Sunday, May 23, 2010

This May Come As a Surprise ...

... but I think it's a welcome one. Glenn Greenwald covers the new British government's apparent commitment (a real commitment, carried out in action) to do something about Britain's involvement in and collaboration with the Bush-Obama US torture-terror regime.
Now that this left-right, Tory/Lib-Dem alliance has removed the Labour Party from power and is governing Britain, these commitments to restoring core liberties -- Actual Change -- show no sign of retreating. Rather than cynically tossing these promises of restrained government power onto the trash pile of insincere campaign rhetoric, they are implementing them into actual policy. Clegg, now the Deputy Prime Minister, gave an extraordinary speech last week in which he vowed "the biggest shake-up of our democracy since 1832." He railed against a litany of government policies and proposals that form the backbone of Britain's Surveillance State, from ID Card schemes, national identity registers, biometric passports, the storing of Internet and email records, to DNA databases, proliferating security cameras, and repressive restrictions on free speech and assembly rights. But more striking than these specific positions were the general, anti-authoritarian principles he espoused -- ones that sound increasingly foreign to most Americans.
Greenwald writes (tongue in cheek, for the Irony Impaired):
Most striking of all, the new Government (specifically William Hague, its conservative Foreign Secretary) just announced that "a judge will investigate claims that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the torture of terror suspects."

What an astounding feat of human innovation: they are apparently able to Look Backward and Forward at the same time! And this concept that an actual court will review allegations of grave Government crimes rather than ignoring them in the name of Political Harmony: my, the British, even after all these centuries, do continue to invent all sorts of brand new and exotic precepts of modern liberty.
Contrasted with Obama's latest triumph against the people, a Federal Court ruling granting his demand to deny habeas corpus to people imprisoned in his "secret" dungeons at Bagram and elsewhere, this is an interesting development. The Brits can expect some serious pressure from their senior partner to get back in line, and I look forward to seeing how they respond to it.