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Baghdad Claims Office:  How I would settle Iraqi Prisoner Claims.


First of all the U. S. should not cede sovereign immunity.  The claims should be “settled” not based on what the courts would do, (as with claims in the U. S.), but should be regarded  as a political or public relations campaign.


To this end I would include in “settlements,” (payments), not only the abused former prisoner but the prisoner’s family.  There are 6 children in a typical Iraqi family, plus parents, often aunts and uncles and their families, and grandparents.  Then too I would include the Mosque, possibly the tribal elders.  Each prisoner might have 30 or 50 additional claims by parents, brothers, sisters, etc. 


This is why I recommend it be regarded as a political process.


Our first principle should be that no payment will be made to anyone who has not formally agreed to lay down arms, and who has in fact laid down arms.  The “release” should include such a declaration and an oath of allegiance to the new Iraqi Government and the principle of peaceful elections.  Everyone must sign this pledge to receive payment.  Children’s “releases” will be signed by their parents.  Women should be paid the same as men.


This last point is part of the political agenda.  The claims representatives should be 50% men and 50% women.  The claims investigation process is not to verify the injury, and the facts, (as with claims in the U. S.), but is rather, to meet with the families and verify that they are in fact honestly in agreement with our first principle.  The women claims representatives can meet with the women and the men with the men.  Obtaining assent from the family, women and men, serves a larger social purpose:  Peace.  Think of it as political organizing, not for a party, but for peace.


If during the investigation we should discover that the family or clan is committed to toppling the new Iraqi Government we walk away.    However, if some family members are willing to make the pledge and some are not, we settle only with the ones who are.  The same applies to the Mosque.  We work with Imams who are supportive of peace, and leave those who are not. 


Settling with a group is only slightly different from individual settlements, for even in the U. S., the claimant typically is entangled in a network of  “advisers” who need to be identified and solicited in even ordinary claims handling.  Indeed, it can be seen that the other family members, and the Mosque, will exert influence, even over otherwise militant individual former prisoners, to take the oath and agree to our first principle.


I would allow for a “standard payment” to be known.  However, I would also allow for flexibility, as not all former prisoners are the same, nor are their families. 


I would organize an Iraqi-Anglo-American Insurance Company.  I would have the U. S. capitalize the company with an undisclosed sum.  This sum would represent the Iraqi portion of the capital.  This capital, not spent on “settlements” of prisoners and their families, would revert to the orphans of Iraq after the end of the claims settlement process.  The claims organization would continue on in the insurance business in Iraq.  The prisoner claims process serving as a catalyst for organizing the business.  I choose the orphans as the primary beneficiaries because of  the photo I saw shortly after our troops arrived in Baghdad.   For me this photo completely explains the war:  it showed a group of Baghdad orphans sleeping on the street next to an American military check point.  The orphans had found some friends.


So when “settling” with the prisoners our Iraqi claims representatives should know that every dollar spent on the prisoners is a dollar less for the orphans.  None the less I believe the payment of these claims will have a valuable social political impact and the money is well spent.  Just that we do not want to pay too much.  There is the future to think about.


Again, our first principle is that we are buying peace.    We should make no secret that our claims investigation is to determine if the prisoner and his family are truly on the side of peace.  The Iraqi-Anglo-American Insurance Company should be known for its close ties to the  new Iraqi Government.  It should have a reputation for being an enforcer of the laws of Iraq.  This reputation will serve the company well after the settlement process is complete. 


Therefore, with this process you will:


1  Organize an insurance company that will be important for integrating the new Iraq into the world economy.

2  Train professionals for employment in insurance.

3  Give equal access to insurance careers for men and women.

4  Investigate the lives and families of former prisoners to verify that they have turned to peace.

5  Obtain written confirmation of their commitment to peace.

6  Involve the families and the wider community, including their Mosque, in a dialog about the importance of peace.

7  Create a political organizing ethic among both the men and women for peace.

8  Compensate former prisoners who were mistreated. 





From Iraq Press:

Baghdad, Iraq Press, March 2, 2004 – Iraq is a country of widows, orphans and handicapped most of them victims of the wars of the former regime, according to a press report.

The report, published in the international edition of Azzaman newspaper, says there are now about five million orphans in Iraq.

Quoting what it said was a “secret study,” the newspaper put the number of widows at 750,000 and the handicapped at around 800,000.

Azzaman, which is currently the country’s largest and most influential newspaper did not reveal its sources.

 But the figures broadly agree with earlier rough estimates U.N. relief agencies quoted when writing about the Iraqi plight.

Most of the nearly seven million people covered in the report live in abject poverty.

The country’s interim authorities are still tight-lipped regarding whether they are in possession of government records on the number of people who were killed in the wars of the former regime.

Lacking are complete records of Iraqis who went missing or were executed during Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror.

Local newspapers estimate that up to two million Iraqis, nearly half of them married, perished in the eight-year Iraq-Iran war and the wars with US-led coalitions.

Human rights organizations estimate that up to 300,000 Iraqis might have disappeared.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is supposed to take care of the widows, the orphans and handicaps.

But the ministry says hundreds of millions of dollars need to be spent every year to provide for a decent living for what has become an almost forgotten sector of the population.

Studies show that orphans rarely report to school and instead join the swelling ranks of street children.

The handicapped are reduced to begging and many widows work as prostitutes.

Ministry officials say the problems related to victims of war and repression are beyond their capacity and resources.

Iraq had 12 plastic parts factories before the war and could not meet demand though working at full speed.

