How Not to Win Friends and Influence People

"The U.S. military has long sought an agreement with Baghdad that gives American forces virtually unfettered freedom of action, casting into doubt the Bush administration's current claims that their demands are more limited," concludes the National Security Archive's analysis of recently declassified documents. In a 2003 cable, then-Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer wrote that any agreement with the future government of Iraq must give U.S. forces authority "to detain, intern, and interrogate"; "to retain custody of current POWs / detainees / internees"; and "unlimited authority to conduct military operations." Bremer added that U.S. personnel, including military contractors, "must be accorded ... full criminal immunity and immunity from civil process for official acts." In related news, the Wikileaks website has published what it says is "a sensitive U.S. military counterinsurgency manual." The document points to U.S. involvement in El Salvador and elsewhere in describing how to control foreign populations. Suggested tactics include martial law, censorship, psychological operations, supporting "civilian self-defense forces" and persuading "individuals among the general populace to become informants," by using as motives "civic-mindedness, patriotism, fear, punishment avoidance, gratitude, revenge or jealousy, financial rewards."