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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 16:33 GMT
Political fall-out from rendition
By Gary O'Donoghue
Political correspondent, BBC News

It is never good for governments when they have to admit they have misled the public.

David Miliband

And it is not much better even when they can say they really didn't know.

So David Miliband had little choice but to eat great chunks of humble pie in the Commons and, in effect, throw himself on the mercy of the House.

Fortunately for him, most of his opponents believe him when he says the first the Foreign Office knew of the two extraordinary rendition flights, was last Friday, when Washington told him.

But that does not exactly paint a picture of a relationship of equals.

Washington has known for years that rendition was a live political issue in Britain - the Foreign Office relied on the US assurances to be so categorical on the subject.

What is more, Washington has been fully aware that the UK has been unhappy about the existence of Guantanamo Bay from the start, with Tony Blair describing it as "an anomaly that must end".

So the fact that one of these individuals was on his way to Camp Delta (and is still there) when the plane stopped for refuelling in the UK dependent territory of Diego Garcia, only serves to rub salt in the wound.

'Black sites'

So much for the fabled "special relationship" say the cynics.

The obvious question now is whether there are any more the Bush administration have not told the UK government about.

Mr Miliband told the Commons that "US records showed no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other UK territory".

As if in recognition of the likely reaction to using US records as part of his case, the foreign secretary said he would be asking his officials to draw up a list of all flights about which concerns had been expressed.

They will be praying inside the Foreign Office that that process does not throw up any instances of transfers to the so-called "black sites" - CIA interrogation centres in eastern Europe and elsewhere in which some practices Britain would regard as torture allegedly took place.

That would open the way to all sorts of legal and political problems in the future.

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21 Feb 08 |  UK Politics
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14 Feb 08 |  Americas
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25 Jul 07 |  UK Politics
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07 Jun 07 |  Americas
First CIA rendition trial opens
08 Jun 07 |  Europe
Europe under 'rendition' cloud
08 Jun 06 |  Europe

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