Sunday 14 December 2014

Must Be Revealed

John Prescott writes:

The report saying the US ­Criminal Intelligence Agency conducted widespread torture of innocent people in Bush’s “War on Terror” is shocking – but not surprising.

Not only did it breach human rights laws and America’s UN obligations, the torture provided no effective information.

So it turns out the CIA’s acts were criminal and delivered no true intelligence to the agency!

Credit must be given to the US Senate Committee on Intelligence that produced such a thorough and detailed report exposing the CIA’s own secret War OF Terror.

And what a contrast between ­presidents.

Bush, who endorsed these activities. And Obama, who condemns them while still pressing the button on military drones that kill hundreds of ­civilians.

What disturbs many is how special our special relationship with Bush’s America actually became.

We now know that our GCHQ was actively working for America’s national security agencies in carrying out phone-tapping and information ­gathering on an industrial scale.

A claim our toothless ­parliamentary intelligence security committee said was unfounded.

We gathered and collected ­information for the Americans, which was illegal under US law but possible under ours. We effectively became their private detective.

As a member of the Cabinet in the Blair government I raised the matter of GCHQ overspending by £100million per year.

The Audit Commission refused to give it a clean audit. And our Intelligence and Security Committee presented to the Cabinet a heavily redacted report that told us nothing.

Now we discover that ­references to Britain’s intelligence agencies were deleted from the US torture report at their request.

And in advance of the publication of the findings – which made no ­reference to MI5 or MI6 – our ­ambassador to Washington met the Senate Committee 22 times.

Even Home Secretary Theresa May went over to see them.

The exposure of the torture was the excellent work of a US Senate committee, which has the power to subpoena witnesses and make them give evidence under oath.

These powers aren’t available to our Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

It meets once a week in secret, its members are appointed by the Prime Minister and it’s required to get the PM’s permission before any ­investigation.

Ministers can use their discretion whether or not to give full information to the committee.

Cameron even halted an inquiry by Judge Sir Peter Gibson into torture claims after it discovered 27 areas requiring further investigation.

They included interrogation techniques, so-called “rendition flights”, the training of agents and ministerial oversight of the intelligence ­agencies.

And guess who Cameron handed Sir Peter’s investigation to. That’s right – the Intelligence and Security Committee.

When it comes to scrutinising our intelligence agencies we have a ­parliamentary committee whose terms of reference have been drawn up by the three monkeys – see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.

Now’s the time to make our security agencies much more accountable.

Our parliamentary committees need the powers to subpoena witnesses and make them give evidence under oath to hold our ­intelligence services to full account.

We must have a transparent system that reflects our values of fair play and justice, not one that turns a blind eye and deaf ear to claims of the ­abduction and torture of innocent people.

That’s why it’s vital to have a ­judicial inquiry to uncover the truth about these allegations of Britain’s complicity with US torture.

This “special relationship” must be revealed.

No comments:

Post a Comment