Cablegate: New Cpi Commissioner Favors Transparency and Term Limits


DE RUEHGB #0208/01 0251325
R 251325Z JAN 08







E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary and introduction: Days after his appointment as
the head of the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), Judge Raheem
Al-Ugaili sounded consistent themes in interviews with local media
and meetings with emboffs. Speaking frankly of the danger public
corruption poses to Iraqi society, Judge Raheem called for a
long-term strategy to combat this "cancer." He spoke of the need
for financial transparency throughout the public sector, adding a
populist note by calling on parliamentarians to publicly declare all
sources of income and decrying the disparity in compensation between
elected officials and public servants. In private discussions with
emboffs, Raheem stressed the importance of maintaining CPI's
independence. He expressed gratitude for USG assistance to CPI and
asked for the Embassy's continued support. Judge Raheem does not
foresee initiating an immediate housecleaning of CPI staff...with
the exception of former acting-Commissioner Musa Faraj. End summary
and introduction.

Changing of the Guard

2. (U) In meetings with emboffs on January 20 and 22, Judge Raheem
received emboffs with credentials in hand, presenting a copy of the
signed order from the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers (COM
SEC) appointing him interim CPI Commissioner (effective January 17,
2008) and forwarding his name forward to the Council of
Representatives (COR) as the new official head of the Commission.
Under CPA Order 55, Judge Raheem will serve a five year term if
ratified by the COR. (Note: Post does not yet have a sense of when
the COR will vote to ratify Judge Raheem's appointment. End note.)

3. (SBU) This same COM SEC order dismissed Musa Faraj as acting
CPI Commissioner. According to Deputy CPI Commissioner Sami Shabek,
Musa Faraj will officially remain on CPI's books on administrative
leave for the next 30 days. Judge Raheem told emboffs bluntly that
Faraj will not be returning to CPI; criticizing Faraj's poor
management skills and general unfitness for leadership, Raheem said
firmly "I will not work with him." (Note: In a January 21 interview
with Baghdad Radio, Faraj blamed the U.S. for his dismissal from
CPI, claiming that he had been fired in an effortQ cover-up his
own corruption investigations. End note.)

The Work at Hand

4. (SBU) Judge Raheem, who served as deputy CPI Commissioner in
2004-05, stressed the need to build a culture of professionalism at
CPI. He described a deficit of leadership through the agency and
stressed the importance of building institutional resiliency so that
CPI "is not dependent on one man." While quick to note that many
CPI staff lack strong qualifications for their positions, Judge
Raheem does not want to further damage agency morale by ordering
mass dismissals. Instead, he said that he will keep the current
staff, but with the proviso that job performance will be monitored.
Personnel who do not perform over time will face the consequences.
Eschewing micromanagement, Raheem spoke of empowering CPI staff by
providing the training and technology necessary to conduct quiet,
professional investigations. Saying that he wishes to lower the
profile of CPI investigations and avoid the sensationalist
appearance of political bias in order to build public confidence for
the agency, Judge Raheem requested strong USG support for his
efforts to develop CPI's capacity.

5. (SBU) In his press interviews, Judge Raheem minced no words
about the challenge before CPI, saying that political will to
address corruption remains weak. He then called for a series of
actions to enhance public sector transparency, such as requiring
government agencies to account for the management of public funds
and adequate wages for civil servants to inoculate against bribery.
With emboffs, he spoke of his admiration for fixed terms of office,
a practice Iraq should adopt to break the Ba'athist practice of
allowing incumbents to hold lucrative offices for decades.

A Respected Choice

6. (U) Post has heard only positive reaction to Judge Raheem's
appointment to CPI. The Chairman of the COR Anti-Corruption
Committee Sheik al-Sa'adi described Judge Raheem as a "first rate
son of Iraq" whose patriotism and dedication will help guide the GOI
its struggle to replace corruption with honesty. Dr. Adel Mohsen,
the Prime Minister's Anti-Corruption Advisor and member of the Joint
Anti-Corruption Committee, observed that Judge Rahim was honest and

fair and predicted that his appointment would improve relations
between the ministerial Inspectors General and CPI. 'Atifa
'AbdulQadir al-'Ubaydi, the Director General of the Judicial
Training Institute, lamented Judge Raheem's departure from her
faculty, but lauded him as the right man to tackle public
corruption. DOJ/ICITAP advisors report a marked uptick in morale
among CPI staff since the announcement of Judge Raheem's
appointment. Judge Raheem has impressed Embassy and PRT staff
familiar with his work at CPI, JTI and Baghdad's Karada trial court
as a smart, serious and dedicated judge and administrator not known
to mix politics with legal matters.


7. (SBU) The COM's appointment of a respected jurist to lead CPI is
a strong step polishing the image of an agency tarnished by
cross-accusations of mismanagement, malfeasance and political
mischief following the dramatic departure of former Commissioner
Radhi al-Radhi in September 2007. Although acting Commissioner Musa
Faraj had demonstrated some growth once in office in recent months -
for example, becoming a surprisingly feisty advocate of CPI's
independence - his political baggage and erratic leadership
seriously retarded the agency's development. In contrast, Judge
Raheem's public and private remarks since his appointment reflect
serious analysis of Iraq's vulnerability to corruption and offered
reasoned strategies to boost society's immunity.

8. (SBU) As part of the Embassy's 2008 anti-corruption initiative,
post will evaluate USG support for CPI to date and will determine
how U.S. engagement should continue.

Bio Notes

9. (SBU) According to his C.V., Judge Raheem Hassan al-Ugaili was
born in Baghdad in 1966. He graduated with a law degree from
Baghdad University in 1991 and worked as a lawyer for the next four
years. He began judicial training in 1995 and was given his first
judicial appointment in 1997. He served as a trial judge between
1999 and 2004. He served with the General Secretariat of the
Council of Ministries from August 2004 until April 2005, and with
CPI as a commissioner from October - November 2004 and as deputy
commissioner from April - November 2005. Judge Raheem returned to
work as a trial judge in Baghdad from September 2005 until his
January 2008 appointment to CPI. During the same period, he
lectured at the Judicial Training Institute and published four major
legal books. Although his C.V. lists Arabic as his only language,
Raheem's reactions in meetings with emboffs revealed a limited
understanding of English.


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