The British Foreign Office is trying to prevent a court from allowing antiwar protesters in Britain from presenting their argument that the Iraq war was illegal, on the grounds that allowing such a claim (supported by remarks in an interview with former Foreign Office lawyer Elizabeth Wilmshurst earlier this week) would place British troops in Iraq at greater risk, jeopardize the UK's standing among Arab countries, and increase vulnerability to terrorism.  --  This position is reminiscent of the Bush administration's position that calling torture "torture" can put U.S. soldiers at risk.  --  Those whose policies led to the unjust war and the violations of the Geneva Convention are the ones really responsible for putting soldiers' lives at risk, jeopardizing national standing, and increasing the risks of terrorism. Are we really to change the meaning of words to convenience rulers who have committed illegitimate acts?  --  Just such pressures are the reasons that Thucydides cites in the passage in his History of the Peloponnesian War that describes how war corrupts language itself. "Good deeds can be shortly stated, but where wrong is done a wealth of language is needed to veil its deformity," wrote the greatest of all historians more than 2,400 years ago....

By Oonagh Blackman

Daily Mirror (UK)
July 6, 2004

Original source: Daily Mirror

FOREIGN Secretary Jack Straw is locked in a dramatic battle to stop a court branding the Iraq war illegal.

And several top Government officials are also getting decidedly jittery -- having drawn-up a heavy-handed warning about the perils of a ruling against the legitimacy of the war.

A Government legal document reveals the high stakes game to avoid a damaging English court verdict over the legal basis for invading Iraq.

A four-page statement from senior Foreign Office civil servant Sir Michael Hastings Jay reveals barely controlled Establishment panic.

The document was handed into a court last week to stop a group of protesters who are appealing against a judge's decison that they can not use an argument at their trial about their belief that the war was unlawful in their defense.

In a series of dire warnings the document says British troops in Iraq will be put at greater risk and the war on terror will be "hampered."

And it says the Government would be "weakened" and that anti-war countries would use it to batter the British in any diplomatic negotiations. It also warns the UK Government's standing with Arab and Islamic countries will be "undermined" with "serious risks" for the future of Iraq as terrorists would exploit the ruling to increase attacks.

Any ruling from a judge would drastically increase pressure on Tony Blair to apologize for misleading the British people about the justification for invading Iraq.

Sir Michael said Iraq "remains one of the most sensitive in international relations at the present time." And he warns of a disastrous diplomatic fall-out if a court rules the war was illegal.

His statement emerged during a court battle involving the "Fairford Five" defendants -- prosecuted for damaging a Gloucestershire RAF base last year in protest at the Iraq war.

They say they can only get a fair trial if they can tell the court of their "sincere belief" the war was unlawful.

Their defense plan rang alarm bells across Whitehall and the Foreign Office tried to block the move last week.

Defendant Margaret Jones, wants to take the case to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

She said yesterday: "The Government is clearly pulling out all the stops to prevent us mentioning the war and its legality in court."