The reason that so many politicians are held in such contempt can be summarised in two words: Jack Straw. Although out of government and a lot quieter these days he is still a malign presence in our democracy. The Guardian reported yesterday on his latest attempt to avoid the full force of the law in relation to him being caught with his finger-prints all over the case of the two Libyans who were ‘rendered’ back to Gaddafi’s torturers. His name appeared on a letter, along with that of Sir Mark Allen, discovered among Libyan secret service files after the fall of Gaddafi. Sir Mark Allen was head of counterterrorism at the time of the rendition.
“Straw and Allen say the Official Secrets Act prevents them from presenting a proper defence. The act also means the former foreign secretary ‘can neither confirm or deny [MI6] operations’, the court papers add.” Guardian 3/4/13
The Guardian has seen the submissions made by the two men in response to allegations of conspiracy in the torture of a prominent Libyan dissident. “They do not deny being involved in rendering Abdul Hakim Belhaj into the hands of Muammar Gaddafi’s secret police in 2004 but say they did nothing unlawful”. (ibid)
So that is it then? Throw away the Rule of Law and substitute it with the Rule of Power. Many eminent legal experts warned that the introduction of ‘secret courts,’ recently approved by Parliament, will make this type of case so much harder to pursue. Simply invoke ‘National Security’ and watch justice melt away.
The men rendered back to Gaddaffi were opponents of Gaddiffi - as were the British Government, until BP came a-calling and whispered sweet nothings into the receptive ears of the Blair government. And Lo! It came to pass that a man who had been identified as a madman and a dangerous threat to world peace was suddenly our new best mate. And BP had access to Libyan oil. The rendition was merely ‘business’ as Don Corleone would say.
Straw also denied he lied to a Commons foreign affairs select committee by claiming that Britain had not ‘been involved in rendition full stop because we have not been...’ David Miliband later had to correct this when it came to light that Diego Garcia - an island group handed over to the yanks for an airbase - was involved in rendition. So Straw lied and what happened? Diddly squat.
Diego Garcia is another example of how the slimy Straw operates. Rather than subject successive government’s disgraceful handling of the Chagos Islanders (Diego Garcia’s inhabitants) to the scrutiny of Parliament, Straw used ancient procedures to send the case to the supine Privy Council which (in)acts beyond scrutiny.
Will Straw follow Chris ‘I am innocent’ Huhne into chokey?
Will the establishment leave Straw to dangle in the wind? Or will they do as they always do and recognise that if Straw falls, then who of them will be next?
Blair? Miliband? Hoon? Reid?