Maybe it all went south early on when the Yanks created that offshore military prison complex and started fiddling with the semantics over categories of combatant. Maybe it was the idea that we were helping one side in a vicious civil war, and making too much hay about prisoner standards would cause problems. Perhaps this confused their allies and created the potential for political problems should, say, Canada or the Aussies hold too close their own decades-honed standards and procedures regarding prisoners.
Australia went to war in Afghanistan without a clear policy on how to deal with enemy detainees, according to secret papers that reveal one of Canada's military allies was just as fraught over what to do with captured militants.When a policy was adopted, the then chief of the armed forces expressed reservations about the legality of the agreed approach.The documents also show that the public was never told about the death of an Iranian man captured by Australian troops in 2003.The papers, obtained under freedom of information laws by the Sydney-based non-profit Public Interest Advocacy Centre, reveal utter confusion at the highest levels of the Australian government and the Department of Defence over how to deal with enemy detainees.On Feb. 25, 2002, as Australian troops fought in Afghanistan, armed forces chief Admiral Chris Barrie wrote to the country's then defence minister complaining his commanders were being put at risk."There is currently no clear government policy on the handling of personnel who may be captured by the ADF," the Australian Defence Force, Barrie wrote. "Defence and in particular ADF commanders are currently accepting the risk flowing from the lack of government policy."
In any condition, the mess goes on.