Let's say that Rashid Rauf was guilty of everything he wasn't found guilty of. Let's say he did plot to blow up planes over the Atlantic, even though there wasn't enough evidence against him to charge him with this, and even though none of those people who actually were found guilty of terrorism charges were not found guilty of plotting to blow up planes over the Atlantic.
Let's imagine all that is true. Even if it is all true, he's still been murdered. He's been killed by the latest in a series of rocket attacks by US forces based in Afghanistan, where missiles have crossed the border into Pakistan, murdering citizens of a sovereign nation. Sometimes the victims have been Bad Men. Sometimes they have been Insurgents. Sometimes they have been Terrorists. Other times they have been innocent victims blown to pieces by some of the most advanced military hardware in the world. One thing's for sure: we'll never really know whether the dead men were Bad Men, or Insurgents, or Terrorists, because now they're dead. There will never be a trial to determine their guilt. Their guilt was decided from afar, not by a jury of their peers but by military forces; and justice was exacted in the form of their bodies being ripped apart.
We'll never know if Rashid Rauf was guilty. All we know is he was never charged, let alone convicted, with terrorist offences in this country, and even those people who were charged and convicted were not convicted on charges of blowing up planes. Sure, there was an outcry over the jury doing its duty correctly, and deciding that it could not convict the men beyond reasonable doubt, but in this country it's unfortunately the case that that's how cases are decided, not by snotty off-the-record briefings by the security services. And that's important to remember when you read this on the BBC website:
A fugitive British militant linked to an alleged UK plot to use liquid bombs to blow up transatlantic airliners has been killed in Pakistan, reports say.
Let's unravel that a little shall we.
Fugitive - from Pakistani authorities, who arrested him because they were told to by US forces, acting on intelligence based on suspicions over other terror suspects, for which there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute him.
Militant - what's he been convicted of to make him a militant? Nothing is mentioned in the story. Maybe he was a self-confessed militant, in which case fair enough, but was he or not? Where's the evidence? How have we decided he was a militant? How did we reach this conclusion?
Linked - linked, because he was never charged or convicted of anything. In my book that isn't linked. If that is linked, then you or I are also linked to that trial, seeing as we weren't charged or convicted either. Arrested does not mean guilty. Suspected does not mean guilty. Don't bother with the "9-11 changed everything" nonsense. No. Either citizens have the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty or they don't. Which country do we want to live in, the one that presumes innocence or the one that presumes guilt?
To an alleged UK plot to blow up transatlantic airliners - Because, as I can't stress enough, no-one was convicted of any plot to blow up airliners. Men were convicted of planning to cause explosions, but not on planes. Sure, you or I (or the whispering source who's been briefing journalists on this story) might think that surely they did mean to blow up planes. But that's not enough to convict someone in this country, in the absence of compelling and irrefutable evidence, much as there were howls of protest at the lack of a 'correct' verdict and much as the jury were happily smeared by the press, who wilfully ignored completely understandable reasons, which they knew about, why jurors were not present on certain days.
I think this is the worst thing I've read on the BBC's website in ages. It's utterly appalling and a disgrace to journalism. The official sources are always happily parroted and never questioned; if a British man of any other background or colour had been murdered by military forces, and those forces hadn't been American, would the story be all about how he kind of deserved it? I rather think not.
Pakistani media said Rashid Rauf, born in Birmingham, was killed in a US air strike in North Waziristan, a haven for militants and the Taleban.
Oh well then, he must have done it. Apparently everyone who's there deserves to die. So that makes it OK, does it, to kill a man who's not been found guilty of any crime, just because you suspect he's up to no good? Is that what our country and our allies support nowadays, even in the brave new world of Barack Obama?
Here comes lying by omission and downright lying:
Mr Rauf, on the run after escaping from a Pakistani jail, was alleged to have helped the group planning the attacks.
Three men were convicted in the UK in September of conspiracy to murder.
News of the liquid bomb plot paralysed global air travel, prompting authorities to implement stringent security measures at airports around the world.
No mention in the BBC report that no-one was convicted of a plot to blow up airliners. Then 'news of the liquid bomb plot', as if it's an irrefutable fact, turns up in the next sentence. It's not. That's a lie. You can't say there was a plot when no-one was convicted of it. What conclusion is the reader invited to draw? For all I know this could be lazy ctrl+C and ctrl+V journalism rather than downright lies, but it's still an absolute shambles.
And yes, it is important to be accurate. Yes, men were convicted of wanting to murder, but it does matter that they weren't convicted of blowing up airliners. That's a separate offence for one thing. No, they can't sue, but that's not enough reason to say something that's not provably true. Did it happen or not? Not what your trusted source said, but what actually happened? Can you be sure? Was a jury sure after listening to days of evidence? What gives this journalist the right to decide they know better? I mean, I don't know, but without wanting to sound like Rumsfeld, I know that I don't know.
Terrorism charges against the Briton were eventually dropped but he remained under detention in Pakistan as a "preventative measure".
Yes, the charges were dropped. And then he was detained without charge in Pakistan. That doesn't mean he's done anything - detention without trial is an affront to justice and the right to a fair trial, which is something I think we used to give a shit about in Britain.
Unnamed Pakistani intelligence sources said that a wanted Egyptian militant, Abu Zubair al-Masri, was among the others killed.
Any evidence against him either...? Or doesn't it matter? If you're a 'militant' as defined by a third party, do you simply not have the same human rights as other people? Is that what we've arrived at?
Here comes a sliver of what the BBC call 'balance':
On Thursday the government summoned the US ambassador in Islamabad to protest one day after an attack deep inside Pakistani territory killed five people - including at least one alleged militant.
So perhaps five innocent deaths. Five people killed without trial, perhaps four totally innocent of any activity, even the 'militant' streak which means you're allowed to be murdered and for it not to be a crime.
Pakistan says the constant missile strikes infringe its sovereignty. The BBC's Barbara Plett, in Islamabad, says the attacks spark widespread anger in Pakistan - especially among tribal figures.
Yes, 'Pakistan says' that murdering people in its country is a bad thing, but we can only report that as what someone's said as we can't editorialise. Though of course if it's the intelligence services saying a man not convicted of anything deserved to die, or that a plot that hasn't been proven really did exist, then we can report that as fact. See how this works?
In that context, Saturday's attack will be reported in Pakistan as another violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and not for the possible killing of Rashid Rauf, our correspondent says.
Well, like er, yes. I imagine so. I don't know what the Pakistani news media are like, but perhaps they don't just endlessly parrot everything the security services say to them without stopping to think whether it might be true or not.
I'm not saying Rashid Rauf was innocent. I'm just saying we can't say he was guilty, because there appears to have been no evidence whatsoever. And even if some poor soul in Guantanamo or Pakistan or wherever did reveal his name after days of torture, that still doesn't mean that confession was true. If that were the case, and that's why the intelligence services have been briefing journalists off the record, then that needs to be explained, not left out. And even then, he still was never convicted of anything - suspicion is not the same as guilt. I'm just asking what he's been convicted of, and what makes him a militant, given that the BBC have no evidence. I'm asking why it's OK to kill people if you suspect them of something, and that's something that's never regarded as a crime, and can only be described in terms of what the victims might think about it.
A shockingly bad piece of BBC journalism. Will there be 42,000 complaints about it, as there were about two fools phoning up an elderly actor? No. Probably not a single one. Upset a celebrity and you get crucified; tell lies in the 'war on terror' and no-one gives a shit. Add to that the fact that the BBC's biggest tormentors will be spinning the same lies about Rashid Rauf, based on their own agenda, and you can see why the corporation will get away with it.
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