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Corey Stoughton @CoreyStoughton
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This morning Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) released two reports that raise grave concerns for anyone who thinks torture is wrong and we have an obligation to avoid complicity in it. A thread:
The reports are here:…. One is a backward-looking attempting to address the UK's involvement in torture from 9/11 until 2010. The second looks at ongoing concerns about the current rules, first published in 2010, meant to prevent a repeat of past mistakes.
The bottom line is this: the ISC's report is a damning indictment of the UK's complicity in torture. The UK has "direct involvement in detainee mistreatment administered by others." At least one of these cases has never been fully investigated.
In addition, the UK had a disturbing pattern of failing to act on information indicating torture was afoot. This includes at least 232 cases where the UK "continued to supply questions or intelligence to liaison services after" they knew or should have known something was up.
The report also identifies at least three cases where the UK *paid* for an "extraordinary rendition," despite "the real risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of the detainees" and dozens more cases where the UK supported other countries to carry out renditions.
It's astounding that the ISC could find such patterns despite the obstacles the Government put in its path. The report details how the Govt withheld critical evidence necessary for a full inquiry, calling this "regrettable," which in British English means "totally outrageous."
It's important to note, as the report makes clear, this pattern of complicity in torture was not the fault of individual intelligence officers working under extraordinary pressure. It was a failure of of national leadership.
The second report is, in many ways, more disturbing. It shows how the failure of national leadership is ongoing, because of flaws in the so-called "Consolidated Guidance" that governs how the intelligence agencies must act to prevent repeats of past mistakes.
The report notes the unacceptable lack of clarity in the Guidance and a stark failure to assess whether it is achieving its aims, including failure to track the information we need to know whether the UK is repeating past mistakes.
Worse, the Guidance does not address rendition and the Govt has failed to take any action to prevent UK complicity. "We are unconvinced that the Govt recognises the seriousness of rendition and the potential for the UK to be complicit in actions which may lead to torture" say ISC
What's next? Two things. First, we need an independent judge-led inquiry with full access to the info the Govt denied to ISC. To grapple with our history we have to know what the history is. Second, we need a robust public consultation process to revise the Consolidated Guidance.
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