Meet Gen. Saleh

A correction on the name and background of the Iraqi general taking over Fallujah.

A correction on an “earlier post”: The “Gen. Salah” taking over the FPA is now being reported as Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh, a former Republican Guard and commander of Saddam’s infantry. He arrived in Fallujah today wearing his old uniform to the cheers of bystanders.
Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh attends the Friday midday prayer at al-Rawda al-Mohammedieh mosque in Falluja on Friday. (AFP)
“We have now begun forming a new emergency military force,” he told Reuters, saying people in Falluja “rejected” US troops.
Somewhat alarmingly, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. military spokesman, offered no details about Saleh’s background but said the Marines had screened the former general and had full confidence in him. Officials of the U.S.-led coalition also said they had not information on Salah’s history. But details emerged from other media outlets.
He’s a former Ba’athist, but all members of the Army were required to be in the party. He was a former chief-of-staff for a Republican Guard brigade in the late 1980s and later commanded the 38th Infantry Division. The _Seattle Post-Intelligencer_ says he was then promoted to head all of the Iraqi army’s infantry forces.
His last posting was as a division commander in the al-Quds (Jerusalem) army, which was initially founded to liberate Jerusalem but grew into a vast paramilitary force. He spent the last year assigned to a military base in Ramadi, just west of Fallujah.
Saleh is a Fallujah native and belongs to the Mohammadi tribe, the town’s largest, and is a close relative of the tribe’s leader. Fallujah natives reached in neighboring Jordan confirmed Saleh is a well-known figure in the clan, according to the _P-I_.
He was apparently well-liked by his men, but never rose in the Ba’ath Party ranks and never was seen as very political.
Still, some Marines aren’t happy about the pullback and the transfer of command to Saleh, who will still report to American military authorities.
“It’s a mistake. People have lost lives in Falluja and now they die for nothing. But we have to give the Iraqis the chance to prove they can do it by themselves and we can still go back if it doesn’t work,” said Corporal Clint Burfort from Iowa.
Also, at least one member of the Governing Council was displeased:

Mahmoud Othman, a Kurd on the US-appointed Governing Council, said it was worthwhile to end fighting. But he added: “It’s not a good precedent … As usual, the Americans, without consulting anyone at all, have gone ahead with a policy to replace an earlier, failed policy … I’m not crazy about coming back to make a deal with someone from the Republican Guard.”

Neither are a lot of people, but it if ends the killing in Fallujah, then it should be considered. I just hope they thoroughly vetted this guy.

Private Contractors in Iraqi Prison Scandal

Private contractors involved in Iraqi prison scandal. Why are these guys there again?


Sickening. In the growing scandal about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison comes this lovely detail:

A military report into the Abu Ghraib case – parts of which were made available to the Guardian – makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.
One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.

The two companies involved at Abu Ghraib are CACI International Inc and the Titan Corporation. More info:

According to the military report on Abu Ghraib, both played an important role at the prison.
At one point, the investigators say: “A CACI instructor was terminated because he allowed and/or instructed MPs who were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations by setting conditions which were neither authorised [nor] in accordance with applicable regulations/policy.”
Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, speaking for central command, told the Guardian: “One contractor was originally included with six soldiers, accused for his treatment of the prisoners, but we had no jurisdiction over him. It was left up to the contractor on how to deal with him.”
She did not specify the accusation facing the contractor, but according to several sources with detailed knowledge of the case, he raped an Iraqi inmate in his mid-teens.

The lawyer for the six enlisted men accused of abuses is trying to blame the leadership at the prison for the abuses.

One of the soldiers, Staff Sgt Chip Frederick is accused of posing in a photograph sitting on top of a detainee, committing an indecent act and with assault for striking detainees – and ordering detainees to strike each other.
He told CBS: “We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things … like rules and regulations.”
His lawyer, Gary Myers, told the Guardian that Sgt Frederick had not had the opportunity to read the Geneva Conventions before being put on guard duty, a task he was not trained to perform.

Boo-f**kin’-hoo. Does it really require a close reading of the Geneva Conventions to _not_ perform “indecent” acts on prisoners? Does it really require that much training to avoid abusing shackled men, forcing them to simulate oral sex with one another or attaching wires to their testicles? In short, does it take some kind of special training to _not_ act like the Ba’athist thugs you went to war against?
I’m sickened and ashamed by this. Whether this was done by enlisted reservists, private contractors or enabled by shoddy leadership, it’s still horrible that this happened. Anyone with an ounce of common decency would know that treating Iraqi prisoners like this is wrong. I don’t care how little training you have. The soldiers and officers involved should be tried and, if guilty, sent to Leavenworth for a long time. The contractors, who conveniently fall outside the Uniform Code of Military Justice, should be arrested under whatever jurisdiction has them (Iraqi or American, if they’re back in the United States) and tried. I hope they would be convicted and sentenced to an equally long prison term. I’ll bet they get treated better than they treated the Iraqis.
Graphic pictures available here, here, here and here.

New Iraqi Flag: Now Even Bluer!

IGC makes changes to the new Iraqi flag that has sparked controversy, but the alterations are miniscule. The new flag needs to be scrapped and replaced with the previous one until a referendum can be held.

The Governing Council is modifying the new Iraqi flag so it doesn’t look so much like Israel’s, the Council said. The design will remain the same, but the colors will be deepened.
_40096569_iraq_new_flag3_203.gifStill looks like Israel’s flag to me. You’re just not going to get away from that with using the colors blue and white. They’re perfectly nice colors, mind you, but in the neighborhood, they come with certain, ah, implications. And the design still doesn’t address the issues I raised in “my previous post”: on this subject.
This has proven a very controversial issue in Iraq and on this site, and rightly so. A temporary, appointed government should not be messing with national symbols.
And make no mistake, flags are important. After 9/11, American flags were flown off almost every stoop and porch in America. The iconic picture of the Marines hoisting the banner at Iwo Jima is burned into the country’s collective memory. The _national anthem_ is about the flag still flying as Washington burned in the face marauding Redcoats in the war of 1812, for goodness’ sake! In times of trouble, a nation’s flag is the rallying point for its citizens, and it makes sense that Iraqis would cling to the previous flag — even if it’s from Saddam’s regime — as a means of holding onto a national identity that has been assaulted in the past year for whatever reasons, good or bad.
Current GC president Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party makes a valid point, however, when he says: “We cannot raise the flag of a party that committed many crimes against the Iraqi people.”
Should the original flag be kept? No, probably not, for the same reason the Confederate battle flag should be removed from Georgia’s state flag: It is a symbol of a vicious crime against African-Americans and should not be included on official state symbols. Likewise, the Saddam-era flag is a painful reminder of his crimes against his own people.
But the people of Georgia have elections every few years to determine whether to change their flag or not; the Iraqis deserve the same opportunity. The new flag needs to be scrapped and replaced with a previous one until a referendum can be held.