Britain was left scrambling to assert the vestiges of its colonial authority yesterday after Bermuda welcomed in four former Guantánamo detainees under a secret deal with the United States.So, all that arse-kissing at
British officials knew nothing of the arrangement until the men, all ethnic Uighurs from western China, were already airborne en route from Guantánamo to the British island territory, better known as a haven for tourists and tax exiles than former terrorist suspects.
In fact, it's not just The Messiah who's casually dissing Brown, it's the Bermudan authorities themselves:
Bermuda has control over internal affairs, including immigration, but not over foreign affairs, defence or security matters, under which, London made clear, the case of the Uighurs falls. In a statement shortly after their arrival in Bermuda, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office chided authorities there for failing to consult London on their decision to admit the men and insisted that security assessments must be carried out before their future was decided. “This was a decision of the Bermuda Government,” the FCO said.Too late now. Possession is 9/10 of the law...
“We have underlined to the Bermuda Government that it should have consulted the UK on whether this falls within their competence or is a foreign affairs or security issue for which the Bermuda Government do not have delegated responsibility.”
And it seems this wasn't just an oversight either, or another error for the struggling Obama administration, but a calculated act:
It emerged last night that senior US officials accompanied the four Uighurs on their flight to Bermuda, underlining the mission’s importance to the Obama Administration. Officials said that Greg Craig, a White House counsel, and Daniel Fried, special envoy overseeing the closure of Guantánamo jail, were on board.Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Don't, however, expect to see the left making anything of this. Or even mentioning it at all...
Sabin Willet, a lawyer accompanying the men, hailed Bermuda for its “act of grace”. He said: “Nations need good friends. When political opportunists blocked justice in our own country, Bermuda has reminded her old friend America what justice is.”
Those words will smart in London, where questions are already being asked why the US felt free to consult Bermuda but not Britain on the deal. Comparisons have been raised with the Bush Administration’s covert use of another British territory, Diego Garcia, for the extraordinary rendition of terror suspects without British knowledge — leading to an embarrassing climbdown in Parliament for the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.
This would be yet another piece of ammunition for Call-Me-Dave or Brown's many rivals, if they could only discover their backbone. But I won't hold my breath...