Ever since this inquiry was promised in July 2010, one excuse after another has been volunteered for its failure even to begin calling in witnesses. Wait till all the related police investigations have been completed, ran the standard argument, then we can get properly started.
The police went through the motions of investigating MI5’s interrogation of Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan, reportedly conducted after CIA briefings had made clear the ill treatment to which he was being subjected. This investigation ended with an out-of-court settlement and no charges.
Predictably, the police inquiry into allegations over MI6’s interrogation of suspects under duress at Bagram air base in Afghanistan once again terminated with no charges, the CIA having refused to cooperate with the investigation.
But if it seemed that the planned Gibson whitewash factory was now ready to commence production, this reckoned without the unanticipated side effects of imperialist support for the counter-revolutionary insurgency in Libya.
Abdelhakim Belhadj was a darling of the West when he fought with the mujahideen against Afghanistan’s progressive government and later tried to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi, but he fell from favour post-9/11 as his Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was linked to al Qaeda. It is during this period that British intelligence, doubtless for its own reasons, is supposed to have assisted Libya in getting him behind bars.
Since his release, however, he has played a key role in the Libyan counter-revolution, and now parades about as the head of Tripoli Military Council, fully restored – for the time being at least – to the West’s good graces.
As imperialism has no permanent friends, only permanent interests, it should astonish nobody to see the dizzying speed with which heroes become demons and vice versa in western eyes. But such propaganda zigzags do not come cost-free for imperialism, as Whitehall is now discovering.
Now that no less than the head of Tripoli Military Council in ‘liberated’ Libya is suing Britain for its role in his previous incarceration and interrogation, and refusing to collaborate with the joke Gibson inquiry, it will not be so easy to conclude matters with an out-of-court settlement and a muttered “insufficient evidence to press charges”.
Of course, Belhadj was not the only fundamentalist whom the British were happy to see dealt with by Colonel Gaddafi’s government in Libyan jails. And the British government is very much hoist by its own propaganda petard, because, in demonising Gaddafi for the purpose of ‘justifying’ its own participation in the outrageous imperialist war of aggression against Libya, it put out all kinds of allegations of torture being committed by Libya’s government in the jails to which it had happily not so long ago been shunting British imperialism’s fundamentalist opponents.
We can expect as a result a flood of these fundamentalists, using British imperialism’s own propaganda against it, to be claiming compensation from the British government. Who knows, some of that compensation may end up being used in the fullness of time to finance armed struggle against the imperialists who assisted the fundamentalists in their own obscurantism-inspired battles against progressive Arab regimes.
In short, it is starting to look as if all the whitewash in the world will not be enough to cover the stench of imperialist degeneracy.