Monday, July 10, 2006

Stop Me If You've Heard This Before

Gee, someone gave John Negroponte a billion dollar embassy and 500 CIA officers, and death squads started popping up all over. Who would have thought?

At least 40 people, apparently all Sunnis, were killed yesterday by Shia militants in a rampage in a Baghdad suburb - one of the capital's most deadly sectarian pogroms - that revived fears of civil war.

You'd almost think someone wanted a civil war, especially considering what the Iraqi police have been up to:

Brutality and corruption are rampant in Iraq's police force, with abuses including the rape of female prisoners, the release of terrorism suspects in exchange for bribes, assassinations of police officers and participation in insurgent bombings, according to confidential Iraqi government documents detailing more than 400 police corruption investigations.

Remember, folks, a stable Iraq means the money train has to stop!


Blogger Management said...

Wednesday, April 28th, 2004
Dems Ignore Negroponte's Death Squad Past, Look to Confirm Iraq Appointment

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At a Senate hearing on the appointment of John Negroponte to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Negroponte was never questioned about supporting widespread campaigns of terror and human rights abuses as ambassador to Honduras. We speak to a priest and a nun who lived in Latin America in the early 1980s as well as a human rights activist who disrupted Negroponte at the Senate hearing. [includes rush transcript] Yesterday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on President Bush's nominee for US ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte and reports from Capitol Hill indicate that he is now on a fast-track for Senate confirmation. The vote could come as early as Friday.

If confirmed Negroponte will head up the largest US embassy in the world, with more than 3,000 employees and over 500 CIA officers. Despite what some would call Negroponte's infamous history in Central America as US ambassador to Honduras during the 1980s, he has come up against almost no Congressional opposition, even from Senate democrats who once criticized him for supporting widespread human rights abuses.

As ambassador to Honduras, Negroponte played a key role in coordinating US covert aid to the Contra death squads in Nicaragua and shoring up a CIA-backed death squad in Honduras. During his term as ambassador there, diplomats alleged that the embassy's annual human rights reports made Honduras sound more like Norway than Argentina. In a 1995 series, the Baltimore Sun detailed the activities of a secret CIA-trained Honduran army unit, Battalion 3-16, that used "shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves." In 1994, Honduras's National Commission for the Protection of Human Rights reported that it was officially admitted that 179 civilians were still missing.

A former official who served under Negroponte says he was ordered to remove all mention of torture and executions from the draft of his 1982 report on the human rights situation in Honduras. During Negroponte's tenure, US military aid to Honduras skyrocketed from $3.9 million to over $77 million. Much of this went to ensure the Honduran army's loyalty in the battle against popular movements throughout Central America.

Despite Negroponte's history, Democrats have not offered any organized resistance to his nomination. In fact some observers described yesterday's hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a love fest. Sen. Chris Dodd who opposed Negroponte when the committee reported his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2001, has now come out in support of him, saying, "Whatever differences I've had years ago with John Negroponte, I happen to feel he's a very fine Foreign Service officer and has done a tremendous job in many places."

* Senator Chris Dodd, speaking at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on John Negroponte.

While most Democrats either praised Negroponte or refused to raise his past record, some of the toughest questioning came from Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. But he did not question Negroponte on Central America, but on Iraq.

As Negroponte, responded to Hagel, he was interrupted by an activist, Andres Conteris of Non-violence International.

* Andres Conteris, is program director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the human rights group Non-violence International. He disrupted yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on John Negroponte's appointment as US ambassador to Iraq.
* Father Joe Mulligan, is a Jesuit priest who has been based in Nicaragua for the past 18 years. He has been one of the main activists trying to determine what happened to American priest James Carney, who disappeared in Honduras in 1983. He has met John Negroponte.
* Sister Laetitia Bordes, a Catholic nun with the Society of Helpers, a Catholic community of women. She is talking to us from San Bruno, California.


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AMY GOODMAN: Here is some of what Dodd had to say at yesterday's hearing.

SENATOR CHRISTOPHER DODD: Since this is a non-traditional confirmation hearing, I was trying to recall a similar kind of a hearing. We haven't gone the extent that the finance committee did a number of years ago when our former colleague Lloyd Benton was nominated by President Clinton to be Secretary of the Treasury. Pat Moynihan moved the nomination in the committee and then they proceeded with the questions. They actually voted him out before they started the questions. We're not going that far, John, here, but in a sense, what I'm getting at here, it's obvious that this committee is going to confirm your nomination. So, in the traditional sense, the normal question and answer period is not really appropriate here because I don't think anything that you are going to say is going to dissuade any of us that you should not be the choice and get this job done.

