Iraqi Justice Coming to USA?

The New York Times has a great piece today on sham justice in Iraq.  The US military now holds almost twice as many Iraqi detainees as it did when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke.  The U.S. set up a Central Criminal Court in Baghdad that usually has a Soviet-like disregard for due process.  The system reduces paperwork burdens by routinely excluding defense lawyers. The Times noted, “ One American lawyer said that in 100 cases he handled, not one defense lawyer had introduced evidence or witnesses.”  The U.S. military is heavily involved in prosecutions – but even when an Iraqi judge finds a defendant not guilty, the U.S. sometimes refuses to release him.

What is the standard used for holding Iraqis (for as long as two years)?

The Times reported:
The military conducts reviews in the camps to screen detainees for release. Many have been swept up at the scene of bombings or other violence, and the detention camp boards have recommended releasing as many as 60 percent of the detainees whose cases they reviewed.
Officials have sought to tighten the evidentiary standards used in deciding whether to detain suspects. Last year, for example, Maj. Gen. William H.Brandenburg, then the task force commander, became concerned about a swipe test that soldiers used on suspects to detect gunpowder. The test was so unreliable that cigarette lighter residue and even a common hand lotion would register as gunpowder.

The Iraqi courts are sentencing people to hanging based on often flimsy evidence. Iraqi courts have relied on tortured confessions in some cases.

Remember how Bush brags about having brought the “Rule of Law” to Iraq? Remember that Bush also brags about the “Rule of Law” in America. 

Rather than bringing American-style justice to Iraq, Bush is more likely to bring Iraqi-style justice to America.   The Military Commissions Act is a harbinger of things to come.


20 Responses to Iraqi Justice Coming to USA?

  1. Comrade O'Brien December 17, 2006 at 2:01 pm #

    Attention Comrades,
    Please visit to learn about our creative protest of the Military Commissions Act.
    Thank you,

  2. iraqvet December 17, 2006 at 2:06 pm #

    I can attest to the veracity of this report. When I was there I saw soldiers arresting Iraqis simply because they were in the vicinity or just because they didn’t like the way they acted. (If an Iraqi wasn’t utterly compliant and servile they would bag him and throw him on the truck).

    This method of fighting the insurgency is about as effective as dousing a fire with gasoline.

  3. bargal20 December 17, 2006 at 7:03 pm #

    It’s still better than being thrown into Saddam’s giant basement fax machine.
    Why do you hate freedom?

  4. Thelma Bovard December 17, 2006 at 11:06 pm #

    Mr. James Bovard
    Would you please contact us? Our daughter found your articles before 1990 while she was in HS. We are trying to connect with all the Bovards
    that descend from the Huguenots who fled France to Ireland in the 1500’s.
    Thank you.
    Thelma & Carl Bovard

  5. Jim December 17, 2006 at 11:11 pm #

    As long as George W. Bush still loves us, we are free, right?

    Or – as long as conditions here are not as bad as they were in Iraq under Saddam – we are free, right?

  6. bargal20 December 18, 2006 at 1:58 am #


    I think my attempt at warblogger parody was misconstrued…

  7. Patrick December 18, 2006 at 4:55 am #

    Those who see the Nixon/Reagan/Bush/Clinton war on drugs as national security mercantilism might see the role of a United States Attorney in preparing another gulag, this time abroad, as nothing surprising. Upsetting, certainly, but entirely in character. 🙁

    Surely there are good examples from history of how “socialist legality” in the Soviet Union or national socialist Germany created results like these. 🙁

  8. Mace Price December 18, 2006 at 6:39 am #

    “Rather than bringing American style Justice to Iraq, Bush is more likely to bring Iraqi style Justice to America. The Military Commissions is a harbinger of thing to come.” Mr. Bovard—Prescience was never more succinct, nor ominous. In view of such an eventuality, I would offer this Administration, and those to follow in the wake of this, the worst Foreign Policy disaster in the History of the Republic; the stark and reliable Maciavellian counsel on the contingency of instituting Domestic Political repression: “Therefore The Prince should be forewarned that once he has determined to clinch the fist, he may depend on relaxing it as his undoing.” Let us hope then, that this Congress of lawfully elected Representatives; and the Executors to follow thereafter, will be as prudent and circumspect as their predecessors have been arrogant and imperious. The future of Domestic Tranquility proclaimed to The Nation by its very Constitution, may now well rely on it…Mr. Bovard is an extraordinary, frightening, and courageous man…and if necessary: I’ll go to the wall with him.

  9. Jim December 18, 2006 at 8:10 am #

    Bargal – your warblogger humor was excellent. Newt Gingrich may even use your lines in his next speech.

  10. Jim December 18, 2006 at 8:14 am #

    Mace Price – thanks for the kind words.

    I’m not sure Bush’s policies are the worst foreign policy disaster – Wilson getting into the First World War may have caused more lasting harm and more domestic repression.

    But Bush has two more years to exceed Wilson’s carnage.

  11. Jim December 18, 2006 at 8:18 am #

    Patrick – excellent point on the socialist legality parallels.

    Sixty years ago, conservatives were rightfully enthralled with Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. Hayek’s insights and warnings seem to have all been forgotten.

    His chapter on “Why the Worst Get on Top” is especially instructive for the war on terror in our times.

  12. Mace Price December 18, 2006 at 9:50 am #

    Jim: True enough, the 20th Century is still hemorrhaging into the 21st over his “Progressive” concepts of International Security and Democracy. And in view of that, perhaps it’s time to introduce Mr. Wilson’s Secretary of War Newton Diehl Baker to the equation. If relitively speaking Wilson was a species of “Kinder, gentler” V.I. Lenin…and I think it could be argued that he was, then Baker was surely his Trotsky.

  13. Adam S. December 18, 2006 at 2:45 pm #

    I am amazed at the servile behavior of the media. If the Bush administration says “JUMP!”, the media go “How High?” (Libertarians and Paleocons say, “How High…do you have to be for me to think I’d obey you?”) The greatest favor the government could do would be to turn the functions of courts entirely over to ad hoc organizations, private enterprise, or the extant Iraqi courts. We only look the Kings of the Assheads every time we put these people on trial. I believe that there will be no justice unless the Iraqis judge these people entirely. Any American intervention will be either prejudiced or imperial. In the past when the government got out of the court business, the results were amazing.

  14. Adam S. December 18, 2006 at 2:54 pm #

    I hate to post too much, but I just found some wonderful British satires of how fawning the media are in times of war.
    I really don’t think these things are half as bizarre as the daily broadcasts of WarTV (Fox News).

  15. Saturdaynightspecial December 18, 2006 at 7:34 pm #

    “Rather than bringing American-style justice to Iraq, Bush is more likely to bring Iraqi-style justice to America. The Military Commissions Act is a harbinger of things to come. ”
    (Jim Bovard)

    I believe Bush adapted these tactics from local police here in the USA, long before Iraq. He must have figured Iraq would be “a piece of cake,” especially after the Persian Gulf war and after all the airings of the reality based edited for TV show COPS (Fox network.)

    I figured, given so many “mindless masses” would not have a historical clue over US foreign policy, and never believe 9/11 was a result of it (US foreign policy) then US troops looking exactly like nazi German troops of WW II would also behave like them too. And they have.

    Plenty of US troops may look back, years later, with tremendous guilt; especially if they ever learn about the true nature of US foreign policy.

    I’m not surprised: before 9/11 I’ve been harassed at most places on a regular basis wherever I go. Police. The victims know.

    When I read about the virtues of Habeus Corpus or Due Process it’s like being able to see again; a reminder that some still believe in the Bill of Rights.

    Waco and the Oklahoma city federal building were the result of an excessive and bullying government that has swept important freedoms under a convenient rug. Many of these people who claim to pursue righteous things are getting thousands of Americans killed. They are attempting to force humans to do things unnatural. Gun control cannot avoid the trampling of self defense – gun control is undignified the same as being forced to turn the other cheek over and over. Passiveness is not natural. A socialist has a corrupted brain. That’s why so many are crooks disguised as politicians. But neocons (the saviours of our gun rights) are equally destructive.

