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Anorak | Hearts And Minds

Hearts And Minds

by | 5th, May 2004

‘WHETHER or not members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment did torture Iraqi captives in their charge is fast losing its importance.

‘Okay, name Manchester United’s European Cup winning team of 1999’

The damage caused by those controversial photos and the irrefutable evidence of American abuse has been done.

What the coalition forces would like us believe to be isolated incidents perpetrated by a few bad apples is today placed in a context of sustained and prolonged abuse.

The Times leads with ‘America’s catalogue of ‘torture”, a story based on its reading of an internal American military paper, one marked ‘Secret, No Foreign Dissemination’.

The report details at least 20 ways in which American guards at the Abu Ghraib prison softened up and, in the words of the leaked document, ‘committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law’.

The list involves such delights as breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; beating them with a broom handle, an implement that may also have been used to sodomize one captive; keeping Iraqi captives naked for several days; piling up naked detainees and then jumping on them; forcing detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videoed; and threatening them with guns and barking dogs.

Those who recall the campaign in Afghanistan may now hanker for the return of Barney The Dinosaur, that lovable purple instrument of American interrogation.

It’s the kind of news that can only harm any efforts to win the much-valued hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

However, the better news is that some Iraqis do still value our justice system.

Indeed, they hold it in such high regard that the Guardian leads with news of how families of 14 Iraqis killed in the war have decided to see first-hand how well it works by taking their case to the High Court.

The families and their lawyers are challenging the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to consider any legal responsibility for their relatives’ deaths.

And that includes the death of one Baha Mousa, a Basra hotel receptionist who is alleged to have been killed by soldiers from – of all places – the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.

Culpable or not, the mud, blood and gore is sticking and will prove very hard to remove…’



Posted: 5th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink