How much will the Senate report on CIA torture reveal about British involvement?
As the world waits to see how much of the Senate report on CIA torture is left unredacted in its imminent release, the British government and some of its former members must be worrying about what will be revealed of their own involvement.
Cameron can claim it all happened before his time; but he can hardly claim he didn’t learn of it since. All the current evidence seems to suggest that the Labour movers and shakers, including Blair and then foreign secretary Jack Straw knew and hushed up British involvement.
Just over a week ago, the Telegraph reported:
“The politicians took a very active interest indeed. They wanted to know everything. The Americans passed over the legal opinions saying that this was now ‘legal’, and our politicians were aware of what was going on at the highest possible level.
“The politicians knew in detail about everything – the torture and the rendition. They could have said [to MI6] ‘stop it, do not get involved’, but at no time did they,” said the source, who has direct and detailed knowledge of the transatlantic relations during that period.
The Telegraph: Tony Blair ‘knew all about CIA secret kidnap programme’
Britain, of course, has its own torture investigation in progress. When Gaddafi was overthrown, the victors found documents
>that appeared to show that Sir Mark Allen, the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, and other agents had been complicit in the rendition of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who was captured by the CIA with his pregnant wife and sent back to Libya.
The Independent: Tony Blair ‘knew everything about CIA interrogation programme’
The Metropolitan police are investigating whether any MI6 officers should be prosecuted for involvement with torture.
At issue now is whether Diego Garcia, a British island leased to the Americans, was a CIA ‘black prison’. If so, it could not have been used as such without British approval.
On 9 April, Al Jazeera America reported,
The Senate report, according to Al Jazeera’s sources, says that the CIA detained some high-value suspects on Diego Garcia, an Indian Ocean island controlled by the United Kingdom and leased to the United States. The classified CIA documents say the black site arrangement at Diego Garcia was made with the “full cooperation” of the British government. That would confirm long-standing claims by human rights investigators and journalists, whose allegations — based on flight logs and unnamed government sources — have routinely been denied by the CIA.
REVEALED: SENATE REPORT CONTAINS NEW DETAILS ON CIA BLACK SITES
It is possible that when the report is finally released, British approval will have been redacted. This would explain why Cameron remains silent. It is unlikely that he does not know what is included in the report. If British involvement is made clear, he probably believes that he can lay all blame at the feet of the previous Labour government. But either way, Britain and America are guilty of appalling behaviour both to and with the island of Diego Garcia:
Island of Shame is the first major book to reveal the shocking truth of how the United States conspired with Britain to forcibly expel Diego Garcia’s indigenous people–the Chagossians–and deport them to slums in Mauritius and the Seychelles, where most live in dire poverty to this day. Drawing on interviews with Washington insiders, military strategists, and exiled islanders, as well as hundreds of declassified documents, David Vine exposes the secret history of Diego Garcia. He chronicles the Chagossians’ dramatic, unfolding story as they struggle to survive in exile and fight to return to their homeland. Tracing U.S. foreign policy from the Cold War to the war on terror, Vine shows how the United States has forged a new and pervasive kind of empire that is quietly dominating the planet with hundreds of overseas military bases.
Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia