US: Do We Dare Turn Detainees Over to Iraqis?

Security deal could see Iraqi authorities handed thousands of prisoners they can't handle
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2008 7:56 AM CDT
U.S. Army soldiers and an interpreter assist an Iraqi man as he disembarks from a truck during his release from U.S. custody in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.    (AP Photo/ Loay Hameed)
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(Newser) – The new security agreement negotiated with Iraq could leave the US military with 5,000 tough problems, the New York Times reports. US forces currently hold 17,000 Iraqi prisoners—including 5,000 considered dangerous radicals. Under the latest draft of the deal, the US would lose the right to either arrest or hold suspected insurgents after Dec. 31. But Iraqi officials acknowledge they are nowhere near ready to deal with the prisoners.

The military is keen to get out of the detention business and has already released thousands. Commanders are now scrambling to get the US detention system in line with Iraqi law before the proposed year-end deadline. The biggest problem, they say, is the fact that Iraqi courts require two witnesses to secure a conviction—tough to provide for prisoners picked up at the height of the insurgency.