Friday, October 12, 2012

Telling us what we already know

A whistleblower has come forward to tell us what we already knew: that the UK's "investigation" into torture and war crimes by its soldiers is a whitewash:

Louise Thomas, an official working with the inquiry team who says she has resigned in protest at the lack of progress, spent six months working with the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which was set up in response to a growing number of complaints from former prisoners. Many were detained at a secretive interrogation centre that the British military operated in the south-east of the country.

Thomas, 45, a former Wren who also served as a police officer for five years, told the Guardian she had seen around 1,600 videos of interrogation sessions, a number of which showed prisoners being abused, humiliated and threatened.

They suggested that some of the detainees were being subject to extreme sleep deprivation and beaten between interrogation sessions.

Thomas alleges that the abuses recorded in the videos are being investigated in an ineffective manner, by investigators who sometimes show little concern for what they are seeing, and that not all relevant material has been handed over to the inquiry by the MoD.

"I saw a really dark side of the British army," Thomas said. "The videos showed really quite terrible abuses. But some of the IHAT investigators just weren't interested."

The army's response? That these claims will be investigated by IHAT's management. Who will no doubt whitewash the whitewash by finding that nothing is wrong and that the whitewash team is conducting a "thorough investigation". That's how the establishment operates. The problem is that this shameless abuse is utterly corrosive of public trust. If British politicians and officials want to know why people think they are liars, they have only to look at their own habitual responses to official wrongdoing.

(And meanwhile, another seven British soldiers are being investigated for murder in Afghanistan. But no doubt they'll whitewash that too).