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Britain’s Secret Widespread Use Of Torture

By Graham Vanbergen | TruePublica | October 6, 2015

The last British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay has claimed that Britain knew flawed evidence, used to justify the Iraq War, had been obtained under torture – and said his lengthy detention was a result of fears that he would go on the record if released.

Shaker Aamer, who is due to be freed from the US military prison after 13 years without charge, said he witnessed British agents at Bagram Air Base when a prisoner wrongly told interrogators that Iraqi forces had trained al-Qaeda in the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The evidence of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, which was later disproven, was used by George W Bush in 2002 during a hawkish speech calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein, in which he said: “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.”

Mr Aamer said that despite guarantees he would be released within days, he feared he would still die in the prison, adding: “I know there are people who, even now, are working hard to keep me here.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The UK does not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for any purpose.

Aamer gave statements to the Metropolitan police two years ago in which he detailed the alleged brutality he has faced, that included torture. He said he was interrogated by British agents at Bagram airbase, who knew he and others were being tortured there.

Britain has a long, dark history of torture and it has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide it. A normal functioning democracy would stand resolute that torture of any kind is not just illegal and immoral, it simply doesn’t work.

David Whyte’s recent book “How Corrupt is Britain” covers some pivotal moments in the UK’s history of torture.

In June 1975 an eminent Harley Street doctor flew to Dublin. The patient was suffering from severe angina, a condition which is ‘always associated with the risk of sudden death according to the doctor. The doctor was Dr Denis Leigh, a leading consultant psychiatrist at the Bethlem Royal and the Maudsley Hospitals in London, and more importantly, medical consultant to the British Army.

The patient, Sean McKenna, was a former member of the IRA who had been subjected to so-called ‘in-depth interrogation’ following the introduction of internment without trial in August 1971, He was one of the 14 ‘hooded men’ whose infamous treatment forced the lrish state to launch a case alleging torture against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Leigh’s medical examination was being carried out on behalf of the Crown to bolster the UK defence that the men had not suffered long-term physical or psychiatric damage as a result of their interrogation.

The ‘in-depth interrogation’ that McKenna and the others were subjected to consisted of five techniques that had been widely used by the British army in counter-insurgency campaigns in Aden, Cyprus, Malaya, Palestine and elsewhere – hooding, white noise, wall standing in a stress position and of course regular beatings.

Dr Leigh found that McKenna’s condition was known to British army doctors before the interrogation went ahead, and ‘it would be hard to show that it was wise to proceed with the interrogation, and that the interrogation did not have the effect of worsening his angina’.

In fact McKenna’s psychiatric condition was such that he had been released from Long Kesh internment camp in May 1972 directly into the care of a psychiatric unit. His daughter described ‘a very broken man, sitting crying, very shaky’. Four days after the June 1975 medical examination Sean McKenna died. He had suffered a massive heart attack.

In 1976 the European Human Rights Commission (EHRC) upheld a complaint by Ireland that the treatment of the ‘hooded men’ constituted torture, and referred the case to the European Court of Human Rights for judgement. The Commission had condemned the five techniques as a ‘modern system of torture’.

Britain was one of the original signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, had been found to have sanctioned torture.

Successive UK governments, rather than comply with their legal obligation to ‘search and try’ allegations of torture, adopted a policy more akin to ‘hide and lie’. This was to have consequences many years later. The inquiry into the 2003 murder of an Iraqi civilian, Baha Mousa, by British soldiers was told that the five techniques had again been used in Iraq by every single battle group in the field.

ln ‘Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture,’ Guardian journalist Ian Cobain provides damning evidence that the UK government did in fact ‘do’ torture, and had been doing so for decades in counter-insurgency wars from Brunei to Aden, and from Ireland to lraq. In June 2013 UK foreign secretary William Hague apologised in Parliament for the torture of Mau Mau suspects in Kenya during the 1950s. Over £50 million was paid out in compensation to some 5,000 Kenyan victims. ln 1972 prime minister Edward Heath had promised Parliament that the ‘five techniques’ torture techniques would never be used again.

As declassified documents now show, prime ministers and cabinet colleagues over the decades actually went to great lengths to ensure that those responsible for torture would not face sanction or prosecution and actively covered up these crimes.

In another case in Afghanistan, among the Britons who were picked up was a man called Jamal al-Harith. Born Ronald Fiddler in Manchester in 1966, Harith had converted to Islam in his 20s and travelled widely in the Muslim world before arriving in Afghanistan. After 9/11, he had been imprisoned by the Taliban, who suspected him of being a British spy. A British journalist found Harith languishing in the prison in January 2002 and alerted British diplomats in Kabul, believing they would arrange his repatriation. Instead, they arranged for him to be detained by US forces, who took him straight to an interrogation centre at Kandahar.

Harith then spent two years at Guantánamo, being kicked, punched, slapped, shackled in painful positions, subjected to extreme temperatures and deprived of sleep. He was refused adequate water supplies and fed on food with date markings 10 or 12 years old. On one occasion, he says, he was chained and severely beaten for refusing an injection. He estimates he was interrogated about 80 times, usually by Americans but sometimes by British intelligence officers.

In all, nine British nationals were sent to the maximum-security prison at Guantánamo, along with at least nine former British residents. All were incarcerated for years, and from the moment they arrived they suffered torture including regular beatings, threats and sleep deprivation. All were interrogated by MI5 officers and some also by MI6.

In December 2005, the full truth about British complicity in rendition and torture was still such a deeply buried official secret that Jack Straw felt able to reassure MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee about the allegations starting to surface in the media. “Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories,” he said, “there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition or that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States”. Straw was lying.

Over the next few years, men were rendered not only from the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, but from Kenya, Pakistan, Indonesia, Somalia, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Gambia, Zambia, Thailand and the US itself. The US was running a global kidnapping programme on the basis of agreements reached at a Nato meeting.

Quietly, Britain pledged logistics support for the rendition programme, which resulted in the CIA’s jets becoming frequent visitors to British airports en route to the agency’s secret prisons on at least 210 times.

It has since been discovered that throughout the postwar period, it seemed, there had been a network of secret British prisons, hidden from the Red Cross, where men thought to pose a threat to the state could be kept for years and systematically tormented, tortured and sometimes murdered.

It is now known that MI5 have a department called the “international terrorism-related agent running section”: the section routinely responsible for interviewing suspected terrorists. The MI5 officers who were interrogating al-Qaida suspects – men who were being tortured in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere around the world – were agent handlers. It appeared that MI5 was seeking to recruit torture victims as double agents.

Within two months of the May 2010 general election, under pressure from his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, as well as some of his own backbenchers, the new prime minister, David Cameron, announced the establishment of a judge-led inquiry into the UK’s involvement in torture and rendition. The man appointed to head the inquiry was named as Sir Peter Gibson, a retired judge. It is possible that MI5 and MI6 had a hand in his selection; for the previous four years Gibson had served as the intelligence services commissioner. Rights groups suggested that Gibson should be appearing before the inquiry as a witness rather than presiding over it.

In July 2011, most major international and British human rights groups, including Amnesty International, said they would be boycotting the inquiry. The following month, lawyers representing victims of Britain’s torture operations announced that they, too, would have nothing to do with it. Six months later, the government announced that the Gibson inquiry was scrapped.

Cameron’s government then brought forward a green paper that suggested a need for greater courtroom secrecy. Britain’s complicity in torture was to continue to be a dirty dark state secret.

None of this squares with Britain’s reputation as a nation that prides itself on its love of fair play and respect for the rule of law. Successive British government’s continues to preach to other nations around the world of the importance of justice, transparency and democracy whilst disregarding essentials such as these back at home.

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US ‘shamefully’ refuse to release Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo despite UK pressure

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Shaker Aamer © Wikipedia
RT | August 20, 2015

American authorities are “shamefully” refusing to release Shaker Aamer, the last British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay, despite calls from Prime Minister David Cameron for the prisoner to be freed, a lawyer has claimed.

