Government waste and global policing E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

When cops are getting laid off left and right it becomes difficult to understand why American taxpayers spend so much money on policing other countries. So how’s the State Dept.’s most recent program to train the Iraqi police going?

According to the New York Times, “not very well” does accurately convey the scope of what can only be described as one of the greatest wastes of money ever undertaken by man.

According to the New York Times, as the result of ever increasing costs of training and equipping and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place, the State Department has slashed the multibillion-dollar police-training program.

There’s even talk of phasing out the program entirely.

The Iraqi police force was supposed to be the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission here.

The training effort was sold as the largest piece of a civilian mission described as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan following WWII.

Basically the problem boils down to this. Iraqis want to police their own country.

"I think that with the departure of the military, the Iraqis decided to say, 'O.K., how large is the American presence here?' " James F. Jeffrey, the American ambassador to Iraq, in an interview. "How large should it be? How does this equate with our sovereignty? In various areas they obviously expressed some concerns."

According to the New York Times article, a recent lesson given by an American police instructor to a class of Iraqi trainees was actually a lesson in the program's dysfunction.

There are two clues that could indicate someone is planning a suicide attack, the instructor told the trainees. Those clues are a large bank withdrawal and heavy drinking.

The problem with that is the fact very few Iraqis have bank accounts and an extremist Sunni Muslim on a suicide mission is likely to consider drinking a cardinal sin.

Recently many of the Iraqi police officials who had been participating in the training suddenly refused to attend the seminars and PowerPoint presentations given by the Americans.

When asked why the Iraqis said they saw little benefit from the sessions.

As for the State Dept., they’re sticking with their story come hell or high water.

"We have stood up a robust police-training program, which is doing a terrific job working with the local police in training and developing a program, which I think will pay enormous dividends," said Thomas R. Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, in a briefing with reporters.

In another interview Mr. Nides said, "I don't think anything went wrong." He added, "the Iraqis don't believe they need a program of that scale and scope."

Apparently no one at the State Dept. thought that was a problem.

Mr. Perito said that the State Department never developed an appropriate curriculum and that most of the time the American law enforcement professionals acting as advisers, "end up talking about their own experiences or tell war stories and it's not relevant."

Since 2003, the American government has spent nearly $8 billion training the Iraqi police.


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