Jun 2007

Lord Goldsmith: The biggest balls in Britain?

Usually when those in power do something contemptible, my reaction is to feel contempt. I suspect I’m like most people in that regard. I’m the first to admit that it’s not a particularly nice emotion to be feeling. All the same, so long as the Irish government turns a blind eye to extraordinary rendition or Dubya Bush announces that his plan for Iraq is to (via PDF) ‘make it more like Israel’ (that’s like “bring it on” times a thousand, right? It can only be a deliberate attempt to piss off the insurgents) then it’s not like we’ve got much of a choice about how to feel.

That said, occasionally you’ll hear or read something so incredibly contemptible, so off-the-scale ludicrous, that you’re forced to just step back and admire the blatant arrogance and cheek of it. And like Bill Hicks discussing the police officers who — under oath — insisted they used the minimum force required to restrain Rodney King, today I am forced to wonder at the sheer size of Lord Goldsmith’s balls.

Seriously. They must be bloody massive.

Lord Goldsmith, for those who don’t know (or have already repressed the memory) was Tony Blair’s Attorney General. He was the chief legal advisor to the UK government for the best part of six years; appointed in 2001 and serving for the entire duration of the Iraq War to date. He’s just been replaced in Gordon Brown’s cabinet reshuffle by Baroness Scotland about whom I know sod-all except that — as with Goldsmith — her willingness to use an aristocratic title makes her an anachronism more suited to a museum than a government office.

Now, there’s no doubt in my mind that Lord Goldsmith’s role during the past few years has essentially been to try and convince anyone who’ll listen that New Labour’s participation in the outright destruction of a sovereign nation — I’m talking about Iraq here, not the UK — and murder of between 2 and 3 percent of the population, is completely legal and above-board. Whenever Tony Blair did something that should rightly land him in a cell in The Hague, Lord Goldsmith popped up and said it was completely legal and above-board. There’s a P.R. agent in the novel I’m writing. His name is Henry Stone and it’s his job to spin the actions of a rich psychopath so that they appear completely legal and above-board. He’s a bit part, not a significant character, but the consequences of his actions have serious ramifications and permit said psychopath to continue his nastiness. In the language of psychology we would describe Henry Stone as “an enabler”.

Anyways, Lord Goldsmith is no longer in a position to enable New Labour to run amok (though I suspect Baroness Scotland has been chosen for her ability to do the same). So, on the day he left office, he clearly decided it was time to let us all know what a massive pair of balls he’s got on him. He called…

for an investigation into how illegal torture techniques came to be used by British soldiers in Iraq. He said it was a matter of grave concern that techniques such as sleep deprivation, hooding and stress positions were deployed against suspects held by UK forces.

Hang on a second; hasn’t he been in a position to order an inquiry into this for the past few years? He’s been the chief legal advisor to the government since 2001 and he waits until he no longer holds that position before mentioning this concern of his? Seriously, is this a joke? And if not, why hasn’t this man been lynched yet, big balls or no big balls?

Ah, but wait a second. Lord Goldsmith goes on to say:

“These techniques were outlawed on a cross-party basis in 1972. We have to seek why anyone thought these were permissible techniques. I think there needs to be an inquiry…
[But] Lord Goldsmith told the parliamentary committee that he was only aware such interrogation techniques were being used after Baha Musa, an Iraqi hotel receptionist, died in British custody.

Well, fair enough then. I’m hardly going to criticise the guy for not launching an inquiry into something he was unaware was happening. Arguably someone in his position should have been informed about the activity of British troops, but if he wasn’t then he can hardly be blamed for failing to act on information he didn’t have. So yeah, fair enough.

Except no! Not “fair enough”. Not even a little bit “fair enough”! You see, The Guardian article reminds anyone who didn’t know that:

Mr Musa, 26, had been detained under suspicion of being an insurgent. He died in Basra in September 2003. Seven members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, which is now the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, faced the most expensive court martial in British history, but all were eventually acquitted. One soldier, Corporal Donald Payne, 35, became the first British serviceman to admit a war crime, that of treating Iraqi prisoners inhumanely, and was jailed for a year.

September 2003? That’s almost four years ago. Lord Goldsmith’s mitigation for not calling for an inquiry sooner is that he only found out about the situation four years ago.

As I say… what balls!

Posted in: Opinion