Courts And Instant "Justice"
Legal System in Iraq Staggers Beneath
the Weight of War
By MICHAEL MOSS
York Times" -- -- BAGHDAD — In a cavernous
room that once displayed gifts given to Saddam Hussein,
eight men in yellow prison garb sat on the floor facing
the wall, guarded by two American soldiers.
Among them was Abdulla Sultan Khalaf, a Ministry of
Industry employee seized by American troops who said
they found 10 blasting caps and 100 sticks of TNT. When
his name was called, he stood, walked into a cagelike
defendant’s box and peered over the wooden slats at a
panel of three Iraqi judges of the central court.
The judges reviewed evidence prepared by an American
military lawyer — testimony from two soldiers,
photographs and a sketch of the scene.
The evidence went largely unchallenged, because Mr.
Khalaf had no lawyer. The judges appointed one, but Mr.
Khalaf had no chance to speak with him. Mr. Khalaf told
the judges that the soldiers were probably chasing a
rogue nephew and denied that the explosives were his or
ever in his house. “Let me examine the pictures,” he
insisted. The judges ignored him. His lawyer said
nothing, beyond declaring Mr. Khalaf’s innocence. The
trial lasted 15 minutes.
The judges conducted six trials of similar length and
depth before lunch, then deliberated for four minutes.
Five defendants were found guilty; one was acquitted.
“The evidence is enough,” Judge Saeb Khorsheed Ahmed
said in convicting Mr. Khalaf. “Thirty years.”
The United States established the Central Criminal Court
of Iraq three years ago, envisioning it as a pillar of a
new democracy. But like the faltering effort to create
effective Iraqi security forces, the system for
detaining, charging and trying suspects has instead
become another weak link in the rule of law in Iraq,
according to an examination of the justice system by The
New York Times.
The stakes are rising. The court has begun sentencing
American-held detainees to death by hanging, 14 this
Almost every aspect of the judicial system is lacking,
poorly serving not just detainees but also Iraqi
citizens and troops trying to maintain order.
Soldiers who have little if any training in gathering
evidence or sorting the guilty from the innocent are
left to decide whom to detain. The military conducts
reviews to decide whom to release, yet neither Iraqi
detainees nor defense lawyers are allowed to attend,
according to military documents and interviews.
Tens of thousands of detainees have been released by the
Americans, often under political pressure from the
Iraqis, but American soldiers complain they are
apprehending many dangerous insurgents again and again.
At the same time, detainees are held for long periods by
the Americans without being charged, in some instances
for as long as two years.
Even detainees who are formally charged and brought to
the Iraqi court have little ability to develop a defense
against evidence collected by American lawyers and
soldiers. Most defense lawyers are appointed by the
court and paid $15 per case. Even if they are so
inclined, they are largely unable to gather evidence
because of the threat of violence. One American lawyer
said that in 100 cases he handled, not one defense
lawyer had introduced evidence or witnesses.
The central court resembles the narrow end of a funnel
crowded with suspects captured by American and Iraqi
forces. No figures are available on prisoners held by
Iraqis, but the Americans have held about 61,500 over
the past three years and are now holding 14,000,
military officials say. Roughly 3,000 have been charged
and tried in the Iraqi court.
The court acquits nearly half of the defendants, but
both Americans and Iraqis involved in the process say
that political interference, threats from militants and
the judges’ fear for their lives weigh heavily in many
verdicts. The military has found housing in the
protected Green Zone for only 12 of the 30 judges on the
criminal court. The others commute to work.
“The most fundamental thing that we need to do in Iraq
is establish the rule of law,” said Mark Waller, an Air
Force Reserve major and deputy district attorney in
Colorado, who spent four months this year in Baghdad
helping to prosecute detainees. “It’s the cornerstone of
a civilization. Without it you have anarchy. And we are
Beyond the scandal at Abu Ghraib and the trial of Mr.
Hussein, the system of holding and prosecuting detainees
in Iraq has largely escaped public scrutiny. The
day-to-day details of these government operations
emerged from interviews with American and Iraqi
officials, former detainees, a review of military
records and a visit to proceedings in the Iraqi court
normally closed to the public.
