Wednesday 4 February 2009

The more things change . . . .

"We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials ... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be."

“We had no reason ... to anticipate there would be made a threat of the gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that it would reconsider its intelligence sharing relationship, when all the considerations in relation to open justice pointed to us providing a limited but important summary of the reports.”

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, protesting threats made by the Obama government that they would cease intelligence sharing should the court make public evidence of the use of torture to extract information, in today's ruling on the case of Binyam Mohammed.


Yes, the Obama administration most definitely did reiterate the original threat:

The threat has sparked an angry reaction in London after Lord Justice John Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones told the court lawyers for Mr Miliband had made clear the threat represented too great a risk to national security to be ignored.

The court was also told that Mr Mohamed's lawyers had tested the new administration of President Barack Obama and that the warning stood.

British newspapers highlighted the hypocrisy of the statement, particularly as it emerged just 24 hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made much of the "special relationship" between the two countries.

[Update #2]

Andrew Sullivan's comment on this is also pertinent:

[The US government's warnings are] . . a threat to hurt the security of a very close ally unless the British government intervenes into a court process to suppress evidence of US torture. In a critical test of the Obama administration, the demand that such evidence be suppressed was reiterated. (I don't know by whom. Panetta isn't in place yet. Brennan? Clinton?) And that's how illegal torture spreads throughout a legal and military system to undermine alliances as well as the rule of law. The poison of Cheney is still in the system. And it will be for a long time.


Richard said...

You had best reread the article. You are way off. I mean, way, way off. The threat was made by the Bush administration. The article says there was hearsay that Obama would stand by Bush's policy. But the way you wrote it, it sounds like this was Obama's people's doing. And I quote you here:

"Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, protesting threats made by the Obama government that they would cease intelligence sharing should the court make public evidence of the use of torture to extract information..."

The Obama administration never, EVER made such a threat and if you don't correct this you will lose credibility. That is not what the article says.

Gilman Grundy said...

@Richard - The threat was repeated under the current administration - read the story. I am not way off, you are.

Richard said...

I quoted your exact words where you cavalierly wrote of "threats made by the Obama government." Now give us a quote from the article that backs up your slander. You won't and you can't. I'm beginning to understand why this is referred to as a smear site.

Here's the closest thing I can find to back up your absurd charge:

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said lawyers for the Foreign Secretary had told them that the threat by the US still applied under President Obama. Oppostion MPs accused the Government of giving in to blackmail.

Someone said that someone said the threat made by Bush still applies, but not that Obama or any of his people had made any threat. How dare you say this threat was made by Obama's people? Where is your quote from this article that backs up your slander? What are "the threats made by the Obama government"? Waiting for that quote. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Gilman Grundy said...

@Richard - I do not see what exactly has gotten your back up so much. The quote you provide substantiates my comment. Two of the Queen's judges have said in court that they have been prevented from releasing evidence by officials in the current American administration - that being the administration of President Obama.

As an aside - as a rule of thumb slander is spoken, libel is written. What I have written here, if defamatory, can only be said to be libel, not slander.

Under UK law we have two defences which are pertinent to this case - the first being fair comment on the facts, the second that the statement was true.

The statement I have made here - that a British court was threatened into silence - is clearly upheld by the statements of the court, and thus is true in as much as it is possible for me to verify. My commentary based on these fact - that things have in some respects not changed since the previous administration - are based on the statements made by the judges in their decision, and I thing that a reasonable person would say as much.

I do not think, therefore, that I have dealt unfairly with the Obama administration at all. The only thing that could change my mind is a repudiation of the original threat and its repetition by the US government.

Your suggestion that it was merely 'sugested' by 'someone' unassociatiated with the current US government is impossible to believe - indeed, it goes against the statements of the court.

Gilman Grundy said...

I guess I should also add that if anybody feels that they have ever been unfairly 'smeared' by this website, then they are free to contact me at - and that so far I have received no such complaints.