It’s interesting to note the contrast when someone charges government complicity with torture in the United Kingdom, versus here in the United States.
Ever since Binyam Mohamed — the Ethiopian-born Guantanamo detainee who claims he was tortured as part of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program (and whom I’ve written about previously here) — was returned to Britain, his case has caused an uproar there because he claims that the British intelligence agents colluded with the United States government in his torture.
Today, Baroness Patricia Scotland QC — said she would refer the evidence, both classified and not, to the police, to begin an investigation.
“I have expressed to the Commissioner the hope that the investigation can be taken forward as expeditiously as possible given the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved,” she said in a statement released today.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, despite repeated calls for the attorney general to launch an investigation into the CIA’s extraordinary rendition practices and the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, Attorney General Eric Holder has equivocated (as has President Obama) and no such criminal investigation has begun. (The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on the other hand, is investigating the CIA’s practices, as I’ve reported, but not for criminal culpability. And a previous Senate Armed Services Committee investigation, despite damning results that orders for abusive and inhumane conduct came from the highest levels of the Bush administration, has likewise not led to a criminal investigation.)
When Mohamed and other torture victims brought their case to court by suing Jeppesen Dataplan, the private Boeing subsidiary that assisted the CIA perform renditions, the U.S. government moved to have their case dismissed.
As Glenn Greenwald at Salon has noted, nobody in the United Kingdom is making the Obama administration’s argument — that we ought to all look forward rather than backward. And it’s not like the United Kingdom doesn’t have an economic crisis of its own to deal with, too.
So why is the British prosecutor willing to look “backward” to find out whether crimes were committed, while we seem committed only to burying our heads deeper in the sand?