The Curmudgeon


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Funny Old Thing, Memory

The former Minister for Our Boys, Adam Ingram, has been questioned about his reactions to the torture and murder of Baha Mousa by some brave men doing a wonderful job under difficult circumstances. Ingram got off to a fine start shortly after the invasion of Iraq when the International Committee of the Red Cross complained to the British military about their practice of hooding and broiling prisoners in the sun. Two months after the complaint, Ingram was able to say that the Government had "worked very closely with the ICRC, who have expressed themselves content with the way we have treated prisoners and detainees throughout the conflict". Ingram cannot now remember being informed of the ICRC's complaint since he was, after all, merely the minister responsible.

On 15 September 2003 Mousa was beaten to death "on suspicion of being an insurgent", which in this context could mean anything from being discovered with a bomb strapped to his chest down to looking at his liberators in a funny way. Ingram was informed in subsequent memos that Mousa had been kept hooded for twenty-four hours out of thirty-six, that the affair "could be very messy" and that the minister responsible for dealing with the repercussions was a certain Adam Ingram. By 15 June 2004, an uncertain Adam Ingram was "not aware of any incidents in which UK interrogators are alleged to have used hooding as an interrogation technique", and ten days later a similar Adam Ingram sought to "make absolutely clear that hooding was only used during the transit of prisoners. It was not used as an interrogation technique". Ingram explained the discrepancy by saying that it certainly would not have been within his power to remember everything that he had been told in writing or verbally, particularly a case which he had been specifically warned was his problem and could be very messy; since he was, after all, merely the minister responsible.

Ingram stated that, as one would expect, "horrified" is a bit strong as a description of his reaction to the news about hooding. "I wouldn't have put a value judgment on it until I had established best information and ground truth," Ingram says; which may possibly explain Ingram's apparent lack of interest in establishing best information and ground truth, always assuming that these are ministerial synonyms for "the facts" and not some obscure Whitehall code for whatever Adam Ingram was interested in hearing. One fact of which Adam Ingram was unaware was the law regarding hooding and sleep deprivation, which had been banned by Edward Heath's government thirty years before the Iraq adventure. It is not clear whether, when the ban was brought to his attention, Ingram became any more horrified than he had been previously. He was, after all, merely the minister responsible.


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