Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Binyam Mohamed & UK Scandal

An editorial from Louise Christian in response to revelations that the UK Foreign Office requested the "threatening" letter from the US State Dept was published in the Guardian today. The sleight of hand here raises some very serious questions for citizens of both the UK and the US. How much B.S. are you willing to accept from your government? At some point, a citizen's shell games - guessing what the government is really up to, anticipating, using your political intelligence, speculating on a blog - need to be abandoned. If we are to trust our governments, with all their magnificent checks and balances, at all, the documents detailing Binyam Mohamed's treatment must be published. We need to demand accountability and information. Our taxes pay for Guantanamo. Our taxes pay for torture flights. But we allow ourselves to be duped by the government as regards what is actually happening - and we allow ourselves to be duped by the intelligence community, as to what their budget is spent on. The effort to hide torture, driven by political elites, is poisoning our political system. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld deserve to feel at least the risk of a trial for their crimes.

Anyway, Christian's article:

The court's agreement to reopening consideration of whether the documents about Binyam Mohamed should be disclosed came before the further revelation that the US government had only written the letter containing the "threat" at the request of the Foreign Office. Even if, as the prime minister's office tried to claim yesterday, the request was simply to confirm the known position of the US government, there is a very nasty smell about it. The judicial review of the failure to prosecute BAE for bribery was halted because of a similar "threat" from the Saudi government. We cannot help but wonder if such threats are now seen by governments as their alibi for avoiding the rule of law.

Obama needs to make good on his promises to make government more transparent - and do so when it matters (Mohamed et al v. Jeppesen). Deeds, not words. Otherwise they risk what seems to me to be a monumental loss of faith not just in US politics, but in US law.

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