Corruption and sectarian biases are so deeply entrenched in the Iraqi police ranks that the force's structure must be “scrapped,” an independent panel will report to Congress next week. The recommendation stems from an examination of the 26,000-member police force that concludes “we should start over,” a military official tells the Times.
Carrying out the blue-ribbon panel's recommendations, which include shrinking and reorganizing the police force, would be fraught with uncertainty—a similar disbanding of the Iraqi army in 2003 led to armed backlash against the US military. But the stature of the committee members and continuing Democratic dissatisfaction with the progress of the war may limit the administration's options. (Read more Iraq stories.)