Torture and MI5

More information on the torture of the inmates at Gitmo is coming to light. American Torture has a detailed post on  the Daily Mail’s (that well known leftoid paper) story on Binyam MOhamed’s torture, and how the British secret service (MI5) was complicit in that torture.

Of course, some on here dismiss this because he is an “innocent goat herder” and that his allegations cannot be believed. But the story relies on fact.

Over and over, the article presents evidence of U.S. and British collaboration in the interrogation and torture of Binyam Mohamed. Telegrams are sent back and forth, lines of inquiry are proposed, a “case conference” is held between U.S. and British intelligence at MI5 HQ in London.

The full extent of the collaboration and the torture are partly obscured by the fact that the British High Court reluctantly (and with public protest) have acceded to the demands of the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to withhold the publication of secret documentation of Mr. Mohamed’s torture — documents already seen by Mohamed’s attorneys, but not the public — because it would supposedly harm U.S.-British intelligence cooperation.

I suggest that you read the full post.

One of the parts says that the torture at Gitmo got worse after Obama was elected and said that Gitmo would close. Some have said that this is a blot on Obama, but note how it says that it got worse after Obama was “elected” – not since his inauguration. So it looks like the brutality increased before Obama took office.

The post on American Torture finishes:

But the real criminals sat or still sit in the highest chairs of government. The political will to hold them to account is crippled by the need to save the integrity of the system in the eyes of a scared and cynical populace — scared by a collapsing economy, and cynical because they too have lost all faith in the integrity of their leaders, and are placing all their hopes now in the charismatic Barack Obama.

Those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.

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37 Responses

  1. What a world you live in Joni. I reserve judgment for actual evidence and you are more than willing to take the word of any detainee that claims torture. Of course claiming torture is SOP for most detainees these days. The discovery of the “manual” that highlights this for some reason gets no coverage by the media or you for that matter? Certainly not going to try and convert a believer though. Tell me, you like that Kool-Aide with or without sugar??????

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/19/rehabilitation-never-tried-at-guantanamo/?page=2

    more goat herders……

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1882168,00.html

  2. I want to see the present Commander in Chief charged with giving tacit approval for the ongoing torture happening on the American mainland.

  3. Wow Sparta. Because there is a program of rehabilitation (that is actually not that) you prefer to continue to believe that torture never occured.

    And did we ever say that the people in Gitmo should be released? Um no. We have consistently said that they should not be tortured and should be brought charged, brought before a court and tried. You know – the rule of law.

    You are the one who asked for evidence – and when Susan Crawford came out with her statement you dismissed her comment and tried to change the focus of the discussion.

    When we link to sites that show the evidence of torture in CIA and military document you then try to cloud the discussion by saying that torture is not clearly defined and therefore it must not have occured.

    You are the one trying to divert the topic away from my cause – which is that torture is wrong in all cases.

    Are there bad people in the world? Yes.
    Does that give anyone the right to treat them badly? No.

    Simple really.

    And why resort to implying that I am deluded or kooky(the kool-aid reference)?

  4. “You are the one who asked for evidence – and when Susan Crawford came out with her statement you dismissed her comment and tried to change the focus of the discussion.”

    Her opinion is not evidence Joni, you do know the difference I think…..You and I can’t even agree on a definition!

    “ When we link to sites that show the evidence of torture in CIA and military document you then try to cloud the discussion by saying that torture is not clearly defined and therefore it must not have occured.”

    No, I highlighted that had you actually read the document you would have seen that there is no mention of torture and much of what you called evidence resulted in claims being “unsubstantiated”. Try actually reading the whole thing……Again, you claim something for which you have no real evidence, just a suspicion. If a detainee was mistreated and said mistreatment resulted in his death etcetera then the guilty party should be prosecuted, as they have!

    “You are the one trying to divert the topic away from my cause – which is that torture is wrong in all cases.”

    I don’t disagree with you on that one? However, you clearly have a much wider definition of the term, one which I might remind you is not universally shared!!!!!!