AMY GOODMAN: Connecticut Senator, Christopher Dodd, speaking yesterday at the senate foreign relations hearings yesterday. Most democrats either praised Negroponte or refused to raise his past record, some of the toughest questioning come from republican Senator, Chuck Hagel, of Nebraska. He didn't question Negroponte on Central America, but rather on Iraq. Negroponte responded to Hagel, he was interrupted by an activist and filmmaker, Andres Conteris of the non-violence international.

CHUCK HAGEL: If they have sovereignty, Mr. Ambassador what does that mean? Do they or don't they have sovereignty on a specific issue like that, which obviously could widen and be applied to any military exercise or national security issue?

JOHN NEGROPONTE: And that is why I used the term exercise of sovereignty. I think in the case of military activity, they will -- their forces will come under the unified command of the multinational force. That is the plan, and I -- I think that as far 58s American forces are concerned, coalition forces, I think they're going to have the freedom to act in their self-defense and are going to be free to operate in Iraq, as they best see fit, but when it comes to issues like Fallujah, as I discussed earlier, I think that that is going to be the kind of situation that is going to have to in addition to everything else be the subject of real dialogue between our military commanders, the new Iraqi government, and I think the united states mission as well.


ANDRES CONTERIS: Mr. Ambassador, there can be no dialogue if the United States --

SPEAKER: Please. Let's have order in the hearing. Please. Please.

ANDRES CONTERIS: Mr. Ambassador, please --

SPEAKER: Please, let the ambassador testify. Appreciate the comments from the audience.

ANDRES CONTERIS: There is no sovereignty, Mr. Ambassador. There is no sovereignty if the United States continues to exercise security in Iraq. Senators, please ask the ambassadors about the Battalion 316. He had involvement with a death squad in Honduras that he supported.

AMY GOODMAN: Andres Conteris for the human rights group, non-violence international interrupting the hearings for John Negroponte. It was hard to understand what you were saying. What did you say, and why did you feel the need to interrupt this nomination confirmation hearing?

ANDRES CONTERIS: Amy, I felt it was imperative for those of us who support peace and non-violence to be at this hearing where this -- where this man who we considered to be a state terrorist is about to be confirmed to the largest diplomatic post in U.S. history. What Negroponte was saying at the time is that when it comes to issues like Fallujah, there -- we need to engage in real dialogue, and I could not believe that he would use such words. I rose and spoke and said that there could be -- can be no dialogue as long as the U.S. continues to commit war on Iraq. I then went on to say that the people of Honduras consider him to be a state terrorist, and that we need to be pursuing non-violence in the Middle East instead of the -- the way that we are committing violence there with the war. I went on to then emphasize that the senators need to ask the ambassador -- about his involvement in human rights violations and particularly his support for a depth squad called Battalion 316 while he was ambassador in the early 1980's in Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: We're also joined on the phone by sister Laetitia Bordes, catholic nun with the Society of Helpers, which is a catholic community of women from San Bruno, California. And Father Joe Mulligan, a Jesuit priest who has been in Nicaragua for the past 18 years. One of the main people trying to determine what happened to a U.S. priest named James Carney who disappeared in Honduras in 1938. You have met with John Negroponte, Father John Mulligan. Can you talk about his record as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985? Father John Mulligan? Father Joe?


AMY GOODMAN: You can talk about the record of Ambassador Negroponte from 1981 to 1985?

FATHER MULLIGAN: Well, Ambassador Negroponte was, of course, in charge of U.S. policy in Honduras and also in relation to U.S. policy trying to help to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, so he was the main person responsible for that intervention in the sovereign affairs of Nicaragua and now he's apparently about to be appointed our Ambassador to Iraq where we're seeing a much more drastic and massive and direct intervention in a sovereign country, but also, I think the fact that Mr. Negroponte, when he was ambassador in Honduras, he did not report adequately, nor did the C.I.A. report adequately, to Washington on Honduran army violations of human rights. We have this in the C.I.A. inspector general's report on C.I.A. activities in Honduras in the 1980's, various statements and much of the material was blacked out, but there are a number of statements to the effect that the U.S. Embassy in that period of time and the C.I.A. were downplaying Honduran army violations of human rights in their reports to Washington. This does not show well for the ability of the American people to know what the United States is doing, will be doing in Iraq, and what the security forces that we are creating will be doing in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us about what happened to James Carney in Honduras and about this Battalion 316. I'm also going to put the question to Laetitia Bordes, who we started a conversation with yesterday. First, we're going to break for stations to identify themselves. We're talking about the confirmation of John Negroponte as Ambassador to Iraq once the handover takes place. He will be replacing L. Paul Bremer. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, the war and peace report. I am very much looking forward to seeing listeners of WPFW as well as viewers of Baltimore public access TV, I think it’s channel 5 tonight in Washington, D.C., as we celebrate community radio via UDC Auditorium on Van Ness University of District of Columbia in our continuation of the Exception to the Rulers tour. You can call WPFW if you want more information. I'm Amy Goodman, and we're talking about John Negroponte, to be confirmed, as early as Friday, as the next ambassador to Iraq, replacing L. Paul Bremer. We're talking to Father Joe Mulligan, a Jesuit priest who had been based in Nicaragua for the past 18 years, one of the main people trying to determine what happened to Father James Carney, who was a priest who disappeared in 1983. You dealt directly with John Negroponte as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985.

FATHER MULLIGAN: Well, I talked to Mr. Negroponte at the State Department some years after that. We talked about the case of Father Jim Carney. During that period of time when he was ambassador, I did not have contact with him. He told me that he simply accepted the Honduran military's version of what might have happened, which was simply that they didn't know anything about Father Carney. Of course, his body has never been found, but the Honduran military said they didn't know anything about him, but if he was a member of this insurgent group of Hondurans which had come in from Nicaragua, perhaps he had simply starved to death in the mountains. That's been the official position of the Honduran military and government and Mr. Negroponte said he didn't have any reason to doubt that, and that he had not really looked any further into it, because he left that up to the Hondurans.

AMY GOODMAN: Battalion 316, Sister Laetitia Bordes, can you talk about this, and why you met with Negroponte as ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980's.

SISTER LAETITIA BORDES: Why yes, good morning Amy. As I mentioned yesterday on your program, I had gone to Honduras to meet with then-ambassador John Negroponte to find out what had happened to 32 women from El Salvador, who had taken refuge in Honduras and who disappeared. At that time there was the Battalion 316. The Battalion was another name for the horrible death squad that was operating in Honduras at that time. That was well known to ambassador Negroponte. The reason I say it was very well known to ambassador Negroponte was that General Alvarez Martinez was then chief of the Honduran armed forces, and he was the secret head of battalion 316. Now, Negroponte and Martinez, the people would tell you, it was known that they would wine and dine together, and had ongoing connections. So, it is absurd to think that Mr. Negroponte would say that he did not know what was going in El Salvador at that time. As I found out 13 years later that the women we were looking for had been badly, badly tortured and then put in a helicopter and dropped into the ocean. They used Salvadoran military and helicopters to take these women and drop them over the ocean. Now, Battalion 316 continued to function the whole time that Negroponte was there, and I don't think too many people know that General Gustavo Martinez was kind of, quote, “Beheaded by his own military.” There was kind of a coup, and he took temporary refuge in the United States. When he went back to Honduras, he was assassinated. I don't think many people know about that. It is believed that he was assassinated by members of the military, who were very upset with him because of deals that he had made with the United States while he was the general. What angers me -- angers me very, very much is that there's absolutely no reference being made to the past of Mr. Negroponte in Honduras during these hearings. We just don't hear anything about it. We do not learn from our history. The people of Iraq are those who are going to be the ongoing victims of John Negroponte, who believes that the end justifies the means.

AMY GOODMAN: Father Joe Mulligan, were you surprised that democrats like Senator Christopher Dodd who had actually objected to Negroponte's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations are not raising questions now and are in fact fully supporting him?

FATHER MULLIGAN: Yes, I have been surprised and very disappointed. I think that his past record is something that needs to be scrutinized if we're going to have an ambassador in charge of the largest U.S. Embassy in the world. We need somebody who does not have the history of as the C.I.A. Inspector general said, “Downplaying the human rights situation, downplaying the problem of violations of human rights in that country.” I might just said something about Battalion 316 -- one of the former members of Battalion 316 who deserted from that Battalion and left Honduras about in the mid 1980's has testified in a number of instances that Father Jim Carney was captured by the Honduran army and turned over for interrogation and torture and elimination by Battalion 316. So, we have different kinds of reports about the fate of Father Carney. As I said earlier, Mr. Negroponte has simply accepted the official statement of the Honduran military that perhaps Father Carney, an American citizen, starved to death in the mountains. There was also another American citizen in that group. It was a small group of Honduran insurgents who entered Honduras from Nicaragua, Father Carney went along as a Chaplain, accompanying the group, but there was another U.S. Citizen, a Nicaraguan American, in that group, David Baez, who had interestingly enough been a member of the U.S. Green Berets for about 11 years previously and had returned to his native country, Nicaragua, and then joined this group of about 100 Hondurans, along with Father Carney going into Honduras, and David Baez, another U.S. Citizen, also disappeared. We have never been able to find his remains, nor have we been able to find out exactly what happened. I think the ambassador -- the U.S. Ambassador in a particular country is responsible to investigate what happened in the case of this -- of this disappearance of two American citizens, and Mr. Negroponte simply accepted the official Honduran line on that, and as I said, he -- the Embassy and the C.I.A. Were under -- underestimating or underreporting the violations of human rights in Honduras in their reports to Washington.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Father Joe Mulligan, I want to thank you for being with us. I should also add that Father Mulligan has just come out of jail, serving three months for protesting at the School of the Americas in Georgia. Sister Laetitia Bordes with the Society of Helpers, thank you. And Andres Conteris, with the group Nonviolence International and one of the filmmakers of “Hidden In Plain Sight”, a film about the School of the Americas.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Shia massacre revives fears of civil war

