Otherwise, the moral high ground, which is rightfully ours in the struggle against our enemies, becomes threatened. There were atrocities in Vietnam – the My Lai massacre foremost among them.Western guards at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq subjected prisoners to cruelties and humiliations.The issue is not merely that soldiers were accused of killings in cold blood and of planting weapons in households where none were found, but that these episodes were systematically covered-up by senior officers, up to and including the major-general then serving as the director of special forces.There is no suggestion that any officer above that level colluded in attempting to suppress this ugly story.
Thus these allegations are a serious embarrassment to the Army, and to the elite regiment based at Hereford.
In the civilian world, the police often do this, to make plain that they are taking seriously possible offences committed.
As it is, the Army and the SAS have the worst of all worlds.
But its soldiers cannot be allowed to do their own thing, within or without the law.
True, no wrongdoing has been proved, but this episode emphasises the need to ensure that they act and fight under orders as much as any humble infantry squaddie.