British government tries to hide role in CIA torture


This 12 July 2014 video is called Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA ‘torture flights’.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

UK ambassador ‘lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition

Rights groups claim that top-level talks were part of bid to redact link to Diego Garcia from report

Jamie Doward

Saturday 16 August 2014 21.45 BST

Logs released under the Freedom of Information Act have reinforced claims that the UK lobbied to keep its role in the CIA‘s torture and interrogation programme out of what is expected to be a damning Senate report.

They show that the UK ambassador to the US met members of the Senate select committee on intelligence 11 times between 2012 and 2014 – as they were investigating the CIA’s rendition programme. This included two meetings with the committee’s chair, Diane Feinstein, which took place as crucial decisions were being made regarding how much of its report into the programme should be made public.

The revelation has prompted fresh concern that the government lobbied for key parts of the report referring to Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean leased to the US as a military base, to be redacted. Human rights groups believe that the territory played a key role in facilitating the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme – the movement of high-value terrorist suspects to “black sites” around the world without legal oversight.

The US authorities have confirmed only that the territory was used for two refuelling stops. But there are suspicions Diego Garcia has played a more extensive role than the US has so far admitted, raising questions about when and what the UK knew about its use.

The release of the report on the torture and rendition programme has been delayed after the Democrats criticised what they claimed were excessive redactions made by the CIA. Sources suggest that the spy agency wanted as much as 15% of the report blacked out.

Former foreign secretary William Hague confirmed in a recent letter to the human rights group Reprieve that the UK government had discussed the report with the US, prompting concerns it had pushed for sections relating to Diego Garcia and possible other British involvement to be blacked out.

“We have made representations to seek assurances that ordinary procedures for clearance of UK material will be followed in the event that UK material provide[d] to the Senate committee were to be disclosed,” Hague explained.

Now the newly released logs reveal that UK ambassador Peter Westmacott met Feinstein on 29 April and 2 May this year, Senator Martin Heinrich on 16 July, and Senator Marco Rubio on 26 March 2014. The timing of the meetings appears significant. The committee voted to declassify its report’s summary and conclusions on 3 April this year, succeeding by 11 votes to three. Rubio voted against. Mid-April also saw numerous stories appear in the world’s press relating to Diego Garcia and the CIA’s rendition programme.

The ambassador met Rubio last year on 1 February and 10 April, Senator Saxby Chambliss on 20 November 2012, Senator Mark Warner on 11 January 2013, Senator Susan Collins on 16 July and 25 July 2012, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, the then chair, on 28 June 2012.

There were also at least 11 meetings between Britain’s then ambassador, Nigel Sheinwald, and members of the committee between 2009 and 2011, commencing shortly after the committee voted by 14-1 to investigate the rendition programme.

“This is yet more evidence of the desperate attempts being made by the UK to censor the Senate’s report on CIA torture,” said Reprieve’s executive director, Clare Algar. “We already know that our government was up to its neck in the CIA’s programme of rendition and torture – making it highly likely that the Senate’s report will contain information which is deeply embarrassing for them. But simple embarrassment is not a justification for suppressing the truth. Ministers must change course and instead support the publication of this crucial report in the most open and transparent form.”

Confirmation that a British territory was involved in extraordinary rendition could leave the government vulnerable to legal action. Last month the European court of human rights ruled that the Polish government had actively assisted the CIA’s European “black site” programme.

See also here.

Merkel demands names of all foreign spies in Germany


This video is called Germany arrests second CIA spy.

Translated from Der Spiegel weekly in Germany:

Espionage: government requires disclosure of all agents in Germany

By Matthias Gebauer and Jörg Schindler

Berlin urges the United States for information on the espionage affair – so far unsuccessfully. Now the sound is sharper: According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Foreign Office urged all foreign embassies to name their espionage agents stationed here.

Friday, 08/08/2014 – 17:22

Berlin – The German government increased the pressure on foreign intelligence services to disclose their activities in Germany. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Foreign Office urges (AA) all foreign embassies through official diplomatic channels, to name their entire intelligence personnel.

