Thursday, 5 February 2009

Binyon Mohamed update - did FCO tell the judges the truth?

These are the facts:

1. The Foreign Secretary told the judges that the US was threatening to review intelligence sharing links if the court ruled in favour of disclosing the torture / detention evidence

2. The Foreign Secretary told the judges that "The US administration had made this clear through senior officials, both orally and in writing."

The question is, did the Foreign Secretary tell the judges the truth?

With a hastily-buried half denial last night from Downing Street that the US had threatened any such thing, Miliband sought refuge in half-truths on Channel 4 news last night:
“There has been no threat from the United States to 'break off’ intelligence co-operation; Intelligence co-operation depends on confidentiality. We share our secrets with other countries and they share their secrets with us. The founding principle for us and for them is that we can trust the confidentiality of that relationship. In this case, the United States made it clear, in documents that have been published, that there would inevitably be serious and lasting harm if that fundamental principle was breached."
But so far no document from 'senior officials' of the US administration has, to my knowledge, been published; all we have is what the FCO told the judges. And a threat to downgrade intelligence links is not the same thing as a threat to 'break off' intelligence links. Weasel words.

Likewise the FCO told the judges that there was no change of position under the Obama administration. This implies that the FCO had asked someone in the Obama administration. But Miliband wriggled on this, saying
“There is no evidence that it doesn’t stand”
Which is something completely different; it means no one in Obama's administration had taken the initiative to tell the FCO that there had been a change of view.

Two challenges for the Foreign Secretary:

1. Please publish the documents, or re-publish them if you say they have already been published, from the US administration that made the threat

2. Please confirm whether anyone in the FCO had actually contacted and got an answer from the Obama administration when you told the judges that the US position was unchanged.

1 comment:

IanPJ said...

Published on C4 news yesterday.