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The Iraqi government announced on Wednesday that it has decided to formally revoke the immunity from prosecution granted to private security companies operating in the war-ravaged country.
“The cabinet held a meeting yesterday and decided to scrap the article pertaining to security companies operating in Iraq that was issued by the CPA (Coalition Provision Authority) in 2004,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.
“It has decided to present a new law regarding this issue which will be taken in the next cabinet meeting.”
Article 1 of Section 2 of CPA order 17 issued by then US administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, stipulates that the “multinational force, foreign liaison missions, their personnel, property, funds and assets and all international consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process.”
Iraqi authorities have been venting over Order 17 as long as I have covered the issue. I listened to a Justice Ministry official explain to me why it was illegal one afternoon last spring. But to that I had a simple response: if the Government opposes the Order, nothing stops it from putting through legislation that will repeal it. And up until recently, the Government had been all talk and no action in this regard.
But the process was admittedly not an easy one. CPA Order 17, though issued with the authority of one man—Paul Bremer—has the status of a law, as I read the arrangements surrounding the transfer of authority from June 28, 2004. And that means that a decision of the cabinet to “scrap” it would not be effective. The step should be taken by the parliament (Council of Representatives, in Arabic “Majlis an-Nuwwab” or “???? ?????? ???????”) which exercises the legislative power, including the power to amend or repeal existing laws. Of course the parliament has been virtually dysfunctional up to this point, so the government’s recourse to a cabinet decision as an alternative can be understood. But is it more than a symbolic act?
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”