UK War Crimes Exposed
by Stephen Lendman
Britain is complicit in most US wars of aggression. It’s no surprise when new information surfaces. More on it below.
The July 2002 “Downing Street memo” was leaked to The Sunday Times. In May 2005, it was revealed. Its authenticity never was challenged.
Secret Washington/UK collusion was exposed. So-called intelligence claiming justification for war on Iraq was cooked to fit already agreed on policy.
Smoking gun evidence said so. Bush, Tony Blair and their close advisors lied. They falsified evidence for war on Iraq. Nonexistent WMDs were claimed.
Then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was later asked why fictitious WMDs became a casus belli. “It was the only thing we could all agree on,” he said.
Tony Blair’s so-called 2003 “Dodgy Dossier” included more incriminating evidence. Dr. David Kelly death followed proof he revealed about sexing up the dossier to justify war on Iraq.
Subsequent Hutton report misinformation claimed Kelly committed suicide. He was murdered. Coverup tried to conceal it. Ravaging Iraq continues.
Bush and Blair bear full responsibility. Obama, Gordon Brown and David Cameron share it.
More information is now known. On January 12, London’s Independent headlined “Exclusive: Devastating dossier on ‘abuse’ by UK forces in Iraq goes to International Criminal Court.”
It’s titled “The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003 – 2008.”
“A devastating 250-page dossier” detailed evidence of beatings, burnings, electrocutions, mock executions, sexual assaults, cultural and religious humiliation, as well as threats of rape, death and other forms of torture.
High-level UK officials face potential prosecution for “systematic” war crimes. UK Army head General Peter Wall was named. So were former Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon and former Defense Minister Adam Ingram.
Evidence includes “thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) compiled volumes of damning evidence.
It reveals grave war crimes. The Rome Statute’s Article 15 calls for prosecutorial investigations “on the basis of information of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.”
“The Prosecutor shall analyse the seriousness of the information received,” it says.
An investigation will follow if a “reasonable basis” to conduct one is determined. If individuals involved are believed culpable, prosecutors will charge them accordingly.
The Independent reviewed lengthy dossier evidence. It called it “the most detailed ever submitted to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor on war crimes allegedly committed by British forces in Iraq.”
In 2006, the Court acknowledged the commission of war crimes, saying:
“There was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court had been committed, namely willful killing and inhuman treatment.”
It referred to fewer than 20 cases. Investigations didn’t follow. Hundreds of subsequent claims came to light.
Will UK political and military leaders be held accountable this time? Will or won’t they be prosecuted?
High crimes are indisputable. US officials are guilty of multiple crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.
No one was held accountable. America commits mass murder, torture and other high crimes with impunity.
Torture is official US policy. Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg. America maintains black sites worldwide. Dozens operate secretly. Numerous US allies host them.
Indefinite detentions, interrogations, torture and other forms of abuse are standard practice.
America is by far the world’s leading human rights abuser. No nation in history matches its ruthlessness.
Israel is a willing partner. So is Britain. Thousands of innocent victims suffer horrifically. Their ordeal continues.
Today’s Iraq alone reflects America’s genocidal legacy. Britain shares guilt.
The Independent called the “sheer scale and seriousness of the (new dossier’s) allegations” reason enough for a full investigation.
A formal complaint said “those who bear the greatest responsibility (for alleged war crimes) include individuals at the highest levels” of Britain’s government and military.
They include prime ministers, top defense officials, and general staff.
Damning evidence “justifies further investigation.” Criminal responsibility “of senior individuals within the UK military and government must be fully examined.”
Top level British commanders and government officials either ordered, “knew or should have known” about horrific crimes of war and against humanity.
Evidence shows “civilian superiors knew or consciously disregarded information at their disposal, which clearly indicated that UK services personnel were committing war crimes in Iraq.”
“(T)he the pattern of abusive treatment by UK services personnel in Iraq continued over almost six years of military operations.”
According to PIL’s Phil Shiner:
“I think we easily meet the threshold for these issues to be looked at. I would be gobsmacked and bitterly disappointed if they don’t look at this.”
Only a handful of low-level UK forces were prosecuted. One to date was convicted. Corporal Donald Payne was hung out to dry for the crimes of his superiors. He served a year in prison. It was for treating Iraqi civilians inhumanely.
Shiner said no one except Payne was held accountable. The complaint sent ICC prosecutors presents evidence too horrific to ignore.
It includes “systematic use of brutal violence, that at times resulted in the death of detainees, while in the custody of UK Services Personnel.”