A classified Pentagon assessment completed in June of
the American effort to strengthen Iraqi justice found
one sign of progress: the prosecution of former senior
government officials. Everything else, from training
judges to building court capacity to minimizing civil
rights abuses by Iraqi security forces, had fallen
behind, according to the assessment by the National
“Iraq’s judiciary is technically independent but unable
and unwilling to assert itself or provide a balance to
Iraq’s powerful political parties,” it said. “The
criminal justice system is overloaded and lacks the
capacity to consistently process those arrested and/or
Even though the American military helps to prosecute
cases in the court, it does not always release detainees
whose cases are dismissed, officials acknowledged in
interviews. Maj. Gen. John D. Gardner, the commander of
American detainee operations, orders those defendants
held if the military believes they remain a threat.
According to military officials, this has happened
approximately 60 times, or in about 4 percent of the
American officials said that within the confines of the
nascent Iraqi justice system they were striving to
protect American troops, while promoting due process.
“Our goal is to balance detaining the people who are the
real threats, and releasing those who are not, and
that’s a fine line,” General Gardner said.
The justice system is most troubling for people like
Intisar Jaafar. Her 29-year-old son, Laith al-Ani, was
taken from his home in Baghdad by American troops in
October 2004 in a search for weapons his mother said
they never found. The military said he was a “security
detainee” but would not elaborate.
Mr. Ani, a women’s clothing merchant, is being held at
Camp Bucca in the desert of southern Iraq, his relatives
said. They have made the daylong trip to visit him, but
it brought them no more information about when he might
be charged, released or brought to court.
In a recent letter he drew a caged heart reaching out to
his wife and two children, and wrote, “I hope I can be
dust in the storms of Bucca so that I can reach you.”
A Grand Vision
At 9 a.m. on a recent Monday, two United States Army
trucks guarded by seven Humvees pulled to a halt in
central Baghdad, just outside the protected Green Zone.
The soldiers fanned out with their rifles ready as a man
in a black hood and yellow prison garb emerged, followed
by more than 30 others, their hands and feet shackled.
The men shuffled down two flights of stairs into the
Central Criminal Court.
The courthouse did not exist before the war, with most
criminal cases left to provincial judges. In 2003, the
Bush administration decided Iraq also needed a central
court — like the American federal judiciary — for major
national crimes like significant corruption or violence.
The vision was grand.
“Evil doers will face justice in honest and fair Iraqi
courts,” L. Paul Bremer III, the administrator of the
Coalition Provisional Authority, said in an address to
the Iraqi people in November 2003.
Zuhair Maliky, an Iraqi lawyer tapped by the Americans
as a chief judge, said: “It was to be a model for all of
the courts around the country, where students would come
to read the records and learn how courts work. There was
to be a library, a conference room where judges would
give lectures, and computers where court records would
But that vision has run into the realities of Iraq — the
insurgency, a lack of resources and politics.
Security concerns have effectively closed proceedings to
the public. Court records are not kept on computers, but
mostly in paper files held together by yarn. And the
daily proceedings, observed by a reporter, are hardly a
model of deliberative justice.
That day’s defendants came from two American detention
camps and from sundry Iraqi jails.
Shortly past 10 a.m., two American soldiers escorted
Hussan Lotfi Abdulla upstairs to a judge’s office for a
preliminary hearing. Mr. Abdulla, who had been in
detention for nearly two years, sat next to his
court-appointed Iraqi lawyer, whom he had never met.
Facing them in front of the judge’s desk was Capt. Lisa
Gorog, a military lawyer who had come to Baghdad to help
the military unit that runs the American detention
operations in Iraq.
The unit is doubling its legal staff to more than 100
lawyers and aides, drawn largely from the military and
prosecutor’s offices throughout the United States.
Even for experienced prosecutors, identifying strong
cases among the mass of detainees is difficult given the
quality of the evidence. Capt. Matt McCall, who focuses
on men like Mr. Abdulla who have been detained in the
volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq, said he had to
sift through the files of 50 detainees to find 2 that he
thought could be convicted. The rest were left in
detention either because the soldiers who captured them
were not readily available as witnesses or because the
evidence was too weak, he said.
The case against Mr. Abdulla presented its own
challenges. The one-page case summary prepared by
Captain Gorog for the judge said Mr. Abdulla was
detained on Jan. 27, 2005, when American soldiers grew
suspicious of the taxi in which he was riding. When they
forced it to stop, a man got out and tossed a grenade,
which did not explode. They killed the man, and searched
the taxi where they said they found rocket-propelled
grenades, launchers and armor-piercing ammunition.
