Lack of Courage

(Reuters) – A former British soldier told an inquiry on Monday into allegations of abuse by British troops in Iraq that he saw two of his colleagues kick and hit a handcuffed Iraqi detainee shortly before he died. Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel clerk, died some 24 hours after he and six others were arrested by the British army in 2003 during a sweep of hotels in the southern Iraqi city of Basra looking for weapons.

In 2007, British soldier Corporal Donald Payne was ordered out of the army and jailed for a year after he pleaded guilty at a court martial to inhumane treatment of Mousa and other Iraqi detainees. His lawyer said he was carrying out orders. A public inquiry was launched in London earlier this year to establish exactly how Mousa came to die and to examine the British military’s use of techniques to attempt to break prisoners during interrogation. In a statement to the inquiry, former Private Garry Reader said for the first time that he saw Payne and another soldier kicking and hitting a struggling Mousa as they tried to drag him into a detention facility.

“I don’t believe he was a threat. I just think he was injured and wanted to get help,” Reader said. He said Payne and the other soldier, a private, had both been “very aggressive”.
“They did anything within their power to get him back into the room. As I left I could hear screaming coming from the room. There was no way that Baha Mousa could escape, he was in a compound full of soldiers, he looked a bit dazed and wouldn’t have got anywhere.”

Reader said he later returned to the detention room and found Mousa slumped and unresponsive, and had tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him. He said he had not spoken out about the incident before as he had been a serving soldier and “didn’t want any repercussions”. He added: “Six years on I do feel able to say what was true and give my best recollection of what happened. I believe that Corporal Payne and Private Cooper caused the death of Baha Mousa.” Last year, Britain’s Ministry of Defence agreed to pay nearly 3 million pounds ($5 million) compensation to Mousa’s family and other Iraqis beaten by British troops in 2003. (Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Tim Castle)

3 Responses to “Lack of Courage”

  1. libhomo Says:

    War makes people do horrifying things.

  2. earwicga Says:

    People make people do horrifying things.

  3. wyamarus Says:

    As Hannah Arendt pointed out many years ago in describing the Nazi mindset, “the banality of evil” describes the faceless bureaucrats and functionaries down to the proletarian members of any horrific enterprise,each of whom has made a series of moral accommodations to things that they may have rejected if forced to support them in their totality at once. The subtle process of making the unacceptable acceptable starts with small changes in perception or even the syntax of language. Witness the use of the term of art “collateral damage”. This used to be more accurately described as “civilian casualties”, but that had an unavoidable moral connotation attached to it. The effect of using a word like “collateral” has the effect of contextually turning it into a numerical exercise in accounting, and therefore morally neutral. Our slide into the Abyss begins with these small steps.

    To borrow a bit from Len Hart at The Extentialist Cowboy…
    the whole article is a very good read.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009
    Is the GOP a Nazi Party?
    by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

    “How to Know a Nazi When You Find One

    Nazis are where you find them. In pre-war Germany, they were found in the party which gave them their name. In the US, latter day Nazis will be found in abundance in the GOP and even among the Democratic right wing. Nazis are what Nazis do!

    Ritzler and his colleagues saw a socially distant, intellectually pretentious person lacking depth of character…this psychological profiled belonged to a simple man. They speculated that he attained his success by being a good organization man, doing what he was told to do and not making waves. …no one suggested a person from academia, the clergy or the arts.

    …the experience of learning the subject’s identity has been unforgettable. the psychological protocol belonged to Adolf Eichmann!

    As he was tried, Eichmann was portrayed in the media as a ‘depraved killer responsible for the deaths of millions’. And so he was but only because he was a bureaucrat, a ‘Republican’, an ‘organization man’, a man whose truth was the party line and modus operandi. The very face of ‘evil’ as it was glimpsed by Dr. Gilbert and, later, Hannah Arendt, turned out to be the banal face of a bureaucrat.

    Nazis may not have issued membership cards and a subscription to a newsletter! They were defined, however, by a psychological characteristic perhaps first described by Dr. Gustav Gilbert, the American psychologist who ‘interviewed’ Nazis imprisoned at Nuremberg. It was Gilbert who defined the Nazi mentality by its ‘utter lack of empathy’, a trait that has been identified in the contemporary US GOP.”

    What are ‘military men’ but ‘organization men’ without empathy?

    I find it disheartening that the Neo-Con, Corporate mentality has found such a fertile ground in European ‘democracies’ where the people should know better.

    In the US, the level of naivete, or ignorance is perpetuated by an ‘educational’ system who’s sole purpose is apparently to stifle individuality and creative, independent thought in the underclass who are regarded as a disposable commodity workforce, mindless consumers, and breeders. The media is owned and controlled by corporate entities who serve as propagandists for the ruling elite; and without a defining culture (and the implicit long verbal histories about the origins and values of a people), all that is left is the myths of ‘American exceptionalism’ and innocence (ignorance?) that have been promoted as cultural memes.


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