Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why Condi Rice Needs a Trip to Pier 1

As was extensively reported last week, the Iraqi Cabinet approved draft legislation that would revoke immunity from Iraqi law for private security contractors operating in Iraq on behalf of the U.S. military or any other U.S. government entity. As the New York Times reported, Thamir Ghadban, chairman of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s council of advisers, summed up the legislative history of the law, "This decision does not just cover Blackwater; it will cover all the foreign security firms operating in Iraq . . . This law will protect Iraqis and Iraq’s sovereignty.”

The provocative part of the story, and military justice relevant portion of the story, was the reference to a statement by a Shiite member of parliament reported by the NYT, "Parliament is likely to amend the measure, but, according to a Shiite member of Parliament, only to make it tougher and more restrictive." Tougher and more restrictive? Hmm, are they thinking of expanding the withdrawal of immunity beyond PSCs or defining PSCs more broadly? Will Parliament expand the revocation to include military members?

This would be an extraordinary development since Iraq is the only country with which the US does not have a SOFA and where significant US forces are based in the country. Interestingly, I have heard some argue that Iraq cannot revoke CPA Order 17, the order giving US contractors immunity from Iraqi law, which seems contrary to what I thought was the prerogative of a sovereign, but I am no I-law expert. Regardless of your thoughts on Iraq's ability to revoke CPA Order 17, I think we can all agree that the best world is one where Sec. State lawyers and uniformed lawyers get that Iraqi SOFA deal done quickly.


Marcus Fulton said...

Actually, Afghanistan doesn't have a SOFA with us either.

Anonymous said...

And Marcus would know. As of May 2007 there was no Afghanistani SOFA, and apparently some resentment exists over this fact. See Karl F. Inderfurth, Losing the 'other war' in Afghanistan?, (May 29, 2007)

Two trips to Pier 1 are better than 1,