Saturday, September 10, 2005


Story one: A Dutch citizen born in Iraq has been charged with terrorist activity against Americans in Iraq:

A Dutch citizen was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges of conspiring to kill Americans in Iraq, the Justice Department said yesterday.

Iraqi-born Wasem Delaema, 32, is accused of plotting attacks against U.S. troops near Fallujah in October 2003. He is the first person charged in this country with terrorist activities in Iraq.

Delaema was arrested in May during a raid on his home in Amersfoort in the Netherlands. A Dutch court will decide whether to extradite al Delaema to the United States based on the six-count indictment. He faces life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Delaema's Dutch attorney, Victor Koppe, has denied his client was involved with any attacks.

Story two: An Iraqi citizen, on his way to work, was shot by an American contractor for no apparent reason. He was seriously injured.

A U.S. investigation of the July 14 incident concluded that no American contractors were responsible, a finding disputed by the Ismaels, other witnesses, local politicians and the city's top security official, who termed it a coverup. No one has yet been held responsible.

Recent shootings of Iraqi civilians, allegedly involving the legion of U.S., British and other foreign security contractors operating in the country, are drawing increasing concern from Iraqi officials and U.S. commanders who say they undermine relations between foreign military forces and Iraqi civilians.

Private security companies pervade Iraq's dusty highways, their distinctive sport-utility vehicles packed with men waving rifles to clear traffic in their path. Theirs are among the most dangerous jobs in the country: escorting convoys, guarding dignitaries and protecting infrastructure from insurgent attacks. But their activities have drawn scrutiny both here and in Washington after allegations of indiscriminate shootings and other recklessness have given rise to charges of inadequate oversight.

"These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force," said Brig. Gen. Karl R. Horst, deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is responsible for security in and around Baghdad. "They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place."
The shootings became so frequent in Baghdad this summer that Horst started keeping his own count in a white spiral notebook he uses to record daily events. Between May and July, he said, he tracked at least a dozen shootings of civilians by contractors, in which six Iraqis were killed and three wounded. The bloodiest case came on May 12 in the neighborhood of New Baghdad. A contractor opened fire on an approaching car, which then veered into a crowd. Two days after the incident, American soldiers patrolling the same block were attacked with a roadside bomb.

Horst believes the attack on the U.S. soldiers was payback for the attacks on Iraqis by contractors.

Horst declined to provide the name of the contractors whose employees were involved in the 12 shootings he documented in the Baghdad area. But he left no doubt that he believed the May 12 incident, in which three people were killed, led directly to the attack on his soldiers that came days later on the same block.

"Do you think that's an insurgent action? Hell no," Horst said. "That's someone paying us back because their people got killed. And we had absolutely nothing to do with it."

The contractors don't belong in Iraq and have no right to be in Iraq. They are there because the Bush administration farmed out thousands of jobs to private companies to take over functions that normally U.S. military forces would handle. And because these contractors are not employed by the U.S. government, they are not accountable to military authorities -- or to anyone, really. They can do what they please and the worst that can happen is, they will be sent home. Even that rarely happens.

The result: An Iraqi by birth can be charged with terrorism and conspiracy to kill Americans -- but American contractors cannot be and never are charged with terrorism and conspiracy to kill Iraqis when they decide, for no reason at all, to stick a rifle out the window of their SUV and shoot a man on his way to work.

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