Monday, August 31, 2009

Detainee count is down to 9,000, fewer than 1,000 at Bucca

One of the main jobs of Wisconsin National Guard troops in Iraq is "detainee ops," running military detention camps at camps Bucca, Taji and Cropper.

Under an agreement with Iraq, detainees are being released or turned over to the Iraqi government. Several news agencies are reporting a milestone has been reached.

Fewer than 9,000 detainees remain under U.S. military control, down from 27,000 in 2007, according to a statement released by the military yesterday.
Of those, 3,572 are held at Cropper, 4,585 are at Taji, and 790 are held at Bucca, once the largest detention center in the world. Wisconsin National Guard soldiers have been moving the prisoners out of Bucca.

Iraq officials maintain control over who the U.S. releases from detention camps. U.S. troops are in charge of guarding and transporting detainees, after the Iraq government makes its decision. So it wasn't a reflection on U.S. troops when, in an AP report that came out Sunday, an unnamed Iraqi investigator claimed that the suicide bomber in the deadly Aug. 19 attack on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Baghdad had been released from Camp Bucca.

Will the released detainees reignite sectarian fighting? One of the Iraq experts at the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute says much of the answer lies with the Iraq government.

- Steve

photo - A U.S. soldier helps an Iraqi
prisoner disembark from a bus prior to his
release in Baghdad's al-Dora district in April.