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Bush names retired diplomat Bremer as top administrator of Iraq

WASHINGTON—President Bush on Tuesday named retired diplomat L. Paul Bremer to be his top representative in Iraq, signaling a shift from military to civilian control over the reconstruction of Iraq.

Bremer is a former ambassador and headed the State Department's counter-terrorism office. He will report to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Bush called Bremer "one of our best citizens" and "a man of enormous experience. ... He shares the same values ... most Americans share, and that is our deep desire to have an orderly country in Iraq that is free and at peace, where the average citizen has a chance to achieve his or her dreams."

Bush announced the appointment to reporters during a meeting with Rumsfeld and Bremer.

Bremer, 61, will oversee all political and reconstruction efforts in Iraq, chiefly the transition to a future interim government. He will direct both retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who is responsible for rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure, and Zalmay Khalilzad, the National Security Council official who's overseeing the effort to craft a new political system for Iraq.

The debate over how to rebuild Iraq has revealed tensions and divisions between the State Department and the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, growing from an acrimonious rift over diplomacy on Iraq during the months leading up to the war.

The appointment of Bremer—who is trusted by the State Department as well as Pentagon hawks—is an apparent bureaucratic compromise.

Bremer, who is known as Jerry, served in the U.S. diplomatic corps for 23 years and was an assistant to former Secretaries of State William P. Rogers and Henry Kissinger under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He was ambassador-at-large for counter-terrorism from 1986 to 1989. He also served as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.

He later worked for a consulting firm headed by Kissinger and currently is chairman and chief executive of Marsh Crisis Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based risk assessment firm.

In 1999, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., appointed Bremer chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism.


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.