But Mr. Abdulla had another problem. He is Syrian but
had no passport when he was detained. He faced at least
15 years in prison if Captain Gorog could show he had
come to Iraq illegally to fight.
After the judge asked some perfunctory questions,
Captain Gorog jumped in.
“Why did you come to Iraq?” she asked through an
“For work and study,” he replied.
“Why did you come to Ramadi?”
“To visit a friend.”
“Didn’t you know the man throwing the grenade?”
“No. I heard the explosions, but I was lying on the
“How did you know it was a grenade?”
“The investigator told me.”
“He was right there! Didn’t you see the incident?”
“I was handcuffed on the ground. I didn’t see it.”
Mr. Abdulla’s lawyer remained silent. The judge, who
reserved judgment on whether Mr. Abdulla would be tried,
asked the clerk to write a one-page summary of the
hearing, which the lawyer signed without reading.
In the hall later, Mr. Abdulla’s lawyer, who asked not
to be identified for fear he would be killed, said he
had been given the case just moments before the hearing
and would have liked to have met with Mr. Abdulla, “to
know how to defend him.” But he said lawyers had stopped
asking to meet with American detainees because judges
had denied their requests.
“They said it’s the Americans who don’t allow this,” the
lawyer said. “It’s in order that we don’t dictate what
American detention officials denied that was their
policy but said it was difficult to arrange for defense
lawyers to meet defendants either at detention camps or
at the courthouse before the proceedings.
Although Iraq has an inquisitorial system in which
judges are empowered to investigate, question witnesses
and elicit evidence, defendants have a constitutional
right to a lawyer. “We can’t imagine a fair judiciary
system without a defense lawyer where he can practice
his duty,” said Diya al-Saadie, who until this month ran
the Iraqi Bar Association.
Karen Hanrahan, an international law expert who was the
State Department’s rule-of-law coordinator in Iraq until
recently, devised a plan to create a public defender
system to train and pay defense lawyers. She said it was
never financed in part because judicial planning was
dominated by American prosecutors who took a dim view of
American lawyers have been brought in to help prosecute
cases. Iraqi judges have been flown to Prague and The
Hague for workshops. But, Ms. Hanrahan said, “there was
no effort to train and work with lawyers.”
Charles W. Larson Sr., the United States attorney for
the Northern District of Iowa and an adviser in Iraq in
2004 and 2005, said his team was mindful of defense
lawyers but chose to focus on helping judges because “it
is a judicially driven system.”
By late morning, the courthouse halls bustled with court
personnel, private security guards, Iraqi police,
American soldiers and their detainees.
At 11:30 a.m., Judge Saeb Ahmed, the chief judge,
entered a large courtroom and took the middle of three
seats at the dais. Behind him, the scales of justice had
been painted on the wall. Black Hawk helicopters passed
outside the windows. Explosions could be heard in the
Judge Ahmed and his colleagues had a full docket, but
they worked quickly.
The first two men to stand trial were detained by Iraqi
security forces on Jan. 3, 2005, in connection with
several Baghdad attacks, one on a hospital. Their
families had hired a lawyer, Abdul Ami Ali, for $2,500,
and with a flourish he told the judges that he had
learned that one of the alleged attacks never occurred.
He produced a letter from the hospital administrator to
prove it. Judge Ahmed added the letter to the
defendants’ file, ended the trial and called the next
Sad Mahmud Saleh, a 24-year-old truck driver, was
accused by American soldiers of having contraband
weapons, including a hand grenade, in his house. His
trial consisted largely of Judge Ahmed asking questions.
At one point the judge stood and raised his voice.
“Are you a terrorist?” he asked.
“No,” Mr. Saleh replied, standing in the tall wooden
“Are you involved in any organization?”
“Why did they bring you here?”
Mr. Saleh’s lawyer, appointed to represent him just as
the trial began, simply asked for mercy.
After four more trials, each lasting about 15 minutes,
the judges adjourned and cleared the courtroom. It was
At 1:09, they reopened the doors and announced their
verdicts and the sentences.
The American military lawyers had mixed results.
Saif Raad Mohammed, who was detained in January 2005
when soldiers said they found a machine gun with a
silencer in his home, was sentenced to six years in
The judges issued a string of long sentences, including
30 years for Mr. Saleh in the hand grenade case, and 30
years for the hospital attackers.
