Mark Perry writes:
The Palestine Papers provide unprecedented access into the internal workings of the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process. But the leaked documents and meetings also touch on other key issues surrounding U.S. intervention in the conflict – including dozens of documents on Palestinian security issues. At the heart of these is the work of the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), what many refer to as “The Dayton Mission,” – a designation derived from the USSC’s chief, Lt. General Keith Dayton, who retired last October. Among other things they confirm – from Dayton’s own mouth – that Palestinian Authority forces supported by the United States engaged in torture.
The establishment of the USSC – its mandate and purpose — is fraught with misunderstandings. The first is that U.S. military officers are training Palestinian security personnel. That’s not true. Palestinian security personnel were initially trained by American contractors (in this case, Dyncorp) – the same kind of contractors who have given the U.S such problems in Iraq. Later, these private contractors were joined by trainers provided by the Jordanian Public Security Directorate. While the facilities for the training (located outside of Amman) are provided by the United States, the Palestinian trainees were (and are) equipped by the Egyptians.
While the now-retired Dayton was a senior three-star military officer (he was preceded by General William Ward and has been succeeded General Michael Moeller), he never reported through a military chain of command. Rather, he reported directly to the Secretary of State – first to Condoleezza Rice, under the Bush administration and, later, to Hillary Clinton, under President Barack Obama. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that his mission is controversial among senior Pentagon officers, who argue that a U.S. training mission (whose goal is to create a military force that cooperates with Israel), will raise serious objections among Arabs. As a U.S. Army colonel told me in 2009: “This is just a stupid idea – it makes us look like we’re an extension of the Israeli occupation.” This of course is a view that many Palestinians, including Hamas, also take.