الجمعة , يونيو 12 2020

MPs request CIA material on UK role



Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP

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Sir Malcolm Rifkind: “If British intelligence officials were present when people were being tortured then they were complicit in that torture”

A committee of MPs is to request that the US hands over any material documenting the UK’s role in the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation programme.

A US Senate report found “brutal” treatment of al-Qaeda suspects in the wake of 9/11.

Downing Street has said some material was removed from the report at the UK’s request, for national security reasons.

But it said no redactions related to British involvement in the mistreatment of prisoners.

The House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee is conducting an inquiry into the treatment of detainees by British intelligence agencies in the decade following 9/11.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who heads the intelligence committee, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show it would ask the US government if it could see the redacted material.

He said that if British intelligence officials were present when people were being tortured then they were complicit in that torture.

“That would be quite against all the standards of this country, it would be something that ought to be brought into the public domain,” Sir Malcolm added.

‘Brutal’ interrogations

The former foreign secretary also wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that the committee needed to discuss whether the government or intelligence or security agencies had attempted to redact parts of the Senate report that might have been embarrassing.

He said there would be a range of issues to examine, including the use of Diego Garcia, an island which is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, where there is a US military base.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, meanwhile, told the Marr Show she had concerns that the intelligence committee did not have the capacity and scope to be able to get to the truth.

A 525-page summary of the report, compiled by Democrats on the 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.

National security

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.

A Freedom of Information request by the charity Reprieve earlier this year showed the UK government met members of the Senate Committee on Intelligence 24 times since 2009, although there are no details about what was discussed.

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.

Mr Straw told the BBC that he would “be delighted to give evidence today”, adding that “as soon as the legal hurdles are out of the way, I fully expect to do so”.

The Metropolitan police began investigating claims that UK secret services helped in the rendition of two men to Libya in 2012, and a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service earlier this year.

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