And Kerik used that image of proximity to get access to U.S. viceroy L. Paul Bremer III. "He had the charisma to cut through some of the problems and get through to Bremer when we needed help moving forward with the Ministry of Interior and the police," Juett remembers. "Bernie had that acumen." He missed that acumen when Kerik left Iraq. "We lost a lot of good access when Kerik left," Juett says. "Not only Bremer access, but a conduit to the Oval Office."
Just what Kerik used it for remains something of a mystery. Months after he returned from Iraq, in October 2003, he boasted in a press conference with President Bush, "We brought back more than 40,000 police, 450 cars in Baghdad, stood up 35 police stations in Baghdad." But by the following Spring's dual uprisings of Sunni insurgents and the Shiite Mahdi Army, the police force proved to be either ineffectual or disloyal. Ever since, the Iraqi police have proved to be riddled with problems. That's not something that can fairly be laid at Kerik's feet, as Juett says: "He wasn't there long enough, unfortunately, to have the dubious distinction of making that fail." In 2006, Kerik reflected, "Looking back, I really don't know what their plan was."
Not that Juett knows why Kerik left when he did. Though he says they worked together "fairly closely," Kerik didn't share his reasons for leaving with the staff. Juett assumed that Kerik had wrapped the two tasks he was assigned. "One was to be the eyes on the ground for the Oval Office, for the president, to speak to Rumsfeld and the Oval Office about 'Here's what I see and here's what I was doing.' And two, he had initial things to accomplish -- to stand up the Police Academy and to actually have the police go out and make arrests, make sure they were doing patrols," he says. "In my opinion, those two things were accomplished by him. I can't say if the president said, 'You have to get X, Y and Z done."
Update: This post initially gave the impression that Kerik's time of departure was shady. Further reporting, including interviews with officials who worked at CPA with Kerik, indicates that Kerik served out the commitment he had given to the CPA. I regret sending a misimpression.