The Obama administration, under some pressure from its antiwar base, has begun to release carefully selected evidence concerning the widespread use of torture in the 'War on Terror'. In a set of devastating essays, Gareth Peirce argues that there needs to be a similar accounting of the British government's activities. Exploring the few cases that have come to light, such as those of Guantanamo detainees Shafiq Rasul and Binyam Mohamed, Peirce argues that they are evidence of a deeply entrenched culture of impunity toward the new suspect community in the UK - British Muslim nationals and residents. Peirce shows how the British New Labour government has colluded in a whole range of extrajudicial activities - rendition, internment without trial, torture - and has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal its actions: its devices for maintaining secrecy are probably more deep-rooted than those of any other comparable democracy. If the British government continues along this path, it will destroy much of the moral and legal fabric it claims to be protecting.
The radical solicitor Gareth Peirce represents individuals who are or have been the subject of rendition and torture, held in prisons in the UK on the basis of secret evidence, and interned in secret prisons abroad under regimes that continue to practice torture. Her many clients have included the Birmingham Six, Judith Ward, the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, and Moazzam Begg. She lives in London.