11/22/2005 08:08 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iraq and the Chicago Cop

As a Chicagoan let me first say "I'm sorry" and let me say second, in my best presidential voice, "It's not our fault!" A year ago an officer from the Chicago Police Department's gang crimes unit was sent to Iraq. Now we hear reports that Iraqi cops are doing to their citizens what we do to ours -- torturing them. One of Chicago's most famous torture-accused cops, Captain John Burge, is on trial right now, accused of what we call "Chicago Police Torture," which is beating a handcuffed suspect more than is absolutely necessary.

We didn't mean to export that part of Chicago culture to Iraq. When we heard one of our cops was going to Iraq a lot of us expected he'd bring a bit of the City that Works to the land of Two Rivers. We expected, a year from his arrival, to hear tales of deep-dish pizza introduced to Sunnis in Mosul and Midnight Basketball in the Shia neighborhoods of Baghdad. We certainly expected to see White Sox banners flying in Basra. The Sox are a south side team, Basra's in the south of Iraq, it seemed natural.

But noooo, apparently all the Iraqis have learned from our Chicago police ambassador is locking folks up and beating 'em.

I am not naive. I understand the ability to torture without US backup is an important part of Iraq's transformation to a Chicago-style democracy. Up in Ninevah province they apparently mastered Chicago-esque ballot box stuffing. And to be honest, Iraq has shown Chicago a few things about democracy. I'm sure our politicians have noted the new Iraqi pre-election custom of having the opposition voters bombed by a foreign government.

But whatever other lessons Iraqi cops learn from their Chicago adviser the most important is this, our Eleventh Commandment: Whatever else thou doest, thou shalt not get caught.