MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2012
This is the second part of an interview with Jerry Burke. In May 2003, he was contacted to make a study of Iraq’s police force for the Justice and State Departments. That transitioned into being the advisor to the Baghdad Police from May 2003 to June 2004. He then returned for a second tour of Iraq to aid the Iraqi Interior Ministry from March 2005 to February 2006. During his first time in the country, he found that the American government was woefully ill prepared for Iraq. They never committed the personal nor funds necessary to rebuild the Iraqi police and justice system, which undermined the rule of law. When Burke returned to Iraq in 2005, he found that the situation had grown worse. As part of the interim Iraqi government, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) was given control of the Interior Ministry, and was placing entire units of its Badr Brigade militia into the police force. The United States leadership was taking a hands off approach to this development, arguing that it was up to the Iraqis to sort it out. The result was that part of the Iraqi government began to take part in the civil war, as Shiite militias within the security forces began killing, kidnapping, and torturing Sunnis. That turn of events was just the latest example of how the United States was failing to not only provide security in Iraq, but to build a democratic society there.
|When Bayan Jabr (right) became Interior Minister he brought |
in his Badr Brigade militiamen into the Iraqi police force (Time)
6. A U.S. military unit later found a secret prison being run by Badr Brigade elements in the Interior Ministry in Baghdad in 2005. Do you know about the fallout that happened after the incident between the U.S. and Jabr?
There were several illegal detention facilities being operated by the Special Police and other Interior organizations. You are probably referring to the raid of the Minister of Interior’s underground bunker in November 2005 by U.S. military units just across the Tigris River from the Green Zone in the Jadriya neighborhood. There were over 200 illegal, mostly Sunni detainees there, many showing signs of torture and malnutrition. This was a highly publicized raid conducted by U.S. forces under the direct command of a U.S. General, a highly unusual move, as a direct rebuke to the Iraqi government.
But this was only one of many illegal detention facilities being operated by the Ministry of Interior under the leadership of Bayan Jabr. There was one just west of the Green Zone on the Airport Road on a shared Coalition-Iraqi base. Another one was located directly across the street from the Ministry of Interior Headquarters in Rusafa, East Baghdad.
Minister Jabr had several high profile visits from Coalition and U.S. officials including some officials visiting from Washington for the expressed purpose of meeting with the Minister. For a while the Ministry led sectarian violence was scaled back until the media attention passed.
7. At that time, the State Department released a report on abuses, and the U.S. military went to the press with its finding of the secret prison. Was the U.S. doing anything else about Jabr’s activities?
On an operational level at the Battalion and Company levels, commanders inspected their bases more closely more to avoid personal embarrassment than a formal policy. At the higher level, intense pressure was put on the Iraqi Transitional Government, as it was called at the time, to replace Jabr. In May 2006, when the first permanent government replaced the Transitional Government, Jabr was transferred from the Ministry of Interior to become the Minister of Finance.