Monday, September 05, 2011

The cost of extraordinary rendition

Bizarrely, plane operators offering rendition flights to the US government have to comply with US equal opportunities legislation. They also have to offer good value for money and submit detailed expense claims which include the sandwiches purchased by the flight crew at various airports around the world.

This information about this hitherto murky world, has come to light in papers posted in a US court by one operator who is suing another in a dispute over payments. I reread the whole sorry saga today (you can do so here) as the news emerged from Libya that our government has been complicit in this trade.

Now we need to be clear what we're talking about here. People suspected of being bad guys are snatched off the streets of the city where they live, trussed up with a sedative inserted in their anus, dressed in big nappies and orange jump suits and flown to destinations in Eastern Europe and the  Middle East where the prison system is expert in enhanced interrogation techniques (that's torture to you and me). It's called extraordinary rendition because that sounds so much better than kidnap for torture.

One such destination was Libya. It emerged in papers found in the ransacked Tripoli prisons that the UK government has been complicit in this trade. And while it's true, as David Cameron told the House today, that this started under the previous government, it seems to have been happening until February this year. This means that while our government has been calling for democracy, freedom and the rule of law for the people of Libya, it has been happy to use the Libyan prison system to extract information from people it suspects of being terrorists, one of whom is now the rebel commander in Tripoli, a man NATO has bombed into power..

Words fail me...


Anonymous said...

not sure "started under the previous governmnent "quite covers it -it nearly ALL happened under the previous government who spent years and years denying it was happening!!! I do take your final point though

simon said...

I agree. It seems to me that Tony Blair's commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with George Bush after 9/11 meant he was prepared to support every tactic deployed in the war on terror - including extraordinary rendition.
I guess the security service operatives involved in it are still in post and the danger is that the longer it goes unchallenged, the more it becomes normal practice. Hopefully, the enquiry now underway will both expose the extent of the practice and lead to Government action to stamp it out.