Monday, 18 February 2008

The uses for terrorist atrocities

I couldn't help but be struck by the Guardian front page last week, that included two stories related to the 7th July terrorist bombings on the London transport system in 2005.

The first story outlined how the Saudi Arabian government, being investigated under corruption allegations linked to the sale of military equipment by BAE systems, allegedly threatened that intelligence co-operation would be compromised unless the investigation was called off. This would threaten another 7/7 and lead directly to the "loss of British lives on British streets". Any government with a spine would have told the Saudis where to go, given threats made in an attempt to halt an ongoing criminal investigation would be a criminal offence. Disgracefully, our government caved in and ordered an end to the investigation. This just can't be right.

The second story featured George Bush, who claimed that the 7/7 bombings could justify torture.

"To the critics, I ask them this: when we, within the law, interrogate and get information that protects ourselves and possibly others in other nations to prevent attacks, which attack would they have hoped that we wouldn't have prevented? And so, the United States will act within the law. We'll make sure professionals have the tools necessary to do their job within the law ".

On being asked about whether Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition send the wrong signal to the world, Bush said "It should send the signal that America is going to respect law, but is going to take actions necessary to protect ourselves, and find information that may protect others -- unless, of course, people say, well, there's no threat, they're just making up the threat, these people aren't problematic. But I don't see how you can say that in Great Britain, after people came and blew up bombs in subways. I suspect the families of those victims understand the nature of killers".

So there you have it. America will respect the law, by using techniques such as waterboarding that are transparently illegal. Families of the 7/7 victims will support torture, because they understand the nature of killers. But what if they understand the nature of torturers too? Again, this just can't be right, can it?

The terrorist attacks of 7/7, in which 52 innocent people were killed, are now being used to justify torture and corrupt arms sales to dictatorial regimes. Nice.

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