Buried on page A12 of the Saturday (lowest weekly circulation) Washington Post, is a little lecture from the Lord Falconer. As you read this consider that this is undoubtedly a case of British understatement.
Briton Cites ‘Divergence’ With U.S.: Charles Falconer, one of the highest-ranking justice officials in Britain, said Friday that there is a “great divergence” in how Britain and the United States are handling the fight against terrorists, describing the U.S. approach as a willingness “to do things beyond the law.”
Falconer said in an interview that the practices of holding terrorism suspects without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and interrogating them in secret CIA prisons have made it “harder to identify to the world what your values are.”
Falconer recently called Guantanamo Bay “an affront to the principles of democracy.” In a lengthy interview Friday, he said Britain had learned hard lessons in the 1970s when it pursued a hard-line course in response to the bombing campaign of the Irish Republican Army. Police got new leeway in interrogation, while suspects’ civil protections were reduced. In multiple cases, innocent people were convicted and sentenced.
“We suffered badly in the ’70s and ’80s,” Falconer said, adding that the United States was among those criticizing the British approach at the time. He also noted that IRA fundraising “shot up” during this period.
“Keep your justice system as pure as you can,” Falconer said. “This is advice to a friend from the experience we have had.”
Falconer said both countries value democracy and rule of law. But some U.S. practices are “undercutting the very values both countries adhere to,” he said.
Asked whether these practices had hurt U.S. prestige in the world, Falconer said, “it is something that is raised a lot.”