Socialist Worker

Guantanamo prisoner court case leads to new evidence of torture

Issue No. 2211

The Tories have put Sir Peter Gibson in charge of a torture inquiry, meaning that the man who oversees the activities of the security services will be investigating them.

Gibson, a retired judge, has been Intelligence Services Commissioner since 2006.

Gibson oversees the ministerial authorisations that sanction British involvement in torture. He should be giving evidence to the inquiry not running it.

The truth is that the Tories are trying to cover up the fact that the last Labour government presided over torture.

But previously secret papers have been disclosed in a court case fought by former Guantanamo Bay prisoners. They implicate both Tony Blair and Jack Straw.

One shocking document is chapter 32 of MI6’s general procedural manual, entitled “Detainees and Detention Operations”.

It advises officers that among the “particular sensitivities” they need to consider before becoming directly involved in an operation to detain a terrorism suspect is whether “detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation”.

The Foreign Office decided in January 2002 that the “extraordinary rendition” of British citizens from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay was its “preferred option”.

The then foreign secretary Jack Straw asked for that rendition to be delayed until MI5 had been able to carry out interrogations.

Straw told the British ambassador in Washington, Christopher Meyer, that the rendition of British nationals from Afghanistan to Guantanamo was “the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objective”.

Straw subsequently claimed he had no knowledge of any British involvement in rendition.

Blair overruled attempts to provide Martin Mubanga, a British citizen detained in Zambia, with consular support, with the result that he too was “rendered” to Guantanamo.

A 2002 memo notes that “instructions from London were unequivocal. We should not accept responsibility for or take custody of” Mubanga.

David Miliband, the former foreign secretary and current candidate for the Labour leadership, claims that none of this happened on his watch. He is lying.

Forced

For instance, Gulam Mustafa from Birmingham, was arrested and tortured in Bangladesh in mid-April this year.

The family’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, wrote to Miliband alleging that MI5 had exchanged information with the Bangladeshi authorities about Gulam.

When he appeared in court 11 days after his arrest, he was unable to stand.

Miliband was forced to submit documents to the courts that showed beyond doubt that British intelligence was involved in questioning “terror suspects”.

Of the 900 out of 500,000 official documents that have been released many have been censored.

But they do show that, despite years of denials from New Labour politicians, the government endorsed and covered up torture.

Omar Deghayes, who is suing the government over his rendition to Guantanamo Bay, says before each session with MI6 officers he made complaints.

He said, “I told them about the treatment—the shackles, being beaten, lack of sleep, how sick I was. But these don’t appear.

“The national interest appears to have been used as a convenient shield for them.” Omar spent almost six years in Guantanamo Bay.


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News
Tue 20 Jul 2010, 18:40 BST
Issue No. 2211
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