· Mahdi army blamed for Baghdad street slaughter
· Shias killed as car bombs explode near mosque

Jonathan Steele
Monday July 10, 2006
The Guardian

At least 40 people, apparently all Sunnis, were killed yesterday by Shia militants in a rampage in a Baghdad suburb - one of the capital's most deadly sectarian pogroms - that revived fears of civil war.

Witnesses said gunmen, some masked, set up roadblocks and stopped motorists in the mainly Sunni suburb of Jihad, near Baghdad airport, demanding to see identity cards. Those with Sunni names were shot dead; Shias were released.

The slaughter lasted several hours, according to Alaa Makki, a spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic party, one of the main Sunni parties, who blamed the Mahdi army, the Shia militia loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. "There is a lot of evidence it was done by the Mahdi army," he told the Guardian by phone from Baghdad.

Mr Sadr, whose aides denied Mahdi army involvement, responded last night by calling for calm and reconciliation between Shias and Sunnis "for the sake of Iraq's independence and stability".

But as evening fell, another 17 people were killed, this time Shias cut down by two car bombs exploding near a Shia mosque in northern Baghdad. Last night, US forces were seeking to restore order with a two-day curfew.

Sectarian attacks have plagued Baghdad and other cities with mixed populations since the bombing in March in Samarra of a shrine sacred to Shias. But yesterday's massacre stood out from previous incidents because of its scale and the insouciance of the killers. Attacks took place in daylight and on several streets.

The militia were also said to have gone into houses and detained people. In one case a family was murdered and the house was then set on fire. A police lieutenant, Maitham Abdul-Razzaq, said 37 bodies were taken to hospitals and police were searching for more victims reportedly dumped in the streets. Several houses were burning, other police sources said.

Wissam Mohammad Hussein al-Ani, a 27-year-old Sunni calligrapher, told Associated Press reporters that three gunmen had stopped him as he was walking to a bus and asked him to show identification. They let him go after he produced a fake ID with a Shia name but seized two young men standing nearby.

The Shia owner of a supermarket said he had seen heavily armed men pull four people out of a car, blindfold them and forcethem to stand aside while they grabbed five others out of a minivan. "After 10 minutes, the gunmen took the nine people to a place a few metres away from the market and opened fire on them," Saad Jawad Kadhim al-Azzawi said.

The killings in Jihad followed tit-for-tat attacks on Sunni and Shia places of worship on Friday and Saturday. Mr Makki said these attacks were made by unknown "third parties who want to provoke violence and get Sunnis to leave the area".

Since violence developed earlier this year the Mahdi army has set up armed vigilantes to guard Shia mosques and small prayer halls, known as husseiniyas

"Witnesses have been coming to our headquarters all day," Mr Makki said. "They say they saw gunmen emerging from a husseiniya. Some were shouting 'The Mahdi army is coming'. They warned Sunnis to leave the area. Some witnesses recognised well-known local Sadrists among the gunmen".

Mr Makki accused the police of standing by and watching the killing. The Baghdad police are largely made up of Shias, and groups within them are loyal to another militia known as the Badr brigades. Police commandos have been involved in running secret prisons and death squads, according to US officials. The US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been urging the new interior minister to purge the police of militia loyalists.

The deputy prime minister, Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie, a Sunni, called the attack "a real and ugly massacre" and blamed Iraqi security forces. "There are officers who, instead of being in charge, should be referred to judicial authorities," al-Zubaie told al-Jazeera TV. "Jihad is witnessing a catastrophic crime."

Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, a senior official of the Sadrist movement, denied the Mahdi army was involved. He said the attackers put on black uniforms, which are often worn by Sadrists, to provoke sectarian tension.

Tens of thousands of Sunnis and Shias have fled in recent weeks in Baghdad and other towns near the capital to areas where people of their sect are in a decisive majority. Most of southern Iraq is Shia, while the West is largely Sunni.

