A convenient untruth, Miliband style

Monty is the MediaShack UK corresondent and will  be blogging about Mid-East security issues from a British perspective. 

I would just like to make it clear that I was outraged when I read the British press this morning.  Outraged.  The_US_told_Foreign_Secretary David Miliband that if the UK courts revealed alleged evidence of torture on a British national at Gitmo then the US will cut off intelligence sharing agreements with the UK.  Or did they? …Monty suspects a bit of a cover-up, and he is not alone.

It turns out the US did no such thing.  Miliband told judges in the case of Binyam Mohamed of the threat, causing the judges to refuse the release of the evidence.  Miliband is also believed to have assured them that the Obama administration had not brought with it a change of policy in this area.  And so it was, Britain’s national security reigned supreme and the judges bowed to the greater good.  Or so it seemed, until Miliband fessed up on to MP’s this afternoon – there was no threat he said, just the ‘threat’ of undermining the agreement that intelligence shared was intelligence to be kept secret.

Hmmm… At first glance this would seem to appear very convenient for the Government.  Why could it not reveal any abuses by the Bush administration, if they were indeed the perpetrators?  Or were the British services involved?  Why did Miliband not consult the Obama administration over the release of the information? Isn’t Obama committed to ending waterboarding and similar methods?  Surely a democracy can’t demand the cover-up of such information and subjugation of a sovereign democracy’s legal system?

Miliband’s subsequent disavowals of the use of torture did not convince.  Plausible deniability is hardly a defence here – what ever this evidence was, it must have been pretty explosive.

Things are not going well for the Foreign Secretary, after navigating the curious incident of the banana, he won few friends in a recent trip to India and was about as visible the Raiders in this year’s Superbowl over the Gaza conflict.  At least he got a hug from Hilary Clinton. Lucky guy.

3 Responses

  1. Binyam Muhammad is no more a British citizen than my masa’ah sandwich…unless the crafty blighter’s got married somewhere along the way. Can’t they just send him back to Ethiopia and be done with it?

  2. Hi Schlomo, the reality is that Binyam Mohamed will remain in the UK and is likely to get about £2 million in damages. While I am certainly no fan of his, I think that the issue is bigger than him.

    There are two real questions: 1. Do the UK intelligence services allow detainees to be tortured (by the definition under UK law) by foreign services? 2. Should intelligence agreements with foreign governments prevent the UK courts from seeing potentially damning evidence?

    I think the answer to 1 is yes and the answer to 2 should be carefully examined.

  3. Schlomo, thanks for pointing out my mistake – Binyam Mohamed has been granted ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK in 1994 while his asylum appeal was heard, but he is not a British national.

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