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.As usual, it just gets better:
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.And as if that weren't enough:
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."
Shiite Muslim militiamen rampaged through a Sunni Arab neighborhood in Baghdad early Sunday morning, killing more than 50 people and discarding bodies in the streets, according to Iraqi officials and witnesses. Hours later, attackers struck back, detonating two car bombs near a Shiite mosque.But it should comfort us all to know TIME has decided W. is all hat, no cattle, and that even the White House recognizes its foreign policy isn't exactly working out.
Sunni politicians described the violence against the Sunni residents of the al-Jihad neighborhood in western Baghdad as one of the deadliest waves of murder since the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
In Baghdad on Sunday, the armed men, some wearing masks and dressed in black, descended on the al-Jihad neighborhood in buses after sunrise. They set up checkpoints along a main commercial street, demanded identification cards from passersby and burst into homes to single out Sunni Arabs to kill, residents said.
One resident, Hazim al-Rawi, said he gathered up his family and fled the neighborhood after he saw 15 bodies outside his home.
"Some of them were tortured with drills," he said of the bodies. "Some of them were hanged by ropes."
A U.S. military spokesman said that Iraqi national police and American soldiers found 11 dead Iraqis in three locations in the neighborhood. The higher casualty reports "do not marry up with what we have found," Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said.
Still, Sunni politicians said the spate of attacks gravely exacerbated the problems in Baghdad, where killings occur almost daily, and they accused Iraqi police of collaborating with Shiite militiamen in the violence.
"This is a new step. A red line has been crossed," said Alaa Makky, a Sunni member of parliament. "People have been killed in the streets; now they are killed inside their homes."
Took 'em long enough.