CPTer back home in Iowa

Editor’s Note—Christian Peacemaker Teams is a project of the Brethren, Mennonite and Quaker churches. LeAnne Clausen, who spent four years in the Mideast, recently returned to her Iowa home. The Rock River Times spoke with her there by telephone.

The Rock River Times asked Clausen about the provisions in the regulations for the June 30 turnover of power in Iraq that will bar Iraqis from suing U.S. military personnel for damages in connection with Abu Ghraib and other incidents.

Clausen saw nothing new in that rule.

“CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) order 42 said the same thing,” she said. “Iraqis will never be allowed to bring cases against U.S. personnel.”

She also does not believe the turnover of sovereignty is real. “Removing the CPA—I can’t see that happening,” she said. “Iraqi officials aren’t allowed to work because of U.S. ‘shadow ministers.’ How will the compensation cases be addressed?”

The new rules also allow rearming of the Iraqi army, which is about 800,000 strong. Clausen opposes that idea. “It’s really going to have a bad impact,” she said. “This is not a good time to be sending more weapons into Iraq. The Iraqi military and other U.S.-trained security services are very poorly trained.”

Clausen said administration claims that what happened at Abu Ghraib involved only a few troops and is confined to only that prison are false.

“It’s systemic,” she said. “It involves all the prisons and goes beyond them to the military units detaining people. There are many incidents before they get to Abu Ghraib. There also is racism involved.” U.S. troops, she said, “don’t see Iraqis as people.”

She said the stress of serving in Iraq takes its toll on our forces. “As the troops continue to be there, they become more and more polarized—more hardened.”

Clausen has been the target of hate mail since she returned home. She has been called a coward and un-American. Speaking of the letters, she said: “Usually, a few are supportive. There are one or two hate letters. I have my convictions, and I stand up for them.”

She said her future plans are not definite at this time. She may return to Iraq in January or wait until next summer.

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