Thursday, April 17, 2003

Lagniappe - OK. Now that the US troops are securely in control of Baghdad, what kind of freedom-loving, law-and-order abiding democracy are they working to establish? Well, let's start with the local police force that the US military is "training." Thanassis Cambanis, of The Boston Globe, has this interesting story of the Baghdad police force now responsible for a "new style" of policing - one that promises to be the exact opposite to the repressive and oppressive state security apparatus of Saddam Hussein's regime. How well is this nascent police force shaping up? Well, Iraqi Police Commissioner Ali Ismail, who is working with the US military, represents, I guess, the hope of a "new" Iraqi police culture that is respectful of civil liberties and the rule of law. What does Ismail think of his law enforcement responsibilities in a liberated Iraq? Cambanis reports:

As a group of neighbors watched, Ismail shoved two men into a car, after neighbors fingered them as thieves. They had no stolen property with them. Asked why they were being arrested, Ismail cited his instincts after 15 years as a beat cop.

''I know these people,'' he said. ''They are bad. We'll throw them in prison for a while to teach them a lesson.''
This, coming from a beat cop with 15 years experience under the Saddam Hussein regime!! You be the judge. As for my opinion, it seems like the average Iraqi citizen will have a US-trained and supported police force that is essentially not that much different in its thinking about civil liberties and the rule of law than the thuggish security apparatus of Saddam Hussein. You just need to "look bad" to some Iraqi cop, and its off to prison you go for your "lesson."

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