Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bad habits

What are the consequences of signing up for the "coalition of the willing" and sending troops to Iraq? First, your soldiers die. Second, your citizens get taken hostage. And third, your intelligence officers learn bad habits from the Americans:

Denmark's defence minister has recalled several senior commanders of its battalion in Iraq, as an investigation into alleged prisoner abuse widens.

Soeren Gade said there were doubts about the officers' judgement, stemming from claims of mistreatment made against an intelligence officer.


A statement by the military command on Monday said the officer, who has not been named, could face charges of torture.

Reports say he is accused of refusing to let prisoners have water and forcing them to stay in stressful positions.

What's interesting is that the difference this reveals between the Danes and the Americans. The Danish officer is accused of using techniques that the Americans don't bat an eyelid at - "stress positions" are an acceptable interrogation technique as far as they're concerned, as is using starvation or thirst (or denial of pain killers, for that matter). But the Danish response is to threaten to throw the book at him and charge him with torture. Compare this with the American response, where soldiers accused of far more serious behaviour face only minor charges (assault, dereliction of duty), and their Military Intelligence accomplices avoid prosecution altogether...