You might think this is not so very good news, releasing 10,000 detainees in Iraq in about a year. After all, despite occassional mistakes, there is usually a pretty good reason someone is detained and one would think the chances are pretty good that a detainee once free, would go back to his bad habits.
But one of the more successful non combat programs in Iraq initiated by the Americans has been the re-integration of detainees into Iraqi society:
The United States wants to transfer the detainees to Iraqi control. Reaching that goal has been slowed partly by the lack of adequate Iraqi prison space and trained guards. More than 8,900 people were released from detention last year.
The U.S. military separated moderate detainees from extremists and instituted religious, educational and vocational programs over the past year to try to rehabilitate less dangerous prisoners. It also increased releases under amnesty programs.
"Due to changes in the conduct of detainee operations and programs to prepare detainees for reintegration into society, we have not only gone over 10,000 releases, but our re-internment rate is less than 1 percent," said Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.
Of course, the rest of the world is complaining because, among other reasons, the detainees receive no hearing about their status. But our detention policies fall well within the UN mandate under which US forces are operating and are obviously successful to boot.
Since most of the detainees are Sunnis, their release back into society becomes part of the reconciliation process that has been slowly transforming Iraqi society. There are still about 21,000 detainees behind bars. But there is a good chance in the next few months, most will be transferred to Iraqi custody.