Friday, May 07, 2004

I'm not alone in thinking that the outrage over the tweaking/mistreatment/systematic abuse/torture of Iraqis has gone too far. American soldier-blog 'ChromeDomeZone' makes the vital point that there's no comparison between the treatment highlighted at Abu Graib under US jurisdiction and that which occurred during the former regime. He quotes Rush Limbaugh saying 'These are pictures of humiliation of people. These are pictures of intimidation of people. They're not pictures of violence. They're not pictures of death. They are not pictures of horror.'

Here in the UK, Piers Morgan's Daily Mirror has wheeled out (says the soldier has 'come forward', well, I mean...) another UK soldier linked to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment who describes the horrors to which Iraqis were allegedly subjected- allegedly to violence in this case- in summer-autumn of last year. The trouble is, it's muddling everything up (um, deliberately?). The central fact remains that if Piers' photographs were fabrications he should walk.

The new revelations include 'one of the worst things' where a UK Corporal allegedly 'went up to one of the prisoners who still had a sandbag on his face and was poking his fingers into his eyeballs until the guy was screaming in pain.'. More picturesqely (something I had trouble visualising), he says that when the sand bags were taken off their heads 'looked like haggises'. (you can read the BBC's ever-changing account of the controversy here.)

The odd thing is, that eyeball thing happened to me in the front row of the scrum in a rugby match at school- only I didn't have a sand-bag to protect me. It worked, in the sense that it was disabling and I dropped out of the scrum and their side won it, but although I don't think the other guy could have pushed my eyeballs much harder, they recovered pretty well (in fact I no longer seem to need glasses for anything, though that might be completely unrelated). Not a nice experience anyway. In the light of that I'm a bit sceptical; like me the Iraqi solder could have rolled away before he started to scream. So far as the account goes he wasn't under restraint, so why didn't he just roll away with his face toward the floor, something I managed to do even though bound into the working scrum? That's maybe just a flavour of the questions the soldier might find himself answering as he is being interviewed by military police.

Another point: just under a year ago Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment was reported for alleged mistreatment of Iraqis in Basra. He was acquitted, and subsequently pursued successful libel actions against the Sunday Express, and, guess who?- the Mirror ('The Mirror on Sunday', if that makes a difference).

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