Federal legal authorities have deftly defused Brit anger over the deportation of 3 fellow citizens to face Enron charges in the US. This has to be the administration's doing - if Blair had been involved he'd have claimed credit days ago!
The Natwest Three, who were extradited to America this week to face wire fraud charges, were granted conditional bail yesterday by a court in Texas.
They will be all electronically tagged until the hearing next Friday and required to stay in the residency of (their) lawyer in the city.
It was considered likely that they would be electronically tagged for the year-long build-up to the trial and for the trial itself, which is expected to last six months.
Ever since the NatWest Three touched down at Houston's George Bush International Airport on Thursday morning, they have been treated in an unusually gentle way, given the traditional rough treatment meted out by the federal authorities in Texas. The men were forced to wear leg shackles and handcuffs for their trip to the court house to be fingerprinted, strip-searched and have their details taken.
But they were allowed to keep on their own clothes and were not forced to wear the green jumpsuits that are the standard issue for the federal detention centre system.
When they made their way into court yesterday morning, they were still in their own clothes after having stayed the night at an undisclosed federal detention centre.
They were whisked through the back door of the building, a privilege not accorded to any other federal prisoner in recent years. As a result they did not have to do the "perp [perpetrator] walk", the enforced parade in front of the international press pack.
When the late Ken Lay was tried in the same court house earlier this year, the disgraced ex-chief of Enron was forced to do the perp walk daily. "We can put prisoners in green jumpsuits, even put the stun belt on and give them a little zap if it's needed," said David Sacks of the US Marshals Service.
"But we don't need to with these three men. They are white-collar suspects and unlikely to be violent. And relations between our two countries are so warm."
The European Court will probably intervene at a later date, but I think the Brit dimension is now defused, provided Blair repeals the UK law that prematurely implemented the unratified treaty. That shouldn't be a problem, since the previous treaty worked quite well.