Socialist Worker

British spooks’ role in torture and terror will remain secret

Issue No. 2672

Abu Zubaydah

Abu Zubaydah


Declassified cables provide new details of the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah were subjected to by the CIA. British security services supplied the questions during their interrogation in Guantanamo Bay.

“Rule out nothing ­whatsoever that you believe may be effective,” reads one cable to Zubaydah’s ­interrogators. “Rather, come on back and we will get you the approvals.”

Videotapes of Zubaydah’s torture were destroyed in 2005, at the behest of Jose Rodriguez, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service.

Techniques used on Zubaydah included stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and waterboarding 83 times in one month. Along the way he lost an eye.

“He spent a total of 266 hours (11 days, 2 hours) in the large (coffin size) confinement box and 29 hours in a small confinement box, which had a width of 21 inches, a depth of 2.5 feet, and a height of 2.5 feet.”

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) last year established that MI6 had “direct awareness of extreme mistreatment and possibly torture” of Zubaydah.

That report was “provisional” due to government restrictions

In July, the government reneged on its long-standing commitment to hold an inquiry into British involvement in rendition and torture.


Hearings over the deaths of 22 people in the 2017 Manchester

bombing are to be held in secret because the ­government has refused to publish ­intelligence material.

Sir John Saunders, the coroner, said that inquests for the victims could not go ahead because even the gist of the information would pose a threat to national security.

The coroner is now likely to ask to convert the inquest into a public inquiry so he can consider material in secret.

The relationship MI5 and the police had with bomber Salman Abedi has already been censored from a parliamentary report and now will not be public.


The number of households living in temporary accommodation in England has reached its highest level in over a decade.

Some 84,740 households were in temporary accommodation at the end of March.

It’s the highest number since mid?2007 and represents a rise of 76.5 percent since the end of 2010.


Cancer stats show price of health cuts

People with five common types of cancer are more likely to die in Britain than in other countries with similar health systems.

A study published in the Lancet Oncology journal compared Britain to six other countries—Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway.

It found that Britain had the lowest five-year survival rates. It also has the worst one-year survival rates for the four most deadly cancers—lung, bowel, stomach and rectal cancers.

One of the study’s co-authors, Dr John Butler, said problems in Britain include “lack of capacity” and “staffing shortages”.

A report earlier this month found that half of cancer patients are only diagnosed after their cancer has spread.

Sara Hiom of Cancer Research UK said, “We have been calling for staff shortages to be addressed because it will give people a better chance of surviving.”


The Brexit Party’s Ann Widdecombe whined about the treatment of some of her colleagues last week.

Writing in in the Daily Express newspaper, Widdecombe noted that Brexit Party MEP James Wells was apparently stopped from setting up shop in Wales.

“Another of my colleagues says a florist stopped delivering flowers to his restaurant due to his association with the Brexit Party,” she added. Shame.


It’s less safe to be LGBT+ or a woman

Prosecutions for violence against women and girls have dropped by 15.1 percent—despite more offences being reported to police.

New figures from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also found a 14.3 percent fall in convictions in 2018-19.

Police are referring fewer cases to the CPS.


Women fleeing domestic abuse are being made homeless due to lack of beds in refuges.

The Women’s Aid charity found that 309 women were forced to sleep rough, sofa-surf or stay in B&Bs last year while waiting for a place. The charity said there was a shortage of 1,715 refuge places across England last year.


The number of LGBT+ hate crimes reported to cops has more than doubled in five years, according to new figures.

There were 13,530 reports of abuse in 2018-19—compared to 5,807 in 2014-15.

But the number of prosecutions has fallen over the same period.


One in 20 does not get paid holidays

One in 20 workers do not receive their paid holiday entitlement and one in ten is not given a payslip, according to the Resolution Foundation.

The think tank said this highlighted the scale of unlawful working practices across Britain.

The employment tribunal system, which received more than 100,000 applications last year, was least likely to get cases from younger workers, who were most likely to need redress. Managers, the least likely to be subject to violations, were among the most likely to make tribunal claims.

Of the 200,000 workers not receiving the minimum wage identified by HMRC last year, those aged 25 and under were almost twice as likely as any other age group to be paid less than the minimum wage.

Workers over 65 were the most likely not to have paid holidays, despite the legal entitlement to 28 days a year.

The think tank said the staff of hotels and restaurants missed out more than others on legal workplace entitlements. Those in businesses with fewer than 25 workers were most likely not to get payslips or paid leave.


Union baroness

Troublemaker sends warm congratulations to Christine Blower, the former inherited head of the National Union of Teachers. She will be made a peer, which is nice.

Newly ennobled by the Labour Party, she was once a candidate for the London Socialist Alliance —a left of Labour election campaign Troublmaker backed.

She once told the Guardian (who else) that she has “never been a member of Militant, the Socialist Workers’ party, International Socialists or the International Marxist Group”.

“I think there’s a lot to be said for socialism. It doesn’t mean I see myself as a part of any of those organisations that have ‘socialist’ in the title.”


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