Total Recall

By DeusExMacintosh

Tony Blair has "no recollection" of Libyan rendition case

Tony Blair said today he has no memory of the Belhadj rendition case but claimed he was not aware of any occasion when his government breached its opposition to the tactic.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s The World At One programme, Mr Blair defended the security services as doing an important, dangerous job, one which he said generally deserves the ”full support of the country”. The former prime minister, who sat in No 10 from 1997 to 2007, said cooperation with the former Libyan regime against terrorism had been ”important”.

Libyans Sami Al Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhadj are suing the British Government for what they claim is its complicity in their alleged rendition and torture in 2004 after several documents emerged in the wake of the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime last year.

Asked about the incident, and whether similar examples lay behind distrust of the West, Mr Blair said: ”About the Belhadj case, I don’t have any recollection of it at all.

”There are many, many complicated reasons why the West’s relationship is difficult with the Middle East but I think (rendition) is probably the least of them.

”Rendition has been the policy of successive US administrations. It remains the policy of this US administration. We have always had our own position. Jack Straw made it very clear at the time and as far as I know, we absolutely adhered to that position.”

Also known as Abu Abd Allah Sadiq, Mr Belhadj, 45, a Libyan rebel commander who was living in exile in Beijing, China, says he was tortured after being detained with his wife in 2004 en route to the UK where they were trying to seek asylum.

The civil action stems from the discovery of a letter purportedly from Sir Mark Allen, the former MI6 director of counter terrorism, to Moussa Koussa, head of Gaddafi’s intelligence agency, dated March 18 2004.

In it, Sir Mark is said to pass on thanks for helping to arrange Tony Blair’s visit to Gaddafi, writing: ”Most importantly, I congratulate you on the safe arrival of Abu Abd Allah Sadiq.

”This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years.”

Sir Mark is named in the pair’s legal action, alongside the Government, as is the Commissioner’s office in the British Indian Ocean Territory of Diego Garcia – a location through which they allege the rendition transferred.

The Telegraph

On December 13, 2005 Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, made an unusually clear and emphatic statement to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. His words are so strong that it is worth quoting exactly what Mr Straw said at some length.

“Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop.”

Peter Oborne uses the rest of his column to point out that someone is lying. And it can only be the politicians or MI6.


  1. kvd
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Brilliant! But “it can only be the politicians or MIB” – is how I first read that last line, and it’s possibly true…

  2. Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    MI6/men in black… a spook by any other name…

  3. derrida derider
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    My money’s on MI6 being the outright liars, but Straw and Blair’s ignorance of what MI6 was up to was carefully preserved by all parties. It would have been very much “don’t ask so we won’t tell”.

    There will, of course, be absolutely no adverse consequences for any of those public servants or pollies. If the coppers can pump six bullets into the head of a Brazilian electrician at peak hour on the tube and no-one even gets reprimanded, then Belhadj has no chance.

  4. Posted April 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    In the Scots law of reset (receiving), it’s known as ‘willful blindness’. I think Blair, Straw and Co were being ‘willfully blind’.

  5. Posted April 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Well the best MI6 can hope for is “oh, when we wrote to Gadaffi we were actually taking more credit than we deserved”, which doesn’t make them look much better.

  6. Posted April 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    The sequence of events over the Zelikow memo and the “no charges to see here” Durham investigation in the US suggest cynicism may be appropriate.

  7. Mel
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice to see some right libertarians get as upset about torture sanctioned by western states as they do about single mums on the pension.

    Sadly, most right libertarians are so far up the bums of their conservative buddies that the only thing that gives their presence away is the soles of their shoes. It really doesn’t have to be that way.

    Congrats to Lorenzo for acknowledging the matter.

  8. Posted April 14, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] If you are going to pontificate on libertarians, you need to read more of their stuff. The impeccably libertarian Independent Institute, for example, has been firmly and publicly against any use of torture.

  9. Posted April 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Also, I made my position very clear sometime ago.

  10. Mel
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Yup, and Australia’s leading libertarian blog Catallaxy and leading libertarian thinktank the CIS have been at the forefront of the War on Torture. Not…..

  11. Patrick
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Yes, Mel, but that’s like expecting the likes of the sadly now homeless LP tribe to care as much about the desperately poor in the third world as they do Scott the quite well off in Australia;-)

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