Daily archives: April 17, 2009

When in Trouble, Play the Terrorism Card

With massive pressure on the government, and on Jacqui Smith in particular, I can tell you what will happen next. The government will play the terrorism card, just as it did last weekend.

The Great Manchester Easter Bomb Plot was a bit of a damp squib. It is only a week ago, but it seems an age, since Gordon Brown told us he had foiled “a very big terror plot” and we had dramatic police swoops and the arrests of twelve “Islamic Extremists” in the North West. Eleven of them are still held without charge.

But the Great Easter Bomb Plot lacked any bombs. Or firearms. Or detonators. They have found some photographs of Manchester and a small quantity of sugar, which we have been assured can be a component of an explosive.

The police will be under huge pressure now to come up with something else. Household bleach would be good. Or even better a confession from one of the teenagers held without charge and interrogated for over a week now, who may be persuaded to turn evidence against the others.

Expect an announcement this weekend, to move the news agenda on from Ian Tomlinson. And expect a statement from Jacqui Smith by Monday at the latest. It will go like this:

Grave terrorist threat foiled – could have been massive atrocity – imminent threat – constant vigilance – reliable intelligence indicates – communication intercepts – photographs of potential targets – possible explosive ingredients – bollocks – bullshit – bollocks.

Then expect all the “opposition” MPs to rally round and sing the national anthem, and Jacqui Smith to be saved until David Blunkett comes back in the summer reshuffle.

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Ian Tomlinson Killing and Official Lies

So the second post mortem shows that Ian Tomlinson did not die of a heart attack, but of an abdominal haemmorhage. A policeman has been interviewed under caution for manslaughter.

If that American tourist had not captured on video one stage of the unprovoked police assault on Mr Tomlinson, the original falsified post mortem report of heart attack would have stood. So would the Metropolitan police statement that they had “No contact” with Mr Tomlinson.

Let us catalogue the lies we have been told by the authorities in this case:

Lie 1 – There was no police contact with Mr Tomlinson

Lie 2 Mr Tomlinson died of a heart attack

Lie 3 Protestors rained missiles at police rescuing and treating Mr Tomlinson

Lie 4 There were no CCTV cameras covering the assault on Mr Tomlinson

Lie 5 There were CCTV cameras, but they were not working

There may be more.

This is an echo of the numerous appalling lies the police told in the Jean Charles De Menezes case, which led to the astonishing ruling that the police are allowed to lie, even on oath, by the worst judge ever to sit in England.


It is the whole police philosophy of violence towards dissent, and dehumanising tactic of “kettling” people, that killed Mr Tomlinson. To charge a single individual will not be sufficient.

The government pathologist who carried out the original post mortem must be charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. He must also be struck off by the General Medical Council.

The police spokesmen who told the lies that there was no police contact with Mr Tomlinson, and that protestors threw missiles at police treating Mr Tomlinson, must be charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The senior police officers in charge of devising the “kettling” tactics and cordons at the G20 must be charged with manslaughter.

The responsible minister, Jacqui Smith, should resign.

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Torture and the Banality of Evil

I feel sick. I have that sunk, painful feeling as though my stomach had emptied, and that shakiness though the central nervous system. I feel dirty, like I want to shower for ages.

I have just read all 124 pages of the Top Secret torture memos from Bush’s lawyers in the CIA and Department of Justice, which were obtained and released yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union.





These are just a small sample of the acres of casuistry devoted to justifying the return to medieval barbarity under the Bush regime. The ACLU is pressing for more. Please do read them, but do not be sucked into their crazy internal logic. Remember they are deliberately underdescribing and downplaying the pain and terror this torture causes.

As you look at their careful discussion of how to characterise different levels of pain inflicted on shackled and helpless captives, you are in the crazed world of Dr Mengele. It is obvious even to the most unqualified person that what they are discussing is, to any reasonable person in any normal definition, torture. And that their legal arguments are continually strained to breaking point. The acknowledgement that waterboarding induces “Fear of imminent death by drowning” but argument that this can be “contextualized”, would be laughably bad if it were not so appalling.

Compare the tortured logic of the Bush lawyers with the simple clarity of the UN Convention Against Torture, to which the US is a party and which is the applicable international law.

“For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”


The UK is guilty. Every intelligence report released by the CIA as a result of these torture sessions was copied to MI6 under the UK/US intelligence sharing agreement. Jack Straw took a deliberate and informed decision that in the “War on Terror” the UK would obtain intelligence from torture, by the CIA, by Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and the various thug security services involved in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme.

To the best of my knowledge and belief, I was the only official in the entire British civil sevice who tried internally to oppose this use of torture intelligence. In consequence I was not only sacked but subjected to a sustained campaign of slurs and smears, orchestrated by 10 Downing St and the FCO, with the deliberate aim of destroying my reputation.


That is the evidence which I shall be giving to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on 28 April. I will also be arguing that, as in the US, the Top Secret documents on the UK’s attitude to torture must now be released, including the telegrams and minutes of meetings to which I allude in my evidence.

Obama’s decision that none of the CIA operatives, bosses or lawyers who instituted this barbarity should be prosecuted, is a dreadful harbouring and encouragement of criminality. If Obama really is genuine about improving the image of the US in the world, that is a retrograde step.

The most important single step he could take now would be to sign the United States up to the International Criminal Court, as evidence of a genuine desire to be part of the community of nations.

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