Leading article: Half-truths that cloak a lawless world of depravity

Share

At times, and these are growing more frequent, we catch a glimpse of a twilight world that seems to exist alongside our own. The world we are encouraged to believe we live in is one of sunny uplands and blue skies. It is a world governed by laws, where order prevails and politicians pledge themselves to uphold civilised values. It is one where abductions, beatings and torture are always on the wrong side of the law.

In the parallel world, things are arranged differently. Here, people are plucked off the street, held incommunicado and transported thousands of miles for questioning. It is a world of unrecorded flights in private planes that have nothing, but also everything, to do with governments. It is a world of intelligence agents who may or may not be government employees; a world where the only law is an ill-defined and ever-changing duty to ensure national security.

This week, as the season's festivities have run their course, that other world has rarely been far away. The day before yesterday, the US embassy in London "clarified" remarks made in a BBC interview by the US ambassador, Robert Tuttle. Where Mr Tuttle had said there was no evidence that terrorist suspects had been sent to Syria for questioning, he now recognised that "a media report" had spoken of just such a "rendition".

Then yesterday a Greek publication challenged a British denial of allegations that intelligence agents had been involved in the abduction, beating and interrogation of 28 Pakistanis in Greece shortly after the bombings in London. These allegations had been raised and unconditionally dismissed as "complete nonsense" by the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, earlier this month. Yesterday, the Foreign Office would "neither confirm nor deny" this Greek version. It did not, however, describe it as "nonsense" - complete or otherwise.

Whatever the truth of the report, the details conform to a pattern that is becoming disturbingly familiar. Allegations are made about an abduction, a prison or torture that are dismissed by ministers of the country accused - the US or Britain - as "fantastical" or "absurd". Which, of course, they are to anyone without an inkling of the parallel twilight world.

But then there emerges, if not cast-iron proof, at least evidence that makes the charges plausible. The snatched photos of the cages at Guantanamo. The photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The account of the German citizen who - the US finally admitted privately to the Germans - was spirited to Afghanistan for questioning while on a private trip to the Balkans. The Canadian citizen - alluded to in the US embassy "clarification" - who was detained in the US and flown to Syria, where he says he was tortured.

What is more, a close reading of the official denials in each and every case shows that, technically, no untruths have been uttered. Thus Mr Straw, dismissing allegations about the Pakistanis in Greece, said that "no UK officials had taken part in any alleged mistreatment in Greece of any suspects ... and we were not involved in the arrest or detention of those particular suspects". Every phrase leaves a gaping loophole. In Europe last month, the US Secretary of State was as deceptively precise when pressed about "extraordinary rendition".

Others couch their denials as ignorance. Mr Blair has repeatedly failed to give a straight answer to questions about possible British government complicity. But seeing nothing, hearing nothing and saying nothing is becoming less and less of an option. We trust that, as the victims are emboldened to speak out and parliamentary inquiries multiply, the true depravity of this murky parallel world will be exposed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Helpdesk Team Leader / Manager

£45000 per annum + pension,medical: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable gl...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Project Manager

£35000 per annum + £5k bonus, car: Ashdown Group: A successful business that h...

IT Infrastructure Project Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A large and well established business is look...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born