14 December 2014
Last updated at 04:38
Sir Malcolm Rifkind is to request that the United States hands over material documenting the UK’s role in the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation programme.
The material was redacted from a US Senate report into the programme, which said CIA detainees had been tortured.
Sir Malcolm said there were “various ways” the US could be persuaded to release the classified information.
Downing Street says the redactions were not related to UK involvement in abuse of prisoners.
Sir Malcolm is head of the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, and is chairing an inquiry into the involvement of British intelligence agencies in the CIA’s programme of detaining and interrogating al-Qaeda suspects.
Speaking to the Observer newspaper, he admitted that it would be difficult to force the US to release the material against its will.
He said: “I am not going to go into the details of how we might try and achieve this, there are various ways we can try and advance it, but at the end of the day the actual decision on the American redacted material is for the Americans to take.
“One point is that the only issues we are going to be asking them about are issues relevant to the United Kingdom. We don’t need to see the whole of their redacted report.”
A 525-page summary of the report, compiled by Democrats on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, was published earlier this week – although the full version remains classified.
It revealed that the CIA carried out “brutal” interrogations of terrorism suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks. Among the abuses, the committee found:
- Detainees were subjected to repeated waterboarding, slapping, stress positions and sleep deprivation
- One suspect was kept confined in a coffin-sized box for hours on end
- Others were threatened with severe harm – psychologically and physically
However, the summary contains no reference to UK agencies.
The CIA admitted that some mistakes had been made, but insisted that the interrogation programme had saved lives and was “critical” to the agency’s understanding of al-Qaeda.
A version of the report was finished in 2012, but there were disagreements about what should be published. Part of this process was a “classification review” by the CIA into what information should remain secret.
When the report was published, Downing Street said any requests for redactions from the UK had been made by British intelligence agencies to the CIA.
It said the requests had made for reasons of national security on intelligence operations, and later added that Number 10 itself had not made any requests for redactions.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reports that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has called for former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to reveal what they knew about the CIA’s torture and rendition programme when they were in office.
“It’s for ministers in that [former Labour] government to account for their actions,” he said. “That is our tradition and that’s the expectation. I hope they will cooperate with any parliamentary inquiry.”
Following Mr Fallon’s comments, Mr Straw said: “I was never complicit in any of the CIA illegal processes. I consider it to be revolting, unlawful and also unproductive, as has come out in the Senate report.
“Of course, when it is possible for legal reasons for full inquiries to take place I will cooperate fully with them, as I always have done.”