James Baker and his pal former ambassador Edward Djerejian are fingered in manipulating Iraq Study Group report to pressure Israel, according to a report in The Forward.
In interviews with the Forward, several of the experts who advised the panel said they were shocked that the Israeli-Palestinian issue was included in the final report, since they had been told not to address the matter in their recommendations. "They kept on telling us it is a sensitive issue and that it has too many political implications," one of the experts said.
The objections went beyond process, with some advisers arguing to the Forward that progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks is desirable but would have little impact on the situation in Iraq. "Desirable as it may be, we cannot obtain progress in the Israeli-Palestinian front right now, and even if we could, it would take years and the impact on Iraq would be less significant than some think," said Wayne White, a former State Department official and one of the expert advisers.
The study group's expert advisers were divided among four different working groups based on their areas of expertise and offered up recommendations to the panel. The panel's professional staffers then took these suggestions and used them to produce the final report that was eventually approved by Baker, Hamilton and the other eight members of the Iraq Study Group.
According to several advisers, the staffers who wrote the chapter in question were Edward Djerejian, a former ambassador to Syria and Israel with close ties to Baker, and Christopher Kojm, a former aide to Hamilton who held senior positions in the State Department and the 9/11 Commission.
One staff member argued that insisting on making a clear linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Iraq was "stupid" and "exposed the report to criticism." That staff member pointed to Djerejian as the person who inserted the language regarding Israel.