WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama ad-ministration has repeatedly asked Congress to exempt its military ef-fort against the Islamic State from a longstanding ban on US assistance to torturers and war criminals, highlighting doubts about finding “clean” American allies in a region wracked by ethnic animosity and religious extremism.
The latest proposal is included in a November 10 request to Congress for US$1.6 billion to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces to fight IS as part of a $5.6 billion request to expand the US mission in Iraq.
The proposal sets up a fight with key Senate Democrats, who bloc-ked two earlier requests for such an exemption, according to documents and interviews.
The 1997 Leahy Law, named after Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, bars the US from funding military units suspected of “gross human rights violations”, which include murder, torture and extrajudicial imprisonment.
Top military officers have long complained that the law slows their work with local forces, while human rights activists call it an important safeguard against US complicity in abuses by unsavoury allies.