Paul Bremer, administrator for the U.S.-led occupation government until the handover of political power on June 28, told a conference the second mistake was in part due to not having enough troops -- not stopping the widespread violence and looting that occurred after Saddam Hussein's ouster, the Washington Post reported.
"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," Bremer said at an insurance conference in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. "We never had enough troops on the ground."
But in an e-mailed statement to the newspaper late Monday night, Bremer stressed he fully supports the Bush administration's plan for training Iraqi security forces as well as its overall strategy for Iraq.
"I believe that we currently have sufficient troop levels in Iraq," he wrote. He said all references in recent speeches to troop levels related to the situation were when he arrived in Baghdad in May 2003.
The Pentagon issued a statement late Tuesday saying that force levels were a result of military judgement, not the civilian administrator's.
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