Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph’s executive foreign editor
Con Coughlin, is supposedly a world-renowned expert on the Middle East and Islamic terrorism. He is also a bigot and a racist, and did zero research for his latest article. This so called “Expert on the Middle East,” has certainly not taken the time to research his intended victim. His opinion is so biased in fact, that it makes me wonder about his expertise in general, and question his motives.
Even his title, “Libyan dissident should thank MI6, not demand an apology,” gets him into trouble.
He starts off:
Abdel Hakim Belhadj
First of all, Belhaj has thanked the allies who helped Libya. This includes England, RAF, NATO, and the USA. Whether this apology extended to MI6 is rather doubtful. After all, he has met some of the people from that branch. He has learned from his own experience that some of these people are not very nice. What possible reason would Belhaj have to apologize to those who were complicit in his torture? What possible service could they have rendered to ever deserve an apology or any kind of respect for that matter?
Perhaps Coughlin believes that MI6’s role in this war was to watch over Mr. Belhadj to save his life, or makes his life easier. Perhaps he thinks it was MI6 who single handily saved Libya, and neither NATO nor the freedom fighters had any say in the matter. Exactly what was MI6’s role in the overthrow of Gaddafi? It’s a mystery to me. In spite of there being no substance to his argument, Coughlin appears to believe that an apology is in order, not from MI6, but from Belhaj himself. My prediction is that Coughlin will get the apology he dreams of…, when hell freezes over.
Coughlin goes on to say,
What a bunch of white European, chest thumping garbage. What I find amusing is that “an expert in anything” would feign such false outrage, and pretend to be astonished, that any victim of torture would have the nerve to seek justice. The world must be an unfair and untidy place for Con Coughlin. The world is also not as easily conned as the Con Man thinks.
Con Coughlin labels the charges made by Belhaj as “claims.” I will also point out that Coughlin uses the word “claim,” 5 times in his 6 paragraph article. He uses the words “dubious claims” and also uses parenthesis in, “(as yet unsubstantiated) claims,” to give that phrase an especially sinister meaning. He really, really, really, wants us to believe him here, because the truth about the rendition program is too much for most people to bear.
These charges may be claims in his mind, but they are real and they are based on facts, and the memories of someone who has survived hell, and returned to tell us about it. These “dubious claims” as Coughlin puts it, have been a poorly kept secret for years. I wonder what planet he has been living on lately, not to have heard them. These stories are not going away. Even the article he quotes, Libya: ministers ‘agreed to rendition’, correctly states that such transfers have been common practice.
What Coughlin says are claims, are also documented facts. The CIA does not dispute them. MI6 does not dispute them. Gaddafi might dispute them, but he isn’t saying much these days. From what I hear, only Con Coughlin disputes the validity of these documents. These claims are neither dubious nor unsubstantiated to those who believe them, and there are many of us. I have watched my government carry out these kinds of operations and worse over the years. It doesn’t surprise me in the least when I hear, “They’ve done it again!”
Of course, now we’re learning that Britain was involved in this as well, after they denied it for years. Who would have thunk it? Tony Blair? Copying George W Bush?
Coughlin accuses Belhadj of being more interested in trying to humiliate MI6. As for Mr. Belhadj, I assume he will be interested in… what? Getting the truth out for the world to see, or maybe he will be involved in that pesky pursuit, of seeing that justice is served? MI6 humiliated themselves on their own with this one. Belhadj is the least of their worries.
Even if Mr. Belhaj harbored reasons to do so, the recently discovered documents were not discovered or manufactured by him, nor will he have much of an impact regarding their dissemination. I would imagine however, that Mr. Belhaj has a feeling of vindication about now. After 7 years of torture, and then winning a war against Gaddafi, I suspect that he has experienced a sense of sweet justice as well, and in ways none of us could imagine.
The Belhadj “rendition”
Here is the truth as we now know it, not as Coughlin would have us believe. Recent documents found in Libya, before and after the liberation of Tripoli, teach us a great deal. These “claims,” as we are now finding out, are rapidly becoming truths with irrefutable evidence. Further documents, yet to be discovered, will undoubtedly teach us a great amount more. It is no wonder that western powers are terrified of being caught in a scandal of … hypocrisy. Hypocrisy scandals, in the eyes of the world, are apparently one of the worst crimes imaginable, and one of the hardest to forgive.
What could be worse then the revelations that have already been revealed? The ones that have not been revealed come to mind. We’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg.
