Friday, February 24, 2006

Stranger than Fiction

Implausible deniability. Every Labour councillor who remains silent will thoroughly deserve the hiding they're about to get in the local elections.

Here's a play in two acts.

Act 1
(Tony and George are strolling through a leafy glade near a ranch in Crawford Texas.)

George: Gee Tony, it's time we took the gloves off on these terrrists.
Tony: I agree with you George. Make no mistake, the rules of the game are changing.
George: I'm glad to have you on my side Tony. You're a good ally.
Tony: Gosh, you know, I mean, thanks.

George: So Tony, would it be alright if we transported a few of the terrrrists through your airports? We'd sure like to get them somewhere where the gloves can really come off.
Tony: Actually George, that would be a bit difficult for me. Those bloody human rights people think they run the country. They might kick up a bit of a stink.
George: Sorry to hear that Tony. That's really put me in a bind. But I understand. These human rights people can be a real pain in the butt. So, you can't help?
( Pause.)

Tony: Well, George, let me see. If you asked me (wink) if you could transport terrorists through my airports to take them somewhere like that, I would have to say no. If you asked me (wink).
George: That's too bad...
Tony: No, George, listen. If you ask me (exaggerated wink) I'll have to say no.
George: Oh, I get it. I should just go ahead and d....
Tony: Sh, sh, sh, sh. If you ask me, I'll have to say no.
George. Thanks Tony. (winks) You're a good friend.

Act 2
(Tony is at his monthly press conference. A reporter has just asked him to comment on the use of his airports for "rendition flights".)

Tony: There is no evidence that I know of that any of these 200 flights have been used for rendition.


Further Reading

Washington Post: Anatomy of a CIA mistake

Wikipedia: Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr

BBC: MPs urge 'terror flights' probe

We have an arrangement with the US where they have to seek permission from us if there is rendition. We have disclosed to parliament the occasion, some years ago I may say, in which that permission has been sought and the circumstances of it. And it is not the case that the Americans say they are deliberately returning people for torture in countries, on the contrary they say they do not return them unless they get assurances about the treatment of those individuals.
So in respect of rendition, as I say, before people print yet again that we have had these 200 flights and they are all rendition flights, as far as I am aware there is no evidence to suggest any of them fit into that category, and as I say there is a process and a procedure in place where the Americans ask our permission if they want to rendite. And I am not prepared simply to assume that they are breaching that undertaking, I think it would be very strange if they did.
Blair choses his words very carefully when he discusses this issue. It is important to note that no-one is asking him to assume anything. When a police officer decides to mount an investigation into evidence which suggests that a crime may have taken place, an open mind is essential. A blind eye, on the other hand, suggests either incompetance or complicity.

We want a proper investigation. The Commons foreign affairs committee put it like this:
We conclude that the government has a duty to enquire into the allegations of extraordinary rendition and black sites under the Convention against Torture, and to make clear to the USA that any extraordinary rendition to states where suspects may be tortured is completely unacceptable.
It is a duty this government seems determined to avoid.

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