Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Brit Soldiers Are Not War Criminals

A team of Blair's government lawyers prosecutes Brit soldiers for battlefield actions - adding the risk of disgrace and imprisonment to the soldier's "normal" combat risks of death or mutilation. No rational soldier will accept that level of risk.

The lawyers' latest coup is to bully the men engaged in this action (my ellipsis):

The 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, held responsibility for the security of Basra, Iraq’s second city, from June to November, 2003, in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq by Coalition forces.

The Battalion, with a total strength of 620 men (including 100 members of the TA (Brit National Guard)), had the task of maintaining law and order and restoring normality in a city of 1.5 to 2 million people, which:
§ had been severely oppressed for over 20 years by the previous regime,
§ which was racked by violence,
§ with a severely fractured infrastructure,
§ through the height of summer,
§ with temperatures of 50-60 degrees in daytime,
§ and never less than 40 degrees at night.


THE TASK
On a daily basis, the battalion faced:
Riots
Looting
Armed Robbery
Smuggling
Violent Black Marketeering
Extortion
House take-overs
Kidnapping
Car-jacking
Shootings
Bombings
Grenade Attacks
Public disorder
All capped with GENERAL TERRORIST ACTIVITY


On a daily basis, the battalion undertook:
Foot & Vehicle patrols
Illegal weapon searches
Capturing former regime personalities
Raiding illegal arms markets
Waterborne patrols on the Shatt Al Arab
Riot Control
Protection of the local infrastructure
Anti-smuggling
Hostage Rescue
Civil / Military affairs...
Police training
Creation and training of the Police Support Unity


But now Blair's lawyers say the Brit soldiers were the real criminals:
A British corporal has become the first soldier to admit to a war crime after pleading guilty to inhumanely treating Iraqi civilians at a court martial yesterday.

Corporal Donald Payne, 35, is one of seven soldiers, including his former commanding officer, to be charged over the death of Baha Musa, 26, an Iraqi hotel receptionist.

Mr Musa suffered a severe beating over a period of 36 hours while in British military custody at a detention centre in Basra, southern Iraq, the court martial at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, was told.

Julian Bevan, QC, for the prosecution, said that Mr Musa suffered 93 injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose. Another Iraqi civilian arrested with Mr Musa in 2003 suffered serious kidney injuries.
Soldiers are trained to kill people, break things, and control their own terror. That involves depersonalizing the enemy and forming strong bonds with their comrades. So making a Regiment-sized team mix the aggression of the battlefield with care of captive assailants is a recipe for disaster.

The politicians and senior officers that decided not to set up separate PoW facilities should take responsibility for this. If they don't, their Army becomes useless.