As you probably know, demands by the United States that its forces and personnel be entirely exempt from Iraqi law has been a sticking-point in negotiations with Baghdad over a Status of Forces agreement to govern the U.S. presence in Iraq. But as the Progressive Policy Institute’s Jim Arkedis points out in a post at his fine new national security blog, allourmight.com, the problem also extends to private security contractors (PSCs), such as the famous private army run by the North Carolina-based company Blackwater Worldwide.
Arkedis unravels a new GAO report that seems to offer reassurance that PSCs are operating under the rule of law. But in the fine print, he discovers that PSCs continue to enjoy immunity from Iraqi law under an obscure order from the long-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority. Thus:
In laymen’s terms, nothing has changed – security contractors remain immune because the CPA order is considered Iraq law, and the CPA gave contractors a get-out-of-jail-free card in 2004.
Almost more disturbing is that the GAO leaves the distinct impression in the “highlights” that the situation is vastly improved. Most Congressional staffs only have time to read the executive summaries, and may never dig down to find the devil in the details.
When it comes to the challenge of restoring full Iraqi sovereignty, this is a devil indeed.