Wednesday, June 17, 2009

David Miliband wants interrogation policy kept secret.

Britain's interrogation policy, which many have charged as colluding with torture, will remain secret according to David Miliband.

Gordon Brown has ordered that the policy be rewritten after a series of people complained that they had been questioned by British intelligence officers after being asked the same questions under torture by Pakistani and Bangladeshi intelligence officers. Brown has also pledged that the policy would be made public.

However, Miliband told MPs on the Commons foreign affairs select committee today that he has no intention of making public the policy as it currently stands, because of the risk of prejudicing a number of on-going court cases. Pressed further, he said that the currently policy would not be published even once those court cases have concluded, as to do so would "lend succour to our enemies".

He added that the policy had been reviewed by the Intelligence and Security Committee, the group of MPs and peers who are supposed to oversee the activities of Britain's intelligence agencies, and that the ISC was able to "square the circle between secrecy and accountability".

The ISC sits in secret, its members and its reports to the prime minister are published after being censored in consultation with the agencies themselves.

Why, if published, would this policy "lend succour to our enemies"? If the policy is as squeaky clean as we have been led to believe then there is no "succour" for any of our enemies in it's release, rather the opposite.

Isn't Miliband, by refusing to ever release details of this policy, actually admitting that there is something to hide here? Something which would "lend succour to our enemies"?

Asked about the morality of receiving intelligence that has been extracted through torture, Miliband told the committee: "We would never procure intelligence, or procure evidence through torture. We would never say to another intelligence agency 'Please get us information about X' and, you know, abandon our legal and ethical commitments in respect of how you find that."

Evidence heard in court has contradicted that, however. Last September Manchester Crown Court heard how MI5 and Greater Manchester Police drew up a list of questions for use by a notorious Pakistani intelligence agency which was unlawfully detaining Rangzieb Ahmed, a man from Rochdale. By the time Ahmed was deported to Britain 13 months later three of his fingernails were missing.

Furthermore, civil proceedings brought on behalf of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who was freed from Guantánamo earlier this year, has resulted in the disclosure of the questions that MI5 asked be put to him, despite knowing that he had been tortured in Pakistan and having reason to believe he was being tortured after being rendered elsewhere.
Until there is transparency, there will never be any trust on this issue. Miliband is refusing transparency. Doesn't that very lack of transparency, "lend succour to our enemies"?

There are allegations of torture here. Until we come clean, and show that we would never engage in such actions, then these allegations will have merit.

But Miliband refuses to ever come clean. I wonder why?

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