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Torture: Britain's 'Catalogue Of Shame'

22573605_df0eae2fde by mellowboxA major piece by Ian Cobain in today's Guardian examines the significant part torture has played in Britain's post-9/11 anti-terrorism policy:

Today, however, there is mounting evidence that torture is still regarded by some agents of the British state as a useful and legitimate investigative tool. There is evidence too that in the post-9/11 world, government officials have been prepared to look the other way while British citizens, and others, have been tortured in secret prisons around the world. It is also clear that an official policy, devised to govern British intelligence officers while interrogating people held overseas, resulted in people being tortured.

In a series of case studies Cobain shows how torture has become a standard method of interrogation for the British intelligence services, and how everyone involved- from personnel on the ground to high-ranking government ministers- may be complicit.

Some key paragraphs (though we recommend you read the full article). Lessons not learned from Northern Ireland (and this sounds suspiciously similar to Guantánamo-style 'of course we respect human rights but enhanced interrogation is OK' torture):
It appears that nobody thought to give officers from either agency any advice about the Geneva Conventions, and nor were they warned that in 1972 the British government had banned five techniques of mistreatment that had been employed by the British army in Northern Ireland - hooding, being forced to stand in a stressful position with arms outstretched against a wall, being subjected to loud noise, sleep deprivation, food and drink deprivation. But, as senior officers from both organisations later reassured the ISC, they "operate in a culture that respects human rights ..."

Leaving the dirty work to the ISI (though British agents provided the post-whipping/ drilling debrief):
Then a guard came in with an electric drill. "I was told to face the wall, and the guard was told: 'Drill another hole in his buttocks.'" The guard switched on the drill, and touched Amin's backside. At this point he appears to have passed out. When he came around the questioning continued, his interrogators whipping his head.

Over the next two weeks he was interrogated almost every day. His interrogation was co-ordinated with the questioning of 20 other men - one in New York, one in Ottawa, and 18 in London - who had been detained a few days earlier. Throughout his ordeal, Amin says, it was made clear to him that this treatment had been requested by the British.

And why this is likely to have gone all the way up to Tony Blair:
So who in government was party to these lengthy discussions? How high up did it go? Could it be that this is what is contained in the 42 classified US documents that Miliband is attempting to prevent the public from seeing? Stafford Smith has seen the documents, but is prevented by law from revealing their contents. However, when asked how far up the decisions over Mohamed were taken, Stafford Smith says this: "There are things I can't talk about because they're classified. I can't say why I believe that this probably went all the way to No 10. I would be astounded if No 10 didn't know what was going on."

Full article.

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