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Pentagon Officials Defend Iraq Battle Strategy

May 23, 2003|Sonni Efron | Times Staff Writer

However, Thursday's hearing is unlikely to stop complaints that planning for the occupation of Iraq was skimpy -- or that reconstruction plans that were drafted by government agencies and private groups have been ignored by the Pentagon.

The State Department was engaged for the last year in a "future of Iraq" project that drew on Iraqi exiles to draft plans for the transition to a democratic Iraq. One project was unveiled Wednesday at the congressionally chartered U.S. Institute of Peace, where a group of Iraqi jurists presented English and Arabic copies of a 3-inch-thick report on transitional justice in post-Hussein Iraq.

The report, written by former Iraqi judges, lawyers and law professors, includes recommendations for prosecution of war crimes, how to deal with former Baath Party officials, how to handle purloined government funds and a detailed review of the Iraqi legal code that identifies which laws violate human rights and should be repealed.

But according to news reports, U.S. forces in the field are scrambling to impose ad hoc legal reforms, apparently unaware of the review sponsored by the State Department, said Sermid Dean Sarraf, a Muslim American attorney in Los Angeles who took part in the project.

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