Three War Criminals

February 15, 2007

The Blair government’s campaign against the Brit Army just hit another rock. He, his Chancellor, and his Attorney General should be punished for the damage they’ve done to the nation’s security.

The latest:

An Army officer was cleared by a court martial yesterday amid claims that he had been prosecuted as part of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Col Jorge Mendonca, who was commander of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, had been charged with negligently performing a (sic) duty after an Iraqi died in his battalion’s custody in 2003.

The most expensive court martial in British history, estimated to cost more than £20 million, has sparked criticism of the Army Prosecuting Authority and the conduct of the Attorney General in supervising the prosecution.

It had been claimed that some of the colonel’s men had abused the Iraqis they had detained following a raid on a hotel in Basra where weapons allegedly belonging to insurgents were found.

One detainee later died in custody, and the Attorney General succeeded in convicting a Brit soldier involved as a war criminal – putting him in the same class as Hitler. He then prosecuted the officer in charge of the entire regiment, but not the command chain in between.

Here’s the missing context.

The 600 men of the Royal Lancashires had responsibility for taking and then policing Basra, Iraq’s second largest city. It has a population of 2.6 million, the same as Greater Manchester, which is policed by:

…8,167 Police Officers, 380 volunteer Special Constables, 3,769 members of support staff and 270 community support officers

That’s about 12,000 law enforcers and support staff to handle a typical city in a peaceful nation. The Royal Lancashires had just 5% of this force to deal with these horrors:

Terrorist attacks
Armed Robbery
Violent Black Marketeering
House take-overs
Grenade attacks
Public disorder

So the real crime here is betrayal of responsibility for men placed in harm’s way – Blair’s supplying too few troops, Brown’s under-equipping them, and Goldsmith’s prosecuting the poor devils as war criminals when they failed to meet the standards of a peace-time constabulary.

And of course wasting £20 million on this prosecution, a sum which:

…as Brig Sheldon puts it, “money that could have bought a complete set of state-of-the-art body armour for all the 15,500 troops currently on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan”.