Guantanomo Bay
Back and causing difficulties

Tony Blair was interviewed by Sky TV over the weekend on his return from talks with George Bush. Adam Boulton, Sky's political editor, asked him if any progress had been made on releasing the four Britons still detained in Guantanamo Bay. Here is Blair's reply:

"It's difficult, because we have to make sure our own security is going to be properly protected if we have people back in this country. As you know, there have been incidents of people who have been back and causing difficulties again, so you need to be careful."

I have a pretty low opinion of our prime minister's truthfulness, but this is a gobsmacking smear even by his standards. The five British Guantanamo detainees sent home so far are under 24-hour surveillance (one of them has been "worrying" police, apparently). None have been arrested, let alone charged with anything.

Nevertheless, Blair tells us they have been "causing difficulties". What on earth could he mean? Gareth Peirce, solicitor for three of the British detainees, provides a compelling interpretation:

"If by the word 'difficulties', Mr Blair means they have produced an exhaustive account of the conditions, the methodology of coercion and the torture that prevails in Guantanamo, then the 'difficulties' consist of bringing to the public the unlawful practices of the US government and the complicity of the British Government."

A relative of Tarek Dergoul, a 26 year old ex-detainee from East London, points out:

"After the disgusting treatment of Tarek at the hands of the Americans, he has one arm and is severely traumatised and cannot cope with life. What kind of criminal act does Mr Blair think that he can carry out?"

The creepiest aspect of Blair's slur is his casual, matey "as you know". It's unclear whether the "you" was addressed to Boulton, signalling secret knowledge shared by a political and journalistic elite.

Or perhaps it was addressed at all of us, a tacit instruction that we should all "know" that disabled, traumatised torture victims constitute a threat to "our own security". Muslims are the enemy within, after all. Everybody "knows" that.