Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Challenging complicity

The US's drone war in Pakistan is an indiscriminate, disproportionate attack on a civilian population - a war crime. The UK is complicit in this crime, with spy-agency GCHQ reported as using telephone intercepts to provide targeting information for US strikes. Now, the family of one of their victims is challenging that complicity, seeking a declaration from UK courts that such assistance is unlawful:

Chamberlain said, any GCHQ official who passed locational intelligence to the CIA knowing or believing that it could be used to facilitate a drone strike would be committing a serious criminal offence.

"The participation of a UK intelligence official in US drone strikes, by passing intelligence, may amount to the offence of encouraging or assisting murder," he said. Alternatively, it could amount to a war crime or a crime against humanity, he added.

Chamberlain said that no GCHQ official would be able to mount a defence of combat immunity, but added that there was no wish in this case to convict any individual of a criminal offence. Rather, Khan was seeking a declaration by the civil courts that such intelligence-sharing is unlawful.

Hopefully they'll succeed - and hopefully GCHQ will obey the courts.

Meanwhile, its worth noting that our own GCSB is in the same business as GCHQ, and part of the same global spy network funnelling information to the US. Nicky Hagar's Other People's Wars suggested that they were providing intelligence to the US for use in drone strikes. If this is the case, they too are complicit and potentially open to criminal liability in New Zealand and international courts. John Key, displaying his typical lazy attitude on security and intelligence oversight, said that looking into that was "not a high priority". If he won't, then its time Parliament did. We cannot allow our intelligence agencies to assist in US war crimes.