The National Council, according to the Transitional Adminstrative Law, has the authority to impeach ministers and governmental officials in cases of negligence, corruption or failure to carry out their duties. The council had called for Al-Naqib several weeks ago but, for some reason, he appeared only yesterday. The minister defended his position by explaining that he had not recieved an official subpoena to his desk and that he had no knowledge of the hearing except by word of mouth.
He started by speaking generally about recent attacks against Iraqi security forces and his ministry's plans and preparations. He was interrupted short by Mish'an Al-Juboori, the council member heading the security committee. Al-Juboori told the minister, a bit roughly, that this was not a press conference but an 'interrogation', and that the minister was expected to reply to the 33 questions. Al-Naqib looked as if he was taken aback by this statement and his facial features and the tone of his voice changed. He tried to cover his obvious embarrassment by smiling sheepishly and looking left and right. Al-Juboori then scolded someone (offscreen) who had entered the hall, asking him/them to leave. The camera was still on Al-Naqib and his eyes were now wide with disbelief. He motioned in the direction of the door asking the person to leave. He said the person was one of his relatives and that he worked as his escort.
He then proceeded nervously to answer the list of questions, with several interruptions and side topics from council members. He was accused of appointing several family members from Sammara (his hometown) and ex-Ba'athists to the ministry. Of course he strongly denied that. At this point, Ayad Allawi entered the hall and briefly interrupted the session. The manner in which Allawi entered and seated himself reminded me of someone entering an Iraqi coffee shop. You enter and greet everyone left and right with 'Al-Salam Aleikum'. After you sit down, others around you greet you with 'Allah bil khair', and you should respond to each Allah bil khair with the same provided you turn to the person, lift your right hand to your forehead and bow your body slightly (this was the old Baghdadi greeting before handshaking). This was exactly what took place in the council hall.
Al-Naqib proceeded to answer the questions and while he was mentioning some statistics regarding numbers of weapons and vehicles a council member expressed his concern about mentioning such critical details in a public session since it might be of benefit to terrorists. Others agreed and a long argument followed on whether to stick to general issues without details or shutting down the camera. Al-Naqib said that he couldn't possibly answer the questions without the relevant details. After some commotion, other members suggested a future session which would be closed. Every single member wanted to offer his personal suggestion, and one said that it was almost time for Iftar (breaking the fast) and that they would better postpone the whole meeting and go home. Hussein Al-Sadr jokingly said that time was no problem since the Prime Minister could invite them all at his residence for the Iftar and if he didn't, they would just invite themselves.
Laughter, more joking and further commotion followed. Finally they agreed to leave the whole matter to the minister since he was better informed on the details that threatened national security. Al-Naqib described the difficulties of restoring order to some parts of the country and he provided some valuable numbers and statistics in the process. Below for example, a table detailing casualties from suicide attacks over the last four months:
Month Suicide Killed Injured
June 18 128 462
July 34 245 235
August 20 28 122
September 20 168 419
Total 92 569 1238
The minister also mentioned that a total of 650 attacks have been carried out against Iraqi police during the last four months killing 130 policemen and injuring over 200. Some 70 policemen have been kidnapped, 31 of them unconditionally released, 35 by ransom and the rest killed.
A short discussion followed after which the council decided to postpone the session for a week. Falah Al-Naqib stepped down and Ayad Allawi delivered a short talk about elections and security precautions. In the end he turned to Mish'an Al-Juboori and told him that the word 'interrogation' was a bit extreme and that it would be preferred to describe the session as an 'inquiry' instead.