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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Frank Ramaizel
Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Justice, U.S. Embassy Baghdad

January 11, 2006

Frank Ramaizel
Thanks for your interest in the important issue of the Iraqi police. The police forces in Iraq are really in the middle of the fight for Iraq's future. As US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Multinational Force - Iraq commander General George Casey said in a joint statement on the occasion of Iraqi Police Day, January 9, the "Iraqi police already played a critical role in Iraq's march toward becoming an independent and stable nation in the Middle East -- January's parliamentary election, October's constitutional referendum and last month's national election."

I welcome your questions.

John, from San Fran writes:
What is Iraqi Police Day?

Frank Ramaizel
Iraqi Police Day is a new holiday in Iraq that was established to both recognize the sacrifices of the Iraqi police in building a new democratic society and celebrate creation of the new Iraqi Police Service.

Burke, from Portland, OR writes:
Mr. Ramaizel,What amazing peoplew are the Iraqis who enter this law enforcement situation. My question, How loyal are recruits to their Clan identity. Does this cause problems in creating chains of command, and area of patrol. I want to hear that clan identity is weak in the younger it?

Stay the course... Burke.

Frank Ramaizel
Under the dictatorship of Saddam, the struggle for survival drove many people to become very dependent on their tribe or clan. Tribal or other identities have always been important in Iraq, but the conditions of the dictatorship made them even more central. The training the Iraqi police are now receiving aims at creating a professional and national identity. Achieving this kind of change will take time, but as more and more people think of themselves as Iraqis, the new institutions being built in this country will grow stronger and create the basis for an open and democratic society.

Carol, from Liberty, Pa. writes:
What progress has the Iraqi police made? Seems like day to day living would be difficult with the constant threat of violence in the streets and markets.

Frank Ramaizel
Carol, great strides have been made by the Iraqi Police Service. Tens of thousands of new officers have been trained with assistance from the US and our Coalition partners. These officers are receiving new vehicles, communications equipment, and weapons to help them perform their duties more effectively. New police stations and other facilities are also being built.

It's important to remember that under Saddam the police were not just poorly trained and equipped, but were often a tool of repression for the government. They often victimized Iraqis, instead of protecting them as police forces do in free and open societies. Along with the new equipment and facilities, the Iraqi police are now receiving specialized human rights training so that in the new Iraq they will serve and protect the people while respecting their rights.

Jason, from Tupelo writes:
What's the difference between Iraq's Defense Ministry, Justice and Interior? Do they have a Cabinet like the U.S. does?

Frank Ramaizel
Yes, Iraq's government has a cabinet with various ministers, just like the US and most other western democracies. Iraq's Defense Ministry is primarily responsible for military affairs, and for protecting the country from external threats.

The Iraqi Ministry of Justice is responsible for prisons, land records, training of judges, and publication of the legal gazette, by which laws become official and known to the public.

The Iraqi Ministry of Interior is responsible for internal security, including police and domestic criminal intelligence.

Daniel, from Chicago, IL writes:
Isn't it true that the new Iraqi police work for the civilian government and courts, not any military, and are being trained to levels of professional standards as in more settled nations?

Frank Ramaizel
The Iraqi police work for the civilian national government of Iraq. The courts are independent, just as they are in the United States.

And it is true that Iraqi police are currently being trained with the objective of reaching international professional police standards. There has been much progress, but there's still a long way to go.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
In the training of the Iraq Police Force. Who has done the training? Law enforcement officials or military officials? World wide trainers or mainly from the United States. What are the numbers for the Iraq Police Force? Thank You

Frank Ramaizel
The Iraqi police are being trained by international police trainers from various countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Czech Republic, and other Coalition partners. For more information on multinational support assistance to Iraq's Ministry of Defense, you may want to visit the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq website:

Michael, from Powell, TN writes:
What kind of training are the Iraqi police getting?

Frank Ramaizel
All those Iraqi police who receive international training complete a basic police course lasting 10 weeks. There are additional advanced training courses in a variety of areas including criminal investigation, forensics, major crimes, and emergency response.

bridget, from bellevue writes:
helllo i want to kno what it is like there?

Frank Ramaizel
It's very challenging working here in Iraq, but the rewards are great. We all feel the mission to help build a democratic and prosperous country here is important to the United States, to the world, and most of all to the Iraqi people themselves. Many civilian and military personnel working in Iraq re-enlist or extend their tours of duty. This gives you some idea of how motivated we are here.

Frank Ramaizel
The US and its Coalition partners have made a commitment to help Iraq through its difficult current period and establish the basis for a democratic and prosperous future. A vital part of that effort is creating the rule of law, and for that a professional police force that serves Iraqis and protects them while respecting human rights is essential. I want to thank all of you for your interest in our mission in Iraq, and in the Iraqi police.

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