Friday, August 18, 2006

Children who have never been charged with a crime are being held in juvenile prisons in Iraq, a State Department official stated in a report he posted on the Internet this week.

Some of the children are in the detention centers simply because there is no one to pick them up and take them home, said Marshall Adame, an official with the National Coordination Team based out of Camp Victory in Iraq.

“These are not hardened criminals or terrorists,” said Mr. Adame in a personal detailed report he published on an Internet log.

He added that there had been reports of “physical and other abuse” in the detention centers but that the U.S.-led coalition considered the issue “not our urgent business.”

Called at home while on vacation in the United States, Mr. Adame said he went ahead and published his report because he wanted it to be part of the public record.

“I’m not talking about those arrested or captured in the process of fighting against the coalition. I’m talking about children who were rounded up for no particular reason, who have not been charged but have been put into detention,” he said in a brief telephone interview.

In his report titled “Six Blunders we made in Iraq we can still fix,” Mr. Adame praises the work of the coalition forces that have captured and killed terrorists in Iraq.

The bad news, he said, was that “in the process of combing Iraq for bad guys, field commanders, for one reason or another, and at times indiscriminately, have confined many men and women without any specific charges or reasons that can be remembered or recorded.”

“Consequently the coalition has, without charge or specific reason, confined many innocent people and deprived them, without cause, of the very liberties we came here to preserve,” said Mr. Adame.

Mr. Adame, a retired U.S. Marine who has two sons who have served in Iraq, one of whom was wounded in July while on patrol, also criticized U.S. officials for allowing the militarization of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and ignoring abuses that took place there.

“It was the U.S. military generals who decided, through advisory influence, on who would control the MOI, and it was all of us who looked the other way while these Iraqi generals, led by the minister, trampled all over the rights and liberties of the good Iraqi people,” Mr. Adame wrote in his report.

He describes how, in 2005, he was with an Iraqi general who was in charge of logistics for the Ministry of Interior when the general received an order — signed by the minister — to issue 1,000 AK-47 combat rifles to a Muslim cleric.

When the general refused to carry out the order, he was jailed by order of then pro-Iranian Interior Minister Bayan Jabr. Mr. Adame said he intervened and managed to win the release of the man, who shortly afterward survived two assassination attempts.

“Today the MOI is a very powerful military/police force deep in accusations of ethnic cleansing and human rights violations against the Sunni minority and other in Iraq,” Mr. Adame wrote.

“Many of the MOI Iraqi police commanders are former and active [Shi’ite] Iraqi army officers who previously never held a civilian or police post or position in their working lives. All this through guidance and with assets provided by the USA,” he wrote.

The report, based on Mr. Adame’s personal observations during his three years in Iraq, also criticizes the disregard that British forces in the south had toward the Iraqis.

He details that British soldiers looted then-occupied Basra airport, that they diverted the majority of the water supply from the Iraqi airport water plant for their use, and did little to improve the airport’s infrastructure. At the time, the water plant was owned, operated and maintained by Iraqis and being repaired by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“I believe the problems now in Basra are a direct result of the way they approached their whole relationship with the Iraqis,” Mr. Adame said in the interview.

Mr. Adame joined the State Department in Baghdad in June 2005, and continues to work there overseeing the roughly 10 provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq — the civil-military effort that links U.S. and coalition agencies to local governments in Iraq.

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