Detention & Guantanamo

The Daqduq Mess: Apportion Blame Widely

By Robert Chesney
Tuesday, December 20, 2011, 12:20 PM

Another bad development in the Daqduq situation (see here if you don't know whom I'm talking about).  According to the AP, Iraqi officials have indicated that the only charge they plan to bring against Ali Musa Daqduqwould be a very minor one: illegal entry using a fake passport.  The report indicates that one can get about five years as the sentence for such a charge [UPDATE: A correspondent with relevant experience indicates that in some instances an Iraqi court can serve up a much stronger sentence for this particular charge].  Even if that were to occur in this instance, of course, there is the question of whether he'd get credit for time served, as Daqduq was captured in 2007.  I have no idea how the Iraqi system would address that question.  Of course, even without time served, five years is a very poor result indeed in these circumstances.

Assuming this is how the Iraqi prosecution plays out, there will be a lot of talk about who is to blame.  In my view, there is *plenty* to go around.  Blame the Maliki administration for intransigence in refusing to let us remove Daqduq during the waning days of our presence, and for now apparently going forward with comically minor charges.  Blame the Obama administration for not somehow overcoming that intransigence.  Blame critics of the administration who fiercely objected (for reasons that still make little sense to me) to the prospect that Daqduq might be brought into the United States for a military commission trial, making a fetish out of GTMO as the only permitted geographic location for such proceedings.  Blame the Obama administration for refusing to use GTMO in the face of such intransigence.  Blame the Bush administration for not conducting a military commission prosecution of Daqduq, or at least removing him from Iraq, prior to the adoption of the Security Agreement beginning at the end of 2008.  Blame everyone involved from 2007 onward for failing both to plan for the inevitable day when our detention authority--and the practical leverage that comes from actually controlling the full detention facility and the various logistical pieces needed to remove someone from the country at our own discretion--would go away and we would be left with precisely this situation.  And above all, blame Hezbollah and Iran (or should it just be Iran?) for the war crimes their agent committed [UPDATE: To be clear, I write that line on the assumption that there was evidence linking Daqduq to war crimes such as perfidy or the torture or killing of prisoners.]