he British government has agreed to pay millions of pounds to 16 former terrorism suspects who were held at Guantanamo Bay, to avert a potentially damaging lawsuit. Several of the former detainees sued the country, claiming British agents were complicit in their torture, either at the U.S. detention center or on the way there. The British government is not admitting it did anything wrong, but Ken Clarke, the U.K.'s Secretary of State for Justice, says a court fight would cost the country far more than the settlement, and could force the government to disclose information that could threaten national security. Is the settlement a mistake? (Watch an ITN News report about the payments)
Of course — this is a win for al Qaeda: How “depressing,” says John Hinderaker at Power Line. “Al Qaeda directs its terrorists to make claims of 'torture' whenever they are caught,” even though “such claims are nearly always false.” This settlement just proves the British government's “lawyers and bean-counters” are utterly unprepared to hold the line in the war against “dedicated, mass-murdering terrorists.” Al Qaeda's “lawfare” strategy is paying off “handsomely.”
"Terrorist lawfare works again”
Britain is paying to keep its secrets: The U.K. really had no choice but to settle once a judge ruled the evidence would be openly available, says Jeralyn Merritt at Talk Left. “No way does Britain want public disclosures of the dirty deeds.” For its money, the U.K. is buying something quite valuable — the assurance that the world doesn't get a closer look at how British spies, and their American colleagues, handle suspects in the war on terror.
“Great Britain's payout to Guantanamo detainees”
The pay-off is smart, but it is still an outrage: Yes, this lets the British government avoid divulging secrets, a move that would harm “our crucial intelligence relationship with the United States,” say the editors of Britain's Telegraph. But these men, some of whom had been given asylum by the U.K., were “detained in Afghanistan or Pakistan while allegedly providing support to our enemies, and now are to be given large sums of taxpayers' money.” The pragmatism behind the decision doesn't make it any easier to swallow.
“Terror suspects: Pragmatic payouts”
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