I’ve suggested recently that the Shi’a militias, read: Deathsquads, have been directly supported by the Bush Administration and the United States military, despite professed intentions to secure Iraq and establish a tolerant democracy.
Although I believe this is self-evident to anyone who has been to Iraq and talked to people on the streets and followed the evidence, there have been some questions from readership regarding direct evidence.
Well, today it came out with a vengeance. The Chicago Tribune reports that:
U.S. officials are doling out millions of dollars of arms and ammunition to Iraqi police units without safeguards required to ensure they are complying with American laws that ban taxpayer-financed assistance for foreign security forces engaged in human-rights violations, according to an internal State Department review.
This is statistical, hard evidence for exactly the actions I and Iraqis I speak with regularly, have been claiming for months. Some interesting highlights from the article:
As Iraq slides deeper into sectarian violence, the performance of U.S.-supported Iraqi units could be crucial, because some are infiltrated by militias believed responsible for much of the current strife.
This is exactly the issue, except for one thing, the militias are not “infiltrating” the security forces, they are the security forces. Soon after the interim elections, security forces were divied up between the Mahdi Army, Badr Brigade, and Kurdish Peshmerga organizations. There has been little Sunni Arab presence in these organizations from day one. That is being rectified slowly, but the emphasis cannot be placed heavily enough on “slowly.”
But the internal memo suggests that U.S. officials believe it is not possible to comply with the laws in Iraq, noting the “burden of following the usual State Department procedures as they are practiced at other posts would vastly overwhelm [the Baghdad embassy’s] available resources.”
On a more basic level, the memo says U.S. officials face “a serious challenge” in even compiling, sorting and analyzing reports of Iraqi rights violations, a move identified as a “necessary first step” for complying with the laws. Similarly, there is still no comprehensive system identifying Iraqi recruits receiving aid and training.
While U.S. officials in Iraq did not answer questions about how many weapons they have distributed overall, Interior Ministry forces were issued more than 10,000 AK-47 rifles, 16,000 pistols and 800 light and medium machine guns during one recent three-month period, according to a Defense Department report to Congress in February.
The State Department memo says such weapons have been issued to local Interior Ministry police forces nationwide, known as the Iraqi Police Services, based solely on “hand receipts” signed by any of the 18 provincial police directors in the country.
The official in charge of a province is then free to “subsequently issue [guns] to subordinate units,” the memo shows.
For weapons distributed to Iraq’s National Police, also based in the Interior Ministry, the memo says there is accountability only to the brigade level–not to units further down the chain of command.
But there still is no formal mechanism within the U.S. Embassy for monitoring or measuring abuses, whether in detention facilities or on the streets of Iraq, according to the State Department memo and interviews with U.S. officials.
Even when the embassy receives handwritten allegations from Iraqis, it does not track such reports, the memo indicates. And it calls a tracking system “a necessary first step towards building a vetting tool that can be a cornerstone of normalized Leahy vetting procedures.”
These are just some highlights from the article. I will be investigating the possibilities for getting the entire memo, if possible, I intend to disseminate it here at Alive in Baghdad. Also, there has not yet been enough pressure placed on Bayan Jabr, Iraq’s sitting Interior Minister. I’ll attempt later tonight or tomorrow to compile some of the softball interviews he’s been dealt by the foreign press. Until then, check out this recent interview with the BBC last week;