Tuesday, April 02, 2013

More on US torture in Iraq

We've known for a long time that US torture in Iraq was not the work of "a few bad apples", but rather an official and routine policy authorised at the highest levels of the US government. US soldiers have already spoken out about some of this; now the British soldiers who collaborate din capturing and guarding their victims are speaking out too:

On the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a number of former members of TF 121 and its successor unit TF6-26 have come forward to describe the abuses they witnessed, and to state that they complained about the mistreatment of detainees.

The abuses they say they saw include:
  • Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels.
  • Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks.
  • Prisoners being routinely hooded.
  • Inmates being taken into a sound-proofed shipping container for interrogation, and emerging in a state of physical distress.
It is unclear how many of their complaints were registered or passed up the chain of command. A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said a search of its records did not turn up "anything specific" about complaints from British personnel at Camp Nama, or anything that substantiated such complaints.
From the latter, it seems that the British chain of command just didn't want to know about it, despite their soldiers reporting war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Convention. The likely reason? Fear of upsetting the Americans, of course. But despite all the official denials, there's some evidence that the British military knew or suspected that the people they captured and guarded were being tortured: they used the "Afghan model", under which a token American acted as the formal "detaining power" to ensure that there was no British responsibility for what happened afterwards. Which is pretty much an admission of guilt right there.

Again, there needs to be accountability and justice for this. The torturers and their accomplices - the people who provided them with victims, the Ministers and officials who approved the policy, the officers who should have stopped it but looked the other way - all need to be prosecuted. And if the US and British courts won't do it, then we need an international court to do it for them.