Monday, October 17, 2005

BBC Tortures Truth

Radio 2's flagship 'Jeremy Vine Show' rose to the occasion again today: a top-of-the-program segment based entirely on an outrageous sleight of hand. The whole segment was predicated on the idea that the Law Lords were considering whether evidence obtained by torture should be admissible in court. Of course, this is a serious matter, but as such it deserved better than The Jeremy’s trademark agonised moralising.

The Jeremy ran through the whole playbook. There was the contention stated as fact: ‘is there anyone, anywhere who thinks torture is justified ?’, the sneer quote: ‘so-called war on terror’, the absurd hypothetical: ‘what if someone being tortured in Algeria suddenly names you as a terrorist ?‘ and, of course, the vague hints of racial prejudice ‘[should the authorities] torture people who look a bit shifty’ ?

Lest such subtle hints pass you by, we also had interview with a guy who’d sampled Saudi hospitality. The casual listener could have been forgiven for thinking HMG wanted to install thumbscrews in their local Police station. It’s only when you actually look at the case in question that you see the flaw in The Jeremy’s cunning plan. Here’s the opening line:

The Law Lords are deciding whether Britain can use evidence against terror suspects that may have been obtained by torture in other countries.

Ah yes. Note that reference to the fifth month of the year. Even the BBC can’t claim the evidence was obtained by torture. Despite the absurd reference to the Saudis, the evidence in question was obtained from Gitmo. Yep – the very place where you can’t move for lawyers, Red Cross personnel, activist trash and other oxygen thieves. Despite all that, the evidence for torture at Gitmo is positively anorexic – unless you set the bar so low, the average headmaster is guilty if he schedules double maths on a sunny afternoon. That’s the thing the BBC would rather you didn’t know.

What’s at stake here is whether evidence obtained under interrogation should be excluded if there is any possibility that it could have been obtained by torture. I believe the term for this is ‘blank cheque’. There’s not a jurisdiction on the planet so saintly that a lawyer can not cook up some atrocity stories – particularly so in the post-Gitmo era of defining torture down. To put it another way, should evidence obtained by Ruud Van Driver of the Amsterdam Police be ruled inadmissible merely because it could have been obtained by torture ?

The likely public appeal of this idea can be judged by the Left’s continuous babbling about Riyadh torture chambers and the like. When Liberals are angry, but won’t talk about the specifics, that usually means they’re up to no good. Ditto, the Leftist claim that their position is self-evidently moral must be judged against their determination to recast this case a human rights issue, and so in the sphere of the courts, rather than anyone actually accountable to the public.

Like I said at the top, there are serious questions to be asked about the use of torture, but the Left isn’t asking them. This case is an outrageous attempt to hobble counter-terrorism by conjuring up new rights out of thin air, Liberals are lying about it and the BBC’s covering for them. As ever, we find that the BBC is the only broadcaster in history that doesn’t want to report the news.

No comments: