U.S. to Turn Over Control of Baghdad to Iraqis Once All Iraqis Removed from Baghdad
News item from Sunday's New York Times:
The United States military announced that it had formally handed over the infamous Abu Ghraib prison to the Iraqi government on Friday. The prison is empty because the Americans and Iraqis transferred detainees to other centers before the handover.
Handing over control of empty buildings is a shining example of the success of the administration's "when-they-stand-up, we'll-stand-down" strategy as witnessed in this report from Reuters:
"Yesterday, Abu Ghraib prison was handed over by U.S. forces," (government spokesman Ali) al-Dabbagh told a news conference. "It is now empty of any detainee or prisoner."
"Now the prison is protected by Iraqi forces and the Iraqi government will look into how to benefit from it in the national interest," he added.
And now the administration plans to take this model of success and apply it to all of Baghdad, and, possibly, the rest of Iraq.
According to this report from Rooters:
The U.S. commander in Iraq, General Peter Pace, called the Abu Ghraib handoff, "an unqualified success."
"The Iraqis are now maintaining security at this empty prison facility on their own," Pace said. "We think this has implications for the security situation in Baghdad and throughout Iraq."
Pace then described a process in which all Iraqis in Baghdad would be evacuated to other localities, "at which time we could then hand over security for the city to Iraqi police and military forces."
"This is a win-win for both Iraqi and U.S. forces," Pace continued, "and in line with our strategy to stand down as Iraqi forces stand up."
When a reporter pointed out that Iraqi military and police units who remain behind in Baghdad would be composed of Iraqis, Pace quipped, "You hand off control to the security forces you have, not the security forces you wish you had."
Pace said the program would then be rolled out across the country, first removing all Iraqis from an area before turning over control to Iraqi security forces.
When asked where all the Iraqi citizens who were being evacuated from area after area would go, Pace looked to Pentagon spokesman Larry Odenkurk who turned his up his palms and shrugged his shoulders in a "How-would-I-know?" gesture.
"Look, if we can get rid of all the Iraqis, our security situation within Iraq will improve greatly," Pace said.
He then abruptly ended the press conference and left the room.
Back in Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the new Iraqi relocation policy by citing the administration's success in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
"I mean, how many people will die there now if New Orleans is hit by another major hurricane? The place is practically a ghost town," Rumsfeld said. "We scattered most of the coloreds all over the country. So this is a proven strategy that works."