UK Government's Attempt To Suppress
'Binyam Mohamed: Judges
Overrule Government's Attempt To Suppress Torture
High court orders publication of US
report, saying British foreign secretary's actions were
harmful to the rule of law
~ 16 October 2009
David Miliband, the foreign secretary,
acted in a way that was harmful to the rule of law by
suppressing evidence about what the government knew of the
illegal treatment of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who was
held in a secret prison in Pakistan, the high court has ruled.
Houses of Parliament, London
In a devastating judgment, two
senior judges roundly dismissed the foreign secretary's claims
that disclosing the evidence would harm national security and
threaten the UK's vital intelligence-sharing arrangements with
In what they described as an "unprecedented" and "exceptional"
case, to which the
is a party, they ordered the release of a seven-paragraph
summary of what the CIA told British officials – and maybe
ministers – about Ethiopian-born Mohamed before he was secretly
interrogated by an MI5 officer in 2002.
"The suppression of reports of wrongdoing by officials in
circumstances which cannot in any way affect national security
is inimical to the rule of law," Lord Justice Thomas and Mr
Justice Lloyd Jones ruled. "Championing the rule of law, not
subordinating it, is the cornerstone of democracy."
The summary is a CIA account given to British intelligence
"whilst [Mohamed] was held in Pakistan ... prior to his
interview by an officer of the Security Service", the judges
said. The officer, known only as Witness B, is being
investigated by the Metropolitan police for "possible criminal
The seven-page document will not be released until the result of
an appeal is known. However, the judges made clear their
anger at the position adopted by Miliband, MI5, and MI6 in their
An explanation was needed, they said, about "what the United
Kingdom government actually knew about what was alleged to be
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or torture, in particular
what Witness B knew before he interviewed [Mohamed] ... in
Pakistan". The judges added that it was important to explain
what MI5 "and others knew when they provided further information
to the United States to be used in the interrogation".
There was a "compelling public interest" to disclose what
Miliband wanted to suppress, they said; there was nothing in the
seven-paragraph summary that had anything remotely to do with
"In our view, as a court in the United Kingdom, a vital public
interest requires, for reasons of democratic accountability and
the rule of law in the United Kingdom, that a summary of the
most important evidence relating to the involvement of the
British security services in wrongdoing be placed in the public
domain in the United Kingdom."
The judges sharply criticised the way Miliband and his
lawyers tried to persuade the Obama administration to back the
suppression of the CIA material. Lawyers acting for Mohamed,
the Guardian and other media organisations pointed out that
Obama had himself set up an inquiry into CIA practices and
published details of their interrogation techniques.
In the end, Miliband had to rely for help on a CIA letter to MI6
claiming that disclosure of the document would harm the security
of the US and UK.
The judges made it clear they did not believe the claim was
credible. "The public interest in making the paragraphs
public is overwhelming," they said.
The document would show what Witness B – an MI5 officer who
interrogated Mohamed in Pakistan in 2002 – knew about Mohamed's
condition before he questioned him incognito in a Pakistani
jail, the judges said.
The CIA secretly flew Mohamed to Morocco, Afghanistan and
then Guantánamo Bay, the court has heard. The judges criticised
MI5 and MI6 for the belated disclosure of documents that
revealed an MI5 officer was in Morocco when Mohamed was held
there in a secret jail.
Miliband's lawyers continued to argue that a number of passages
in the judges' ruling must be redacted as well as the
seven-paragraph CIA document.
Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, admitted in a speech at Bristol
University on Thursday that the Security Service had been "slow
to detect the emerging pattern of US practice in the period
"But it is important to recognise that we do not control what
other countries do, that operational decisions have to be taken
with the knowledge available, even if it is incomplete, and that
when the emerging pattern of US policy was detected, necessary
improvements were made."
He repeated the mantra that MI5 "does not torture people, nor do
we collude in torture or solicit others to torture people on our
behalf". [WGFT Ed: LIAR.]
However, he said the situation posed a dilemma. "Given the
pressing need to understand and uncover al-Qaida's plans, were
we to deal, however circumspectly, with those security services
who had experience of working against al-Qaida on their own
territory, or were we to refuse to deal with them, accepting
that in so doing we would be cutting off a potentially vital
source of information that would prevent attacks in the west?
"In my view we would have been derelict in our duty if we had
not worked, circumspectly, with overseas liaisons who were in a
position to provide intelligence that could safeguard this
country from attack. I have every confidence in the behaviour of
my officers in what were difficult and, at times, dangerous
WGFT editor: So-called
'Intelligence' agencies should (they already know though, even
if they have a below average intelligence quota) WHO exactly
carried out the 9-11 attacks; and WHY they did it (most people
have figured this out by now) ... and tell the world so that the
world is a safer and saner place.
Above article is at:
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