Monday 28 September 2009

Miliband condemns 'dangerous shorthand' of 'torture' accusations

David Miliband offered a sharp attack on the nature of British media and public discussion in accusing the British government of being 'complicit in torture' arguing that this was a 'dangerous shorthand' and a misleading account, not based on the facts, which could lead to "a half truth gets three-quarters of the way around the world before the truth can get its boots on".

Steve Richards of The Independent put a question to the Foreign Secretary, speaking at the Fabian/FEPS fringe event on foreign policy. Richards suggested that politics is always about compromise, especially foreign policy. But maintaining the special relationship with America has depended on an extraordinary level of compromise. "Do you find that difficult - the role of realpolitik in foreign policy?"

Miliband replied:

"What I find difficult is that words like special relationship, words like torture and words like complicity are thrown around in the same sentence.

That is a dangerous shorthand to start using.

Explaining detail can be complicated. But I think it is important to say clearly to a public audience that we have our own laws and our own values - and that when we need to say to the US that they can't do that in our system, we do that".

David Miliband said that he would recommend that people read what the select committee report on intelligence had said about the issue, to understand the detail.

Foreign policy does involve matters of life and death. It is in some ways different for that reason. But because it involves the biggest issues that anyone can face, it is really important that a half truth doesn't get three-quarters of the way around the world before the truth can get its boots on.

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