Our Dirty War

British army ‘waterboarded’ suspects in 70s. This is why, when sometimes someone holds up Northern Ireland as an example of fighting terrorism not in the war-on-terror way, I cringe, the state murders, the torture, the framings, the hunger strikes, the racism. It’s really not a lesson in best practice, unless the lesson is oppressing people, hmmm maybe I misunderstood , maybe that’s what they mean, they’re against the manner of oppression not the principle, less air strikes more deep dark police ‘interrogation’ centres. Of course, as they do today, the MOD keeps lying about our forces uses of torture.

The Ministry of Defence said it was unable to confirm whether British service personnel had received instruction in waterboarding techniques as part of their counterinterrogation training at that time, and it would not disclose whether personnel currently receive such instruction “for reasons of operational security”.

There is evidence that such instruction has been given, however. In 2005 Rod Richard, the former Welsh Office minister, told a Welsh newspaper that he had been waterboarded during his counterinterrogation training as a Royal Marines officer in the late 60s.

The Guardian has spoken to a former Royal Marines officer who says that he and his fellow officers and their men were all waterboarded at the end of their escape and evasion training at Lympstone, Devon, in the late 60s and early 70s.

Seven months before Holden was detained by British soldiers, the Heath government had publicly repudiated and banned five “interrogation techniques”. RUC officers had learned the techniques – hooding, sleep deprivation, starvation and the use of stress positions and noise – from British military intelligence officers, but Heath assured the Commons that they “will not be used in future as an aid to interrogation”.

There were subsequently unconfirmed allegations that the British army had experimented with other methods of torture, including electric shocks, and the use of drugs. Towards the end of the decade, Amnesty International was reporting that terrorism suspects were again being mistreated, this time by RUC detectives, “with sufficient frequency to warrant the establishment of a public inquiry”.

2 Responses to “Our Dirty War”

  1. libhomo Says:

    I wonder if the UK will ever get out of Ireland.

  2. RickB Says:

    I think it’s possible in the space of this century, but things like the Royal Family/establishment, tories and our imaginary ‘constitution’ will be obstacles. But it could stand a very good example of a one state solution in action, if religion can be disentangled from the Irish state (and ours).


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