Washington has drawn up detailed plans for administering a post-Saddam Iraq, envisaging a significant US presence for 18 months and the takeover of Iraqi oilfields to pay for reconstruction, the New York Times reported on 5 January. The proposals have been being developed for several months and have already been discussed with President Bush in considerable detail. The officials suggest that Iraq should been governed by a civilian administrator, possibly appointed by the UN, in contrast to earlier suggestions that General Tommy Franks, head of the US Central Command, might take charge. The 18 month timespan put on the US' continued presence in Iraq reflects White House reconciliation to the fact that it will have to engage in some nation-building to prevent the country breaking up, to keep order, to apprehend Saddam Hussein's top henchmen, and to complete the search for banned weapons. However, there will be no wholesale dismantling of the government machine: elements closely associated with the former regime, such as the revolutionary courts, would go, but much of the rest would be retained and reformed. Only senior officials would be put on trial for crimes committed in the name of the regime. The idea of creating a provisional government ahead of the decision to invade has been rejected. Aside from these fundamental elements, the plan suggests various contingencies depending on how the invasion is received by the Iraqi people and the ease with which the Iraqi president is removed.
Preparing for the possible invasion itself, General Franks arrived in Washington on 9 January to report to the President and his security chiefs on the military planning. He is expected to lead the action.