Thursday, July 15, 2010

Deep collusion

As seen in the recent case of Pete Bethune, one of the basic expectations of government is that they will help us out if we get into legal trouble overseas. This isn't just a kiwi thing - its universal across the western world. However, a host of classified documents released as part of a court case today showed that the UK did not meet that obligation with respect to UK citizens arrested in Afghanistan and elsewhere by the US as part of its war on terror. Instead, ministers and officials of the Blair government actively colluded in the rendition and torture of their own citizens:

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.
There's more details here and here, showing the callous disregard of MI5 agents to the fact that a UK citizen had clearly been tortured, and the machinations of the Blair government in ensuring that its citizens were denied consular assistance and shipped off to Guantanamo to avoid the PR problem of having to try them in the UK. The overall picture is of a government and establishment engaged in a criminal conspiracy to commit torture, kidnapping, and war crimes.

The people responsible for this have to be held to account. Unfortunately, the latest whitewash "inquiry" is designed precisely to stop that from happening.

Apparently there's more to come, but the government is dragging its feet on releasing the documents. In the process, they're in contempt of a clear order from the courts to release. That order must be enforced - the government must be made to obey its own laws. And if it means sticking the Foreign Secretary and the head of MI5 in jail for contempt, then so be it.