IN OTHER WORDS

Great folly:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refers to the lack of legal accountability that allows mercenaries working for the American government to kill Iraqis without fear of prosecution as “a lacuna” in our law. Rice is correct, if disingenuous. The gap was created by the very administration she serves — in a decree issued three years ago by its occupation administrator, Paul Bremer, who granted legal immunity to foreign private contractors. And the Iraqi government is understandably in a hurry to correct the mistake. Last week, the Iraqi cabinet agreed on draft legislation to revoke the decree.

Baghdad’s attempt to prosecute mercenaries from the US for crimes against Iraqis is not unreasonable. Fuming after Blackwater agents contracted by the State Department mowed down 17 Iraqis in Baghdad on Sept. 16, Iraqis were

incensed when they found out that State Department agents investigating the

incident offered the guards a form of immunity from prosecution under United States law.

The killings in Baghdad in September were not the first crimes involving private contractors. Still, four years after the start of the war, not one contractor has been prosecuted for crimes committed against an Iraqi.

That is no way for a nation to behave if it prides itself on following the rule of law. — International Herald Tribune