Friday, December 09, 2005

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Newsnight stages "War Crimes Trial"




BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Newsnight stages "War Crimes Trial": "I am an officer who served with the Joint Helicopter Force in Iraq last year. One of my fellow officers was awarded a DFC whilst flying in support of the Black Watch near Fallujah. On one particular occasion he was engaged by small arms and his doorgunner returned fire. At the point when they ceased firing and got back into a car to drive off he ordered his doorgunner to cease fire because they no longer posed a direct threat. I mention this to illustrate how disciplined the British Army can be and how thin the line can be between right and wrong. A couple of days later the rules of engagement were re-interpreted (not changed) and would have allowed him to continue to prosecute the engagement to a conclusion. I do not believe it is possible to sit in a studio and cast stones. That said, where British soldiers have clearly behaved criminally as in the example of the Fusiliers at Camp Bread Basket, then they should be prosecuted with vigour. A Court Martial is the right place to do this. I hope your jury will include some members of the Armed Forces who have served in Iraq. Secondly, I would point out that I, like many of my peers, believe that the war was wrong and probably illegal. I certainly think it has made the world a less secure place and put the so called war on terror back by several decades. I knew as far back as Easter 2002 that we would be going to war. The mood music in the MOD was plain. Scarlet did not have to be told what to write as he would have known only too well what was required. My point is that I would put Tony Blair firmly in the dock. He is responsible, not the soldiers who become caught up in a maelstrom of his making. By sending us to war he unleashes forces that are difficult to control. When you are at war, the rule of law cannot apply in the same way as on the streets of London. And whilst I agree that it must apply, it can only be done through the chain o"


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