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UK Complicity And CIA Torture: MPs Demand Judicial Inquiry

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By Countercurrents.org

The UK MPs are demanding a judicial inquiry into Britain’s involvement in CIA, the US intelligence agency, abductions of terror suspects. Human rights groups are also raising the same demand. The demands are being made following the recent release of a US Senate report into brutal torture methods used by CIA.

Media reports said:

The UK MPs have called for investigations into the cases to be reinstated under a judge.

Tory MP Andrew Tyrie said: “Until the scope and limits of the UK’s involvement are fully known, allegations – whether true or not – will continue to erode public confidence in our intelligence and security services.”

Andrew said: “The intelligence and security committee should have got to the bottom of this the first time they examined it, in 2007. The fact that they erroneously concluded that the UK was not involved in kidnap and torture makes it all the more essential that their investigation is comprehensive at their second attempt.”
He said the UK government and parliament must now do the same.

The UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg also suggested there could be a full judicial inquiry investigating possible British complicity in torture to get to the bottom of what happened.

Speaking on LBC radio, the Liberal Democrat leader said: “Once the police investigations are done, once this report from the intelligence and security committee is done, we should keep an open mind if we need to about moving to a full judicial inquiry if there are any outstanding questions. Because I’m like everyone else, I want the truth out there.”

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: “The breadth and brutality of CIA torture is laid bare – can our own authorities keep averting their eyes? Still no sign of a judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in this shameful scandal – instead the government’s new bill furnishes the agencies with more powers to leave Britons vulnerable to torture abroad.”
Clare Algar, executive director of the legal charity Reprieve, told the Guardian the summary of the report reveals details of only a handful of cases, including the Libyan case of Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Bouchar.

“David Cameron promised a judge-led inquiry into our intelligence services, but he has since u-turned. Now the government says it will ask parliament’s intelligence and security committee to examine this scandal – the very same committee which completely failed to notice UK involvement in rendition when it was going on, and for years after,” said Algar.
Media reports added:

In one case, the British intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6, reportedly cooperated with the CIA in the rendition of Binyam Mohamed, a UK resident who was tortured and held at Guántanamo Bay for five years.
Mohamed was released from the jail in February 2009.

Mohamed claimed he was beaten, scalded and had his genitals cut with a scalpel while he was held by the CIA. After his release, Mohamed took legal action against the British government, claiming MI5 and MI6 colluded in his torture by the United States.

In February 2010, the UK Court of Appeal ruled he had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities,” in which the British Intelligence services had been complicit.

British ministers and officials are accused of having tried to suppress evidence in the Binyam Mohamed case, claiming the disclosure of details of a joint CIA-UK operation would harm future intelligence cooperation between the UK and the US.
In another case, the abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami-al-Saadi, two prominent Libyan dissidents, and their families were flown to Tripoli in 2004. They were tortured by secret police in Tripoli.

British involvement or knowledge of several CIA-torture cases remains murky.

The UN has called for the prosecution of those responsible. “It is now time to take action,” Ben Emmerson, United Nations' special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said.

Police in Scotland is also reportedly taking an interest in the report as part of its probe into rendition flights. In 2013, police began an investigation into the CIA's use of Scottish airports for the transfer of suspects.

However, the former reviewer of terror laws, Lord Carlile, told BBC News he doesn’t believe there should be a new inquiry into allegations of UK complicity in torture.

CIA torture did not help foil UK terror plots

Other media reports said:

The US Senate Intelligence Committee report says the CIA misrepresented its role in uncovering terror plots linked to the UK, including a plan to fly hijacked planes into Heathrow Airport and London’s Canary Wharf. In reality, it was British law enforcement agencies that scotched those plots.

Several of the cases that the CIA used to justify its “brutal” torture program had links to the UK.

The CIA claimed its techniques uncovered a plot by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and accomplices “to target the UK using hijacked aircraft and surmised that Heathrow Airport and a building in Canary Wharf, a major business district in London, were powerful economic symbols.”

The plot to strike Heathrow in 2003 never progressed beyond its early stages, the report found, and was already defunct by the time Mohammed was captured in early 2003.

Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was waterboarded 183 times. The CIA cited the plan to attack Heathrow as one of the “plots discovered as a result” of waterboarding in a briefing note for the US president George W Bush in 2007.
Clare Algar, a lawyer who works for UK human rights group Reprieve, said it is widely known Britain was “up to its neck in the CIA’s rendition and torture program.”

The CIA also claimed it was responsible for the capture of Al-Qaeda UK operative Dhiren Barot, who allegedly planned to plant radioactive, chemical or toxic gas bombs and pack limousines with nails and explosives in the UK and America. Barot was sentenced to life in 2006.

