Human Rights Watch Accuses UK Intel Svcs of Torture Collusio

#1
And the piling on begins....



UK intelligence officials "colluded" in the torture of terror suspects, a Human Rights Watch report says.


It said its five-year study had found "credible" evidence, corroborated by Pakistani officials, that UK officials were aware of the abuse.

Interviews with the suspects, their families and lawyers suggested no evidence of direct involvement, but "UK complicity is clear", it concludes.

The Foreign Office said "there is no truth" in claims of collusion.

The report claims that UK officials colluded in the illegal detention in Pakistan of five British citizens and then either repeatedly interviewed or passed questions to them while they were being tortured by the Pakistanis.

One of the men, Rangzieb Ahmed, claims he had his fingernails pulled out and was whipped with an electric cable, yet was interviewed soon afterwards by British officials.

Ahmed is now serving a life sentence in Britain for directing terrorism.

A Pakistani intelligence source told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that British and US agents involved in one case were not just "perfectly aware that we were using all means possible to extract information" but had been "grateful that we were doing so".


ANALYSIS
The BBC's Steve Swann
Steve Swann, BBC Home Affairs Team

Following 9/11 and the 2005 London bombings, British intelligence officials were under pressure to hunt down terror cells and stop further bloodshed on our streets. They were concerned about plots originating in Pakistan.

Several were disrupted by MI5 and the police and a large number of people were convicted in British courts. But Human Rights Watch's report shows there are a growing number of questions about how far our intelligence agencies went to chase down their enemies.

While the calls continue for a public inquiry into collusion, the Metropolitan Police is already considering whether to charge any British officials over the detention and alleged torture of Binyam Mohamed.

A group of former Guantanamo Bay detainees are also suing the Government, claiming it colluded with the Americans.

Proving collusion is not easy and no one expects an early or definitive answer to the difficult question of what was done to keep us safe.

HRW senior South Asia researcher Ali Dayan Hasan said: "British officials knew that Pakistani intelligence agencies routinely used torture, were aware of specific cases and did not intervene."

He added a "key lesson" from efforts to combat terrorism was that the use of torture was "deeply counter-productive" because it "undermines the moral legitimacy of governments that rely on it and serves as a recruiting tool for terrorist organisations".

HRW called for "a full and independent public inquiry with subpoena powers" to investigate the claims of collusion.

It said all allegations of complicity should be investigated with prosecutions brought where there was sufficient evidence "regardless of position or rank", adding that Britain should take "all necessary measures" to ensure torture was not used.

However, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said the government "rejects in the strongest possible terms the suggestion that a policy of complicity in torture has been in place".

She went on: "The report's allegations are not new and we have responded to them in Parliament. Some of these cases have already been considered and rejected by the UK courts.

"We have taken a leading role in international efforts to eradicate torture. There is no truth in suggestions that the security and intelligence services operate without control or oversight.

"There is no truth in the more serious suggestion that it is our policy to collude in, solicit, or even directly participate in abuses of prisoners. Nor is it true that alleged wrongdoing is covered up."

Scotland Yard probe

Two influential Commons committees have backed an inquiry after raising serious questions about the UK's involvement and suggesting the government may have been in breach of international obligations.

A number of allegations have been made concerning the involvement of UK intelligence agencies in the questioning of terrorist suspects abroad.

Scotland Yard is conducting a criminal investigations into claims that MI5 was complicit in the alleged abuse of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who says he was tortured at sites in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan.

The then head of M16, John Scarlett, insisted in August that there had been "no torture and no complicity in torture" by the British secret service.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8376732.stm
 
#2
I have stated in the past that I consider torture to be both morally wrong and inefficient.

BUT...

Big Boys Games, Big boy's Rules: spooks, by the nature of their profession, must be extremely pragmatic and results driven. And short of having a couple of spooks actually in the cell with the bad guy and physically preventing the Pakistanis from getting Medieval on him, there is very little our lot could have done to stop the torture even had they been so inclined.

At the end of the day, the priority of the Security and Intelligence services must be to protect the British people, not the rights of terrorists. And if that means acting on intelligence that was gained by another agency with, shall we say, a more "muscular" attitude towards interrogation, I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it.
 
#3
Werewolf said:
I have stated in the past that I consider torture to be both morally wrong and inefficient.

BUT...

Big Boys Games, Big boy's Rules: spooks, by the nature of their profession, must be extremely pragmatic and results driven. And short of having a couple of spooks actually in the cell with the bad guy and physically preventing the Pakistanis from getting Medieval on him, there is very little our lot could have done to stop the torture even had they been so inclined.

At the end of the day, the priority of the Security and Intelligence services must be to protect the British people, not the rights of terrorists. And if that means acting on intelligence that was gained by another agency with, shall we say, a more "muscular" attitude towards interrogation, I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it.
there must also be a clear line between the way intelligence services and regular military forces operate and the applicable rules (I grant you there is a gray intersection where SF are borrowed by the spooks). By the nature of their primary function to close with and destroy the enemy (lawful combatants) through fire and maneuver, military forces must have clear, easily understood rules to live, fight and die by since they must work in very adverse circumstances and in the inevitable "fog of war."

Intelligence service personnel work in different contexts and under different legal constraints. The US learned this the hard way in Vietnam with numerous ill-advised and now infamous programs and organizations (Phoenix, PRU etc.) where these lines were crossed and confused. I hope we do not repeat the same mistakes in the future.
 
#4
I would rather a terrorist had his rights violated every time, than we suffer at his mates hands,these people knew the risks when they took up arms against us.They are not combatants in the true sense of the word so the Geneva convention does not apply.

As werewolf says Big Boys Games, Big boy's Rules.
 
#5
Morris_Viper said:
I would rather a terrorist had his rights violated every time, than we suffer at his mates hands,these people knew the risks when they took up arms against us.They are not combatants in the true sense of the word so the Geneva convention does not apply.

As werewolf says Big Boys Games, Big boy's Rules.
Not true-the POW Convention does not apply but the Geneva Convention on Civilians, Common Article 3 and Protocols I and II do apply. I understand the feelings involved but Big Boys Rules are clear that there can be no summary executions. To advocate otherwise only means some squaddie who falls for such "reasoning" will pay for it in the harsh light of a court room.
 
#8
Yeah yeah we're guilty. Now go and accuse Russia for killing that lawyer a couple of weeks ago. China for killing.......................the list is endless. Got a country for each letter of the alphabet.
How come they always get stuck on us!

WE ARE SUCH AN EASY TARGET. :pissed:
 
#9
RearWords said:
Yeah yeah we're guilty. Now go and accuse Russia for killing that lawyer a couple of weeks ago. China for killing.......................the list is endless. Got a country for each letter of the alphabet.
How come they always get stuck on us!

WE ARE SUCH AN EASY TARGET. :pissed:
I know how you feel! A lot of these "rights" groups are rather selective in their outrage at times.
 
#10
RearWords said:
Yeah yeah we're guilty. Now go and accuse Russia for killing that lawyer a couple of weeks ago. China for killing.......................the list is endless. Got a country for each letter of the alphabet.
How come they always get stuck on us!

WE ARE SUCH AN EASY TARGET. :pissed:
Because the response from Russia or China would be, at best, "Jog on!". At worst, if they made too much of a nuisance of themselves, they might end up drinking some glow-in-the-dark tea... :twisted:
 
#11
Why are we getting torqued because someone put the screws to these naughty little jihadi's? He's clearly a reprehensible piece of human detritus or he wouldn't be doing life for terrorism offences......
 
#12
jumpinjarhead said:
RearWords said:
Yeah yeah we're guilty. Now go and accuse Russia for killing that lawyer a couple of weeks ago. China for killing.......................the list is endless. Got a country for each letter of the alphabet.
How come they always get stuck on us!

