Daily archives: February 14, 2006

Keeping the video from Iraq in perspective

I feel the need to comment on the video of brutality by British soldiers released at the weekend, purely because so much rubbish has been spouted in the mainstream media on the subject.

I may surprise you by starting with the observation that, on the scale of violence we have visited on Iraq, this was a negligible incident. People on all sides are dying every day. I have heard enough first hand accounts, from British diplomats and military, from journalists and NGO worker martialled. Actually, I blame them very little. What are they supposed to do to disperse a crowd which, plainly, was trying to inflict actual violence on the troops? If every Iraqi who threw a stone at coalition forces was interned, you would keep millions of prisoners. There are no Iraqi authorities to whom prisoners can be turned over who will deal with them sensibly. The British don’t want prisoners, and the UK military now have a de facto policy of not turning prisoners over to the US authorities because of their inept and violent handling of them.

The British troops are in a completely impossible situation. Their role is to support a corrupt and inefficient Iraqi puppet administration which is incapable of exercising control, and would do little for good if it did have control. The vast majority of the Iraqi population do not want us there. The real good that this video might have done is in driving home to the British public, against the ceaseless propaganda of the mainstream media, that we are not wanted. That stone-throwing crowd were Shias, for God’s sake. The official propaganda says that they are on ‘our’ side.

So our troops are being sniped at, blown up or facing violent mobs. They can do little about it. Their own military leadership are convinced that they should not be there. They are not the ones reaping the benefits of huge income from the new US and UK oil contracts, though they will be giving their lives to protect the carpetbaggers who have descended on Iraq like locusts. Is there any wonder that this boils over in frustration?

The disgraceful actions in that video were not the product of intrinsic evil on the part of the British troops involved. This incident was one of the more minor consequences of the illegal war of aggression and occupation launched by George Bush and Tony Blair. It is Blair and Bush, not the troops, who should be in the dock.


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CIA chief sacked for opposing torture

By Sarah Baxter and Michael Smith, in The Times Online

The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as ‘water boarding’, intelligence sources have claimed.

Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was ‘not quite as aggressive as he might have been’ in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: ‘It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough, it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.’

Grenier also opposed ‘excessive’ interrogation, such as strapping suspects to boards and dunking them in water, according to Cannistraro.


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