Government tried to prevent disclosure of detention manual

The government’s attempts to delay the current proceedings that have yielded highly classified documents for public consumption have received a rebuttal out of court. The failed attempt to suppress the information out of court, a ‘spin-off’ hope from the appeal court’s dismissal of the same case in May, has dented the coalition’s plans to restore confidence in the British Intelligence service who have been implicated in the torture of British citizens in Guantanamo and Afghanistan. It also follows previous failed efforts by David Miliband in October 2009 to prevent the disclosure of a CIA report that claimed that MI5 were fully aware that Binyam Mohamed was subject to ‘inhumane treatment’ during  interrogation in Morocco and Afghanistan, supplying information and questions to the Moroccans and Americans. Miliband was under pressure to protect the identities of those involved.

The inquiry, led by Sir Peter Gibson, will press ahead with raiding through the chest of 500,000 documents considered relevant to the judicial inquiry announced by David Cameron last week.  Among the documents that the government asked to remain undisclosed was the ‘Detainees and Detention Operations’ manual. The official document from MI6, which provides step-by-step guidelines that impressively manage to surf the boundaries of both legality and morality, contains a particularly chilling line regarding the jurisdiction of a particular detention that reads:

Is it clear that detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation?

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Measured antipathy and treachery by British Intelligence

An official report of an interview with Omar Deghayes confirmed his testimony, given in this interview with Spectacle back in December 2008, that British Intelligence were complicit in his torture during interrogation at a US airbase in Afghanistan.

The reports formally recognises Deghayes complaints that he suffered internal bleeding, and showed considered revulsion at Deghayes’ health visibly deteriorating during repeated visits to interrogate him in US custody, “Throughout the interview Deghayes expectorated rather disgustingly into a tissue as if he were still tubercular. These moments usually coincided with those answers were he was most evasive.”

Another report implicates the British Intelligence in calculated abandonment of Deghayes, stating, “We are due to see him 2100 local time on 4th March and propose that we treat this as our last opportunity to get the full truth from him. If he sticks to his story and just gives us a few more details, we propose disengaging and allowing events here to take their course.” Disengagement at this point meant rendition to lawless Guantanamo.

Deghayes is one of the former British Muslim detainees abducted and sent to US custody against their will despite being entitled to consular protection, and is one of seven former prisoners bringing cases alleging complicity in their torture against the Home Office, the Foreign Office and British Intelligence.

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No-one’s really bothered, keep going

“Public opinion has on the whole shown little concern about the welfare of the British detainees, or the legal terms of their detention. But the issue is clearly of sensitivity to Muslim opinion in the UK and abroad.”

The source of this quote is a memo circulated to the junior Foreign Office ministers, the Foreign Office press office and the department’s senior legal advisor, Sir Michael Wood on 4 January 2002, and refers to a number of British citizens and residents who at the time were being detained by US forces. The objective nature and breezy tone of the memo betrays a shocking disregard for the suffering of prisoners who, as revealed in several of the other documents, were witnessed by British Intelligence to have been in a rapidly deteriorating state.

What is more alarming is that the message was a clear signal to indulge in the illegality, secret acts of abduction and flying prisoner from cell to cell, on the grounds that they were getting away with it.

First hand video testimony of this process from Omar Deghayes documents the horrifying results of these decisions.

The memo is among 900 classified documents disclosed during high court proceedings this week as part of the official inquiry into the Labour government’s rendition of UK citizens, and goes on to say that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should be, “seen as applying our normal standards of consular assistance as far as possible,” wholeheartedly asking its recipients not to be forthcoming about the fact that their government was knowingly allowing its people to be tortured.

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Post-birthday blues for Miliband

Any cause for celebration for David Miliband as he reflected on another year of career expediency will have been cut short by fresh accusations about his level of knowledge of British citizens rendition and subsequent torture.

Despite his promise that the current version of the guidelines, for MI5 and MI6 on how to carry out interrogations. will be published when reviewed and made suitable for public consumption, he has refused to publish the old guidelines – which he claims were more ‘informal’ than the updated version published in 2004 – on the grounds that it would give ‘succour to our enemies’.

The withholding of the official guidelines to interrogation discipline and technique is an attempt to suppress implications not only of his own government but also of those that deem torture necessary in obtaining information, contradicting his insistence that Britain should not collude with other countries that have ‘different standards to our own’.

It also demonstrates a depressing resolve to follow US practices. As the classified documents that implicate the Labour government’s complicity in the torture of British nationals suspected of terrorism demonstrate, Blair – who overruled Foreign Office attempts to give consular assistance to the former detainees – allowed suspects to be transferred to localities were torture was known to take place. Now Miliband is purveying the US default patriotic response to allegations of unlawful secrecy by claiming that to release the how-to detention pamphlet would undermine national security, whose authority must not be challenged.

Miliband’s protestation that he was unaware of any rendition or mistreatment was weakened considerably by the revelation that Gulam Mustafa, a 48 year-old businessman from Birmingham, was sent to Bangladesh and tortured with the full knowledge of MI5 in May of this year. Miliband remains a candidate in the race for the Labour leadership.

