Are The Mirror Photos Fakes?

Today, some doubts have been cast over the authenticity of the photos I talked about in this rant. These are the questions raised:

“However the BBC’s defence correspondent Paul Adams says sources close to The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment believe many aspects of the photographs are suspicious.

He says they believe the pictures may not have even been taken in Iraq.

–>They believe the rifle is an SA80 mk 1 – which was not issued to troops in Iraq.

–>They say soldiers in Iraq wore berets or hard hats – and not floppy hats as in the photos.

–>They also believe the wrong type of Bedford truck is shown in the background – a type never deployed in Iraq.”(Source: BBC News)

I’m not expert enough in the minutiae of military detail to judge these questions.

But another, worrying thought has occurred to me.

Perhaps these photos are fakes, designed with the purpose of defusing any criticism of British involvement in Iraq?

This may seem like a strange statement: surely the shitstorm from the photos has damaged Britain’s role in Iraq? Yes, certainly. But if, in a couple of days, those photos are revealed to be fakes, the pendulum will swing back the other way.

So… any future criticism would be tarnished. Pro-war blowhards could merely rubbish them by saying they’re probably as fake as the shocking Mirror photographs. The British Army would have a very effective propaganda cushion, at leat in Britain where we don’t like the idea of “our brave lads” behaving like barbarians. We’ll seize any chance to escape that uncomfortable reality, to go back to the fantasy of friendly, liberating soldiers, handing out Kit Kats to smiling Iraqi kids.

And yet…

“But it is a year and two days since Ather Karen al-Mowafakia died in British custody in Basra. During the next five months another six men died while in the custody of British soldiers.

And it is four months since the first details of these deaths first emerged in The Independent on Sunday, when our Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, gave an account of the death of Baha Mousa, 26, a hotel receptionist. Mr Mousa was allegedly beaten to death in September by members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment – the same regiment shown abusing prisoners in yesterday’s photographs. Kifah Taha, a hotel worker arrested at the same time as Mr Mousa and who suffered acute renal failure after being kicked by soldiers during questioning, said each of the Iraqis was given a nickname: “They called us by the names of footballers and kept telling us to repeat them, so we would remember who we were.”(Source: The Independent)

As far as is known, at least seven Iraqis have died while in the custody of British soldiers. No one has been charged with their murders.

There is very little doubt cast on the US pictures of torture released this week. In those photos, you can clearly see the faces of the US torturers, smiling as they pose next to their helpless victims.

If the Mirror photos are fakes, it would give the perfect retort to any further reports of human rights abuse in Iraq. But even before they were printed, there were serious allegations being made:

“Further evidence of brutality by British troops is included in a report published by Amnesty International. It said: “Many detainees have alleged they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops during interrogation. Methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding and exposure to bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment has been adequately investigated.”(Source: The Independent)

Remember that. If there are any sudden “revelations” in the next few days as to the provenance of the Mirror photos: the torture and murder of Iraqis by British troops is very real.