January 4, 2006

Who Polices the Police?

Hatched by Sachi

The Romans asked, Qvis Cvstodiet Ipsos Cvstodes.

A number of people who visited Iraq recently said that they were impressed by the quality of Iraqi Army.
For example, CNN's Anderson Cooper, who was in Iraq during December 2005 election, noted on Laura Ingram’s radio show how impressed he was with the Iraqi army units he accompanied.

The Iraqi army excels because they were trained by the U.S. military. Although they don't have as much equipment as we, they make up for it with training, confidence, coolness under fire, and a positive attitude. (See A Few Good Iraqi Men.) Cooper felt safe with them in an unarmored truck with just a single 50-caliber machine-gun mounted on the back.

However, the Iraqi police, under the control of the Interior Ministry, are a totally different story. Cooper got the distinct impression that the police were not professional at all and did not seem to know what they were doing. Corruption and abuse have been serious problems among the Iraqi police since long before Saddam Hussein; it was the Iraqi police, not the army, that ran those wretched Shiite prisons where the U.S. military discovered Sunnis being routinely abused and even tortured -- in the correct meaning of that word -- by Shiite police commandos.

Finally, the American forces have decided to tackle these problems. I don't think they were dilatory; they consciously decided that it was more important to focus first on the army, and only when that was functioning smoothly did they turn to the police problem: law-enforcement requires a functioning nation of consistent laws, which was only possible after the Iraqi and Coalitiion armies gained control of the country.

Dec. 29 - American commanders are planning to increase significantly the number of soldiers advising Iraqi police commando units, in part to curtail abuse that the units are suspected of inflicting on Sunni Arabs, a senior commander in Iraq said Thursday.

Under the plan, which the officer said he expected would be formally approved in a few weeks, the number of advisers working with the Iraqi units would be greatly expanded. The advisers themselves would be under the command of American officers.

American advisers now accompany commando units as part of the vast effort to train and equip security forces to take over the fight against the insurgency and to maintain order.

At first blush, this might seem to contradict our policy of turning more control over to the Iraqi security force. But before we can hand anything over, we first must make sure that Iraqis are capable of assuming that responsibility. That is our primary duty, as only a functioning and responsible Iraq can keep up the fight against international terrorism.

Currently, only seven of the nine police commando units have advisors and none in the regular police stations. Under the new plan, all the units, commando (SWAT teams) and regular police, will have advisors. Also, the total number of advisors will increase by several hundred; in one case, an entire American battalion with more than 500 soldiers will be attached to one particular Iraqi police brigade.

This raises an obvious question: if we're going to be drastically reducing the number of troops in Iraq this year, how can we simultaneously increase the number of police unit advisors by such large numbers? The answer is that we are going to fundamentally shift our tactics, now that we have entered the end-game of nation-building.

The Fourth Infantry Division, which is now preparing to deploy in Baghdad and central Iraq, is being given a substantially larger piece of Iraqi territory than the unit it is replacing, and with fewer troops. The Americans are hoping that Iraqi units can pick up the slack; Iraqi forces operating more or less independently now are in charge of securing 60 percent of the capital.

The troops who are freed up from going on anti-terrorist patrols, thanks to newly trained Iraqi army units, will now be available to become advisors to the police units. I suspect we will see U.S. troop responsibility shift from active combat towards an advisory position, as the Iraqi government stabilizes. This is good for several reasons: first, less combat means fewer American and Coalition casualties; second, a less visible foreign presence (and consequently more Iraqi units patrolling instead) will calm fears that Iraq will be turned into an American colony... the Iraqis can begin to feel free not only from the crushing yoke of Saddam but also from the much milder leash of the "crusaders." Presumably, fewer Iraqi youths will feel alienated and driven towards terrorism and jihad if they don't see as many foreign soldiers walking the streets.

The toughest challenge our military advisors face is the culture of Iraqi police. Unlike the army, the police are often an extension of local tribes, more used to keeping the peace in the local community and supporting the local tribe than enforcing national Iraqi laws. The difficulty comes when local custom and national law clash, or when different tribes go to war -- as we have seen recently in the Gaza strip, where police from one tribe attacked a police station held by another tribe. Tribalism rivals jihadism as the major problem of the Arab (and Persian) Middle East.

Many years ago, I heard an odd story: two immigrants here in America from a third world country got into a fight, and one man killed the other. The killer was arrested and charged with murder; but a few days later, the victim’s family showed up in the police station and said "everything's all right now, you can release him."

