Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Key covers up torture

Over the weekend, we learned that the SAS had been complicit in torture in Afghanistan, turning over captives to US and Afghan forces who later tortured them. This challenged the comfortable narrative fed to us by our political leaders and the military - that the SAS don't take prisoners, so turning them over to torturers just isn't an issue - and raised the prospect that NZDF personnel could be prosecuted for war crimes. The Greens have called for an independent inquiry into the issue, and it seems to be well-justified. We need to know who has been lying to whom. We need to know the truth, so that it doesn't happen again and so the people responsible can be held to account.

Now Prime Minister John Key - who has publicly led that campaign of comfortable lies - has ruled out any inquiry. Despite the evidence presented of both torture and lies about torture, he sees nothing of concern. We don't need to know what our army is doing in our name in Afghanistan, and we certainly don't need to know whether our politicians have been systematically lying to us about it. We should all just trust him.

Sorry, but I don't. We've been presented with strong evidence that our politicians have been lying to us. John Key is one of the politicians who has done so. We can not simply accept his word that everything is OK. Particularly on something as serious as this.

In criminal cases, we use an independent body - a judge or a jury - to weigh the evidence. That is what we should be doing here. By refusing to allow such an investigation, Key has moved from potentially being the victim of the army's lies, to actively covering up collusion in torture. And that makes him a co-conspirator. He should be judged accordingly.