Michael O’Brien


Michael O’Brien, author of America’s Failure in Iraq, discusses the media’s focus on troop escalations while ignoring the larger private contractor surges, the ease of starting wars and keeping them going since Congress abdicated its Constitutional responsibility, the inexcusable failures of the Coalition Provisional Authority and Paul Bremer, the primary purposes of contractors in Iraq: generate billable hours and stay alive, the critical questions not asked in the Fox News poll about U.S. opinion on the Iraq War, how Gen. Petraeus got promoted twice after losing 190,000 weapons meant for Iraqi security forces and why the surge’s success (even supposing it worked) in 2007 doesn’t retroactively justify the 2003 invasion.

MP3 here. (44:03)

Michael O’Brien spent 14 months as a DoD (Department of Defense) contractor in Iraq. He was the Real Estate Adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Mike had previously spent over 20 years in commercial real estate, most of that time working in various areas of US Government real estate and facilities, to include nearly a decade with the US General Services Administration (GSA). Mike was assigned to the Ministry of Defense Transition Team (MODTT), part of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, or MNSTC-I. This was the Coalition command element responsible for ‘standing up’ the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior after they had been disbanded by Paul Bremer, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

Mike O’Brien was on the Bush-Cheney 2000 Campaign in its national headquarters in Austin, Texas, and participated in the vote recounts in Florida. He was a political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush, serving in the US State Department’s Overseas Buildings Operations Bureau, where he was responsible for the planning and development of US embassies and consulates around the world. He was in Dacca, Bangladesh, on September 11, 2001. After 9/11, Mike went to the White House as the Senior Director for Administration in the Office of Homeland Security, the predecessor to the Department of Homeland Security we have today. Mr. O’Brien was one of the first 50 staff to arrive there.

Michael O’Brien is a graduate of West Point and served in the Infantry in Fort Benning, Georgia; the Canal Zone, Republic of Panama; the Demilitarized Zone, Republic of South Korea and Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas.  He is a graduate of the US Army Ranger and Airborne schools at Fort Benning, Georgia, and is a former commercial helicopter pilot. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

39 thoughts on “Michael O’Brien”

  1. –Oops! Hit the wrong key! Anyway, at the time, I argued that this professor was mistaken. If this poll is any indication, however, it seems the guy had his finger on the pulse of the American conscience.

  2. ~2:30: "'we understand Mr. Bush wants to fight the war on terror, but why did he pick Iraq to do it?'…I just had no answer." Ask what gets a person or group labeled 'terrorist' (e.g. Ken O'Keefe and the flotilla's 'Al-Qaeda'), and you'll get your short answer: 'terrorists' are whoever self-appointed witch-finder-generals ( http://www.shanmonster.com/witch/hunters/hopkins.html ) damn well say they are, and they wanted Iraq.

  3. So was Mike O'Brien the only American serviceman to see the sow's ear instead of the silk purse? I know he's not alone, but by far the greater number of 'warriors' are of the opinion that America can do no wrong.

    Even Mike 'hedges his bet' with 'what we did was right but how we did it was flawed'. Calling it a 'failure' is not going to get the same level toofay salute from true believers as will saying it was wrong.

    Bottom line the spade should be called a spade, it was wrong, full stop. Militarily invading another country, waging a war of aggression, for whatever best intentions the holiest of men can contrive, is what we told the Nazis is a war crime. That hasn't changed, but we have.

  4. That poll totally freaked me out, but that's because I never watch corporate media. If you get your news from Fox, CNN, your local paper, Newsweek, PBS, or places like that, you would think the Iraqis are doing OK, or at least not as bad as under Saddam. Brookings Institution has been putting out these positive "Iraq Index" reports, picked up by everyone. There's all kinds of feel-good stories about Iraqis surviving, but nothing about the millions in exile, unemployed, wounded, poisoned. Nothing about women and minorities losing their freedom. So it's partly American desire to make themselves feel better, and partly being lied to.

  5. Very, very few Iraqis prisoners I asked even knew what the word Al-Qaeda meant or what they were. When you mentioned Osama Bin Laden's name they would laugh and make jokes about him being Wahhabi and having long beard.

    I even talked with an Iraqi interpreter who said he saw outsiders in his neighborhood from Pakistan who were "dirty with long beards and did not clean their ears" who were likely Al-Qaeda, but he did not know that but he knew they showed up to cause problems for Americans.

    Iraq and Af-Pak are two completely different worlds.

