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[casi] Re-Ba'athification: CBS 60 Minutes & Az-Zaman newspaper

Dear all

More 'Regime Unchanged' material.

1) 60 Minutes on re-Ba'athification
2) Az-Zaman newspaper on released Ba'athists

Thanks to Kathy Kelly of Voices US for forwarding these materials.


1) 60 Minutes
Operation Iraqi Freedom

Iraqis Denied Freedoms

Dec. 4, 2003

(CBS) When the U.S. invasion came last spring with promises of
democracy and self-rule, people in Karbala were among the first to
try and take charge of their own affairs.

Religious and community leaders got together and selected a city
council to represent them, and a security force to protect them. They
had assumed that their experiment in democracy would be applauded by
the American military.

It was not. U.S. troops disarmed the protection force, arrested
popular city councilmen and put back into power some of the same
people who had served Saddam.

It has left people here angry and frustrated, including Dr. Hussein
Shahristani, one of the most respected exiles to return after the

The last time 60 Minutes spoke with him was in London just before the
war. He was one of Iraq's leading dissidents, a top nuclear scientist
who had refused to help Saddam to build a nuclear bomb. At that time,
he told Correspondent Steve Kroft about his 11 years in solitary
confinement and torture at the hands of Saddam's henchmen.

They used high voltage probes on the sensitive part of the body,
says Shahristani, who recalled seeing and hearing other people being
tortured as well. “The worst part of it was hearing these young
children screaming.

Shahristani escaped in 1991 and devoted a decade to helping Iraqi
refugees. And when U.S. forces rolled into southern Iraq, he
followed, setting up an aid organization in Karbala, distributing
everything from shoes to wheelbarrows, and supplying milk and eggs to
7,000 families.

When Shahristani talked to 60 Minutes in London earlier this year, he
said his main concern was that the U.S. would rush into a war without
“doing its homework properly.

They have conducted the war itself very well, he says. But they
were not prepared for what the Iraqi people expected of them after
the war.

What they expected, Shahristani says, is just what the U.S. had
promised -- self-rule and swift justice for members of Saddam's
Ba'ath Party, who had enslaved them for more than 20 years.

The expectations were that the Baathists would be immediately
arrested and put on trial for their crimes against humanity, for
their crimes against the Iraqi people. Now this hasn't happened. And
people were alarmed when the Ba'athists were actually reinstated back
into government, says Shahristani, citing that a lot of ex-Baathists
still hold positions in the police department.

When the U.S. Marines pulled into town, their American commander
decided to install as police chief Gen. Abbas Fathil Abud, a
high-ranking member of the Baath Party, who had served Saddam for 24

When 60 Minutes arrived at his office, he was closeted with U.S.
military officers and protected by American troops.

“There is a lot of cooperation between us and the American military
police, says Gen. Abud.

Even though Ambassador Paul Bremer is on record saying that no
high-ranking members of Saddam's old Baath Party will hold power in
Iraq, in Karbala, the U.S. government is cooperating with Gen. Abud
and has put him in charge of a well-armed force even though he is a

“The decision is Mr. Bremer's. He's the decision maker and he can
make an exception, says Abud.

Neither Ambassador Bremer nor the Marines would discuss any aspect of
their role in Karbala.

One of the arguments the U.S. government has made is that they need
trained people to help them restore order in the country. And the
trained people are those who are former Baath Party members.

Some of these people, what they are really actually doing are
recruiting the newly organized Baathist apparatus back into the
force, says Shahristani, who adds that the people are extremely
concerned about this. People feel vulnerable.

They feel vulnerable because some of the same people who jailed,
tortured and informed on them are once again in a position of
authority: carrying weapons, communications equipment and driving
official vehicles.

One of the reasons Karbala has been relatively peaceful since the
invasion is that Shi'ite religious figures have ordered people to be
calm and cooperate with U.S. authorities.

But Sheik Abdul Mehdi Salami - the top Muslim cleric in Karbala - is
losing patience.

They all have to be taken out of management. We don't need them. The
Americans issued exemptions to some Baathists. This is not right,
says Abdul Mehdi.

Is it possible that the Americans just were ignorant when they first
came in? That they didn't know who to talk to?

They might not have known at the beginning. But later on the picture
became clearer, says Abdul Mehdi.

The Baath Party is reorganizing itself. They are getting financial
support from Saddam's inner circles who are still loose, and they are
holding meetings to organize their activities, adds Shahristani.

Not only have the Americans installed Saddam loyalists in the police
department, they have tried to arrest two people selected by
Karbala's leaders to serve on the city council.

Akram al Zubaidi was appointed to be the city's spokesman and he had
spent 11 years in Saddam's prisons. Yet when he complained to the
Americans about the new police chief and the way they were trying to
run the city, U.S. forces tried to arrest him. He managed to escape.

He's now a fugitive on the run. He says that more than 15 American
soldiers raided his house in the middle of the night. He also says
that his crime was doing the job the leaders of Karbala had asked him
to do.

My crime is that I was 100 percent honest, says al Zubaidi, who
claims this made him a troublemaker. That's the way they saw me. I
was telling them everything. And I was very honest with them and I
thought that was democracy. And then, I realized democracy is only
allowed in your country and not in ours.

Why is this happening?

The U.S. officers in charge of the city have never explained to the
people why they've arrested these people, says Shahristani. They
only told the city council that they have good reasons for these
arrests, which they are not going to share with them.

Nor would U.S. authorities share them with 60 Minutes.

Najeeb al Shami was the city councilor in charge of security in
Karbala before the Marines took over and installed a Saddam loyalist
in his place. Al Shami, who has a heart condition, was arrested by
the Americans as an enemy prisoner of war, and cleared after it was
determined that there was no evidence that he had committed
belligerent acts against coalition forces.

