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Sanctioning Torture From The Top
"THE RULES were, 'Grab who you must. Do what you want'." That was a former US intelligence officer, explaining the official army attitude towards the torture and maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners. It shot an enormous hole in the official story of what went on in Abu Ghraib prison.
The official line that, purely on their own initiative, 'rogue soldiers' did things like standing a hooded, "wired-up" man on a box and threatening him with electrocution never convinced many people.
Now an article by Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh quotes senior US state operatives. They confirm US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's approval of a secret interrogation regime for Iraqi prisoners. These methods, involving physical force and sexual humiliation, were intended to get more information about insurgents.
The tactics, first used in Afghanistan to find out about al-Qa'ida operatives, were then used on Iraqi prisoners, many of them picked up on random arrests.
A Pentagon operation "encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners" and used photos of sexual abuse to blackmail detainees into informing.
This and other news has pushed support for Bush to new lows. In Britain, however, Blair hopes that Trinity Mirror's sacking of Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan for publishing staged pictures of British troops' atrocities in Iraq has got him off the hook. But it won't last.
Morgan has been forced to resign because his paper published a lying photograph. But the government's whole war effort was based on a massive lie about weapons of mass destruction. This won't be forgotten by the electorate.
An Amnesty International report says the British army has been killing civilians in areas of southern Iraq that it controls. In March the Red Cross reported grave violations against civilians and abuse of prisoners.
These allegations of maltreatment and murder of Iraqi civilians can't so easily be denied. The best way to safeguard the lives of British soldiers is to withdraw them from Iraq.
In The Socialist 22 May 2004:
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