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UK had official torture use policy.
August 4, 2011 12:42 PM   Subscribe

UK's official use of torture policy. For MI5 & MI6, special renditions: when to proceed knowing torture would be used during the interrogation.

and more at guardian.co.uk
posted by maiamaia (27 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Guardian link not working for me for some reason.

Just for fun, here's Article 2.2 of the CAT:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:56 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Explained the need to obtain political cover for any potentially criminal act by consulting ministers beforehand.

For me, this was the "you're fucking kidding me" line in the article.
posted by charred husk at 12:57 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're going to have to work a lot harder than that to surprise me.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:02 PM on August 4, 2011


Guardian link
posted by BungaDunga at 1:26 PM on August 4, 2011


Jesus H. Christ, this again? Look, your government's ministers can't insulate someone from being charged for international crimes. You can no more get permission to torture than you can get permission to rape, or to loot, or to have a slave.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:49 PM on August 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, ideally the result of an agent consulting a minister to provide cover for acts of torture would be both of them being indicted at The Hague.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:58 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


UK had official torture use policy.

Does Metafilter?
posted by grobstein at 2:06 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Human rights groups to boycott inquiry into British torture and rendition: Liberty says Gibson torture inquiry will be 'waste of time and money' because it lacks credibility and transparency
posted by homunculus at 2:11 PM on August 4, 2011


A copy of the secret policy showed senior intelligence officers and ministers feared the British public could be at greater risk of a terrorist attack if Islamists became aware of its existence.

The only reason England is under threat from Islamists is because they allow so many to emigrate there. You people live on an island, for Christ's sake. If you get overwhelmed by violent foreign undesirables, I figure it is your own damn fault.
posted by Renoroc at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2011


Um no, that would not be the ideal result because in only rare circumstances does an act of torture constitute a crime that would be internationally justiciable at the ICC ( when it is carried out as a crime against humanity or a war crime - neither of which is alleged here.

In general torture does not fall under the jurisdiction of an international court. Instead, the UN convention against torture requires States Parties to criminalize the offence of torture in their domestic law - the correct place for any torture prosecutions would be within domestic courts

In any case, its not clear yet from these reports exactly what was condoned and in what circumstances. In order to be considered liable, State actors would need to be considered "complicit" in acts of torture, which is a high legal standard.

Given that the torture inquiry that has been proposed by the British Govt seems to be heading for inevitable obfuscation - I would not hold out much hope of clarity in this area in the near future.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2011


Not that it's much better, but this seems to be less "The UK can torture people for information" as the headline suggests and more "Yes, you can work with other countries about suspects being interrogated as long as they promise they won't torture them, even if they're most likely lying".

What I don't understand is why the recent interest in legalizing torture. I know it went on during the Cold War, but I don't remember reading about it being openly admitted the way the Bush Administration did, and I definitely didn't read about the concept of the products of torture being brought into the courthouse the way people were talking about with KSM and other terrorist suspects.

Reading up on this it seems like confessions coerced by torture were accepted up to the 1910s here in the US. What the fuck.
posted by dragoon at 2:19 PM on August 4, 2011


Castlereagh Interrogation Centre. Yawn.
posted by Damienmce at 2:35 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel so bad for having a UK citizenship right now. Not that I don't feel bad at other times for the horrendously shitty things my country has done to Africa. And the middle east. And most of Asia. And Australia. And the North Ameri... I mean the US.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:41 PM on August 4, 2011


The only reason England is under threat from Islamists is because they allow so many to emigrate there. You people live on an island, for Christ's sake. If you get overwhelmed by violent foreign undesirables, I figure it is your own damn fault.

In a vain effort to forestall the "send them back" bile that this comment seems specifically designed to provoke:

The majority of Islamist terrorists in the UK are British-born, under the age of 30, educated and likely to be employed, according to a statistical analysis of all terror plots uncovered over the past ten years..More than two thirds (69 per cent) of those convicted were born in the UK and held British passports.
posted by Jakey at 2:47 PM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The only reason England is under threat from Islamists is because they allow so many to emigrate there. You people live on an island, for Christ's sake. If you get overwhelmed by violent foreign undesirables, I figure it is your own damn fault.

Not that it should matter, but three of the four perpetrators of the 7July bombings were born in England. The only who wasn't came from that hotbed of violent Islamism...Jamaica.

