British intelligence turned ‘blind eye’ to U.S. renditions and torture
New report finds British officials complacent about U.S. unethical practices post 9/11
British intelligence agencies turned a “blind eye” to the torture of detainees in foreign jails, according to a report about the UK’s involvement in the rendition of terror suspects, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
The creation of the 115-page report, aimed at investigating Britain’s involvement in the extra-judicial abduction of terror suspects, was led by Sir Peter Gibson, a former appeal court judge.
While the report stated that individual intelligence offices had concerns over the abuse, which included sleep deprivation and waterboarding, they did not pass on their reservations in fear of damaging relations with U.S. intelligence agencies.
The original investigation began 2010 after evidence was brought forward of British officials allowing the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to imprison UK citizens in Guantanamo Bay.
However, the Gibson inquiry was abruptly halted last January after a case involving the MI6’s controversial rendition of two Libyan rebels, Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, took precedence.
The recently released report shows that Britain’s security and intelligence organizations were unprepared for how the U.S. chose to respond to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in which the Bush administration secretly rendered suspects and frequently used abuse.
Jack Straw, former British foreign secretary, admitted on Thursday that in 2002 he said that the UK should not hinder U.S. efforts to detain British nationals. However, he also tried to impart context on his previous position, saying the detainment and torture came in the “aftermath of the world’s most appalling terrorist atrocity ever” – in reference to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Gibson report also questions whether MI5 and MI6 became “inappropriately involved” in the “actions of the CIA.”
Over 20,000 documents covering 200 reported cases of the UK's alleged participation in the neglect of detainees were reviewed in the inquiry, 40 of which were said to deserve special attention.
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