In light of the Galloway/Hitchens debate thread, I figured that I should share this:

There’s more writing on the wall pointing to an earlier-than-expected exit by U.S. forces from Iraq:  Justice Minister Abdul Hussein Shandal told Reuters that he wants to end the UN Security Council resolution that granted blanket immunity to U.S. forces.

Shandal also “condemned the U.S. military for detaining thousands of Iraqis for long periods without charge”, and expressed his concern regarding the U.S. military’s treatment of members of the media, whom he believes should be accorded special consideration.

Futrher info below.
On the immunity issue:

Killings and unjustified arrests of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops risked going unpunished, [Shandal] said, because of U.N. Security Council resolution 1546, which granted U.S.-led forces sweeping powers following their overthrow of Saddam in 2003.

“The resolution … gives immunity to the MNF and means taking no action against the MNF no matter what happens or whatever they do against the people of Iraq,” Shandal said.

“We’re hoping to make more efforts with the Security Council and the whole United Nations to end this resolution or amend it so that anyone who violates Iraqi law or assaults any citizen is held accountable,” he said. “This is a matter of sovereignty.”

Regarding detentions of Iraqis,

“No citizen should be arrested without a court order,” [Shandal] said this week, complaining that U.S. suggestions that his ministry has an equal say on detentions were misleading.

“There is abuse (of human rights) due to detentions, which are overseen by the Multinational Force (MNF) and are not in the control of the justice ministry.”
    —  —  —
The United Nations said last week faster releases could promote Sunni acceptance of the new political system.

Iraqi officials voice frustration with U.S. and British vetoes on some requests for release, noting that Iraqis have been held for two years without charge to “gather intelligence”.

And on the media,

Shandal . . . said journalists needed special protection and defended independent reporting from all sides, including from rebel-held areas. He insisted on journalists’ right to film and interview Iraq’s insurgents without fear of arrest or worse.

“In this time of conflict … between terrorists and the army or Multinational Forces, the journalist comes to the fore.

“Full freedom should be given to journalists to take pictures and film in the field,” he said. “Without images what would we know of history? … We would know nothing.”

Sounds like there are two possible outcomes here:  (1) Shandal is able to achieve his goals (which are presumably endorsed by the government), and Bush commences a significant withdrawal so as to minimize the potential exposure of U.S. forces to Iraqi criminal law; or (2) we refuse to go along with any change to Resolution 1546 and rebuff the other efforts, leading the Iraqi government to repeatedly request our withdrawal.  Of course, a third option would be to try to arrange for Shandal’s ouster or wait for the current government to expire, but I would doubt at this stage that any future Iraqi Justice Minister would really be more compliant.

(Cross-posted from the site that dare not speak its name.)

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