Wednesday, August 12, 2009

PACT - August 13, 2009

There is a notorious cause developing in UK. A young man with mental problems has been demanded for extradition by the US government and is to be handed over to those authorities for trial in the US. The charge is that he hacked into the Pentagon information system and was a threat to US security. Whether that allegation is true is not the issue in this case. The UK court in which the extradition was challenged claims that they have no discretion in this case and must surrender the person named. The newspaper stories about this do not go into the truth of the allegation, or into the provisions of the extradition arrangements between US and UK, but they were much in issue at the time the treaty was signed. It appears that the agreement between the two governments is not symmetric. If UK wants someone extradited from US, they must show that they have a prima facia case against him, as is the traditional practice in other treaties. But if US wants someone out of UK, all they must show is that the person is the one named. This is a notorious inequality between supposed allies and equals. It reeks of the domination between an imperial power and a colony. For that to be the relationship between the nations was excoriated in the press when the treaty was signed. UK, like a proper subservient, whimpered about the insult, but now the high court says only that the US has never refused to honor such a bare demand from UK, but I know of no case in which UK has tested whether they would. UK maintains a large army and navy for a poor country of 60m people and does a lot of fighting at US command, but does not maintain the dignity they pretend to on other occasions. Such is the role of subservient powers and New Labour has been one.

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