Surprised, the DA asked why they didn't want the man who killed their loved one prosecuted. "Because," they patiently explained, as if speaking to an idiot, "the assailant’s family paid compensation for the death, and the whole incident is settled."

Neither family ever did understand why the American police refused to release the suspect... because they simply did not understand that it wasn't just a crime against the tribe, it was a crime against all of the people of the state -- and it could not be "settled" with a monetary payment. He had to stand trial.

This is going to happen over and over in the next few years, as Iraq suffers the slow and often painful growth from a collection of warring tribes to a modern nation-state. The only thing we can do is remind them again and again why they need to make a commitment to nationhood: because losing control over the police means a replication all over Iraq of the situation in Basra, where militiamen with strong ties to Iran and Moqtada Sadr terrorize the citizens and rule as cruelly as the Baath Party did. (Sad to say, the British troops, who had responsibility over this area, really dropped the ball; their "softly, softly" approach was perceived as "weakly, weakly," and they lost their face.)

In the end, the Iraqi people will have to make that choice: tribalism or modern nationhood. But I am confident that with the example of the United States before them, Saddam behind them, and Syria and Iran on either side, they will choose wisely.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, January 4, 2006, at the time of 12:05 AM

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The following hissed in response by: David

Good news and great commentary, as usual.

One observation: except in cases of murder, handling the punishment of homicides (such as the manslaughter case you noted above) would be much more civilized in this country were they handled NOT with an imprisonment, but by payment of indemnities, as described above.

As it is, punishing someone who kills a guy in a barfight (where the dead guy has some share of blame, just by being enough of a dumbass as to get _into_ a barfight to begin with) with a prison sentence is a lose-lose-lose proposition. Society loses, the dead guy's family loses and the killer loses any chance to learn anything except how to survive in prison (yeh, yeh: if he were smart enough to learn the lesson "bad things happen when you get into a barfight" he would probably not be there to begin with).

I know I've made the description too narrow by using "kill in a barfight", but the principle of paying indemnity _to the individuals harmed as far as possible_ for harm done would be far better for society as a whole--in most crimes--than paying a metaphorical debt to society by doing time in a cage.

Some crimes might deserve caging, but once it gets to that level of harm done, execution would probably be a better option.

People unable to pay indemnities for harm done _to the indivuals (or families) harmed_ for whatever crime should be offered the one-choice option of workcamps or other supervised work where their legitimate wages would be used to pay their debt. And make sure they see the cold hard cash, get to hold it briefly on payday, before it's taken away and given to those whom they have harmed. And where the crime can be demonstrated to have been intentional (yeh, I can imagine hypotheticals where a stupid person somehow just didn't think that Farmer Smith's apples weren't free for the taking), then true damages, as much as can be determined, multiplied by a punitive factor should be assessed. And not one damned penny to go to courts. True court costs can be audited and assessed separately.

Prisons? Wouldn't need them. And justice would end up actually serving those who were harmed, society--via a disincentive that would be painful to greedy materialists (the most likely to harm others for gain)--and the criminals themselves, by offering them a lesson that would be pretty easily learned... if they were so inclined.

And by taking the focus off a metaphysical harm to society (where's the righteous punishment in our laws for Mass Media Podpeople, Academia Nuts, Public School Administrators--people who are doing more harm to our society than any group of 100,000 drug users, for example?) and putting it where it belongs--on rectifying as much as possible the actual harm done to individuals, we would shift our focus to where it properly belongs, I believe.

Yeh, well, if I were Emperor (heh), I'd also brand politicians with a big red "W" (for worthless) on their foreheads, Lawyers with an "L" (for Liar), etc., and ALL pubschool administrators and educrats would be given useful work... breaking rocks or something. With their thick, brainless heads.

It'd be fair. Uh-huh. Would so.


The above hissed in response by: David [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2006 12:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: David

Oh, man. *sigh* Did I ever wander OT or what? I'd apologize, but would you believe me?


The above hissed in response by: David [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2006 12:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Great Post!!!

Two old quotes about cops come to mind, but i neither remember them word-for-word nor can i find them. They went something like this:

1) The problem with choosing Police Officers is that the pool-of-choice is limited to the human pool.

2) Policemen are the Garbage-men of one's Society.

Humans murder each other...some toss newborns into garbage cans...some 12-year-old boys pimp their 11-year-old sister out to plus-sixty-year-old 'adult males'...etc, here in America.

Policing one's fellow humans is never easy, even if one is 'Da Police in charge of Policing Police...so to speak.

BTW, David has brought up some interesting points , and i don't see them as being "OT". Policing humans and 'Da Police is the same everywhere, and probably stems from having too many Laws with a wide Variance between the punishment for breaking Laws.

To those who say that 'LawBreakers' belong in Prison, i will agree...if, the sentence is the same or close. If speeding (driving fast) is against the Law, then the sentence for such should be more than a fine or a mere few days in jail. Speeding should have the same sentence as at least an Armed Robbery. *HEY*, we're talking breaking the Law here!!!

Do we really need a Law against walking on the wrong side of a sidewalk, or a Law against spitting on the same sidewalk?!? If so, then the sentences should require Prison Time. What about cheating on Taxes? That should be a Capital Offense in my humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit opinion.

Qvis Cvstodiet Ipsos Cvstodes

Or, "who will guard those selfsame guardians?" Or, "'don't assign a fox to guard the henhouse'" Or:


"is more about human nature than our inventions"

Enough said, in a Great Thread...

The Sane World *BAFFLES* the Insane...so to speak. - KårmiÇømmünîs†

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2006 4:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

i have planted false evidence, and have had false evidence planted against me.

In the former Afghanistan, i may have been the one shooting some Women in the back of their heads, or a tortured one who was murdered in the background whilst Women were being Brutalized in front of a filled Stadium paid for by the UN.

Humans will be Humans, huh.

Iraq...i would've killed Saddam, or died trying. Osama is or was nothing compared to Saddam, and i would not have put up with such as Saddam...anywhere.

Yes, Osama took credit for the 911 Attacks, but he and the radical Islamist World respected and admired Saddam more.

Policing the World is a tough job, but doing that *JOB* requires a lot more than just the desire for a ****job in the Oval Office. Saddam saw Bill Clinton for what he was (BTW, David, how's this for getting "OT"?), and knew he (Saddam) could handle the United Nations.

MSM now reports that W now admits to a mistake...ER, OK. He did, and said so, but few understood. Clearly, MSM was not amongst that few who understood.

The time is approaching to Nuke Iran, and i don't want any American Democrat to be involved, unless they at least understand what Policing is about. They don't, and show such every day. BTW, before the Police (humans) can do their job, the Army must first stand up. We now move to Elections in Iraq, and a 70% or so turnout, even with a weak Police Force. The Sunni need to beg the Kurds and Shia for mercy, but the Shia seem to be weak Arabs/Muslims/Isamists...other than Iran.

Policing in Iraq is the toughest job on Planet Earth right now, so i want to see who is willing to Police the Police there...raise your hand or stand up.

i have been a cop in the City of Miami, when America's Left sought to surrender to Communists and Socialists. When Miami was "the Murder Capital" of America...when the '68 Miami Riots began, and grew until such mentality passed the '72 riots.

OK...no American volunteers want to be cops in Iraq. Well, since Saddam has been removed (finally), then i suggest that we allow the Iraqis to Police themselves, and may Allah have mercy on the Sunni. BTW, in case no one has noticed, the Sunni are begging for Democracy.

Back in 1954, Walter Headley, City of Miami Chief of Police, said:

I’m so used to pressure I’m afraid if it stopped I’d get the bends.

The quotes seem to have started and stopped in 1954, since his 1968 statements are lost.

In 1945, Chief Walter Headley created the Miami Police Academy, and with Recruit Class #1, the first police academy in Florida to grant college credit for law enforcement training was established.

Walter was a Police Officer and a Police Chief for a very long time, and yet his infamous 1968 quote is most difficult to find.

When the looting starts, then the shooting will start. - Chief Walter Headley, 1968.

A Society that wants Law, is doomed, especially when it ignores the likes of a Walter E. Headley Jr. Chief Kenneth Harms, became Chief whilst i was in Prison, back around 1978/79. He kept a woman back when i first met him, in Coconut Grove, whilst he was married. Ken could lift lots of weights, but he was no Walter. He could run...almost keep up with me, whilst we were both on the Swat Team under his command. It seems that Ken was the one who was forced to push a 'Long Hair' charge against me, back whilst we were on Swat under him. Heck, Women Police Officers were allowed to have long hair, so i pushed it. Ken was good about it...and i decided that Prison would be better.

Ken...you were winded, and i knew it.

Policing humans ain't easy,


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2006 7:16 PM

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