Blair and Brown Governments Gory with Torture 156

Even I was taken aback by the sheer scale of British active involvement in extraordinary rendition revealed by yesterday’s report of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. Dominic Grieve and the committee deserve congratulations for their honesty, integrity and above all persistence. It is plain from the report that 10 Downing Street did everything possible to handicap the work of the committee. Most crucially they were allowed only to interview extremely senior civil servants and not allowed to interview those actively engaged in the torture and rendition programme.

Theresa May specifically and deliberately ruled out the Committee from questioning any official who might be placed at risk of criminal proceedings – see para 11 of the report. The determination of the government to protect those who were complicit in torture tells us much more about their future intentions than any fake apology.

In fact it is impossible to read paras 9 to 14 without being astonished at the sheer audacity of Theresa May’s attempts to obstruct the inquiry. They were allowed to interview only 4 out of 23 requested witnesses, and those were not allowed “to talk about the specifics of the operations in which they were involved nor fill in any gaps in the timeline”. If the UK had a genuinely free media, this executive obstruction of the Inquiry would be the lead story. Instead it is not mentioned in any corporate or state media, despite the committee report containing a firm protest:

It is worth reflecting that the Tory government has acted time and time again to protect New Labour’s Tony Blair, David Miliband, Jack Straw and Gordon Brown from any punishment for their complicity in torture, and indeed to limit the information on it available to the public. The truth is that the Tories and New Labour (which includes the vast majority of current Labour MPs) are all a part of the same elite interest group, and when under pressure they stick together as a class against the people.

Despite being hamstrung by government, the Committee managed through exhaustive research of classified documents to pull together evidence of British involvement in extraordinary rendition and mistreatment of detainees on a massive scale. The Committee found 596 individual documented incidents of the security services obtaining “intelligence” from detainee interrogations involving torture or severe mistreatment, ranging from 2 incidents of direct involvement, “13 to 15” of actually being in the room, through those where the US or other authorities admitted to the torture, to those where the detainee told the officer they had been tortured. They found three instances where the UK had paid for rendition flights.

My own evidence to the Committee focused on the over-arching policy framework, and specifically the fact that Jack Straw and Richard Dearlove had agreed a deliberate and considered policy of obtaining intelligence through torture. The report includes disappointingly little of my evidence, as the Committee has taken a very narrow view of its remit to oversee the intelligence agencies. This is the only part of my evidence included:

130. This was not unique to the Agencies. Their sponsoring Departments appear to have adopted the same approach. We heard evidence from a former FCO official, Craig Murray, who suggested that “there was a deliberate policy of not committing the discussion on receipt of intelligence through torture to paper in the Foreign Office”.
In July 2004, when he was Ambassador to Tashkent, he raised concerns about the use of Uzbek intelligence derived from torture in a formal exchange of telegrams with the FCO. Mr Murray drew our attention to FCO documents from the same time, which we have seen, one of which referred to “meetings to look at conditions of receipt of intelligence as a general issue”. He told us that the meetings “specifically discuss[ed] the receipt of intelligence under torture from Uzbekistan” and “were absolutely key to the formation of policy on extraordinary rendition and intelligence”.
Mr Murray told us that, when he had given evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee about this, they sought the documents from the FCO which replied that the “meetings were informal meetings and were not minuted ”. He went on to say:
“the idea that you have regular meetings convened at director level, convened by the Director of Security and Intelligence, where you are discussing the receipt of intelligence from torture, and you do not minute those meetings is an impossibility, unless an actual decision or instruction not to minute the meetings has been given.… Were it not for me and my bloody-mindedness, … you would never know those meetings had happened. Nobody would ever know those meetings had happened.”

131. We note that we have not seen the minutes of these meetings either: this causes us great concern. Policy discussions on such an important issue should have been minuted. We support
Mr Murray’s own conclusion that were it not for his actions these matters may never have come to light.

Jack Straw to this day denies knowledge and involvement and famously told Parliament that the whole story about rendition and torture was a “conspiracy theory”.

Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea. I do not think it would be justified.”

In fact I strongly recommend you to read the whole Hansard transcript, from Q21 to Q51, in which Jack Straw carries out the most sustained bravura performance of lying to parliament in modern history. The ISC report makes plain he was repeatedly involved in direct authorisations of rendition operations, while denying to parliament the very existence of such operations.

