The Guardian’s Comment is Free website has thought it suitable to offer a piece to Colonel Derek Wilford on the need for strong-arm urban policing.
Well, no it has not. It has offered a piece to Gerry Adams on the revelations offered by Wikileaks that civilians have been killed by British forces in Afghanistan. Examples which Adams cites:
• 15 November 2006: In Helmand, the British army’s Marine commandos fired warning shots at a vehicle, killing two civilians and wounding two others, including a child.
• 12 March 2008: Helmand. British troops call in helicopter gunships and claim three enemy dead. The bodies of two women and two children are later found.
• 19 November 2008: Marine commandos fire “warning shots” at a vehicle. They kill a child.
• 19 May 2009: Gurkhas call in air strike and kill eight civilians and destroy a family compound.
• 30 September 2009: Helmand. The Rifles Regiment calls in an air strike on a compound housing two families. Seven killed.
It is difficult to know precisely what the situation those soldiers faced. Killing civilians is not, ipso facto, a war-crime and children have been known to be used as decoys in Iraq.
It might not be like acting as pall-bearer to Thomas Begley who was blown-up by his own bomb which killed nine civilians at Frizee’s chip-shop on the Shankill Road, including two children.
Comments relating to this are being deleted left-right-and-centre, like something out of Zulu Dawn. So, clearly any “controversial decision” by CiF Editors does not extend to their reaping the whirlwind of their decision.
Maybe the editorial meeting went as such:
CIF Editor: I’ve got this great article from Gerry Adams, he criticises the British Army
Chief Moderator: Really, is there a news angle?
CIF Editor: Oh, yes, he links it to the recent stuff on WikiLeaks
Chief Moderator: Right, do you realise that amount of libellous comments that’s likely to produce?
CIF Editor: Really! But it’s really good stuff. I thought we’d publish it on Saturday.
Chief Moderator: I’ll need a double shift of moderators to cope with it and lawyers on standby.
CIF Editor: Hmmm.
Chief Moderator: And the weekend armchair generals will be out in force and with a double shift and lawyers…..do you realise what that will cost?
CIF Editor: OK then, Make it Monday morning.
Chief Moderator: Are you really sure this is a good idea? We might end up with more items deleted than we actually publish. Is that a good idea?
CIF Editor: Now, now, you’re not trying to moderate me now, are you?