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Posted by Pentagon on August 19, 2003 at 00:20:01:
In Reply to: "Stealing" the headlines posted by Walter Winchel on August 18, 2003 at 23:54:53:
Published on Monday, August 18, 2003 by the Philadelphia Inquirer
As Liberia's humanitarian crisis was approaching its peak this summer, the Pentagon quashed a report by its team of specialists calling for an immediate U.S. intervention to stop the fighting and permit the delivery of emergency aid.
The Defense Department sent 31 military specialists to Liberia on July 7 to make recommendations for an "appropriate level of intervention," according to the mission statement in the report. The team completed its analysis and delivered it within 72 hours to Air Force One during President Bush's Africa trip that week.
The team urged that the United States immediately deploy a 2,300-strong Marine Expeditionary Unit to stabilize the beleaguered country and protect civilians amid a vicious civil war, according to several U.S. officials familiar with the report.
On Air Force One, the initial draft made the rounds of State Department and National Security Council officials, including council chief Condoleezza Rice, according to officials on the trip. The report was also distributed to top officials in the Army's European Command, which oversaw the team, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
State Department officials welcomed the report's conclusions, which buttressed their arguments for a quick intervention to stem the mounting humanitarian crisis, but said they were surprised at the force and specificity of its recommendations.
The report never made it to President Bush's desk and thus never officially existed.
"The Pentagon squashed it," an administration official said. "It was way too strong for their liking."