Friday, 4 September 2009

Political Crimes: The Law as Accessory

Only a simpleton would believe what comes from the mouth of a British politician today (indeed from any 'official' in British public life) and it has always been so, but the denials coming from the squalid person of David Miliband really is difficult to stomach. This war criminal's musings did have one effect on me: it got me thinking that these denials are the first step in a program of legitimising crimes, an attempted fait accompli whereby laws will be created that will de-criminalise past crimes and, indeed, will make future crimes not crimes.

The denial is two-fold at least. They (is it 'we' too?) deny the actual act of torture, but they also deny that they knew of any acts of torture if torture did happen. But they did know, they even shaped policy around this known fact. And here's the link between a past crime and the new crimes of the present: Most people probably think Britain's colonial past is long gone, this isn't necessarily true as the UK still has a few overseas territories, including Diego Garcia. Not only is the story of the appropriation of these small islands in the Indian Ocean an example of shaping law to bypass a crime, but the current use of these 'dependent territories' is also an act of complicity in another's crime. This is surely beyond a 'knowing and doing nothing' stance towards a complete partnership in crime. Of course the US government under the Bush administration are much more naked in their attempt to create a legal foundation for their crimes.    

There is a lot of disingenuous behaviour over this issue of torture, murder and war crimes. Democracies, the naive say, can only be good. This is the typical response from a democratic citizen in a consumer economy, they are too bloated and consumed by credit worries that they cannot see the truth straight in front of them: democracy is no foil against tyranny, quite often it supports tyranny. Examples are the support Britain gives to Saudi Arabia, and many other middle-eastern oil producer despots (who help keep the consumer ideology going) and historically the British state supported the Pinochet dictatorship. Now, as then, our British democracy also creates political crimes as well as fostering them: the Iraq war and the subsequent tortures, abductions, murders and false imprisonments all fall foul of various UN mandates that the British state are signatures of (In particular Articles 5, 8, 9 and 30). It seems that politics is gangsterism.