- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) — The United States would install an American civilian to direct reconstruction of Iraq and the institution of a new government following the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, it was reported Friday.

The Washington Post said that the civilian administrator — a former governor or ambassador, officials told the newspaper — would take over only after security was established and any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were disabled. The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks, would be in command of the U.S. military as long as it was in Iraq.

The Post, citing U.S. officials and "other sources," said the Bush administration had finalized its blueprint for what it plans for Iraq once Saddam leaves power. There was no time limit or price placed on the plans, since the duration of and destruction caused by any military action is unknown. The Post also said there was no estimate on how long U.S. forces would need to stay in the country.

Additional details are to be released to Congress and the media next week.

The newspaper said U.S. forces would closely follow combat troops to pass out food and humanitarian items. Officials said the goal was to make the Iraqi people immediately consider themselves better off than they were before the fighting began.

Previous announcements have said that early humanitarian efforts would be led by retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, but he would soon be replaced by an American "of stature," the Post reported that officials said, such as a former governor or ambassador.

The blueprint for the reconstruction of Iraq, as reported by The Washington Post, also calls for about two dozen Iraqis assisting the United States form a "consultative council," a group that would have no governing responsibility.

The United States has amassed more than 150,000 troops in the region near Iraq in case military action is ordered. Iraq is under the scrutiny of U.N. weapons inspections, who were ordered to the country in November after the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1441. That documents calls for "serious consequences" should Iraq not fulfill the demands of the resolution, including the assisting of inspectors in finding suspected weapons of mass destruction.

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