Iraqis take over screening and purging
Iraqi authorities are moving against enemy informants and sympathizers in the ranks of the nation's hastily trained security forces by firing thousands of police officers and taking over from Americans the screening of new recruits.
Such informants are believed to have undermined numerous operations and tipped off terrorists, who last month killed 49 unarmed Iraqi army recruits as they traveled by bus near the Iranian border.
"Most of the screening as far as the staff is up to the Iraqi staff now," said U.S. Army Capt. Kevin Bradley, who trains Iraqi national guardsmen. "Right now, whether or not the person is clean, it depends on the Iraqis."
The Iraqi armed forces, meanwhile, have taken charge of their own recruiting. They often employ methods that, while falling short of U.S. civil rights standards, are proving effective, Capt. Bradley said.
Each recruit must now bring a letter of approval from his local community council, and each military base now dispatches committees to new recruits' neighborhoods to check on their "moral background," Maj. Ala al-Khifajey of the Iraqi national guard said.
What's more, nepotism is now the rule: Every new recruit must have a relative already in the service to vouch for him.
"We know our people," he said. "We know who to recruit and who to reject."
That marks a sharp departure from the methods used by the Americans, who ran the recruiting program the way they were used to doing at home, Maj. al-Khifajey said.
"The American way was, you fill out a three-page application form, they check your name against their list of terrorists, and after a medical and fitness test, you had the job."
But privacy rules and fair-hiring practices simply didn't work in a country surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies, infiltrated by suicidal Islamic extremists and ravaged by decades of poverty and war, he said.