The Bugging of Babar Ahmad 13


Having been a member of the Senior Civil Service for six years, I can assure you of two things:

a) The logging and tracking system for MPs’ – let alone shadow cabinet members’ – letters arriving into No 10 is very tight. It is not possible David Davis’ letter was lost and unrecorded. Nor do I see any reason to doubt that Mr Davis sent it.

b) There are some very right wing people in the security services. It is essential for our democracy that they are not allowed to interfere with our lawmakers.

Jack Straw has gone for the usual government whitewash ploy of choosing a safe conservative judge to mount a long inquiry. In fact, if Straw had any interest in the truth he could find out in a couple of hours if Sadiq Khan MP was bugged, particularly as the individual who allegedly did the bugging has come forward. It looks like this may well lead back to the appalling Sir Ian Blair yet again.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,2252618,00.html

But one thing that nobody seems to be commenting on is the position of poor Babar Ahmad, whose wife and father I have had the privilege to meet. Ahmad has been in jail for many years, without a single shred of evidence against him being produced to any judge, ever. It is unclear what exactly he is supposed to have done. It relates apparently to websites supporting the Taliban and Chechen separatists, though supporting in what sense has never been spelt out.

Babar Ahmad denies any connection to any such websites anyway, and I repeat again that no evidence of any kind has ever been produced, nor do the police have any. That is why they have been bugging him for years. The bugging has produced no result either.

Ahmad is being held under the appalling 2002 extradition agreement with the US, which places the UK in the position of a vassal state. Provided the forms are filled in properly, the UK has to extradite its nationals to the US without any evidence being produced by the US that there is even a prima facie case to answer. Astonishingly, our lackey government signed up to this with no reciprocity – we have to extradite our citizens to the US, but the US will not extradite its citizens here without a hearing of evidence by a US court. This is one of the more startling proofs of the abandonment of UK autonomy by Blair that morphed the “Special relationship” into one of master and servant.

The other interesting angle being ignored is, of course, that the results of bugging could not have been used in court here either. Commentators are generally puzzled by the government’s refusal to make bugging material admissible as evidence in court, and tend to take the view that this is a last vestige of liberalism.

In fact this is the opposite. Bugging material is in fact used in court, sanitised as “intelligence”, and given in tiny out of context clips to judges in camera to justify continued detention without trial or control orders. It is also used at the Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal, a de facto terrorism court. Brian Barder’s account of his resignation from that little known body is interesting.

http://www.barder.com/ephems/348

The defence and the “suspect” are not shown the “intelligence” or even given any hint what they are supposed to have done.

So the government’s objection to the use of bugging material in court is that it would, 99 times out of 100, help the defence. Rather than giving one or two apparently damning sentences out of context as “intelligence”, they would have to make full disclosure of all the transcripts to defence lawyers. As in the case of Babar Ahmad, the fact that years of covert surveillance revealed no bomb or terrorist plots, (which I know for sure) and may have revealed anti-terrorist views (which is speculation), would help the defence.

The same is true, incidentally, of the so-called liquid bomb plotters, some of whom were also bugged for over a year, revealing no plot to bomb up airplanes. Not helpful to have all that in court if you are trying to hype the terrorist threat.

This is not speculation. Remember I was on the inside of this “War on Terror”. I know.


13 thoughts on “The Bugging of Babar Ahmad

  • Sabretache

    Here here Craig.

    Once again you hit a massively protruding nail squarely on the head. I am sick and tired of the constant dismissive and pejorative references to the bugged meeting having been with a 'Terrorist Suspect'. Just how long can you be incarcerated as a 'Terrorist Suspect' before some evidence is produced and charges brought these days? Indefinitely it seems. As for his assault by the police – I know from bitter personal experience that it is next to useless – even counter-productive to complain about it.

    I simply can't find the words to express my contempt for the 'system' and those responsible for his assault, the treatment of his wife and family, and his incarceration these past four years. It's taken me over half an hour to put this little post together, I'm that bloody angry about it all

  • Geoff Jones

    I'm quite sure every word you say here is true. It all fills me with so much gloom. In your opinion what can the average citizen do about undoing these massive injustices.

  • writeon

    Dear Craig,

    I value your insights and knowledge. The case of Barbar Ahmad is, unfortunately, a sign of the sorry times we live in. That an individual can be held for so long with trial in a democracy is disturbing. The role of the Government is appalling.

    I'm not optimistic that the average citizen, or should that be subject?, can do much to undue the massive injustices that are taking place in our society.

    I think we're living in the twilight of the democratic era. How long did it really last? A few decades perhaps?