Aamer’s legal counsel Ramzi Kassem called on the British government to pressure the White House further after President Barack Obama promised to “prioritize” his case in January.

Kassem also blasted the US government for refusing to allow Aamer access to independent doctors, despite concerns over the neutrality of army medical personnel.

The New York-based lawyer said the physical condition of Aamer, who has been imprisoned without trial for 14 years, “deteriorates with each passing day.”

Kassem filed a 26-page motion at a court in Washington calling for the British resident to be examined by two independent doctors and an army doctor to gauge how Aamer is coping with post-traumatic stress.

The Department of Defense has rejected the request, claiming it is too “difficult.”

Aamer’s last independent assessment took place in October 2013, when Californian psychiatrist Dr. Emily Keram described he had been mentally “destroyed” by interrogators, who allegedly subjected him to sleep deprivation and beatings.

Law professor Kassem expressed dismay at the reluctance of US authorities to release Aamer.

“It is truly shameful that we have to litigate every step of the way despite the prime minister’s demand and the president’s pledge to prioritize Shaker’s case,” he said.

“The UK government must press the White House to make good on its promise. The only thing more shameful are the arguments the US government is making in court to prevent Shaker’s examination.”

Cameron raised the issue with Obama on his official visit to the US earlier this year.

Obama promised to “prioritize” the case in January, but Aamer’s legal team claim nothing has been done to progress his case.

Writing in the Guardian last Friday, Aamer’s UK lawyer Clive Stafford Smith claimed the US military has deliberately ignored Obama’s order in breach of the constitution.

“President Obama, it seems, has personally ordered Aamer’s release, and his subordinates have ignored and thwarted his order,” Smith wrote.

“The contravention of the president’s orders indicates that there is a profound problem with the state of democracy in America.”

Kassem slammed the US government for not taking Aamer’s physical and mental health seriously.

He condemned the United States’ “self-servingly attempts to dismiss Mr. Aamer’s reliably-diagnosed and grave ailments as only ‘minor long-term impairments.’”

Aamer has never been charged with a crime or faced trial since he arrived at the high security prison in Cuba.

In describing his treatment at Guantanamo Bay, Aamer said he was stripped of his pride.

“I was not a human being any more. I meant nothing to them. I lost my dignity, my pride,” he said.

“I had to take off my underwear and hand it to them. I had sleep deprivation for 11 days. That made me crazy. They poured cold water over me. They kept me standing for 20 hours a day. I had to hold my hands and arms out.

“All of the statements I made at Bagram were during the sleep deprivation. I would have said anything. I told them, ‘I will tell you I am Bin Laden if you want me to,’” he said.

Aamer was arrested in 2001 in Afghanistan and subsequently moved to Guantanamo Bay, where in 2007 the US military claimed he was a “close associate” of Osama Bin Laden and a “recruiter, financier, and facilitator” for Al-Qaeda.

The Saudi citizen has always insisted he was only in the country to perform charitable work and said he confessed to being a jihadist while being tortured at the hands of the CIA.

August 20, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Court’s Drone Ruling Shows the Law Is an Ass

By Clive Stafford Smith | Huffington Post | January 21, 2014

… There are various ways in which modern law is not married to good sense. For example, one opinion of the United States Supreme Court tells us that your innocence is not constitutionally relevant to whether you should be executed. But recently, British courts have rivalled their counterparts across the pond in competing for the most senseless judgment. The latest example came just yesterday, when three British judges said they could not rule on whether British officials were complicit in murdering Pakistani civilians in US drone strikes because that might embarrass our friends in America.

The case involves a Pakistani called Noor Khan. I have met him. A habitually calm young man, he was understandably incensed when his father was killed – in one of the catastrophes of the US drone age – in the region of Pakistan that borders on Afghanistan. The drone strike was patently illegal; there is no war with Pakistan, and the Predator drone fired hellfire missiles that killed some fifty innocent elders who were holding a jirga or local council meeting, peacefully trying to resolve a local dispute over a chromite mine.

It was the equivalent of bombing the High Court in London. It was both the domestic crime of murder, and the international war crime of targeting civilians.

