The Long Term Effects Of Prisons In Counterinsurgency

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

From Al Arabiya:

Corrupt administrators, bribery and political connections are all reasons for the continuous series of prison breakouts, many involving Al Qaeda members who later joined militias.

Around 4,000 militants and terrorists have escaped detention with inside help since 2006, the UAE-based newspaper, The National, reported figures compiled by Iraqi Reconciliation Society (IRS), an independent organization the monitors the country’ jails.

Most of the escapes occurred in Baghdad, the capital that is considered to be the instable and unsecure part in the country, IRS records show.

On May 20, five members from the Mahdi Army broke out of the Taji prison west of Baghdad as they were being transferred to a detention centre in the capital.

In Basra, the extreme south of the country, a parliamentary committee was set up to examine the escape of 12 Al Qaeda figures, some facing death sentences, from an interrogation center in the southern province on January 12.

Suzan Al Saad, a committee member, said the probe had “led directly to senior officials in the prime minister’s office who planned the escape” from Basra.

Information leaked to the media about the committee’s findings said Abdul Karim Abdul Fadel, security adviser to the prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, allegedly helped Al Qaeda members escape.

Also named was Brigadier Ali Fadel Omran, a Baghdad military commander, in connection with the escape. He fled the country just as the parliamentary report was being completed.

“There were high-level security officers connected directly to the prime minister’s office who were coming and going from the prison compound and who had no reason to be there because they had no formal involvement in dealing with those prisoners,” Ms. Saad said in an interview.

Haider Al Saadi, a justice ministry spokesman, said in statement after the Taji escape that “weak and corrupted” administrators had let “a large number” of detainees break out.

The ministry’s spokesman also spoke of the ministry’s “serious concerns” over sectarianism among prison officials and said staff was susceptible to “political pressure.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another justice ministry official said there were prisoners with political connections who were “untouchable” while in custody and who eventually were set free because of those connections.

“Some of these prisoners are militants, including Al Qaeda, who enjoy support from political parties,” the official said. He insisted the justice ministry was working to tackle the corruption, which he said had been allowed to flourish for years under previous governments.

Iraq took control of jails previously run by the US military. The last prison under US control, Camp Cropper in Baghdad, was transferred to the Iraqi authorities in July 2010, although some detainees remain in American custody.

The prison breakout series have intensified with the US forces pulling out at the end of the year.

Stop and let that information wash over you again.  Approximately 4000 insurgents have escaped from Iraqi prisons since 2006.  The equivalent of four Battalions.  In addition to not taking the Iranian influence in the region seriously by engaging Iran in the covert war it was waging against both Iraq and the U.S., we (and Iraq) have left Iraq vulnerable to four Battalions of insurgents because of our adolescent belief in the rehabilitative powers of incarceration.

It isn’t surprising, this notion that prisons can effect proper counterinsurgency, given that most of the hard core advocates of population-centric, nation-building COIN are stronger believers in psychology and sociology than in theology.  But in the end, evil is a moral problem, not an epistemological one, and you cannot educate or rehabilitate evil out of mankind.

So the reader knows what I advocate.  Kill or release, but capture is counterproductive.  That offends the sensibilities of many, and so we play this silly game of incarceration – until, that is, the insurgents get released.  And then it’s no longer silly, because by releasing them we continue to allow evil people to perpetrate evil acts.  But by the time this evil would affect our sensibilities, we are long gone and don’t have to watch.  We trade off one thing for another, but the Iraqis are no better for our trade-off.  And the job is not done.

Prior: Prisons in Counterinsurgency Category



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  • A Soldier’s comments

    So you advocate killing the bad guys. Which ones? The murderers? Okay… What about the car thieves? What about the guy paid or threatened simply to dig a hole in the ground beside a road and who was charged with IED facilitation? When do you kill them? Summary execution? What about arresting them and interrogating in order to roll up the entire chain of command? Then do you kill them?

    Your arguments on this topic are made blindly because you seem very much out of your lane. You admit to having no affiliation to the military, thus no tactical or operational training or experience. Yet you are eager to proclaim that those who did their damnedest to fight and somehow win the war in Iraq apparently didn’t know what they were doing and screwed it up.

    No doubt there are serious issues within the Iraqi justice system. Yes, bad guys are escaping. But do not presume the solution is so simple as “Kill or release, but capture is counterproductive.” It is easy to be an armchair quarterback… and the job iis still not done.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Uh huh. How many of those who escaped were car thieves? I’m not very worried about car thieves, and U.S. forces have no business worrying themselves with them either.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Iraq,Prisons in Counterinsurgency and was published June 6th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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