Edward Snowden smeared as ‘Al Qaeda accomplice’


This video from the USA says about itself:

10 March 2014

Take Action: here.

More information: here.

Edward Snowden speaks about privacy and technology with the ACLU’s Ben Wizner and Christopher Soghoian at SXSW Interactive.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

Washington Post accuses Snowden of aiding Al Qaeda

7 August 2014

The US media campaign to smear National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden continues. On August 3, an article appeared in the Washington Post entitled, “As evidence mounts, it’s getting harder to defend Edward Snowden.” Authored by Stewart Baker,

Did Stewart Baker ever defend Edward Snowden before this supposed ‘new evidence’ came along? Eg, when, voices from the United States ‘intelligence’ establishment made dead threats?

the article claims that Snowden’s disclosures aided Al Qaeda. Specifically, Baker writes that a study by a company called Recorded Future proves that “Snowden’s revelations about NSA’s capabilities were followed quickly by a burst of new, robust encryption tools from Al Qaeda and its affiliates.” …

If there are any Al Qaeda accomplices in the USA, then they are not Edward Snowden, but the CIA, the NSA and similar secret government organisations.

In the 1980s, the Saudi and United States ‘intelligence’ establishments helped Osama Bin Laden to found Al Qaeda, to fight their war in Afghanistan.

In 2011, Al Qaeda and similar fanatical groups were allies of the United States ‘intelligence’ establishment’s war for ‘regime change’ in Libya. What a pity they later bit the hand that fed them, and murdered the US ambassador to Libya.

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda had also become CIA allies in the bloody war in Syria. In neighbouring Iraq, before George W Bush invaded in 2003, there had not been any Al Qaeda (in reality; contrary to the fantasy of Bush’s pretext for war of falsely linking Iraq to 9/11 terrorism). Now, after a decade of United States war in Iraq under the ‘war on terror‘ pretext, there is not just Al Qaeda, but also its still more violent spin-off ISIS. The establishment warmongers may try to run from their responsibility for the present bloodshed; but they can’t hide.

The article goes on to denounce at length cyber security expert Bruce Schneier, who defended Snowden against the charge that his disclosures aided Al Qaeda. On June 11, 2013, Schneier wrote in the New York Times: “The argument that exposing these documents helps the terrorists doesn’t even pass the laugh test; there’s nothing here that changes anything any potential terrorist would do or not do.”

Baker’s “mounting evidence” that Snowden’s disclosures helped Al Qaeda consists of a single “study,” released in May of this year, by Recorded Future, a start-up company that produces online data-mining software that it calls “web intelligence.” The company advertises its “capabilities” in “cyber threat intelligence,” “corporate security,” “competitive intelligence” and “defense intelligence.”

The study itself, if it is accurate, simply indicates that in the period after Snowden’s disclosures, various Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda, apparently began using three types of encryption software that had not been previously used. Before Snowden’s disclosures, these groups had already implemented two types of encryption software.

“Of course, this could be random, but it seems unlikely,” wrote Christopher Ahlberg, CEO of Recorded Future, in an email to the New York Times.

Ahlberg’s and Baker’s ‘evidence’ to link Snowden to Al Qaeda is known in logic as the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Despite its flimsy factual foundations, the allegation that Snowden’s disclosures have aided Al Qaeda continues to echo throughout the establishment media.

In any event, whether or not Snowden’s revelations of government crimes against the US Constitution and the American people tipped off Al Qaeda is beside the point. The clear implication of Baker’s argument, which is echoed by virtually all intelligence officials, politicians and media pundits who attack Snowden, is that, in the interests of a supposed “war on terror,” the Bill of Rights should be scrapped and some form of dictatorship established.

In his article, Baker conceals his own background and bias from his readers. What he does not tell his readers—but what one can learn by visiting Wikipedia—is that Baker is a former general counsel of the National Security Agency (1992–1994). He has held various other positions over the years within the military-intelligence apparatus, and was appointed by George W. Bush as assistant secretary to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.