Sad to say, there is evidence that the British security services have been supplying the US with intelligence that has led to a number of these strikes. The simple claim that Khan was making, too late to save his father, was that GCHQ should not be allowed to do this if their own actions violate British and international law.

British domestic law criminalises the “intentional encouraging or assisting” of the crime of murder. The International Criminal Court Act of 2001 defines one crime against humanity as a mass killing of members of a civilian population. Another is an intentional attack against a person not taking a direct part in hostilities.

Those whose actions are being questioned are not soldiers risking their lives fighting a legal war (who are therefore covered by combatant immunity); they are intelligence officers who, sitting comfortably in Cheltenham over a cup of coffee, are instrumental in one of the most serious criminal acts. … Full article

January 22, 2014 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN lashes out at Britain’s human rights record

RT | June 2, 2013

The UN’s torture watchdog has hit out at the British government for human rights abuses. In its harshest criticism yet of the British government, the panel warned that urgent action is needed for the country to meet international standards.

The UN Committee against Torture focused on human rights abuses during the so-called war on terror and the mistreatment of prisoners in British custody in Iraq. It also flagged up some 40 separate incidents on which the UK government must act.

The findings highlighted the British governments actions following 9/11 and the commission urged the British government to quickly establish an inquiry into whether detainees held overseas were ill-treated or tortured by British officials.

The report reads that the committee is “deeply concerned at the growing number of serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment, as a result of the state party’s military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The UN team also slammed what they called “an escape clause” in the Criminal Justice Act (1988), which allows British officials to escape prosecution for inflicting severe pain or suffering if they can show that they had “lawful authority, justification or excuse” for doing so.

Another legal loophole the committee voiced concern about is the Intelligence Services Act (1994), which effectively insures that intelligence officers cannot be prosecuted within the UK once a warrant giving them lawful authority has been signed by a government minister.

The panel was disappointed at the failure to date to prosecute anyone for the torture of Iraqi prisoners and in particular the failure to convict anyone for the murder of Baha Mousa who died in British custody in 2003. Only one soldier received a one-year sentence for admitting inhumane treatment.

There was also concern with the government’s planned introduction of secret court procedures in July for issues that may affect national security under the Justice and Security Act. Closed Material Procedures as they are known make it easier to use hearsay evidence or evidence obtained through torture, the committee maintains. The system of Special Advocates – lawyers who are vetted and chosen by the government – “have a very limited ability to conduct a cross-examination and cannot discuss full content of confidential materials with their client thus undermining the right to a fair trial,” the report reads.

The watchdog also urged the UK government to halt the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. The deportation of failed Tamil asylum seekers has led to their torture or ill-treatment on return and the UK government hasn’t changed its policy on the issue despite a ruling by the High Court in February ordering them to suspend deportations.

The government was criticized in its handling of the case of Shaker Aamer, the last remaining UK resident in Guantanamo. The committee regretted that despite the “best endeavors” of the UK to try and get him released “there are no encouraging signs of this happening soon”.

There were also accusations against the UK government on several issues connected with Northern Ireland. The Northern Irish justice system must abolish all non-jury trials the report concludes, adding that historical investigations into past misconduct, particularly of military officials, must not be delayed or suspended.

The committee asked that police officers only use tasers when they face “a real and immediate threat to life or risk or serious injury”.

There was also unease that the age of criminal responsibility in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has not been raised from 10-years, despite calls by more than 50 organizations for this to be done.

Further concerns were raised about the steady increase of the prison population over the past decade and the problem of overcrowding. To help rectify the issue the committee urged the government make wider use of non-custodial sentences.

In a further blow, committee members accused the UK delegation of being evasive when questioned about Britain’s human rights record during a two-day hearing in Geneva last month.

The British government was given a year to explain how it could improve its human rights record in 4 key areas: overseas torture, getting Shaker Aamer out of Guantanamo, stopping the forced deportation of Sri Lanka asylum seekers and setting up inquiries into past abuses in Northern Ireland.

June 2, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment