The British Torture State

February 17, 2009

As the Guardian reports today, David Milliband has truly surpassed himself in trying to extricate the government from complicity in torture.

It was reported last week that the Foreign Secretary had forbidden the disclosure of evidence in the case of Binyam Mohammed (a now ex-Guantanamo detainee) that might have proved the use of torture on terror suspects.

Now, the paper reports that (and it’s worth quoting in full, for maximum revulsion):

Miliband’s position in the affair came under renewed attack yesterday after it emerged that his officials solicited a letter from the US state department to back up his claim that if the evidence was disclosed, Washington might stop sharing intelligence with Britain. The claim persuaded the high court judges to suppress what they called “powerful evidence” relating to Mohamed’s ill-treatment.

So the British Foreign Secretary went cap in hand to the U.S. government and asked it to lie in order to prevent the British people from learning about the use of torture by their overlords.

This immensely deceptive move was, of course, “both perfectly sensible and the correct thing to do.”

As, naturally, is the torture of people suspected to seek the harm of British soldiers or citizens. In the case of Binyam Mohammed, Milliband no doubt deems “having his genitals slashed with a scalpel” eminently sensible.

Or, in the case of Rangzieb Ahmed from Rochdale, presumably Milliband deems having three of his fingernails removed from his left hand quite “correct.”

Then there is the case of Salahuddin Amin, a man who was jailed in 2007 as part of the “fertiliser bomb plot.” Amin has always maintained that in 2004 he was repeatedly tortured in Pakistan before being flown home, to face the majesty of British justice.

These are not isolated cases. The British state is, as we have long known, a torture state. It depends upon the brutality of others, to deliver suitably traumatized terrorist suspects, who then play starring roles in the dispensing of exemplary justice to keep the “war on terror” treadmill rolling.

As the Guardian reveals, this has come directly from the top. Aside from Milliband’s craven letter to Foggy Bottom, the other important revelation here is the testimony of an MI5 officer (“witness B”) in the High Court trial.

Referring to the removal of Binyam from Pakistan if he “cooperated” in 2002, Witness B told the court that:

“I was aware that the general question of interviewing detainees had been discussed at length by security service management legal advisers and government, and I acted in this case, as in others, under the strong impression that it was considered to be proper and lawful.”

Meaning that the British government had OK’d the torturing of suspects to extract confessions and that it had communicated to its underlings that such practices were “legal.”

That we are even learning the rudiments of our government’s crimes is due to dilligent legal work by Mohammed’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, who filed a petition in the High Court back in mid-2008 to demand evidence of torture from the Foreign Office.

This petition was initially successful, in August 2008. However, the FCO then released the documents only to Mohammed’s counsel, forbidding him from making them public, forcing Smith to take them back to the High Court, which then received news from Milliband that the Americans would not allow full disclosure.

That’s now being revealed to be a total sham, and another shabby gambit in the sordid saga of a secretive torturing cabal and a man – reduced to hunger strikes – desperate to come home to freedom.

As British subjects (let’s not kid ourselves about the “citizens” crap) – we are all complicit. Makes you feel pretty low, if you ever trouble yourself to think about it.

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2 Responses to “The British Torture State”


  1. […] • Miliband and Smith snub human rights committee • MPs want head of MI5 to explain conduct of officers […]


  2. […] • Miliband and Smith snub human rights committee • MPs want head of MI5 to explain conduct of officers […]


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