Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 3 October 2006

US attempts to draw UK into its criminal conspiracy

That's a dramatic title. I don't use it lightly. The US has apparently suggested to the UK that it is willing to release into British custody, under strict conditions, at least nine former British residents currently being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These individuals are apparently not British citizens and the UK government has therefore declined to accept them; apparently the families of at least some of these individuals, residents of the UK, are also now British citizens.

It is really very simple though. The US is holding these people illegally. If it has charges which it can plausibly bring against these people and any others it still holds extra-judicially at Guantanamo Bay then it should do so immediately and bring them to trial before Federal courts in the US so that their guilt or innocence may be judged. If it is not in a position to bring charges against them then it has no business seeking to impose conditions upon another country, the UK, that it should then continue their illegal detention in the UK.

It may be recalled that nine British citizens transferred into UK custody some time ago from detention at Guantanamo, with similar requests from the US for their continuing detention here, were quickly released once they arrived back in the UK because there was no basis in British (in this case, English) law for their continued detention. So far I have not heard that any of those individuals has been implicated in terrorist activity since their return and I have no doubt at all that they remain under close scrutiny.

I supported, and still support, our participation with the US both in Afghanistan and Iraq, although it is clear that the post-invasion phase was chronically mis-planned, for ideological reasons, by the US - it would seem under the influence of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney who seem, even now, unwilling to entertain the idea that their so-called planning and strategy were completely ineffective and, much worse, contributed to the parlous situations in Iraq and Afghanistan now. This US administration, or its successor, and the UK will have to accept that military tacticians need to be given more authority and resources if we are to turn around these dangeous situations - we cannot simply 'cut and run'. However, it would be quite wrong for the UK to accept back former residents under the conditions the US administration seeks to impose, merely to salvage its own domestic ratings in advance of the mid-term elections there next month, when it is very probable that English Law would force their release soon after they set foot in the UK. The Guantanamo Bay detention centre needs to be closed urgently and the attempts of the US to [further] implicate the UK in its international brigandage is simply unacceptable and must be fiercely resisted.

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