the Disillusioned kid: CSI: Basra
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Sunday, October 16, 2005

CSI: Basra

There are so many detective shows on TV that its safe to assume moreorless everyone watches at least one. Personally I'm rather partial to a bit of CSI. A recurring meme in such programmes is for the suspect to change his alibi in the face of new evidence. This is a surefire sign that they have something to hide and usually a good idication of guilt. How close to reality this might be is open to question, but nevertheless this was the first thing which sprang into my head when I read the latest claims about the mission being carried out by the two SAS soliders arrested by Iraqi police last month.

You may recall that it was initially claimed that the pair were engaged in a "secret war" against insurgents smuggling weapons into the country from Iran. This fits nicely into the "Iran (or the Revolutionary Guards or Hezbollah or some other shady Persian organisation) is supporting the insurgents" paradigm which the dominant media are eagerly propagating according to their usual journalistic standards. Now, however, we discover that "the real story" behind the undercover mission is that they were spying on a senior police commander who had been torturing prisoners with an electric drill. (Intriguingly the Telegraph article makes no mention of the earlier explanation which is presumably to be consigned to the memory hole forthwith.)

Even if we accept this new explanation a number of questions remain. Why then the initial story about combatting smuggling? Was this little more than a conveniently timed propaganda exercise? Why if we are so concerned about torture by Basran police have operations against them been "suspended", apparently without resolution? Unsurprisingly, the Torygraph doesn't engage with any of this and as yet hardly anybody else has picked up on the story.

One further point of interest in the article was the following assertion:
British Government ministers are understood to be extremely concerned and embarrassed by the allegations of torture because it was the Army that helped to re-create the police force and reopened Jamiyat jail.
I can't help feeling that, given the context, accurately described in the passage, "extremely concerned and embarrassed," doesn't get the tone right. I prefer "morally culpable".

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