Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Extraordinary Obfuscation

"The papers we have uncovered so far suggest that there could be more than the two cases referred to in the House by the foreign secretary"

"We now cannot say that we have received no such requests for the use of UK territory or air space for 'extraordinary rendition'

"We should try to avoid getting drawn on detail" and "try to move the debate on... underlining all the time the strong counter-terrorist rationale for close co-operation with the US".
A leaked memo finally confirms that Jack Straw looks like he's lying because he is actually lying.
Channel 4 News [and Newsnight - see below] says the memo also warns that the transfer of suspects to US territories outside the normal judicial process, and transfers to a third country, are "probably usually illegal in international law".
It also explains why he is lying. Two for one. Now that's value.

The memo's not up the New Statesman yet. (Hope they don't put it behind a paywall. Ave a art, guv...)

There's something for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to investigate. My advice would be to start by asking Straw why he didn't feel the need to come to the House to correct the written statement he made in December. Or ask when it was that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary discovered that "[w]e now cannot say that we have received no such requests for the use of UK territory or air space for 'extraordinary rendition' ". Just a couple of suggestions.

For anyone who didn't see Newsnight (Wednesday), it had a report on the memo and it'll be available online for 24 hours.

More on this to follow, I expect. Much more.


The Guardian:
The document says that in the most common use of the term - namely, involving real risk of torture - rendition could never be legal. It also says that the US emphasised torture but not "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment", which binds Britain under the European convention on human rights.
The Independent:
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, told Parliament on 12 December last year that checks had uncovered no occasion since the attacks of 11 September 2001 when the US had asked to use British airspace for rendition flights. But in a briefing note to Tony Blair's office five days earlier - obtained by the New Statesman magazine - the Foreign Office admitted it had no idea how many times the UK had allowed such flights to cross its skies.
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