Tony Blair doesn’t want you to read about a trial over the leaking of a secret document that you can’t read, detailing a conversation the government denies ever took place.
On 25 April David Keogh, a former communications officer at the cabinet office, is set to face two charges under section three of the Officials Secrets Act. He stands accused of making a “damaging disclosure of a document” without lawful authority. Leo O’Connor, who worked for former Labour MP Tony Clarke, is charged with receiving the document. They each face a maximum jail sentence of two years.
The trial follows the reporting last year by the Daily Mirror of a memo of a meeting between Blair and George Bush, said to have taken place in April 2004. The Mirror claimed that Bush proposed the bombing of the Arab news network Al Jazeera.
In court on 24 January the prosecution said that an application for permission to hold the hearing in private had been sent to the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw.
O’Connor’s lawyer, Neil Clark, says the move to hold the trial in secret has “more to do with saving the face of our friends abroad” than protecting national security.
“Our defence is that disclosure of the memo would not damage the British national interest, so why should any hearing be held in private?” said Neil Clark.
The puppet ruler of occupied Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was in London this week, attending a conference on the “Afghan Compact” – a five year plan to bring the miracle of neo?liberalism to the country.
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, described Afghanistan as a “wonderful success story” and pledged to “marry government assistance with efforts in the private sector”.
The reality is that five years after the US?led invasion, Afghanistan is lurching further into crisis. Attacks on occupation troops across the country have grown, continuing through the Afghan winter.
Tony Blair plans that soon there will be up to 5,700 British troops in Afghanistan, five times the present number.
Many liberal apologists for “humanitarian intervention” by Western armed forces like to paint Afghanistan as a benign version of the imperialism that has blighted Iraq.
But US troops are already proportionately more likely to be killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq, and the war is likely to intensify as winter ends. Tragically, 100 British soldiers have died in Iraq. We can expect more deaths in Afghanistan unless all the troops are brought home now.
The NHS betrayed
When they were young, Labour members of the Scottish parliament must have thrilled to stories about the fight to establish the NHS.
Did such thoughts cross their minds last week when Labour MSPs joined Tories and Lib Dems to vote down a proposal to abolish prescription charges? Just one Labour MSP backed the motion, proposed by the Scottish Socialist Party.
The SSP’s Colin Fox was right to say, “The Labour Party of Aneurin Bevan has now been destroyed by careerists and charlatans.”