Minimum force meets brutality: Detention, interrogation and torture in british counter-insurgency campaigns
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Military Ethics 11 (1):10-25 (2012)
Abstract This paper explores brutality and torture in the history of British counter-insurgency campaigns. Taking as a pretext the British government's announcement in January 2012 to scrap a judicial review into the rendition and torture of UK citizens at Guantanamo Bay by American intelligence operatives with the complicity of British intelligence agencies, the paper posits that the actions this review was supposed to evaluate are not restricted to counter-terrorism. By examining the historical usage of interrogation methods by the British in counter-insurgency campaigns against suspected IRA members in the first decade of the ?Troubles? in Northern Ireland, this article builds a wider frame of reference for the recent controversies surrounding the treatment of detainees during the British occupation of southern Iraq. Although the detention and interrogation of suspects in counter-insurgency campaigns is a necessary security measure, the oft-heralded British adherence to ?minimum force? is heavily mythologised given the prevalence of the brutal treatment of detainees. Considering the detrimental impact (in an ethical, legal and security context) that the existence of torture during detention and interrogation had in these cases, the article upholds an absolutist position on the prohibition of torture
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