I feel so bad for having a UK citizenship right now. Not that I don't feel bad at other times for the horrendously shitty things my country has done to Africa. And the middle east. And most of Asia. And Australia. And the North Ameri... I mean the US.

Why? The idea that citizens of England know about, condone or greatly benefit from government foreign policy is misgrounded. It's been that way for centuries, and things like extraordinary rendition are yet another crime that shouldn't be pinned on ordinary citizens. If you're not part of the establishment, you've got clean hands.
posted by Jehan at 2:50 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The majority of Islamist terrorists in the UK are British-born, under the age of 30, educated and likely to be employed, according to a statistical analysis of all terror plots uncovered over the past ten years... More than two thirds (69 per cent) of those convicted were born in the UK and held British passports.

Sadly I think that reinforces the case against a relaxed immigration policy because it suggests that far from integrating, Muslims tend to become more prone to extremism, not less, as generations pass. If you want less terrorism doesn't that seem to make it more important than ever not to let the first generation in to begin with?

I find this pretty depressing, but unpalatable facts are still facts.
posted by Segundus at 3:11 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want less terrorism doesn't that seem to make it more important than ever not to let the first generation in to begin with?

Worked great with the Irish.

The only reason England is under threat from Islamists is because they allow so many to emigrate there

Truly more laws are needed to protect the state from the power of the individual.

The best ways of preventing the causes of radicalization such as alienation and social exclusion have always been preventing social inclusion and electrocuting genitalia.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:22 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


And the North Ameri... I mean the US.

First instinct was correct, I mean just think about the whole deportation of the Acadians thing. It is very far from forgotten and to this day, invoked as an identifier of English villainy.

Bred in bad blood, great injustices live generations.
posted by phoque at 3:30 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel the UK is like US 2.0 with worse teeth, thinner people, and just a *bit* slower than the US to take away liberties.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:32 PM on August 4, 2011


The only reason England is under threat from Islamists is because they allow so many to emigrate there. You people live on an island, for Christ's sake. If you get overwhelmed by violent foreign undesirables, I figure it is your own damn fault.

Perhaps you aren't clear on the concept, but "Islamists" aren't really genetically different from other people. Its an ideology that permeates throughout society, and some of the more desperate, more disenfranchised people hold on to it thinking its their only way out of whatever situation they are in.

The majority of Islamist terrorists in the UK are British-born, under the age of 30, educated and likely to be employed, according to a statistical analysis of all terror plots uncovered over the past ten years... More than two thirds (69 per cent) of those convicted were born in the UK and held British passports.

Sadly I think that reinforces the case against a relaxed immigration policy because it suggests that far from integrating, Muslims tend to become more prone to extremism, not less, as generations pass. If you want less terrorism doesn't that seem to make it more important than ever not to let the first generation in to begin with?

I find this pretty depressing, but unpalatable facts are still facts.


You're confused. Its ok. How many terrorists do you think are convicted in a court of law, as that is what the statistics are referring to?

Also, your opinion that Muslims becoming more prone to extremism as generations pass is just plain stupid.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:40 PM on August 4, 2011


Sadly I think that reinforces the case against a relaxed immigration policy because it suggests that far from integrating, Muslims tend to become more prone to extremism, not less, as generations pass. If you want less terrorism doesn't that seem to make it more important than ever not to let the first generation in to begin with?

I find this pretty depressing, but unpalatable facts are still facts.


Far be it from me to suggest you actually look at any of the facts before telling us we have to face them, but this survey was based on 127 cases, involving 119 convictions. The disparity between cases and convictions involves people who had been convicted of two offences, and of course people who did not survive to stand trial but can be considered definitely guilty of terrorist acts.

Given that the 2001 census registered 3.1% of the population of England registering as muslim, with lower percentages in the rest of the UK, these statistics don't say very much about the couple of million muslims living in the UK, be they first, second or third generation.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:17 PM on August 4, 2011


hal_c_on: "Its an ideology that permeates throughout society, and some of the more desperate, more disenfranchised people hold on to it thinking its their only way out of whatever situation they are in."

