In Iraq, US Struggles to Tell Good Guys From Bad Guys

CIA Director Warns of 'Horrific Human Rights Abuses'

Speaking today in comments to ABC News, CIA Director John Brennan conceded that the US is finding it “tough sorting out good guys and bad guys in a lot of these areas” in Iraq.

Brennan expressed concern about the “horrific human rights abuses” being committed by all sides in the war, adding that the US is determined not to work with any factions engaged in such activity.

That’s going to be tough, because the indications are that the Iraqi military is right near the top of the list, alongside Shi’ite militias that are helping them in retaking the mostly-Sunni territory held by ISIS.

Iraq says they are investigating the abuses, but haven’t found any evidence of any crimes yet, which given the growing number of images of Sunni civilians’ severed heads being placed on fence poles in newly “liberated” towns doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

The problem with such investigations is that Iraq is so dependent on the militias they don’t dare admit when they find them responsible, and the US is similarly so dependent on the Iraqi military that, apart from sending them private warnings about their war crimes, they ultimately decide to look the other way.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.