Newspaper headlines have been blaring news of Jamal al-Harith, a former British Guantanamo detainee, blowing himself up in a suicide attack against Iraqi forces in Mosul after having joined Islamic State. What happened here is tragic and horrendous, and the conclusion we should draw from it is obvious: if you don’t want people to hate you and to become sympathetic to extremism, don’t kidnap them, hold them incommunicado without charges in a dungeon, torture them and then finally dump them back in their home country without explanation or apology. According to al-Harith’s family, before 2001 he was a “peaceful and gentle person”, but after his captivity in Guantanamo he was “utterly changed… While sleeping he would cry out, ‘Don’t hurt me'”. According to his wife, he became increasingly radicalised after seeing atrocities committed by the Assad regime in Syria; his vulnerability to such radicalisation was undoubtedly compounded by his experiences of abuse in Guantanamo. The conclusion that papers such as The Daily Mail are drawing – that he should never have been released in the first place – is completely missing the point. Rather than abducting him, illegally detaining him, torturing him and then, despite realising that there was no evidence against him, refusing to release him, upon his release he should have immediately been given psychiatric help and other medical care by the British government, as well as a formal apology and compensation for the role they undoubtedly played in his ordeal; instead, al-Harith had to wait until David Cameron was in power before he received any compensation, despite being released in 2004.
It’s true that The Daily Mail has exhibited some hypocrisy here by condemning Blair for requesting al-Harith’s release despite having campaigned for it at the time; however, Blair’s response to that hypocrisy just sheds further light on what a sick, depraved individual he is. Blair’s statement reads: “The fact is that this was always a very difficult situation where any government would have to balance proper concern for civil liberties with desire to protect our security, and we were likely to be attacked whatever course we took. The reason it did take a long time for their release was precisely the anxiety over their true affiliations”. The fact that any journalist could print these words without collapsing into ridicule is mind-bending; the idea that Tony Blair was at all concerned about the “security” of the British public, and that this was the reason for his reluctance to request the release of Brits detained in Guantanamo, is a pathetic joke. This was the man who invaded Iraq despite his own domestic intelligence agency, MI5, predicting that such an act would greatly increase the risk of a domestic terror attack. Why would Blair be so unconcerned about the security of the British public that he was willing to attack and destroy Iraq, knowing that it would generate terrorism, but then suddenly develop a concern for public safety when it came to releasing Guantanamo detainees? The reason for his government’s complacency over, and complicity in, America’s torture program is that he was trying to please his masters in Washington so their praise could carry on feeding his ego, being the craven, power-hungry freak he is.
Moreover, Blair’s statement actually reveals his active complicity in the horrors unfolding at Guantanamo: “The reason it did take a long time for their release was precisely the anxiety over their true affiliations”. So despite knowing that these men were being illegally held in a torture camp, Blair deliberately delayed requesting their release because of “anxiety over their true affiliations”. Obviously, there was no “anxiety over their true affiliations”; Blair couldn’t care less if they were linked to al-Qaeda, being more than happy to turn Iraq into a sectarian wasteland filled with head-chopping extremists and to greatly increase the domestic terror threat. But even if he was, his statement is a frank admission that his government wasn’t at all willing to have these men released, revealing just how little he cared about human rights and freedom (despite pretending that he was on a divine mission to bring both of those things to Iraqis).
Blair remains a parasite in British political life, apparently not having yet completed his self-appointed task of sucking all the joy and happiness from the world. His intervention in the Brexit debate was equally facile and unwarranted, and his remarks were spectacularly hypocritical; daring to claim that voters in the EU referendum were misinformed about what they were voting for when his own government carried out one of the most intense misinformation campaigns in British political history, and suddenly pretending to care about the “will of the people” when he certainly didn’t care about it in 2003. His intervention was just another ill-disguised attempt to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever be dragged before the Hague in chains, but the sooner he disappears from public life, the better.