What they didn’t want you to know: read the secret torture evidence here

I got this from the Guardian:the previously covered-up excerpt from an official document that reveals how much the UK government knew about Binyam Mohamed’s illtreatment at the hands of the CIA.

It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the interviews were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS [security services] made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.

This, in addition to the revelations in a US court that Mohamed suffered physical and psychological torture including mutilation of the genitals, is a damning indictment of the way the CIA and its allies conduct their so-called “coercive interrogations”. And the UK is just as bad: an MI5 officer known only as “Witness B” knew exactly how Mohamed was being treated when he visited a Pakistani prison to question the man. The Pakistani torturers asked Mohamed questions on behalf of Witness B during interrogations – so while we can’t say that Witness B personally tortured him, it’s certainly true that Mohamed was tortured for the MI5 officer.

Unfortunately, the high court judges who ordered the release of this secret evidence don’t come out of this smelling like roses either. Lord Neuberger, master of the rolls and one of the three judges involved, had originally meant to include in his ruling a scathing criticism of MI5: his draft ruling said that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a “culture of suppression” that undermined government assurances about its conduct.” But Jonathan Sumption QC, the government’s head lawyer on the case, privately wrote to the judge asking him to tone down his criticisms (you can read Sumption’s letter here); and shockingly, Neuberger complied!

n his letter, Sumption warned the judges that the criticism of MI5 would be seen by the public as statements by the court that the agency:

• Did not respect human rights.

• Had not renounced participation in “coercive interrogation” techniques.

• Deliberately misled MPs and peers on the intelligence and security committee, who are supposed to scrutinise its work.

• Had a “culture of suppression” in its dealings with Miliband and the court.

That’s as maybe. But so what? Those statements are true, aren’t they? It seems apparent from this case that MI5 don’t respect human rights, they do approve of “coercive interrogation, they did deliberately mislead parliament and the courts… and they’ll do the same again if they’re sure they can get away with it.

But Neuberger and his “learned colleagues” bottled it and gave into Sumption’s request. After all, they’re probably all great mates outside of court and hunt foxes together on the weekends. Probably.

Luckily, some news organisations heard about the last-minute revisions to the judgement and protested to the court. They complained that Neuberger had granted Sumption’s request without giving the other parties a chance to have their say. The judges conceded that it was a little irregular, and so Sumption’s letter was made public: that’s why the Guardian have put it up for everyone to read here (with annotations by Guardian journo Ian Cobain).

It’s a real pity that the high court judges act like trained attack dogs one minute and then like toothless poodles the next. Then again, we should remember these judges are government-appointed and government-paid, and that they are all members of the same back-scratching, trouser leg-rolling gentlemen’s clubs. So we ought to be grateful that the high court occasionally does the right thing.

Thanks, judges! I really appreciate it (you old sods)! :p

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