Friday, May 21, 2010

Torture claims investigation ordered by William Hague.

Miracles happen. There is actually an action being taken by the Con-Dem coalition which I am in complete agreement with.

A judge will investigate claims that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the torture of terror suspects, William Hague, the foreign secretary, said tonight.

Hague's remarks appear to have caught the Foreign Office by surprise, as no details were yet available on how the inquiry will be conducted, its terms of reference or when it will start work.

Hague will come under pressure to ensure the inquiry is public and comprehensive. He first called last year for an independent judicial inquiry into claims that British officials had colluded in the torture of Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantánamo detainee and a UK resident.

Mohamed claimed that he was tortured by US forces in Pakistan and Morocco, and that MI5 fed the CIA questions that were used by US forces.

Philippe Sands QC, professor of law at University College London, said tonight: "To restore trust in government, both here and abroad, and to get to the truth, the inquiry needs to be deep and broad and as open as possible. It should address, in particular, who authorised what and when and why, what the relevant legal advice said, and how it related to any change in US practice in 2002 and 2003."

Tayab Ali, a London solicitor who represents a number of men alleging torture, said the inquiry presented "a significant and precious opportunity" for the British public to understand their country's role in torture.

I find myself in the astonishing position of backing William Hague's proposal on something whilst condemning the inaction of Barack Obama. This is not where I expected to find myself.

Obama has chosen to "look forward, not backward" when it comes to the subject of torture, which appals me.

These are crimes; indeed, they are war crimes. And both Britain and the US have a duty under international law to investigate any allegations that such crimes were committed.

It's simply unacceptable that Obama has refused to look into the fact that both the former president and vice president are on public record advocating torture. They might have insisted that what they did was not torture, but they have admitted ordering the waterboarding of people held in American custody. Waterboarding is, of course, an action which the Americans have previously prosecuted as a war crime.

I never ever thought I would say this, but Obama ought to look closely at what Hague is doing. Because what Hague is doing is correct. Hague is saying that there are enough allegations of wrongdoing to merit an investigation.
"So far ministers have stuck to the mantra that 'we never condone, authorise or co-operate in torture'," Hague wrote. "But this does not dispel any of the accusations. If anything, there is now a direct and irreconcilable conflict between such ministerial assurances and the account given by Mr Mohamed. That must be resolved."
All Hague is asking for is that we find out what is true. He's not yet promising prosecution, he's merely saying that we need to find out who is telling the truth here.

Obama has, so far, failed to even allow the question to be asked. So, hats off to Hague. He's ahead of Obama when it comes to asking the questions which need to be asked regarding what exactly we allowed whilst fighting the war on terror.

Click here for full article.

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