Baghdad, Thursday Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and US Ambassador John Negroponte yesterday signed a treaty giving the US the right to extradite Iraqis it deems to be "criminals" and process them through the American justice system, as well as for Iraq to enjoy the use of the American criminal justice system to deport, try and sentence Iraqi criminals. The new treaty is known as the "US-Iraq Freedom Through Incarceration Agreement".
"This marks a historic day for freedom in Iraq," remarked Ambassador Negroponte. "Iraqis can now enjoy the same processes and conditions as citizens of the nation with the largest per capita prison population in the world, and the greatest number of prisoners on the planet [the USA]. We are looking forward to as many Iraqi citizens as possible using these improvements to Iraqi democracy. As an additional benefit, we are creating new American jobs in the penitentiary system."
Prime Minister Allawi added, "We know from the photos taken at Abu Ghraib earlier this year that Americans take a firm hand when it comes to penal administration. Unfortunately, conditions in Iraq are not suitable for me to deal with my enemies in this way, and I am happy to have a strong leader like President Bush to help me in my ambitions."
Cuts both ways...
But all may not be as it seems. Following the signing ceremony, an unofficial press conference was called by one of the Iraqi drafters of the treaty. Speaking under condition of anonymity, he explained a few points which were not mentioned by Negroponte or Allawi.
"If you look, you will see that there are two versions of the document. One in Arabic and one in English, and on both it says that the Arabic version is the official version. We made a few changes to the Arabic version. If you look, you'll see that Iraq has reciprocal rights. So we can now extradite Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush and make them stand trial here for crimes against the Iraqi people."
When asked about the legality of extraditing a head of state to stand trial, the spokesman quoted the USA's invasion and kidnapping of General Noriega as a precedent.
Mr. Negroponte was not available for comment on this issue.