Allegations of unlawful killings and torture committed by British troops in Iraq have multiplied tenfold over the past five years, with the head of the unit established to investigate the cases saying the soldiers may face prosecution.
When the UK Ministry of Defence created the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) in 2010 to look into accusations of abuse and torture allegedly committed by the British contingent in Iraq in 2003-06, the number of the victims it was dealing with was 152, yet in a matter of five years this number grew by almost 10 times, currently reaching at least 1,514, according to the latest IHAT quarterly update.
Of the total number of alleged victims, some 280 are victims of alleged unlawful killings and 1,235 are cases of ill-treatment, including alleged rape and torture.
Shaker Aamer, who was released from Guantanamo Bay prison in October, gave his first television interview to the British news outlet, ITV News.
Aamer, a British resident born in Saudi Arabia, was detained for nearly fourteen years. He endured routine abuse and torture, especially because he engaged in hunger strikes and was willing to stand up for the rights of fellow prisoners.
He wrote a number of letters from Guantanamo which offered a window into the brutal tactics used by the U.S. military. The letters also showed the pain caused by not being able to be with his wife and children
ITV, unfortunately, posted Aamer’s interview today in many thirty to forty-five second chunks rather than in one segment or two longer parts for the world to watch. Those chunks of the interview do not necessarily represent the more significant parts of the interview.
The killings, part of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.
Haas also described widespread alcohol and drug abuse among drone pilots. Drone operators, he said, would frequently get intoxicated using bath salts and synthetic marijuana to avoid possible drug testing and in an effort to “bend that reality and try to picture yourself not being there.” Haas said that he knew at least a half-dozen people in his unit who were using bath salts and that drug use had “impaired” them during missions.
– From the Intercept article: Former Drone Operators Say They Were “Horrified” by Cruelty of Assassination Program
I’ve highlighted the plight of several brave drone whistleblowers over the years who came forth to decry the barbaric and likely illegal nature of the U.S. drone program. Recently, four of them came together to denounce it more forcefully and provide more disturbing information. They also wrote a letter to Obama.
The Intercept published a powerful story on them the other day, here are a few excerpts:
In the aftermath of Saturday’s tragic and unprecedented bombing of an Afghanistan hospital by the US air force, one which killed 22 and continued for 30 minutes after mission command has been allegedly notified of the “error” which the US initially claimed was “collateral damage”, the Doctors without Borders physician group in charge of operating the hospital has come out swinging and has equated the US bombing of a hospital to engaging in nothing short of a war crime.
Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), and is the founder of Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc). Visit his Website.
– War Crimes? Us??? (OpEdNews, June 26, 2015):
“WAR IS HELL!” the US general George Patton famously exclaimed.War is the business of killing the “enemy,” in order to impose your will on them.
Therefore, “humane war” is an oxymoron.
War itself is a crime. There are few exceptions. I would exempt the war against Nazi Germany, since it was conducted against a regime of mass murderers, led by a psychopathic dictator, who could not be brought to heel by any other means.This being so, the concept of “war crimes” is dubious. The biggest crime is starting the war in the first place. This is not the business of soldiers, but of political leaders. Yet they are rarely indicted.
THESE PHILOSOPHICAL musings came to me in the wake of the recent UN report on the last Gaza war.The investigation committee bent over backwards to be “balanced,” and accused both the Israeli army and Hamas in almost equal terms. That, in itself, is problematic.
This was not a war between equals. On one side, the State of Israel, with one of the mightiest armies in the world. On the other side, a stateless population of 1.8 million people, led by a guerrilla organization devoid of any modern arms.
Any equating of such two entities is by definition contrived. Even if both sides committed grievous war crimes, they are not the same. Each must be judged on its own (de)merits.
THE IDEA of “war crimes” is relatively new. It arose during the 30 Years War, which devastated a large part of Central Europe. Many armies took part, and all of them destroyed towns and villages without the slightest compunction. As a result, two thirds of Germany were devastated and a third of the German people was killed.
Hugo de Groot, a Dutchman, argued that even in war, civilized nations are bound by certain limitations. He was not a starry-eyed idealist, divorced from reality. His main principle, as I understand it, was that it makes no sense to forbid actions that help a warring country [or “party”] to pursue the war, but that any cruelty not necessary for the efficient conduct of the war is illegitimate.
This idea took hold. During the 18th century, endless wars were conducted by professional armies, without hurting civilian populations unnecessarily. Wars became “humane.”
Not for long. With the French revolution, war became a matter of mass armies, the protection of civilians slowly eroded, until it disappeared entirely in World War II, when whole cities were destroyed by unlimited aerial bombardment (Dresden and Hamburg) and the atom bomb (Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
Even so, a number of international conventions prohibit war crimes that target civilian populations or hurt the population in occupied territories.
That was the mandate of this committee of investigation.
THE COMMITTEE castigates Hamas for committing war crimes against the Israeli population.
Israelis didn’t need the committee to know that. A large share of Israeli citizens spent hours in shelters during the Gaza war, under the threat of Hamas rockets.
Hamas launched thousands of rockets towards towns and villages in Israel. These were primitive rockets, which could not be aimed at specific targets — like the Dimona nuclear installation or the Ministry of Defense which is located in the center of Tel Aviv. They were meant to terrorize the civilian population into demanding a stop to the attack on the Gaza strip.
They did not achieve this goal because Israel had installed a number of “Iron Dome” counter-rocket batteries, that intercepted almost all rockets heading for civilian targets. Success was almost complete.
If they are brought before the International Court in The Hague, the Hamas leaders will argue that they had no choice: they had no other weapons to oppose the Israeli invasion. As a Palestinian commander once told me: “Give us cannons and fighter planes, and we will not use terrorism.”
The International Court will then have to decide whether a people that is practically under an endless occupation is allowed to use indiscriminate rockets. Considering the principles laid down by de Groot, I wonder what the decision will be.
That goes for terrorism in general, if used by an oppressed people that has no other means of fighting. The black South Africans used terrorism in their fight against the oppressive apartheid regime, and Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison for taking part in such acts und refusing to condemn them.
THE CASE against the Israeli government and army is quite different. They have a plentitude of arms, from drones to warplanes to artillery to tanks.
If there was a cardinal war crime in this war, it was the cabinet decision to start it. Because an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip makes war crimes unavoidable.
Anyone who has ever been a combat soldier in war knows that war crimes, whether in the most moral or the most base army in the world, do occur in war. No army can avoid recruiting psychologically defective people. In every company there is at least one pathological specimen. If there are not very strict rules, exercised by very strict commanders, crimes will occur.
War brings out the inner man (or woman, nowadays). A well-behaved, educated man will suddenly turn into a ferocious beast. A simple, lowly laborer will reveal himself as a decent, generous human being. Even in the “Most Moral Army in the World” — an oxymoron if there ever was one.
I was a combat soldier in the 1948 war. I have seen an eyeful of crimes, and I have described them in my 1950 book “The Other Side of the Coin.”
THIS GOES for every army. In our army during the last Gaza war, the situation was even worse.
The reasons for the attack on the Gaza Strip were murky. Three Israeli kids were captured by Arab men, obviously for the sake of achieving a prisoner exchange. The Arabs panicked and killed the boys. The Israelis responded, the Palestinians responded, and lo — the cabinet decided on a full-fledged attack.
Our cabinet includes nincompoops, most of whom have no idea what war is. They decided to attack the Gaza Strip.
This decision was the real war crime.
The Gaza Strip is a tiny territory, overcrowded by a bloated population of 1.8 million human beings, about half of them descendents of refugees from areas that became Israel in the 1948 war.
In any circumstances, such an attack was bound to result in a large number of civilian casualties. But another fact made this even worse.
ISRAEL IS a democratic state. Leaders have to be elected by the people. The voters consist of the parents and grandparents of the soldiers, members of both regular and reserve units.
This means that Israel is inordinately sensitive to casualties. If a large number of soldiers are killed in action, the government will fall.
Therefore it is the maxim of the Israeli army to avoid casualties at any cost — any cost to the enemy, that is. To save one soldier, it is permissible to kill ten, twenty, a hundred civilians on the other side.
This rule, unwritten and self-understood, is symbolized by the “Hannibal Procedure” — the code-word for preventing at any cost the taking of an Israeli soldier prisoner. Here, too, a “democratic” principle is at work: no Israeli government can withstand public pressure to release many dozens of Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of one Israeli one. Ergo: prevent a soldier from being taken prisoner, even if the soldier himself is killed in the process.
Hannibal allows — indeed, commands — the wreaking of untold destruction and killing, in order to prevent a captured soldier from being spirited away. This procedure is itself a war crime.
A responsible cabinet, with a minimum of combat experience, would know all this at the moment it was called upon to decide on a military operation. If they don’t know, it is the duty of the army [or “military”] commanders — who are present at such cabinet meetings — to explain it to them. I wonder if they did.
ALL THIS means that, once started, the results were almost unavoidable. To make an attack without serious Israeli casualties possible, entire neighborhoods had to be flattened by drones, planes and artillery. And that obviously happened.Inhabitants were often warned to flee, and many did. Others did not, being loath to leave behind everything precious to them. Some people flee in the moment of danger, others hope against hope and stay.
I would ask the reader to imagine himself for a moment in such a situation.
Add to this the human element — the mixture of humane and sadistic men, good and bad, you find in any combat unit all over the world, and you get the picture.
Once you start a war, “stuff happens,” as the man said. There may be more war crimes or less, but there will be a lot.
ALL THIS could have been told to the UN committee of inquiry, headed by an American judge, by the chiefs of the Israeli army, had they been allowed to testify. The government did not allow them.
The convenient way out is to proclaim that all UN officials are by nature anti-Semites and Israel-haters, so that answering their questions is counter-productive.
We are moral. We are right. By nature. We can’t help it. Those who accuse us must be anti-Semites. Simple logic.
To hell with them all!
– Graphic anti-Israel display casts shadow over Amsterdam (Ynet, June 9, 2015):
Display posted by pro-Palestinian group horrifies Israelis who report locals, tourists taking literature in interest; ‘It was disgusting and terrible to see.’
Local visitors and tourists in Amsterdam’s Dam Square were welcomed over the weekend by disturbing images of the bodies of Palestinian children supposedly killed by IDF soldiers – images posted by pro-Palestinian activists who also protested Israel in the square.
The display appeared in the famous square in the center of the city under the title “Save the Palestinian Children.” Included in the display was a photo of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu representing Satan with red eyes and the teeth of a vampire dripping with blood over the body of a dead and bleeding Palestinian baby.
A blue Star of David appeared as a tattoo on the prime minister’s forehead under the title, “Can’t get enough.” A side graphic listed numbers of the dead and wounded in Gaza during a specific time period.
– Israeli soldiers ‘deliberately fired’ at civilians during Gaza war – NGO (RT, May 4, 2015):
Israeli soldiers were ordered to ‘fire at every person you see’ during the Gaza war, while civilian areas were deliberately targeted with inaccurate weapons, a report by the Israeli group Breaking the Silence NGO asserts.
Breaking the Silence, an NGO run by former Israeli soldiers, spent eight months after Operation Protective Edge ended interviewing more than 60 Israeli servicemen from the army, navy and air force up to the rank of major. The result is 237-page report.
Apr 11, 2015
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich explains U.S. trickery and why it can’t be trusted
– Meet the “Dirty Brigades” – The U.S. Trained and Funded Iraqi Soldiers Accused of War Crimes (Liberty Blitzkrieg, March 12, 2015):
U.S.-trained and armed Iraqi military units, the key to the American strategy against ISIS, are under investigation for committing some of the same atrocities as the terror group, American and Iraqi officials told ABC News. Some Iraqi units have already been cut off from U.S. assistance over “credible” human rights violations, according to a senior military official on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
The U.S. is shipping almost $1 billion in weapons, as well as providing U.S. military trainers to instruct new Iraqi recruits. A special operations official in Baghdad, however, said it’s the government of Iraq that decides — not the Pentagon — which Iraqi units get U.S.-donated weapons, such as 43,000 M4 rifles and thousands of other light infantry weapons Congress approved for shipment in December.
“Ministry of Interior officials tortured detainees to death, according to reports from multiple government officials and human rights organizations,” read the annual report. The Bureau explicitly fingered the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces and Interior Ministry’s special police units — which the U.S. established, trained and armed from 2003-2011, and whose troops are seen in many of the atrocities images.
From the ABC News article: ‘Dirty Brigades’: US-Trained Iraqi Forces Investigated for War Crimes
This is another one of those “you can’t make this stuff up” articles, which perfectly highlights the complete idiocy and incompetence of American foreign policy. It’s no wonder nothing gets better, considering the corrupt status quo continues to merely rotate the same empty suits between various positions of power (see:Jeb Bush Exposed Part 1 – His Top Advisors Will Be the Architects of His Brother’s Iraq War). It’s literally like giving people with the mental capacity and wisdom of an infant, nuclear weapons and telling them to go crazy.