Moral Outrage
Whew! God help us!

Britain’s Abu Ghraib

An inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa will detail how Mousa died in Iraq in September 2003, allegedly brutalized by British soldiers in a “free for all”; and how it was that he and nine other men in the same incident were allegedly hooded, forced into painful stress positions, and deprived of sleep, food and water.

Guardian article reported that many more civilians died in army custody than previously thought. The evidence of Lieutenant Colonel Mercer to the inquiry reveals that as early as May 2003 – four months before Mousa’s death – there were “a number of deaths in custody” with “various units”.

The story could be a lot worse: an ex-Royal Military Police (RMP) major told BBC radio last October that there were “hundreds” of similar cases.

Further, there are thousands of torture allegations being made by more than 100 Iraqi clients in new cases.

The evidence from the Mousa inquiry and the allegations in these other cases may allow a chilling comparison to be made with the worst excesses of the US at Guantánamo Bay or Abu Ghraib, with the Stasi in the cold war, or the British in post-colonial wars.

Apart from the techniques banned by the Heath government in 1972 (hooding, stressing, food and water deprivation, sleep deprivation, the use of noise), which returned as standard operating procedure in Iraq, the array of allegations is staggering: mock executions; the use of tiny refrigerated spaces; electric shocks; forced nudity; threats of rape to female relatives; prolonged solitary confinement; loud, hardcore pornography played incessantly; disorientation by various means; simulated drowning; dog attacks; masturbation and other sexual acts; urinating on detainees; giving urine not water to drink; as well as systematic abuse through rifle-butting, kicks, punches, forced exertion and prolonged shouting at detainees.

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