« Home | Dumbing down Michael Gove style. » | The Queen's last gasp. » | The Sun's non-birthday and Graham Dudman's letter ... » | Scum-watch: Getting it completely wrong on Labour'... » | Weekend links. » | The real story from Glasgow North East. » | Craig Murray legally threatened by Quilliam Founda... » | The DNA database fudge. » | Scum-watch: Well meaning, not bloody shameful. » | Scum-watch: How to lose friends and alienate peopl... » 

Friday, November 20, 2009 

The war against evidence of torture continues.

How then goes our glorious government's consistent attempts to stop any primary evidence emerging of our collusion in, if not open acceptance of the use of torture when it came to interrogating suspects caught up in TWAT (the war against terror)?

This week brought rulings to please both sides. Yesterday, for the sixth straight time in a row, the high court rejected the claims of the Foreign Office that to reveal seven paragraphs of a CIA memo sent to MI5 and MI6, a memo which almost certainly details the "treatment" which Binyam Mohamed was being subjected to whilst detained in Pakistan, would damage national security and could potentially stop the CIA sharing information with us. This is, as the judges have repeatedly argued, preposterous. According to them, the memo contains no actual secret intelligence, instead rather a summary sent to the intelligence services on Mohamed. What the memo almost certainly does contain though is prima facie evidence that MI5 and MI6 knew years before they previously claimed that the US was either conniving in or actively mistreating prisoners indirectly under their care or supervision.

In the latest ruling, the judges make clear that one of the paragraphs makes reference to the infamous Bybee memo, released by the Obama administration earlier in the year. The Bybee memo details exactly how Abu Zubaydah, then the most senior al-Qaida operative in US custody, could be tortured, supposedly without breaching the prohibition against torture in the United States code. In a section which remains redacted, there is apparently a verbatim quote from the memo: apparently we can't see what the Americans have already released to the world. To infer, it looks as if the memo is justifying, or explaining to the intelligence services in this country, that Mohamed will be or has been treated in a similar fashion, and that because Bybee OKed it, there's nothing to worry about on the legality front.

The real reason then why the government is so determined to keep this memo secret is that it contradicts everything they have maintained over the alleged intelligence service collusion with torture. Not just the government story, but also the story which the intelligence services themselves have continuously thrust down our throats. They told the intelligence and security committee that they only joined together the dots on what the CIA was doing when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, claiming that despite knowing about the rendition programme, there was "no automatic connection between secret facilities and mistreatment". To call this laughable would be putting it too lightly; that the ISC believed this most blatant of lies, this lack of intellectual curiosity and complete failure to put two and two together is why it ought to be disbanded and a watchdog with real power to monitor the security services immediately set-up in its place.

While however the government will yet again appeal against the high court ruling, they must have been utterly delighted with the one made in the same parish by Mr Justice Silber. On Wednesday he ruled that MI5, MI6 and the police can potentially withhold evidence from defendants and their lawyers in any civil case, if it is determined to be "secret government information" which they seek. As the Binyam Mohamed memo case shows, what can be determined to be "secret government information" is remarkably elastic. Not that MI5, MI6 or the government could decide personally what is secret or isn't, oh no. Instead "special advocates", presumably the same that act for those being held on control orders and who can't be specifically told on what information their movement and rights are being restricted will decide. As Louise Christian complained afterwards, the judge's ruling effectively allows "government to rely on secret evidence in the ordinary civil courts ... a constitutional outrage".

As one window opens slightly, another is slammed shut. Not that is just us and the Americans who have disgraced ourselves: even the Canadians are finding that "the good war" means handing over captives to the Afghan intelligence services, and with it almost certainly into their torture dungeons. Interesting is the way that the Canadians are attacking Richard Colvin's credibility, just as the government has repeatedly done the same against the whistleblowers here. The taint on all of us is going to take an awfully long time to lift.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share |

Post a Comment

Links to this post

Create a Link

About

  • This is septicisle
profile

Links

    blogspot stats
    Subscribe

     Subscribe in a reader

Archives

Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates