02/09/2011 Newsnight


02/09/2011

Newsnight looks into rendition claims made by a Libyan rebel leader which if true suggest a closer than expected relationship between the US and Gaddafi regime.


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Tonight, just how close was the CIA to Gaddafi's own regime? A new

:00:09.:00:12.

leader of Libya says he was imprisoned and tortured by the

:00:12.:00:17.

Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, then handed over to the curl nel

:00:17.:00:22.

for more. What hope is there for trust between the two sides now. Do

:00:22.:00:25.

we really know who was behind this revolution.

:00:25.:00:27.

Here in Libya there is an international scramble to make

:00:27.:00:32.

friends with the new leadership, even if some of them turn out to be

:00:32.:00:36.

old enemies. Another coalition triumph, control

:00:36.:00:38.

orders restricting the movement of terrorist suspects were dumped by

:00:38.:00:44.

the Liberal Democrats. Why are they now back in all but name.

:00:44.:00:47.

Also tonight, whatever happened to the August silly season.

:00:47.:00:53.

What a summer it's been, riots, Libya, the economy, phone hacking,

:00:53.:00:58.

and now I've been called back from the Newsnight Villa in Tuscany, to

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:01:08.:01:12.

do a special report on a Good evening. One of NATO's key

:01:12.:01:17.

allies in Libya, the leader of military forces in Tripoli has

:01:17.:01:25.

alleged he was kidnapped and interrogated by the CIA, and then

:01:25.:01:29.

turned over to Gaddafi. Abdul Hakim Belhaj said he was turned over to

:01:29.:01:37.

the CIA for his alleged links with Al-Qaeda, links he denies. These

:01:37.:01:42.

are the strange bedfellows and allegations emerging.

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We have a bit more now. There is more light being shed on

:01:48.:01:52.

the dark side of the war on terror, that is for sure. 30 years ago

:01:52.:01:55.

Islamist fighting groups were America's great friends, fighting

:01:55.:01:58.

the good fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. Ten years ago that

:01:58.:02:04.

all changed with the war on terror. The enemy's enemy, Colonel Gaddafi

:02:05.:02:10.

became the great friend. Now that's all changed again, and we have a

:02:10.:02:16.

former Jihadist leading the fight against Gaddafi's forces in Tripoli.

:02:16.:02:18.

He's revealing some embarrassing secrets.

:02:18.:02:22.

Suddenly everything has changed, the rebel force that took Tripoli

:02:22.:02:28.

is now the de facto army of the new Libya. The man who led them is

:02:28.:02:32.

Abdul Hakim Belhaj. Today we are witnessing a new revolution which

:02:32.:02:36.

everyone is happy about. But the hero of this new revolution,

:02:36.:02:40.

championed by NATO and America, has also said just a few years ago he

:02:41.:02:47.

was being tortured by the CIA. Back in the 1990s, Belhaj led an

:02:47.:02:51.

Islamist guerrilla group fight to go overthrow Gaddafi. Then the

:02:51.:02:55.

Americans lent Gaddafi a hand. According to Belhaj he was first

:02:55.:02:59.

detained in an airport in Malaysia in 2004. From there he was taken to

:02:59.:03:04.

a secret prison in Bangkok, Thailand, where, he says, two CIA

:03:05.:03:09.

agents took a direct part in his torture. He don't give details.

:03:09.:03:13.

Days after that he was handed to the Libyans, a gift from America to

:03:13.:03:22.

the Gaddafi regime. He was to spend six years in Tripoli's notorious

:03:22.:03:27.

Abu Salemprison. The CIA, Libya relationship is no surprise to this

:03:27.:03:33.

man. Libyan-born he was locked up in Guantanamo Bay. In September

:03:33.:03:37.

2004, two Libyan intelligence officers turned up as his

:03:37.:03:41.

interrogators. He said the real enemy is not the Americans, we are

:03:41.:03:46.

the real enemy, you are our enemy. They said things like they will

:03:46.:03:50.

kill me when I went back, they came to take me back to Libya. The real

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problems are in Libya where they will kill me. Clearly you are like

:03:55.:03:59.

the son, opposing the Gaddafi regime and an enemy of the

:03:59.:04:02.

revolution. They were making all sorts of threats. Were you worried?

