"The U.S. military just releases detainees without consulting with us. They are releasing people with valuable information on Saddam. They are undermining the process of putting him on trial," Salem Chalabi told Reuters. "Why should we bother?" Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. Army in Iraq, said the release of detainees from American custody did not preclude the Iraqi authorities from taking action against them. Chalabi said frustrations over the releases were growing in the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, with some members discussing putting on hold the special tribunal expected to try Saddam and his top aides if they were not consulted. "There is a feeling that it is a pointless exercise. Important figures are being released and we are not even consulted. These people are leaving the country."While it's technically true that the Governing Council can act against these people, it has no powers of enforcement with which to detain them. The military doesn't dispute that it's releasing people or that they may indeed be criminals that deserve prosecution; it just doesn't want to hold on to them anymore.
"The Americans have released 15 detainees who would have been valuable to us. They are doing this because they arrested too many people and now they are compensating," he said. One important example, he said, was Saadoun Hammadi, a longtime Saddam ally who served as prime minister in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. "At one point he was a senior member of the Baath party. He knows a lot of information," Chalabi said. U.S. officials say they have detained about 8,000 Iraqis suspected of being security risks.
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