BBC Let’s Talk 20040513

I went to a televised recording of the BBC NI programme, Let’s Talk. The first question was:

“What do the panel think about the recent shocking pictures of the Iraqi prisoners tortured in the Abu Ghraib prison? Were they isolated abuses or were they part of a wider system of degradation and torture, designed to drag and soften detainees for interrogation?”

I caught the eye of moderator Mark Carruthers in the audience reply, and I said:

“The question was very specific to Abu Ghraib, and I think that what has been missing in this discussion is the fact that those abuses took place where private companies were responsible for the interrogation. There have been dismissal of soldiers, but the problem is that those private companies –- while international law they’re obliged to recognise and abide by the Geneva Convention –- they aren’t, clearly! And remember the United States does not recognise the International Criminal Court. What you have here, where the abuses are taking place, is effectively a bunch of American mercenaries, who are being well-paid by the Pentagon, to do their interrogation as they see fit. And what is happening is they’re corrupting the US Armed Forces, who do have to abide by the Military Code of Justice. I think this needs, really, to be underlined, lest we think that the whole US Armed Forces are corrupt and participating in these acts.”

I was motivated by a story I read in the Weekly Guardian, Dirty war for profit evades reach of law, by Julian Borger.

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