What we have learned from some of these “top secret” documents: In 2004 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was tipped off by MI6 as to the whereabouts of Mr. Abdel Hakim Belhadj. Libyan and US agents, acting on this tip, arranged for him to be kidnapped/abducted/arrested, and put on a CIA aircraft, during a scheduled stop in Bangkok. Mr. Belhadj was subsequently arrested, along with his pregnant wife, in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, while on a flight bound for London.
Once arrested, he was transferred on the same plane, to Bangkok, where he was placed into the custody of the CIA. He was undoubtedly comforted by the assurance that his abduction/kidnapping/arrest was legal, under both American and International Law. He was held in a secret prison at the airport, until being handed over to Libya.
In Libya, Belhadj was tortured in Abu Salim prison for seven excruciatingly long years. Just as the Americans and British knew he would be. He was finally released in 2010.
UK sources defend MI6’s role in Mr. Belhadj’s, “rendition” to Libya. Of course this comes as no surprise. One source said Mr. Belhadj was the subject of “rendition to justice”, a legal process allowing the transfer of terrorism suspects to face trial, as opposed to the illegal practice of “extraordinary rendition”.
Wow! They even categorize their “rendition program” into groups, and they now have 2 different versions that we know of. How many more versions are still hidden for later discovery? How many more icebergs are out there? Trying to figure out the differences between just 2 rendition programs would probably take a book in itself, after a lifetime of digging, to get to the truth.
The fact that our government’s complicity has now been proven in this abduction is bad enough. Having some jerk like Con Coughlin, tell our victims to be grateful for their abduction might sound like the ultimate insult, but it isn’t. The ultimate insult is being told that their abduction is perfectly legal. Whether Belhadj’s arrest was legal or illegal, that will come out in the end. The most insulting and disgusting part, that is so blatant here, is that legality didn’t play even a tiny part, in this whole sordid affair.
Belhaj deserves an apology.
Mr. Belhadj said, “What happened to me and my family is illegal. It deserves an apology.” Belhaj has further stated that he holds no animosity towards the USA and looks forward to friendly relations in the future. This is quite amazing, after what we’ve put him through. Of course I’m afraid there are some in Western countries who won’t hear his reaching out in friendship, no matter how many times he repeats himself, or how many times they actually hear his message.
An apology costs nothing; its rewards can mean everything. Sadly, I am pretty sure that my own USA government will never issue an apology. With this concept in mind, I apologize to Mr. Belhadj. I’m sure that most civilized people would do the same, if they knew the truth. I’m also sure that there is a minority in my own country who will call us traitors or worse, if we dare apologize to anyone.
Belhaj deserves his day in court.
Mr. Belhadj does wish for his day in court, and who could blame him? Oh! That’s right. Coughlin doesn’t believe he deserves that day. His arguments make as much sense as someone who almost pushes you over the edge of a cliff, only to catch you at the last moment. After telling you they just saved your life, you are to say, “Thank-you sir! Is there anything I can do express my gratitude?”
Perhaps all Muslims of the USA should thank G.W. Bush, because we all know how his brilliant plan will one day bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. Or the American Indians could thank the white man. We brought them civilized ideas and items like liquor, the Bible, and white-man’s justice. I’m betting Mr. Belhadj would have preferred at least the justice option; as opposed to the ones he was forced to accept.
We must remind ourselves that Coughlin will not be the only one with this warped belief. Some of his soul mates, who harbor similar feelings as Coughlin, may be even more perverse.
Coughlin wants this nonsense to be swept under the rug so we won’t find out how complicit England has been. That’s right! Civilized countries like the mighty USA and England, have been caught red handed, committing some of the same atrocities that civilized people condemned Gaddafi for. They have all been just as vehement in their denials as Gaddafi was in his. It was these very atrocities that made us believe this was why we were fighting in the first place.
The last thing Coughlin wants is for us to dig deeper. I predict he is not going to get what he wants.
We are better off without Gaddafi.
Of course some people will say I am naive to think that the West is fair and would do the right thing. To those people who don’t know me, I will only say that I do not hide from the knowledge that the West has often been unfair and had the wrong motives. In this case, however; I will say that I don’t care what the motives were. We got rid of a tyrant that I have despised for years, and that’s the main thing that matters to me. There are times when the saying, “The enemy of my enemy,” makes perfect sense. Even when the idea itself isn’t very palatable.