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I was very worried. The Americans kept threatening with handing us to

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the Libyans. Six years ago Newsnight coroborated his story

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about Libyan agents in Guantanamo, by following the logs of a CIA

:04:16.:04:20.

plane, tracked from Washington DC to Tripoli and back to Guantanamo

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Bay. All the Libyan detainees in

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Guantanamo were interrogated by Gaddafi's agents, says this man.

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One of them, still locked up in Guantanamo, they threatened to

:04:36.:04:40.

sodomise him when he came back. They said he was pretending to be a

:04:40.:04:45.

man. They said he had this orange suit, they will make him look

:04:45.:04:52.

orange without the suit, they will have the iron and use it on his

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skin until the skin will become orange, things like that. They made

:04:55.:05:01.

threats to all of them. Newsnight established that he was

:05:01.:05:07.

in Guantanamo, because the Americans had confused him with a

:05:07.:05:15.

Jihadi from somewhere else. Did they believe it? The rubbish

:05:16.:05:19.

intelligence that came out. I think at that time they were so hungry

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for information that the Security Services of Libya or more cock co-

:05:23.:05:29.

could take the CIA for - Morocco could take the CIA for a ride.

:05:29.:05:35.

far did they take them for a ride? All the way. You remember Colin

:05:35.:05:45.
:05:45.:05:45.

Powell talking about WMDs and all gad da links, that came from an Al-

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Qaeda man who was Libyan and rendered, the Americans went to war

:05:51.:05:57.

on that, and it wasn't true. He turned up dead two years later in a

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Libyan prison. You can see the truth of the platitude, your

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enemy's enemy is your enemy's friend, is more true now. How are

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everyone feeling about the allied forces involved in the revolution.

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There was jubilation in Benghazi this week, as bus loads of

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Gaddafi's victims came home. Political prisoners from Libya's

:06:24.:06:29.

most notorious jail. Tripoli's Abu Salem. One released earlier

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remembers the massacre there in June 1996, when an estimated 1200

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prisoners were shot dead. Saturday 29th at 11.00, they started

:06:39.:06:47.

shooting them from the roof. I saw six special forces shooting with a

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Kalashnikov and the other guy has a heavy machine gun, from the roof,

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on the top of the roof, shooting the protestors inside the yards.

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Relatives weren't told, cynically for years afterwards, guards

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accepted food parcels for the dead and resold them. The victims'

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families had been bringing food and needs to their kids. Believing and

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hoping their kids were still alive. The jail commander with his

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soldiers would take those things. The jail's victims included both

:07:26.:07:30.

opposition activists and others merely suspected of dissident

:07:30.:07:35.

thoughts. Some were Democrats, others Islamists.

:07:35.:07:39.

This young man, I interviewed him alongside his father, earlier this

:07:39.:07:48.

year in the eastern city of Deraa, were among hundreds jailed after

:07:48.:07:53.

fighting. He said he wouldn't do that again. TRANSLATION: I went to

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Iraq for love of the country, to sacrifice myself because of what

:07:56.:08:04.

happened in the Abu Graib jail, and the occupation.

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Today in Benghazi, as every Friday, they were praying on the square,

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that for months was the heart of the Libyan revolution. This is an

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overwhelmingly devout and socially conservative society, but one that

:08:18.:08:24.

now claims to be committed to pluralistic democracy. Libya's new

:08:24.:08:28.

leaders vehemently deny there is any major strain of Islamism in

:08:28.:08:32.

their revolution. Most former Islamists within their ranks say

:08:32.:08:36.

they long ago abandoned any extreme views they may once have held. Even

:08:36.:08:40.

so, some western politicians, particularly in America, think

:08:40.:08:45.

Libya needs to be watched very carefully in future, for any

:08:45.:08:50.

possible resurgence of radicalism. It was the murder, just over a

:08:50.:08:56.

month ago, of this man, the rebels' Commander-in-Chief, Abdel Fattah

:08:57.:09:02.

Younes, that most alarmed Libya's western backers, and many within

:09:02.:09:07.

the country. The investigation's continuing, but both the National

:09:07.:09:10.

Transitional Council and Younes's family say Islamist militia men

:09:10.:09:16.

were to blame. They were an Islamic radical group, who committed this

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execution. According to the eyewitnesses, who have been with

:09:21.:09:29.

him, his guards, so that people looked in a strange shape, with a

:09:29.:09:35.

long beard, with their vocalisation, the way that they spoke, were

:09:35.:09:44.

obviously looking like people from extreme background. No-one's yet

:09:44.:09:47.

sure whether the transitional council can control radical groups,

:09:47.:09:53.

or how far it may go to co-opt Islamists into its vision of the

:09:53.:09:57.

future. Libya's revolutionaries are so keen on legality, that here on

:09:57.:10:01.

