Sunday, February 15, 2009

More of the on-going saga of Binyam Mohamed and the UK coverup.

The BBC:

"British officials, including a doctor, visited Binyam Mohamed in Cuba. The UK had expressed concerns over his health after reports he was on hunger strike . . . A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'A team of British officials, including a doctor, met with Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed yesterday' . . . Mr Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said his client ended his hunger strike on Wednesday.

He said the 6ft 1in (1.9m) detainee's weight had dropped to 125lb (8st 9lb; 57kg) since he stopped eating on 5 January and they were worried he would not be deemed fit to travel.

'That means he has the same body mass index as people who are very close to starvation,' he said. 'My understanding is that now he's having one meal of solid food a day and some nutritional supplements. 'Hopefully we can bring him back to some good old-fashioned English food.'"

Um . . . which means Ethiopian food or Indian food or something, right? Cus, I'm thinking good old-fashioned English food might tend to cause more fasting.

In any case, surely you recall from reading below that the UK Foreign Office says a judge can't release secret files on the treatment of Mohamed by the Moroccans because the US warned the UK any such release would force the US to stop sharing intel with the Brits and how a judge fell for this little ploy and denied the request by Mohamed's lawyer Clive Stafford Smith? Well, it turns out, that the Foreign Office asked the US DOS for the letter to make their case.

The Guardian:

"A former senior State Department official said that it was the Foreign Office that initiated the 'cover-up' by asking the State Department to send the letter so that it could be introduced into the court proceedings . . . The former senior State Department official said: 'Far from being a threat, it was solicited [by the Foreign Office].'

The Foreign Office asked for it in writing. They said: "Give us something in writing so that we can put it on the record." If you give us a letter explaining you are opposed to this, then we can provide that to the court.'

The letter, sent by the State Department's top legal adviser John Bellinger to foreign secretary David Miliband's legal adviser, Daniel Bethlehem, on 21 August last year, said: 'We want to affirm in the clearest terms that 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 existing intelligence-sharing arrangements.'"

How about that! Talk about chutzpah!

BTW, you might remember John Billinger, Condi's chief legal adviser at Foggy Bottom. He was the guy Cheney & Co. sent, in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq, to give UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith a backbone about signing off on a legal finding that the invasion was legal under international law. Just so happens, another case rolling around the courts in the UK, right now, along these same lines, involves getting hold of the minutes of Tony B-liar's cabinet meetings with Goldsmith.

It's all coming together now. Or unraveling, depending on how you look at it. The chickens are coming home to roost. But now is not the time to look backwards, right? Let's move ahead. So a few laws were broken, a few people accidentally killed, a few accidentally arrested, tortured and held for 7 years without any legal recourse . . . it's all in the past. We've got all kinds of more serious problems now that have absolutely nothing to do with the past . . . huh . . . yeah.

[Extra note: I wrote about Billinger here in an angry letter to ATC, which had him on their airways as a "legal expert" to discuss the legal ramifications of shutting Gitmo down, of all things!]

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