Chief U.S. ‘Engager’ With Iraqi Min of Interior Says He Was Unaware of Mass Arrests « The Washington Independent
Maj. Gen. James “Mike” Milano describes himself as the chief “engager” with Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, one of the chief security institutions in Iraq, and the ministry that just lost up to 35 top officials in what’s been described as a thwarted coup attempt. And Milano says he didn’t know a thing about it.
When I asked him about the arrests, Milano said, “I don’t have any additional details on the story that appeared in the New York Times this morning,” during a conference call from Baghdad with bloggers. When pressed, he refused to comment on whether the arrest would complicate integration of the Sons of Iraq, the mostly-Sunni militiamen whom the Shiite government fears could one day spearhead precisely such a coup.
“The government of Iraq is fully committed to the Sons of Iraq program, as is the coalition,” he said. “The Ministry of Interior is moving out and leading by example, if you will, on the government of Iraq’s effort on integrating the Sons of Iraq into the goverment, [and] into society.”
Christian Lowe from Military.com asked whether Milano discussed the raid with Interior Minister Jawad Bolani, and the general said he hadn’t. “One of Minister Bolani’s strategic priorities, this year and for 2009 is increasing professionalism, ethics-based behavior, [and] eradicating corruption from the ministry,” Milano said.
I took another bite at the apple, but with little success, asking whether the prospect of a coup emanating from the ministry surprised him. “I am not going to make any assessments until I see all the facts. The only thing I’ve seen is the story in the New York Times,” he said. “I was not privvy to this.”