Friday, December 20, 2013

Official: UK collaborated in rendition and torture

Back in 2010 the UK government established an inquiry into its collusion in torture and rendition. Run by the Intelligence Services Commissioner and hearing evidence in secret, it had all the hallmarks of a whitewash - which is why human rights groups boycotted it and why I cheered when it was shut down to allow actual criminal investigation of two cases of rendition to Libya. But despite being shut down, it still had to report its findings - and the evidence of British wrongdoing was so overwhelming that it couldn't be ignored:

Former government ministers and intelligence chiefs face a series of disturbing questions over the UK's involvement in the abduction and torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11, an official inquiry has concluded.

In a damning report that swept aside years of denials, the Gibson inquiry concluded that the British government and its intelligence agencies had been involved in so-called rendition operations, in which detainees were kidnapped and flown around the globe, and had interrogated detainees whom they knew were being mistreated.

MI6 officers were informed that they were under no obligation to report breaches of the Geneva Convention; intelligence officers appear to have taken advantage of the abuse of detainees; and Jack Straw, as foreign secretary, had suggested that the law might be amended to allow suspects to be "rendered" to the UK.

There's more here specifically on the issue of collaborating in torture, and it looks very bad. At best its depraved indifference to an international crime; at worst its a tacit understanding (legally, a conspiracy) to outsource torture. People need to be prosecuted for this, and those who set the policies allowing it need to be held to account.

The British government had promised that any interim findings would be handed over to a properly independent judicial inquiry, and had repeated that promise for three years. But as usual, they lied - followup will now be done by the intelligence and security committee, all of whom are personally appointed by the Prime Minister. So, rather than accepting responsibility, prosecuting and/or firing those responsible for these crimes, and compensating their victims, the British establishment will do what it usually does: try to shuffle a very stinky corpse under a very bloodstained carpet and pretend nothing ever happened. And then they'll wonder why no-one believes a word they say, or why shit like this happens.