|Rumsfeld: enforcing order|
US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it would take more time before American occupation forces can restore law and order to Baghdad.
Rumafeld was responding to mounting criticism of the US forces as they have so far failed in stopping anarchy in the city.
Earlier reports said US troops would be given the authority to shoot looters on sight. A Pentagon spokesman however said the reports were inaccurate. “There has been no change in the rules of engagement,” said Lieutenant Colonel David Lapan.
Rumsfeld said the deposed government of Saddam Hussein had emptied Iraq’s prisons, setting loose “looters, hooligans and bad people.”
“They have to be rounded up and put back in. That takes a little time. You can’t do that in five minutes,” he said.
“There are also Baathists there. Not every one was captured or killed. And they don’t wish us well. They still are part of the old regime. And they have to be rounded up and identified,” he said.
No coherent plan
Looters in Baghdad setting
Rumsfeld’s statement comes close on the heels of the arrival in Baghdad of a new civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, who will be taking over from Jay Garner. The move has fuelled domestic criticism of poor US post-war plans.
Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, said: ”At this point, there’s little evidence that the US had in place any coherent plan for the reconstruction of Iraq following the end of combat.”
“I hope that the recent shake-up in the civilian leadership of the US occupation authority will help the situation and will not amount to merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said.
A US official said General Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in Iraq, was reviewing the situation “to see how they might reset themselves in the city to be able to provide the kind of patrolling and presence that is necessary to provide the stability they need.”
At present, there are 142,000 US troops in Iraq, including 49,000 US troops in the Greater Baghdad area.
The arrival over the next few weeks of the 1st Armoured Division will put another 20,000 troops at Franks’ disposal, but the general has not yet decided what to do with them, Rumsfeld said.