The defendants’ lawyer was devastated, saying he figured
that the hospital administrator’s letter would have at
least prompted the judges to investigate. Judge Ahmed
declined to discuss any of that day’s trials or make
available any court records. But The Times obtained the
judges’ one-page written decision in the hospital attack
case. It made no mention of the administrator’s letter.
The judges dismissed the case against a man accused of
joining an armed group after the Iraqi prosecutor told
them there was not sufficient evidence.
He smiled as his verdict was read, but he did not leave
the courthouse a free man. All the American-held
detainees were taken back to the detention center. Those
found guilty would be sent to Iraqi prisons. The man
whose case was dismissed would be reviewed again by
American military officials, who would determine whether
to release him.
The population of American-held detainees now crowding
the central court and the prison camps grew quickly and
unexpectedly. Shortly after Mr. Hussein was toppled,
American soldiers began pulling looters and other
troublemakers off the street.
Judge Gilbert S. Merritt, a federal judge from
Nashville, Tenn., who was in Baghdad to help rebuild the
justice system, said he asked American officials, “What
are you going to do with these people now that you’ve
picked them up?”
“They were holding them, here and there in stockades,
and most were taken to Abu Ghraib, the only facility
that the Americans knew about,” Judge Merritt said.
When the insurgency took hold, the trickle of petty
thieves turned into a torrent of people suspected of
being terrorists and captured fighters. By the time the
Abu Ghraib abuse scandal was disclosed in the spring of
2004, the Americans were holding about 7,500 people.
Largely unnoticed, the flood of detainees has only
increased since then. But neither the Americans troops,
who were fighting an insurgency for which they were not
prepared, nor the newly reconstituted Iraqi police, had
a comprehensive plan for handling them.
Untold numbers of detainees have also been captured and
questioned by American soldiers, then turned over to
Iraqi security forces who often hold prisoners in
Early last year, a United States Army unit in Baquba
found 450 people, including a few women and children,
living in hot, fetid cells built for 150. The Iraqis
seemed to have little idea where the detainees had come
from and had no means to adjudicate their cases. Lt.
Col. Robert Risberg, an officer in the unit, said they
discovered that roughly a third of the prisoners had
originally been captured by the Americans.
“A majority were people lost in this bureaucratic mess,
and it took a while to straighten it out,” he said.
The development of the American detainee operation in
Iraq runs contrary to the Pentagon’s practice of
avoiding the role of jailer in a foreign country and
instead, working to speedily transfer prisoners of war
to allies. Maj. James F. Gebhardt, a retired Army
historian, said this doctrine stemmed from the Korean
War when murderous gangs and infiltrators ravaged the
American detention camps.
But in Iraq, where detainees were seen as potential
sources of intelligence on the insurgency, the military
built its own detention facilities and then put a team
in charge that had little experience handling long-term
detainees. After the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004, a new
detention unit — Task Force 134 — was formed, but it
started with a staff of just five to manage facilities
holding 5,000 detainees. By the following summer the
number had doubled to 10,000.
With the closing of Abu Ghraib in August, the Americans
are holding its detainees mainly in two prisons that at
times have been filled beyond capacity: Camp Bucca, a
sprawling complex in southern Iraq, and Camp Cropper
near the Baghdad airport.
Military commanders have come under political as well as
legal pressure to keep detainees moving through the
system. Iraqi officials have persuaded the Americans to
release detainees, saying the long detentions are
contributing to unrest and violence.
The military conducts reviews in the camps to screen
detainees for release. Many have been swept up at the
scene of bombings or other violence, and the detention
camp boards have recommended releasing as many as 60
percent of the detainees whose cases they reviewed.
Officials have sought to tighten the evidentiary
standards used in deciding whether to detain suspects.
Last year, for example, Maj. Gen. William H.
Brandenburg, then the task force commander, became
concerned about a swipe test that soldiers used on
suspects to detect gunpowder. The test was so unreliable
that cigarette lighter residue and even a common hand
lotion would register as gunpowder.
Military officials have another reason to thin their
camps. The longer people remain in detention, the more
likely they are to be hardened by the experience,
“We know that inside the compounds, individuals are
trying to recruit and promote a fundamentalist network,
and we are trying to mitigate that by fighting a small
counterinsurgency,” General Gardner said. In an effort
to thwart recruitment, detainees are grouped by level of
ideology and are given moderate Arab newspapers.
