There are those who convinced themselves that New Labour’s close relationship with the most reactionary White House in history was restricted to Tony Blair and that once he was gone, normal service would be resumed (whatever that might be). Gordon Brown’s flattering comments about president Bush show, however, an unbroken continuity. The style may be different, and the emphasis switched to issues like Darfur and trade, but the essence remains the same. New Labour and the Republican White House see eye to eye on almost everything. Brown, after all, voted for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the replacement of the Trident nuclear fleet. He has approved the use of the early-warning station at Menwith Hills near Harrogate as part of America’s plan to build a missile defence shield in Europe. And, above all, Brown is totally behind the draconian measures taken in the name of the “war on terrorism”. On his way to the US, Brown, who has more connections in Washington than Blair ever did, said: “We should acknowledge the debt the world owes to the United States for its leadership in this fight against international terrorism."
Was he talking about the regime that built Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo? Or the CIA practice of kidnapping people and sending them off to be tortured by “friendly” governments – otherwise known as extraordinary rendition (which, incidentally, Britain’s MI5 has been closely involved with). Or the raft of illegal wiretapping and surveillance of American citizens which has created a police-state apparatus in the US. Paul Craig Roberts is no radical. He was an assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He now warns: “The American constitutional system is near to being overthrown.” In a recent blast against the White House, he said that the Bush regime is in such dire straits over Iraq, that it could be tempted to create a national crisis through a provocation of its own or allowing a terror strike to take place. He wrote: “Bush has put in place all the necessary measures for dictatorship in the form of ‘executive orders’ that are triggered whenever Bush declares a national emergency. Recent statements by Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, former Republican senator Rick Santorum and others suggest that Americans might expect a series of staged, or false flag, ‘terrorist’ events in the near future.”
Brown, of course, is working on his own plan for a police-state apparatus with his proposals to double detention without charge to 58 days and allow police to question suspects endlessly. He is taking his cue from the unelected and unaccountable group who constitute the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). They came to prominence during the 1984-85 miners’ strike. ACPO set up a centralised command and turned Britain into a series of militarised zones which miners were prevented from entering. Even a cross-party committee of MPs and peers has seen through the government’s plans. A report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today concludes that there is not enough evidence to justify extending the detention time. The JCHR's report concluded that the law should not be altered because of "precautionary arguments that such a need may arise at some time in the future.” Chairman, Andrew Dismore, said: "As far as we've heard there has not yet been a case where 28 days was inadequate. This is being proposed on the possibility that it might be in future." But New Labour doesn’t give a fig for MPs’ concerns. As a Home Office spokesman countered: "The police believe it is right and proper for the government to address this issue.” So there you have it. The inspector calls and the government jumps.
Paul Feldman, communications editor