Dutch troops tortured prisoners in Iraq

In November 2003 Dutch Military Intelligence tortured dozens of prisoners in the Iraq province of Al Muthanna. Al Muthanna was under British command at the time. The Dutch did not have an official mandate to interrogate prisoners. Torture consisted of keeping prisoners awake by throwing cold water on them and the use of high-frequency noise and bright light. The venue was a complex of the Coalition Provisional Authority in As Samawah.

Later more. For the time being there is still a lot of denial and obfuscation. Dutch newspaper article here.

25 thoughts on “Dutch troops tortured prisoners in Iraq

  1. A lot of people in Iraq don’t have a mandate for many things. How about starting with George Bush? It seems to be a question of how much you can get away with before you get caught. Anybody who has played a sport knows that once the game starts most of the pre-planning goes to hell. In rugby if you need an edge maybe you will grab someone’s balls in a loose scrum or head butt an opponent out of sight of the ref. Of course, it’s not right … but it happens anyway. I think it’s called the human condition. Forget the Dutch, look at UN so-called “peace keepers” in Africa selling favors for sex etc. This crap is going to happen no matter how many checks-and-balances you create. Unfortunate but true.

  2. Rupert and Joost, what is your definition of torture?

    My definition of something that is torture is something so unpleasant that most people start to say anything to make it stop.

    My guess is that you two will say that it is torture on day 2.

    Sleepdeprivation also leaves lasting damage to the person unlike waterboarding or being zapped 20 volt.

  3. If you put troops in a place they are shot at, they will take measures to prevent that. To a certain extent, you can counterbalance this, but only to a certain extent.

    If you get involved into a guerilla, be prepared to dirty your hands.

  4. If you are somewhere where you can be shot at, you are involved. To involve you into a conflict, an enemy that has the means and the will to do so is sufficient. The idea that we have a choice among finely grained levels of involvement ignores the adversary and is hubris.

  5. Charly: the Dutch provided an infantry battalion, as well as medical, intelligence and engineer support. They had a sector command. They were not pretending not to be involved like the Japanese, who sent an engineer battalion to “do reconstruction work” in Muthanna under the Dutch sector command. This meant in practice sitting in their camp whilst the Dutch guarded them.

  6. Muthanna is a desert with 300.000. The Dutch went there because they knew they wouldn’t be doing anything

  7. The torturing was done by the army intelligence service MIVD. Dutch army police investigated and intended to engage the Army Court. They were overruled, at the time, by the General Staff in The Hague.
    I suppose that the Dutch Intelligence- and Commando-units that are from 2004 engaged (under American command)in the “Enduring Freedom” operation in South-Eastern Afghanistan,continued their “hard” interrogation practices. The actual Dutch “reconstruction” mission (under NATO-command) in the Afghan Southern province of Uruzgan, is unable to do their work, as those “rough” commando-units are roaming the countryside in “their” region, provoking an all-out guerrilla-war with the local warlords.
    The Dutch Central Command must be wary of that situation. It has probably provoked the “leak” of last week, in order to neutralize the rowdy units and bring them under their control again. This is made possible by the specific pre-election situation in Holland, where a Minority Government is under close scrutiny by the left opposition parties.
    The rules of engagement that have been approved by Dutch Parliament in February 2006 for the Afghanistan mission, do not allow for active combat against insurgents. The Dutch Government tries to find a compromise within NATO, in order to engage the Dutch troops stealthily into the Anglo-American strategy. The Germans staunchly resist such an engagement (Spiegel, November 17 and 18) for their units in Afghanistan. I suppose, that Dutch army chief Dick Berlijn wants to follow the German example, but did not get a mandate for that from the government. He probably hopes to get it from Parliament now. The investigative commission that the Dutch government launched late Friday afternoon, will already be sufficient to neutralize the Intelligence- and Commando-units in Afghanistan, so that, if I am right, General Berlijn has already partly got what he wished.

  8. If you get involved into a guerilla, be prepared to dirty your hands.

    Which, of course, is precisely why a ‘war of choice’ such as this is a criminal enterprise. If you can’t fight a guerilla war without getting your hands dirty, then you should not get involved in one unless you have to.

  9. Unless our opponents are idiots making gross miscalculations, western forces will fight nothing but guerilla for the forseeable future.
    Even now, defeat in Afghanistan would be very bad. I suspect there will similar news about Afghanistan next year.

  10. Who told you that defeat in Afghanistan is bad. It will be lost in history because it will come within short precession of Iraq, which is bad but unavoidable. Besides we will defeat the Taliban but sadly loose from the Pushtun insurgency. Which after writing a small check ($100 million a year) is something completely different.

  11. “Who told you that defeat in Afghanistan is bad.”

    Do I need to be told? The first for real action NATO sees ending in a defeat. The prospect alone, as it is right now is bad enough. The actual realisation that is possible now, would be worse.

  12. You don’t fight wars to win military but to win political.

    We win when Afghanistan doesn’t become a base for anti European terrorists. And the most likely and cheapest way to achieve that is buying off the Pushtun after they win. Do it during the American retreat from western Euro-Asia and nobody will notice.

  13. If we do that, we win this battle to lose the conflict. We’d have clearly shown how to defeat us. The next time we’d face an enemy who can’t be bought or has more money than we.

    Regarding the timing, CNN might not notice, but others will.

  14. This is only applicable when we do an occupation so don’t be in the situation that you occupy foreign countries.

  15. How? How could the invasion of Afghanistan have been avoided? Don’t do this is a good idea only if you have an alternative. And remember that your adversary will try his very best to get you into that dilemma, precisely because it is an obvious dilemma.

    It’s nice to be able to appear to be good guys, but it isn’t enough.

  16. Occupation is not the same as invasion. Nor is force a smart way to influence people.

    Besides Afghanistan wasn’t invaded. We just helped on side to win and we would have been victorious if we spend some money and gave the Pushtun most of their power back

  17. This is absolutely unwarranted optimism speaking. If our security depends on us being always smart we are out of luck.
    No, we need to acquire the ability to put down insurrections by force.

  18. That is a very drastic option, which cannot be accepted without trying very hard to find an alternative.

    Furthermore, why would that be so? Vast colonial empires which did survive large uprisings are not without precedent.

    In essence this looks like letting our own destructive potential in the very worst case deter ourselves into passivity.

  19. Be smart is one alternative. The other is to create civil war. Iraq has been a success so far but even that has its problems.

    ps. name a vast colonial empire which lasted more than a 100 year and you get a very short list. Also they all dependend on creating internal strife in the subjugated tribes and large scale mayham with which nukes look favourable.

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