But releasing detainees carries its own risk. Officials
estimate that 6 percent of released detainees, or about
2,800, have been recaptured, some in battles with
American troops. Soldiers in Mosul were outraged last
year to discover that their commander, Lt. Col. Erik
Kurilla, had been shot by a man who was set free by the
Iraqi court two weeks earlier.
In September, soldiers captured a man suspected of
fighting with Al Qaeda in a raid in western Iraq only to
find that he was first caught in September 2005 and
released in June in the Iraqi government’s unity and
reconciliation program, according to military records
The release of detainees is such a concern for Americans
that the military has put the onus on soldiers to act
like police officers and collect evidence. An
instructional guide warns that without “sufficient
evidence for prosecution, the detainee will be released”
and “may attempt to attack soldiers again.”
The guide instructs soldiers to take witness statements,
document tests for explosives and record serial numbers
of contraband weapons. It also tells soldiers how to use
photographic evidence to its best effect.
When suspects are caught away from or fleeing a crime
scene, like a bomb or a weapons cache, the guide tells
soldiers to take pictures of the suspects at the scene.
For example, the guide lays out this chain of events:
“Your squad conducts a raid on a house, in the house you
find 2 adult males. 50 meters from the house you find a
large weapons cache buried 2 feet underground.”
Among the instructions: “Take pictures of the
individuals with the cache.”
A Case Falls Apart
On May 12, 2005, a car bomb exploded near a market in
southern Baghdad, killing at least 17 people, and the
Wolf Brigade flexed its might.
The brigade, an Iraqi commando unit, stormed a
neighborhood in eastern Baghdad and arrested four men.
By the next day, Iraqis could see results for
The four men appeared on “Terrorism in the Grip of
Justice,” a prime-time television show broadcast by
Iraqiya, which featured commando interrogations. They
confessed on the air.
But one year later, the four men, who were held in Iraqi
detention and faced death by hanging, walked out of the
central court, with all charges dismissed.
Their story, pieced together through interviews and
court records, is one of a narrow escape from Iraq’s
fractured system of justice. It is also the story of an
unlikely civil rights lawyer who beat the system for the
four men and a handful of others.
Faraj Mahmoud, 42, a grocer, was not totally shocked
when he and his two brothers were arrested that night,
with a friend.
Their families had emigrated from Palestine after the
1948 war, and like other Sunni refugees had been favored
by Mr. Hussein over Iraq’s own Shiite peoples.
The Wolf Brigade, an Interior Ministry unit made up
mostly of poor, young Shiites from Sadr City, had
developed a reputation for singling out Palestinians and
using torture to extract confessions. The unit’s
commander, Abu Walid, who questioned the men on the
show, has denied the charges.
In recent interviews, the four men, who have fled Iraq,
said they had been tortured in a variety of ways. “ ‘We
will beat you until your meat is cooked,’ ” one of the
men, Amer Mahmoud, 27, an auto mechanic, said an
interrogator had told him.
Faraj Mahmoud, who had married six days before he was
captured, said he was stripped and hanged from the
ceiling. An electric prod applied to his genitals made
his body bounce off the walls, he said. Hania Mufti, a
Human Rights Watch official with extensive knowledge of
Iraq’s jails, said other prisoners had described similar
The men said their captors also threatened to fetch
their families, and they saw naked women and girls being
walked through the jail. That is when they all signed
Among those watching the television show the night the
men confessed was Abdul Razzaq, a 31-year-old Iraqi
lawyer, and he agreed to take the case without a fee.
Mr. Razzaq handled mostly divorces before the war. After
the invasion he began representing mostly criminal
defendants. It took him two and a half months to find
the four men in the Iraqi detention system. A jailer
demanded $50 to lead him to their cell, he said. It
smelled so bad that the jailer wore a mask. “All four of
us started to cry,” Amer Mahmoud said. “The lawyer
started to cry. We didn’t want to let him go.”
Mr. Razzaq picked apart the case. For starters, one of
the Mahmoud brothers had confessed to hiding 600 pounds
of TNT beneath the backseat of a car, an Opel, that has
no space for such a load.
The lawyer found 14 witnesses who he said could provide
alibis for the men. He got statements from the police
saying that a string of other attacks to which the men
confessed had never taken place.
