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Daily View: Binyan Mohammed verdict reaction

Clare Spencer | 10:50 UK time, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Binyam Mohamed.jpgThe High Court has ruled that US intelligence documents containing details of the alleged torture of former UK resident Binyam Mohamed can be released. Commentators consider what this means for future intelligence-sharing with the US.

Director of the Royal United Services Institute Professor Michael Clarke says in the Independent that the fall-out will have to be managed:

"President Obama may have dropped the 'war on terror' label but there is still a big difference of mindset between a US approach that goes out to get the terrorists, and a British approach which treats terrorists as criminals and relies on the rule of law. The criminal justice approach is often hard to reconcile with the protection of intelligence. The Government's continuing tussle with the judiciary over the use of control orders is a symptom of the problem."

Con Coughlin in the Telegraph says there are serious security implications:

"Our national security depends heavily on our intelligence-sharing cooperation with the U.S., and it is thanks to the intel provided by the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies that we have managed to avoid a repeat of the July 7 bombings. But if the Americans, alarmed at the willingness of our judges to humiliate them in public, decide to scale down the level of cooperation, our national security will undoubtedly be placed in jeopardy."

The Chief Executive of Index on Censorship John Kampfner is critical in the Daily Mail:

"A more devastating verdict would be hard to find. A more disreputable set of actions would be hard to identify, and this from a government which proclaims it is a leader in human rights around the world."

The Independent leading article is sceptical about the reasons for keeping information secret:

"Were fears for the future of intelligence-sharing with the US really at the heart of it - especially after President Obama ordered the declassification of many documents relating to the mistreatment of terrorist suspects? Or was that argument a cover for something else - something, perhaps, like not wanting anyone to find out how much the British government really knew about the treatment of Mr Mohamed (and perhaps others, too)."

Alex Massie in the Spectator doesn't buy the argument that this will damage the relationship with the US, especially given that a US court has already disclosed information on Binyam Mohamed's treatment:

"[T]this is the argument that is always trotted out to justify secrecy. Anything that might irritate the Cousins must be avoided at any cost, even if that means trampling on our own laws. Surely the Anglo-American partnership is robust enough to survive this sort of thing? If it isn't then a few judicial rulings are the least of its concerns."

On the BBC Today Programme Conservative MP David Davis dismisses US disappointment at the ruling:

"It's a charade... I used to be a foreign office minister handling this sort of stuff. You read the document carefully and it does not say they are going to say anything. Indeed, any self-respecting expert will tell you there will not be a change in one comma in the information-exchange relationship and there's three reasons for that."

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Links in full

IndependentIndependent | A victory for openness
TelegraphCon Coughlin | Telegraph | When the next bomb goes off, blame the judges
TelegraphTelegraph | Binyam Mohamed and British security
TimesBen Macintyre | Times | Today we're less secret - but probably less safe
TimesTimes | The Dark Corner
MailDaily Mail | Torture, a cover-up and Labour's shame
GuardianGuardian | Binyam Mohamed: Torture and the missing paragraph
GuardianClive Stafford Smith | Guardian | Binyam Mohamed: a shameful cover-up
GuardianAfua Hirsch | Guardian | How 400 years of legal history were cast aside
AtlanticAndrew Sullivan | Atlantic | Accountability For Torture
IndependentMichael Clarke &124; Independent | Judgment undermines intelligence co-operation
SpectatorAlex Massie | Spectator |Will judges be "responsible" for the next terrorist attack?
SpectatorDavid Blackburn | Spectator | The White House is bluffing
SunSun | Battle Ready
MailJohn Kampfner | Daily Mail | A stain on this nation's name


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