Them and us

I\’m not entirely sure that there\’s a complete and obvious smoking gun here but what\’s come out so far doesn\’t look good at all.

Other disclosed documents show how:

• The Foreign Office decided in January 2002 that the transfer of British citizens from Afghanistan to Guantánamo was its \”preferred option\”.

• Jack Straw asked for that rendition to be delayed until MI5 had been able to interrogate those citizens.

• Downing Street was said to have overruled FO attempts to provide a British citizen detained in Zambia with consular support in an attempt to prevent his return to the UK, with the result that he too was \”rendered\” to Guantánamo.

The papers have been disclosed as a result of civil proceedings brought by six former Guantánamo inmates against MI5 and MI6, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and the Attorney General\’s Office, which they allege were complicit in their illegal detention and torture.

The government has been responding to disclosure requests by maintaining that it has identified up to 500,000 documents that may be relevant, and says it has deployed 60 lawyers to scrutinise them, a process that it suggests could take until the end of the decade. It has failed to hand over many of the documents that the men\’s lawyers have asked for, and on Friday failed to meet a deadline imposed by the high court for the disclosure of the secret interrogation policy that governed MI5 and MI6 officers between 2004 and earlier this year.

That we have spies and counter-intelligence peeps, yes, of course. But much larger here is the role between government, the courts and us.

That the courts, these human rights things, the law, they\’re there to protect us, the citizenry, from the government.

(As an aside, this is why I\’m so dead against Ritchie\’s desire to see a \”spirit of the law\” not letter of the law definition of tax issues.)

If we do find that Number 10, or Jack Straw, or whoever, worked and conspired to make sure that British citizens were kidnapped by either the British or any other State and held without their due rights to trial, confrontation with their accuser, legal representation, the presumption of innocence and all the rest of that towering edifice that we\’ve built up over the last thousand years, that edifice precisely and exactly there to protect us from them, then yes I do want to see them go down. Hard and for a long time.

That those so afflicted were Muslim, bearded, not quite English, even if they really were and are murderous terrorists makes no difference: being British means that we have rights and the denial of them to one of us is the potential denial of them to us all.

Yes, this is worse than the \”illegal war in Iraq\”, the wasting of a generation\’s worth of money, the policy based evidence making. This is an assault upon the basic constitutional settlement.

Fuck \’em. Even if we no longer have capital punishment we do still have jail cells.

10 thoughts on “Them and us”

  1. Too right, Tim. I just hope the judicial inquiry doesn’t go on for years. If it’s going to be truly effective it needs to report when these issues – and the people involved – are still current.

    As an aside, and to speculate grubbily on the political consequences here: is there an unexploded bomb of nasty consequences arising from questionable actions sitting under D Miliband?

  2. being British means that we have rights and the denial of them to one of us is the potential denial of them to us all.

    I’d go further. Presumption of innocence and fair trials aren’t even things which to which we are entitled because we are British. It’s a part of the UK being what it is that we treat *everyone* according to those principles.

  3. “The Foreign Office decided in January 2002 that the transfer of British citizens from Afghanistan to Guantánamo was its “preferred option”.

    I don’t see any rush to get the thousands of cases of imprisoned drug smugglers back into the UK either, the “preferred option” is to let them rot in a south-east asian sh*thole for 20+ years.

    “the wasting of a generation’s worth of money”

    You’re considering the alternative of keeping them locked up in a British jail, based on what Hamza & co cost the taxpayer, I’d say that this is the cheaper option.

  4. To an extent, this is the unfortunate result of handing out British Passports like cocktails at a party.

  5. “That those so afflicted were Muslim, bearded, not quite English, even if they really were and are murderous terrorists…”

    If our courts and law officers will give those Muslim etc a fair shake, the rest of us can sleep peacefully. OTOH…

  6. “Had the British citizens in Afghanistan been tried and convicted of anything?”

    “tried and convicted” is such a relative term, I wouldn’t consider the drug smugglers in Thailand had been either.

  7. Serf, that may be but it doesn’t affect situation in any way. Unless you’re happy to create a category of people who are UK citizens but shouldn’t be? And leave the FO/Westminster in charge of deciding who goes into that dark and smell
    y box?

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