    “And why resort to implying that I am deluded or kooky(the kool-aid reference)?”

    I don’t think you kooky just willing to except whatever supports you views….

    Does the manual I mention play a role whatsoever in your logic? If not, why? Kooky, no but all evidence suggests you are certain beyond a reasonable doubt that torture is taking place despite no case to date being made even with the army of lawyers out there trying to make it?

  5. Stephan,

    Yes, Obama was quick to give lip service but now finds it much harder to fulfill but he is hardly receiving the condemnation GW got. I found it even more amusing that when asked to take the “goat herders” most countries said “no thank you” to include Mr. Rudd. I guess some live in a world where “water-boarding” is on par with gang rape, murder, beatings etcetera like that which takes place every day in the American penal system…Talk about a lack of context!

  6. Sparta,

    Read this document from your own senate:

    http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/supporting/2008/Detainees.121108.pdf

    Conclusion 6: The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) interrogation program included at least one SERE training technique, waterboarding. Senior Administration lawyers, including Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, were consulted on the development of legal analysis of CIA interrogation techniques. Legal opinions
    subsequently issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) interpreted legal obligations under U.S. anti-torture laws and determined the legality of CIA interrogation techniques. Those OLC opinions distorted the meaning and intent of anti-torture laws, rationalized the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and influenced Department of Defense determinations as to what interrogation techniques were legal for use during interrogations conducted by U.S. military personnel.

  7. Love this bit:

    “Binyam explained that, between the savage beatings and the razor cuts to his penis, his torturers “would tell me what to say.” He added that even towards the end of his time in Morocco, they were still “training me what to say,” and one of them told him, “We’re going to change your brain…..”

    God’s teeth. After that siort of treatment I reckon I’d confess to being Osama himself if it would get them to stop.

    Quite apart from ethical issues, that’s the problem with torture: The information it extracts is next to useless as a means of getting at the truth at the best of times because the victim will say anything to make it stop.

    Even the Spanish Inquisition eventually realised this.

    That’s what those supporting this, er, ‘rougher than usual’ questioning fail consider. Sure, they’ll sing all right. But they’ll sing whatever song they think you want to hear.

    And there’s another problem: In Binyam’s case, it’s clear that the numb-skulls with the scalpels were even coaching him as to what they wanted him to say.

    So, what’s the Goddamned point of torturing him in the first place?

    It certainly wasn’t to get at the ghastly truth (whatever that may be) so that the brave scalpel-wielders could save us all (24-style) from some Terrorist outrage, but rather to get him to tell a particular story, a story the torturers had already agreed upon.

    As a reliable fact-finding tool torture is a waste of time. The only possible purpose of the treatment meted-out to Binyam Mohammed was to obtain a confession.

    Now anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the Law knows that a confession extracted under torture will be inadmissable in evidence in any civilised Court, even in America.

    So I ask again: What’s the point of the torture?

    There’s also an interesting link in the americantorture.com story to this:

    http://valtinsblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/pentagon-hiding-torture-evidence-from.html

    Looks like someone’s censoring the President’s mail.

    If I were Obama. I’d want heads on platters for this alone.

  8. Joni,

    Geez….yes I have read this one as well. Let me remind you one more time, EVIDENCE is not the same as an OPINION….even the opinion of a committee headed by one of the most liberal senators in the US who is obsessed with linking the former administration with a policy of torture! If the evidence is there, where is it and why do they wait? Where are the indictments Joni??????

  9. Evan,

    Daily Kos……says much I am afraid. Anybody that would site anything from that bastion of stupidity is seriously drinking the Kool-Aide!

  10. What evidence would convince you sparta?

    How can we produce evidence when the US military and CIA would not allow in ICRC into Gitmo to witness and determine if torture took place.

    And again sparta goes to attack the credibility of the authors instead of the content.

    I still think that the full truth will come out and when it does I suspect Sparta still deny that any torture took place.

