We close our eyes to use of torture by our government. The Brits are stronger. Are we strong enough to follow their example and demand the truth. This is a follow-up to Something every American should read (25 March 2009).
- “Metropolitan police investigation fails to quell independent inquiry calls“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009
- “Torture victim Binyam Mohamed: don’t scapegoat MI5 officer“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009
- Other articles about torture — more than ample information about America’s torturers
- Links providing more information (updated as more information is revealed)
(1) “Metropolitan police investigation fails to quell independent inquiry calls“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009 — Excerpt:
The attorney general’s decision to call in police to investigate the role allegedly played by British intelligence officers in Binyam Mohamed’s unlawful detention and torture follows a series of battles fought on his behalf in the courts in the UK and US for almost four years.
After the government’s lawyers in one case referred evidence of possible criminal conduct by MI5 officers to home secretary Jacqui Smith, and she passed it on to the attorney general, yesterday’s decision was probably inevitable.
Mohamed’s lawyers suspect Lady Scotland called in the Metropolitan police because she had little choice, rather than because ministers were keen to find out more about the involvement of officials serving with a government agency in the alleged mistreatment of a British resident. The first sign that the police response may not be swift came with Scotland Yard’s statement that a decision about how to proceed would be taken “in due course”.
Whatever action the police eventually take, the attorney general’s announcement will do little to silence the growing clamour for an independent inquiry into the post-9/11 government policy that is now known to have been devised, in secret, to enable British intelligence officers to interrogate detainees being held by known torturers.
Mohamed was detained and tortured in Pakistan in 2002, and questioned by MI5 before being “rendered” to Morocco, where he says he suffered worse torture. At one point he claims his genitals were slashed with a scalpel.
During one case brought to the high court in London on Mohamed’s behalf last year, it emerged that some of the questions put to him by the Moroccan torturers were based on information that was passed to the CIA during a meeting at MI5’s headquarters, Thames House. Mohamed was subsequently flown to Afghanistan, where he claims he was tortured by Americans, and then moved to Guantánamo. It was from there that he was finally freed last month, and returned to the UK.
The MI5 officer who interrogated Mohamed in Pakistan told the court that he was operating in line with a policy that had been “discussed at length by security service management legal advisers and government”.
Since that interrogation, British citizens have been held in Pakistan at the request of MI5, and allegedly tortured before and after questioning by British intelligence officers. Lawyers for these men suspect the policy that allowed British officials to interrogate men such as Mohamed, who claim they were tortured after being detained at the request of Americans, led to the facilitation of torture during British counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan, Egypt and elsewhere.
(2) “Torture victim Binyam Mohamed: don’t scapegoat MI5 officer“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009 — Excerpt:
Binyam Mohamed spoke to the Guardian after the attorney general called in the Metropolitan police to investigate claims that MI5 had colluded in his interrogation.
… The attorney general, Lady Scotland, announced the unprecedented move in light of damning evidence that Britain’s security and intelligence agencies colluded with the CIA in Mohamed’s inhuman treatment and secret rendition. She said the police inquiry would look into “possible criminal wrongdoing” in what the high court described as Mohamed’s unlawful questioning.
After being arrested at Karachi airport in April 2002, while travelling on a false passport, Ethiopian-born Mohamed was held incommunicado in Pakistan, Morocco, and Afghanistan, before being flown to Guantánamo Bay in 2004.
He was released last month after the US dropped all charges against him, including claims that he was trying to make a “dirty bomb”.
… Scotland said that after reviewing a “substantial body of material, much of it highly sensitive”, and after consulting the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, she concluded that the evidence should be passed to the police.
… The evidence includes open and secret high court hearings where Officer B was questioned about his interrogation of Mohamed when he was being held in Pakistan in 2002. The court heard that MI5 provided the CIA with material to interrogate Mohamed, even though it said it had no idea at the time where he was being held and in what condition he was in.
In a case Lord Justice Thomas described as “deeply disturbing”, involving “many and very troublesome issues”, the high court concluded: “The conduct of the security service facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the United States when [Mohamed] was being detained by the United States incommunicado and without access to a lawyer.” They court added: “Under the law of Pakistan, that detention was unlawful .”
Much of the evidence is still being suppressed following gagging orders demanded by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, and the US authorities. Leading politicians and campaigners yesterday said that the issue went far beyond the particular case of Officer B, and that a broader inquiry was needed.
The Conservative leader, David Cameron, called for a “targeted and clear review … to get to the bottom of whether Britain was knowingly or unknowingly complicit in torture”.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said: “It is not enough for Gordon Brown to say the government does not endorse torture. There remain serious questions concerning how far senior political figures were implicated in these alleged practices.”
Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Commons all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, referred to the high court’s description of UK involvement in Mohamed’s interrogation as going “far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing”, and called for a wider investigation.
(3) Other articles about torture
Most Americans remain willfully ignorant of these things. It appears we lack the strength of our British cousins.
The best source of information about torture I’ve found is “EDUCING INFORMATION, Interrogation: Science and Art, Foundations for the Future“, Intelligence Science Board, National Defense Intelligence College, December 2006 — 372 pages. The authors are skeptical.
- Book review of The One Percent Doctrineby Ron Suskind in the New York Times, 20 June 2006
- “Broken Laws, Broken Lives”, Physicians for Human Rights, June 2008
- “China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo“, New York Times, 2 July 2008 — Terrible news about our government.
- “Guantanamo and the SERE schools“, Pat Lang (Colonel, US Army, retired), Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2 July 2008 — Putting the above story in a larger context of good and evil, of America and its enemies.
- “The flawed thinking of the administration’s torture advocates“, Steven Kleinman, posted at Nieman Watchdog, 7 August 2008 — It doesn’t work.
- “Executive Summary of the Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody“, Senate Armed Services Committee, December 2008 (18 pages)
- “Cancel Water-Boarding 101“, David J. Morris, Slate, 29 January 2009 — “The military should close its torture school. I know because I graduated from it.”
- “Lincoln’s Laws of War“, John Fabian Witt, Slate, 11 February 2009 — “How he built the code that Bush attempted to destroy.”
- “Ice Water and Sweatboxes – The long and sadistic history behind the CIA’s torture techniques“, By Darius Rejali, Slate, 17 March 2009
- “Detainee’s Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots“, Washington Post, 29 March 2009 — “Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials Say”
- “Bush’s Torture Rationale Debunked“, Dan Froomkin, blog of the Washington Post, 30 March 2009
- “Treatment of Fourteen ‘High Value Detainees’ in CIA Custody“, International Committee of the Red Cross, February 2007 — except in the New York Review of Books, 9 April 2009 (aprox 24 pages)
- “Of Course It Was Torture“, Gene Healy, president of the Cato Institute, 20 April 2008
- “Report Details Origins of Bush-Era Interrogation Policies“, Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent, 21 April 2009 — “Senate Armed Services Document Outlines How Pentagon Used Torture Resistance Training in Interrogations”
- “Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link“, McClatchy Newspapers, 21 April 2009
- “My Tortured Decision“, Ali Soufan, op-ed in the New York Times, 22 April 2009
Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest are:
Forecasts about the American spirit, the American soul:
- Diagnosing the eagle, chapter IV – Alienation, 13 January 2008
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
- This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are), 8 January 2008
- About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep, 25 January 2009