Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I told you so, Chapter Two

On February 5, the Guardian (UK) reported that
[t]he [British] government was accused last night of hiding behind claims of a threat to national security to suppress evidence of torture by the CIA on a prisoner still held in Guantánamo Bay. ...

Two senior judges said they were powerless to reveal the information about the torture of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident, because David Miliband, the foreign secretary, had warned the court the US was threatening to stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK.

In a scathing judgment, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said the evidence, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because according to Miliband, the American threats meant "the public of the United Kingdom would be put at risk".
The BBC said Miliband denied the charge, insisting there had been "no threat" from the US, but the Australian newspaper The Age was able to report on a "flurry" of letters between the Foreign Office and the State Department in August 2008 in which the US in so many words threatened that release of the information "could harm ... intelligence information sharing arrangements between our two governments" and would have the effect of "serious and lasting damage to the US-UK intelligence sharing relationship, and thus the national security of the UK."

Significantly and why this is related to the present discussion, The Age reported,
[t]he court was also told that Mr Mohamed's lawyers had tested the new administration of President Barack Obama and that the warning stood.
In case there was any doubt, after Miliband issued his denial,
the White House said it "thanked the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information".

It added that this would "preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens".
Exactly how that is supposed to be read as anything other than a confirmation that the threats were made - and endorsed in February by the Obama administration - is quite beyond me.

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