phil.jpg Iraq's ruler...of law

The mission Phil Lynch chose to accept is a hairy one: trying to establish justice in the midst of a war. He’s

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Our Man in Baghdad

phil.jpg Iraq's ruler...of law

The mission Phil Lynch chose to accept is a hairy one: trying to establish justice in the midst of a war. He’s an assistant U.S. attorney here, working out of the Tacoma office, and the Rule of Law coordinator in Iraq. Stationed for a year at the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone, Lynch, 56, is watching over the Iraqi High Tribunal and major criminal courts in Baghdad. He also coordinates legal strategy between the U.S. ambassador’s office and the military.

Previously, he advised the tribunal during Saddam Hussein's trial. Lynch opted to return, he said in December, because of a fascination to see a court system revived after 30 years of oppression. In an update on Lynch, Ben Hallman of The American Lawyer reports in a recent post:

Lynch told me that one of the challenges he faces is defending the provincial [courtroom] reconstruction teams to the congressional bean counters. I'm still working on getting budget figures, but the cost of supporting independent teams in far-flung corners of the country is extremely expensive. Security alone costs thousands of dollars per mission. And, benchmarking progress is almost impossible, he says.

For example, the team in Basra hasn't left the Army base in six months. Does it make sense to continue to pay to support the team? Maybe, Lynch says, a place like Basra is where the U.S. needs a rule of law team most of all. Whatever the answer, Lynch says, "I don't think you can impact, on a provincial level, rule of law activities from here."

An interesting political note: Lynch told me that he has briefed all three remaining U.S. presidential candidates in the past, but none during the current campaign cycle

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