US Blames Pre-Invasion Amnesty for Crime in Iraq

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Mon May 19 05:31:00 MDT 2003

*****   Americans blame pre-invasion amnesty for rampant crime in Iraq
07:21 AM EDT May 19

BAGHDAD (AP) - A few months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq,
President Saddam Hussein freed some 100,000 prisoners, most of them
hardened criminals.

Now, with security tenuous across Iraq and Baghdad plagued by crime
and fear, U.S. officials are blaming that general amnesty for much of
the chaos....

Recent comments by U.S. officials as high as Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld suggest the occupying force has decided to make the amnesty
an issue - in part to stanch criticism that U.S. forces aren't doing
enough to keep the peace.

On Wednesday, speaking to members of Congress, Rumsfeld explicitly
blamed ex-prisoners for the lootings and other crimes.

"They have to be rounded up and put back in," he said.

"That takes a little time. You don't do that in five minutes."

L. Paul Bremer, the new top American in Iraq, is echoing that notion
in his initial days of overseeing the country. He has promised to
round up thousands of criminals and has said aggressive police
patrols had made 300 arrests in two days.

Bremer didn't say whether the arrests were of ex-convicts but he
pointed out that occupation authorities had resumed jail operations
and two courts are hearing cases.

Still, figuring out which of last week's arrests were last year's
convicts is not easy in a country with no government and no organized
way to track down rap sheets....

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