Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Extraordinary Rendition: complicity and its consequences

Philippe SandsJUSTICE has published a transcript of yesterday's lecture by Philippe Sands on extraordinary rendition and international law. As well as setting out a powerful case that the US and UK administrations contain several international criminals (not least Bush, Cheney, Blair and Straw), he dissects the Prime Minister's casual relationship with the truth (pp.18–19):

It reads to me as though the Prime Minister’s concern with his legacy is driven by the fear that he is fundamentally misunderstood, and that those who seek to challenge him are out of touch. He attacks Mr. Porter’s “mishmash of misunderstanding, gross exaggeration and things that are just plain wrong”, as he put it. Yet it is the Prime Minister who displays these characteristics. It is he who is prone to errors of fact: for example, under the Human Rights Act – for which his government rightly deserves credit – the judges are not empowered to strike down acts of Parliament, as he claimed. It is he who is prone to gross exaggeration: the conditions of the modern world cannot possibly be said to be such that “traditional processes” are inadequate, as he claims. And it is he who is prone to misunderstanding: he says that his approach reflects “a genuine desire to protect our way of life from those who would destroy it”. But our “way of life” includes our system of values, and our system of values includes a commitment to the rule of law. Returning foreigners to near-certain torture is not consistent with our “way of life” or our values. Aiding and abetting the transfer of British nationals and residents to Guantanamo – if that is established to have occurred – would not be consistent with our “way of life” or our values. Turning a blind eye to extraordinary rendition – if that is established – falls within the same category. The Prime Minister’s logic leads inexorably in one direction only. “Whose civil liberties?”, he asks. Everyone’s, we should respond.

Where do I sign up to the campaign to have Blair indicted by any of the 140 state parties to the Convention on Torture, or the International Criminal Court?

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