Friday, 10 July 2009

'Prolonged Detention', and the Grey Lady of Bagram

Dr Aafiya Siddiqui is a neuroscientist from Pakistan who lived and trained in the US. She left America for her home country in 2002, saying that it was hard to live as a muslim in the post 9/11 climate. The US claim to have arrested her in Afghanistan in 2006 – with ‘dangerous substances’ concealed on her person - but she went missing four years earlier, and numerous reports from ex-detainees (including Binyam Mohammed, who was imprisoned at Bagram before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay) have confirmed her repeated statements that she was held and tortured for a very long time at the US prison in Afghanistan. Detainees say that they frequently heard her screams and cries for help, and Binyam reported that when he saw her she seemed at the edge of insanity. It appears that she was indeed the long-unknown ‘Grey Lady of Bagram’, and it would be hard to think of anyone who has suffered more than Aafiya at the hands of the US in its self-declared ‘war on terror’.

Aafiya is still imprisoned, this time at a Detention Facility in the US. She is a physical and emotional wreck, but still holding to her heartbreaking story. You can read more about her case at the Cageprisoners website, here:

You can also write to Aafiya with cards or letters of support. She loves nature and has said that she would like to receive books on the subject. She will need all the support she can get, because the situation does not look bright for many of those held in indefinite detention in the US. Some Guantanamo detainees may be transferred to Bagram (reportedly far worse than Gitmo) or to prisons on the American mainland. In a recent speech, Preident Obama criticised the Bush system ad-hoc system of indefinite detention, before proposing one of his own: ‘Prolonged Detention’. Under this system, the US will be able to hold prisoners essentially indefinitely, even if they have been legally acquitted of committing a crime, simply because someone thinks they ‘may’ commit one in the future. This is an incredible proposal from the leader of any democracy, let alone one that claims to promote democracy around the world, which wanted to ‘liberate’ the Iraqi people from a totalitarian state in 2003. Obama is beginning to look like Bush in nicer and more intelligent clothing. And what he is proposing is as Orwellian as anything the preceding administration dreamed up.

Watch excerpts from Obama’s speech, and Rachel Maddow’s commentary on it, here. Maddow’s analysis is scathing, but cuts through the doublespeak and is good viewing:

All this means that people like Aafiya, and the ‘last Londoner in Guantanamo, Shaker Aamer, may still not be released for a very long time, if at all. Shaker has never been charged with a crime and has long been cleared for release by the US authorities, but he has still not been returned home to the UK, and has been tortured and held in solitary confinement for most of his years in Gitmo. He is on hunger strike and being brutally force-fed every day (survivors of this ordeal have described it as a form of torture in itself), but is rapidly losing weight and may be close to death. If you want to help him, email the Foreign Secretary David Miliband (at and ask him to ensure that Shaker is brought safely home to England as his predecessors have been. You can read more about Shaker’s case at:

You can also write to Shaker in Guantanamo by contacting Reprieve at Whenever I write to detainees I am never sure if the letters actually reach them, but we know that in many cases they do and are a very gratefully received. If you do not feel able to campaign actively against these abuses in the ‘war on terror’, which you can do by joining organisations like Reprieve, CagePrisoners, or the National Guantanamo Coalition, please consider writing to people like Aafiya and Shaker, even if it is only by sending a card. I cannot find the address for sending to Guantanamo detainees, as Reprieve have re-furbished their website and I’m still finding my way around. But if you want to write to Aafiya, the address to send to is:


P.O. BOX 329002

Please consider writing to her, or to one of the other detainees. They need your support, to know that they are not alone and that well-wishing people are thing of them. It seems to me that there is no longer Change We can Believe In, and perhaps there never was from the Obama camp. The Leader of the Free World is continuing to slide outside of the rule of law and into barbarity. Aafiya and Shaker are just two of the real people who have suffered, and are continuing to suffer, more than we can imagine. Perhaps one day the real Change will come, and they will all receive justice and an end to their years of pain and despair.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

To save succeeding generations...

The most recent peace plaque at Beachy Head in Sussex, which local activists paid for, installed, and in some cases, wheeled by foot all the way from Brighton, is a year old this week. Here's something I wrote for my Facebook blog a year ago

The following was written for the installation ceremony of a new peace memorial at Beachy Head, Sussex, on 24 May 2008. In the event I decided not to say it, but the mayor of Eastbourne was present on a very blustery evening and made a fine speech. (Not as long as this one is…)

The idea of the plaque was to provide a focus for peace for the many local peace groups, and to be a kind of alternative war memorial - one which reflects the fact that since 1914 civilian casualties in wars have increased exponentially. It is now, overwhelmingly, civilian populations that suffer the heaviest casualties, particularly through aerial bombardment, and we wanted the memorial to remember them as well as the military deaths.

What made the day all the more remarkable was that the six-kilogram plaque was brought to Beachy Head on foot, by several members of our local peace group, all the way along the coast from Brighton (some twenty miles away). This was some achievement, particularly in view of the undulating Seven Sisters cliffs and the fact that two of the walkers were senior citizens. A heroic achievement, and a day which is vividly recalled to me every time I see the plaque in its prominent position opposite the visitors centre.
The Second World War, whose end gave birth to the United Nations and the UN Charter quoted on our plaque, was fought partly in the skies above Beachy Head. The town of Eastbourne was bombed, like many others, and had its own civilian and military casualties amongst the millions killed by the war’s end. Since then, despite the UN Charter, dozens of wars have been fought around the world, and more millions of people have died as a result.

We are now only a few years into a new millennium. We have a symbolic chance for a new beginning of peace, justice, toleration and the rule of law, but so far the lessons of the past hundred years have not been learnt. This plaque stands as a memorial not only to the casualties of war in the twentieth century, but to all those still being killed in wars across the world. Respect for international and humanitarian law, even by the world’s most powerful countries, is in serious decline, and millions have already died in the years since 1 January 2001.

This plaque, brought to Beachy Head through the heroic physical efforts of local peace activists and generous donations from the public, stands not only as a memorial to those killed but also as a symbol of hope - for a better, more tolerant, law-abiding and above all PEACEFUL world in the years to come. Let’s hope that by the time the chalk cliffs have eroded this far and the plaque will either be gone or moved further inland, that world will long since have arrived.

Meanwhile, in its small way, the installed plaque will be something tangible that supporters of both organisations have achieved, and its presence by the Beachy Head UN Peace Path a lasting memorial to the millions who have died in war, and a reminder of the UN Charter which MUST be reaffirmed as a vital document for the safety of the world and ALL its peoples. This is reflected in the wording of the plaque, which says:


Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Craig Murray's evidence on UK complicity in torture

This week Craig Murray, the ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan and now a human rights activist, gave evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights concerning the UK's complicity in torture.

To Craig's dismay, the revelations he presented here have been almost completely ignored by the mainstream media, so I'm posting his evidence here:

It's long (in seven parts), and takes concentration, but worth it because of the obvious importance of the evidence he gives.

Please post this wherever you can, because as so often the mainstream media in Britain is not doing its job.

You can read Craig's own comments on his excellent blog:

Friday, 17 April 2009

A pig, yesterday

The nice kind, that is. These pigs don't go beating up and manslaughtering peaceful people in the city of London.
It's now illegal under certain circumstances to take photographs of the other species of pig. Section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 makes it a criminal offence to take pictures of pigs 'likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'.

Of course, even before the G20 protests it was obvious why that was. Recent examples also show that it appears to be up to the discretion of the pig concerned, as to whether a photographer might be a terrorist or not.

Only in this country...

Only under this government...

I'm assuming however, that photos of the nice kind of pigs are definitely not illegal. So here's a lovely picture of a pig, taken near Beachy Head earlier this spring.

Innee lovely!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The man who died

The following video and article prove that Ian Tomlinson was assaulted by police at the G20 protests moments before he collapsed and died. The video backs up eyewitness reports that an officer attacked Mr Tomlinson from behind with a baton and pushed him roughly to the ground.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Protest against police intimidation

The following was written by Andy May, the creator of a new Facebook group 'Protest against police intimidation'. I'm posting it here because what he says is so important and what he witnessed was so horrifying.

If you're on Facebook, please join his group and invite others!

I decided to create this group having gone down to see climate camp, where unnecessarily aggressive police tactics against peaceful protestors made violence inevitable.
Read the account below and watch this video to see the moment it happened
First let me put this in context, I was not involved with any group demonstrating in the city for the G20 protests. I work in marketing, for a charity and have never taken part in direct action. However, I am concerned about climate change - one of the issues on the G20 agenda. I wanted to see exactly what the climate camp contingent were about and what kind of message they wanted world leaders to hear. Considering the vast majority of scientific opinion believes we are in severe danger from climate change and lack of action thus far, I thought they might have pretty important reason to be out on the streets.

I also wanted to see whether reports of heavy handed police tactics’ on earlier demos was accurate.

I’m sorry to say that from what I saw, the police tactics were designed with nothing in mind other than to oppress a peaceful protest and make a violent situation inevitable.

This particular group of protesters were encamped in a tent city near Bank. Having wandered around at lunchtime and after work amongst them it appeared were universally peaceful . They were in no way associated with the more violent protests the police dealt with earlier in the day in bank.

The climate camp occupied about a 100m stretch of street running a couple of streets parallel to bishopsgate. The thousand or so protestors had erected a tent city, complete with bunting, cake, live music, stalls, even a stand up lavatory for those caught short. Until about 7pm in the evening it was entirely peaceful – until the police moved in.

Two lines of police in riot gear penned each side of the street and without warning stopped anyone from entering or leaving. Just a couple of minutes after this ‘penning’ began we attempted to exit the street only to be aggressively told by riot police that no-one could leave if they were involved in the protests. When questioned further one stated that ‘there were criminals in there’ and ‘this lot have been causing trouble at bank and we are going to go in and get them’.

Having failed to get out at the Liverpool street end we tried the south end of the street. Here we saw protestors with faces covered in blood being dragged away, whilst others staged a sit down protest to try and avoid being pushed into the crush by the riot police. We slipped around the side of the street but were initially denied exit. After pleading with one of the more reasonable riot police I got out with my friend at the other end – but after I showed my id card to the police officer and explained we were just observing and in no way involved in the protests.

Unlike the thousand or so hapless people remaining there, I was lucky enough to have an ID badge from my charity (which happens to specialise in human rights) so the police changed their tune. Unfortunately the others got left to their fate (which in one case I saw firsthand meant an unprovoked truncheon attack from a female police officer).

Later a work colleague of mine who was also at the demo told me police had charged a group peacefully staging a sit down protest. They were beaten and trampled along with bikes, tents and anything else that got in the way.

I can categorically say that I saw not more than one or two anarchists in the camp (who are easily recognisable being dressed in black) who were doing nothing threatening at the point I saw them. The hard core of the other more aggressive protestors were still penned in outside the bank of England, putting the police justification for deploying riot police at climate camp on shaky ground.

As I left, anger started boiling over at police protest and at least two bottles were thrown from the initially peaceful demonstrators – thus the police had their excuse for suppressing the demonstration. But all I ask is that the truth is reported - it was their own tactics which caused a crushed crowed, panic and violence.

This country is founded upon the peaceful right to protest – as I said to one of the riot police who would not let me leave. We are not a police state. Whoever was responsible for the police operation here deserves to be condemned, but then I suppose encouraging violence justifies their ever spiralling security budgets. The Police cheifs who instigated this operation deserves to be held in the same contempt as the people who incited violence in other seperate G20 protest - Hold them to account!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

'Rattling the Cage'

The gallery’s interior was stark: grey, white, black and orange – Guantanamo colours. An orange boiler suit lay spread-eagled on the floor; the walls showed photos of marches, stalls and demonstrations. Along one wall were examples of letters from MPs, ministers, government officials. Another display showed newspaper cuttings from The Argus: a history of the campaign from its beginnings in 2005. This was the ‘Rattling the Cage’ exhibition in Brighton, organised by Louise Purbrick to display the work of local activists, who tirelessly and patiently campaigned for the safe return of Omar Deghayes from Guantanamo Bay – and were ultimately successful.

The letters on one wall were a reminder of how much activism consists of patiently writing letters, over and over again, to be met often with lame, formulaic or dishonest replies from ministers and their minions. The Argus cuttings showed how hope was kept alive even when no one could know for certain if Omar would ever be free again. And a video displayed in one corner showed interviews with diverse activists from the campaign: ‘ordinary’ people who came together four years ago to educate themselves and combine their efforts against a terrible injustice, in which the ‘war on terror’ had affected a local family and put them through years of grief and psychological torture.

It was great to see our friends again in Brighton: Omar, Louise, Martin, Sally, Joy and Caroline. And Omar gave a talk which, as always, left me in admiration of his strength of character at being able to channel the effects of his ordeal into positive action. He spoke of how Guantanamo was the tip of a huge iceberg of rendition and torture; how the Americans use techniques which they learned from their own POW experiences, in World War Two, Korea and Vietnam. Bagram, he said, was like a huge Nazi camp, with barbed wire along concrete walls, and soldiers in towers with guns trained on the prisoners when they were allowed to exercise. He talked about some of the torture, of the sexual humiliations which led to prisoners resisting and thence to being beaten up. Air conditioning and bright lights left on continually for six years, so that the cells were like dazzling fridges with never a moment’s darkness. All this he described with humanity and sometimes even humour; the absurdity and irony of some aspects were not lost on Omar or his audience. And he had an appreciative audience too: understanding, attentive and indignant at the abuses of human rights described. Every time I hear Omar I learn more, and each time I realise how much more there is still to do, even if Obama does bring Gitmo itself to an end before the year is out.

Chatting to Omar, Sally and Joy after the meeting was great; it’s been over a year since Angie and I were with the Save Omar group in their home city. I took some photos of the exhibition, and we signed letters to Jack Straw and Obama, a reminder that the correspondence continues, more than a year since Omar himself returned home. The group now campaigns for the closure of Guantanamo (it hasn’t happened yet!), the safe return of the remaining British residents, and an end to torture, rendition and imprisonment without charge in the ‘war on terror’. This will be the biggest, long-term challenge; Obama recently confirmed that prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq will remain outside the reach of law, and he has made no orders to end rendition: the kidnapping and sending of prisoners to countries that use torture. Often these victims are simply ‘disappeared’.

As we left, Brighton was basking in a glorious spring afternoon. Angie and I walked through the daffodils, then drove along the coast road by a glittering blue expanse of sea. The white cliffs of Saltdean were bathed in late-afternoon sunlight, and as so often it felt hard to imagine such darkness and suffering existing still in those secret prisons, which our own government and intelligence services are proving to be involved in. Perhaps this is partly why so many people ignore the evidence and don’t even think about such injustices; they seem so far away. But Omar’s case shows that the ‘war on terror’ can come very close to home – indeed right into our own homes. And while the liberal newspapers chatter about Binyam Mohamed and whether or not his accusations can be believed, the activists in Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne and London continue to work patiently and persistently for an end to these brutal assaults on law and liberty in the global war on terror – which is itself an act of terrorism.

‘Rattling the Cage’ is showing at the Phoenix, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton until Saturday 21 March. Opening times 11:00am - 5:00pm, admission is free.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Animal Magic

Last year I learned the hard way what prolonged and intense focusing on war and torture issues could do to my emotions. Spending most of 2008 recovering from severe anxiety made me realise that I’m not the sort of person who can do this for long; I may be able to campaign, but I also need deep relaxation and light relief. And it’s strange to find that one source of pleasure is what interested me most as a small boy. Animals are calming, fascinating and beautiful, and the smaller furry species nearly always bring a smile to my face!

Last Friday, Angie and I went to Drusilla’s Park, between Eastbourne and Lewes. I don’t like to see animals confined, but these were in relatively spacious and relaxed surroundings and were mostly small creatures, including meerkats, marmosets, mongooses, lemurs, otters and two wonderful if extremely sleepy (because nocturnal) fennec foxes. I was getting as close as I could, and snapping away happily with my camera. The highlight had to be the ring-tailed lemurs, which lived in an open space the public could walk through; we could have touched them if we’d been allowed to. With their long, banded black-and-white tails and startling orange eyes they were stunning, endearing creatures, and it was a beautiful sunny day to see them, with the green curves of Windover Hill (my favourite place close to home) overlooking the scene. One lemur leaped at eye level between Angie and me, from one side of the path to the other, while others sat basking on their bottoms in the sun, grooming each other and blinking in the light. It was hard to leave them; to think I’d never seen them before and they were only a few miles from our house!

A couple of years ago I’d have been in pain after wandering on my feet all afternoon, but that condition is so much better these days as well. I got home with Angie tired but happy, and wishing we could keep a mongoose or a fennec fox as a pet! Maybe one day we’ll finally get a cat, but I’ve been promising that to myself for years…

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Truth Must Out

At a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1984, the text of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted. It came into force on 26 June 1987. The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture within their borders, and forbids states to return people to their home country if there is reason to believe they will be tortured. As of December 2008, 146 nations are parties to the treaty, and another ten countries have signed but not ratified it.

Thanks to the Convention, torture is illegal essentially anywhere, all over the world. It is a crime to commit torture, and it is a crime to render a person to a country where they are likely be tortured. There is no ambiguity about this: all of the nations which ratified the treaty are prohibited from any involvement in torture whatsoever, whether or not the torture is actually committed by members of that country.

The unspeakable torments suffered by Binyam Mohamed, the British resident recently released from Guantanamo Bay after seven years of captivity, happened in Pakistan, Morocco and in the CIA-run ‘dark prison’ in Kabul, Afghanistan. They continued in Guantanamo itself, if perhaps in a less medieval fashion. Binyam’s rendition took place with the knowledge of British intelligence, which means that at the very least they knew he was likely to be tortured, and his movements have been confirmed by documents seen by his lawyers. None of Binyam’s claims have been contradicted by evidence, and many of them have been supported. And Binyam is clear that he was not only visited by MI5 agents who knew he was being tortured, but that the questions he was asked during interrogation had come from the British. This has now been confirmed by documents leaked to the national press which contain the actual questions that MI5 requested the CIA to ask Binyam, whether or not the agents themselves knew where he was actually being held at the time.

All this is bad enough: it means that MI5 agents committed a serious international crime. The full truth has to come out, and those responsible must be brought to justice. But the foreign secretary David Miliband claims that the UK government abhors torture. The British haven’t condoned torture for many years, and this remains the official position. This didn’t stop Miliband from telling the High Court that releasing documents detailing Binyam’s torture would harm security agreements between Britain and the US, and indeed even soliciting Obama’s government for an assurance that this was still the case; in other words, Obama had previously given no hint that he would continue the previous administration’s threats against a close ally. Why did Miliband do this? If the government had truly been unaware of MI5’s illegal complicity with – indeed, collusion in – torture, then that would be embarrassing at least. If he was trying to protect the intelligence service’s reputation, then he must have known that the truth would out somehow in any case. At worst, it could mean that he was trying to cover a more terrible truth: that MI5 operated in this way with the full knowledge of the government. In that case, the government itself would be colluding in torture. Why would I not be surprised?

And it is this very fact, that the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, claims to have evidence of. Mr Murray, now a writer and human rights activist, has asked to appear as a witness at a meeting of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. He says he has minuted evidence from an FCO meeting he attended in 2003, at which it was stated that intelligence gained from torture was acceptable policy. This had been agreed following discussion with then foreign secretary Jack Straw, who was sent a copy of the minutes. Mr Murray appeared as a witness in person before both the European Parliament and European Council's enquiries into extraordinary rendition, where he presented this evidence. The evidence was described by the European Council's Rapporteur, Senator Dick Marty, as 'compelling and valuable'.
The JCHR will decide on 10 March whether or not to hear Mr Murray’s evidence. If they decide not to, then the truth will have to out some other way, and the JCHR will surely be pretty ineffectual; what’s the point of having such a committee if it refuses to hear such important evidence?

The evidence may come out, or it may not. The government may have had absolutely no idea that British intelligence were colluding in tortures that the Spanish inquisition would have been proud of – in which case, pretty stupid bloody kind of government! This is the government that fixed intelligence in order to take part in a war of aggression against Iraq: a war based on lies which led directly to the deaths of over a million people, and the maiming, orphaning and displacement of millions more. The New Labour government (and Jack Straw was instrumental in that monumental dishonesty too) long ago lost any moral authority to govern, with its members mired ever deeper in corruption from the relatively minor to the truly epic. Does Tony Blair even know how to tell the truth anymore, or indeed what it is? Who would I be more inclined to believe, Jack Straw or Craig Murray? It’s a no-brainer.

Somehow, as I keep saying, the truth will have to out. If it doesn’t then we have a serious problem. But even if it does, will the guilty actually be brought to justice? Every one of the architects of the Iraq invasion has so far got away with it, although there may be countries they’d rather not visit, as technically they could be arrested and brought before the International Criminal Court. My own fear is that the media will simply lose interest, as they did previously over the issue of extraordinary rendition (why not just call it kidnap and torture?) If that happens, then the government will be able to move the discussion on to another agenda. It’s happened before, many times, even after the release into the public domain of extraordinary, incriminating evidence (such as the 2002 ‘Downing Street memo’). Miliband, Brown, Straw and Blair may be breathing deeply, reassuring themselves that in another few weeks the mainstream media will be silent on the issue, having taken up with another one. No one will be listening to Binyam Mohamed and Clive Stafford Smith anymore, let alone Craig Murray.

Let’s hope that this time…

What helps the government no end, meanwhile, is that many of the British public seem to show a poor understanding of human rights. If you read some of the online comments on articles about Binyam, it’s enough to produce despair. Nasty, stupid comments these, surely more at home on a BNP website, or the Ku Klux Klan. But what underlies them all is a view that seems to be widely held, amongst many reasonable people. And summed up in five words: THERE’S NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE.

Even this proposition is a bit dumb, easily refuted by a moment’s thought. There’s often smoke without fire, from bullies’ gossip in a school playground to gross miscarriages of justice. If there wasn’t, no innocent person would ever have been imprisoned or indeed executed by the state. And we know that that’s happened many times, even in our own democracy. If it can happen in Britain, with its hundreds of years of developing law and all its safeguards, how much more likely is it in the United States ‘war on terror’, which abandoned civilised law when it dropped habeas corpus? (I shouldn’t single them out; we’ve abandoned it as well, through the imposition of control orders). Or in countries which hang men up by their wrists and take scalpels to their genitals? Another no brainer.

Binyam Mohamed is only one. Once in a blue moon someone is released from Gitmo, and whilst recovering from the horrendous ordeal of torture and imprisonment without charge, is able to tell their story to anyone who’ll hear. But there are many thousands of people who have still to be released, who have never been charged with any crime and in many cases have simply disappeared, completely outside the reach of law. Even those in the US prison at Bagram, Afghanistan – which many ex-detainees describe as far worse than Guantanamo – have no legal rights under American law; this was reaffirmed recently by the Obama administration. People are kidnapped and rendered routinely to countries which, despite ratifying and signing the UN Convention Against Torture, still practice torture all the time. Of all those rendered by the British, is Binyam Mohamed really the only one to have suffered so greatly?

Binyam is innocent. It’s quite simple. All the confessions he made were under the most unbearable and prolonged anguish; if someone tortured me for one minute, I’d say anything. All charges against him were dropped by the US military, who would never have released him if they’d had evidence against him. All people are innocent unless proven guilty; that’s habeas corpus. Sooner or later, this country needs to accept the truth: that innocent people have been rendered for torture by UK intelligence services, and that this country has colluded with the United States in serious human rights abuses in the name of the ‘war on terror’ – not to mention wars of aggression. If we don’t realise this and hold those responsible to account, then our democracy has been deeply, perhaps ineradicably, eroded and trashed, and any future government will decide it can get away with anything.

Even if Binyam, and thousands of people like him, were guilty of terrorist offences, torture would still be indefensible. In an episode of ‘24’, torturing one individual may release information that saves the nation from a devastating attack. But in reality, torture involves the setting up of a system of torture, including the training of torturers. In whatever country it takes place, it becomes endemic, a part of official or unofficial policy. Innocent people, or people arrested even for minor crimes, or simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, end up being tortured. A nation that uses torture becomes a police state, ‘democratic’ or otherwise.

And if this were not true, and by some miracle only the guilty were tortured, would we still want that? Shami Chakrabarti, the Director of Liberty, truthfully says that a bar on torture and imprisonment without charge is what truly separates democracies from tyrannies and terrorists. Look at countries that still chop people’s hands off for stealing, or boil prisoners to death in oil (yes, it happens). Look at those who killed thousands of people in the twin towers in 2001. Do we really, really want to become like them?

If we do, then those who would use any barbarity as part of the ‘war on terror’ have got it made. We’ll be doing most of the work for them.