CBSN

Saddam Civil Servants Back On Job?

U.S. soldiers transport Iraqi prisoners from the scene of a firefight in Khaldiyah Monday Sept. 29, 2003 after a firefight backed by U.S. attack aircraft, helicopters and tanks. One American soldier was killed and three others wounded in two roadside bombings, one prompting the firefight.
AP
One American soldier was slightly injured Tuesday when an apparent grenade exploded as a U.S. convoy was passing over a bridge in northern Baghdad, witnesses said. U.S. troops killed an Iraqi resistance fighter and wounded four others in an attack north of the capital.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Central Command said a soldier from the 800th Military Police Brigade died and another from the 82nd Airborne Division went missing after a vehicle overturned in a canal as troops were responding to a reported mortar attack near the Abu Ghraib prison on the western edge of Baghdad.

Two soldiers swam to safety after the Monday night mishap but the third was trapped in the vehicle and drowned. During the recovery effort, an 82nd Airborne Division soldier from the rescue dive team failed to resurface and is missing, the command statement said.

The latest violence comes as the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council said it would study the reinstatement of members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to their jobs.

In other developments:

  • The Senate is set to begin work on an $87 billion plan for post-war Iraq with the Senate Appropriations Committee planning to vote on its version of the bill. There is widespread support for the $66 billion dollars to pay for U.S. troops. But the $20 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and government has drawn fire. Republican leaders say that money is key to stabilizing the country and bringing U.S. forces home as soon as possible. Democrats charge the bill is being pushed through without enough study. They note it will add to the $400 billion dollar U.S.deficit.
  • The U.S. is expected to begin circulating a revised United Nations resolution on Iraq Tuesday in New York. The draft will likely give the U.N. a bigger role in the elections and political transformation of Iraq -- a provision France and others have demanded.
  • Responding to a U.S. proposal for a handover of power in Iraq, China said Tuesday it hoped for the early restoration of the country's sovereignty. But in its first reaction to Secretary of State Colin Powell's proposal last week for Iraqis to adopt a constitution in six months and hold elections in perhaps a little over a year, Beijing gave no indication whether it might side with France, which is calling for a faster transfer of power.
  • The top political adviser to President Hosni Mubarak said Tuesday that Egypt is not thinking of sending troops to Iraq and favors the withdrawal of foreign forces. Egypt, like several Arab governments, gave low-profile support to the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq in March, but is well aware that its citizens are deeply opposed to the occupation of a fellow Arab country.

    The Iraqi Governing Council said ministries would form committees examine whether employees who once belonged to the now-outlawed party should be reinstated to their civil service jobs.

    However, on Monday, Charles Heatley, spokesman for the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority, said there would not be an appeals mechanism for individuals who lost their jobs because they were members in the Baath Party.

    Heatley said that while there was a "procedure for exemptions which could be considered on the basis of whether people are both essential to their jobs, and whether they did not, in fact, commit any crimes in their previous employment ... there've been very few cases of those exemptions granted."

    On May 16, the top U.S. civilian administrator, L. Paul Bremer, issued a decree barring top-ranking Baath Party members from any public position, a process now referred to as deBaathification — whether in universities, hospitals or minor government posts.

    Since then, ministries and government departments have seen a purging of dozens of Baathists.

    During the 34-year-rule of the Baath Party, as many as 1.5 million of Iraq's 24 million people were members. But only about 25,000 to 50,000 had full-fledged party positions — the elite targeted by U.S. officials.

    The Baath Party was founded in neighboring Syria in 1943 and spread quickly across the Arab world, promoting Arab unity with a repressive, Soviet-style party structure. It ruled Iraq for several months in 1963, and then took full control of the country in 1968. Through the years, though, it lost much of its original ideology and gradually became little more than a tool for Saddam Hussein's control over Iraq.

    The decision also said employees included in the deBaathification law were now allowed to apply for "early retirement benefits."

    Elsewhere, a homemade bomb exploded early Tuesday in a toilet of the governor's office in Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit, but no one was injured, U.S. officials reported. Two people were arrested for allegedly planting the device.

    In Baghdad, witnesses said the explosive device that injured the American appeared to have been thrown or fired from a passing vehicle on a bridge over the Beirut Square traffic circle in the city's Nile neighborhood. It was the first such attack reported in the quiet residential and commercial neighborhood.

    In New York, a U.N. spokesman said more than 30 U.N. international staff pulled out of Iraq over the weekend after the U.N. chief ordered additional staff cutbacks due to security concerns, leaving just 50 foreign employees behind.

    The number of U.N. workers in Iraq will continue to fluctuate because "there will be some movements out, and there's going to be occasional movements back in," spokesman Fred Eckhard said at a news briefing Monday.

    The United Nations had 300 international staff in Baghdad and another 300 elsewhere in Iraq before a car bomb on Aug. 19 killed 22 people at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan later ordered the number reduced to 42 in Baghdad and 44 in the north.

    Annan ordered a further cutbacks last week following a second bombing, but did not say how many of the remaining staffers would leave.

    In announcing the latest cutbacks last week, Eckhard said the United Nation's humanitarian work should be able to continue, with limited international supervision, using the 4,233 Iraqis working for the United Nations.