  11. Guys, you should by now know it is useless to point out failures &/or hypocrisy of right-wing USA to Sparta. It’s simply not worth the time & effort given that there is no way of convincing him of fact contrary to his internal view of the world.

    I’d welcome any examples to the contrary, but everything I’ve read proves that he will not change his opinion on the “War on Terror” and associated topics regardless of what is put in front of him.

    Cue outrage / ridicule without examples to contrary from Sparta

  12. B. Toputt,

    My bad, I keep forgetting how rational this site is. Cue the endless, mind numbing discussions on wine, movies and the regurgitated echo chamber……Evidence would be nice for a change? Oh, maybe the same damning evidence provided by the likes of some here that is so damning it has yet to produce one indictment? You mean that genius?????? Your camp is the one making the accusation, the burden is on you. Do you not understand that or has the wine gone to your head?

  13. Sparta

    If you do not like the “endless, mind numbing discussions” then the solution is simple.

    Do not visit.

    And I like how your lack of indictments is evidence that torture never occured.

    And at least this time our drink has improved. No longer kool-aid – we now have wine. Woohoo!

    The truth will come out and when it does, those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.

  14. Sparta re: What a world you live in Joni. I reserve judgment for actual evidence..

    Maybe because the President of the United States states that it’s going to end..

    From USA

    WASHINGTON — Religious leaders from the U.S. Catholic bishops to evangelical human rights advocates have applauded President Obama’s executive order that essentially ends torture of detainees held by the U.S. government.

  15. Sparta:

    “Your camp”

    Did you mean to say “You’re camp?”

    Half of us are around here, so it’s probably a fair observation.

    Oh yes and we do drink wine around here too..

    None of this caw-fee for us wine sippers..

  16. Meaningful aside to reb (aka The Goons)..me thinks that someone has worked it out.

  17. Min

    “He’s fallen in da water…!”

  18. Whoops, I meant meaningful aside (aka The Goons) and not reb aka The Goons. But what can one expect around this place, it’s always trivia time..nothing meaningful such as women in 3rd world countries being denied family planning advice, the USA (and the UK and Australia’s complicity in torture via ignoring the issue), affordable housing and the Recession.

  19. “Do not visit.”

    I don’t when such discussions arise, on every other thread….Hell, it took you two days to admit that Hamas was engaging in terrorism by launching rockets, and you were the only one to make that connection. Why should I expect rational discussion from this group?

    “And I like how your lack of indictments is evidence that torture never occured.”

    Again, the burden of proof is on you Joni and others of your ilk. Try asking yourself just once, if the “evidence” you have supplied is really the smoking gun you seem to think, why has nothing been done? Last time I checked the Dem’s were in complete control of Washington? If it is that clear cut, what do they wait for?

    “And at least this time our drink has improved. No longer kool-aid – we now have wine. Woohoo!”

    Yikes, on that note….it has been well, interesting at times but alas I leave you and the gang to frolic in the omnipotence of your own wisdom

    Kind Regards…………..

  20. And yes Sparta, the burden of proof is on us, I just trust that when the indictments do come that your will hold you hand up and apologise.

    But you make it out that it is just me (and some liberal senators) that are following this article. How about the courts in the UK? Do they count?

  21. Sparta…not doing good listening/reading, the Quote was: WASHINGTON — Religious leaders from the U.S. Catholic bishops to evangelical human rights advocates have applauded President Obama’s executive order that essentially ends torture of detainees held by the U.S. government.

    Re: ‘Joni and others of your ilk.’ I suspect that joni does indeed have ilk. Just from the pics, it’s very nice ilk.

  22. min

    🙂

  23. Try asking yourself just once, if the “evidence” you have supplied is really the smoking gun you seem to think, why has nothing been done?

    For F**k’s sake Sparta, try asking yourself the same question with your blinkers off – because I’ve asked myself that question hundreds of times already, and it’s a really good question. And the presumption embedded in it beautifully illustrates your authoritarian-follower worldview.

    Have you never seen a coverup run by powerful people who would rather they (or others they serve/protect/owe/ally with) did not face the music – or (in the best possible interpretation) believe that there are greater needs at stake than pursuing justice under the law? Have you never seen a travesty of justice? Do you understand why we have the legal term “miscarriage of justice” in the first place?

    Look up Mohammad Atta’s case, in particular how the US media and legal system’s public view of the case differed so markedly from the Canadian government’s investigation. (And the tactics and arguments used by the US government to avoid him having his day in court in the US.)

    And look at Obama’s DOJ arguing in the courts recently that the Executive can unilaterally declare that certain information be kept out of court, even under strict confidentiality regimes. Or their pleading to the courts to avoid them ruling on the president’s power to imprison anyone without charges indefinitely. Or their efforts to block the court from ruling on the illegal wiretapping undertaken by Bush. Or the argument that the US is exceptional, and should not have to honour its treaty obligations.

    You still think powerful people never cover up?

    All of those arguments ultimately give the president the power to break the law with impunity and deceive the public – the latter of which is generally achievable these days, at least in the US for a few years, by carefully tending the compliant media pack. And there are any number of other studies showing how … different … the US media’s spin on key matters is when compared to coverage from the rest of the world.

    You could even start with this Binyam Mohammad case where the British courts have ruled that there is credible evidence of war crimes – and also ruled that the evidence should be suppressed (at least for now) because it would harm potentially national security via intelligence sharing relationships with the US. You might even read the reporting that alleges that the documents upon which the court relied to determine that intelligence sharing with the US might be compromised were falsified by the British officials in question.

    Maybe that will answer your own question – why has nothing been done about the allegations thus far? If you explain the difference between guilty, not guilty, and not yet tried – and why there are three possibilities rather than two – perhaps you’ll understand why “nothing done yet” about allegations does NOT mean that the allegations are baseless.

    If your standard for determining the validity of allegations were the standard, the US would have to release the entire population of Guantanamo as well as Jose Padilla and Ali Al-Marri. They MUST be innocent, because they haven’t been tried after six or seven years – heck, most of them haven’t even been charged yet!

  24. And here is part of the judgement handed down by the UK High Court:

    Moreover, in the light of the long history of the common law and democracy which we share with the United States, it was in our view difficult to conceive that a democratically elected and accountable government could possibly have any rational objection to placing into the public domain such a summary of what its own officials reported, as to how a detainee was treated by them and which made no disclosure of sensitive intelligence matters. Indeed we did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials or officials of another State where the evidence was relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be.

  25. Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA, on March 12th, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    So…that long tradition of valuing liberty and freedom highly are someone else’s burden, Sparta? American citizenship must be worth bupkus these days. Enjoy your new tyrants who are you. 😉

  26. Good one joni, and something not often appreciated, that the USA is also a common law country.

  27. “Some have said that this is a blot on Obama, but note how it says that it got worse after Obama was “elected” – not since his inauguration. So it looks like the brutality increased before Obama took office.”

    Good point joni.

    but…as usual Lotharsson kicks butt & keeps it real.
    N’

  28. “EVIDENCE is not the same as an OPINION” – Sparta.

    Hmm. I think I’ve argued with you on this basis many times Sparta. On those occasions your OPINION was no match for the EVIDENCE. What brought on the change of heart? Was it through being wrong all the time?

  29. Sparta, wander into a book shop, pick up and breeze through some pages of ‘My Guantanamo Diary’ by American lawyer Mahvish Khan about her experiences working as an interpreter and legal aide with Afghan detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Khan says … ‘Before I got involved with Guantanamo, I had no opinion about whether the detainees were guilty or innocent; I just thought they all deserved a fair hearing and due process. But after I met some and talked to them, and after I read their files, I came to believe that many, perhaps even most, were innocent men who’d been swept up by mistake. I really became convinced when I found out about the bounties . . . they’d been sold to the United States.’

    Buy the book perhaps. Read all of it. See if you’ll cry too.

