Thursday, 11 December 2014

Torture, rendition and UK Government hypocrisy

[What follows is excerpted from an article by Derek Bateman headed Why Britain shares America's torture shame published yesterday on the Newsnet Scotland website:]

The trouble is that witness after witness has averred that British officials were associated with their kidnap, rendition and torture, sometimes intimately so. At first officially, there was ‘no British involvement’. Then there was a stopover at Diego Garcia. Then we heard of refuelling at Prestwick.

Liberty says: ‘We now know that during the War on Terror many people were unlawfully transferred from one territory to another in circumstances where they were subjected to torture, horrendous conditions of imprisonment and ill-treatment…in 2008 officials stated they were unsure how many other times such flights had passed through British airspace. This is despite previously consistent denials by the government of any such use of UK airspace.’ (...)

If you imagine the detainees all to be committed jihadist killers, it seems that as many as 26 were ‘wrongly held’, notoriously among them the al-Saadi family. They were rendered en masse (or en famille) to Libya in 2004 - Sami, an anti-Gaddafi dissident, his wife Karima and their four children, the eldest 12 and the youngest just six.

A pregnant woman was also rendered. She was Fatima Bouchard and she provides another link with the Labour government because after her forced return to Libya along with her husband where they were jailed, Britain was proud of its efforts in helping. So much so, that MI6 agent Mark Allen sent a letter to the Libyan regime to congratulate them on the arrival of their ‘air cargo’ (the Libyan couple).

The letter was addressed to the head of security in Libya Musa Kusa. He arrived in London after defecting and was set free, presumably because he had been an asset to Britain who couldn’t be allowed to talk about the nature of UK contacts with Gaddafi.

He was also the key figure who would have known the truth about any Libyan involvement in the Lockerbie Bombing. But while Megrahi was pursued and jailed, the security chief was released.

This convoluted snakes and ladders is the stuff of what passes for modern diplomacy and it shows that ‘national interest’ is a shifting and sinewy creature wriggling wherever the dark is to be found.

We only discovered after the release, courtesy of Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary, that it had been British policy to aid the release of Megrahi all along. This had been made known to the Cabinet which at the time included Jim Murphy as Scottish Secretary. But no one made this information public. Meanwhile Iain Gray was roundly lambasting the SNP government for letting Megrahi go apparently unaware that his Labour colleague Murphy already knew it was government policy. (When I tried to get Murphy to admit this, he failed three times to respond.)

So there is a history of the Cabinet having knowledge of security issues and keeping quiet, which is what I believe happened over torture rendition -  the British State knowingly staged kidnappings and illegal transport of victims for a torture regime and, in the spirit of outsourcing, gave questions to the torturers to ask…that’s our government…our LABOUR government. That is as shameful as water-boarding and cattle prods and puts us side by side with the torturers themselves. Labour – ‘Britain’s democratic socialist party…’

1 comment:

  1. What can you say? There are no words. Especially as I think most of us knew perfectly well what was going on with these myserious flights that were refuelling at Prestwick.

    I think it was also pretty clear from the events leading up to Megrahi's release that the Westminster government was tacitly signalling to Holyrood that they were absolutely on board with the idea. (Even, I believe, to Jack Straw releasing Ronnie Biggs under the same provisions in English law, despite there not even being a terminal diagnosis in Biggs's case.) Nobody breathed a word in public, for or against, but all the mood music was that the diplomatic desire was for Megrahi to return to Libya. Only after he was safely on Libyan soil was the shit-storm of abuse released against the Scottish government. Salmond has said that this utterly shocked him and was the most difficult thing he had to deal with in all his time as First Minister.

    Of course, getting away from the state and the government that was responsible for all this, that was (and is) "cosily nestled right up the US's backside" as someone else graphically put it, was one of the main reasons a lot of people in the Yes Scotland campaign supported independence. We were mocked and lied to and terrified, to keep us in the union. Of course, not only does the UK need Scotland's assets, the US needs Scotland's airspace and other handy attributes like deep-water fjords.

    Better Together? Aye, right.