I will continue by saying, “The world has never been fair, unless you have the power and money to purchase fairness.” All most of us can hope for, with the one life we are given, is that we recognize the lesser of 2 evils at the critical time of our lives, when we need to do so the most. In the case of Libya, the right thing WAS done when it came to toppling Gaddafi. We just did it in all the wrong ways. The way it is now, I accept the results we are facing. A Libya without Gaddafi is a wonderful achievement. Another democracy in the world is also good, and if we’re lucky, we will get a new friend and ally.
Even if England’s role in the past was illegal, Gaddafi is gone, and just because England and Gaddafi were in bed together, does that change the facts? It does if you believe that Gaddafi received a bonus 20 extra years in power, due to the entire world’s collusion and acceptance. The fact and world response would also change considerably, if England is found to be the only one to blame. The truth is: England is not the only villain in this tragedy; they are just the most recent ones who got caught.
My acknowledgment of USA and British complicity and collusion, being the lesser of 2 evils, is not to be construed as acceptance on my part. I do not like it. I will not forget it, and I will not let it pass unchallenged.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t support every country whose people rise up and cry out for freedom and justice? Should our hands be tied if their government and our government are in collusion? Of course not! We should support the fight for freedom wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
Any agreements our own government made with the devil is on their heads. Our concern in these cases can have a double meaning. What could be better than helping bring another country into the light of democracy, and saving the soul of your own country at the same time?
The real heroes of Libya
What about the heroic performance of the RAF, and the rest of the NATO alliance that Coughlin speaks of? The truth is NATO’s entire operation would have been a failure without the bravery and heroics of the freedom fighters of Libya. Unfortunately we have those who refuse to give credit where credit is due. That would diminish NATO and the white Europeans role, and we can’t have any of that.
The heroic performance of the RAF and the rest of the NATO alliance Coughlin speaks of? That pales in comparison to the performance exhibited by Mr. Belhadj himself, when he led a ragtag force out of the Nafusa Mountains, all the way to Tripoli. It was Belhaj, and small groups like his, that caused the amazing turn of events in the Libyan Liberation.
Anyone who paid attention to what was happening in Libya knows that the heroics of NATO was limited to a small number of pilots who flew short operations, where the danger was kept to an absolute minimum. On the other hand, the freedom fighters in Libya were faced with maximum danger every second.
Anyone who paid attention to what was happening in Libya knows that the heroics of NATO turned to incompetence when they disregarded the Nafusa freedom movement for far too long, as civilians and fighters died in great numbers. NATO showed up finally, but it was almost too late again; as usual.
Anyone who paid attention knows that it was the French, not NATO, the RAF, or the USA, who once again turned the tide, when they air-dropped the much needed arms to these rebels in the mountains.
And finally anyone who paid attention knows that it was this same group of ragtag ingrates who fought all the way, and didn’t stop, until they reached and liberated Tripoli. While the world and Con Coughlin waited for Misrata or Benghazi to make a breakout, it was the wildcard from Nafusa that delivered, and came to everyone’s rescue.
One of these brave leaders, who did arrive to the rescue, was that ingrate we now know as Belhadj. This is a guy, who has stared at death more times in a week, than anyone in NATO did the entire war. This guy has exhibited more heroics in 1 day, than most of us will ever face in a lifetime.
The truth is Abdel Hakim Belhadj is a Libyan hero, and Coughlin can’t stand that. He appears especially riled now that Mr. Belhadj has been made commander of the Tripoli Military Council. The worry that Mr. Belhadj might actually win millions, in a lawsuit against England, would be the final insult to Coughlin.
Do the ends justify the means?
When it comes to freedom and democracy, do the ends justify the means? To some people this boils down to knowing how far you can go, without sacrificing your morals. Ask ten different people and you will get ten different answers. All of these responses will be full of shades of gray.
Fortunately I have a tool that might help in this situation. It’s called the List of Good and Evil and illustrates what is good and what is evil. It is always there. It is always in black and white, and armed with this list I have all I need to know, if I ever get stuck with moral choices. Unfortunately my list is still a work in progress and is unfinished. I wonder. Is an unfinished list better than no list at all?
Con Coughlin doesn’t live up to the spirit of my list. He doesn’t even come close. That’s all I need to know about him for the moment. Mr. Belhadj on the other hand, is someone I want to hear more about. Maybe we will be enemies, maybe we will be friends. One thing is certain. After reading the thoughts of Con Coughlin, I won’t be taking his advice.