The CIA used the capture of the Briton and the foiling of his plot as evidence of the “effectiveness” of its interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. Such claims were “inaccurate,” the report found. Instead, it revealed: “The operation that resulted in ... Dhiren Barot’s arrest, and the thwarting of his plotting, resulted from the investigative activities of UK government authorities.”

The report also says the CIA claimed credit for the arrest and conviction in Britain of shoe-bomber Saajid Badat, thanks to its interrogation techniques. Badat was jailed in 2005 for trying to explode a shoe bomb aboard a transatlantic flight from London to the US.

However, the report stated: “UK domestic investigative efforts, reporting from foreign intelligence services, international law enforcement efforts, and US military reporting resulted in the identification and arrest of Saajid Badat.”

“Patriots”

George W Bush said the CIA officers involved were "patriots,” while his then vice-president, Dick Cheney, said the suggestion that the CIA had “gone rogue” and over-stepped its legal authorization was “all a bunch of hooey.”
Is the UK complicit?

Media reports said:

With the release of the CIA’s use of torture post 9/11, Britain’s previously undisclosed role in the controversial rendition program is somewhat clearer. The report also details assistance offered by foreign allied states.
Despite repeated violent interrogation of terror suspects – instances of which Dianne Feinstein, the committee chair, admitted were “torture” – the CIA failed to gather any information that foiled subsequent threats to US national security, the report found.

It also revealed the CIA’s treatment of terror suspects breached the body’s legal mandate and uncovered evidence of what investigators concluded was the intelligence agency’s systematic deception of Congress.

The document was redacted amid a string of consultations with top CIA officials. Nevertheless, recent reports reveal the committee chair battled to retain significant details about the involvement of Britain and other US allies in the controversial CIA rendition program.

The UK government, which has failed to oversee an adequate state investigation into Britain’s involvement in these practices, will be concerned about the contents of the Senate’s report.

In August, records published under Britain’s Freedom of Information (FoI) Act heightened fears the British government lobbied US officials to sanitize the report, and obscure the UK’s role in CIA rendition.

At the time, it emerged UK ambassador to the US, Peter Westmacott, engaged in at least 21 separate meetings with members of SSCI prior to the publication of its long-awaited report.

In recent years, some detail on the scope of Britain’s involvement in US rendition practices post 9/11 has surfaced.
An array of leaks, which surfaced prior to the publishing of the Senate's report, highlighted Britain’s collaborative role in the CIA's mistreatment and abuse of terror suspects. Of particular note, are allegations that British foreign territory Diego Garcia was used to transfer detainees via rendition flights, contradicting a series of UK government denials that Britain presided over such practices.

The pregnant wife of one of the detained Libyans claims she was bound to a stretcher with tape from head-to-toe for the duration of a 17-hour flight.

Reports have surfaced that UK intelligence officers interrogated prisoners detained in Guantánamo Bay and at Bagram in Afghanistan, in full knowledge they were being maltreated. It has also been revealed that the British government offered logistical support for key aircraft in CIA rendition exercises, permitting them to refuel at UK military and civilian airports hundreds of times.

Cover-up

Another media report said:

In 2013, the British government shelved a state inquiry into Britain’s role in CIA rendition, only to be criticized by the probe’s presiding judge, who suggested the investigation lacked sufficient depth and stringency.
The inquiry is now expected to be managed by Britain’s intelligence and security committee – a group of peers and MPs who concluded seven years ago that Britain bore no complicity in CIA rendition practices. But the UK’s leading human rights organizations have declared a boycott against the new parliamentary inquiry.
The letter detailing the boycott warned the influential coalition of groups had no trust in the committee’s capacity to uncover the truth.

While descriptions of the roles adopted by US-allied states in the Senate Committee’s report were comprehensive, they were portrayed anonymously.

Concrete evidence that Britain was explicitly implicated in severe violations of human rights common to extraordinary rendition could expose the UK government to legal action.

Poland Sweden Italy Macedonia Romania Lithuania

In July, the European court of human rights ruled Polish government officials had actively facilitated the CIA’s European secret prison program.

Legal proceedings and official inquiries have also concluded that Sweden, Italy and Macedonia were implicated in CIA renditions. Romania and Lithuania currently face European Court of Justice (ECJ) proceedings with respect to their involvement in the CIA's program for interrogating and detaining terror suspects.

But the British government continues to battle against accountability in the UK courts, and have reneged on their “promise to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry into the UK’s role in CIA torture.” It is being told that this is not the behavior of a government committed to transparency and democratic accountability.

[Source: Countercurrents.org]

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