WE ARE SUCH AN EASY TARGET. :pissed:
I know how you feel! A lot of these "rights" groups are rather selective in their outrage at times.
As was uttered in a recent radio programme - " I hope that they (bad guys) are as kind to us as our lawyers are to them" Sums it up really for me.
 
#13
Alec_Lomas said:
jumpinjarhead said:
RearWords said:
Yeah yeah we're guilty. Now go and accuse Russia for killing that lawyer a couple of weeks ago. China for killing.......................the list is endless. Got a country for each letter of the alphabet.
How come they always get stuck on us!

WE ARE SUCH AN EASY TARGET. :pissed:
I know how you feel! A lot of these "rights" groups are rather selective in their outrage at times.
As was uttered in a recent radio programme - " I hope that they (bad guys) are as kind to us as our lawyers are to them" Sums it up really for me.
I take your point AL but as so many nowadays in the US say so irritatingly, "it is what it is." I realize there is nothing in what the terrorists do that warrants tender care on our part but we have to maintain the high ground for many reasons.

First, it is the law. If we get in the business of choosing which ones we will obey at any given moment then we will have anarchy. This is doubly true in any credible military unit that you or I would want to be associated with. Indeed that is the core of discipline.

It is not our role as military professionals to pick and choose the convenient bits and ignore the rest of the law (both our own national laws and the law of war). If we disagree with that then our choice is to resign. If we do not like the way the law is, then there are legitimate ways to try to get it changed but until then, the law is the law.

For those who will argue that the "war on terror" does not fit the law and as such we create it as we go, that may be true in some particular details (for example do we really have to pay a daily wage to detainees if they are POWs like the Geneva POW Convention requires?), but the kinds of things that are the subject of this thread are not really open to debate. Killing or abusing detainees wantonly and without benefit of at least basic human rights is clearly forbidden.

Another way to look at this might be to consider the results if our forces did as some ARRSErs seem to be suggesting. Just how long do you think our respective citizens will tolerate, much less support, we in the military if they are treated to a daily ration of media coverage depicting summary executions or other harsh treatment of those we capture etc.? I also believe that even we in the forces, and yes even in whatever elite unit known for its combat toughness you want to pick, will see the quite negative effects of such behavior in the ranks and it will not be long before we would be quite ashamed of our associations with the military.

Another horrible effect would be the erosion of discipline and long term trauma inflicted on our troops (and yes even the most hardened or "elite" among us). If we think the current crisis of PTSD is bad now, imagine what it will be like if we condone murder and brutality.

Furthermore, if we are at all serious about "winning" in Afghanistan or any other "irregular" conflict (COIN.CT etc.), then we have to understand that one of the fundamental pillars of this type warfare is that our enemy will seek to level the "playing field" to compensate for their lack of actual combat power when compared to ours by effective use of propaganda. In fact, I believe this aspect of the doctrine of insurgents/terrorists is one that provides tremendous leverage against us even if we are scrupulous in our efforts to minimize incidents that they can use against us.

Just look at the effects of the recent attack on the tanker trucks in Afghanistan by the Germans. There, it appears NATO may have been "suckered into" that attack by the enemy who will readily use noncombatants as "bait" to prompt an attack that can then be used against us. As in that case and others, the effects on our warfighting can be significant. ROEs are tightened even further, commanders become more tentative, scarce resources are used to investigate etc., and perhaps most important strategically, the political and popular support for the campaign is weakened at home and among our allies.

The US experienced much of this in Vietnam where we were eventually defeated not so much on the battlefield as we were on the streets of America and at the round negotiating table in Paris. This formula has not been lost on our current enemies and they are using it only too well now in Afghanistan.

If we really want to have this end "well" in the sense that our tremendous sacrifices thus far are not in vain, then we simply cannot give in to frustration or emotion as to how we conduct ourselves in operations. If we do, we will have only ourselves to blame in the fallout.
 
#14
I don't think anyone here is seriously suggesting that we indiscriminately torture or kill suspected terrorists. In any case, torture was long ago proven to be an inefficient method of obtaining information.

That said, I have no problem with targetted assassasination of known terrorists. Nor will I shed tears if suspects are bagged, put in stress positions etc.

I remember reading about the KGB's response to the kidnapping of Soviet diplomatic personel in the Middle East; after identifying the leader of the group responsible for the kidnap, Spetznaz snatched his brother. Then sent him back. In pieces. 8O :twisted:

Attached to the various body parts was a note, informing the ragheads that, should the two hostages not be released, this was only the beginning. The Ivans were released 24 hours later.

Unfortunately, there are some times when the only way to deal with certain types of people is to be even nastier than they are. Any type of civilised restraint will be seen as weakness. :roll:
 
#15
FrankCastle said:
I don't think anyone here is seriously suggesting that we indiscriminately torture or kill suspected terrorists. In any case, torture was long ago proven to be an inefficient method of obtaining information.

That said, I have no problem with targetted assassasination of known terrorists. Nor will I shed tears if suspects are bagged, put in stress positions etc.

I remember reading about the KGB's response to the kidnapping of Soviet diplomatic personel in the Middle East; after identifying the leader of the group responsible for the kidnap, Spetznaz snatched his brother. Then sent him back. In pieces. 8O :twisted:

Attached to the various body parts was a note, informing the ragheads that, should the two hostages not be released, this was only the beginning. The Ivans were released 24 hours later.

Unfortunately, there are some times when the only way to deal with certain types of people is to be even nastier than they are. Any type of civilised restraint will be seen as weakness. :roll:
Under prevailing international and at least in the US, domestic law, the targeted killing by lawful combatants (US and UK snipers for example) of combatants (lawful or unlawful) is NOT assassination. US Legal Memo on Targeted Killing
 
#16
But to the media "targetted killing" is little better than murder. If the DG of MI5 or MI6 was to publically state that, henceforth, his Service would hunt down and kill known terrorists on sight, he'd be lucky to stay out of jail never mind keep his job.

I cannot of course speak for your country, but it does seem to me there is a certain "squeemish-ness" among UK politicans and the media. :roll:

My own view is: if you're in a fight the only thing that matters is winning. By any means necessary. :evil:
 
#17
If the Pakistanis wish to beat 7 shades of poo out of their own nationals in their own country for being suspected terrorists so be it. I am pretty sure they have their own courts to deal with the human rights issue.

If we gain any information from it without dishing out the torture ourselves then so what?

It would have happened anyway. Might as well get something out of it.
 
#18
FrankCastle said:
But to the media "targetted killing" is little better than murder. If the DG of MI5 or MI6 was to publically state that, henceforth, his Service would hunt down and kill known terrorists on sight, he'd be lucky to stay out of jail never mind keep his job.

I cannot of course speak for your country, but it does seem to me there is a certain "squeemish-ness" among UK politicans and the media. :roll:

My own view is: if you're in a fight the only thing that matters is winning. By any means necessary. :evil:
Obviously, we cannot let the media's spin dictate to us what is legal or not. The distinction between targeted killing and assassination is well grounded in existing law of war norms. Killing by intelligence services rather than combatants is another matter.

My focus is solely on combatants who can lawfully kill enemy "combatants" wherever they find them and under circumstances that may look to the uninformed like 'assassination". The killing of a combatant by another combatant is NEVER murder. Remember the way the law is set up, wounded, sick and captured enemy are no longer "combatants."

The problem with your final assertion is it is internally inconsistent. To "win" in irregular warfare (COIN/CT) means you cannot use "any means necessary" if by that phrase you mean otherwise unlawful means and methods. Whether we like it or not we are bound by very clear norms that require us to exercise discrimination and proportionality whenever there is a reasonable risk of harm to non-combatants. Of course the enemy in COIN/CT operations know this even better than we and will do all they can to complicate our targeting in the hope we will make mistakes that they can then capitalize on far beyond the immediate damage involved.