  6. that was not shouting. it was avid arguing. o'brien had every opportunity to defend vociferously, if he was prepared to counter the argument. what do you think this is , the cone of silence?!

  7. This is the hight of frustrations as the americans thought that they will occupy Irak and Afghanistan and for them will be walking. We are proud to be Muslims will remain Muslims but we have to practice it.
    I read the interview of an freed journalist from Pakistan from Guantanamo bay prison. He said every morning night prayer we were cursing america and americans and praying Allah to destroy america. This is the only weapon we can use at the moment against america and it will work but their is only one problem the main culprit Busch will enjoy in this world further but on the day of judgment will be be punished in feuer which will never end and even those advisors neo,cones will have the same fate. May be they will be punished like Israeli prime minister who is neither living nor dying as the most cruel man in the history on mankind by killing the arabs.

  8. The soldiers should be damn proud of every terrorist animal they killed in Iraq. We love them and fully support them for doing so. God bless Bush for keeping us safe from terrorists and idiots like you folks here posting against our military and against us protecting our children and our way of life. Long live freedom, may it never be tarnished by the cowardly.

  9. I do hope Edward is working the 'sad truths illumined through irony' angle, seeking to demonstrate how the early propaganda effort, developed by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld administration and disseminated through the US media, effectively blurred distinctions between the identified 9-11 actors/attackers (and the trail leading back to their training, support, etc) and an ill-defined Terrorist Other in Saddam Hussein's military-industrial complex et alia.

    Widely condemned by the wider world, the administration's totally discredited fear-mongering tropes: WMDs; 'mushroom clouds'; 'baddest of the bad' — tragically convinced many otherwise decent Americans that the modern, largely secular and Western-orientated Iraqi citizenry were sworn enemies of our flag and country, making the horrific casualties they suffered (and are still suffering) somehow acceptable, if not actually desirable.

    No doubt acts of terror and a rising tide of religious fanaticism flourished throughout post-invasion Iraq, but the neighborhood purges and mind-boggling inter-cine violence followed US action. We quickly captured Saddam, killed his sons and dismantled the Republican Guard.

    And the Shocked & Awed Iraqi populace — souls like those who initially cheered as US Marine divisions moved into a bombed-out Baghdad — having next to nothing left to resist the new anti-Western elements supported from outside Iraq, now needed (and still need) the US military et alia to defend them.

    General Colin Powell, the one real soldier serving in the Bush administration, reportedly said before the US invasion of Iraq: "If we break it, we bought bought it."

  10. There is an old videotape which you will love regarding the anti-war issues. Two friends and I saw it aired live on May 14, 2001, and we were shaken by what we saw. A News Conference had just ended between President Bush and Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, which was aired on American networks. Bush thought the cameras had been shut off when he leaned over to Persson and whispered "But he tried to kill my daddy" (about Saddam). This was NOT the happy-faced Bush who repeated the same in September 2002 which still is available. The look on Bush's face as he said that was the most chilling thing I have ever seen, and I immediately told my friends "My God, we are going to invade Iraq to kill Saddam". There is a group in Sweden that recorded every event in Persson's life, for a future book, so that video is certainly still there. The American Networks seem all unable to find their archive of that day. You should find it and you will see what I mean.

  11. I just wish that the government would spend time and money in improving things back here in our own country. I can be seen clearly in this program, "America's Failure in Iraq", that we spend too much on international shores.

  12. America still hasn't learned from its past experiences during the Vietnam War or the present administration is deliberately trying not to forget the issue and instead, capitalize on this issue to bring in more money. That would be fine just as long as money is being spent here but not abroad. Sad to say, it's doing the other way around and it's a selfish act and a vulgar display of power I must say.

  13. I still can't comprehend why America needs to be the "global cop". Is it because the Almighty Dollar is the gauge/basis for the world's economy? Why don't we look inside and see our own problems first?

  14. For me, this is an understatement. The US didn't only fail in Iraq but also in Vietnam and the thing is, they have wasted a lot of money on wars that are not theirs and this is what makes its taxpayers go red on the face. I just hope that there will come a time that the US will leave foreign matters to its respective countries and just wait and see what would happen.

  15. It's not only in Iraq that the US have failed and the worse thing is, it failed to satisfy a lot of Americans today especially when talking about taxes and the plans of going after the conservative groups and trying to demolish tea party groups. Now, this doesn't seem to be the face of democracy if you ask me.

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