Guatanamo Release - Payback for use of Black Watch



By Stephen Jakobi Director, Fair Trials Abroad

TONY Blair has won a victory with the release of the British Guantanamo detainees - but it comes at a price.

This is a cynical payback for helping George Bush get re-elected.

Mr Blair has got his reward for our "special relationship" with the Bush administration. He's said: "You owe me and I need this for my own political gain."

I very much welcome the release of the detainees. It is an occasion for relief for their anxious relatives and friends and all those appalled by their treatment over the past three years.

However, I'm deeply depressed by the way their freedom was achieved. Not so long ago Mr Blair spoke of a proper legal process to deal with the detainees, so what's changed now?

This has nothing to do with the law but everything to do with how Bush rewards his friends and condemns his enemies.

Mr Blair does deserve praise for bringing these people home. What about those who are left, Prime Minister?

The release of the detainees will mean the issue will go away. What will not go away is the exercise of US pressure on Britons and Europe to hand over everyone they want to the Americans without question and with no form of evidence.

If the Americans issue a warrant on terrorist offences then off they go, no questions asked. I can't see the Americans changing tack.

Bush, though, is desperate to reduce the numbers at Guantanamo Bay. The move through the Supreme Court to force fair trials through habeus corpus has made a hash of his plans to try people unfairly.

ENDING British involvement gets rid of the embarrassment here, but the fate of those left remains uncertain.

What has changed in Europe is that the European Court of Human Rights is making its mark. The European idea of respect for an individual's rights, fair trial and international law clashes with the American "to hell with you" ideology.

Mr Blair once spoke extremely courageously about how he wanted all those in Guantanamo Bay to receive a fair trial under international law.

To remain silent now casts a doubt about whether he truly believes in justice or is simply calculating for political gain.

So what's behind this decision? People should be worried, because there are many questions to be asked.

First, if the prisoners are being freed because there is no evidence to try them in America, why were they not released at the time of the Blair summer visit 18 months ago, when the request was first made? What has changed in the meantime?

To those who have followed the saga of the British and other European prisoners since the establishment of Camp X-Ray there is only one motive for release: the naked self-interest of the Bush administration.

WE were told that the camp was being used to house dangerous terrorists who were fanatical followers of the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

Yet in the first few months, at the request of frontline countries in the war in Afghanistan such as the new administration in Kabul and Pakistan, some of the most dangerous men ever captured by the Allies were freed.

Both the current military commander of the Taliban in south Afghanistan and one of the top al-Qaeda "head-hunters" in Iraq are known to be graduates of Guantanamo. They were released after only a few months and long before any Europeans.

After a year during which the national identities of the detainees were pieced together there were about 20 European prisoners. Most were British and French, but others were Danish, Swedish, Spanish and Belgian.

After two years there was a first tranche of releases. British, Danish and Spanish prisoners were released - but no French, Swedes or Belgians.

The first group were all from countries whose governments supported the war in Iraq and the second group's opposed it.

In 2004, as a result of a summit approach by the Irish presidency of the EU, the Swede and some French were released.
Could there be an election coming do you think?


Book Reviewer
2Y2D -

I don't think that you'll get many people on this site rising to the bait this time :D

Also, if you beleive ANYTHING you read in the Daily Mirror - even the football results - then I really pity you. Even among the redtops it is a scurillous rag, it's hatred of Bliar tempered only by it's contempt for the British Armed Forces. No-one else would have printed those 'torture' pictures.
Article not written by a NW journo though - and I couldn't give a toss about those people being released, but it's a good example of how Bliar does his business now though.

It's a bit surreal these days with the Sun defending Bliar on almost everything (except europe, at the moment) and the News Of The Screws attacking a Labour Government.
Well TBliar has sold his soul and will sleep with anyone to get what he wants, another term in office :evil: The Sun is controlled by that Aussie arrse and will say what he wants them to say :roll:

And Politicians wonder why we the public are becoming so cynical and disillusioned :evil: