Obama’s Brazen Attack on the British Courts

May 12, 2009

Glenn Greenwald over at Salon.com is on top of the Binyam Mohamed torture case, and has some strident accusations to make against Barack Obama. Essentially, Greenwald argues that Obama has initiated a full court press to prevent details of U.S. involvement in Mohamed’s plight becoming known.

Part of that effort was a direct attempt to intimidate the British government and the High Court – particularly the Courts – into backing down from releasing documents relating to the case.

A Court ruling cited by Greenwald makes shocking reading:

The United States Government’s position is that, if the redacted paragraphs are made public, then the United States will re-evaluate its intelligence-sharing relationship with the United Kingdom with the real risk that it would reduce the intelligence it provided (para. 62) . . . . [and] there is a real risk, if we restored the redacted paragraphs, the United States Government, by its review of the shared intelligence arrangements, could inflict on the citizens of the United Kingdom a very considerable increase in the dangers they face at a time when a serious terrorist threat still pertains (para. 106). [Greenwald’s emphasis]

That is, the U.S. issued a veiled threat to Britain of a terrorist attack.

Mohamed’s lawyers then submitted a new request to release the documents, in the hope that the threats were “merely a residual threat from the Bush administration.”

But Greenwald cites new evidence in the form of a letter submitted to the High Court by the British government. And the threats keep coming, even amplifying.

Part of the letter reads “public disclosure of this information, reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the United Kingdom’s national security” and could cause “a constriction of the U.S.-UK relationship.”

If the documents are released, it continues, then “it is almost certain that the United Kingdom’s ability to identify and arrest suspected terrorists and to disrupt terrorist plots would be severely hampered.” It also describes how information sharing would be reduced, which surely hints that illegal practices like torture will continue to be used for “counter-terrorist” purposes.

If not, then why the threats?

But the letter also makes an extraordinary threat to the UK’s Courts, which are the crux of the matter. “If it is determined that HMG is unable to protect information we provide to it” it reads, before adding that “even if that inability is caused by your judicial system, we will necessarily have to review with the greatest care the sensitivity of the information we can provide in the future.”

So the Obama administration is trying to force the British government to pervert the course of justice, in order to cover up torture. Amazing.

As Mohamed’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith tells Greenwald, pressure of this kind is illegal, if it is applied in order to cover up torture, and it also blatantly contravenes the Convention Against Torture.

Greenwald’s conclusions are withering:

“The principal issue here is that the Obama administration is not merely failing to investigate (let alone prosecute) acts of high-level criminality by U.S. government officials.  Far worse, ever since he was inaugurated, Obama has engaged in one extraordinary legal maneuver after the next to block American courts from ruling on the legality of those actions.  He has now extended his Bush-protecting conduct to the international realm, as he re-iterates Bush’s threats that we will purposely leave British citizens more vulnerable to terrorist attacks if their courts rule that, under their laws, their citizens are entitled to know what was done to Binyam Mohamed.”

If the British government has been craven, and has done anything  but begged the U.S. to allow Mohamed’s case to go ahead, it’s clear that the Obama administration is acting criminally. In doing so, it is steadfastly protecting the Bush agenda of legitimizing the use of torture in America’s global war.

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One Response to “Obama’s Brazen Attack on the British Courts”


  1. […] “Western-friendly”? What could be more western than torturing innocent people and trying to cover up the evidence? Or, in fact, trying to pressurise other nations into not releasing such evidence? […]


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