While most refugees have had time to pack cases and even sell their homes in a slow-motion sectarian version of "ethnic cleansing", what happened in Jihad today resembled a pogrom. Houses were set on fire, others were raided, and people were murdered simply because of their sectarian identity.

Almost all mosques in Baghdad are guarded by sectarian gunmen. Makeshift barricades have appeared in suburbs, manned by vigilantes on a pattern last seen in the chaotic days after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

A few kilometres away from Jihad, staff for the Reuters news agency in the district of Shula, a mainly Shia island in Sunni west Baghdad, said Mahdi militia were blocking streets with burning tyres and telling residents to stay indoors, apparently fearing reprisal attacks.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Police Abuses in Iraq Detailed
Confidential documents cover more than 400 investigations. Brutality, bribery and cooperation with militia fighters are common, a report says.
By Solomon Moore
Times Staff Writer

July 9, 2006

BAGHDAD — Brutality and corruption are rampant in Iraq's police force, with abuses including the rape of female prisoners, the release of terrorism suspects in exchange for bribes, assassinations of police officers and participation in insurgent bombings, according to confidential Iraqi government documents detailing more than 400 police corruption investigations.

A recent assessment by State Department police training contractors echoes the investigative documents, concluding that strong paramilitary and insurgent influences within the force and endemic corruption have undermined public confidence in the government.

Officers also have beaten prisoners to death, been involved in kidnapping rings, sold thousands of stolen and forged Iraqi passports and passed along vital information to insurgents, the Iraqi documents allege.

The documents, which cover part of 2005 and 2006, were obtained by The Times and authenticated by current and former police officials.

The alleged offenses span dozens of police units and hundreds of officers, including beat cops, generals and police chiefs. Officers were punished in some instances, but the vast majority of cases are either under investigation or were dropped because of lack of evidence or witness testimony.

The investigative documents are the latest in a string of disturbing revelations of abuse and corruption by Iraq's Interior Ministry, a Cabinet-level agency that employs 268,610 police, immigration, facilities security and dignitary protection officers.

After the discovery in November of a secret Interior Ministry detention facility in Baghdad operated by police intelligence officials affiliated with a Shiite Muslim militia, U.S. officials declared 2006 "the year of the police." They vowed a renewed effort to expand and professionalize Iraq's civilian officer corps.

President Bush has said that the training of a competent Iraqi police force is linked to the timing of an eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops and a key element in the war in Iraq.

But U.S. officials say the renegade force in the ministry's intelligence service that ran the bunker in Baghdad's Jadiriya neighborhood continues to operate out of the Interior Ministry building's seventh floor. A senior U.S. military official in Iraq, who spoke on condition of anonymity in an interview last month, confirmed that one of the leaders of the renegade group, Mahmoud Waeli, is the "minister of intelligence for the Badr Corps" Shiite militia and a main recruiter of paramilitary elements for Interior Ministry police forces.

"We're gradually working the process to take them out of the equation," the military official said. "We developed the information. We also developed a prosecutorial case."

Bayan Jabr, a prominent Shiite, was interior minister at the time of the investigations detailed in the documents and has been accused of allowing Shiite paramilitary fighters to run rampant in the security forces.

U.S. officials interviewed for this article said the ability of Jabr's replacement, Jawad Bolani, to deal with the corruption and militia influence in the police force will be a crucial test of his leadership.

The challenges facing Bolani, a Shiite engineer who has no policing experience and entered politics for the first time after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, are highlighted in a recent assessment by police trainers hired by the State Department. According to the report, corruption in the Interior Ministry has hampered its effectiveness and its credibility with Iraqis.

"Despite great progress and genuine commitment on the part of many ministry officials, the current climate of corruption, human rights violations and sectarian violence found in Iraq's security forces undermines public confidence," according to the document, titled "Year of the Police In-Stride Assessment, October 2005 to May 2006."

Elements of the Ministry of the Interior, or MOI, "have been co-opted by insurgents, terrorists and sectarian militias. Payroll fraud, other kinds of corruption and intimidation campaigns by insurgent and militia organizations undermine police effectiveness in key cities throughout Iraq," the report says.

The report increased tensions between the Pentagon, which runs the police training program, and the State Department, which has been pushing to expand its limited training role in Iraq, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The report strikes contradictory tones, saying that the Interior Ministry continues to improve and that its forces are on track to take over civil security from U.S. and Iraqi military elements by the end of the year, while outlining shocking problems with corruption and abuse.

"The document basically shows that Interior Ministry management has failed," the U.S. official said. "The document didn't directly address U.S. policy failures, but I guess it does show that too."

Interior Ministry officials have taken steps to "improve detainee life," the report says. "However, there are elements within the MOI which continue to abuse detainees."

Referring to Sunni Arab insurgent groups and Shiite paramilitary organizations, the report says "these groups exploit MOI forces to further insurgent, party and sectarian goals. As a result, many Iraqis do not trust the police. Divisions falling along militia lines have led to violence among police.

"MOI officials and forces are widely reported to engage in bribery, extortion and theft," the report says. "For example, there are numerous credible reports of ministry and police officials requiring payment from would-be recruits to join the police."

The report's findings are borne out in hundreds of pages of internal investigative documents.

The documents include worksheets with hundreds of short summaries of alleged police crimes, letters referring accused officers to Iraq's anti-corruption agencies and courts, citizen complaints of police abuse and corruption, police inspector general summaries detailing financial crimes and fraudulent contracting practices and reports on alleged sympathizers of Saddam Hussein's former regime.

In crisp bureaucratic Arabic, the documents detail a police force in which abuse and death at the hands of policemen is frighteningly common.

Police officers' loyalties appear to be a major problem, with dozens of accounts of insurgent infiltration and terrorist acts committed by ministry officials.

In one case, a ring of Baghdad police officers — including a colonel, two lieutenants and a captain — were accused of stealing communications equipment for insurgents, who used the electronics for remote bomb triggers. In another case, a medic with the Interior Ministry's elite commando force in Baghdad was fired after he was accused of planting improvised explosives and conducting assassinations.

In Diyala province, where last month U.S. forces killed Abu Musab Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, investigators were looking into allegations that a police officer detonated a suicide vest in the bombing of a police station. In a separate case, a brigadier general, a colonel and a criminal judge were accused of taking bribes from a suspected terrorist.

Police officers have also organized kidnapping rings that abduct civilians for ransom — in some of the cases, the victims are police officers. Two Baghdad police commanders kidnapped a lieutenant colonel, stole his ministry car and demanded tens of thousands of dollars from the victim's family, the documents allege. In that case, the two accused, Maj. Gen. Naief Abdul Ezaq and Capt. Methaq Sebah Mahmoud, were fired and taken to court.

The abbreviated notes on the case do not make clear whether the two officers received further punishment, but the fact that the documents mention the courts being involved in the incident at all makes it stand out from the rest of the cases.

In another case, the bodyguards of a police colonel in the Zayona neighborhood of Baghdad kidnapped merchants for ransom, according to the documents. In the capital's Ghazaliya neighborhood, a lieutenant and his brother-in-law kidnapped a man and demanded a huge ransom from his family.

Abuse by police is also a common theme. The victims include citizens who tried to complain about police misbehavior, drivers who disobeyed traffic police commands and, in several cases, other police officers.

But detainees appear to be targeted most often. The U.S. military has been working with the Iraqi government to standardize detention facilities and policies, and the U.S. assessment claims that several site visits turned up no serious human rights abuses. But the ministry documents reveal a brutal detention system in which officers run hidden jails, and torture and detainee deaths are common.

The documents mention four investigations into the deaths of 15 prisoners at the hands police commando units.

In the Rusafa section of Baghdad, a predominantly Shiite area known for its strong militia presence, police tortured detainees with electricity, beatings and, in at least one case, rape, according to the internal documents. Relief was reserved for those detainees whose relatives could afford to bribe detention officers to release them.

The Wolf Brigade, a notorious commando unit, illegally detained more than 650 prisoners, according to the documents. During a mass release of Wolf Brigade prisoners last November, a Times reporter saw dozens of malnourished men among the released detainees; several were so weak that they could not walk without assistance.

Female detainees are often sexually assaulted. According to the documents, the commander of a detention center in the Karkh neighborhood of the capital raped a woman who was an alleged insurgent in August. That same month, two lieutenants tortured and raped two other female detainees.

Among the strongest reprimands — and the most outrageous corruption — detailed in the documents are the cases involving two provincial police chiefs who were removed.

Brig. Gen. Adil Molan Ghaidan, the former Diyala province police chief, was accused of drinking on the job, illegally confiscating real estate from citizens, knowingly paying ghost employees and harboring suspected terrorists. He was removed from the force about six months ago, police sources say.

Before his removal several months ago, Maj. Gen. Ahmad Mohammed Aljiboori, the former Nineveh province police chief, allegedly assigned a private army of 1,400 officers to personal security detail. According to an internal inquiry, Aljiboori claimed the force was not under the Interior Ministry's control.

The document also accuses Aljiboori of detaining 300 Iraqis for two months without charges, wasting thousands of dollars on extravagant banquets and neglecting antiterrorism efforts to focus on arresting car dealers. The document says Aljiboori confiscated most of the cars for personal gain and gave some of them away to friends as gifts.

