|Peter Oborne in his column in the Daily Telegraph today lambasts the government’s Justice and Security Bill and its obscuring the ability to “shine a light into the dark corners of our secret state”.|
Commenting on the Bill’s progress through Parliament and a report into its implications for uncovering the extent of the UK’s complicity in rendition and torture, Oborne writes that after 9/11 and under pressure from the Bush administration, “Britain became heavily complicit in what is known as extraordinary rendition, or the kidnap and subsequent torture of individuals as a matter of state policy. It goes without saying that this activity is against the law, and wholly contrary to our international obligations as a signatory of the United Nations Convention against torture.”
In their report, Neither Just nor Secure, Conservative MP and chair of the APPG on Extraordinary Rendition, Andrew Tyrie, and Anthony Peto QC, of Blackstone Chambers, argue:
“In its present form, a strong case can be made that it will do more harm than good, not just to interests of justice and freedom but also to security,”
“That Britain allowed itself to be dragged into complicity in ‘extraordinary rendition’ – the kidnap and torture of individuals as a matter of policy – is a disgrace.
“That, nearly a decade later, the extent and limits of Britain’s involvement are still unknown is almost as shocking.”
The weekend papers last week, the Guardian and Daily Mail, published reports of cases currently before the High Court assessing whether the UK was guilty of “systematic torture” in Iraq with witness statements numbering 180, “with 871 to follow”, according to The Guardian.
The Government has sought to placate detractors by backing down and confirming the ‘closed material procedures’ will be ‘judge-led’ but the measures are insufficient for those determined to uncover the truth about security services’ conduct and the extent of state complicity in illegal practices of torture and rendition.
Oborne concludes his column stating, “the best intelligence officers admit that British complicity in torture has amounted to a thoroughgoing betrayal of our values, acted as a recruiting sergeant for terrorism, and made intelligence gathering more difficult. Deepening the secret state is a step in the wrong direction. The objective of any decent government should be to expose as much of the truth as we can about British involvement in torture, not to hush it up. It’s time for the Coalition to ditch its shameful little Bill.”