In English court proceedings surrounding released Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed, British Foreign Minister David Miliband has reinforced his claims that disclosing details of Mohamed’s mistreatment would harm British national security. He now states that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally intervened in the matter to state that disclosing information given by the CIA to a British court would damage the Anglo-American special relationship in intelligence matters. The Guardian reports:
In a written statement proposing a gagging order, Miliband told the court that she “indicated” that the disclosure of CIA evidence “would affect intelligence sharing”. Pressed repeatedly by the judges on the claim yesterday, Karen Steyn, Miliband’s counsel, insisted that Clinton was indeed saying that if the seven-paragraph summary of CIA material was disclosed, the US would “reassess” its intelligence relationship with the UK, a move that “would put lives at risk”.
Mrs Clinton personally told the Foreign Secretary that the US government would consider the dramatic step if a short summary of the treatment of Binyam Mohamed is placed in the public domain, the High Court was told. A hearing was told that the move could cause “serious harm” to Britain’s national security and potentially put the lives of British citizens at risk.
Binyam Mohamed is an Ethiopian national who was granted protected status in Britain. He was arrested in April 2002 when he attempted to board a plane in Karachi, Pakistan, to fly back to Britain. Pakistani authorities turned him over to the CIA, and he was held in the CIA’s extraordinary renditions program until 2004, when he was transferred to Guantánamo. His accounts of torture at the hand of captors in Pakistan and Morocco were previously validated by British courts, which noted the involvement of the CIA and British intelligence in the process.
Miliband explains Clinton’s objection in terms of the “principle” that intelligence furnished should not be disclosed, even in court proceedings. However, it is fairly obvious that the American State Department is acting as a proxy for American intelligence services in this process. And there is a far more powerful principle in play. The torture practiced on Binyam Mohamed was a serious crime. Evidence is being suppressed to preclude the full investigation of that crime and to block possible criminal prosecutions of those involved. That’s called obstruction of justice, and it’s also a crime. This case well exemplifies how the Obama Administration is using claims of national security interests to preclude serious investigations of criminal conduct and accountability of those involved.