Tortured thinking in the UK

posted at 10:50 am on July 30, 2007 by Bryan

Moonbattery can be fatal. For one thing, it can make otherwise sane reporters write articles suggesting that George W. Bush was president in 1998 (thank goodness for all those layers of editors!). For another, it can lead otherwise strong allies like the UK to place more emphasis on the human rights of a monster like Osama bin Laden than on the rights of his intended victims.

Ministers insisted that British secret agents would only be allowed to pass intelligence to the CIA to help it capture Osama bin Laden if the agency promised he would not be tortured, it has emerged.

MI6 believed it was close to finding the al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan in 1998, and again the next year. The plan was for MI6 to hand the CIA vital information about Bin Laden. Ministers including Robin Cook, the then foreign secretary, gave their approval on condition that the CIA gave assurances he would be treated humanely. The plot is revealed in a 75-page report by parliament’s intelligence and security committee on rendition, the practice of flying detainees to places where they may be tortured.

If there was ever a case for torture, it’s Osama bin Laden. As head of the al Qaeda terrorist enterprise, bin Laden would be in a position to know everything that was going on and who was involved, where they were, how they were being financed — everything. Bin Laden is the “ticking bomb” scenario writ large. By 1998, al Qaeda had already struck the World Trade Center in New York (1993) and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (1996). Plans underway at that time included US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (August 1998) and the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen (2000). Khalid Sheik Mohammed proposed the 9-11 attacks in 1999, with planning beginning in 2000, but he had been part of the failed Operation Bojinka plot in 1995. Bojinka was a precursor to 9-11; KSM was a bin Laden lieutenant. Aggressive interrogation of a captured bin Laden would have led to KSM and probably the unraveling of the entire operational side of al Qaeda. That in turn would probably have prevented 9-11.

Yet the Brits were concerned that bin Laden not be tortured if caught and tried to stipulate their assistance to us based on that thinking. They even wrote a letter to him when he was in Sudan in 1996 which raises an interesting possibility: Did bin Laden try to get to Londonistan in the 90s?

In January 1996 the Home Office wrote to him when he was in Sudan. The letter, seen by the Guardian, advised him that Michael Howard, then home secretary, had “given his personal direction that you be excluded from the United Kingdom on the grounds that your presence…would not be conducive to the public good.”

At least our cousins got that much right. But what would it say about the UK’s immigration policies if bin Laden thought for even a second that he might be given a visa to emigrate there?

More: About this possible emigration letter — by 1996 bin Laden was already an internationally known terrorist. If he really did seek a legal path to Londonistan, and the British turned him down rather than, say, grant his request and then grab him once he actually showed up…? If that’s the way this played out, stupidity can be as fatal as moonbattery.

We need some background on why the British Home Secretary wrote that 1996 letter to Osama bin Laden.


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I’m beginning to wonder if my assumption that political correctness will be tossed aside when people start dying is completely wrong.

Bill C on July 30, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Bill C on July 30, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Unfortunately, I think it is wrong. People have been dying in this war for years, but PC is only getting stronger.

Bryan on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

Bryan is correct, unfortumately.

2theright on July 30, 2007 at 11:08 AM

Promise the Brits whatever soothes their multiculti pudeurs (AKA suicidal stupidity), then take Osama for an upside-down surfing contest in a zinc lined tub.

Would we hesitate to pass on intelligence to the Brits just because their cops accidentally over-reacted and shot a guy to death in a subway car right after their 7/7 terrorist attacks?

Grow a pair, O’ sons of Winston.

(Will it be Churchill or Smith?)

profitsbeard on July 30, 2007 at 11:10 AM

Secretary of State Tantor to the British Foreign Secretary:
“You have my full assurance that the US will treat Mr. Osama Bin Laden with all the human rights to which he is entitled.”

Secretary of State Tantor to the British Foreign Secretary, a year after Bin Laden is caught:
“Thank you for your cooperation in catching Mr. Bin Laden, whom we have been interrogating for the last year. He’s told us everything he knew while squealing like a little girl. We have since wrapped up his entire terror network, down to the shops where they bought their blank videos. Unfortunately, after the interrogations were complete Mr. Bin Laden fell into a wood chipper and was inadvertently fed to the hogs. You can imagine our chagrin. While this unfortunate accident does not fulfill the spirit of our mutually beneficial agreement, we promise to do better with the next mass-murdering terrorist mastermind you give us. Please accept our apologies.”

Tantor on July 30, 2007 at 11:14 AM

…political correctness will be tossed aside when people start dying…
Bill C on July 30, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Actually, they feel that if they are just more and more PC, then people will…like…them, and all this meanness will go away. Combine those people with the rest of the “we’re worse than anybody” crowd and you’ve got a true suicide pact.

eeyore on July 30, 2007 at 11:20 AM

Tantor-

Please accept our heartfelt apologies.

