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Context of 'February 16, 2003: Experts Estimate Cost of Iraq War at up to $682 Billion'

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According to Watergate burglar Eugenio Martinez (see 2:30 a.m.June 17, 1972), White House aide E. Howard Hunt, whom he calls by his old CIA code name “Eduardo” (see September 9, 1971), is ratcheting up the activities of the White House “Plumbers” operation. Martinez is not yet aware of the nature of the team’s operations, but believes he is part of a black-ops, CIA-authorized organization working to foil Communist espionage activities. Hunt gives team member Bernard Barker $89,000 in checks from Mexican banks to cash for operational funds, and orders Barker to recruit new team members. Barker brings in Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, and Reinaldo Pico, all veterans of the CIA’s activities against Cuba’s Fidel Castro. On May 22, the six—Hunt, Barker, Gonzalez, Martinez, Pico, and Sturgis—meet for the first time at the Manger Hays-Adams Hotel in Washington for Hunt’s first briefing. By this point, Martinez will later recall, G. Gordon Liddy, who had been involved in the burglary related to Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, is involved. Hunt calls Liddy “Daddy,” and, Martinez recalls, “the two men seemed almost inseparable.” They meet another team member, James McCord, who unbeknownst to Martinez is an official with Nixon’s presidential campaign (see June 19, 1972). McCord is introduced simply as “Jimmy,” an “old man from the CIA who used to do electronic jobs for the CIA and the FBI.” McCord is to be the electronics expert.
Plans to Break into McGovern HQ - Martinez says that the group is joined by “a boy there who had infiltrated the McGovern headquarters,” the headquarters of the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. According to Hunt, they are going to find evidence proving that the Democrats are accepting money from Castro and other foreign governments. (Interestingly, Martinez will write that he still believes McGovern accepted Cuban money.) Hunt soon aborts the mission; Martinez believes “it was because the boy got scared.”
New Plans: Target the DNC - Instead, he and Liddy begin planning to burglarize the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the Watergate hotel and office complex. They all move into the Watergate to prepare for the break-in. Martinez will recall: “We brought briefcases and things like that to look elegant. We registered as members of the Ameritus Corporation of Miami, and then we met in Eduardo’s room.” The briefing is “improvised,” Martinez will recall. Hunt says that the Castro funds are coming to the DNC, not McGovern’s headquarters, and they will find the evidence there. The plans are rather impromptu and indefinite, but Martinez trusts Hunt and does not question his expertise. [Harper's, 10/1974]

Entity Tags: Frank Sturgis, Democratic National Committee, Central Intelligence Agency, Bernard Barker, ’Plumbers’, E. Howard Hunt, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, George S. McGovern, James McCord, G. Gordon Liddy, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez

Timeline Tags: Nixon and Watergate

The New York Times publishes an op-ed authored by Gordon Adams, the White House’s senior defense budget official from 1993 to 1997 and professor of international affairs at George Washington University, and Steve Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. They provide several estimates on the cost of invading and occupying Iraq. A worst-case scenario, they conclude could cost as much as $682 billion over five years. [New York Times, 2/16/2003]
Estimated Military Deployment, Combat and Redeployment Costs - It would cost the US $17 billion for an invasion that involves 150,000 troops for one month. This figure could be as high as $79 billion, however, if the fighting continues for six months and requires as many as 350,000 troops. [New York Times, 2/16/2003]
Estimated Costs of a 5-year Military Occupation - They estimate that the lowest a 5-year occupation would cost would be $26 billion. This figure assumes that 50,000 troops would be needed the first year, 25,000 troops the second year, and 12,500 troops for the remaining 3 years. In a worst-case scenario, the US would have to keep 150,000 troops in Iraq for the first year, scaling it down over the next four years to 70,000 troops at a total cost of $105 billion. [New York Times, 2/16/2003]
Humanitarian Assistance - If the US provides humanitarian assistance for only the first year, the estimated cost would be between $1 and $3 billion. However, this figure could be as high as $10 billion, if assistance is needed for up to four years. [New York Times, 2/16/2003]
Recovery/Reconstruction - They estimated that reconstruction would cost between $10 and $105 billion. [New York Times, 2/16/2003]
Debt/Claims/Reparations - Iraq might have to pay as much as $361 billion in debts, claims and reparations to Kuwait. [New York Times, 2/16/2003]
Aid to Allies - They estimate that the US will spend between $6 and $10 billion in aid to allies as a result of the decision to invade Iraq. [New York Times, 2/16/2003]

Entity Tags: Gordon Adams, Steve Kosiak

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

The Associated Press reveals that 10 days before the execution of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see June 2, 1997, June 11-13, 1997, and 7:14 a.m. June 11, 2001), lawyers for FBI laboratory employees sent an urgent letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, saying that a prosecution witness in the McVeigh trial, forensic expert Steven Burmeister, may have lied on the stand (see June 11, 2001). The letter was never given to McVeigh’s lawyers. McVeigh’s former lawyer Stephen Jones says, “It is truly shocking and just the latest revelation of government conduct that bankrupts the prosecution, investigation, and verdict.” Justice Department spokesperson Barbara Comstock says she does not believe the allegations, even if true, would have affected the outcome of the trial, saying, “Court after court has found that the evidence of guilt against McVeigh was overwhelming.” FBI officials call the allegations against Burmeister specious. FBI laboratory director Dwight Adams says: “It didn’t happen. Steve Burmeister is one of the FBI’s finest experts. He is meticulous and honest.” [New York Times, 5/1/2003]

Entity Tags: John Ashcroft, Associated Press, Barbara Comstock, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Stephen Jones, Timothy James McVeigh, Dwight Adams, Steven G. Burmeister

Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism

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