Above the law in Iraq

Private security contractors have been involved in scores of shootings in Iraq, but none have been prosecuted despite findings in at least one fatal case that the men had not followed proper procedures, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Times.

Let’s call them what they are, mercenaries. Thugs with guns available to the highest bidder.

Instead, security contractors suspected of reckless behavior are sent home, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. officials, raising questions about accountability and stirring fierce resentment among Iraqis.

The contractors function in a legal gray area. Under an order issued by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority that administered Iraq until June 2004, contractors suspected of wrongdoing are to be prosecuted in their home countries.

Well isn’t that a cosy little arrangement. A hired gun murders an innocent Iraqi  and Iraq can’t prosecuted – and the chances of prosecution once returned to the States are slim and none.

The Defense Department has denied a Times request to provide the names of the private security contractors in the reports and has yet to release an untold number of additional reports. The Times has filed a federal lawsuit seeking the release of all such reports and security company identities.

Good. I bet the awarding of contracts is a rat’s nest of corruption and kickbacks too.


  1. IANAL but I seriously question this assertion. U.S. MILITARY personnel are governed by agreements to that effect, but contractors (i.e., private individuals) in a “sovereign” country? I don’t see how they are POSSIBLY immune from prosecution, regardless of any “orders” issued by the CPA.

  2. Sadly, Bob is corrent. Here are the rules:

    CPA/ORD/27 June 2004/17
    Section 2

    Iraqi Legal Process

    1) Unless provided otherwise herein, the MNF, the CPA, Foreign Liaison Missions, their
    Personnel, property, funds and assets, and all International Consultants shall be
    immune from Iraqi legal process.

    2) All MNF, CPA and Foreign Liaison Mission Personnel and International Consultants
    shall respect the Iraqi laws relevant to those Personnel and Consultants in Iraq
    including the Regulations, Orders, Memoranda and Public Notices issued by the
    Administrator of the CPA.

    3) All MNF, CPA and Foreign Liaison Mission Personnel, and International Consultants
    shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of their Sending States.

    Read all about it:

  3. I understand those rules. But, first of all, there’s no guarantee that any particular contractor qualifies as a “MNF, CPA and Foreign Liaison Mission Personnel, and International Consultants”. I mean, what is an “International Consultant”? Anyone from another country who is in Iraq? The CPA doesn’t even exist any more, and, despite claims that their rules are good in perpetuity, I see no reason to believe that is legally sustainable. But again, IANAL.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if Iraqi forces DID arrest one of the contractors? It would be absolutely fascinating to see what would happen.

  4. This suggests I am wrong, but only for two more weeks:

    Iraq has currently entered what is technically being referred to as the “transitional period.” The elections which took place on January 30 were for a transitional government which is to hold office only until a new constitution can be approved by the Iraqi people which will in turn initiate elections for a permanent Iraqi government. According to the Transitional Administrative Law (the interim Iraqi constitution drafted by the U.S. government and the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council), the Bremer Orders remain in effect during the entire transitional period.

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