    The trampling of rights is led by our newsmedia that thirsts for news. It exposes these “plunderers” on a daily basis but then endorses the worst ones on pre-election day (Bush was “a genius”). Little do they know their efforts to profit, and care for their young, are helping to enslave the next generation (their offspring). A socialist has a thirsty ego too, nothing benevolent or altruistic. It takes an unselfish person to stick to our Constitution.

  16. Tom Blanton December 18, 2006 at 11:19 pm #

    Maybe Iraqi-style justice is already in America. According to Paul Craig Roberts, 95% of all felony cases are settled with a plea bargain.


    According to Reuters, America has 2.2 million prisoners – the highest number of prisoners in the world.


    Of course, in America they don’t make you wear panties on your head or subject you to loud music – they put a 400 pound cretin in your cell named Bubba who is fond of anal sex. This is sort of like a fraternity prank. That is if you belong to the Skull & Bones.

    The rule of law seems to be thriving in America. The problem is with the laws being enacted. The law may be an ass, but the people who make and enforce unjust laws are generally assholes. And there is a guy named Bubba who would like to meet them.

  17. Gregg D December 20, 2006 at 4:38 pm #

    Iraq is a diversion. As the army attacks Iraq, the US gov’t erodes rights at home by suspending habeas corpus, stealing private lands, banning books like “America Deceived” from Amazon, rigging elections, conducting warrantless wiretaps and starting 2 illegal wars based on lies. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier) and the US will invade Iran, (on behalf of Israel).
    Final link (before Google Books bends to gov’t demands and censors the title):

  18. Original Steve December 21, 2006 at 3:55 pm #

    Did the Taguba report not also reveal that most of the Abu Gharib detainees were round-ups? If I recall correctly, some were also street criminals….

  19. Jim December 21, 2006 at 4:14 pm #

    Steve – excellent point. Here is a chunk from Attention Deficit Democracy on how the US military filled up Abu Ghraib:

    U.S. military intelligence officers told the Red Cross that between 70 and 90 percent of detainees in Iraq were “deprived of their liberty… [and] had been arrested by mistake.”78
    The “cordon and capture,” “sweep and keep” approach turned the U.S. military effort into a numbers game as fraudulent as the body counts of the Vietnam war. Military units were evaluated based on how many Iraqis they brought in, not on whether those nabbed were guilty. The soldiers bringing in the suspects had no obligation to provide evidence that detainees were complicit in anything aside from living in an area unlucky enough to be targeted by a U.S. raid. No effort was usually made to screen detainees to determine who might have valuable information. Instead, the population was treated as if all Iraqi adult males were collectively guilty for the actions of the insurgents. Detainees in Abu Ghraib were routinely held for six months based on no evidence—simply as a result of delays in their release.

  20. makalvy December 23, 2006 at 9:18 pm #

    It’s ironic that Bush talks about freedom while the military behaves as it does in Iraq. I’ll tell you though, I didn’t have to read reports to know to expect America’s famous “human rights” dictums to be more than adequately challenged abraod. Like Saturday suggested before me, look at how police treat American citizens – then guess how our invading force is going to treat Iraqis – there the enemy is easy to identify – he’s the one that doesn’t speak English!

    Furthermore, I’m still at a loss as to how we ended up in Iraq anyway. 20/20 hindsight, bad idea, right? Was anyone reading this, thinking – spend a few trillion, lose a few thousand, and get proved to be full of hot air back when Mr. Blix reported no WMDs in Iraq? Maybe we should inaugurate a new test for voting privileges, not based on color or creed, but based on some critical reasoning, civic willingness tests. If you can’t follow the argument: no WMDs discovered, most of world against military action, already heated from WTC bombing – leave the country ALONE! – then why should you be invited to share your opinion? That’s what people used to think of democracy, and Bush has finally proved it correct – democracy allows too many morons in the deciding-process, thereby allowing many bad decisions. Bush capitalized on anti-Arab sentiment in the U.S., general panic about dying in a terrorist attack, and some genuine dictatorial policies of rowdy Saddam to engage with a country and a man for his own purposes – which I know enough to know I do not know what they are. Whatever the reason(s), the only acceptable one is Saddam’s atrocities, which weren’t the only atrocities being committed at the time, so the only logical action is: NOTHING! (unless you want to use the military to curb all atrocities…)