Crime Overruns Baghdad as Iraq Reconstruction Team Revamped

After only three weeks heading the reconstruction efforts in Iraq, Lieutenant General Jay Garner and other top officials were recently removed from duty. Garner will be replaced by L. Paul Bremer III, a counter-terrorism expert. Barbara Bodine, one of only three women in senior positions on the reconstruction team, was also removed from her position in Iraq, where she had been in charge of Baghdad and central Iraq. The State Department insists that her removal was a routine rotation, but Bodine told the Los Angeles Times she was given only three days to leave the country.

Meanwhile, insecurity and crime are plaguing the country and hampering reconstruction efforts. The new US team, under Bremer, are shifting their security strategy to one that relies on neighborhood patrols, the Times reports. However, the Washington Post reports that in many neighborhoods, troops are stretched thin and lack police training. “Everybody needs security, everywhere in Iraq. Where is it? We don’t even know where to ask,” said obstetrician- gynecologist Enas Hamdani, the Post reports. “Security, security, security – that’s our mantra too. That’s our number one priority,” said US Army Major Jack Nales, according to the Post. “It’s frustrating. We do not have the personnel or the training to be policemen. [I tell the Iraqis] ‘I’m sorry the police agencies and judicial system isn’t here. I’m sorry we don’t have enough soldiers to help you.’ ”

Reconstruction of the judicial system has begun, with the first two courthouses re-opening in Baghdad on Friday. A committee of ten Iraqi lawyers, including one woman, was established to work with Marine Major Scott Woodard in revamping the judicial system in Iraq. Woodard appointed a woman to the committee because he was afraid that the Iraqi men would not select a woman on their own, according to the Post. Though he hopes Iraqis will develop a system of choosing judges, Woodard said that the US military has the final say, the Post reports.


LA Times 5/11/03; Washington Post 5/9/03; 5/12/03

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