  30. I’m afraid Sparta has left, people.

    Oh maybe not.

    Perhaps he’s just turned to the other keyboard. You know, the one that controls the Predator drone that is even now on it’s way to give us Terrrist Pinkos a Hellfire or two.

  31. They’re creating FALSE MEMORIES.

    These Totalitarians in guise of freedom pursuers…these protectors of religious cages…these guardians of police states …these FEARFUL ONES…purporting to be otherwise.

    Fckin’ w/ the MEMORY…is…

    a form of RAPE.

    Come THE LIGHT.

    Come the Obamas…Michelle…Barack…

    and the King…returned…AWAKENED.
    N’

  32. And BTW

    you in Chicago…

    WE ARE STILL WITH YOU

    know it…

    The Untouchables – Ennio Morricone

    DO it!…do what YOU do best.

    W/ the kids in mind.
    N’

  33. Evan said “I’m afraid Sparta has left, people.”

    So now what are we going to do for laughs?

  34. Sparta disappoints me with his regression to the ‘ol US wingnut favourite “kool aide” baseless dismissal.
    Reminds me of the strangely empty vessel that was/is The dean of Doonside.

    That there are still defenders of US wanton exclusivity around after Bush, given the sum of his achievements & the global attitude towards them, is unfortunate but entirely predictable.
    After all, Pinochet still had ardent supporters who could see no wrong in him right up until his (recent) death (& beyond I should imagine).
    Now that’s gotta take some damn fine rose coloured glasses to maintain that kind of blind acceptance in the face of historical record.

  35. Now that’s gotta take some damn fine rose coloured glasses to maintain that kind of blind acceptance in the face of historical record.

    It’s probably partly or wholly rooted in “right wing authoritarianism“, particularly the right wing authoritarian follower mindset. Note the terminology has nothing to do with political right vs left (the second link above describes both right and left wing authoritarianism).

    Right wing authoritarian personalities heavily submit to established authorities, aggressively defend them against anyone perceived to be attacking them (including those who criticise their behaviour), and are highly conventional. This tends to mean that they assume that authorities are good and noble and right – by definition – much like a significant number of political conservatives in the US believe that wealth is a sign of (moral) goodness. This also means they’re quite vulnerable to totally amoral and deceptive authoritarian leaders who are quite happy to manipulate such loyalty to authority for their own ends. Seen any of those (say, in conservative religious or political circles in the US lately?) The second link above discusses leaders vs followers in much more detail.

    They also find it difficult, even scary to take on board evidence that suggests they are wrong in any of this, which means they get really good at rationalising such evidence away (or ignoring it altogether). So, it’s not surprising there’s been no response from Sparta to many of these comments. It’s too dangerous to their established view of the world to contemplate.

    If those two links above were interesting, you may also want to read “The Rise of Pseudo Fascism” by Dave Neiwert (part 1 of 7, or the whole thing in PDF).

    At the same blog, there are a bunch of other interesting series in the column on the left, many by Sara Robinson. Some of those deal with politically/socially conservative religious movements that embody or exploit right wing authoritarianism, and how she came out of one, and how you can (and can’t) help people along that journey. FWIW, I grew up in a fairly mild form of that type of religious subculture, but managed to escape in the end 🙂

  36. “Seen any of those (say, in conservative religious or political circles in the US lately?) ”

    No none, never. All altruistic dogooders to a man…cough.

    Thanx for the links BTW.

  37. Forgot to add that a couple of features of the subculture I grew up in, common to most authoritarian religious subcultures, were:

    (a) Really good rationalisation skills – you had to rationalise away any evidence that challenged the tenets of the subculture (whether religious, or sociological) because you were indoctrinated from an earlier age that the religion provided you with “The Truth” – so any actual evidence to the contrary could not be tolerated.

    (b) A propensity for people to live double lives, on the one hand projecting a “good” personality compliant with the religious and social mores held by the subculture, on the other privately (and unhappily) failing to live up to those requirements.

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