April 12, 2006

US like Nazis in Iraq: UK refusenik

By Peter Graff

ALDERSHOT (Reuters) - A British Air Force doctor being
court-martialled for refusing a posting to Iraq said on
Wednesday he believed the United States was the moral
equivalent of Nazi Germany.

Australian-born Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith
could face an unlimited jail sentence for disobeying an order
to go to Iraq last year and four orders to prepare for his

The case is the first of its kind in Britain over the war
in Iraq.

"As early as 2004 I regarded the United States to be on par
with Nazi Germany as regards its activities in the Gulf,"
Kendall-Smith told the court amid a series of bitter exchanges
with prosecutor David Perry.

Perry asked: "Are you saying the U.S. is the moral
equivalent of the Third Reich?"

Kendall-Smith replied: "That's correct."

The judge in the case has already ruled that orders for
British troops to deploy to Iraq in 2005 were legal because the
British presence was covered by a United Nations Security
Council resolution passed after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Speaking firmly but often emotionally, Kendall-Smith
testified in his own defense as the only witness called in the
case. He said he initially tried to resign on learning he was
being sent to Iraq, but later concluded it was his duty to
remain in the Air Force and refuse the order.

"I love the Air Force today as much as the day I
volunteered, sir," he said.

The case, before a civilian judge advocate and a panel of
five officers, concluded on Wednesday, and the panel will
return on Thursday to consider a verdict.

The judge provided no room for the panel to accept
Kendall-Smith's argument that the orders were illegal.

"My direction to you, gentlemen, as a matter of law, is
that each of the orders was a lawful order," judge advocate
Jack Bayliss said. "The defense contention that the orders were
unlawful is wrong."

Kendall-Smith's lawyers have conceded that Kendall-Smith
did not obey orders. But they presented him as a conscientious
officer trying to carry out his duty.

"All I ask you to think about is that he is a human being,
and he has wrestled with his conscience, and has taken a great
moral stride," his lawyer, Philip Sapsford, told the panel.

Prosecutors described Kendall-Smith, who holds both British
and New Zealand citizenship, as an aggrieved officer who had
repeatedly clashed with his superiors.

Kendall-Smith's belligerent testimony showed he was "an
easily moved, stubborn individual, prone to displays of temper
and resentment," prosecutor Perry said. "(He) would have been
difficult for any senior officer to deal with."