Monday, 29 November 2010

Wikileaks

Here's an extract from the BBC article on the latest wikileaks revelations:

In 2004, a German citizen was snatched in Macedonia and allegedly taken to a secret prison by the CIA. Agents had apparently mistaken him for an al-Qaeda suspect.
A 2007 cable from the US embassy in Berlin details the efforts the US made to persuade Germany not to issue international arrest warrants for the CIA agents accused of involvement.
In an account of a high-level meeting between US and German officials, the cables states that US diplomats "pointed out that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the US".
This is the kind of thing that makes me very angry. The German man in question, Khaled El-Masri, was an innocent who had a misfortune to have the same name as a terrorist suspect. He was illegally kidnapped, imprisoned in Afghanistan, interrogated and tortured. For over a year. His family had no idea what had happened to him. He had no chance to defend himself, to seek legal representation, every human right he had was taken from him. He had to go on a hunger strike for 27 days before he was able to force a meeting with a prison official and a CIA official. And this was taking place after they'd already found out that his passport was genuine and that he was innocent.

Eventually, after the news finally worked it's way up to Condoleeza Rice and she ordered his release, they flew him out of Afghanistan and dumped him out of a van on a back road in Albania with no apology and no funds to get home. That's the equivalent of a Brit being abducted while on holiday in Ireland and being dumped in Iceland. Imagine that was you, or that he was your family member. Imagine the ordeal he and his family have gone through.

The US government and judiciary have blocked any attempts at proper recompense, or to bring those responsible for this appalling act to justice. And now finally it is revealed that they tried to prevent Germany from issuing arrest warrants for the agents responsible. This just takes the biscuit. There are not the words strong enough to describe this outrage. This was a crime, a crime against the most basic of human rights and against the whole concept of liberty, democracy and civilisation. The fact that the US and German governments ultimately protected those responsible from any punishment or justice reveals just how wrong things have gotten.

I accept that there are terrorists, I accept that we need to defend ourselves and I accept that the nature of what security services do is not always pleasant. But there is not, and never can be an excuse for this kind of injustice. We are meant to be better than Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, we certainly claim to be. But thins happen in our name which are just as abhorrent and the failure of our governments to put a stop to it is disgusting.

Don't kid yourself that the UK isn't complicit in this kind of thing. Maybe not in this incident but there have been others. And just think of how many more like Khaled there could be or will be in the future. What happened to Khaled and which continues to happen is utterly vile. I am outraged by this and ashamed to know that we have been complicit in exactly this kind of crime and are allies with people who commit these crimes. It is utterly wrong and all it has done is show me exactly how little faith we should have in arguments of national security. Security services should be held to account and transparency is the only way to do it. Those politicians and members of the judiciary who help with the cover-ups are utterly despicable and to me they are no better than terrorists themselves.

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