Tuesday, 24 February 2009

From Enemy Combatant to Tortured Terrorist

The case of Binyam Mohamed raises so many divergent thoughts that’s its impossible to even take a single view on the deeper issues that lie at the heart of the matter. However, one thing is true and indisputable; his detention and subsequent ill treatment were wrong. There are a lot of things that can be said and a lot of emotive words that can be dredged up to describe how wrong it was. However, one thing is clear, and that is that there is no justification for what the US ant its allies embarked upon as they sought to address the issue of people captured or arrested during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is no doubt that Binyam Mohamed was arrested on reasonable grounds for suspicion. Maybe there might be a case for suggesting that the intensity of operations may have made the investigation of any claims against any such detainees a low priority. However, natural justice would suggest that there was a need to ensure that any detainees had their cases dealt with expeditiously. It was always possible some of them might have been innocent, and therefore there swift release would have been essential to maintain the rule of law. It is also possible that others may have been a rich source of intelligence in the fight against terrorism. It would have been tactically astute then to seek information from them that might have helped the campaigns and reduced fatalities.

It does seem that the US was content to treat any captured people as though they were guilty and deprive them of any due process. To all intent and purposes it appears the intention was to exercise as much retribution on any such prisoners as was possible to get away with. The general treatment of detainees has been completely against any notion of natural justice and in violation of any rules of law. If these people were innocent of the any crimes then their continued detention has been inhumane and immoral. If they were guilty of any crimes then the US owed it to the duty to public safety to put them on trial and have them dealt with through due process.

The case of Binyam Mohamed does leave one extremely conflicted. This is a man who fled political repression in Ethiopia and sought asylum in the UK. It would appear that he traveled to Pakistan with the intention of exploring the possibility of getting involved in some form of militia activity. He must have known that attending a military training camp could only likely lead to some form of terrorist activity. So it would appear that he was on the verge of joining what would have amounted to some form of radical movement that would have been promoting violent disorder. While he appears not be guilty of any specific terror related crimes, it seems he was harbouring intentions that are likely to, or could possibly have led him down that path. Maybe he was a young man burning with religious zeal or he just found himself swept up by a set of circumstances that compelled him to act. Whatever it was he found himself confronted by an enemy who were ready to do whatever it took and by any means necessary to combat the threat they perceived. There has always been a complacency amongst terrorists that they can sneak in and out of countries commit atrocities and then be treated ‘softly’ by the local justice systems if they are caught. Afterall when you have embarked on a campaign that demands an eye for an eye the rule of law is more concerned that you are treated fairly when you have been charged with multiple murders, you might be entitled to believe the costs are worth it. Unfortunately, the tide has changed and now terrorists can be rest assured that they will reap the whirlwind they have sown should they be caught. Binyam Mohamed certainly had his burning zeal tortuously extinguished. Unfortunately in doing so the moral high ground that had been occupied by the fight against terrorism has been seriously eroded.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Social Crunch

Gordon Brown and New Labour has consistently shown an immense disregard for the lives of the individual man on the street. They have always been too focused on appearances. Priorities have been big business, international back slapping, flashy policies and partisan party interests. On all accounts they have failed.

At a time when homelessness, unemployment and social disorder are at an all time high the Government has been confused but resolute in its pursuit of the great evil that is bankers' bonuses. That seems to be the smokescreen that the government hopes will distract us from the weakening pound and the pounding every sector of the economy is taking. I think the people are hurting too much to even follow this red herring.

It seems the government is not aware of the impact of the recession on the fabric of society. The more people find themselves suffering from the impact of their economic travails the more the likelihood that the fabric of society will begin to unravel. There will be complete reversal of all the social cohesion that Labour had been promoting in its early days. We have already started seeing the seeds of racial and ethnic discrimination. The chances are that crime rates will shoot up.

Unfortunately the government is so taken with fixing the economy that rest of the society will be left to stew until its too late.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


Politics has always represented one of those necessary evils in modern life. The ability to organize ourselves socially is clearly not a skill that is unique to homo sapiens. And it does appear that it is a skill we certainly have neither mastered in practice or principle. The idea of forming a government was meant to be a means of establishing a vehicle for collective action to cater to the needs of a populace. In principle it should be the coming together of a group of people who have been mandated to carry out a charter for the whole.

No matter how much democracy is advocated for there are still major contradictions in the way it is practiced. As we have seen in the USA in recent times it is possible for a presidential candidate to lose the popular vote and still win the election. Electoral fraud also doesn’t constitute a significant obstruction to the legitimisation of an election. As was the case in Florida where we had the saga of the “hanging chads”. America also has the immensely democratic process of allowing a State Governor to appoint to a national legislative seat when it becomes vacant in mid term.

In Great Britain democracy has been enshrined in processes that allow for an upper legislative house whose members are either eligible to sit by birth or by partisan appointment. May the people’s will be done indeed! The system goes even further to espouse all the good values of democracy by having a prime minister who is never elected into office. The party with the greater number of seats has the right to appoint a prime minister. It would follow then that that party would also be able to remove a prime minister and reappoint one without any election taking place. Great Britain also has a parliamentary system in which major executive decision are not (do not have to be) subject to legislative debate or voting. This has been shown to be the case in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the bailing out of banks with public funds.

Socialism and Communism have become so tarnished of late that most socialists have to apologise and mutter their allegiance. The socialism of USSR, and now Russia; and Robert Mugabe can only be described as travesties. Fidel Castro started out as a ‘man of the people’ and ended up as a despot demanding godlike devotion from his people. He became so consumed by his own mythology its hard to imagine that he still realised there was a people somewhere in the equation. And now we have the modern day flag bearer for socialism; Hugo Chavez, who has enacted legislation that would allow him to rule for life. As long as he keeps winning elections, of course. If ever there was a mandate for repression and electoral fraud there you have it.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

A Crazy Crazy Game Called Footie

Listen out for the new not likely to be number one single by Rafa Benitez. It's called 'A Crazy Crazy Game Called Football'. Its manic energy has been likened to Kevin Keegan's similarly summit toppling effort called 'I'd Really Really Luv It'. Watch out for the new Rafa video featuring Alex Ferguson dancing a robust highland jig while grinning from ear to ear and laughing uncontrollably. It also features Arsene Wenger moonwalking while bargain hunting in Calais. An appearance by Martin O'Neill shown happy slapping Harewood and Shorey didn't make the final cut. It would appear Luis Felipe Scolari got snowed in, missed his way and is now halfway to Rio De Janeiro.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

All The Days Of My Life

To all the people in my life
I promise on this and every day
That for all those celebrating and in strife
I will always have a kind word to say.
And of the legion of things I have left undone
My efforts will be true and sure
To get around to each and everyone
And keep the love always true and pure.

Times may be hard,
Money scarce
and the weather harsh
But for as long
As I can raise my arms up
I will embrace you
With a passion
And appreciation
That neither distance
Nor time will ever dim.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Whats In A Day

Are there any cosmic implications when the dates Friday the 13th and February 14th follow each other on the calendar? Is it possible that the omens of doom or good fortune are magnified or canceled out? Is there really any significance to the meanings vested in either day? The ritual of Valentine’s and the superstition of Friday the 13th have become significant, if unconscious, determinants of the behaviour of a great mass of humanity.

Its a day in 365 but people invest a lot of emotion in those days. So do we do it because we have a real belief in what the mythology of the day is? Or do we just go with the flow and get swept up in the glamour and commerciality of it.

Superstitions tend to give us excuses for why we either dont try hard enough or fail at something we attempt. It makes it ok to believe it was ill fated. Yet in actual fact, the myth of many superstitions lie in literature or fiction. They just happen to have grown in strength over the years.

The wonderment is how we can let such superficial play a crucial role in our lives. Maybe we should just learn to seize the opportunity of everyday to tell and show each other how much we're loved. And we could spend everyday trying as hard as we can to achieve all that we put our hands to. That way, even if we dont succed we should at least be fulfilled.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Eschew The Obvious

For the longest time the art of defending in the sport of football in Britain has been considered a facility of brute strength and dogged tenacity. These bloodied, sweaty and mud caked stalwarts who are prepared to put their bodies on the line have forever been the epitome of true Brit grit.

However, this image enduring and endearing (to some) though it may be is far from what essence of defensive football really is. A true defender, in the purest sense of the art; relies firstly on intelligence, timing, and judgment to read both the game unfolding and the attacking player approaching. Without those subtleties all that athleticism does is get you to the right spot for an attacker to beat you time and time again. This was evidenced very clearly this week when Robinho of Brazil and David Villa of Spain took advantage of some stodgy defending and scored the sweetest of goals.

Of recent the argument for less is more has been ever increasingly compelling. The financial woes and political morass that has been unfolding in recent times has really demonstrated the dangers of excess and greed. From the politician who claims expenses where none are incurred to financiers who believe that being part of “profitable” arm of a failed and insolvent institution is no deterrent to bonuses a lack of honour and integrity seems to be the code by which we live nowadays.

Integrity should mean the eschewing of ostentation and flamboyance for the maintaining of the basic principle of things. In other words, promoting the greater and common good. Not the greater good as determined by a so called GOAT (government of all talents) as it suits its narrow self interests.