Thursday, March 11, 2010

'24', a diplomatic row and a spy chief's lecture on torture.

I ignored the former head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller's, statement the other day concerning the Brits being kept out of the loop when it came to the US torturing prisoners because, to be honest, I take the whole thing with a huge grain of salt. But I am fascinated by the American reaction to what she said.

In her speech, highly critical of the US's conduct during the war on terror, the former secret service chief implied that the leadership in Washington was inspired by watching the TV espionage thriller 24. She said: "Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld certainly watched 24". Dame Eliza said: "The Americans were very keen that people like us did not discover what they were doing." She insisted that she had been unaware of what was going on until her retirement in 2007.

One of her retrospective discoveries was the interrogation method used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When she asked her subordinates why the senior al-Qa'ida member was offering so much information, they told her he was "very proud of his achievements when questioned". She added: "It wasn't actually until after I retired that I read that he had been water-boarded 160 times."

The White House refused to comment on Dame Eliza's allegations yesterday. However, US security officials were said to feel particularly let down that the charges had come from someone in her senior position, and denied that American intelligence had used subterfuge with British colleagues.

Is that statement saying that the Brits were in the loop?

Amnesty International are also making their incredulity at Manningham-Buller's statement known:

Tim Hancock, UK campaigns director of Amnesty International, said: "Numerous allegations of US mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and Bagram were emerging from the beginning of the war on terror. Did MI5 learn nothing of this, even when members of the security service interviewed nine British nationals at Guantanamo in 2003?

"We also know from the Binyam Mohamed case that the security service was told by US officials that Mr Mohamed was kept shackled, deprived of sleep and threatened with being 'disappeared' by his US interrogators."

I simply don't find it credible that the British secret service were as shocked as Manningham-Buller is now claiming that they were when they found out the tactics which the Americans were employing.

But I do love the senior Pentagon official's ridiculous way of fending off Buller's "24" analogy:

Asked whether President George W Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld watched 24, the official said: "We are not aware of their television habits. It's quite an image though. These three busy guys sitting down together at a very busy time to get their lead from Jack Bauer."

Buller never implied that these three men sat down "together" to watch "24", she was implying that the same mindset which was on display in that programme was evident in the Bush White House.

And I think that it was. Where I find it hard to agree with Manningham-Buller, is when she expresses shock that a White House with that mindset behaved in the way which we now know that they behaved. That doesn't strike me as credible.

Click here for full article.


Anonymous said...

It isn't credible at all, why don't you have a look at

Kel said...

Oh, I am well aware of Craig's work.