The genesis of Brookeâ€™s assignment was the decision not to unseat Saddam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War. In May, 1991, President George H. W. Bush signed a covert â€œlethal findingâ€� that authorized the C.I.A. to spend a hundred million dollars to â€œcreate the conditions for removal of Saddam Hussein from power.â€� Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. officer who was assigned to Iraq at the time, said that the policy was all show, â€œlike an ape beating its chest. No one had any expectation of marching into Baghdad and killing Saddam. It was an impossibility.â€� Nonetheless, the C.I.A. had received an influx of cash, and it decided to create an external opposition movement to Saddam.
The C.I.A. had been forced to abolish domestic operations after a series of scandals in the nineteen-seventies, and it had folded many of its overseas programs when the Cold War ended. So it outsourced the Iraq project to the Rendon Group. According to Brooke, the company signed a secret contract with the C.I.A. which guaranteed that it would receive a ten-per-cent â€œmanagement feeâ€� on top of whatever money it spent. The arrangement was an incentive to spend millions. â€œWe tried to burn through forty million dollars a year,â€� Brooke said. â€œIt was a very nice job.â€