More indications of our very much junior role in the War on Terror, this time from The Observer; apparently
American intelligence agents told their British counterparts they were ready to ‘render’ Rashid Rauf, a British citizen allegedly linked to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and who was under surveillance in Pakistan, unless he was picked up immediately. Rauf is the key suspect in the alleged plot to detonate explosives on up to 10 transatlantic planes that was exposed in August and, according to the police, would have brought ‘mass murder on an unimaginable scale’.
The Americans’ demand for Rauf’s quick arrest dismayed the British intelligence services, which were worried that it could prompt terrorist cells in the UK working on separate plots to bring forward their plans or go underground. In the weeks preceding his arrest it is understood that MI5 and MI6 discussed with their US counterparts the best way to dismantle the alleged plot. Britain wanted more time to monitor Rauf, but the US was adamant that Rauf should be arrested immediately.
I always worry somewhat about this sort of report; intelligence officers don’t — at least I hope they don’t — talk to the newspapers without good reason, and there may be an element of lining up someone in America to blame in the eventuality that the prosecutions go the way of the ricin plot or the red mercury fiasco and people start asking about whether the cost and disruption of the airport terror alert was justified.
It seems, though, a similar story to that apparently told in Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial, which, despite his sympathetic treatment of the Bush administration in previous books,
lifts the lid on an administration in crisis, claiming that Bush and his top officials have deliberately covered up the seriousness of the violence in the war-torn country [of Iraq]
This cover-up apparently extended to keeping Tony Blair in the dark (not difficult, perhaps). According to the Observer, it
is also understood to say Tony Blair was angry at discovering that Washington was keeping key intelligence on Iraq from Britain – even classifying reports based partly on contributions from British operatives as off-limits. In some cases, British personnel flying US planes in Iraq were denied access to pilots’ manuals, the book reportedly alleges. Downing Street denied to comment last night.
Not really the way to treat your closest ally, I’d have thought. People complain about the way we get treated by Brussels, but I think they ought to take a look at the way our supposed bestest friend behaves at times.
Technorati tag: USA, UK, war on terror, Iraq, airline terror plot, intelligence services, Bob Woodward