How Britain Enthusiastically Teamed Up with Bush's Horrific Torture and Rendition Agenda
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The door that could have been shut upon the use of torture during British operations against Islamist terrorism had been left open just a crack. A crack was all that was needed. Over the years to come, all manner of horrors would slip quietly through.
If the interrogations at Kandahar were brutal, those at Bagram were pitiless. At least two Afghans died under interrogation after being chained from the ceiling of their cells for several days while being beaten about the legs. Post-mortem examinations showed that their injuries were so severe that, had they survived, their legs would have had to be amputated.
There are allegations that British intelligence officers witnessed the abuse at Bagram and even took part on occasion, despite the warning that they must not be seen to condone it. Shaker Aamer, a Saudi who lived in London before traveling to Afghanistan, has given a statement to one of his lawyers in which he says British intelligence officers were present while Americans beat him and smashed his head against a wall. Hassan Zamiri, an Algerian married to a Canadian, has made a similar statement alleging that British intelligence officers interrogated him while he was being beaten and, on one occasion, waterboarded, and that one, an Englishman who called himself Paul, took part in the beatings. Moazzam Begg says he spoke not only to British intelligence officers at Bagram, but to visiting British soldiers.
Judging by the accounts that some of the inmates gave when they were finally set free, there is reason to believe that those conducting the interrogations were not just seeking intelligence. They were, as Cyril Cunningham, the in-house psychologist as the UK’s secretive Cold War organization A19, had put it, involved in the "selection, control and operation of secret agents and informers": the Bagram interrogators were hoping to turn some of the inmates – and doubtless, in some cases, they succeeded.
MI5 and MI6 officers conducted around 100 interrogations in Afghanistan over the next three years and the reports they subsequently sent to their superiors in London left no room for doubt about what was happening. After the interrogation in July 2002 of Omar Deghayes, a Libyan who had been living as a refugee in Britain, one of his questioners sent a detailed report back to MI5 headquarters. The report, which was disclosed during court proceedings brought by Deghayes eight years later, said: "The interview commenced at 1345 GMT and finished at 1600 GMT. Deghayes was brought to the interview room manacled and hooded. When the hood was removed, Deghayes looked pale and shaky. We asked if he was ill and he replied that he was suffering from malaria."
After offering Deghayes water and asking him whether he felt well enough to continue, the officers introduced themselves as Paul and Martin. They warned Deghayes that he was facing a long period of incarceration in US hands and that they would not consider helping him unless he told them everything they wanted to know. Deghayes was mumbling and incoherent at times. When he answered questions about links with jihadist organizations in Libya, the officers told him he was lying.
After another interrogation a week later, an MI5 officer reported back to London that Deghayes was thinner but alert. Deghayes said he was suffering internal bleeding:
He said the medical staff thought he was malingering and challenged us to explain how anyone could feign internal bleeding. Deghayes then launched into an extended complaint about why he was being held. No evidence had been presented yet he was still in custody. He was also being treated badly, with head-braces and lock-down positions being the order of the day. He was treated better by the Pakistanis; what kind of world was it where the Americans were more barbaric than the Pakistanis? We listened but did not comment.