.

The Brits think we’re more emotional than they are, so play it up.

Otherwise, my sentiments exactly.

profitsbeard on July 30, 2007 at 11:25 AM

Unfortunately, I think it is wrong. People have been dying in this war for years, but PC is only getting stronger.

Bryan on July 30, 2007 at 11:03 AM

Just wait. They’ll nuke London or a major U.S. city.

PRCalDude on July 30, 2007 at 11:26 AM

My vote is for London!

Ropera on July 30, 2007 at 11:31 AM

profitsbeard on July 30, 2007 at 11:10 AM

Grow a pair, O’ sons of Winston.

Truly I say to you, Admiral Lord Nelson is at this moment wailing and gnashing his teeth at what has become of his beloved nation.

doriangrey on July 30, 2007 at 11:31 AM

Tantor on July 30, 2007 at 11:14 AM

ha, good one,

I say old boy, that wasn’t exactly cricket you know.

conservnut on July 30, 2007 at 11:55 AM

PC is delusional and delusion is most assuredly not a survival characteristic.

pat on July 30, 2007 at 12:08 PM

I think he may also, even, be including the death penalty in that stipulation. If they were to withhold bin Laden on the basis that we woudl try him and hang him, I think tha tshould be grounds for invading the motherland…

urbancenturion on July 30, 2007 at 12:23 PM

I’m beginning to wonder if my assumption that political correctness will be tossed aside when people start dying is completely wrong.

Bill C on July 30, 2007 at 10:59 AM

You and Bryan are both correct. The correct question is how many people will have to die before political correctness is tossed aside? Hopefully it will be before PRCalDude’s idea takes place.

Canadian Infidel on July 30, 2007 at 12:55 PM

By 1998, al Qaeda had already struck the World Trade Center in New York (1993) and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (1996).

That’s the kind of sloppy thinking/language that gets conservatives in trouble with the “Bush lied!” crowd (which, if you haven’t been keeping track, seems to be most politically minded people in the world today). Few people believe that those are examples of al Qaeda “striking.” There are possibilities of connections between the groups who did these and al Qaeda, but it’s important to be clear about where the blame really lies. It’s also very important not to overstate the influence of bin Laden, pumping up a myth that’s been extremely dangerous to U.S. interests, the idea that every single American setback since Beirut is attributable to and organized by bin Laden. Such misstatements are also detrimental to U.S. interests in getting other countries and organizations – Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah – off the hook for their misdeeds.

We knew bin Laden was a bad guy in 1996. That’s enough. We don’t need to claim he’s been the post-Cold War universal svengali of all terror in the world. If we’re going to be serious about this struggle, we need to be careful in our arguments. Such carelessness leads to a world in which the U.S. is fighting for the right thing but no one else cares. And that, as we’ve seen, is quite harmful for everyone.

calbear on July 30, 2007 at 1:05 PM

the idea that every single American setback since Beirut is attributable to and organized by bin Laden.

calbear on July 30, 2007 at 1:05 PM

You’re suggesting things that I’m not suggesting.

Bryan on July 30, 2007 at 1:11 PM

You’re suggesting things that I’m not suggesting.

I’m using hyperbole, but I still think you’re overreaching. Bin Laden wants the world to believe that he and his men single-handedly ended the Soviet Union, kicked Americans out of Somalia, and inflicted shame on the American Empire. You’re not saying that, but giving him “credit” for anything he didn’t mastermind (WTC’93, Khobar Towers) is a bad idea.

calbear on July 30, 2007 at 1:50 PM

PC is a sympton of relativistic thinking, which is a core principal of the modern left, and has invaded pop culture, academia and other elites. Its a Logical Fallacy and self-refuting of course…..its amazing these people can walk and chew gum at the same time.

jp on July 30, 2007 at 2:19 PM

calbear on July 30, 2007 at 1:50 PM

calbear, you make some good points. It is important to maintain accuracy. Heck, I’d settle for a president who’s willing to dispel the lame notion that Islam is a religion of peace. The link between all the attacks may not be Bin Laden personally but I think we all have an idea of what that link truly is.

Zetterson on July 30, 2007 at 2:27 PM

Islam, the Religion of Piece(s)! The result of following the idealogy of Islam is pieces of people having been blown up by homicide bombers who have been deluded into believing that they will get to have sex with 72 virgins in some supposed paradise, where sex is finally allowed to them.

TruthToBeTold on July 30, 2007 at 6:35 PM