The Human Rights Abuses That Couldn’t Be Closer to Home
Tony Blair and Jack Straw behaved despicably during the War on Terror using lies and deception in their every endeavour to support George Bush
Imagine if, in the course of a much contested and aggressive war, your government was involved in facilitating the torture and detention of suspected terrorists, its intelligence officers being present while some of this torture is taking place, or supplying questions to the torturers in order to facilitate their interrogations in other cases – with more than 200 known cases where this took place.
Imagine if government ministers at the highest levels lied or covered up such behaviour, and denounced those who questioned it or tried to get at the facts.
There would be outcry at the highest levels, with demands for criminal inquiries and for those responsible to be held to account. Or would there? Because these are exactly the findings of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, and the outcry has been – with some honourable exceptions – muted to say the least. Not only that, Theresa May severely restricted the scope of the inquiry by refusing to let many of the intelligence officers testify, thus preventing anything like the full story from seeing the light of day.
The man who was Foreign Secretary while this was going on, Jack Straw, has denied knowledge of the particulars, while May has said that the circumstances of the War on Terror were such that people did not always realise what they were doing! Then prime minister, Tony Blair, seems less than interested, more concerned to reverse the result of the EU referendum than face the truth.
The truth is not pleasant. The report makes clear the complicity of British secret services in these processes of rendition, as they are euphemistically called. Calls from Labour shadow frontbenchers for a full inquiry into the scandal are welcome but only part of the answer. The real problem is that government ministers acted with impunity during the War on Terror. Tony Blair and Jack Straw behaved despicably during this war using lies and deception in their every endeavour to support a right-wing US president.
It has become almost beyond the pale to criticize the security services, but let us remember their involvement in these renditions, in helping to promote the dossier which asserted there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and in being directly involved in operations in Libya, Syria and Iraq. These are the same security services who spy on trade unionists and political activists.
These activities, of course, have consequences. Most obviously that these practices, combined with the horrors of Guantanamo, the political instrumentalisation of Prevent, and the continued bombing and intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere, have all helped not to diminish terrorism but to hugely increase it. After Chilcot, surely this is more evidence that Blair should be in the dock - not feted by the great and the good and given regular slots on the BBC - as should Straw and all those responsible.
Unfortunately, those in government seem determined to continue with exactly the policies which created this abuse of human rights. May is committed to the militarism and war which marked her predecessors, and now with Trump we’re seeing the rottenness of the ‘special relationship’ all over again. Yet one more reason to demonstrate against Trump’s visit on 13 July.