Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 4 August 2004

Guantanamo - the mess continues

This Guardian story about alleged mistreatment of British detainees held by the US in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is, if true - explosive.

The story reports allegations by one of those released in March 2004, Rhuhel Ahmed (one of the "Tipton Three"), that he was interrorgated with a gun held to his head with threats he would be shot if he did not respond, by a US personnel, whilst a British personnel (who identified himself as being from the SAS) did the questionning. This would contravene directly the Geneva convention and, according to the MoD would be the subject of an investigation. I am sure that, under normal circumstances, it would be - but nothing about the circumstances of what is being done at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under US jurisdiction, is in any way 'normal'.

Asif Iqbal, on of the other British detainees released in March, moreover alleges that a British Embassy official wrote down a two-page list of alleged abuses, which if true would directly contradict a statement made in the House of Commons by Chris Mullin, a Foreign Office junior minister, that no Briton had complained of their treatment in Guantánamo.

The 'Tipton three' may be telling a pack of lies, but this affair is so murky and so many backs are being covered that it is very difficult to form any kind of coherent judgement. I rather suspect that the real damage the terrorists threat we face is not the physical damage that has been, and may be again, caused to various locations around the world. Instead the damage is to our own standards of democracy and justice, which have very successfully been distorted, and very possibly abused, by the people we elect to serve us (in the US and the UK) and it is, I'm afraid to say, no longer clear to me that this has even been done with the best of intentions. This is the real triumph that the terrorists have already scored.

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