A senior Hezbollah commander accused of orchestrating the killing of British and U.S. citizens in Iraq has been released from Iraqi custody as officials in Washington complain that he has not faced justice for his crimes.
U.S. government officials accused Ali Musa Daqduq, a Lebanese citizen, of involvement in an attack on a U.S. military base in Iraq in 2007 which killed five American soldiers as well as being involved with a Shia insurgent group that kidnapped five British contractors, killing four of them.
Daqduq was held in U.S. custody for years, though while the Americans had accused him of these crimes, he had only been charged with failing to have a proper visa when he entered Iraq. That continued to be the basis of his imprisonment when the Obama administration had U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq at the end of last year, turning custody of Daqduq over to the Iraqi government.
Now he has been released and officials in Washington are pulling their hair out. A group of Republican Senators issued a formal letter about the issue.
“Now an Iraqi court has cleared Daqduq of any criminal charges under Iraqi law and – as we and many other observers had feared – [he] may be set free without being held to account for his crimes against the United States and its soldiers,” they wrote.
Surely Iraqi citizens can empathize with Americans feeling like justice has not been served. The George W. Bush administration, for one thing, waged an unprovoked, illegal war on Iraq which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Former officials instrumental in that crime have certainly not been held accountable.
But this kind of thing has happened on a small scale innumerable times. Eight of the nine U.S. soldiers charged with the 2005 massacre of 24 Iraqi men, women, and children in Haditha, Iraq were not convicted. Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who was charged with leading the slaughter, was convicted in a plea bargain of a single count of “dereliction of duty”. He was demoted to the rank of private and will serve no jail time.
A State Department diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealed last year that U.S. forces committed a heinous war crime during a house raid in Iraq in 2006, wherein one man, four women, two children, and three infants were summarily executed. Though a UN diplomat brought it to the attention of the Bush administration, not a single American soldier was prosecuted.
Still, U.S. government officials don’t flinch when they protest Daqduq’s release. Republicans have even turned the issue into a political football, blaming Obama for not having just sent Daqduq to Guantanamo Bay to be held indefinitely without charge or trial. After all, he did have the wrong visa.