Benghazi water front, amid the souvenir stall, with the hats and

:10:01.:10:07.

the bags, you can also find a copy in Arabic and English of the Libyan

:10:07.:10:11.

constitution. This isn't the new constitution, it is the

:10:11.:10:18.

constitution of the Libyan monarchy from 1951. And 1952, under the

:10:18.:10:23.

monarchy, is the only year that Libya has ever had an election.

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There is an interesting difference between this old 1950s constitution,

:10:26.:10:31.

and the new one worked out very scruplously by the National

:10:31.:10:36.

Transitional Council. Here you can see under the old one, article five,

:10:36.:10:41.

saying Islam is the religion of state. Now, under the new draft

:10:41.:10:45.

constitution, that is rather amplified, to say that Sharia,

:10:45.:10:49.

Islamic law, will be the primary source of all future legislation

:10:49.:10:52.

here. That's a distinct difference that some people feel is a

:10:52.:10:59.

concession to Islamists. But not major one.

:10:59.:11:06.

For now, gratitude for the west's support is linked to a desire for

:11:06.:11:11.

diversity in Libya and there is a willingness to forgive America for

:11:11.:11:15.

its security links with Gaddafi after 9/11. If you go and knock on

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any door in Tripoli, Benghazi, or in the southern part, asking what

:11:21.:11:25.

friends of the United States or Britain, what the west means to you,

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they would say, our lives. They do appreciate what they did. To

:11:31.:11:36.

protect civilians. Britain, America and other western states may

:11:36.:11:40.

sometimes have found the Libyan dictator useful in the past, the

:11:40.:11:46.

feeling here is they have certainly redeemed themselves now.

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We can speak now to Sheuer, the former head of the CIA Bin Laden

:11:53.:11:57.

unit in Edinburgh, and the former leader of the Liberal Democrats,

:11:57.:12:00.

Menzies Campbell joins us too. Michael Sheuer, it is pretty

:12:00.:12:03.

embarrassing if this is proved that the Americans and Gaddafi were

:12:03.:12:10.

working rather well together, all the time? Why would that be

:12:10.:12:18.

embarrassing, mam, Mr Blair, Condoleezza Rice and others went to

:12:18.:12:21.

kiss Colonel Gaddafi's butt when he gave up weapons of mass destruction.

:12:21.:12:26.

It is a strange way to phrase it to say the CIA had a relationship with

:12:26.:12:30.

Libya, the United States Government had a relationship with Libya, as

:12:30.:12:34.

did Britain and France and all the Intelligence Services. This is not

:12:34.:12:37.

a surprise. Is it something you are proud of or is it a source of

:12:37.:12:45.

regret? Certainly I don't regret it. You work with whoever you can work

:12:45.:12:49.

with to protect the United States, that is the bottom line. Our

:12:49.:12:53.

Government said he was a good guy now and we should deal with them.

:12:53.:12:56.

The Intelligence Services are not independent actors, in the United

:12:56.:13:00.

States, everything we did with Gaddafi was approved by Mr Bush,

:13:00.:13:07.

and had to be reapproved by Mr Obama. That is the real truth of it,

:13:07.:13:15.

Israel poll teak means we have always - real politk means we have

:13:15.:13:21.

always had to use dictators? supported Saddam Hussein when he

:13:21.:13:24.

was using chemical weapons against the Iranians and his own people,

:13:24.:13:28.

look how that turned out. I agree with what was said, it is not the

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Intelligence Services that need to be embarrassed, it is the

:13:31.:13:35.

Governments. I have some form on this. He said there is no

:13:35.:13:39.

embarrassment at all, why would you be embarrassed in protecting

:13:39.:13:43.

national security in doing so? said it was understood that the

:13:43.:13:46.

Intelligence Service was not embarrassed. I think Governments

:13:46.:13:51.

are embarrassed. As I say, I have some form on this, I was taken to

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task by a commentator in national newspaper here, after I was thought

:13:57.:14:01.

to be unenthusiastic about the deal which Tony Blair had done. Of

:14:01.:14:05.

course you have to do deals, often with people whose methods and whose

:14:05.:14:09.

philosophy you don't like. But that doesn't mean to say you shouldn't

:14:09.:14:14.

be as if todayous about how you deal with - as if stidous about how

:14:14.:14:22.

you deal with grb fastidious about how you deal with them.

:14:22.:14:26.

ascensionly believe now these men are terrorists? NATO has supplied

:14:26.:14:36.
:14:36.:14:38.

air support to people who would be called the Taliban. We walked into

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the affair in Libya with the basis of the revolution coming out of

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Benghazi, the most strongest Islamist place in Libya, and those

:14:47.:14:50.

people have carried the fighting, while pushing forward English

:14:50.:14:55.

speaking, legalistic intellectuals, who are on the transitional council

:14:55.:15:01.

now. Whether that holds steady in the future I think is highly

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unlikely. So much for the utopia, Menzies Campbell, how worried are

:15:05.:15:11.

you that the man militarily leading Libya is a former Jihadi, you heard

:15:11.:15:17.

in Tim's piece that Sharia is a part of the future legislation and

:15:17.:15:23.

this man is a Jihadi? As was said a few moments ago, we have to keep

:15:23.:15:28.

our eye on Libya. Mr Belhaj is surprisingly short of rancour about

:15:28.:15:32.

any of the things that happened to him. He does claim that he has

:15:32.:15:35.

abandoned the whole notion of holy war, it is not what people say that

:15:35.:15:42.

matters, it is what they do. That is why the west has been at pains

:15:43.:15:47.

to embrace the national council, why else was there that meeting

:15:47.:15:51.

yesterday in Paris when we were trying very closely to embrace the

:15:51.:15:56.

leaders of the new Libya, in order to ensure that we have some

:15:56.:16:03.

influence in relation to their promises to accept, adopt and

:16:03.:16:07.

implement. Do you accept that rendition was the wrong policy?

:16:07.:16:11.

think it was absolutely the right policy, and will have to be revived

:16:11.:16:14.

under the next President, whether that is a re-elected President

:16:14.:16:19.

Obama or a Republican. Is the CIA still monitoring, what are

:16:19.:16:23.

essentially the new leaders of Libya now? I would certainly hope

:16:23.:16:26.

so, I would certainly hope they would be doing that now. I I was

:16:26.:16:31.

going to say there is a fundamental difference. On these matters, as

:16:31.:16:36.

far as I'm concerned. Rendition is illegal, it is illegal in

:16:36.:16:39.

international law, and almost certainly illegal in the domestic

:16:39.:16:44.

law of the countries in which it is practised. And if you accept that

:16:44.:16:48.

rendition is a legitimate means of conducting the campaign against

:16:48.:16:54.

terrorism, then you are giving away an enormous amount of your moral

:16:54.:17:00.

authority. You lose your moral authority by doing so? The moral

:17:00.:17:05.

high ground is where you shoot your guns straightist from. I wouldn't

:17:05.:17:08.

worry about international law for a second if I was in charge of

:17:08.:17:13.

protecting the United States. David Cameron was once reported to

:17:13.:17:23.
:17:23.:17:23.

have said control orders had the potential to be an car crash. After

:17:23.:17:27.

spending months trying to relocate terror suspects, ministers have

:17:27.:17:31.

draft proposals appearing to endorse what they tried to get rid

:17:31.:17:35.

of. The terrorism and detention and investigation measure, which came

:17:35.:17:40.

to be known as TPIMS, have been lambasted this week, but are

:17:40.:17:49.

control orders back in all but name. What are - What are they actually

:17:49.:17:55.

doing, with this complicated set of measures? It is best to look at a

:17:55.:18:01.

terrorist suspect under the name PD. He's under a old style control

:18:01.:18:07.

order, he's under virtual house arrest. It is deemed his

:18:07.:18:12.

prosecution is impossible because the intelligence and evidence is

:18:12.:18:16.

inadmissible in court. The Liberal Democrats have always been opposed

:18:16.:18:20.

to a control order regime, one of the things they were opposed to was

:18:20.:18:28.

the forcible relocation. PD has been relocated to the Midlands, to

:18:28.:18:31.

break connections with co- conspirators and supporters. The

:18:31.:18:33.

Liberal Democrats as soon as they came into the coalition Government

:18:33.:18:36.

started arguing strongly against the Conservatives that they needed

:18:36.:18:41.

to water down, to weaken, and dilute the control order

:18:41.:18:45.

legislation. To a certain degree they were successful. They wrung

:18:45.:18:48.

out a new legislation, proposed, and coming into force in January.

:18:48.:18:52.

The key changes they have forced through is the idea that people,

:18:52.:18:57.

suspects, weren't going to be forcibly relocated any more. Wind

:18:57.:19:02.

forward six months to today, and now we seem to have something of a

:19:02.:19:07.

vault fast. The Government have now proposed draft legislation, that

:19:07.:19:10.

seems to indicate in exceptional circumstances, this won't be the

:19:10.:19:13.

case and these suspects will be allowed to be forcibly relocated in

:19:14.:19:19.

a time of crisis. To try to cut through all the confusion, I spoke

:19:19.:19:22.

to Lord McDonald, the former head of public prosecutions today, to

:19:22.:19:26.

ask him, in effect, what then is the difference between the old

:19:26.:19:31.

control order regime and this new set of measures? None at all. The

:19:31.:19:35.

new powers in the enhanced bill as published yesterday are control

:19:35.:19:38.

orders. There is one substantial difference s they be limited to two

:19:38.:19:42.

years, unless there was further evidence coming forward. The suite

:19:42.:19:47.

of powers is the same. Telephone bans, computer bans, the advanced

:19:47.:19:51.

bill is a control order bill. The Government has to make its mind up.

:19:51.:19:54.

I don't really like the look of a situation in which the Government

:19:54.:19:58.

makes its mind up and says hang on, just in cautious we will have

:19:58.:20:01.

something else up our sleeve. They have done it with control orders

:20:01.:20:04.

and 28 days. Ministers need to stand back from Security Service

:20:04.:20:13.

advice and take decisions in the public interest.

:20:13.:20:18.

Security sources have told me it may not be as simple as that, they

:20:18.:20:21.

were comfortable with the new measures. It may be people in the

:20:21.:20:27.

police or the Home Office. It remains a mystery tonight. We asked

:20:27.:20:31.

the Home Office to clear up the mystery on the programme, they

:20:31.:20:35.

denied. Joining me now is Tom Brake and the

:20:35.:20:40.

former Labour cabinet minister, Hazel Blears. I guess this is the

:20:40.:20:46.

car crash that David Cameron proverbly first warned of? What we

:20:46.:20:50.

have is the TPIMS legislation going through the House of Commons at the

:20:50.:20:53.

moment, which will get rid of control orders. That is what the

:20:53.:21:00.

counter terrorism review which we initiated...In All but name? It has

:21:00.:21:03.

got rid of relocation and control orders. What the council also said

:21:03.:21:09.

was there may be a need for additional legislation if there

:21:09.:21:13.

were extreme, exceptional circumstances. That is what has now

:21:13.:21:16.

come forward. That is draft legislation. That is not going to

:21:16.:21:19.

be legislation, unless those extreme circumstances apply. It is

:21:19.:21:23.

not clear to me what those extreme circumstances might be. You are

:21:23.:21:27.

playing with words? There would be a parliamentary debate and a vote

:21:27.:21:30.

at the end of the process. If we are not happy that extreme

:21:30.:21:35.

circumstances apply, I'm sure we will vote against that legislation.

:21:35.:21:38.

Hazel Blears, does this make sense to you, does it seem difference

:21:38.:21:43.

from what you set up in the first place? It is an absolute and utter

:21:43.:21:46.

shambles. For the last few months on the committee which I have been

:21:46.:21:49.

a member of. I have been moving amendments saying the Home

:21:49.:21:53.

Secretary should at least have the power to consider relocation, she

:21:53.:21:59.

might not decide to use it in every case, but it might be appropriate

:21:59.:22:02.

In the last six months the Home Secretary has used two control

:22:02.:22:06.

orders and used the power of relocation and then proposed not to

:22:06.:22:09.

give herself the power. Then yesterday we hear there will be an

:22:09.:22:12.

emergency bill. The prospect of making emergency legislation, when

:22:12.:22:16.

we might have a number of terrorist attacks going on, where we have a

:22:16.:22:19.

debate in the House of Commons, to see whether or not we have the

:22:19.:22:22.

power of relocation, is absolutely ludicrous. If the Government now

:22:22.:22:26.

have accepted they need the powers, it should be in the ordinary

:22:26.:22:29.

legislation, which is what we have been arguing for from day one. This

:22:29.:22:35.

might be a car crash, I think it is an absolute dog's breakfast.