U.S. officials say they have known about Interior Ministry abuses for years but have done little to thwart them, choosing instead to push Iraqi leaders to solve their own problems.

"The military had been at the bunker prior to the raid in November," said the U.S. official, referring to the Jadiriya facility. "But they said nothing."

Some U.S. military leaders want American officials to have a stronger hand with the Interior Ministry, arguing that continuing corruption and militia influence are dashing any hope for a speedy American withdrawal.

Another senior military official said U.S. policy in regard to the ministry was confused and disengaged. The official, who asked not to be identified because his comments impugned his superiors, said the Pentagon and State Department had failed to coordinate their efforts and were disengaged from the Iraqi police leaders.

"They sit up there on the 11th floor of the ministry building and don't talk to the Iraqis," the official said of U.S. police trainers assigned to the Interior Ministry headquarters tower. "They say they do policy and [that] it's up to the Iraqis — well, they're just doing nothing. The MOI is the most broken ministry in Iraq."

9:39 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Rebuilding Iraq -- The Contractors

Even before the war in Iraq began March 20, the Bush administration was considering plans to help rebuild the country after fighting ceased. According to news reports in early March, the U.S. Agency for International Development secretly asked six U.S. companies to submit bids for a $900 million government contract to repair and reconstruct water systems, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in Iraq.

The six companies -- Bechtel Group Inc., Fluor Corp., Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, Louis Berger Group Inc., Parsons Corp. and Washington Group International Inc. -- contributed a combined $3.6 million in individual, PAC and soft money donations between 1999 and 2002, the Center reported on its news site, Sixty-six percent of that total went to Republicans.

The bidding process has been criticized for including only a handful of companies, some with substantial political clout and none of which is based outside the United States. USAID officials said the recent invitations to bid on reconstruction contracts went to U.S. corporations for security reasons, and that foreign companies may compete for subcontracting work, Bloomberg News reports.

As the winners* of this and other contracts to rebuild Iraq are announced, we will post their campaign contributions -- large or small -- below. (Figures represent total contributions made between 1999 and 2002, and include PAC, soft money and individual contributions to federal candidates, party committees and leadership PACs.^)

Bechtel Group Inc.
The Contributions: $1,303,765 (59 percent to Republicans; 41 percent to Democrats)
Total to President Bush: $6,250
The Contract: USAID awarded the largest of its postwar Iraq contracts to Bechtel Group Inc. April 17. The capital construction contract gives Bechtel an initial award of $34.6 million, but provides for funding of up to $680 million over 18 months subject to Congress’ approval. Bechtel’s primary activities under the contract will include rebuilding power generation facilities, electrical grids, water and sewage systems and airport facilities in Iraq. The company has said it plans to subcontract a number of these projects.
The Company: Bechtel Group Inc., the San Francisco-based engineering company, has been in the construction business for more than 100 years and has completed close to 20,000 projects in 140 countries. The privately owned firm, which had revenues of $13.3 billion last year, has made a number of friends in Washington over the years. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, once Bechtel’s president, now serves on the company’s board of directors. USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, who oversees the bidding process for postwar contracts, once headed the Boston-area “Big Dig” construction project, for which Bechtel was the primary contractor.

Halliburton Co.
The Contributions: $708,770 (95 percent to Republicans)
Total to President Bush: $17,677
The Contract: On March 25, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root the main contract to fight oil well fires and reconstruct oil fields in Iraq. The open-ended contract, which has no specified time or dollar limit, was given to the company without a bidding process. KBR has already announced it will subcontract the actual firefighting operations to Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc. and Wild Well Control Inc., both based in Houston.
The Company: Halliburton Co., the Dallas-based oil field services giant that took in $12.5 billion in sales last year, is no stranger to government contracts. Kellogg, Brown & Root fought oil well fires in Kuwait and provided support services to U.S. forces in the Balkans in the 1990s. But Halliburton's ties to Washington have made it a target of criticism in the latest bidding process. Vice President Dick Cheney headed the company for five years before becoming George W. Bush's runningmate in 2000. Lawrence Eagleburger, former U.S. secretary of state under President George H. W. Bush, sits on the company's board.

The Contributions: $226,865 (72 percent to Republicans)
Total to President Bush: $7,500
Computer Sciences Corp. (acquired DynCorp March 7)
The Contributions: $276,975 (74 percent to Republicans)
Total to President Bush: $10,250
The Contract: The U.S. State Department awarded DynCorp, now a unit of Computer Sciences Corp., a multimillion-dollar contract April 18 to advise the Iraqi government on setting up effective law enforcement, judicial and correctional agencies. DynCorp will arrange for up to 1,000 U.S. civilian law enforcement experts to travel to Iraq to help locals "assess threats to public order" and mentor personnel at the municipal, provincial and national levels. The company will also provide any logistical or technical support necessary for this peacekeeping project. DynCorp estimates it could recoup up to $50 million for the first year of the contract.
The Companies: Founded in 1946, DynCorp has long provided U.S. government agencies--particularly the Defense Department--with logistical and training support. Computer Sciences Corp. acquired DynCorp in March of this year for $950 million. CSC is one of the country's leading IT consulting firms and reported revenues of more than $11 billion in 2002.

