The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 29th August, 2008

Binyamin Mohammed tortured

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by Daphne Liddle

service MI5 last week faced scathing criticism from High Court judges for its role in aiding and abetting torture and rendition and a few days later another secret Government unit was exposed as conducting a dishonest propaganda campaign against Al Qaeda.

 Binyamin Mohammed, a young Ethiopian, was arrested, illegally detained and interrogated in Pakistan in 2002 and secretly flown by United States officers to Morocco to be tortured. Under torture Mohammed made a confession that he later withdrew.

 Subsequently US officers transferred Mohammed to Afghanistan and then to their concentration camp at Guantanamo in Cuba and held for four years without charge or trial.

 But now he is facing a “trial” before a military commission on charges that he conspired with Al Qaeda leaders to plan terror attacks on civilians.

 His lawyers brought a High Court case in London to force the British security services to divulge secret material still held that would help Mohammed prove that his confession was extracted under torture and therefore has no validity.

 MI5 agents took part in the illegal interrogation of Mohammed on behalf of the American government. One officer, not named and known as Witness B, was so worried about incriminating himself that he refused to answer the judges’ questions, even in private.

 The court heard that this officer interrogated Mohammed in Pakistan, where he was held incommunicado and without access to a lawyer. Later Mohammed was removed to Morocco where, he says, he was tortured by having his penis cut by a razor blade.

 The full findings of the judges remain a state secret but Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd concluded: “The conduct of the security service facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the United States when Mohammed was being detained by the United States incommunicado and without access to a lawyer. Under the law of Pakistan, that detention was unlawful.”

 The judges ruled that MI5 “continued to facilitate” the interviewing of Mohammed at the behest of the US, even after he was secretly “rendered” out of Pakistan. MI5 did this, the judges added, by providing information to America although the agents “must have appreciated” he was being detained and questioned in a facility which was “that of a foreign government”.

 They said that Witness B worked with the US “to the extent of making it clear to Mohammed that the UK government would not help him unless he co-operated fully with the US authorities”. And they added: “The relationship of the UK government to the US authorities in connection with Mohammed was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing”.

 But the ruling may not help Mohammed. His lawyers, Richard Stein of Leigh Day, said outside the court that although the Government was clearly committed to a fair trial and opposed to the practices of torture and extraordinary rendition but, “unfortunately when faced with the choice between the rule of law and upsetting its allies the Americans, it waivers this commitment”.

 Clive Stafford Smith, the legal director of the human rights group Reprieve, commented: “Compelling the British government to release information that can prove Mr Mohammed’s innocence is one obvious step towards making up for the years of torture that he has suffered.

 “The next step is for the British government to demand an end to the charade against him in Guantanamo Bay and return him home to Britain.”

 Since then a Home Office document leaked to the press revealed a Government-backed secret “counter terrorism” unit (Ricu) set up by former Home Secretary John Reid to feed stories to the BBC and other “respected” media carrying the message that Al Qaeda is steeply declining in strength.

 The unit also uses the web to feed similar information into blogs, forums and discussion pages, posing as ordinary web users.

 The propaganda claims that Al Qaeda has been “expelled” from vast areas of Iraq and Afghanistan and “is on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world”.

 This is a curious ploy since previously the imperialist powers have had to exaggerate the size and power of Al Qaeda in order to justify the spurious “war on terror”.

 Al Qaeda never existed in Iraq before the imperialist powers invaded there.

 Now the imperialists must claim that Al Qaeda is failing to justify its brutal wars against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan – and perhaps to lay the ground for a face-saving retreat from these continuing wars that it cannot win and can no longer afford to sustain.



The day of the Democrats

BARAK Obama has been crowned at the Democrat convention in Denver and he’s now set to challenge Republican John McCain in the US presidential race this November.

All bourgeois elections are the manipulation of the largest number of votes by the smallest number of people and this is no more so than in the United States. And as Marx famously said: “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”.

US politics are dominated by two bourgeois parties that reflect different trends and interests within the American ruling class. McCain and his fellow Republicans represent the most reactionary and aggressive sections of the American ruling class while the Democrats adopt liberal bourgeois reform programmes to win support from working people and the oppressed ethnic minorities in the United States.

Both parties are led by millionaires, which in practice is a prerequisite for high office, given the vast sums needed for election campaigns. Their platforms are drawn up by multi-millionaires to reflect the needs of their vested interests but disguise their aims with popularist platitudes and token reforms to win support from the minority of American people who actually bother to register to vote.

Barack Obama is the first Black presidential candidate to have ever been chosen by an American ruling-class party and the Democrats believe he can mobilise the African-American community behind their ticket in the run-up to the election.

Obama’s “hope, change and unity” campaign is aimed at the millions of Americans who want change; the millions angered at the criminal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which they pay for in their lives and taxes; the millions who are bearing the burden of the capitalist crisis and have been impoverished by Bush’s neo-con policies. Organised labour is backing the Democrats and the Obama campaign has the support of some of the largest unions in America. But Obama is by no means assured of victory in November.

The American left, which is weak and divided, has differing approaches. The Communist Party (CPUSA) is backing the Democratic slate because they see the defeat of the Republicans as an essential first step in shifting the ground for further advance. They don’t regard Obama as a “left” candidate in any way but argue that “none of the people’s struggles — from peace to universal health care to an economy that puts Main Street before Wall Street — will advance if McCain wins in November”.

The Workers World Party (WWP), which in the past has fielded presidential candidates of its own, is this time endorsing the candidacy of Cynthia McKinney, a black former Congresswoman from Georgia. The WWP know this will only win the protest vote but they also have no illusions about a Democrat victory. They say “should Obama win the election (a prospect that shouldn’t be considered certain), the US imperialist ruling class will have a gifted Black politician to help them save their troubled empire. An Obama presidency as the face of an imperialist state will not change anything fundamental, but on the surface it will mark a change, a new situation”.

While we cannot hope to influence the American left, nor indeed should we as it is a question solely for American working class, we need to heed the Workers World warning and have no illusions of what a future Obama administration would represent.
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