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Torture – everyone responsible, no one to blame

not on my watch

not on my watch


A definition of stupidity is constantly repeating the same mistake. Richard Nixon’s impeachment and disgrace should have seared into the soul of every subsequent politician the implacable truth that it isn’t what you do that screws you – it’s the lie you tell to hide it.

Is there a single objectively-minded citizen of Britain who isn’t convinced deep down first that Binyam Mohamed was tortured and second that representatives of the British state were complicit in that torture? After that it is a significant, but not morally fundamental, matter of degree. The clue to the self-deluding moral perspective of the present government on this issue is signalled by the fact that already they are vehemently denying the truth of Mr Mohamed’s claims and saying the Attorney General is investigating them. The recent track record in that office of moral courage hardly inspires our confidence. The logic of this chronology is that the AG’s office is engaged in its new de facto role of seeking evidence to support a political position already taken: that we knew nothing of Mr Mohamed’s fate; that there were WMDs; that the invasion of Iraq was legal.

We watched with shocked disbelief as Mr Blair parsed his honour into oblivion undermining the instinctive fair-minded trust of the British people – perhaps for ever. And politicians post-Blair are following him: first using lawyers’ amoral talent for semantics to soften a lie into a deception; and then their professional skill at purging action of intention, consequence from accountability. Our politicians have achieved the Holy Grail of democratic power – accepting responsibility but evading blame.


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