Creation of the Iraq Study Group
While the Bush Administration publicly welcomed the Iraq Study Group when it first convened on March 15, 2006, the White House played no part in the bodys creation. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia 10th), along with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, led the creation of the ISG to, as Rep. Wolf put it, carry out a "fresh eyes" assessment of the situation in Iraq. The group continues to enjoy the bipartisan support of Congress.
Purpose of the Iraq Study Group
While not operating under any specific agenda or legal mandate, the ISG has focused its review of the situation in Iraq on four topics:
- The strategic environment in Iraq and the region
- The security of Iraq and key challenges to enhancing security within the country,
- Political developments within Iraq following the elections and formation of the new government,
- The Iraqi economy and eventual reconstruction of the country.
Membership of the Iraq Study Group
The ISG is co-chaired by former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, a Republican and former chairman of the House International Relations Committee Lee Hamilton, a Democrat. Other ISG members as of Nov. 13, 2006 included:
- Sandra Day O'Connor, former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice,
- Lawrence S. Eagleburger, former U.S. Secretary of State (replaced Robert M. Gates),
- Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Senior Managing Director, Lazard, Freres & Co. LLC,
- Edwin Meese, III, former U.S. Attorney General,
- Leon E. Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff,
- William J. Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense,
- Charles S. Robb, former U.S. Senator,
- Alan K. Simpson, former U.S. Senator.
Lawrence S. Eagleburger was selected to replace Robert M. Gates after Mr. Gates? nomination as Secretary of Defense.
The United States Institute of Peace and the ISG
At the request of Rep. Wolf, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) serves as the facilitating agency for the ISG, along with the support of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
USIP assists the ISG and by convening expert working groups, writing briefing papers, providing analysis and coordinating meetings.
Who has the ISG been meeting with?
The ISG has conferred with current and former high-level U.S. and Iraqi government officials in Washington, Iraq and elsewhere, including President Bush, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki, as well as military officers, foreign government officials, academics, business executives and heads of civil society organizations in the U.S and in Iraq. The ISG has published a comprehensive list of meetings (.pdf).
What recommendations will the ISG make?
Co-chairs Baker and Hamilton hope to deliver a comprehensive report of the ISG's recommendations to President Bush and Congress by the end of 2006. The single report will provide recommendations that could be used by the Bush administration and Congress to shape the future direction of U.S. military and diplomatic policies regarding Iraq.
While they may be guided by them, neither President Bush or Congress will be legally bound to follow any of the ISG's recommendations.
Update: President Bush Meets with Iraq Study Group
On Nov. 13, 2006, President Bush met with the co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group, former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana.
The study group members also met with Vice President Dick Cheney, Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice, outgoing Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte, General Peter Pace, General George Casey and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
The results of these meetings have not been reported.