidential Contest Has a Polling Problem
Polling is hard. Polling 16 candidates is even less reliable. [TIME]

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is Indicted
But the details are scarce [Associated Press]

GOP Split on Possible Health-Law Fixes
Some suggest extending Obamacare tax credits to ease the transition [Wall Street Journal]

An Award for Bill Clinton Came With $500,000 for His Foundation
The plaque comes with a steep ask [New York Times]

Rand Paul’s money problem
Behind the Kentucky senator’s NSA ‘filibuster’ lies a desperate quest for cash [POLITICO]

Sound Off

“Love thibs and think he did a great job.” —President Barack Obama on fired Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau Thursday.

“Don’t ask me what movies I’ve seen, because I haven’t.” —Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush revealed his reading list, and that he’s not a fan of the silver screen.

Bits and Bites

Ted Cruz requests a Candy Crush correction

Chris Christie Pulls New Jersey Out of Common Core [TIME]

Clinton campaign still doesn’t have supporter e-mail lists from Obama or booster group [Washington Post]

Clinton gets three Pinocchios [Washington Post]

Straw Poll meeting offers clues on who will participate [Des Moines Register]

Clinton leads the invisible primary for New Hampshire support [Boston Globe]

 

TIME Crime

Hastert Indictment Offers Few Clues About Alleged Misconduct

Dennis Hastert agreed to pay Individual A from Yorkville $3.5 million to keep past misconduct quiet

CHICAGO — A newly unveiled indictment against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert accuses the Illinois Republican of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime high school teacher silent about “prior misconduct.” But it offers few hints about a central question: What was the alleged wrongdoing?

The concise federal grand jury indictment handed down Thursday accuses Hastert, who once was second in line to the U.S. presidency, of agreeing to pay the money to a person identified in the document only as “Individual A,” to “compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” that person.

It notes that Hastert, 73, was a high school teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981 in suburban Yorkville, about 50 miles west of Chicago. It goes on to say Individual A has been a resident of Yorkville, and has known Hastert most of Individual A’s life, but doesn’t describe their relationship.

Legal experts say the fact that federal prosecutors noted Hastert’s tenure in Yorkville in the indictment’s first few sentences strongly suggests some connection between the allegations and that time and place.

“Notice the teacher and coach language,” said Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Chicago office of the investigation firm Kroll. “Feds don’t put in language like that unless it’s relevant.”

The indictment charges Hastert with one count of evading bank regulations by withdrawing $952,000 in increments of less than $10,000 to skirt reporting requirements. He also is charged with one count of lying to the FBI about the reason for the unusual withdrawals.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hastert did not return email and phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment on the allegations. Hastert, who had worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., since shortly after he left Congress in 2007, resigned from Dickstein Shapiro LLC, a spokesman for the lobbying and law firm said Thursday.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office announcing the indictment said Hastert will be ordered to appear for arraignment. The date was not immediately set.

The indictment alleges Hastert withdrew a total of around $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts from 2010 to 2014, then provided the money to Individual A.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to the payments after multiple meetings in 2010. It says that “during at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier” and Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to keep it quiet. The indictment suggests he never paid the full amount.

The indictment says that between 2010 and 2012 Hastert made 15 cash withdrawals of $50,000 from bank accounts at Old Second Bank, People’s State Bank and Castle Bank and gave cash to Individual A around every six weeks.

Around April 2012, bank officials began questioning Hastert about the withdrawals, and starting in July of that year, Hastert reduced the amounts he withdrew at a time to less than $10,000 — apparently so they would not run afoul of a regulation designed to stop illicit activity such as money laundering, according to the indictment.

Among the focuses of the FBI investigation was whether Hastert, in the words of the indictment, was “the victim of a criminal extortion related to, among other matters, his prior positions in government.” The court document does not elaborate.

Legal experts said extortion cases can be tricky.

In mulling over whom to charge, prosecutors often must decide whether the person being extorted or the person doing the extorting is most victimized, said Chicago-based attorney and former federal prosecutor Phil Turner.

“In most instances you would view someone being extorted as the victim because they are being shaken down,” he said. “But prosecutors have enormous discretion and, in some instance, may see the person doing the extortion as a greater victim. Those are factors that can be weighed.”

Investigators questioned Hastert on Dec. 8, 2014, and he lied about why he had been withdrawing so much money at a time, saying he did it because he didn’t trust the banking system, the indictment alleges.

“Yeah, … I kept the cash. That’s what I am doing,” it quotes Hastert as saying.

Hastert, who also maintains a home in the Chicago suburb of Plano several miles northwest of Yorkville, was a little-known lawmaker from suburban Chicago when chosen to succeed conservative Newt Gingrich as speaker. Hastert was picked after favored Louisiana Rep. Bob Livingston resigned following his admission of several sexual affairs.

As speaker, Hastert pushed President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda, helping pass a massive tax cut and expanding Medicare prescription drug benefits.

He retired from Congress in 2007 after eight years as speaker, making him the longest-serving Republican House speaker. He was second in line to the presidency during those years after the vice president.

David Corwin of Yorkville said his son, Scott, wrestled for Hastert in high school, then later became a wrestling coach himself.

“You won’t get anyone to say anything bad about him out here,” said David Corwin. “Everybody loved him. The kids loved him and they still do.”

Illinois has a long history of politicians getting in legal trouble.

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. served a year and a half for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on furs, vacations and other luxury items. Two successive governors in the 2000s, Republican George Ryan and Democrat Rod Blagojevich, were convicted on corruption charges.

