Posts Tagged ‘David Miliband’

Bowing to America’s ‘naked political power’

August 3, 2009

Suppressing evidence of torture, as the US is asking Britain to do in the Binyam Mohamed case, is a criminal offence

Over the weekend, the government has identified another way to embarrass itself.

Karen Steyn is the barrister representing David Miliband, who has been arguing that we must suppress evidence of torture in the case of Binyam Mohamed. On Saturday, the high court judges sent the foreign secretary a transcript of their interrogation of Steyn for him to confirm in writing whether he really means what she says.

The issue at stake is whether the government really wants to suppress seven paragraphs that apparently include American admissions that they tortured Mohamed. First, Steyn confirmed that the material that she wanted suppressed had no intelligence value – it did not “conceivably identify anything that is of a national security interest”, it simply identified criminal acts of torture.

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British Foreign Secretary: Clinton threatened to cut-off intelligence-sharing if torture evidence is disclosed

August 1, 2009

Glenn Greenwald |  Salon.com, July 31, 2009

I’ve written several times before about the amazing quest of Binyam Mohamed — a British resident released from Guantanamo in February, 2009 after seven years in captivity — to compel public disclosure of information in the possession of the British Government proving he was tortured while in U.S. custody.  At the center of Mohamed’s efforts lie the claims of high British government officials that the Obama administration has repeatedly threatened to cut off intelligence-sharing programs with the U.K. if the British High Court discloses information which British intelligence officials learned from the CIA about how Mohamed was tortured.  New statements from the British Foreign Secretary yesterday — claiming that Hillary Clinton personally re-iterated those threats in a May meeting — highlight how extreme is this joint American/British effort to cover-up proof of Mohamed’s torture.

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Bring Binyam home

February 13, 2009

The greatest injustice I fear is that Binyam Mohamed is still being held at Guantánamo only to suppress evidence of his torture

I am a lawyer and a soldier, and I act for Binyam Mohamed, who is currently on hunger strike in Guantánamo Bay. I came to England to ask everyone to work as hard as possible to get Binyam home. The new administration in the US has said that it wants to close Guantánamo. The UK government says that it has been asking for Binyam’s return since August 2007. Despite that, and despite England being the US’s closest ally, Binyam is still in a cell in Guantánamo Bay. I believe that now is the time to press the new administration.

Guards told Binyam that he was going home in December, and so he is on hunger strike (together with 50 or so other prisoners). This means that he is tube-fed while strapped to a chair, twice a day. Binyam has lost so much weight that he speaks of the pain he suffers from being strapped to the chair for hours each day – he speaks of feeling his bones against the chair. I am really worried that if Binyam does not come home soon, he will leave Guantánamo Bay in a coffin.

The Joint Task Force, which runs Guantánamo Bay, gives me no information about Binyam. When I called to enquire about his condition, they said first, that they would look into it and then that they would tell me nothing and that I should make a Freedom of Information request, which would have taken months to process. Therefore, whenever I want information about Binyam, I have to make the 5-hour trip to Guantánamo. Each time, he asks why he is still there.

It is worth bearing in mind that all charges against Binyam have been dropped and that Binyam’s chief prosecutor resigned, citing the unfairness of the system.

I profoundly hope that he is not being kept in Guantánamo to avoid information surrounding his rendition and torture coming out. Clive Stafford Smith and I are testifying at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition in Portcullis House, Westminster today, which is open to members of the public. I understand that a number of intelligence agents and politicians will also speak in an attempt to get Binyam home. I am meeting with David Miliband , this Thursday, and I hope that he will assure me that Binyam is coming home.

How Bush Threatened Britain

February 8, 2009

Andrew Sullivan | The Atlantic, February 6, 2009

In order to prevent any details of its torture record being publicly disseminated, the Bush administration threatened the British government with withdrawal of intelligence sharing if they allowed a court to publish the redacted evidence. Foreign secretary David Miliband denied this on Wednesday, but the letters from the US have been released by Channel 4 News. And their message is unmistakable. The first letter:

“I write with respect to proceedings … regarding Mr Binyam Mohamed,” the letter said. “We note the classified documents identified in your letters of June 16 and August 1, 2008, to the acting general counsel of the Department of Defence … the public disclosure of these documents or of the information contained therein is likely to result in serious damage to US national security and could harm … intelligence information sharing arrangements between our two governments.”

The second:

“Ordering the disclosure of the US intelligence information now would have only the marginal effects of serious and lasting damage to the US-UK intelligence sharing relationship, and thus the national security of the UK …”

That is a threat to hurt the security of a very close ally unless the British government intervenes into a court process to suppress evidence of US torture. In a critical test of the Obama administration, the demand that such evidence be suppressed was reiterated. (I don’t know by whom. Panetta isn’t in place yet. Brennan? Clinton?) And that’s how illegal torture spreads throughout a legal and military system to undermine alliances as well as the rule of law. The poison of Cheney is still in the system. And it will be for a long time. That was the point: the crimes and blunders they committed were such that their successors find themselves, willy nilly, implicated in them.

War on Gaza: Israeli Action, Not Reaction

February 5, 2009

Nicola Nasser| PEJ News, Feb 4, 2009

Stubbornly insisting on getting the carriage before the horse as the approach to a “durable and sustainable” ceasefire in Gaza Strip, U.S. and European diplomacy in particular is building on an Israeli misleading premise that the 22 – day military operation, dubbed “Cast Lead,” against the Palestinian Gaza Strip was a reaction and not a premeditated long planned scheme that found in the change of guards in Washington D.C. an excellent timing. It was “not simply a reaction,” but “a calculation,” Daniel Klaidman wrote in Newsweek on January 10.

U.S. and European diplomats are reiterating the Israeli propaganda justification: “What would any normal country do if they were threatened by rocket fire? They would act.” U.S. President Barack Obama was the last western leader to uphold this Israeli claim. “But Israel is not a normal country, it is an occupying country,” former Palestinian – Israeli member of Knesset Azmi Bishara said. Moreover what country would tolerate an eight–year siege and not consider it an act of war without any national reaction? Why should western diplomacy judge Palestinians in Gaza as universally abnormal?

Western diplomacy is building on the Palestinian reaction in self–defense as the igniting cause of violence and on the Israeli aggressive action as the resulting effect. It is a non starter. It could win EU high representative Javier Solana, the international middle East quartet of peace mediators’ envoy Tony Blair, who are regular visitors to the region, and U.S. newly appointed Middle East envoy George Mitchell some audience among their Arab and Palestinian peace partners who might still hope that the United States and the European Union may yet be able to deliver on their two–state promise, but this audience was not and is still not the key player in Gaza. Israeli and Hamas’ non–abiding reaction to the UN Security Council resolution 1860 proved British Foreign Secretary David Miliband right when he said immediately thereafter that “peace is made on the ground while resolutions are written in the United Nations.”

Hamas has survived the Israeli “Operation Cast Lead,” which failed to remove it as a key player, to remain the only player on the ground in Gaza and not only as a key player there as well as a major much stronger player among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Diaspora. To build their diplomacy for a “durable and sustainable” ceasefire on the recognition only of the Israeli player while bypassing or sidelining the other protagonist is a dead end approach that could only encourage more Israeli aggressive actions and would for sure invoke more Palestinian violent reaction.

Unfortunately this has been the focus of UN resolution 1860, the so–called Egyptian initiative, the recent European summit meetings with Arab and Israeli leaders, the Israeli–US memorandum of understanding of January 19, George Mitchell’s Middle East eight–day tour, a focus that President Obama had subscribed to two days after his inauguration. It might not be too long before western diplomacy regrets this approach. Hamas should be “engaged … as there could be no solution to the issue” by keeping it out in the cold, Nathan J Brown, an expert from Carnegie Endowment, was quoted as saying by Indian “The Hindu” on January 25, a view shared also by former US president Jimmy Carter.

In historical perspective, nothing proves the Israeli action and the Palestinian reaction more than the very existence of Hamas. While founding the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the reaction of the Palestinian refugees in exile to the Israeli action of forcing them out of their homeland in 1948, the founding of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza was the Palestinian reaction to the Israeli military expansion in 1967, which led to the occupation of the rest of historic Palestine.

More recently, the Palestinian reaction managed to develop some locally–made primitive rockets in self–defense, and to smuggle in some “Grad” systems, which Israel used in addition to the tunnels under the Gaza–Egypt borders as justification for military action, while imposing a media blackout to hide the horrible humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza as the result of its eight year blockade of the territory, which left the besieged Palestinians with one of two choices: Either to starve slowly to death or die instantly en masse in “Operation Cast Lead.” Israel imposed siege, in itself an act of war, as a collective punishment against Gaza civilians. US and European strong advocates of Humanitarian Intervention, led by French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who call now for such interventions in Darfur, Myanmar and Zimbabwe and who did intervene militarily for humanitarian reasons in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo, have kept mum on Gaza.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt hit directly at the root cause of the Gaza conflict. “They will dig tunnels out of desperation and there will be no way of stopping all these tunnels if you don’t open up the border,” he said. Bildt was joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who urged ending, “Gaza’s economic isolation by reopening the crossings that link it to the outside world.” European leaders seem to have finally awakened to the real equation of cause and effect in the conflict. However they are calling for opening Gaza border crossings as a sideshow, as the effect and not as the root cause of Palestinian reaction, as a prerequisite for a “durable and sustainable” ceasefire and not as an obligation that Israel must abide by in its capacity as the occupying power under international law, as merely a humanitarian outlet for the besieged civilian population and not as a national right of the Palestinians in Gaza Strip in the context of the Israeli unilateral military redeployment from the coastal strip in 2005.


Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit of the Israeli –occupied Palestinian Territories.
He can be reached at nicolanasser@yahoo.com

David Miliband comes under fire over Kashmir

January 22, 2009

From , January 22, 2009

David Miliband was at the centre of a diplomatic row with India last night after officials and ministers protested about the Foreign Secretary’s words and body language on a visit to Delhi.

Indian officials told The Times that they were upset by his suggestion, made in a newspaper article and in private discussions, that the disputed region of Kashmir was the root cause of terrorist attacks such as that in Mumbai. In the article on Thursday last week, Mr Miliband wrote: “Resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms.”

One senior Indian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “The long and short of it is that he did manage to ruffle a few feathers. It was both the content of the message and the way it was delivered — the body language.”

India has long rejected international involvement in Kashmir, over which it has fought two of its three wars with Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947. Indian officials were also angered by Mr Miliband’s assertion at a press conference in Delhi, and in private conversations, last week that there was no evidence that the Pakistani state directed the Mumbai terror attacks.

The dispute threatens to overshadow the current visit by Lord Mandelson, with one senior Indian official publicly voicing his reluctance to appear at an event attended by the Business Secretary.

One Indian newspaper reported yesterday that Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, had written to Gordon Brown to complain about Mr Miliband, though officials denied that.

Vishnu Prakash, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: “We do not need unsolicited advice on internal issues in India like Kashmir.”

Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of State for Commerce, said that he almost stood up Lord Mandelson at an event on Monday.

“I didn’t feel like going,” he said, adding that he had called Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian Foreign Minister, on Sunday to ask whether he should attend and was told that he should go, but should make his point.

Mr Mukherjee, who met Mr Miliband last week, tried to play down the row yesterday when he spoke to reporters at a security conference.

“When the Foreign Secretary of the UK visited us he shared his perceptions about the situations, and I equally told him and all the interlocutors that this is your perception,” he said. “We do not share this perception.”

A senior British diplomat said that Mr Miliband had not spoken out of line or diverged from British policy. He added however that India, along with Israel, was a country where whatever a Foreign Secretary said, there was always a risk that it could upset domestic political sensitivities.

Khaleej Times: Peace in the Middle East if Israel and the US Want it

December 30, 2008

Editorial

Khaleej Times Online, Dec 30, 2008

What next in Gaza? After its devastating bombing campaign targeting Gaza that has killed more than 300 Palestinians, Israel is now threatening a full-scale invasion of the Strip.

Israeli tanks are said to be amassing along the border for a ground assault on the Palestinian territory.

Israel is playing with fire and its actions are certain to have dangerous consequences not only for the Middle East but the world at large.  If the angry demonstrations across the world are anything to go by, the effects of this wave of Israeli atrocities against a besieged population will be felt long after the curtain has come down on the current campaign.

This is why all those watching this catastrophe unfold in Gaza in silent indifference have to stir out of their stupor to check Israel.  If they do not act — and act fast — to put out the blaze raging in Palestinian territories, they will all soon feel its heat no matter where they are.

As British Foreign Secretary David Miliband warned yesterday, the attacks on Gaza could radicalise many more people around the world. We are now paying a terrible price for the slow and faltering pace of Middle East peace negotiations over the past many years, Miliband told BBC yesterday.   Indeed, the current carnage in Gaza could have been avoided if the international community had seriously pursued the Middle East peace process. Even now if the world community moves decisively, it could save many more innocent lives in Gaza and elsewhere.

First and foremost, Israel must be asked to stop its bombardment of Gaza immediately and open the Strip for urgent humanitarian relief and badly needed essential supplies and medicines.

Thanks to years of blockade, Gaza’s hospitals have no medicines or even first aid to deal with the deluge of critically injured patients.

Secondly, the international community has to take effective steps and do everything to push for urgent revival of the Palestine-Israel peace process.  The world has to push for a real and meaningful breakthrough.

It goes without saying that the United States stands to play a crucial role in any such exercise thanks to its proximity to Israel as well as its close ties with the Arabs. Besides, as the reigning superpower, it has huge stakes in the Middle East.

The incoming administration of Barack Obama has been strangely silent on the attacks on Gaza.  But it cannot maintain its silence for long.  If Obama wants genuine peace in the Middle East, as he claimed he did during his presidential campaign, he will have to convince Israel to make real peace with the Arabs and give the Palestinians what rightfully belongs to them.  The Arabs have already offered peace to Israel by way of the Arab plan they unveiled at the Beirut Arab League summit in 2002. The ball is now in Israel’s court. Let’s face it: There


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