PUT THE GENERALS IN THE DOCK
The buck stops at the top; that is the accepted chain of responsibility and accountability in organisations, institutions and in life.
Slobodan Milosevic, David Duckenfield, Ratko Mladic : what links these names is that all were indicted for unlawful killings which occurred while they were in command. As the Duckenfield trial is ongoing and sub judice, I will simply make the point that the Crown Prosecution Service thought that he had a case to answer because he was in charge of police at the Hillsborough Disaster. Many democrats would wish to see Bashar Al – Assad answer for the genocide in Syria because he was in supreme command.
Lord Saville spent 12 years with an expensive huddle of lawyers, determining the causes of the deaths on Bloody Sunday and those who should be held responsible. General Sir Robert Ford was exculpated because ‘ he did not know that his actions would result in soldiers firing unjustifiably’ and that decision was reached despite Ford’s admission that he had encouraged the Paras with the cry, ‘Go on Paras. Go and get them and good luck.’
Brigadier Frank Kitson commanded 1st Para in Belfast where, in Ballymurphy, 11 civilians, including a priest, administering last rites to a parishioner , had been shot and killed. His name was frequently linked to the murderous Military Reaction Force (MRF) which had admitted abuses and killings of civilian suspects in collusion with Loyalist paramilitary gangs. A fellow officer reports that he upbraided Colonel Derek Wilford on Bloody Sunday for his failure to see the operation through; in other words, why did the Paras, regardless of casualties, not fight and shoot their way into the Bogside and recapture the much hated no-go area
General Sir Mike Jackson , former GOC of Land Forces, was a Captain on the ground during Bloody Sunday and, immediately following the shootings, compiled the notorious ‘shot list’, a proven, totally fictitious account of the day’s events which became the official MOD narrative and the basis of the perjured evidence to Widgery. Jackson was recalled by Saville when his handwritten note was introduced in evidence and which he had failed to mention in his original submission. Jackson’s guilt is implicit in any objective reading of the evidence but Saville bottled it in his final conclusion, quite simply because the indicting of the Army’s most senior officer was an appalling vista and unacceptable to the British establishment.
Jackson and Kitson , archetypal examples of the military upper caste, are Brahmins of not merely the Forces but grace the upper echelons of the British Establishment . They commanded and oversaw the unlawful killings by troops in the Six Counties. Their actions were condoned in Whitehall and Downing st. It is inconceivable to me that Edward Heath, Prime Minister and Lord Carrington, Defence Minister, were not fully briefed on the serious implications of sending armed Paras to police a Civil Rights March in Derry in January 1972 .
Sometime this week, a decision will be made on whether to send a few aging soldiers, acting under orders, to trial for some of the murders on Bloody Sunday.
What about those who gave the commands?