In the Hastert case, it’s not clear whether the money was paid in relation to his former position in government. Hastert started making the payments to the person in about 2010, according to the indictment.

TIME Law

N.C. Governor Vetoes Bill on Religious Objection to Gay Marriage

Gov. Pat McCrory delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C. on Feb. 4, 2015.
Gerry Broome—AP Gov. Pat McCrory delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C. on Feb. 4, 2015.

The legislature must decide whether to override that veto

(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has vetoed a religious exemption bill that would allow some court officials to avoid gay marriage duties.

The Republican governor announced his decision Thursday — hours after lawmakers gave their final approval to the measure. His office says he vetoed it shortly after the announcement. The legislature must decide whether to override that veto.

The bill gives magistrates and some register of deeds workers the ability to avoid duties for all marriages if they have a “sincerely held religious objection.”

McCrory says he believes public officials who swear to support and defend the Constitution and to carry out their duties shouldn’t be exempt from upholding their oath.

The House and Senate both have passed the bill by margins above the threshold needed to override a veto.

TIME Military

How Disbanding the Iraqi Army Fueled ISIS

IRAQ-CONFLICT
MOHAMMED SAWAF / AFP / Getty Images Iraqi Shiite fighters battle Sunni Islamic State militants north of Baghdad May 26.

The U.S. decision 12 years ago has provided the enemy with some of its best commanders and fighters

After nearly a year of air strikes led by the U.S. and ground attacks by the U.S.-trained Iraqi army, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is proving to be a far more cagey and cunning foe than the Pentagon ever expected. A big reason for its success is the George W. Bush Administration’s decision to disband the Iraqi army shortly after the 2003 invasion—without the knowledge or consent of either the Pentagon or President.

It’s a jarring reminder of how a key decision made long ago is complicating U.S. efforts to fight ISIS and restore some semblance of stability to Iraq. Instead of giving Iraq a fresh start with a new army, it helped create a vacuum that ISIS has filled. Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine general and chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000, said keeping the Iraqi army intact was always part of U.S. strategy. “The plan was that the army would be the foundation of rebuilding the Iraqi military,” he says. “Many of the Sunnis who were chased out ended up on the other side and are probably ISIS fighters and leaders now.” One expert estimates that more than 25 of ISIS’s top 40 leaders once served in the Iraqi military.

General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, says the U.S. could have weeded Saddam Hussein’s loyalists from the Iraqi army while keeping its structure, and the bulk of its forces, in place. “We could have done a lot better job of sorting through that and keeping the Iraqi army together,” he told TIME on Thursday. “We struggled for years to try to put it back together again.”

The decision to dissolve the Iraqi army robbed Baghdad’s post-invasion military of some of its best commanders and troops. Combined with sectarian strains that persist 12 years later, it also drove many of the suddenly out-of-work Sunni warriors into alliances with a Sunni insurgency that would eventually mutate into ISIS. Many former Iraqi military officers and troops, trained under Saddam, have spent the last 12 years in Anbar Province battling both U.S. troops and Baghdad’s Shi’ite-dominated security forces, Pentagon officials say.

“Not reorganizing the army and police immediately were huge strategic mistakes,” said Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff and architect of the “surge” of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq in 2007. “We began to slowly put together a security force, but it took far too much time and that gave the insurgency an ability to start to rise.”

The U.S.-ordered dissolution of the Iraqi army was a major error. But it was compounded by former Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki’s wholesale firing of Sunni commanders in favor of more compliant, if less competent, Shi’ites during his 2006-2014 tenure. That turned what was supposed to have been a national army into little more than a sectarian militia that took orders from the Prime Minister’s inner circle. “Malaki went into that army and pulled out all of its distinguished leaders, whose guys were devoted to them, and put in these cronies and hacks,” Keane said. “And those guys pocketed the money that was supposed to be used for training.”

So how did the Iraqi army come to dissolve? The Bush Administration tapped Paul Bremer to head the so-called Coalition Provisional Authority on May 11, 2003. Twelve days later, he issued an order wiping away the Iraqi military, with a pledge to build a new one from scratch, untainted by any ties to Saddam’s regime. The army’s end quickly led to civil unrest, a growing insurgency and a U.S. occupation that would last eight years and cost the lives of 4,491 American troops.

Things would have been different if the Iraqi army had been scrubbed of Hussein’s loyalists, but otherwise permitted to exist, military officers believe. “I think it would have caused us to spend less time in Iraq—I think we would have been to leave a lot sooner than we were,” said Odierno, who commanded forces in Iraq during three tours between 2003 and 2010. “I think it would have given a better chance for Iraqis to come together.”

Bremer’s decision to disband the Iraqi army has been shrouded in mystery. James Pfiffner, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, conducted one of the most detailed autopsies into the decision. “President Bush had agreed with military planners that the Army was essential for the internal and external security of the country,” Pfiffner wrote in the professional journal Intelligence and National Security in 2010. “When asked in 2006 by his biographer…about the decision, Bush replied ‘Well, the policy was to keep the army intact. Didn’t happen’.” Pfiffner suggests the decision made by Bremer actually came from Vice President Dick Cheney. (“It may have been a mistake,” Cheney said in 2011 without confirming it was his decision.)

Over the past year, ISIS has seized hundreds of U.S.-built Iraqi military vehicles given to Baghdad by the U.S. government. But history shows that the U.S., beyond providing ISIS with war machines, also made a fateful decision that gave ISIS some of its best commanders and fighters.

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