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Friday, February 24, 2006 

A dangerous imbalance.

Ministers should make "loud and public" the government's objections to Guantánamo Bay rather than discuss the detention camp with the US behind the scenes, the Commons foreign affairs committee said yesterday.

The MPs also said ministers had not told them the truth about what the government knew about the CIA's extraordinary rendition flights. They felt their questions on the issue had not been taken seriously.

The use of the camp in Cuba as a "detention centre outside all legal regimes diminishes the USA's moral authority and is a hindrance to the effective pursuit of the war against terrorism", the committee said in its 2005 human rights report.

Not told them the truth? Jack Straw and Tony Blair have repeatedly lied about rendition flights, whether to protect the so-called "special relationship" or their embarrassment at not being informed by the security services that such flights were taking place. The former is more likely, but on the day that the security services finally agreed to pay compensation to servicemen on which mind control experiments with LSD were conducted in the 50s, who knows?

The committee may as well piss in the wind as ask Blair to publicly condemn Guantanamo Bay, who has never to my knowledge made any loud criticisms of US foreign policy, even that which New Labour nearly disagrees with. This government still refuses to repatriate British residents from the camp, instead leaving them to rot and face at least "torture-lite" courtesy of the US military. If you also feel like being sick, you can read Jack Straw's defense of Guantanamo Bay on the Today programme. Here's a small extract:

Well, look, I'd like to see the situation different, I wish September the 11th had never happened. i'm quite clear, I'm absolutely clear that the US has no intention of maintaining a Gulag in Guantanamo Bay. They want to see the situation resolved, and they would like it other than it is.
However, that's the situation they have, and let me also say that the, as I understand it, the International Committee of the Red Cross has continued to visit Guantanamo Way, Bay. I think that it is, in addition the case that conditions were not satisfactory whan Guantanamo Bay was first established as a camp, conditions have significantly improved since then. And as I say, a large number of people have been released or taken to trial. the problem is what to do with those who are left, and that as John Reid has said is a matter which the US administration are going to have to make their own decisions on and frankly, I'm not going to second guess decisions which they make.

And finally, here's Amnesty International's thoughts on the current position of the UK's anti-terrorist legislation and security policy:
" There is now a dangerous imbalance between draconian actions the UK is taking in the name of security and its obligation to protect human rights. These measures tarnish the UK's image and its ability to promote human rights abroad."

The whole report is here.

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