The European Parliament today adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of the EU-US agreement on the exchange of bank transfer data, following the revelation that the US secret service NSA was also involved in the surveillance of SWIFT (the international bank transfer company).
After the vote, Green Party MEP Jean Lambert stated:
“In calling for the EU-US SWIFT agreement to be suspended, the European Parliament has today sent a clear message that enough is enough.
“The revelations about NSA interception of SWIFT data make a mockery of the EU’s agreement with the US, through which the bank data of European citizens is delivered to the US anti-terror system (TFTP).
“What is the purpose of an agreement like this, which was concluded in good faith, if the US authorities are going to circumvent its provisions?
“The EU cannot continue to remain silent in the face of these ongoing revelations: it gives the impression we are little more than a lap dog of the US.
“If we are to have a healthy relationship with the US, based on mutual respect and benefit, EU governments must not be afraid of defending core EU values when they are infringed. EU leaders must finally take a clear and unambiguous stance on the NSA violations at this week’s summit.”
Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, has called on Britain and the United States to release confidential reports into the countries’ involvement in kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects during the era of the George W. Bush administration — after years of denial. “A crucial part of the duty of accountability under international law is the so-called right to truth,” Emmerson says. “That’s a right that is not just belonging to the victims, but to society at large.”
The government has indicated it will abandon its pledge to make it illegal for United Kingdom to go to war without MPs being given a vote.
Tony Blair’s decision in 2003 to ask parliament to approve his decision to join the invasion of Iraq created the convention that MPs be given a say over use use of force. The convention also forced David Cameron to ask MPs to vote on whether or not to support his call for military action against Syria earlier this year – a vote he unexpectedly lost.
However the power to deploy the military still rests in the hands of the prime minister and there is no legal requirement for him or her to ask parliament for permission.
In March 2011, as MPs debate the deployment of British forces over Libya, William Hague told the Commons the government intended to change this ancient power: “We will also enshrine in law for the future the necessity of consulting Parliament on military action.”
However appearing before the Commons constitution committee today, Lib Dem Cabinet Office minister Lord Wallace of Saltaire indicated the government had changed its mind.