I agree with most of what David Crawford writes on torture by British forces in Iraq, except when he says "we as a country should not judge those who were there by civilised standards as war is barbaric and in wartime barbaric things have always happened" (Letters, December 24).
By that argument, all crimes committed during a war, whoever committed them, would be forgivable, as war is barbaric.
So Saddam Hussein's gassing of the Kurds couldn't be judged wrong as war is inherently barbaric, the massacre at Srebrenica couldn't be judged wrong either – and torture by our enemies would also be beyond criticism.
Crimes are either wrong whoever commits them or else they are not crimes. Torture is always wrong. No excuses should ever be made for it, even, or especially, when our own military is involved.
The torture of the group of Iraqis that included Baha Mousa does not seem to have been a one-off for the Queen's Lancashire Regiment and associated Territorial Army units either. The diary of Private Stuart MacKenzie of the Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers refers repeatedly on different days to beating various Iraqi civilians, looters and prisoners, including with sticks, and describes days where beatings took place as "good days" and uses the British military euphemism for the torture of Mousa: "conditioning".
Former Wren and police officer Louise Thomas resigned from the Ministry of Defence's Iraq Historic Allegations Team inquiry into torture by British forces in Iraq in October, saying other investigators were suppressing thousands of hours of video of abuse of prisoners by British troops on the grounds that the victims were "probably terrorists anyway" (so much for the British Government's supposed concern for human rights and the right to a fair trial).
I agree with Mr Crawford that more senior ranks must have been involved – or at least looked the other way – given the widespread torture which the hundreds of compensation payments and suppressed videos indicate.
We need a public inquiry or criminal trials to get the full truth and justice for the victims.
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