Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bad Boys Bad Boys Whatcha Gonna Do When They Shoot At You

We have to admit that the reasons we Iraq long ago outstripped our puny efforts to keep them straight. Not that we didn't try...well...OK, we didn't try, but that's beside the point. Still, somewhere in between the WMD's (which we thought stood for Without Much Debate), the removal of Saddam and the spreading terrorist flypaper we thought we heard something about Iraqis standing up and Americans pulling their chairs away as they sat back down.

Or something.

Then we read this article and we thought, maybe we understood more than we thought we did. Stoli for breakfast will do that to a person.

Training the police is as important to stabilizing Iraq as building an effective army there, but the United States has botched the job by assigning the wrong agencies to the task, two members of the Iraq Study Group said. "Look, we're all in favor of teaching Iraqi police how to run the sirens and lights," said Representative Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the bipartisan commission. "But shouldn't they learn about laws and stuff first?"

According to the report, co-authored by Hamilton and former Attorney General Edwin Meese, the U.S. erred by first assigning the task of shaping the judicial system in a largely lawless country to private contractors who "did not have the expertise or the manpower to get the job done. In retrospect, awarding the contract to Cops r Us was a mistake," Meese said.

In 2004, the mission was assigned to the Defense Department, which devoted more money to the task. But department officials also were insufficiently trained for the job, Hamilton and Meese said. "Blowing up double parked cars instead of ticketing them was counterproductive to good citizen police relationships," Hamilton told reporters. "Also, patrolling in tanks instead of squad cars sent the wrong message to the community."

As a result, Iraq has little if any on-the-street law enforcement personnel or a functioning judicial system free of corruption, they said. "Donut shops all through the city are laying off workers and closing," Meese told reporters.

Justice Department officials, they said, should lead the work of transforming the system. Police executives and supervisors should replace the military police personnel now assigned. "You need people with police backgrounds to train police," said a White House Spokesperson. "Who knew?"

As a nation we'd be much better off if the executive branch were not so insular," said Senator Arlen Specter, R-Not Santorum to no one in particular. "I'd think the executive branch would be well advised to do more than have a meeting and a news conference to give in-depth consideration to what is being proposed here."

"Hey, meetings and news conferences are our policies," said Tony Snowjob, White House Press Secretary.

"If the administration had been serious and competent about establishing a functioning democracy in Iraq, it would have seen the need for a trustworthy criminal justice system in which all Iraqis could have confidence," Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy D-Found a pair, said in prepared remarks. "Of course if this administration was serious and competent, it would be the Gore administration. Just saying."

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