:22:35.:22:39.

good faith it would be hard for the public to see the difference

:22:39.:22:42.

between one circumstance and another, when you are bringing in

:22:42.:22:45.

emergency legislation all the time? It is not a surprise. It was known

:22:45.:22:48.

in January that legislation of this nature would come forward. It is

:22:48.:22:52.

only draft legislation. Will you vote against it? It is not

:22:52.:22:55.

something going through the House of Commons. The TPIMS legislation,

:22:55.:22:59.

getting rid of control orders and relocation, that is what is going

:22:59.:23:02.

through the House of Commons, that is what I'm sure parliament is

:23:02.:23:06.

going to vote for. Now at some point in the future, there are

:23:06.:23:11.

extreme circumstances, perhaps multiple, potentially put pel

:23:11.:23:15.

attacks in London, say, when - multiple attacks in London, say,

:23:15.:23:18.

when the Government feels the legislation will need be debated,

:23:18.:23:21.

we will cross that bridge when we come to it. You heard there, they

:23:21.:23:24.

are the same thing, you are reintroducing the same thing, but

:23:24.:23:31.

reduceing to admit to the public you are doing so? We are not

:23:31.:23:34.

reintroducing it, there aren't extreme circumstances in parliament

:23:34.:23:39.

and we haven't voted to implement it, it is not the same as control

:23:39.:23:44.

orders. Fundamentally t doesn't get past the real issue, a lazy way to

:23:44.:23:48.

deal with people? It doesn't push people towards a court process or a

:23:48.:23:52.

trial, or monitor them properly. It leaves them in limbo? We have

:23:53.:23:55.

always said that prosecution has to be the preferred way of dealing

:23:55.:23:58.

with these people. There are a small number of cases, perhaps just

:23:58.:24:02.

a dozen of them, where you have very dangerous people. You cannot

:24:02.:24:04.

get the evidence through the conventional criminal justice

:24:04.:24:08.

system, and therefore you have to control their movements. What we

:24:08.:24:11.

have seen now is a political fudge with the Liberal Democrats, who

:24:11.:24:14.

wanted to get rid of control orders, the Conservatives know that you

:24:14.:24:18.

need, as last resort, to take these steps, and we're now seeing, I

:24:18.:24:22.

think a really big split in the coalition b what the legislation

:24:22.:24:27.

should be like. When Tom Brake says that London could be facing

:24:28.:24:31.

multiple attacks and then we will a parliamentary debate as to whether

:24:31.:24:34.

or not to relocate people, I'm desperately worried if the

:24:34.:24:38.

legislation goes through as it is, we could find people coming back to

:24:38.:24:43.

London w all of their associates and co-conspirators, before the

:24:43.:24:48.

Olympic Games next year, I don't think that is a risk worth taking.

:24:48.:24:53.

The protection of the public needs to be first and forecast, it is

:24:53.:24:58.

less likely considering the less loved up Cameron, he will be

:24:58.:25:02.

listening to these views? Public security has to be the security,

:25:02.:25:06.

and it is. That is why, as well as getting rid of control orders, at

:25:06.:25:10.

the same time we have introduced additional resources for

:25:10.:25:14.

surveillance, so we can make sure that some of the people who

:25:14.:25:16.

previously would have been relocated, if they are going to

:25:16.:25:21.

remain in there n their existing properties, there will be increased

:25:21.:25:24.

surveillance to make sure if they were intent of committing any acts

:25:24.:25:30.

that they would be stopped. At Newsnight we would never stoop

:25:30.:25:35.

so low as to do silly stories, no matter what the season was. But it

:25:35.:25:41.

has been the talk, Orlament of the newsrooms up and down the country,

:25:41.:25:51.
:25:51.:25:53.

that there has been too much news to touch on the normal August fair,

:25:53.:25:58.

- fayre, including surfing dogs. We went out to find some, this report

:25:58.:26:01.

contains flash photography and quite poor jokes, even by his

:26:01.:26:07.

standard! Hey kids, how have you been

:26:07.:26:10.

enjoying the summer, that magical time when you pack up your troubles

:26:10.:26:15.

and head to the beach, and the newspapers and telly join in the

:26:15.:26:19.

fun w light-hearted stories that wouldn't normally see the light of

:26:19.:26:25.

day. That didn't really happen this year z it. What a summer it has

:26:25.:26:31.

been, riots, Libya, phone hacking, now I've been called back from the

:26:31.:26:35.