For over a decade now the British government, be it Red Tory or Blue Tory, has been refusing calls for a proper public inquiry into its collusion with torture. The ISC report was meant to stand in place of such an Inquiry, but all it has done is reveal that there is a huge amount of complicity in torture, much more than we had realised, which the ISC itself states it was precluded from properly investigating because of government restrictions on its operations. It also concluded in a separate report on current issues, that it is unable to state categorically that these practices have stopped.

The Blair and Brown governments were deeply immersed in torture, a practice that increased hatred of the UK in the Muslim world and thus increased the threat of terrorism. Their ministers repeatedly lied about it, including to parliament. The British state has since repeatedly acted to ensure impunity for those involved, from Blair and Straw down to individual security service officers, who are not to be held responsible for their criminal complicity. This impunity of agents of the state is a complete guarantee that these evil practices will continue.

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156 thoughts on “Blair and Brown Governments Gory with Torture

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  • Rhys Jaggar

    Never quite worked out why, if torture works, why someone does not kidnap OUR dear leaders and Torture them?

    I am sure Gordon Brown, after half a bottle of the Amber Nectar, would be well up for torturing Tony Blair. But probably not on Iraq, so need a different torturer for that.

    Things to torture out of him:

    1) When did you know the financial details of your reward for going all-in with Dubya over Iraq?
    2) What threats did you make to the Attorney General to reverse his judgement on legality of Iraq invasion?
    3) Did you shag Anji Hunter during your sojourn at Number Ten and, if so, was her shagging Adam Boulton incompatible with retaining secrets of State? Or was that merely your version of ‘back channels to the USA via big cheese Rupe’?

    I suppose it all depends on whether Cherie is a woman scorned or not whether she could emulate Hillary and apply the gonad crushers to errant husband? Might stop her wanting to bomb the life out of millions of Arabs somewhere or other…..if you think 1 million Arab lives saved justifies torturing the sh*t out of a Western Leader with blood on their hands….

    But as Mr Murray has intimated, torture does not work, so all this is just hypothetical content for satirical comedy.

  • Steve Hayes

    “This impunity of agents of the state is a complete guarantee that these evil practices will continue.”

    This is of course true – and it is precisely the reason why they are never held accountable for their war crimes and crimes against humanity.

  • Sharp Ears

    This is how the Israelis torture Palestinians.

    Torture, Israeli-style – as described by the interrogators themselves …
    24 Jan 2017 –
    Torture of Palestinian detainees by Shin Bet investigators rises sharply … If the suspect falls, the interrogators put him back in position, and they keep him there even if the suspect cries, begs or screams…. ‘

    Torture, Israeli-style – as Described by the Interrogators Themselves
    Slaps were the first method that N. listed. He said the force used is moderate, but the goal is to hurt sensitive organs like the nose, ears, brow and lips.

    Google ‘Palestinians banana position torture’ Horrific.

  • Sharp Ears

    75 years on or so, these names crop up again.

    ‘Take steel and weapons manufacturer Krupp (now ThyssenKrupp). When Germany lost World War ii, the company was forbidden by the Allies to manufacture arms (as it was after World War i) and Alfried Krupp, the company’s owner, was convicted of war crimes including the use of mass slave labor. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to forfeit all his property. Later, however, the U.S. high commissioner for Germany granted him amnesty and restored much of his holdings. Alfried Krupp was released in the early part of 1951, and even though many of the Krupp factories, shipyards and steel and coal mines had been damaged, destroyed or dismantled, Krupp was still able to reestablish itself as a leading German company by the 1960s, to continue its 100-year tradition of supplying Germany with the arms needed for war.
    The speed at which ThyssenKrupp reestablished itself as a corporate giant is astonishing.’

    Thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel seal landmark steel joint venture deal
    •The seal will create Europe’s number two steelmaker.
    •JV forms the core of CEO Hiesinger’s transformation plan.
    •Thyssenkrupp would get more proceeds in an IPO.
    •Thyssen to present a refined strategy to its board in July.

    British Steel as we knew it is well and truly gone. Thanks for that to Maggie and her hatchet man, Ian McGregor.

