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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 14, 2005

Former Iraqi Aide Discusses Progress In Iraq At Law School Lecture

While slow and arduous, progress is being made in creating a democratic Iraq, a former aide to the Iraqi government said in a lecture at the University of Iowa College of Law Friday.

"Slowly, we're making progress," said Ryan Stiles, a Chicago attorney who recently worked as an advisor to the Iraqi government on border security issues. "Everyday, we extend the border a few extra miles; we progress a little further."

Stiles worked as a senior advisor within the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement, where most of his work was developing and putting in place the system of defenses to secure Iraq's international borders. He helped to train the Iraqi troops, police and patrol guards, and implemented the system of defenses around entry points and border fortifications. Some points are well defended and well organized, he said, while others are nothing more than sand berms defended with gun emplacements. Still others were nothing more than donkeys or camels eating garbage out of shell holes.

He said that most of what he saw was Iraqis who are trying hard to make a democratic Iraq a reality despite the difficulties arrayed against them. Military personnel and police officers, for instance, often wear face masks to hide their identity from terrorists to keep their families safe.

"Intimidation is very common in Iraq," Stiles said. "These Iraqis all want to do a good job and help their country but if their identity is ever found out, their families will be intimidated and may be harmed by the terrorists."

Stiles also stayed frequently in Baghdad at the Republican Palace, one of Saddam Hussein's largest and most well-appointed palaces that now serves as the temporary U.S. embassy. There, he got to relax on Saddam's sumptuous grounds and swim in his private pool. But the violence was never far away; terrorists were continually lobbing shells over the river into the Green Zone that surrounded the palace.

"If you work in Iraq, you have to accept the fact that when you wake up in the morning, people are going to try to kill you," he said. "It gets to the point where, when you hear an explosion, you pay attention for a minute and then you go on with your job. If you can't accept that fact, you shouldn't be working in Iraq."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.