In a remarkable development at the High Court in London, an email from a senior US State Dept. official has been revealed, apparently threatening to curb co-operation with Britain on international intelligence sharing if details on a detainees interrogation are revealed. Lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, held at Gitmo, have taken legal action in the UK to force the release of details which, they say, will prove Mohamed was ilegally abducted and tortured into a confession. Mohamed claims that his torture included having his penis cut with a razor blade by Moroccan proxies for the US.
In an email to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which was sent on to the court, Stephen Mathias, a legal adviser to the US state department, said that the disclosure of information would cause "serious and lasting damage to the US-UK intelligence-sharing relationship and thus the national security of the UK, and the aggressive and unprecedented intervention in the apparently functioning adjudicatory processes of a longtime ally of the UK, in contravention of well-established principles of international comity."
Put simply, if the British High Court forces disclosure, the Bush administration will stop treating the Uk as a trusted ally. The High Court may not be in the mood to be bullied, given what has gone before on the case:
Last week, in the initial hearing of the case, the high court found that MI5 had participated in the unlawful interrogation of Mohamed. It emerged that one MI5 officer was so concerned about incriminating himself that he initially declined to answer questions from the judges even in private. Although the judges said that "no adverse conclusions" should be drawn by the plea against self-incrimination, it was disclosed that the officer, Witness B, was questioned about alleged war crimes, including torture, under the international criminal court act.
The Bush administration must be very worried about war crimes charges if they're willing to go to these lengths to bully an ally into keeping torture secret. But if the High Court rules for Mohamed, then the British government won't have a choice. It cannot overule the Court.