better late than never
A public outing about that period by an ex-official is a rare occurrence indeed. But that’s what Dr. Hussain Al-Baharnah, a former Minister of State for Legal Affairs, did when he chose to break from the norm and speak to a newspaper about his tenure during those dark years. Startling revelation it was not, but coming from someone who came as close to the centre of power as an appointed official could ever be , it was a welcome if overdue correction to the historical record. He proved the sceptics right and confirmed that the Council of Ministers is just not where the real power resides, and that the SSL was never brought to a discussion by the cabinet.
Perhaps it was the weight of history, or the need to clear his name (did he ever consider resigning?), that brought us this rare public testimony by this ex-official. Here are some excerpts from Al-Wasat of yesterday:
"Journalist: Were you part of the government effort to push through the SSL?
Al-Baharnah: I was the head of Legal Affairs department at the time, but I hade no prior knowledge of the State Security Law. I was surprised by it as much as anyone else.
J: Are you blameless as far as the SSL is concerned?
HB: I certainly didn’t see it coming, I was not asked to review it, and it has never reached my desk. And do you conceive that our Council of Ministers is like the British cabinet, where a minister could voice an objection? I tried to check with a colleague if the draft law was ever brought for discussion before us at the Council of Ministers. He did not recall it happening, nor did I.
J: Had the state ever come to reconsider the wisdom of relying heavily on security measures?
HB: The state is not the Council of Ministers. The focus on security was overwhelming, and a person like Mr. Henderson was a man of considerable influence. Those plans are all of his conception. I saw how he was given complete freedom to do all that he thought fit.
J: Have you seen anything worse than SSL?
HB: No, I don’t think I did".