MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Nobody's hero, but who's next after Binyam?By Mail On Sunday Comment
Last updated at 10:19 PM on 07th March 2009
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Mistreated: Binyam Mohamed
Binyam Mohamed is nobody's hero. He has been a sponger and a drifter. Left to fend for himself by a negligent father, he fell rapidly into bad company, began taking illegal drugs and lived off our welfare state.
According to his own rather foggy account, it was an attempt to go straight that led him, via the mosque, to Afghanistan and the series of adventures that ended with his arrest.
Whatever the truth about his futile and harebrained journey, it is hard to see this vague and disorganised young man, with his clumsily faked passport, as a threat to anyone except himself.
But after September 11, 2001, he was perfectly cast for the role that American and British intelligencemen had in store for him.
They needed villains to punish and, if necessary, parade. He fitted the bill and for seven years they sought in vain to force him to confess to being the monster they needed him to be.
His allegations of medieval torture are worryingly credible. Worse, there is persuasive evidence that British intelligence knew about this barbarity and hoped to profit from it, while ensuring that the dirty work was done by others.
Many will suspect he is holding back important facts. But even if this is so, nothing serious has ever been proved against him. And it is clear that our Government was complicit in treatment that no civilised nation could countenance.
Hard questions must also be asked about the methods that the US and Britain have used to combat militant Islam.
Have they been effective, or have they made the problem worse? And perhaps most worrying of all, have we, in the name of the 'War on Terror', crossed a dangerous moral boundary?
If the mistreatment of Binyam Mohamed could be justified in the name of necessity, then could our increasingly arbitrary State one day excuse similar treatment of British citizens on the same basis?
Reasonable doubts about Mr Mohamed should not blind us to the danger we all face if the State gets out of control.
The Daily Mail, a conservative newspaper in the UK, has issued its strongest condemnation yet of practices used by the UK government in prosecuting (and they, like me, quite rightly put it in inverted commas) the 'War on Terror'.
Anyone who defends torture should be ashamed of themselves.
And anyone that would engage in Jesuitical hairsplitting to defend these practices, should be ashamed of themselves.
There are simply no excuses left.