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December 19, 2005

While we’re on the torture track…

Last week:

December 12, 2005 – [Britain’s] foreign secretary today said there was no evidence that US “extraordinary rendition” flights had passed through the UK.
Jack Straw said the Foreign Office had checked flight records and could not find anything relating to a rendition flight.
“Careful research has been unable to identify any occasion ... when we have received a request for permission by the United States for a rendition through the United Kingdom territory or airspace,” Mr Straw told BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme.

This week:

LONDON, Dec. 19 (UPI) – The British Foreign Office privately accepts that CIA rendition flights did pass through its territory, a diplomatic source told United Press International.
The well-placed source said the Foreign Office “totally accepts” that the United States used British airfields to transfer prisoners abroad for interrogation, and is “extremely worried” about the political consequences.
… The revelation that the Foreign Office accepts that CIA rendition flights passed through Britain comes in direct contrast to denials by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who last week “categorically” denied that any such flights had taken place.
He told the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday: “Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories, that officials are lying, that I’m lying ... that Secretary Rice (U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) is lying, there is simp-ly no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition.”

In theory, ministers are supposed to resign if they lie to parliament, which is what Straw effectively did when he misled the Foreign Affairs Committee. Britain’s parliamentary Questions of Procedure stipulates that ministers have a “duty to give parliament… and the public as full information as possible about the policies, decisions and actions of the government, and not to deceive or mislead parliament and the public”—a rule that in the past has prompted numerous resignations.

But that was back when accountability was in fashion, which it clearly isn’t under Blair. So Straw may get to lie another day.

Posted by Stephen at 4:18 PM in Politics | Terrorism | War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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