Saturday, July 17, 2010

British army's alleged torture of Iraqis goes to judicial review.

There has been a substantial High Court victory for lawyers representing 102 men detained after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The high court today gave permission for a judicial review of the government's failure to hold a public inquiry into the British army's detention policies in Iraq amid allegations that large numbers of civilians were tortured.

The court said it could be argued that "the alleged ill-treatment was systemic, and not just at the whim of individual soldiers". It went on to criticise the effectiveness of Ministry of Defence proposals to investigate the claims.

If a full inquiry is now ordered, it is likely to run alongside the judicial review David Cameron announced last week into the UK's role in rendition and torture in the so-called war on terror.

The notion that torture could be "systemic" was one of the first things I argued on here when talking about the stories of mistreatment coming from prisoners held by the Americans.

I was struck at the time by the uniformity of the allegations; nudity, stress positions, use of loud noise, freezing temperatures, use of dogs.

It didn't appear to matter whether the prisoners were held in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, the stories all had a creepily familiar ring. It occurred to me then that either all of these "bad apples" had a singular lack of imagination, or they were working to a set of instructions.

Now we, of course, know that the Bush administration received a memo from the Justice Department in August 2002 which set out to justify the use of torture.
If a government employee were to torture a suspect in captivity, "he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the Al Qaeda terrorist network," said the memo, from the Justice Department's office of legal counsel, written in response to a CIA request for legal guidance. It added that arguments centering on "necessity and self-defense could provide justifications that would eliminate any criminal liability" later.
We also know that the Bush administration approved certain "enhanced interrogation techniques", which is why the torture we heard of was always so uniform.

They were actually following a script.

Now, the High Court is implying that torture may also have been systemic on the British side of the war on terror.

One of the lawyers, Phil Shiner, said: "There are now hundreds of Iraqi civilians making thousands of allegations of being subjected to repeated sexual, physical and psychological abuse. The MoD's claim that this is the result of the actions of a few bad apples has been shown by the high court to be untenable.

"The court has today sent a clear signal that they expect the truth to be uncovered and these matters efficiently and fully investigated. This must take place in a public forum, not behind closed doors at the MoD."

The MoD has conceded that there needs to be an investigation, but does not wish to see a full public inquiry.

I bet the MOD would like any inquiry to be held behind closed doors, but they have no right to be granted such privacy.

If we have had a torture policy then we have the right to know about it. And, the people who put such a policy into place should be prosecuted. Perhaps, only by us doing that, will Obama's administration ever get serious about looking into the crimes which were committed by Bush and Co.

There have now been changes of administration on both sides of the Atlantic, so there really is no excuse for this not to be vigorously examined.

Click here for full article.

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