All hail the Daily Mail!

No, I'm not turning into Northern Ireland's answer to the Pub Landlord (anyway, I think that job is already taken by David over at the unintentionally hilarious A Tangled Web).

I'm simply giving credit where it's due to to the editor of the Mail, who has turned over his front page today to call the government to account for its squirming refusal to reveal the nature of the 2003 Cabinet discussions, which led to UK participation in the war on Iraq: 'What do they have to hide?'.

Despite the decision of Jack Straw, the Minister for Justice (am I alone in being struck by the Orwellian ring to that title?) to deny the Freedom of Information request, we already know that much of the Cabinet debate centred on questions about the dubious legality, under international law, of any UK military action.

Of course, we also know that Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, ultimately delivered the sort of legal advice sought by the man who appointed him, long-time friend, the Prime Minister Tony Blair. You may recall that  Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, resigned her position in protest at the advice.

Questions of who knew what and when are not merely of interest to historians. Who – and gave the go-ahead for – what and when are just as relevant a set of questions to ask today in relation to other hitherto-hidden aspects of the no-longer-officially-called 'war on terror'.

Just ask Binyam Mohammed, the UK resident recently released from Guantanamo and finally able, after seven years of detention without trial, to reveal his full horror at the knowledge that agents of the UK government were complicit in his nightmare of 'medieval torture'.

That's why we need more than just compliance with Freedom of Information requests. That's why we need a full, independent inquiry into the UK government's role in complicity with torture, illegal rendition and secret detention.

Or does the Justice Secretary think that exposing these truths (rather than the fact of potential complicity itself) would also compromise the "integrity of our system"?

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