Nigel Inkster, the former assistant head of the British spy service MI6, slammed the United States’ handling of its fight on terror, including what he called the “frenzied, alarmist response” to the recently foiled Christmas Day bomber.
Writing in an article published in the International Institute for Strategic Studies journal Survival, Inkster and coauthor Alexander Nicoll hammered what they believe is an out of proportion response to attempted terror attacks. They also attacked the United States’ policy of imprisoning detainees without trial — a practice that has continued under President Barack Obama.
“It is surely not inspiring for radicalised people with the potential for violent action to see terrorists tried in ordinary criminal courts and sentenced to long prison terms.” The authors, both members of the International Institute, continue: “But it surely is inspiring to them to see terrorists treated as a special class of prisoners to be held by the military, imprisoned without trial and tortured. This is the kind of treatment that makes jihadists believe that they can indeed be the fighters for a cause that they aspire to be.”
Obama has largely turned from a policy under President George W. Bush where alleged terrorists might be tried in military tribunals instead of civilian courts. But he has said that some may be held indefinitely without ever being tried.
Abandoning “ordinary standards of criminal justice” with regard to dealing with the war on terror is unwise, they write.
“On top of this, there is the argument that democratic values Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ are the [west’s] best advertisement,” Inkster and Nicoll remark. “Departures from such values have damaged America’s Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ reputation.”
The former British intelligence boss also critiqued the Obama Administration’s handling of an attempt to blow up a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day las year.
America’s “frenzied, alarmist response” to the foiled plot by the 23-year-old Umar Abdulmutallab “is hardly becoming for the most powerful nation on earth,” they write. “The lack of any sense of proportion simply serves to enhance the status of a terrorist group which is dispersed, quite small and cannot possibly threaten US sovereignty unless Americans connive in their own defeat.”
Inkster asserts that Bush’ war on terror did far more damage in its sheer cost to the global economy than the 9/11 attacks.
“Nobody can forget the horror of 9/11, and it was inevitable that a government faced with such an outrage would respond in extreme fashion,” Inkster and Nicholl add. “Hindsight is easy, but if Bush had placed more emphasis on bringing those responsible to justice rather than on declaring an unwinnable ‘war’ against an undefined enemy, things might have turned out very differently.”
Inkster and Nicholl’s article was excerpted by the British newspaper, The Guardian.