    I often think that what some people describe as 'bourgeois democracy' was a nice 'experiment' while it lasted, now it's clearly under threat and under conserted attack, as it stands in the way of the triumph of the Strong State.

    What was bourgeois democracy anyway? Wasn't it the political infranchisement of the middle class. Byt this I mean they were alowed to share political power with the 'ruling class'. The working class were eventually allowed to vote, but they were never allowed to get their grubby little hands of the levers of politcal power, these remained the preserve of the old, ruling elite, and those who were 'vetted'.

    Now, given the massive economic and social changes is society is heading for, perhaps the era of the middle class is coming to an end too. I often speculate that we're moving towards a kind of post-democratic, post bourgeois, neo-fuedalism. A society with a greatly reduced middle class, a redundant working class, but a very powerful and strong 'aristocracy' protected by the Strong State, which it controls.

    In this kind of neo-fuedalist strong state, our cherished bourgeois values, like freedom of speech, a free press, equality before the law, political pluratlity… these and many other things are becoming superfluous.

  • writeon

    The security services are not really 'under control' but our elected political representatives. They, the security services are a state within a state. They are function is to protect society, but not any kind of society; they are there, fundamentally, to protect the status quo, the rule of 'the establishment'. The security services are part of the 'deep state' as they say in Turkey. The 'real' state, that exists in the shadows, beneath the surface of the 'democratic state' that we take comfort in believing, and like to think exists.

  • maryb

    Thank goodness you're back on. Got a bit fed up with all the four letter words on Guido. It's almost a badge of honour to use them there.

    I am sorry about the continued detention of Babar Ahmad. Was Blair and is Brown now attempting to create the British Guantanamo at Woodhill?

  • angels in marble

    The war on terrorism justified behaviour is nasty but the refusal to conduct governance on any recognisable terms other than the arbitrary use of power is much worse.

    It is still a slight surprise when people refer to 'the next election' and how Labour will be voted out of office.

    The Executive is not in office, it is in power and intends to remain there.

  • peacewisher

    What has happened to the major story presented yesterday on ITN news at ten about Sally Murrer, the journalist who helped the honest policeman to get the truth of the bugging of Babar/Khan out to the world – and in return was put under surveillance to the point that she was a jibbering wreck?

    No mention at all on the ITV website…

  • MilkMonitor

    peacewriter,

    Thanks for that. I searched on Sally Murrer, and found a story of cowardly bullying by the authorities.

    "Murrer has been at the centre of a huge police inquiry since May last year when she was accused of "aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office". Her co-defendant ?" the policeman accused of illegally giving her stories ?" is Mark Kearney, the Thames Valley Police officer who this week revealed he had twice been ordered to bug the phone of MP Sadiq Khan in Woodhill Prison in 2005 and 2006.

    Murrer, a part time journalist and mother of three, has herself been bugged and tracked by police and been locked up twice during questioning ?" once for 30 hours."
    http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectionco

  • ruth

    I absolutely agree with Writeon that a ‘real’ state exists in the shadows, beneath the surface of the ‘democratic state’ with the security services as its enforcer and revenue raiser. This state within the state secures revenues through illegal activities including the clandestine removal of our taxes out of the UK without the consent of Parliament. Many innocent people are imprisoned through manipulated trials to conceal what is really happening in VAT and excise frauds and drugs importation.

    I’m sure one of the purposes in the War on Terror is to reduce our freedom so when the economic situation deteriorates so badly and people start to protest they will be controlled effectively

  • ruth

    I absolutely agree with Writeon that a 'real' state exists in the shadows, beneath the surface of the 'democratic state' with the security services as its enforcer and revenue raiser. This state within the state secures revenues through illegal activities including the clandestine removal of our taxes out of the UK without the consent of Parliament. Many innocent people are imprisoned through manipulated trials to conceal what is really happening in VAT and excise frauds and drugs importation.

    I'm sure one of the purposes in the War on Terror is to reduce our freedom so when the economic situation deteriorates so badly and people start to protest they will be controlled effectively

  • writeon

    The latest news is that 'hundreds' of prisoners, not just terrorist subjects, have had their conversations with legal council bugged and recorded.

    This has profound implications for the concept of justice and free and fair trials, which is one of the most important foundations of our civil rights in a democratic society. What this means is that the State is secretly undermining the impartiality of the courts and unbalancing the legal system. Once again yet another sign that our cherished bourgeois rights and liberties are being SYSTEMATICALLY UNDERMINED in the new, post-democratic era.

  • ziz

    Shirley of MR Ahmad is described as a "terror suspect" without any evidence having ever been produced (in the US or the UK) to substantiate that claim, he must have some form of legal claim for defamation ?

    His continued imprisonment is monstrous.

    First they came for the Jews ….

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