Newsnight Villa in Tuscany, to do a special report on a skateboarding

:26:35.:26:38.

dog. That's right. You won't want to

:26:38.:26:43.

Miss Theo here on his deck. It's what Lord Wreath would have wanted.

:26:43.:26:47.

Elsewhere, it's not really been a light and fluffy few months has it.

:26:47.:26:53.

After the riots, politicians dumped their buckets and spades and

:26:53.:26:57.

grabbed brooms instead. There were huge big events going on through

:26:57.:27:01.

August, that was unusual. There was a more secular trend at work here,

:27:01.:27:05.

in an age of globalisation, things happening far way from Britain have

:27:05.:27:10.

a direct effect on what happens here. And the House of Commons

:27:10.:27:14.

after the expenses scandal felt it had to reassert itself as the main

:27:14.:27:19.

forum for discussing things, and it is not right it is just in TV and

:27:19.:27:23.

radio studios, it wanted to reassert itself as part of British

:27:23.:27:30.

national life. As night follows day, we turn to a foreign policy think-

:27:30.:27:33.

tank. Their gaem German spokesperson said riots are one

:27:33.:27:39.

thing, but politicians shouldn't be unnerved by things like the markets

:27:39.:27:43.

in August. Mrs Merkel while wandering the hills was asked to

:27:43.:27:46.

interrupt her holiday to come back because of market volitility. To my

:27:46.:27:51.

mind, rightly, she said, no. The markets are volatile in August

:27:51.:27:54.

because the trading is very thin, most of the senior people are away.

:27:55.:27:59.

Junior people are trading, they are very nervous, they come up with

:27:59.:28:03.

stories and I'm interrupting my holiday for market volitility. She

:28:03.:28:07.

didn't say anything, she kept on hiking. Every dreamed of owning one,

:28:08.:28:12.

soon you can, this will be available in a few months time.

:28:12.:28:17.

Perhaps I'm very old fashioned, but this country has a proud tradition

:28:17.:28:21.

of utterly fatuous summer news, which we discard at our peril. In

:28:21.:28:28.

the past we have heard about the world's tallest man, an eight foot

:28:28.:28:32.

five Ukrainian, an upside down house in Poland. And this photo

:28:32.:28:37.

shoot in the Alps. And who can forget, the important historical

:28:37.:28:44.

document of what Freddie Star once did to a hamster. Animals always

:28:44.:28:47.

feature heavily in summer season stories, and probably my favourite,

:28:47.:28:50.

and many people's favourite silly season story, was the time that

:28:51.:28:54.

John Prescott and Peter Mandelson were vying for control of the

:28:54.:28:57.

levers of power, and Peter Mandelson was compared by John

:28:57.:29:03.

Prescott, just down the river, actually, memorably to a Chinese

:29:03.:29:08.

mitten crab. His name is Peter. That was one of the finest of the

:29:08.:29:12.

silly season stories. Still to come, our skateboarding dog, don't look

:29:12.:29:16.

for it anywhere else, they don't have it. We have had a mini-silly

:29:16.:29:20.

season this year, I suppose, with the Speaker's wife in the Big

:29:21.:29:24.

Brother house. But as so often in the summer, the British have been

:29:25.:29:29.

left standing by the Germans, they got an entire season's worth of

:29:29.:29:36.

news out of a missing cow. They were chasing a cow recently in

:29:36.:29:43.

Germany, it was a big story. They were chasing a a cow? One escaped,

:29:43.:29:53.
:29:53.:29:56.

Story.? And now because we know you have

:29:56.:30:03.

missed that kind of thing. Even you, Newsnight viewer, it is Theo, an

:30:03.:30:06.

11-year-old skateboarding dog. If that doesn't have you rushing out

:30:06.:30:12.

to renew your license fee in the morning, nothing will!

:30:12.:30:16.

You can find Theo on the website shortly I'm sure.

:30:16.:30:26.
:30:26.:30:57.

That's all from Newsnight tonight. After a summer of rioting and

:30:57.:31:02.

clashes with police in Chile over education costs, the students of

:31:02.:31:05.