Thursday, June 15, 2006

Impossible to Endure

Lord Falconer, was on Question Time last night. His comments on judges and sentencing have already been reported but as I write this, his comments on Guantanamo Bay have not.

Lord Falconer said:
I think that Guantanamo Bay is a recruiting agent for those who would attack all our values. We live by the rule of law. What Guantanamo Bay is doing is placing people beyond the rule of law which I think is intolerable and wrong. It should never have been opened and it should be closed.
David Dimbleby then asks if he'll comment on Shami Chakrabarti suggestion that the British government had been pressuring the US government on Guantanamo behind the scenes. Lord Falconer replied:
No, I won't. I have made clear what the government's position is. We have spoken privately to our closest ally and we have made public what we think as well.*
Only just mind.

I'm presuming that there has pressure been and that he's determined to keep private matters private. He is a lawyer after all.

What's important is that Lord Falconer has called Guantanamo "intolerable". That's a strong word. And he's also explicitly stated that this is "the Government's position". With luck, at least some of the US media will pick up on the fact that a minister of the UK government has made such a strong statement.

If this is indeed the government's position, it's a long overdue move in the right direction and to be welcomed. At this stage, given the slipperiness of a certain individual, I recomend caution.

Tony Blair must now issue a public statement making it clear that the UK government considers indefinite detention beyond the rule of law to be intolerable. He should insist that Camp Delta is closed and the detainees brought back under the rule of law immediately.

A clear unambigious statement from the Prime Minister would have for more impact on the US government and on US public opinion than anything Lord Falconer could manage. If Blair is serious, he needs to make the statement. The US media may or may not ignore Falconer's words, it remains to be seen as I write this, but they certainly couldn't ignore Blair.

On a related note, it's Torture Awareness Month. There's a Bloggers Against Torture Blog attempting to raise awareness of these issues. Click click.

* 46 and a bit minutes in if you want to check my transcribing.

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3 comments:

Gentleman-hobbs said...

At last an advert in spite of the world cup. Take a look at this on ebay, Depending on your sense of humour it will either crack you up or go down like a diplomatic escort

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/davids-t-shirts

Jherad said...

I didn't see Question Time myself, but this is certainly good news.

As you say however, it now needs to be followed up. If Blair publically (and personally) follows this with a demand for action on Guantanamo, we might see progress. If not... He can be seen to be disapproving, albeit indirectly, without anything changing.

Blair's close cooperation with Bush in Iraq means that he has also tied himself with all the moral reprehensibility of the Bush Administration. Attempting to fix the problems will be progress - a distancing exercise however is simply spin.

I'll be optimistic for now at least, until he lets us down.

KeirHardiesCap said...

Key words there were 'If Blair were serious'