Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bernard Kerik, and the South Yorkshire Police

The new US Secretary of Homeland Security, former New York cop on duty at ground zero on the day, and Saudi royal bodyguard, Bernard Kerik, has been encountering a certain amount of blogosphere criticism since his appointment. Amongst other things, he's been accused of partisanship (he was the chap who said during the election campaign that there would be another September 11th-scale terrorist attack if John Kerry was elected and that political criticism was our enemies' best friend), of dubious financial probity (a million dollars in rebates from tobacco firms on cigarettes bought by the city of New York mysteriously turned up in a foundation headed by Mr. Kerik, where some $140,000 of it was used by the treasurer to pay for phone sex calls), and of disappearing early from his post as chief advisor to the Iraqi Interior Minister. (He initially said he'd be there for at least six months and perhaps eighteen, but he vanished after three - strangely enough, just after the first big car bombs in Baghdad.)

A curious British angle has emerged through Josh Marshall's efforts to clarify exactly when Kerik left Iraq. Specifically, this Torygraph piece mentions a bounty being placed on the head of his replacement, Douglas Brand. Brand is an assistant chief constable (actually, a more senior Deputy Chief Constable) of South Yorkshire Police, who is described in the article as having moved to Iraq from Sheffield in July, 2003 - implying that Kerik pulled out even earlier than previously thought. Interestingly, Sidney Blumenthal in today's Grauniad mentions friction between Kerik and British police advisers - apparently they surnamed him the Terminator of Baghdad and considered him a "reckless bully". One wonders if Kerik's swift departure from Iraq might have been rather less voluntary than most comment has so far suggested. Marshall, for example, suggests he might have been offended by the degree of corruption and mismanagement he encountered in the CPA. Or perhaps he was simply fired, possibly after an Anglo-American falling out?

It's obviously time for some facts, so here is a press release from the British Embassy to Israel issued on the 13th of July, 2003. Note this paragraph:
"DCC Douglas Brand of South Yorkshire Police travelled to Iraq on 4 July to take up a position as senior mentor to the Iraqi Chief of Baghdad police. It will be his job to assist and advise the CPA on the training of the new Iraqi police force"
So, Brand was on the spot by the 4th of July . Mind you, the English is a little scrambled - was he "senior mentor" to the chief of Iraqi police, or the chief of the Baghdad police, or both? But the job description is pretty damn clear and the Torygraph's description of his role agrees. This clarifies a little:
" Douglas Brand went to Baghdad on 4 July and is the chief police adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Director for the Ministry of the Interior."
Basta! The Guardian's Rory McCarthy further reports that he was still in charge on the 21st of June this year. Brand's own opinion of his role also argues that he has Kerik's old job:
"Where else can you design a national police force, design a ministry of interior and mentor a police chief?"
Indeed. These things are tough, as this Ministry of Defence Police mag would suggest.
"A third request was received from the FCO around early October, this time for assistance in support of DCC Douglas Brand of South Yorkshire Police, who was working in Baghdad as Senior Police Advisor (North) to the interim government. That assistance comprised a staff officer, project managers and general support around his administration. (Douglas Brand had been out in Baghdad since July but had no real support or infrastructure to work with.)"
Well, well, well. Given that he also felt it necessary to sack the entire internal affairs directorate, I suppose his job title could have been expected to move around a little. He also has some fairly tough things to say about the US military posture:
""Every police station out of 58 was totally trashed," Brand says. There were too few American troops on the ground and so police stations, ministries, army camps and government buildings were left wide open to the mobs. Almost every police vehicle was stolen, and weapons simply disappeared."
In fact, a sweep around the web reveals that Brand's role in Iraq has frequently been one of struggling to undo past errors. Try this Washington Post report on the aftermath of the first Sadrist rising last spring.
"The decision to hire back as many former policemen as possible, even without training, had been meant to reassure Iraqis by putting more officers on the street. But it also put thousands of ill-prepared men, some with ties to the insurgency, into uniform -- a problem that the CPA long feared but did not fully grasp until the Sadr rebellion.

"Quantity overrode quality," said Douglas Brand, a British police commander who has served as a senior CPA adviser to the Iraqi police force. "We scooped up a whole lot of people who didn't meet our criteria and put them into the police force."
Or perhaps this, from The Observer, 14/09/2003:
"The impact of drugs on Iraq's well-documented crime problems, especially in Baghdad, has been noted with alarm too by the international advisers brought in to help Iraq's new Ministries and police service. Among those concerned by the impact of the 'capsilun' on criminality in Baghdad is deputy chief constable Douglas Brand, an officer with the South Yorkshire police who served for 23 years in the Metropolitan police: 'These drugs seem to embolden people to do crimes and they have no sense of what they are doing.'

What worries him most is the 'impactive nature' of Iraq's new criminal drug culture on a society that has, thus far, been largely shielded from a drug culture.

'What worries us,' he said, 'is the risk of a second-phase drug abuse problem that draws in wider Iraqi society and sets up its own economic dynamic.' Already, Brand said, specialist drug intelligence officers had been drafted in, and advisers were grappling to get the capsilun off Baghdad's streets."
Meanwhile, back at the MOD, Brand's MOD Police staff officer Chief Inspector Mel Goudie had this to say about the root causes of their multifarious problems (Link)
"MDP officers arriving in Baghdad for the first time found that the Iraqi police had a lot in place of which we had been unaware - they had three separate policing services, existing as separate entities, which we hadn't known about."
More damning it doesn't get.

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