Baha Mousa killing reveals shameful army culture

Sep 9, 2011

Talking Point: MoD’s culture of arrogance exposed by Sir William Gage’s report into killing

IT WAS Britain's Abu Ghraib moment, says Deborah Haynes in the Times. The beating to death of the Iraqi civilian Baha Mousa in military custody "will forever tarnish the reputation of the British Army in Iraq." To make matters worse, it took eight years to have the killing of the innocent hotel receptionist brought to justice.  
David Cameron has said that England does not sweep scandal under the carpet, but the handling of this matter says otherwise, says Haynes. Had the brutal killing of Mousa been dealt with effectively in 2003, the military might not be facing a litany of other allegations.
A corporate failure

Nothing excuses the "unspeakable thuggery" of the soldiers involved in Mousa's death, says an editorial in the Daily Mail. It brought disgrace on an army with "a fiercely proud record of treating detainees with humanity and respect".
But the Baha Mousa enquiry also found a "corporate failure", that meant that MoD bureaucrats failed to "make troops aware of the standards of conduct expected of them".
Systematic lying

It's a bit more than "corporate failure", says Robert Fisk in the Independent. It happened Northern Ireland, and with the Americans after Abu Ghraib, Bagram and the renditions. But it wasn't the brutality that was systematic ­ "it was the lying".
MoD arrogant self-justification

Yes, Mousa's killing by British soldiers was "shameful", as Sir William Gage's report said yesterday, but so is the Ministry of Defence's arrogance and self-justification, writes Phil Shiner in the Guardian. Shiner, a solicitor acting for Mousa's family and for 150 other Iraqis with claims of abuse against the MoD, says this is not a matter of "a few bad apples" or one set of shameful events.
The Ministry of Defence will no doubt do its utmost to ignore Gage's recommendations, says Shiner. They will continue to hide damaging documents, mislead our courts and use their coercive power to keep the public in the dark. And they will "continue to spin and engage in defensive damage limitation" until the public, civil society and the courts force the MoD "to put its house in order".

The generals are to blame

"We’re going after the wrong people," Crispin Black, former army intelligence officer, told The First Post today. "Of course we cannot condone this awful behaviour but the fact is our army was not properly trained, equipped or prepared for the Iraq campaign and that is not the fault of the soldiers and officers on the ground, but of the generals and politicians back in London."

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