New Labour's sins in the war on terror are catching up with it, but ministers want to shift blame on to the Muslim community
By Seumas Milne
I never imagined I would say this, but Stella Rimington is right. The former head of MI5 who made her career running the security service's dirtiest operations in the 1980s, against the miners' union and the IRA, has warned that the government has given terrorists the chance to find "greater justification" by making people feel they "live in fear and under a police state". Naturally, ministers described her remarks as nonsense and accused her of playing "into the hands of our enemies".
But the damage is done. To have the woman once hailed as Britain's Queen of Spies accusing the government of recklessly counter-productive authoritarianism carries a special weight - and incidentally turns the traditional relationship between Labour and the secret state on its head. Rimington went further, denouncing the US for Guantánamo and torture, but reverted to type by insisting MI5 "doesn't do that".
No, as we now know, it contracts out that job to others, while its officers stand by promising to arrange "more lenient treatment" if the victim co-operates. In case after case, British collaboration in the hidden crimes of the war on terror has now been laid bare. But none more so than in the seven-year ordeal of Binyam Mohamed, the last British resident in Guantánamo, the details of whose CIA kidnapping and US-orchestrated torture across four countries the foreign secretary, David Miliband, has twisted and turned to prevent being made public.