If we cannot accept this fundamental reality and use it to our advantage by denying the enemy a key lever in his effort to overcome the asymmetry of COIN/CT ops by western powers, then we have no business getting involved in COIN/CT ops and should just surrender the field to the insurgents and terrorists now rather than waste any more lives.
 
#19
jumpinjarhead said:
FrankCastle said:
But to the media "targetted killing" is little better than murder. If the DG of MI5 or MI6 was to publically state that, henceforth, his Service would hunt down and kill known terrorists on sight, he'd be lucky to stay out of jail never mind keep his job.

I cannot of course speak for your country, but it does seem to me there is a certain "squeemish-ness" among UK politicans and the media. :roll:

My own view is: if you're in a fight the only thing that matters is winning. By any means necessary. :evil:
Obviously, we cannot let the media's spin dictate to us what is legal or not. The distinction between targeted killing and assassination is well grounded in existing law of war norms. Killing by intelligence services rather than combatants is another matter.

My focus is solely on combatants who can lawfully kill enemy "combatants" wherever they find them and under circumstances that may look to the uninformed like 'assassination". The killing of a combatant by another combatant is NEVER murder. Remember the way the law is set up, wounded, sick and captured enemy are no longer "combatants."

The problem with your final assertion is it is internally inconsistent. To "win" in irregular warfare (COIN/CT) means you cannot use "any means necessary" if by that phrase you mean otherwise unlawful means and methods. Whether we like it or not we are bound by very clear norms that require us to exercise discrimination and proportionality whenever there is a reasonable risk of harm to non-combatants. Of course the enemy in COIN/CT operations know this even better than we and will do all they can to complicate our targeting in the hope we will make mistakes that they can then capitalize on far beyond the immediate damage involved.

If we cannot accept this fundamental reality and use it to our advantage by denying the enemy a key lever in his effort to overcome the asymmetry of COIN/CT ops by western powers, then we have no business getting involved in COIN/CT ops and should just surrender the field to the insurgents and terrorists now rather than waste any more lives.
Two points, mate. One, at the highest operational level, the lines between spooks and soldiers are blurred; your own CIA, the FSB and Mossad all have their own paramilitary units that are special forces in all but name. They recieve the same type of training as military SF units and do similar missions.

Second, the Ivans have proved that fighting terror with even greater terror WORKS. This is a very unpleasant truth, but you only have to look at history. I've already given one example, and here's another: shortly after the American Embassy was taken over in Tehran, the Ayatollah had a visit from the Soviet Ambassador. He walked into the room, took off his watch and threw it on the floor. Then he stamped on it. Pointing at the shattered watch he told the Iranian leader,

"The day after you take RUSSIANS hostage, Tehran will look like THAT."

It's a common misconception that ALL Islamic terrorists are prepared to die for Allah. Many of them are, of course, and that's what makes the b@stards dangerous. But you can be sure that their leaders value their own lives very highly indeed. Make them think that the price for attacking us will be their deaths, and possibly the deaths of their loved ones as well, and it will give them pause.

Frankly, I think the "Manhunter Agency" we talked about in another Thread is a bloody good idea and long overdue. They want to wage Jihad on us without limits? Fine. Lets show them what a Crusade really means! 8)
 
#20
RearWords said:
How come they always get stuck on us!

WE ARE SUCH AN EASY TARGET. :pissed:
HRW

By my count, there are 20 seperate countries mentioned just on the home page alone.

Browsing by region, they've included reports on pretty much every country in the world, including 48 pages listing the reports on PR China and 30 on Sudan as opposed to a mere 24 on UK. Many of the UK reports the've included in their list are detailing actions we've taken to combat abuses in other countries.

Not really all that stuck on us, are they?