Guantanamo Brits innocent after all

Al-Hamdu lillah, the five British detainees who were flown home from Guantanamo Bay yesterday have been released without charge. They have been held for two years and now it appears that not only have the Americans not a jot of evidence against them, neither have the British.

A few months ago I called a radio phone-in hosted by a loudmouth named Jon Gaunt. He has a morning show on the BBC’s London station (94.9FM) and commonly greets controversial political and judicial decisions with “the world’s gone mad!”. He mentioned a report from Amnesty International criticising America’s treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo, which alleged that this gave the message to dictators around the world that violating people’s rights was acceptable because the US did it. Gaunt said that he wasn’t losing any sleep over the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo.

I argued that what AI were saying was important, because certain dictators use the excuse that someone is a “fundamentalist” to repress them, much as the excuse of “communism” was used for the same purpose during the Cold War (even for trade union organisers and the like). He brought up the issue of the “Tipton Taliban”, and asked me whether I thought they should be brought back. I said yes, because they had gone to Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance - a group of various ex-mujahideen factions which had turned to fighting each other since the collapse of the Najibullah regime - and had fought back when they were attacked. After getting me to repeat this - “they were attacked, they fought back” - he said “you disgust me. Good morning” and put the phone down.

Now it appears, they are completely innocent and the British authorities have no evidence that they fired a shot at British troops. If they had, they would certainly have been tried for treason and would not have been released less than 24 hours after returning to the UK. Clearly Gaunt didn’t know this, but then he should not shoot off his mouth about issues he does not know about. (He also allowed later callers to call me a plonker and question my ‘loyalty’.) Should license fee payers’ money be wasted on idiots like this man?

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