    In the 1980s, Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher re-privatised BSC as British Steel. Under private control, the company dramatically cut its work force and underwent a radical reorganisation and massive capital investment to again become competitive in the world marketplace.
    British Steel (1967–1999)–1999)

    • Dave Lawton

      Sharp Ears
      “75 years on or so, these names crop up again.”
      “British Steel as we knew it is well and truly gone. Thanks for that to Maggie and her hatchet man, Ian McGregor.”

      Ian McGregor became a tool of the CIA when he co-founded the Advanced energy research institute.

  • richard heron

    Weep for our children and their world as May joins Trump in the support of the rebirth of Fascism – in Europe and US with concentration camps for Mexican children and Muslim refugees in Europe.

    • Esther

      It is a sad beginning of the whole world. It’s time for the East to lead the world now.

    • Sharp Ears

      Apparently Madeleine ‘The Price Is Worth It’s Albright’ is afraid of creeping Fascism. The old witch knows no irony.

      Flogging her book too. Fascism:A Warning

      She wad on with Marr this morning. He loves war criminals.

      Madeleine Albright:On Fascism, Trump and Trade

  • Roxy

    The grifter that keeps on giving : The JP Morgan Bribe, Mysterious of Dropping ‘case’ against Katherine Gun which would have given extensive exposure to a plot to blackmail UN officials. Labour is devalued by not expelling the mobster… And nothing from the Hague either.. oh gosh, I forgot their affirmation action, Blacks, only policy…

  • Tatyana

    Movie “Unthinkable”, 2010, by Gregor Jordan. Only for adult and mentally stable persons please.
    You can find everything in it – islam, terrorists, special service, torture apologysts.
    Available at YouTube in English with arabian subtitles

  • Janis

    Peter Beaumont’s article in today’s Observer 01.07.18 entitled “I tried to expose torture truth – but was lied to again and again” is hard-hitting, but why has it been relegated to, if not buried on, page 41 of the news section after articles on fashion, Wimbledon housing etc, etc.

    Why did the Editor consign it to a place two-thirds into the news section, rather than to the place it deserves on the front page. I am genuinely interested in your views on this.

  • Chris Abbott

    Of course it’s wrong in any civilised country. Someone I knew died in the London bombs, and did not deserve to. So I do ask myself if there had been the possibility of getting info to prevent that event, and save her life, and those of many others, and I had been in a position to sanction getting that info by whatever means, would I have stopped torture. Maybe yes, maybe no. This is something that can be intelligently debated, outside the US production line torture that Straw and co signed off on.
    I am genuinely interested to know how the many smart people on here would respond to this dilemma.

  • LenkaPenka

    “Jack Straw to this day denies knowledge and involvement and famously told Parliament that the whole story about rendition and torture was a “conspiracy theory”.”

    Jack has dug his grave, and there is no return even if he wished.

  • tiredofthemedialies

    Jack McConnell, ex- First Minister of Scotland was also complicit in renditions of prisoners in allowing Prestwick airport to be used by CIA ‘black ops’ European and American flights, for exactly that purpose.
    The Scottish Executive should also hold a transparent inquiry into anyone in government assisting renditions and torture , but it won’t.

  • Sharp Ears

    Football News…from Gaza this time.

    Champions on Crutches: Palestinians Form First Amputee Football Team in Gaza
    The founder of the Palestine Amputee Football Association hopes to form a national team and compete in international competitions
    1st July 2018

    ‘Ten of the 13 members on the team suffered amputations due to injuries sustained from Israel’s three military operations targeting the Gaza Strip between 2008-14. Others were victims of shelling incidents that have occurred sporadically since the beginning of the blockade Israel imposed on the strip in 2007.’

    BLiar was witness to some of those wars when he was based in his suite in the luxurious Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, as the laughingly named Quartet Envoy, from 2007- May 2015.

  • Nicky

    Margaret Thatcher was just as bad as this lets not forget that .. Thatcher government saw war on Saddam as an ‘unparalleled opportunity’ to sell arms, declassified secret memos reveal also check out Shadow World and lets not forget her son Mr Mark Thatcher a professional international fixer who made millions from it. also check out The Arabian Connection: The UK Arms Trade to Saudi Arabia also take a look at this to see the bigger picture amazing how Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates done so well after this while Iraq lost everything .. Goodnight with George Galloway Thatcher episode, Explosive!

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