Abusers Must Be Seen to Pay for Their Crimes against Prisoners

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 8, 2004 | Go to article overview

Abusers Must Be Seen to Pay for Their Crimes against Prisoners


Byline: By Mario Basini Western Mail

Some of the nastiest ironies to emerge from the invasion of Iraq are represented by the pictures of torture and abuse now streaming out of the United States.

The impact of the photographs have been heightened by the fact that some of the acts were carried out by a boyishly slim woman soldier, Lynndie England, who at 21 appears to have learned the most barbaric habits of her male colleagues. She appears entirely at home leading a prisoner lying on the floor by a leash as if he were a dog.

It is a graphic illustration of the fact that the 'caring sex' can behave as brutally and as cruelly as any man, given the right circumstances.

But the most telling aspect of the humiliations heaped on the Iraqi suspects is that they were carried out in the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad. It was the prison where Saddam Hussein's torturers inflicted some of their most brutish acts of terror on their fellow citizens.

The lesson has not been lost on the people of Iraq or on the rest of the Arab world. The invaders who conducted the war in the name of the 'liberation' of Iraq from the heel of the vicious dictator are now seen to be carrying out acts Saddam himself might have been proud of.

Having had one major excuse for the war, Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction, explode in their faces, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair see another crumble in their hands. It will be increasingly difficult from now on to claim the moral high ground when justifying an invasion in which some of your troops use the evil tactics of the dictator you have overthrown.

Nor does President Bush's protests that the abuse was carried out by an insignificant proportion of the American troops in Iraq carry much weight. Almost from the moment they began imposing peace in the wake of the war, there have been persistent accusations that American tactics have been too oppressive to win the hearts and minds of the civilian population.

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Abusers Must Be Seen to Pay for Their Crimes against Prisoners
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