For anyone who has been paying attention to the so-called war on terror perpetrated by Western governments over the past fifteen years, what is obvious at this point is that there is a class of people in society which literally exists beyond the reach of the law. These people – statesmen, intelligence officials, military generals – can literally commit the worst crimes in the world (such as launching wars of aggression, constructing an international surveillance regime, kidnapping and torturing people, imprisoning people without charges, assassinating suspects and arming brutal dictators) and it is guaranteed that there will be no legal repercussions for them. It is for this exact reason that the US and its allies are able to continue unleashing massive violence and terrorism on the world; they are safe in the knowledge that they will never face justice for the crimes that they carry out.
New evidence has emerged of how intimately the judicial system in the UK is bound up with these lawless, murderous factions, despite its reputation as an independent entity which is able to impose constraints on the government. Cori Crider of the legal charity Reprieve recently published an article in The Guardian revealing that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided to uphold its decision that no one in the British government will face prosecution for UK complicity in the abduction and rendition to Libya of two Libyan families (including women and children) under the Blair regime. According to Crider, the CPS has refused to hear from any of the rendition victims, who were also subjected to torture, and it is more than likely that the investigators at the CPS charged with reviewing the case didn’t even read the police file attached to it (“With a police file of over 28,000 pages, they would have had to read 550 pages daily, seven days a week, just to process all the evidence. There is no real prospect that they even read the police file. This is the “careful and fully independent consideration” the Libyan renditions victims are thought to be worth”). One paragraph in Crider’s article is particularly revealing:
“It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the single guiding principle at the CPS is to act exactly as those at the top of government would wish. During the investigation and afterwards, I spoke to former senior prosecutors and others for advice. All of them were clear: members of the security services are basically never put on trial in this country and, however shocking this case, they probably never will be. The CPS would always, always close ranks and defend MI6 officers, looking for any excuse, however flimsy, not to bring a single official to book”.
This ‘closing of ranks’ that Crider describes in order to shield the government and the security services from accountability is a tendency which can be found not just in the judicial system but in mainstream journalism as well, with countless examples of journalists adopting a tribalistic mindset when it comes to reporting on their government’s wartime policies, so that instead of those in power being held to account and aggressively questioned on their claims they are instead allowed to propagandise the public unchecked and unchallenged. Often, it seems as though the “single guiding principle” in many mainstream journalistic outlets is also “to act exactly as those at the top of government would wish”. There are countless examples of this, from the BBC’s former director of news Helen Boaden apparently sincerely believing that the goal of the Iraq War was to bring democracy and human rights to the Iraqi people to a Sunday Times reporter explaining the strategy behind publishing a false propaganda piece stating that Edward Snowden has spilled operational secrets to Russia and China: “We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government”.
It is because the rule of law is such a joke in the West that it is more important than ever that investigative journalism is not stifled and suppressed but is instead allowed to flourish unhindered by those in power. The courts cannot bring true justice and accountability while they continue to operate with such close ties to the very people they are supposed to be holding to account. Likewise, mainstream journalism has become little more than the propaganda organ of the state, operating behind pretences of ‘objectivity’ and ‘impartiality’ while actually pushing an agenda overtly biased towards power and corporate interests. Of course, the rule of law doesn’t exist, and the law courts are often rendered impotent; but the court of public opinion is one place where we, the people, still have the power to hold the government to account.