Friday, 20 February 2004

A no-win situation for everyone

Clive Summerfield @ Friday, February 20, 2004
So 5 of the British residents of Camp Delta are to be freed from Guantanamo Bay. In spite of the fact that British anti-terrorist officers have only just begun investigations into the 5, David Blunkett - obviously in posession of some prescient ability - has already said that they pose no threat to UK security. Meanwhile Jack Straw said that they could face charges in the UK courts under anti-terrorism laws. And then the Tories weigh in with suggestions that they could potentially be charged with treason.

All a bit of a mess, not to mention a no-win situation for the government.

They could arrest and question the five, then set them free, thus making the US look like a bunch of incompetents for holding them without trial for more than two years. Or they could decide to send them for trial, this time making the US look like a bunch of pricks for denying the rights of the remaining inmates of Camp Delta. Either way it isn't going to do much for the special relationship. But the alternatives are to lock 'em up and throw away the key or - and this is possibly worse still - follow Ancram's suggestion to charge them with treason. Either way it makes HMG look just as bad as the US, and does nothing for Tone's street cred.

And just why the heck do the Conservatives think they might face treason charges? Simply because they took up arms in Afghanistan and thus may have taken pot-shots at the British forces deployed over there. Hmmm. Don't recall any active members of the various terrorist groups in Ulster ever being charged with treason, and they were not only taking pot shots at British soldiers, but doing it on British territory. So British citizens shooting British soldiers in Britain is not as heinous as the same happening overseas...

And as ever, the Murdoch tabloid rag goes for trial by brainless Sun reader, whereas the Mail takes an more balanced approach for a change. Meanwhile Murdoch's broadsheet toilet paper decides to place its olfactory apparatus up Tone's anus and give him the credit. The Guardian and Independant are probably closer to the mark on this one.

The detention without trial at Guantanamo has been a complete mess from day one, and will remain so until the US gets its act together and restores some semblance of rights to the inmates. That the British government has got itself entangled in the morass is an inevitable consequence of playing fast and loose with international law.

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