Friday, 22 October 2010

Silence by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee - the silence of conspiracy or the silence of serious consideration?

On 4th October 2010 I wrote to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, sending the committtee a written submission in connection with the committee's inquiry, "The UK's Foreign Policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan."

The written submission focussed on concerns that UK military action in Afghanistan was (and is) "terrorism" as defined in Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

The written submission was acknowledged and given the reference number AFPAK12.

At the time of composing this post I have not been invited by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to give oral evidence.

Broadly, two possibilities occur to me: that the silence indicates that the Foreign Affairs Select Committee are seeking quietly to "lose" the submission or that they are taking steps, initially privately, to seek to determine whether my written submission has merit.

Unfortunately, I sense that the former interpretation is more likely to accord with the political instincts of members of the UK Parliament.

Accordingly, earlier today I sent the following email to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee:

Mr Ottaway and Sir Menzies,

I am writing to inquire whether I will be called to give oral evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in connection with my written submission, AFPAK12.

You are each aware that I believe that the UK Armed Forces are committing serious terrorist offences contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000 on an ongoing basis in Afghanistan.

I notice that others have been invited to give oral evidence but hitherto I have not. Given the seriousness of the concerns that I express in my submission to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (AFPAK12) I consider that thorough and prompt public examination of these issues is imperative.

To fail to do so would, in my view, be a breach of duty on the part of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

My submission, AFPAK12, is focussed tightly on the first of the expressed Terms of Reference of the Inquiry: "How appropriate and effective is the UK’s current foreign policy approach towards both Afghanistan and Pakistan?"

If, as I believe, the UK policy in Afghanistan has involved and continues to involve criminal offences by UK politicians, civil servants and military personnel then the UK foreign policy in Afghanistan has to be grossly inappropriate, not least because it is unlawful in its implementation and effects.

If there is a possibility that the policy, in its implementation, has caused (and will continue to cause) multiple criminal offences contrary to UK Law to be committed it seems to me that the Foreign Affairs Select Committee has a duty publicly and urgently to explore the issue.

To fail publicly to investigate such a question seems to me to be a gross dereliction of duty. If my view is correct then that failure may additionally constitute misconduct in public office, criminal conspiracy and contempt of Parliament by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee collectively and individually.

Of course, I recognise the possibility that a thorough public examination of the issues could, in theory, demonstrate that I am wrong. That is not a possibility that I fear. It seems to me more likely that the Foreign Affairs Committee may be concerned that the opposite is true - that I am right and that the UK has prosecuted an unlawful military "terrorist" adventure in Afghanistan since 2001.

The scandal of unlawful terrrorism by the United Kingdom in Afghanistan and in Iraq is of such enormity that it dwarfs the Watergate Scandal of the last century.

Accordingly, the political imperatives leading the Foreign Affairs Committee towards covering up the uncomfortable question I ask include the following:

1. The so-called "War on Terrorism" is being, and always has been, fought on false pretences since the UK has itself been carrying out "acts of terrorism" as defined in its own Law (specifically the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrrorism) Act 1993) in Afghanistan since 2001 (and in Iraq since no later than July 2000).

2. Some £20 billion of public money has been spent for the purposes of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The UK taxpayer has, to the best of my knowledge, at no stage been informed that tax monies are being used for the purposes of terrorism ( such funding being contrary to Sections 15 to 18 of the Terrorism Act 2000).

3. Former prime ministers (Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) and the current prime minister (David Cameron) have committed offences contrary to Section 56 of the Terrorism Act 2000 meriting, on conviction, a punishment of imprisonment for life. Such offences have been committed with respect to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, repectively.

However, there are also political imperatives which may cause the Foreign Affairs Committee to move from the preceding instinctive tendency to "see no evil":

1. The current Spending Review seeks to identify savings that can be made. Simply ceasing unlawful military action in Afghanistan will save some £5 billion per annum. In that setting can the Foreign Affairs Select Committee remain silent and have any credibility?

2. MPs who premeditatedly allow money to continue to be spent unlawfully are, in effect, allowing hospitals and schools, perhaps in their own constituencies, to close and tens of thousands of public servants unnecessarily to lose their jobs. Such MPs would be in a hugely (and potentially fatally) embarassing career position as a credible politician.

3. If the Foreign Affairs Committee fails properly to investigate this matter then the blood of each British soldier who dies in Afghanistan, after the date of my AFPAK12 submission, effectively lies on the hands of the members of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

4. If the Foreign Affairs Committee fails properly to investigate this matter then the pain of injured soldiers and families of the dead who later discover that they gave their lives or limbs as "terrorists" (in the meaning of Section 40 of the Terrorism Act 2000) lies on the conscience of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and its individual members.

I have written the preceding parts of this email as if the Foreign Affairs Select Committee's silence regarding my submission reflects a failure to fulfil its duty.

I am open to being convinced that the current lack of visible activity by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on this important matter reflects the committee taking time to seek legal advice and to take other appropriate and necessary steps in order to comply with the Foreign Affairs Committee's duties to Parliament and the United Kingdom public.

It seems to me that a properly conducted investigation by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee would, at a minimum, address the following questions:

1. Is UK military action in Afghanistan "terrorism" as defined in Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000? If the answer is, as I believe, "Yes" then the following questions also need to be addressed.

2. Are UK military personnel fighting in Afghanistan "terrorists" as defined in Section 40 of the Terrorism Act 2000? If, as I believe, the answer is "Yes" then don't British soldiers have a basic human right to be informed that they are fighting, losing limbs and dying as "terrorists"?

3. Does current UK military action in Afghanistan involve the commission of offences by UK politicians, for example Section 56 offences by the prime minister, David Cameron, and individual members of the National Security Council who "direct" operations in Afghanistan?

4. Have senior Ministry of Defence personnel (specifically Sir Bill Jeffrey, Sir Graham Stirrup and General Sir Peter Wall) acted in contempt of Parliament by concealing from Parliament evidence that military action in Afghanistan may be "terrorism" contained in the Addendum to AFPAK12 (in addition to individual Section 56 offences by the three named individuals)?

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has a choice before it. It can choose to behave with integrity and investigate the prima facie evidence in my submission AFPAK12 that the UK military are committing terrorist offences in Afghanistan. Or it can choose to cover the matter up and behave, collectively and individually, as eleven monkeys who choose to "see no evil".

The US Senate had the courage and integrity at the time of Watergate publicly to investigate the criminal actions of a United States President. I await with interest to observe whether the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament will similarly publicly demonstrate integrity in investigating the criminal activities of the current UK prime minister David Cameron and his two immediate predecessors, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

Andrew Watt

P.S. This email is copied individually to the other nine Foreign Affairs Select Committee members and to the consituency and Westminster offices of my MP, Malcolm Bruce, with whom I separately raised my concerns on this matter (copying those concerns to Sir Menzies Campbell). I am also copying this email to Gordon Brown, following my "cease and desist" letter to him in February this year (A copy of that letter is available to the Committee on request).

The text of this letter and the identity of the visible recipients will be placed today on my "Westminster's Cheating Us" blog.

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