Friday, January 13, 2006

So How Are Those U.S. Trained Iraqi Forces Doing?

This story would be really, really funny if it wasn't so infuriating:

After Handover, Hussein Palaces Looted
November Transfer Ceremony Was Hailed as Symbol of Progress in Iraq

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, January 13, 2006; A01

BAGHDAD, Jan. 12 -- On Nov. 22, the top U.S. military and civilian leaders in Iraq handed over Saddam Hussein's most lavish palace compound to the safekeeping and control of the new Iraqi army and government, in a ceremony whose intended symbolism was as impossible to ignore as the military brass band.

"The passing of this facility is a simple ceremony that vividly demonstrates the continuing progress being made by the Iraqi government and their people," said Col. Mark McKnight, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, who handed the keys to the palaces to the governor of Salahuddin province.

But in the days after American forces and the Iraqi brass band pulled out of the circular palace drive on a bluff overlooking the Tigris River, local officials now say, looters moved in, ripping out doors, air conditioners, ceiling fans and light-switch plates from some of the compound's 136 palaces, leaving little more than plaster and dangling electric wires.

The culprits are some of the same Iraqi security forces and officials to whom Americans transferred control, police and the governor say.

"Thank God we were able to save the walls from the looters, because everything else was stolen," Gov. Hamed Hamood Shekti said by telephone.

At first I wondered if Chalabi was involved in any of this, but then I realized he was probably too busy pillaging the oil ministry to have any time to loot Saddam's former palaces.

Still, it's nice to see that we're helping the Iraqis to learn Western ways.

I mean, what could be more American than looting a palace right down to the very walls?

Besides, if the Iraqis didn't loot the place, I bet Halliburton would have.

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