It claims “evidence of brutality combined with cruelty and forms of sadism, including sexual abuse, and sexual and religious humiliation.”
It documents horrendous forms of torture and abuse. Nothing was too extreme to avoid. Bringing detainees close to death and back was practiced.
Clear patterns of abuse are undeniable. Mistreatment was systematic, widespread and lawless. ICC prosecutors are under mounting pressure to act.
Setting a precedent is vital. Last October, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom accused the Court of being “a political instrument targeting Africa and Africans.”
It’s an imperial tool. It targets victims, not Western perpetrators. America, Britain, other NATO partners and Israel were never held accountable. It’s high time that changed.
According to human rights expert Professor William Schabas:
Documented UK war crimes “throw(s) down the challenge to the court to show there are no double standards. There is definitely a case for an investigation…”
“(T)here’s no doubt” about UK forces committing war crimes. Higher-ups “should be worried,” he added.
Law Professor Andrew Williams said the complaint amounts to “a prima facie investigation mapped out for the prosecutor.” It’s “supported by sophisticated legal argument which adheres to (ICC) requirements…”
UK authorities are going all out to block ICC action. Foreign Secretary William Hague lied claiming no need for allegations to be investigated.
ECCHR secretary general Wolfgang Kaleck said:
“With the current communication to the ICC, we want to move forward the criminal prosecution against those political and military leaders in the UK who bear the most responsibility for systematic torture in Iraq.”
“The International Criminal Court in The Hague is the last resort for victims of torture and mistreatment to achieve justice.”
“Double standards in international criminal justice must end. War crimes and other severe violations of human rights must be investigated and prosecuted, regardless of whether they are committed by the most powerful.”
Hundreds of Iraqis testified about monstrous torture and abuse. They revealed damning evidence. Examples documented make painful reading.
Horrific torture and abuse was standard practice. Hundreds of victims bear witness to what happened.
Coverup and denial no longer wash. It remains to be seen whether ICC prosecutors act responsibly. Doing so will be unprecedented.
America commits the same systematic war crimes. Occasionally, low level US soldiers are hung out to dry for their superiors. Professor Stjepan Mestrovic is a regular Progressive Radio News Hour guest.
He documented examples in his book titled “The ‘Good Soldier’ On Trial: A Sociological Study of Misconduct by the US Military Pertaining to Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq.”
Low level soldiers were unfairly convicted. Responsible higher-ups were absolved.
“(A) crime becomes a ‘war crime,’ said Mestrovic, “when it involved the government, which is to say, when a crime is the result of unlawful social policies and plans.”
Lawful rules of engagement (ROE) killings result from orders in time of war. Unlawful ones are war crimes.
Military commanders and high government officials bear full responsibility. Sociologist Emile Durkheim once observed:
“The immorality of war depends entirely on the leaders who willed it – the soldiers and even those government officials who had no part in the decision remain innocent.”
According to Mestrovic:
In America’s war on terror, “the open secret is that” low level soldiers are blamed. Higher-ups are absolved. The same holds in Britain.
Who are the real criminals in wars of aggression? Who’s guilty? Who’s innocent?
In his opening Nuremberg address, Justice Robert Jackson said:
“The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people.”
“It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberative and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched.”
He called Nuremberg defendants “men of a station and rank which does not soil its own hands with blood.”
“These were men who knew how to use lesser folk as tools. We want to reach the planners and designers, the inciters and leaders.”
The same standard applies to America and Britain under binding international laws.
America’s Iron Triangle commander illegally ordered the killing of every military-aged Iraqi in sight.
Captured ones were imprisoned and tortured. Four low level US soldiers were wrongfully convicted.
Bogus charges included conspiracy, murder, aggravated assault, and obstruction of justice.
Orders issued were obeyed. Court-martials, imprisonments, fines, and dishonorable discharges would have followed otherwise.
Crimes of war and against humanity were committed. Higher-ups bore full responsibility. Culpability extended to the Pentagon and White House.
Mestrovic documented “hundreds of instances of deceit, chicanery, and dubious behavior on the part of the government” and high level military officials.
Operation Iron Triangle was one of many similar incidents. They occur in all US/UK/NATO/Israeli wars.
They occur in torture prisons. They occur out of sight and mind. Evidence obtained from victims and witnesses are damning.
Accountability is sorely lacking. Torture, abuse, and other crimes of war and against humanity continue daily. They do so out of sight and mind.
Imperial lawlessness operates this way. America bears full responsibility. Britain and other complicit partners share it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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