Jump to content
The Education Forum

Torture in Iraq

John Simkin

Recommended Posts

Over the last few weeks people throughout the world have been looking at photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. The Americans have rightly been criticised for these obscene acts and some soldiers have already been punished for their crimes.

Little has been heard about the crimes committed by British soldiers. For example, in May, 2003, Gary Bartlam, a member of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, was detained by Warwickshire police when the film he took to be developed revealed images of British soldiers engaged in torture. According to the woman who took these pictures to the police, they were remarkably similar to those taken in Abu Ghraib. We have yet to hear if the people responsible for these acts of torture will be prosecuted.

As Kamil Mahdi from the University of Exeter has pointed out:

Despite the growing list of murder cases and a continuing stream of evidence of torture, the government's position remains one of obstinate denial. Tony Blair's preferred response is to say that a few troops have been engaged in "unacceptable" and individual acts of indiscipline.

No British troops have been punished and, despite a year of evidence, no British soldiers have been named by the military apart from Colonel Tim Collins - who was cleared of charges of war crimes by a British Army investigation.

In Britain, no report equivalent to that of General Taguba of the US has been made available, and investigations are conducted in secrecy, if at all. There have been no hearings in which parliamentary or other committees question publicly and government and military officials.

Nor has parliament been given a private viewing of gruesome photographs of sadistic acts by British troops against their Iraqi charges. The suspect photographs published by the Daily Mirror have been used to discredit all other evidence.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

At the Pentagon, on June 10, while business in Washington had officially halted as the body of Ronald Reagan lay in state, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld convened an emergency meeting on the Abu Ghraib scandal, according to a reliable source privy to its proceedings. Rumsfeld began the extraordinary session by saying that certain documents needed to "get out" that would show that there was no policy approving of torture and that what had happened in Iraq and Afghanistan was aberrant.

The Senate armed services committee had been conducting hearings whose corrosive impact needed to be countered. Rumsfeld complained about "serial requests" for information from Congress. Yet he was even more upset by subpoenas of defence officials issued by the special prosecutor in the case of Valerie Plame. The Pentagon, Rumsfeld said, was nearly "at a stop" because of them. Rumsfeld admitted he was startled by the uproar over Abu Ghraib: "There are so many international organisations."

On June 22, the White House released documents on policy on torture, including a directive signed on February 7 2002 by Bush stating that he has "the authority under the constitution" to abrogate the Geneva conventions, that the Taliban and al-Qaida as non-signatories were not covered by them, and that consequently Bush "declines to exercise that authority at this time". Rumsfeld's damage control was simply one front in the expanding Bush administration war for credibility.

Vice-president Dick Cheney staged a preemptive strike last week by reiterating that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida had a relationship and insinuating that they were in league. His intended target was the 9/11 commission, which is dangerously independent. Its Republican co-chairman, Thomas Kean, replied that there was "no credible evidence" that Saddam and al-Qaida had collaborated. Bush entered the battle, repeating that there was indeed a "relationship". Then the Democratic co-chairman of the commission, Lee Hamilton, explained that al-Qaida had in fact approached Saddam seeking his help, but that it had been rebuffed. The rejection was the relationship. But Bush and Cheney's affirmative assertions made it seem that the "relationship" was affirmative.

The urgency of Bush's credibility crisis surfaced in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showing the collapse of Bush's standing on terrorism, losing 13 points since April, putting Kerry even on the issue and one point ahead in the contest. But even more worrying was Bush's rating on trust. By a margin of 52% to 39%, Kerry is seen as more honest and trustworthy.

Since March 3, the Bush-Cheney campaign has spent an estimated $80m on mostly negative advertising, to eliminate Kerry at the starting gate. The strategy was the acceleration of the lesson of Bush's father's victorious effort in the 1988 campaign when, 17 points behind in mid-summer, he shattered Michael Dukakis with a withering negative attack.

Now, Bush's opponent is not only moving ahead, but the failed assault may insulate Kerry against future offensives. Bush had every reason to believe that his attack on Kerry's image would succeed. After September 11, he was able to impose his explanations on the public almost without resistance and to taint anyone who contradicted them as somehow unpatriotic.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Alberto Gonzales is Bush's choice for Attorney General!

Three things come immediately to mind---

One- Gonzales wrote the secret memos rolling back the

Geneva Conventions and allowing Foreign Detainees

to be held indefinitely without charges, etc...

He is the author of the Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib rationalizations...

Cheney put him up to it and he bypassed Colin Powell and Condi Rice while he constructed these new Imperial Presidential Powers...

Two-The Pentagon legal brass can't stand him!

He also went around them on these Geneva Convention violation charters,

and the top Army lawyers are saying things like "the common man should never

see the United States Armed forces as torturers"

and "We never wanted these new relaxed interrogation rules"

So now I am lined up with the legal team at the Pentagon against

the new AG...Talk about strange bedfellows in politics!

Three- The guy isn't competent, he is just a white house aide,

like John Dean was...Alberto Gonzales is totally unprepared to

manage all the Federal Prosecutors in the U.S. ...at least

John Ashcroft had been state governor of Missouri...

I am really shocked by this....

Bush probably wouldn't have won this close election if he had come clean

two weeks ago and said he was going to put GONZALES in charge of

the Justice Department....

Can I stay with one of you guys for about the next four years,

I hear Wales is nice....

Shanet Clark

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...