In a followup to yesterday’s news that a British court ruled that it would conceal information about the rendition and alleged torture of Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed at the U.S. government’s request, the BBC today reports that in a statement, the Obama White House said it “thanked the UK government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information,” adding that this would “preserve the long-standing intelligence sharing relationship that enables both countries to protect their citizens”.
Although a U.S. embassy spokesman in London also said that the U.S. government did not “threaten allies” such as the United Kingdom, that may just depend upon what you think “threaten” means.
Here’s how the U.K. court described the United States’ move: “[T]he United States Government’s position is that, if the redacted paragraphs are made public, then the United States Government will re-evaluate its intelligence sharing relationship with the United Kingdom with the real risk that it would reduce the intelligence provided.”
That sure sounds like a threat to me.
Call it what you will, the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration’s policy of concealing evidence that the U.S.-sponsored torture and other abuse, humiliation and mistreatment of detainees. That is, as the U.K. court aptly noted, evidence of war crimes.
It looks like the Obama administration is increasingly being boxed into a corner: either it keeps concealing evidence that crimes were committed, in violation of the President’s recent pledges for a newly transparent government, or it lets the evidence come out and confronts the fact that it’s going to have to authorize some sort of an investigation of what abuses took place under the Bush administration and who was responsible.
Attorney General Eric Holder has said he didn’t make any promises to Republicans not to investigate Bush administration wrongdoing. His commitments will be tested in the coming months.