Rimington is right. This is a recipe for creating terrorists
Posted by musliminsuffer on February 26, 2009
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
Rimington is right. This is a recipe for creating terrorists
The Guardian, Thursday 19 February 2009
I never imagined I would say this, but Stella Rimington is right. The former head of MI5 who made her career running the security service’s dirtiest operations in the 1980s, against the miners’ union and the IRA, has warned that the government has given terrorists the chance to find “greater justification” by making people feel they “live in fear and under a police state”. Naturally, ministers described her remarks as nonsense and accused her of playing “into the hands of our enemies”.
But the damage is done. To have the woman once hailed as Britain’s Queen of Spies accusing the government of recklessly counter-productive authoritarianism carries a special weight – and incidentally turns the traditional relationship between Labour and the secret state on its head. Rimington went further, denouncing the US for Guantánamo and torture, but reverted to type by insisting MI5 “doesn’t do that”.
No, as we now know, it contracts out that job to others, while its officers stand by promising to arrange “more lenient treatment” if the victim co-operates. In case after case, British collaboration in the hidden crimes of the war on terror has now been laid bare. But none more so than in the seven-year ordeal of Binyam Mohamed, the last British resident in Guantánamo, the details of whose CIA kidnapping and US-orchestrated torture across four countries the foreign secretary, David Miliband, has twisted and turned to prevent being made public.
As it now turns out, the US letter warning that intelligence-sharing with Britain would be damaged if the torture evidence was published – used to strong-arm the high court into suppressing it – was in fact issued at the request of the Foreign Office itself. Perhaps that’s hardly surprising, when the court has already heard that MI5 officers questioned the freshly tortured Mohamed in illegal Pakistani detention under government guidelines and fed questions to CIA interrogators as he was secretly “rendered” from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Morocco.
Mohamed was hung from leather straps and beaten in Pakistan, and had his genitals slashed in Morocco, while other British terror suspects questioned by MI5 had their fingernails ripped out. Mohamed ended up confessing under torture to a fantasy “dirty bomb” plot, though all charges have been dropped and he is finally due to be returned to Britain any day now.
But New Labour’s sins in the war on terror are catching up with it. And it’s not only officials, but politicians, up to and including Tony Blair, who could be in the legal frame as a result of British collusion with torture, “extraordinary rendition” – illegal abductions to third countries – and “ghost” prisons.
No doubt a battery of state powers and immunities will be deployed to head off such humiliation. But as this week’s chilling International Commission of Jurists’ report on the counter-terrorist free-for-all put it: “The framework of international law is being undermined … the US and UK have led that undermining.”
Of course that’s no coincidence, since Britain is the state that most faithfully followed the US in invading and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. And now that the Afghan imbroglio is to be escalated, with Barack Obama’s announcement that 17,000 more US troops are to be sent to fight the unwinnable war, the kidnapping and collusion with torture look certain to continue.
Although Obama has pledged to close Guantánamo, ban US torture and shut secret prisons, that doesn’t apply to “short-term facilities”, and US intelligence officials have even promised an “expanded role” for extraordinary rendition. And as yesterday’s House of Lords decision to allow the deportation of the cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan showed, torture will still be outsourced to others.
But don’t imagine there won’t be a cost for this bitter fruit of imperial war. Last month, Gordon Brown’s security minister, Lord West, became the first member of the government to acknowledge the connection between the horrors of the seven-year assault on the Muslim world and the threat of terror attacks in Britain. The claim, much repeated by Blair as prime minister, that there was no link with foreign policy was, West declared, “clearly bollocks”.
But in other parts of the government, the refusal to face up to that link is becoming ever more obtuse, underpinned by a growing tendency to criminalise political dissent in the Muslim community. That seems bound to give terrorists exactly the “greater justification” Rimington was talking about.
A leak to the Guardian of the government’s latest draft counter-terrorist strategy includes the extraordinary proposal to label “extremist” any British Muslim who supports armed resistance anywhere, including the Palestinian territories; favours sharia law; fails to condemn attacks on British occupation troops in Iraq or Aghanistan; regards gay sex as sinful; or supports the restoration of a pan-Islamic caliphate in the Muslim world.
The idea would then be to sever all official links with such people and their organisations, following home secretary Jacqui Smith’s announcement that counter-terrorism needs to move beyond tackling violent groups to challenging “non-violent extremists”.
This is the most transparent folly. Since polling shows most Muslims hold one or more of these views (as do millions of non-Muslims, in the case of resistance), the effect would be to brand the whole community extremist and further alienate Muslim youth with – as Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain puts it – a New Labour version of the Tebbit cricket test.
Tacit British support for Israel’s onslaught on Gaza has radicalised a whole new swath of young Muslims and non-Muslims alike. And a taste of what this new drive to blur the distinction between political violence and non-violent protest is likely to mean was on show last weekend, when police arrested 10 people on the M65 near Preston, on their way to join George Galloway’s 110-vehicle aid convoy to Gaza.
Security sources were quoted as claiming the arrests were in connection with a “potential threat of terrorism in the Middle East”. But seven have already been released without charge, and the timing of the operation is seen locally as an attempt to smear and intimidate the Muslim community. The government’s counter-terrorism strategy is a recipe for creating terrorists.
BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW