AU Governor General: Australian military over-committed, war sucks, and the US didn’t have enough troops in Baghdad

The Australian is reporting an interview with Governor General, Major General Jeffrey. While avoiding directly attacking the government, it is fun seeing the Queen’s representative in Australia, the bloke who could disband the government if he wanted to, deliver a stinging attack on the Iraq war:

Australia’s Commander-in-Chief, Governor-General Michael Jeffery, believes a lack of troops on the ground in the weeks after the US-led coalition went into Iraq hampered efforts to secure Baghdad.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian Magazine, Major General Jeffery contrasted early tactics in Iraq with the counter-insurgency campaign he led in Phuoc Tuy province during the Vietnam War. “We were charged with winning the hearts and minds of local people and ensuring they were safe, which is the antithesis of what’s happening in Baghdad. People aren’t safe,” he said.

Major General Jeffery served in Borneo, Malaya, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam during a 40-year military career. As Commander-in-Chief he receives regular briefings from the defence chiefs on troop deployments, not policy.

He will not say whether Australia’s involvement in Iraq is right or wrong because he won’t comment on operational matters(news terrorist: snigger..).

(snip)

“I have a total abhorrence of war now,” he said. “Having seen what war does and the causes so often involve stupidity, and understanding the impact on populations … I’m not saying we shouldn’t have an army but I think we have to find far better ways for conflict resolution. “We’ve got to strengthen the United Nations and reform the security council, the world deserves that.”

Between 1991 and 1993 Major General Jeffery served as deputy chief of the general staff, a post he almost resigned from to protest against “massive reductions” in troop numbers. “Now we are seeing people trying to build the army up at a rapid rate because we’re over committed.”

His comments mirror claims by the Opposition Leader and former defence minister Kim Beazley that the military is more stretched than it has been since the Vietnam War.

Source: US didn’t have enough troops in Baghdad: G-G

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AU SAS Leader: Iraq a strategic and moral blunder

The Australian lead with this story today about Iraq. I guess Rupert Murdoch is changing tune.

Highlights:

Peter Tinley, the former SAS officer who devised and executed the Iraq war plan for Australia’s special forces says that the nation’s involvement has been a strategic and moral blunder.

(snip)

“It was a cynical use of the Australian Defence Force by the Government,” the ex-SAS operations officer told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

“This war duped the Australian Defence Force and the Australian people in terms of thinking it was in some way legitimate.”

As the lead tactical planner for Australia’s special forces in the US in late 2002, Mr Tinley was in a unique position to observe intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program and the coalition’s military preparations in the lead-up to the war.

(snip)

In Iraq in 2003, Mr Tinley served as deputy commander for the 550-strong joint special forces task group that took control of western Iraq.

Part of his command was 1 SAS Squadron, which was awarded a US Meritorious Unit citation for its “sustained gallantry”, contributing to a comprehensive success for coalition forces in Iraq.

He served 17 years with the elite SAS regiment, leaving the army as a major last year. In 2003 he was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “dynamic leadership and consistent professional excellence”.

(snip)

During war planning with US and British special forces at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 2002, Mr Tinley says he never saw any hard intelligence that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed weapons of mass destruction.

“When I pressed them (US intelligence) for more specific imagery or information regarding locations or likely locations of WMD they confessed, off the record, that there had not been any tangible sighting of any WMD or WMD enabling equipment for some years,” he said.

“It was all shadows and inferenced conversations between Iraqis. There was an overwhelming desire for all of the planning staff to simply believe that the Iraqis had learned how to conceal their WMD assets away from the US (surveillance) assets.”

(snip) 

After the initial invasion, the search for WMD became something of a “standing joke” with neither coalition troops nor the Iraq Survey Group turning up anything of consequence.

“The notion that pre-emption is a legitimate strategy in the face of such unconvincing intelligence is a betrayal of the Australian way,” he said.

(snip)

“During our preparations for this war I remember hearing (ex-defence chief) General Peter Gration’s misgivings and assumed he did not possess all the information that our Prime Minister did,” he said. “I now reflect on his commentary with a completely different view and am saddened that other prominent people in our society didn’t speak louder at the time and aren’t continuing to speak out in light of what we now know.”

He said the Government had broken a moral contract with its defence force in sending it to an “immoral war”.

The Government’s stance on Iraq and later on issues such as the Tampa had gradually allowed fear to become a motivating factor in the electorate, he said.

Mr Tinley said the Howard Government had failed to be honest with Australians about Iraq and “you can’t separate the sentiment of the defence force from that of the people”. (snip)

Rumsfeld Under Fire: War Crimes Suit Filed

 

One of the biggest pricks in America is in more hot water (after resigning last week)

According to German paper Der Spiegel, a coalition of human rights groups has filed a criminal lawsuit against the former US Secretary of Defense.

The coalition, led by the New York-based civil rights group Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), filed a criminal complaint against Rumsfeld on Tuesday at the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The coalition also feel they have more chance of success this time with new evidence, such as documents from the 2005 Congressional hearings on the al-Qahtani case.

