Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Fake photos, real problem, still no ICRC publication

Reports are increasing that the Daily Mirror photos have been debunked (BBC link. Further, Mirror Group issued a statement saying that they were confident that the pictures "accurately illustrated" serious abuse - a wording that suggests backtracking. Among other things, I've heard that the army's inventory of trucks was used to trace where they might have been taken - some suggest a territorial barracks in Preston of all places. As a health warning, it should be recalled that the Daily Torygraph has a record of publishing sensational defence-related stories that later fail to stack up. And who really wants Geoff Hoon to be right? In his statement yesterday, he provided chapter and verse on how he didn't manage to see the Red Cross report on detention in the British zone. Typically for Hoon, it was all someone else's fault - those people at the Permanent Joint HQ in Northwood decided it wasn't important, he says. I'm sure a minister with his honed sense of self preservation might have realised it could be dangerous. But naturally he knew nothing.

In the statement, he referred to three allegations made by the ICRC - the case of Baha Mousa, the practice of hooding suspects, and the case of a man who claimed his car had been stolen. It could have been much worse, I suppose. But if this is the case, the ICRC didn't consider any of the shooting incidents - which now seem worse than the detention allegations. Really? That doesn't seem convincing to me. Why not publish the document? Alternatively, why not resign anyway dammit? There is no other way to salvage any decency in this but complete openness. Not that it will do any good, of course, but sometimes "things should be done simply because they are right" in John Smith's words. Full disclosure would fall in that category. So would Hoon's departure...

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