He also went after the man who had directed the Wolf
Brigade to his clients. The court eventually agreed that
the man, who had confessed as well, was mentally
Along the way, Mr. Razzaq said, the Central Criminal
Court was typically frustrating. Clerks asked for money
to hasten the preparation of judicial orders, a practice
that other lawyers have also alleged. The judge who held
the preliminary hearing grew impatient, ordering the
four men returned to jail for more questioning, he said.
The trial was still months away when Mr. Razzaq received
a note, signed by the families of victims of the car
bombing: “This is the last notification to you, for you
will be a victim and a cheap sacrifice goat for
terrorists. Do not defend those atheistic Palestinian
criminals and their followers (the worshipers of the
atheist, Saddam), or else your destiny shall be death
On May 21, 2006, a three-judge panel ordered the release
of all four men and their accuser. Citing their
confessions at the hands of the Wolf Brigade, the judges
wrote, “If it is assumed that the initial confession was
correct, it was not supported by any convincing
Faraj Mahmoud said: “We couldn’t believe our feet were
touching the ground. It seemed like there were a
thousand people at home, singing. No one expected us to
Two days later, the men and their families fled Iraq.
Mr. Razzaq then won an acquittal for a Syrian truck
driver detained for not having a passport. But the man
was kidnapped as he emerged from the prison with three
other freed prisoners and was never seen again, Mr.
He blames himself. “If I had not gotten him out of
prison, he would still be there, alive,” he said.
Discouraged about practicing law in Iraq, Mr. Razzaq
fled the country in October.
The Military Under Pressure
Many of the cases the American military has brought to
the Iraqi central court involve multiple defendants. And
the evidence connecting them to a specific attack or
other crime often varies widely. As a result, despite
many victories for the military in court, about half of
the 3,000 American-held detainees who have gone to trial
have walked free.
There is much finger-pointing about why prosecutions
“We’re in a wartime situation where judges unfortunately
have to be concerned with their livelihood and their
lives,” said Judge John J. Carroll III, a federal judge
from North Carolina, who was a military lawyer in
Baghdad this year. “We’ve had cases where the detainees
should have been convicted and weren’t because of
political pressure, from the government and even from
terrorist groups, indirectly.”
Qasim Hassan al-Aboudi, the manager of legal and media
affairs for the Higher Judicial Council in Iraq, blames
the Americans for bringing cases without the kind of
evidence that Iraqi law requires.
“Your troops make many mistakes,” he said. “Sometimes
they destroy the weapons without documenting them, and
they put detainees in for a long time so that other
detainees can coach them on what to say in court. We can
see that criminals get away, but it’s not the judicial
system’s fault. It’s the fault of the mistakes in
gathering evidence. We have to respect the law.”
The military is starting to bolster its cases with
forensic evidence, including fingerprints and
bullet-shard analysis, as well as a video conferencing
system that allows soldiers who have returned to the
United States to testify in the Iraqi court.
Officials overseeing detention operations said they
recognized the importance of defense lawyers, and in an
effort to help detainees with their cases they are
creating legal assistance centers at detention camps.
The gravity of the cases is increasing as the central
court imposes more death penalties. Ten of the 14
American-held detainees sentenced to hang have been
convicted since September, and all 14 are awaiting
transfer to Iraqi executioners pending an automatic
review by Iraq’s court of appeals. Mr. Hussein, who has
been sentenced to die, was convicted in a special
The military declined to identify the men facing death
but said they included a man from Saudi Arabia who
admitted traveling to Iraq to fight, a Tunisian who
participated in dozens of attacks on American troops and
three members of a kidnapping ring.
Also awaiting death is Mohammad Munaf, a 54-year-old man
born in Iraq who became an American citizen in 2000. He
was convicted on Oct. 12 of helping to arrange the
kidnapping of three Romanian journalists, who were
Given the state of the justice system in Iraq, however,
using the death penalty concerns even one of the
American prosecutors who helped bring cases against
“There are a lot of bad guys out there trying to kill
U.S. troops and I want nothing more than to stop those
guys,” said Mr. Waller, the Colorado deputy district
attorney and Air Force Reserve major. But he said the
Iraqi court system needed safeguards to prevent innocent
defendants from being sent to the gallows.
“If I had the right guy and I had the right case I think
I’d be O.K. with that,” Mr. Waller said. But, today in
Iraq, he said, “I don’t think that situation would
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