Rumsfeld’s resignation last week may also mean that prosecutors are under less political pressure to shun the case, the activists feel. His resignation also means he can no longer try to claim immunity as a sovereign official from international prosecution for war crimes.

CCR and its partner organizations filed a similar complaint in 2004, but it was dropped. They claim the US pressured Germany to drop the case, which was dismissed in February 2005 on the eve of a visit by Rumsfeld to Germany. At the time, then-federal prosecutor Kay Nehm said that there were no indications that the US authorities would “refrain from penal measures” regarding the violations described in the complaint. The activists believe that Nehm’s successor, Monika Harms, who took office earlier this year, may be more amenable to their cause.

Former Commander of Abu Ghraib to testify

The coalition have an ace up their sleeve: Janis Karpinski, the former commander of Abu Ghraib, will appear as a witness on their behalf.

“Janis Karpinski is the witness,” commented Kaleck. “The plaintiffs can and should testify (about) what happened to them, but on the other hand they cannot testify who ordered and enforced the interrogation methods, and who conducted them. You must have someone from the apparatus, and this is Janis Karpinski.”

Karpinski , who resigned from the army in July 2005, wants to shed light on the incidents that ended her army career. “I served for 28 years,” Karpinski told the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel. “I was entirely committed to the army. Then they make me into a scapegoat.”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,druck-448320,00.html

Hicks abandoned by Australia and tortured by America

Amnesty International has accused Australian government of abandoning terror suspect, David Hicks. (PIC: SBS)

Amnesty International has accused the Australian government of abandoning terror suspect David Hicks and doing nothing to ensure sure he gets a fair trial.

Amnesty secretary general Irene Khan last week wrote an open letter to Prime Minister John Howard as part of its campaign to have Hicks released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where he has been held for five years.

Symbol of injustice

Ms Khan said Amnesty was concentrating on the Hicks’ case because it had become a symbol of injustice and the impunity which the US military prison had come to represent.

“We are picking him because he has been now in Guantanamo for almost five years without being tried. He’s not likely to get a fair trial in the US, which has just adopted a new law.”

Ms Khan accused the Australian government of behaving outrageously in the Hicks’ case. “They have basically abandoned him. They have not taken any effort to ensure that he gets a fair trial,” she said. “They approved trial by military commission, which the US Supreme Court has said violates American law as well as international law.

“So he should come home, he should get justice here in Australia. Give him a fair go at Australian justice.”

‘Depressed and disorientated’

US military lawyer Major Michael Mori says Hicks is depressed and disorientated after being left in solitary confinement in Guantanamo Bay for seven months with the lights on 24 hours a day.

Major Mori confirmed his client has been confined to the one concrete room for about 22 hours of every day for the last seven months.

The military lawyer is in Australia to seek a meeting with Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and to conduct a cross-party briefing of federal MPs.

He also suggested Hicks had been subject to sleep deprivation, an action defined as coercion rather than torture by Mr Ruddock.

“There was no valid reason given why he was placed in solitary.”

Asked if Hicks was close to breaking, Mori said he hoped the former jackaroo was not.

“We’re doing everything we can. We try to get down there as quickly as possible and try to get books through for him, but it does take some time.”

But the reality, Major Mori said, was that Hicks was in a terrible mental state.

“I went down and spent my birthday with him at the beginning of October,” Major Mori said.

“I see the changes in him, a sense of depression (and) I think that’s what they’re probably shooting for: they want to break him, they don’t want him to resist.”

Major Mori said a possible explanation for the solitary confinement could be that Hicks had complained. “The day before he was put in solitary, he met with Australian
consular (officials) and complained, things that were happening to him and also what he had seen. The next day, he was put in solitary confinement.”

Hicks, Major Mori said, was now refusing to meet with consular officials.

“They (guards at Guantanamo Bay) have trained him that if he doesn’t talk, if he doesn’t complain then he doesn’t get punished.”

Source SBS / AAP

See also:
Minister’s doubts over Guantanamo :

Hicks in solitary seven months
– Mori | | The Australian

Time to bring Hicks home, Joyce says – Breaking News – National – Breaking News

Govt coy on sleep deprivation tactics – Breaking News – National – Breaking News

Sleep deprivation ‘sometimes’ torture | NEWS.com.au

Sleep deprivation inhumane – Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy

Amusingly, to me anyway, the Australian Army head, Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy, has contradicted Philip Ruddock, Australia’s attorney-general by
stating that sleep deprivation is considered an illegal and
“inhumane” interrogation tactic under Defence Force codes of
practice.

Lieutenant-General Leahy yesterday appeared before the Senate Estimates Committee, and read from the Defence Force’s “interrogators’ handbook”. Quoting from the book he said: “Detainees are not to be deprived of sleep, deprivation of
sleep is considered inhumane.”

According to the handbook, sleep
deprivation is against the Geneva Convention.

Army contradicts Ruddock on torture – theage.com.au