Three Iraq-Related Posts From ‘First Draft’

First Draft is an excellent blog. Here are snippets of three posts in a row that are well worth reading.

U.S. Forces In Iraq Violate Geneva Convention (Reuters)

Thousands of people are detained in Iraq without due process in apparent violation of international law, the United Nations said on Wednesday, adding that 6,000 of the country's 10,000 prisoners were in the hands of the U.S. military.

In Iraq, “one of the major human rights challenges remains the detention of thousands of persons without due process,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council.

Brits Cut and Run? (Glasgow Herald)

BRITISH forces may begin a withdrawal from Iraq “in three or four months”, a senior UK commander claimed yesterday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Williams leads a 1000-man battle-group based near the flashpoint town of al Amarah, about 100 miles north of Basra.

However, the Ministry of Defence played down the suggestion of any timetable for the removal of the 8500 UK troops in Iraq, saying that any cut in force levels was “contingent on the security situation and the availability of Iraqi forces to shoulder responsibility”.

Losing Control of the Mercenaries (The Guardian)

A group of American security guards in Iraq have alleged they were beaten, stripped and threatened with a snarling dog by US marines when they were detained after an alleged shooting incident outside Falluja last month.

“I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane,” one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an email quoted in the Los Angeles Times. “They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed [bullied] us, called us names.”

According to Peter Singer, a Brookings Institute scholar and author of the book Corporate Warriors, private military contractors in Iraq are operating in a black hole as they do not fall within the military chain of command. “What appears to have happened here is tension between forces bubbling to the surface,” he told the Guardian.

But he said the incident also raised the question of what happens to contractors if they are caught doing something wrong, such as firing on civilians, as their legal status is not defined. “If the marines think [the contractors] did do something illegal there is no process they can go through. Who are they going to hand them over to?” Mr Singer said. “There have been more than 20,000 [contractors] on the ground in Iraq for more than two years and not one has been prosecuted for anything.”

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