CIA flights: “If Straw and Blair get away with this foul abuse, then the rule of law is finished” 1

Now that information is starting to come out about the hundreds of CIA rendition flights in UK airspace, at least scores refuelling at UK airports, the government’s refusal to give details to MPs of CIA flights landing at military airports is an appalling denial of democracy.

The government claims that this information would be “too expensive” to collect.

Earlier in my career, I was the number 2 in the FCO’s Aviation and Maritime Department. I can tell you for certain that, even by Jack Straw’s standards, the “too expensive” claim is an appalling lie.

When these planes touch down in the UK, they no longer have flag immunity. Which means that UK law applies rather than the law of the country in which the plane is registered. So when someone is being held against their will without legal authority- usually shackled to the floor – and the plane is on the ground at Prestwick, RAF Northolt or elsewhere, a serious crime is being committed.

I can tell you for certain that if these planes were carrying heroin, rather than beaten and degraded human beings, it would be technically very simple to track them, given we know the physical planes used. It would also be no problem at all to board them at the airport.

If parliament and the courts allow Straw and Blair to get away with this foul abuse, then the rule of law is finished and we no longer live in a democracy.

I shall be testifying before the European Parliament’s Committee on Extraordinary Rendition in Brussels on 23 March.


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One thought on “CIA flights: “If Straw and Blair get away with this foul abuse, then the rule of law is finished”

  • Chuck Unsworth

    Well Straw's comments were pretty predictable and his interpretation of the word 'expensive' might be interesting. Is it, for example, financially or politically expensive to have these aircraft inspected?

    The UK Government is on a hiding to nothing with this. The history of these flights is well enough documented by respected bodies. I wonder who'll be told to stand in front of the Commission's inquisitors to answer for UK (in)action.

    The pity is that this reprehensible behaviour damages our national standing in the world. I would be pleased if it could be universally understood that our politicians do not represent the public view of many things, but sadly I think that this is unlikely. So all of our reputations are damaged by the deeply offensive actions of a few.

    In any event, this is all part of the usual pattern of deliberate ignorance of evidence until that position becomes completely untenable. These people have no moral fibre, no courage and precious little legal expertise. Even their political skill is minimal…..

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