Last Thursday week was one of the most ‘shameful’ days in British history – and yet it hardly got a column inch in many popular national newspapers let alone a front-page headline – shame on them too!
That was the day that the Government of the day finally admitted in Westminster’s House of Commons, the mother of democratic parliaments, the home of human rights, and protector of the founding principle of ‘the rule of law’ [that goes back to Magna Carta of 1215], that this, our beloved Country, had behaved in a disgraceful, disgusting inhuman manner, when it came to foreign human beings, simply to further its own political objectives in another country [Libya].
In 2004, Britain’s MI6 [our foreign intelligence security organisation] had gained information from London-based informants, and as part of an overall diplomatic package, provided this in a deal between the UK, CIA and Libya, to allow a Libyan dissident (past terrorist some would have it?) Abdel Hakim Belhaj, with his Moroccan pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar, to be knowingly kidnapped in transit at a Malaysian airport, and subsequently forcibly returned to Libya, where both were handed over to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for inevitable imprisonment and (predictably) terrifying torture.
This underhand, perhaps illegal, misconceived cooperative act by Britain at behest of the Libyan leader, was the precursor for PM Tony Blair’s meet with Gaddafi a few weeks later and was a blatant move to improve relations that would indeed definitely secure Libya’s renouncement of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – now that was a prize that the Blair government was prepared to sacrifice the UK’s long established principles and world standing for, wasn’t it?
Yes, that was the time that OUR Government descended into the dark abyss of skulduggery for what was decreed to be for “the greater-good” – to be complicit and constructive in putting these people of opposition into the hands of a revenging tyrant, knowing that they would be tortured mercilessly, and so make us as guilty as the actual perpetrators, didn’t it?
THIS HAS BROUGHT UNDYING SHAME ON OUR COUNTRY, THE BRITISH PEOPLE, OUR MOST SENIOR POLITICIANS, AND OUR SECRET SERVICES.
[In these modern times, a civilisation British nation has developed an innate moral abhorrence to the crime of torture, hasn’t it?].
Upsettingly, the admissions by the ‘current’ government has come about reluctantly, without honour or decency, and an unprecedented abject apology extracted only after legal action by those Libyans abused and tortured (unlike the more open exposures the other side of the pond, eh?). Cynically, this solely came about to obtain the withdrawal of the court proceedings against past members of Government like Jack Straw, and civil servant senior MI6 officer Sir Mark Allen, and others, and after past attempts by the government to thwart such actions, brought by Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar, had been thrown out by our independent (though not always dependable?) judiciary, eh?
Well, you see in the murky world of espionage and double dealing, the UK’s enactors and politicians involved didn’t expect to get ‘found-out’, did they? No, but fate sometimes plays its malignant hand to reveal all, and so it did in this case. First of all, the two victims ‘survived’, despite a death sentence on one, so indeed lived to tell the tale. Secondly, when Gaddafi’s regime was finally overthrown [though that took military intervention by a NATO coalition in 2011], various Libyan secret security memo papers [now named the ‘Tripoli documents’] were uncovered by rebels that blew the lid off the UK’S underhand involvement.
Thirteen years ago, in 2005, after the Guardian had reported that CIA ‘rendition’ aircraft had been refueling at UK airports, Straw denied all at the Commons foreign affairs committee:
“Unless we start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea”.
UK’s ex-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s exposure now in having played a surreptitious disgraceful role in Blair government’s complicity in breach of human rights and torture of Libyan dissidents by Gaddafi’s regime [and even the USA?], brings to mind a quip by Alistair Campbell in 2001, when asked why Blair had replace Robin Cook as foreign secretary with Straw, he replied “because Jack will do what we tell him to do” – many a true word is spoken in jest, eh?
Following the revelations in the House, Straw (though no not yet in the dock?) has tried whitewashing himself with worthless claims of innocence, when issuing a further disturbing statement (through solicitors, no less?) saying:
“.. what is clear is that on 1 March 2004 my approval was sought for some information to be shared with international partners.
In almost every case such approvals were made by me in writing, on the basis of written submissions to me. However in rare cases of great urgency, oral submissions could be made and oral approvals given by me. This is what happened on this occasion
In every case where my approval was sought I assumed, and was entitled to assume, that the actions for which my approval was sought were lawful. This included, in appropriate cases, obtaining assurances as to the humane treatment of those concerned
What is despicable about this fudge of a statement, is that a man who held the Foreign Secretary post for 5 years, tries to absolve himself by any blame on a matter deemed important enough for him as the person in the third highest office of state, to make a decision and sanction action, but he claims he didn’t even check about the legality, nor apparently ask about consequences on, nor implications for, those involved in that decision, eh?
So don’t then expect any grovelling apologies either from Straw (or Blair who is keeping schtum), will you? [Oh yes, Straw is most vocal in saying that he will happily explain himself to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee [knowing that it is an utterly toothless gaggle where he is concerned, eh?].
[The prime cost to Britain of this escapade might well be to our international reputation, our standing on human rights, and the moral high ground, but there is of course in addition to that a substantial financial penalty, with compensation to be paid of £½ million to Ms Boudchar (Mr Belhaj himself sought ONLY the apology), payment already made 6 years ago of £2.2 million to a previous Libyan rendition victim, and massive legal costs over six years (many millions – costs that will never be disclosed nor see the light of day, eh?)].