Thursday, February 11, 2010

US 'Disappointed' at UK Court Ruling on Torture

The BBC reports that the White House is "disappointed" at the decision issued yesterday by the Court of Appeal:
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is believed to be "understanding" about the UK government's position after talking with Mr Miliband, the BBC has learned.

But Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for President Barack Obama, said: "We're deeply disappointed with the court's judgment because we shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations.

"As we warned, the court's judgment will complicate the confidentiality of our intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK, and it will have to factor into our decision-making going forward."
Denis Blair, the US Director of National Intelligence, said: "The decision by a United Kingdom court to release classified information provided by the United States is not helpful, and we deeply regret it.

"The United States and the United Kingdom have a long history of close co-operation that relies on mutual respect for the handling of classified information."To recap, the case concerned Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian granted refugee status in Britain in 1994. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 over visa issues and was handed over to US officials. Thereafter, Binyam was secretly flown to Morocco in 2002, and allegedly tortured while being questioned about his life in London. Mohamed was then flown to Guantanamo Bay in 2004 and held there for 5 years. He was released without charge in February 2009 and returned to the UK.
Here are the 7 paragraphs at issue in the judgment:
v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.
vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.
vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews
viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.
ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.
x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities]"
There is nothing here for the White House to be deeply disappointed about. The British Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, has taken a sensible approach to the decision: The Government accepts the decision of the Court of Appeal that, in the light of disclosures in the US court, it should publish the seven paragraphs at issue in the case of Binyam Mohamed. We have published the paragraphs ...
At the heart of this case was the principle that if a country shares intelligence with another, that country must agree before its intelligence is released. This 'control principle' is essential to the intelligence relationship between Britain and the US. The Government fought the case to preserve this principle, and today's judgement upholds it. It agreed that the control principle is integral to intelligence sharing. The court has today ordered the publication of the seven paragraphs because in its view their substance had been put into the public domain by a decision of a US court in another case.
The Government has made sustained and successful efforts to ensure Mr Mohamed's legal counsel had full access to the material in question. We remain determined to uphold our very strong commitment against mistreatment of any kind.