Friday, June 25, 2004
The Transatlantic Rift
According to the Guardian today, quite a bit of a row is breaking out over British citizens being detained at the US holding pen for "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay.
Lord Goldsmith, the government's senior law officer, will tonight give a speech - given in advance to the media - ... expected to say: "While we must be flexible and be prepared to countenance some limitation of fundamental rights if properly justified and proportionate, there are certain principles on which there can be no compromise.Of course, the left in England has grabbed onto this and demanded that the four remaining British citizens in Guantanamo be handing back to Britain for fair trials. Geoff Noon, the British defence secretary, illustrated pretty clearly the second-class status that Britain has in the "coalition of the willing".
"Fair trial is one of those - which is the reason we in the UK have been unable to accept that the US military tribunals proposed for those detained at Guantánamo Bay offer sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards."
Asked in London today to explain how negotiations with the US would now proceed, Lord Goldsmith refused to elucidate on his speech beyond adding: "The important thing now is that the UK government seriously steps up pressure to speedily secure proper trials or the immediate release of everyone held in Cuba."
"It is very important to be realistic in the relationship between two sovereign states. We can certainly set out what is the position of the British government. We can certainly, as we do on a regular basis, affect the way in which the United States sees those issues.Tony Blair cannot be loving this right now.
"But we would have to be realistic. We are not always successful, nor would anyone realistically expect us always to be successful."