In less than a week, the United Nations Mandate for Iraq will expire, and US forces in the nation will be bound by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreed to by the Iraqi government and the Bush Administration earlier this year.
The new rules will be a major change for US forces used to being able to go wherever they want and do whatever they want. In theory, all operations will be done in tandem with the Iraqi government, raids will require warrants from an Iraqi court, and detentions will likewise only be allowed with an Iraqi warrant, and only for a short time until the detainee is transferred to Iraqi custody.
This pesky rule of law thing is really concerning some US commanders like Lieutenant-Colonel John Richardson, who fears that needing to gather things like “evidence” and go before judges would eat up all sorts of time that would be better spent raiding buildings on the basis of tip-offs.
Of course, this all assumes the United States actually goes along with the SOFA’s terms. The Bush Administration reportedly has all sorts of loose interpretations of clauses in the pact. Obviously following through with them would be up to the Obama Administration’s war team, which is coincidentally enough composed almost exclusively of the same people as the Bush team.