Stevedoring Services of America
The Contributions: $24,825 (77 percent to Republicans)
Total to President Bush: $1,000
The Contract: USAID awarded Stevedoring Services of America a $4.8 million contract on March 24 for "assessment and management" of the Umm Qasr port in southeastern Iraq. The agency says the Seattle-based company will operate the port as it receives shipments of humanitarian and reconstruction materials and will research ways to improve port productivity for the long term.
The Company: Stevedoring Services of America, the largest marine terminal operator in the United States, made an estimated $1 billion in sales last year. The family-owned and -operated company is a private venture.

Abt Associates Inc.
The Contributions: $4,900 (100 percent to Democrats)
Total to President Bush: $0
The Contract: USAID awarded Abt Associates a $10 million contract April 30 to help reform the Iraqi Ministry of Health and to deliver health services and medical equipment to Iraqis. Under the “Health System Strengthening Contract,” the firm will coordinate the training and recruiting of health staff and will provide health education to the general public. Abt will work in cooperation with UNICEF, the World Health Organization and other international organizations already on the ground in Iraq.
The Company: Abt Associates, based in Cambridge, Mass., is one of the largest for-profit government and business research and consulting firms in the world. In the United States, Abt has completed social and economic policy consulting, surveys and clinical trials for organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control. About one-third of the company’s revenues come from international activities.

SkyLink Air and Logistic Support (USA) Inc.
The Contributions: $3,900 (74 percent to Republicans)
Total to President Bush: $0
The Contract: USAID awarded SkyLink Air and Logistic Support (USA) Inc. an initial $2.5 million contract May 7 to help reopen and manage Iraq’s airports. SkyLink will oversee an international staff in its efforts to assess airport damage and get operations up and running. Ultimately, the company will turn over airport management to Iraqi staff.
The Company: Washington, D.C.-based SkyLink Air and Logistic Support is a government contractor with experience in emergency relief, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and development activities in more than 60 countries. SkyLink’s regular clients include the United States and United Nations, which often use the company in areas plagued by war or natural disasters.

International Resources Group
The Contributions: $3,800 (61 percent to Democrats)
Total to President Bush: $0
The Contract: USAID awarded International Resources Group a $7 million, 90-day contract Feb. 21 for the management of relief and rebuilding efforts in postwar Iraq. IRG will coordinate efforts across multiple sectors, including education, health, agriculture, civil society and infrastructure.
The Company: International Resources Group is a Washington, D.C.-based professional services firm that manages complex environmental, energy and reconstruction situations for public and private sector clients. Founded in 1978, IRG has completed more than 600 projects, many of them for USAID.

Research Triangle Institute
The Contributions: $3,491 (all to Democrats)
Total to President Bush: $0
The Contract: USAID awarded Research Triangle Institute a $7.9 million contract April 11 to promote Iraqi civic participation in the reconstruction process. RTI will provide technical assistance and training programs in an effort to improve local administrators’ management skills and understanding of municipal services. RTI will also have the authority to grant contracts to Iraqi and foreign non-governmental organizations that will help train administrators and civilians in communication, conflict resolution, leadership and political analysis. Increasing political participation of “at-risk” groups-- including those that represent the interests of women, minorities and youth in Iraq—will be a top priority for RTI.
The Company: Research Triangle Institute is a non-profit organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The group has worked in transitional regions for more than 20 years, and is a regular USAID contractor. RTI has completed governance work in South Africa, Indonesia and El Salvador and most recently won a $60 million USAID contract for educational development in Pakistan.

Creative Associates International Inc.
The Contributions: $2,000 (all to Democrats)
Total to President Bush: $0
The Contract: USAID awarded Creative Associates International Inc. a $2 million one-year contract April 11 to address the “immediate educational needs” of Iraq’s primary and secondary schools. Short-term activities covered under the contract include training teachers, providing students with school supplies and developing testing methods to track student performance.
The Company: Creative Associates International Inc. is a private consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., that provides community development assistance to transitional regions. The firm, which has revenues of $35 million per year, has completed more than 400 contracts since its inception in 1979.

*This list does not include subcontractors.
^Figures are based on data released by the Federal Election Commission on April 28, 2003.

9:39 PM  

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