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Omar Deghayes Video Testimony

During an in-depth interview with Spectacle in December 2008, Omar Deghayes described the astonishing betrayal and complicity of British Intelligence agent, ‘Andrew’, and others (MI5 and MI6) while held illegally in Pakistan, before being sold into US custody and subjected to torture.

Omar Deghayes is one of the former detainees of Guantánamo and Bagram at the centre of an explosion of news stories surrounding classified documents that implicate the involvement of Tony Blair’s government in the torture of terror suspects.

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Inquiry Confirms UK Collusion in Torture

Highly classified documents have been disclosed that detail the involvement of Tony Blair’s government in the torture of its own citizens. The documents not only support claims by six former Guantánamo detainees that British Intelligence were complicit in their mistreatment but also implicates the previous government in a number of illegal operations and thwarting attempts by Foreign Office officials to try the suspects in the UK.

The interrogation reports, which were released in today’s Guardian, are the first batch of an estimated 500,000 documents that the government believe may be pertinent in the judicial inquiry announced last week by David Cameron.

First hand testimony with Omar Deghayes, one of the former Guantánamo Bay detainees,  can be seen here in an interview with Spectacle. He describes his interrogation by British Intelligence agent, “Andrew”, and others (MI5 and MI6) while held illegally in Pakistan, before being sold into US custody and rendered to Bagram prison in Afghanistan and subjected to torture.

Spectacle’s documentary about the stories of three former Guantánamo prisoners – Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo – is currently available to order by DVD. If you would like to arrange a screening of the film, please contact Spectacle distribution.

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Omar Deghayes, former Guantanamo Bay detainee, describes his interrogation by British Intelligence

VIDEO INTERVIEW: FORMER GUANTANÁMO DETAINEE ON BRITISH COMPLICITY IN TORTURE

Omar Deghayes, former Guantanamo Bay detainee, describes his interrogation by British Intelligence agent, “Andrew’, and others (MI5 and MI6) while held illegally in Pakistan, before being sold into US custody and rendered to Bagram prison in Afghanistan and subjected to torture. This is an extended rough cut from Spectacle’s film: “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo”

WATCH Omar Deghayes’ interview

For related interviews and extras visit Spectacle’s Archive Page

For further information on the Guantanamo Project visit Spectacle’s Project Page

To find out when/where screenings of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo” are taking place visit Spectacle’s Events Page

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Ministers determined to “avoid” scrutiny over torture, say MPs

Channel Four last night reported that the joint committee on human rights, investigating claims of UK intelligence forces complicity in torture, have called for a major inquiry into the role of British security forces abroad. The group of MP’s described the government’s level of accountability on this matter as ‘woefully deficient’.

The committee has been investigating a series of allegations against British security forces, including those of Binyam Mohamed, that they used information gathered under torture as part of MI5 investigations  into terrorism.

According to Channel Four the committee’s report finds:

‘the accusations of complicity in torture would amount to illegality if proved; but says the government has failed to engage with the charges, instead “hiding behind a wall of secrecy”.

“As to what may have happened in the past, general assertions of non-complicity are no longer an adequate response to the many detailed allegations,”

Spectacle has been reporting on allegations of torture through it Guantanamo project and has video testimony from Omar Deghayes describing his maltreatment at the hands of the British.

It’s good to see MP’s within parliament are beginning to put pressure on the government to take responsibility for it’s actions. Torture is illegal and those who are complicit in a crime should be sent to jail whether they are ministers or not.

To see Channel Fours report on this issue please click here

To see edits of Spectacles film The Guantanamo Files which deal with torture please click here

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Criminal investigations into torture finally begins

According to The Guardian (July 10), the metropolitan police have launched an investigation into allegations by Binyam Mohamed that MI5 officers were complicit in his torture.

The investigation has been launched by the Attorney General after Binyam, a former Guantanamo detainee, persistently argued he was interrogated by MI5 and the FBI while being tortured in Pakistan.

Later on in his detainment, whilst being held captive in Morocco, Binyam became aware of British agents feeding his torturers questions and information. This supports  the claim of many other former captives, including Omar Deghayes who is featured on the Spectacle website, that British agents were not only aware of torture by foreign agents but used it to garner information from suspects.

The question we have to ask is why it has taken the police so long to launch this investigation and when  will criminal investigation be extended to every case of torture?

Furthermore, given the governments reluctance to release key documents related to Binyams case how indepth is any investigation going to be?

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British intelligence told not to ‘intervene’ to prevent torture

The Guardian has reported that a policy was issued after the September 11 attacks asking MI5 to ignore torture. Though MI5 officers were not allowed to ‘condone’ or be seen to ‘engage’ in torture they were told not  to intervene if they were aware of suspects being tortured.

The Guardian claims officers were told they were not under any obligation to prevent detainees from being mistreated by other security forces.

“Given that they are not within our ­custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene to prevent this,” the policy said.

This supports the claims of former Guantanamo detainees Omar Deghayes and Binyam Mohamed that British intelligence officers were aware of their interrogation and torture.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jun/18/tony-blair-secret-torture-policy

To view a clip of Omar Deghayes interview please visit our Guantanamo Project Page.

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