Former SAS soldier ‘Andy McNab’ has been writing in the Sunday Telegraph on the terrible reports of torture of prisoners by American and, it appears also, British troops in Iraq. McNab himself was tortured in Abu Ghraib prison after capture during the first Gulf War, so his words have particular force. He concludes as follows:
“The soldiers responsible for the abuse have guaranteed thousands of new recruits to the organisations such as al-Qaeda which want to kill as many coalition troops in Iraq as possible. The images of torture they have created will have stiffened the resolve of the Iraqi militants and encouraged those Iraqis who were wavering to join the resistance against the coalition. So more young American soldiers will be blown apart by booby-trapped cars and shot by snipers. Their unnecessary deaths will have been caused by the stupidity of their own comrades.
“There have been claims that the US interrogations resulted in valuable information. I doubt this. Whatever was going on when those pictures were taken, it was not the interrogation of prisoners by the US Army. It was some stupid kids bullying their captives for the sheer hell of it. You can tell that by the smiles on the faces of US soldiers – and indeed by the fact that there are any pictures at all of what happened. Those soldiers are anyway too young to be trained interrogators. Moreover, the woman wears a watch, which no serious interrogator ever does, because denying your victim any sense of time is an essential part of any properly-conducted interrogation.
“No, this was just a group of fools determined to have fun by humiliating their prisoners. That they were allowed to do it is an indictment of the discipline and leadership in their unit. I hope someone sorts the mess out soon – otherwise something similarly horrible will happen again. And the Americans will lose Iraq permanently, with dreadful consequences for the rest of us. “
McNab may or may not be correct in his view that these disgraceful incidents were ‘just’ the actions of stupid kids (rather than some sort of pre-interrogation softening-up process encouraged by those in authority), but his conclusion as to the potentially disastrous consequences of this appalling behavior looks, alas, spot on. Read the whole thing.