BULLSHIT. Jihad is not the last resort of the desperate, it's an aspirational brand. Please tell me you don't think the 9/11 hijackers were "disenfranchised".
posted by falameufilho at 4:44 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


no, they were skinny and had bad teeth as a result of poor resource allocation with hints of bureacracy circa 1560.
posted by clavdivs at 4:57 PM on August 4, 2011


The only reason England is under threat from Islamists is because they allow so many to emigrate there. You people live on an island, for Christ's sake. If you get overwhelmed by violent foreign undesirables, I figure it is your own damn fault.

North + South America are an island relative to the Middle East. How's that working out for you, son?
posted by atrazine at 11:21 PM on August 4, 2011


Have they tried not being extreme Islam terrorists? Perhaps a gentle electrode lightly swabbing their genitals may help?

they could proceed when they foresaw "a real possibility their actions will result in an individual's mistreatment" as long as they first sought assurances from the overseas agency.

I must check with Mother. If she indicates burning your testicles in carbolic acid is more humane, than we can proceed.


Jesus what an utter waste.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:29 AM on August 5, 2011


While I was looking for a job recently, I actually applied to MI5. I didn't really want to be part of it, but I thought it might be fun to get inside and see what went on, maybe blow a few whistles, that kind of caper. Sadly, you can't be that casual about joining the intelligence services. I got through a few of the preliminary test stages but it reached a point where I thought, fuck it, I'm not that interested, and that was the end of it.

There isn't an intelligence service in the world that hasn't broken laws, been corrupt, lied, murdered, tortured or used information gained from torture. Sometimes, when I see the finely-honed moral qualms, sensitivities and sensibilities on display amongst my charming liberal friends I think, oh, how lovely that we can play this game. How very lovely that we can imagine we are decent people living in a largely decent society. Sometimes it feels a bit like believing in god.
posted by Decani at 12:05 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: number of muslim immigrants. The vast majority of immigrants to Britain, nowadays, are either East Europeans, usually temporary workers but a large number stay, and Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, usually by marriage. For anyone outside the EU, the EU human right to family life (ie you married them) is almost the only way to get in. As marriage in Indian subcontinent is often for family alliance, this means a lot of people to immigrate that way, but otherwise very few muslims get in. We have very little immigration compared with the US, and of very limited origins: while in London there is someone from everywhere, the majority of immigration results from that now unimaginable period in the seventies and earlier when we actively recruited in the empire for workers - so, Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan, north India, Bengal, Australia etc. (In France, from the french empire, in Holland from the Dutch one, and so on.) African and Carribbean immigrants to Britain tend to be Christian - more so than the natives. Europe is overwhelmingly atheist, unlike america. The 'ethnic minority' amount on the UK census, including those of mixed parentage (even, eg, half american) is little over 10%, and the vast majority of non-white immigration is concentrated in certain cities - mainly London, but also Birmingham and some other industrial centres (ex, back when we made things and had an empire).
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=954 the last census puts muslims at 2.8% That was ten years ago, and there is significant native conversion in inner cities. Ignore the 78% Christian figure: if you're under 70, you're about 2% likely to go to church in my experience living here, maybe a bit higher, but for some reason people put that because they think we're all going to die out/they want to get married in church/they see it as an identity thing. I promise you, the whole of modern europe is atheist except for Poland which is solid catholic.... Southern europe has a reasonably large christian minority amongst the young and majority over, say, 65. Our population density is about average for Europe, same as Germany and Italy, much higher than those vast tracts of farmland like France and Spain and Poland, lower than Holland. If muslims are going to swamp us, whether by religion or by physical overcrowding, it'll take a better effort than this.

Finally, the single biggest muslim minority is Bangladeshis. I've lived with them and can vouch, they are about the least extremist muslims going. They're not fantastically integrated, and they're awful sexist pigs - all the girls are married off young and do housework - and they're observant, prayer, halal etc (most british muslims are more observant than most american ones) and probably call us caffirs, but they don't wear headscarves etc usually, let alone prayer robes and stuff, don't refrain from mixing at work, they're not evangelical. (Almost everyone you see in a niqab is Sudanese.) As an american friend observed to me, people value american citizenship more because it's so hard to get, they expect to conform and fit in: here, it's just a human right, you don't pay a high price so it's not valuable to you. (Quite right too.)
posted by maiamaia at 4:50 PM on August 8, 2011


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