His son, Ahmed, says al Shami was rearrested a few days later and
taken to Abu Ghrieb Prison. When Ahmed went to the prison with a
lawyer, he says they were turned away: It is forbidden for any
lawyers, humanitarian organizations, or any member of his family to
visit him.

What is he charged with?

We don't know. Abu Ghrieb is a very big complex, says Shahristani.

60 Minutes went off to Abu Ghreib with Shahristani to see if we could
get some information. Shahristani had once spent nearly 4,000 days in
solitary confinement under Saddam in Abu Ghrieb. As it turns out, he
was lucky. The cells just outside the execution chamber still bear
the names of those who got the gallows.

Most people just left their names. This guy is Jawad al-Abadi. It's
a big family. And this guy is Jawadi Malek, says Shahristani.
Everybody was executed.

When the execution was complete from, with the hanging, the ropes
were removed from the individual, says Brigadier Gen. Janis
Karpinski, commander of the 800th MP Brigade. He's now the American
officer in charge of Abu Ghreib. We've been told that they were
gassed until the execution was complete.

Gen. Karpinski assured 60 Minutes that Abu Ghreib is a much different
place now than it was when Saddam was running it. Prisoners were well
fed and taken care of. Most of them, she said, were common criminals,
and that everyone here was allowed visits with their families and
lawyers. A few, she said, were being held for "crimes against the
coalition," but no one was being held without charges.

When asked about al Shami, who was originally classified as an enemy
prisoner of war, Karpinski said she didn't recognize the name.

She also said that it was unlikely that his family and lawyers have
not been able to get information about al Shami or visit him in Abu

Is it possible to find out whether he is here?

We can, with this information, we can find out what the
circumstances are, sure, says Karpinski.

But are there people here who are being held without charges? We
have prisoners in all of our facilities who, I mean there's nobody
being held for no reason, says Karpinski. There's foundation or, or
charges for all of our prisoners.

60 Minutes followed Gen. Karpinski to the computer room and waited.
She had told us that all prisoners were charged after an initial
72-hour processing period. But Najeeb al Shami had been in Abu Ghreib
for more than a month.

Finally, she was able to find him.

We've located the individual you were asking about and the process
for him, the in-processing portion is not completed yet, and I've
been asked not to release any additional information because his
in-processing is not completed yet, says Karpinski.

Obviously, Kroft said, it's taken a lot longer than 72 hours to
process al Shami's case.

60 Minutes was then asked to turn off the camera. Gen. Karpinski told
us that al Shami was "suspected of crimes against the coalition," and
had not yet been charged, and would not necessarily be allowed access
to his family and lawyers.

Later that day, we received written answers from U.S. Central Command
to our requests to find out what happened to the city councilor. On
the question of family visits, it said: "To date we have not allowed
our civilian security internees to receive visitors." And added, "We
do not discuss their cases publicly."

Two months after al Shami was jailed at Abu Ghreib, there are still
no charges against him.

Gen. Karpinski said al Shami had been turned in by another Iraqi. We
asked the Karbala police chief, Gen. Abbas, a 24-year veteran of
Saddam's forces, if he had turned in the city councilor.

How could it be me, he said.

In Karbala, hopes for war crimes trials and representative democracy
are fading, and it is not clear whether Iraqis will ever be able to
vote in an American-style election.

If U.S. forces impose a government rather than allowing Iraqis to
elect one, Dr. Shahristani says he fears the worst: If that process
doesn't happen, God only knows what will be the consequences of such
a move.

2) Az-Zaman

release of detainees Translated from Arabic from:
AZZAMAN NEWSPAPER --- Issue 1680 --- Date 9/12/2003

Reliable sources have assured (Az-Zaman) that the
coalition forces have released a number of the
officials of the former regime from their detention
centers in the outskirts of Baghdad. The sources added
that Dr. Sadoun Hammadi, the former head of the
National Assembly, was the most prominent person to be
released after having been cleared from charges of
committing crimes against Iraqis or the Coalition

Dr. Hammadi was not listed among the 55 wanted, but he
was arrested several months ago. The same sources
revealed that the release order included General Sadi
Touma, former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs,
Samir Abdul-Wahab al-Sheikhly, former Minister of the
Interior, Colonel Rashid al-Tikriti, one of Saddam's
adjutants and a number of the advanced cadre of the
dissolved Baath party at the district and local level.

>From a total number of 150 persons released, mostly
former army personnel who have shown good behavior
during their detention and who have not been convicted
of crimes, were also relatives of Saddam against whom
there were no charges or convictions or any record of

The sources added that the coalition authorities in
charge of Abu Ghuraib prison where the detainees were,
took the decision to release those after riots broke
out and a strike was carried out by the detainees with
the participation of those detained on criminal
charges. The sources stated that the strike began with
the first day of Eid al-Fitr, covering 11 camps which
form the main large camp known as Abu Ghuraib Camp.
Each camp is made up of 22 tents, with the total
number of detainees being 9000, including officials of
the former regime, prisoners of the US operations in
Diyala and Tikrit as well as ordinary criminals and

Az-Zaman has received information that at least one
person was killed from among those detainees wounded
by the shooting carried out by guards of the Coalition
forces after refusing to comply with several calls to
end their strike broadcast from loudspeakers while
helicopters were circling over the camp during the

The same sources give the reasons behind the strike,
as told by released detainees, as the feeling among
those detainees of their full and intentional
isolation, not having been visited by the Red Cross or
media outlets for which they had asked the Camp
authorities to arrange. Other sources have attributed
the reason for the strike to the protest by political
and military detainees against being detained with
ordinary criminals and thieves.

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