The factories were looted after the war and the ministry’s attempts to rehabilitate them have failed.

The ministry is slowly expanding its social security program which it hopes will cover up to 300,000 vulnerable families by the end of the year.

Unemployment is high in Iraq and is estimated at 50 percent of the work force.

But the unemployed have no right to receive any form of benefits and the current program is meant to help the most vulnerable among the impoverished Iraqis.

Ministry sources say experts are working on a draft law that will enable unemployed Iraqis to ask for compensation.

Currently, workers who are sacked have no way to ask for unemployment benefits and those without a job have nowhere to file for them.

The first employment office opened in Baghdad recently was said to have received 30,000 applications in less than two weeks.

Iraqis are anxiously waiting for the restart of their country’s reconstruction drive.

And the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority is hoping to create 50,000 jobs by July this year.

But the money donors have pledge to rebuild Iraq is coming in drips and maximum the country will get this year will be 1 billion.

There are fears that the money, estimated at 35 billion dollars, will be mishandled.






Now he says so!



Bush Says U.S. Was Slow to Stabilize Postwar Iraq


He says civilian crews were not ushered in swiftly enough after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and calls for the creation of a crisis response team.

By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer


WASHINGTON — In a rare moment of self-criticism, President Bush suggested Wednesday that the United States did not move civilian workers into Iraq quickly enough to stabilize the country after the military invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Bush made his remarks during a speech in which he called for greater U.S. spending on reconstruction programs in fledgling democracies and for the creation of a corps of civilian first responders to be deployed during international crises.


The problematic nature of rebuilding Iraq — which has been marred by a sense of disorganization and allegations of mishandled funds — has been widely acknowledged by foreign policy analysts and some administration officials.

But Bush, who once famously declared that he was stumped when a reporter asked if he had made any mistakes during his tenure, rarely concedes missteps. Despite accusations from Democrats and other critics at home and abroad that the administration has bungled the rebuilding, he has been a steadfast defender of U.S. actions in Iraq.

Wednesday's remarks appeared to indicate a shift in tone by a president whose legacy rests, in large part, on a successful reconstruction effort.

"You know, one of the lessons we learned from our experience in Iraq is that while military personnel can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world, the same is not true of U.S. government civilians," Bush said, addressing the International Republican Institute, a Washington group headed by prominent Republicans that promotes democracy and civil societies overseas.

Bush praised U.S. government workers in Iraq for performing an "amazing job under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances."

"But the process of recruiting and staffing the Coalition Provisional Authority was lengthy, and it was difficult," he said.

For that reason, Bush said, his administration is proposing to spend millions more to create an "active response corps" made up of Foreign Service officers and civil service officials who can deploy in a hurry.

"This new corps will be on call — ready to get programs running on the ground in days and weeks, instead of months and years," Bush said, noting that his 2006 budget proposal calls for more money to be spent on the newly created Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization, an arm of the State Department that will oversee the response teams.

Bush's remarks come amid growing scrutiny of the U.S.-led rebuilding efforts in the months after the 2003 ouster of Hussein.

This month, the government began a criminal investigation into suspected embezzlement by U.S. officials who had failed to account for about $100 million designated for reconstruction projects.

Iraqis complain that basic necessities, such as electricity and water, are not in ready supply. Critics say the United States failed to adequately prepare for the insurgency that has resulted in thousands of Iraqi and American casualties.

The centerpiece of Bush's second-term foreign policy agenda — laid out in his Jan. 20 inaugural address — is a doctrine of ending tyranny and spreading democracy, and Wednesday's speech marked a blunt acknowledgment that such goals were not easily attained.

Having recently returned from a visit to the former Soviet Union, where he celebrated successes and pressed for more reforms, Bush praised a "period of great idealism."

He listed the achievements of pro-democracy movements in former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia, along with advances in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Yet to achieve idealistic goals, we need realistic policies to help nations secure their freedom and practical strategies to help young democracies consolidate their gains," he said.

"No nation in history has made the transition from tyranny to a free society without setbacks and false starts," he said. "What separates those nations that succeed from those that falter is their progress in establishing free institutions."

He added: "History teaches us that the path to a free society is long and not always smooth."

Bush said the U.S. supported pro-democratic movements in nations such as Belarus, which he described as Europe's "last dictatorship," and in countries across the Middle East striving for change.


Bush Says U.S. Was Slow to Stabilize Postwar Iraq


"In these countries, and across the world, those who claim their liberty will have an unwavering ally in the United States," he said. "This administration will stand with the democratic reformers — no matter how hard it gets."

He called for election monitors in Egypt, where critics have questioned President Hosni Mubarak's intentions to abide by his initial claims to back multicandidate elections.


Bush met Wednesday at the White House with Egypt's prime minister, Ahmed Nazif — a meeting in which the two leaders spent a "great bit of time" discussing political reforms, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

In addressing the International Republican Institute, Bush faced a group whose board included some who had been critical of the administration's post-invasion policies and preparedness.

The group's chairman, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), has said that the United States "made serious mistakes right after the initial successes."

Another board member is Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor to President George H.W. Bush. He has been one of the war's most prominent critics, and had predicted that the U.S.-backed elections this year might lead to a civil war.

The group honored the president with its Freedom Award, crediting Bush with a post-Sept. 11 foreign policy that had freed millions of people around the world and had given hope to others who lived under tyrannical governments.

The group also gave an award posthumously to Pope John Paul II, praising his role in hastening the decline of communism.,1,6291799.story?coll=la-iraq-complete