As far as his accusations that Snowden helped Al Qaeda are concerned, the word “hypocrisy” does not seem strong enough. Snowden is being denounced for aiding Al Qaeda on behalf of a political establishment that, in fact, has a long history of providing weapons, finances, and intelligence to Al Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the world.

In the Syrian civil war, stoked up by Washington, the CIA has operated training camps for Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Turkey and Jordan. Through these countries, the US has funneled weapons and finances to the Islamist fighters (see: ISIS: The jihadist movement stamped “Made in America”).

Thanks to the American “war on terror,” Al Qaeda offshoot ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has established its own sectarian state purporting to be a caliphate stretching across vast swathes of western Iraq and eastern Syria.

If supporting Al Qaeda is a crime, then it is necessary to prosecute not Snowden, but tens of thousands of personnel within the American military-corporate-intelligence complex, beginning with those who helped organize Al Qaeda in the 1980s during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, all the way through to those who built up Al Qaeda and its affiliated forces in Syria, Libya and elsewhere in recent years.

The “study” itself proves nothing. There is absolutely no evidence that Snowden directly or indirectly assisted Al Qaeda in any way. The study merely purports to show that a list of groups (not limited to Al Qaeda) began using different encryption methods in the time period after Snowden’s revelations.

The accusation that Snowden “aided Al Qaeda” mirrors the “aiding the enemy” charges against Bradley Manning (see: US government charges Manning with “aiding the enemy” in court martial). Baker’s article is evidence that this bogus theory would be invoked against Snowden, should he ever find himself in the clutches of the American judicial system.

… In addition, Glenn Greenwald reported this week that over 40 percent of the 680,000 people on the US government’s “Terrorist Screening Database” have “no recognized terrorist affiliation” (see: US terror list ensnares hundreds of thousands).

The online comments on Baker’s article are overwhelmingly hostile. One commenter observes that Baker’s article “is obviously just propaganda designed to defend his criminal gang that is still running the government today.”

Documents disclosed to journalists in May of last year by Edward Snowden exposed a massive conspiracy on the part of the National Security Agency against the US Constitution and against the world’s population. Snowden lifted the lid on unrestrained and illegal mass surveillance, caught president Obama and senior officials in lies, and exposed the so-called “war on terror” as a fraud. In doing so, he performed an invaluable service to working people in the US and around the world.

While the American political establishment and media claimed that its spying activities were limited to terrorist groups seeking to harm ordinary Americans, Snowden revealed that the NSA’s own “collection procedure” is: “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All,” “Partner it All,” “Sniff it All,” and “Know it All.”

Snowden exposed as a lie Obama’s claim that “nobody is listening to your phone calls.” Snowden also revealed that Director of National Security James Clapper had committed perjury while testifying under oath before Congress. Clapper was asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” He replied, “No, sir.”

In the upside-down world of establishment America, it is Snowden (who became trapped in Russia when the US unilaterally revoked his passport) who is being hounded and threatened with prosecution. The actual criminals that Snowden exposed remain at large.

On August 5, a watchdog computer program that monitors the activity of the Internet addresses on Capitol Hill caught someone with an anonymous address in the US House of Representatives editing Wikipedia to smear Snowden. A Wikipedia article was edited to refer to Snowden as “the American traitor who defected to Russia.”

CIA sabotages US Senate report on its torture again


This video from the USA is called [Senator] Feinstein: CIA searched our computers.

By Eric London in the USA:

Release of Senate report on torture stalled by CIA redactions

6 August 2014

Senator Dianne Feinstein announced last Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee would delay the release of a declassified summary of its voluminous report on CIA torture programs during the Bush administration due to the scale of redactions made by the US spy agency. Fifteen percent of the report’s 600-page executive summary was blacked out by the CIA.

“We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification,” Feinstein said. “Therefore, the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed.”

Feinstein and a handful of senators are appealing to President Obama to reduce the scale of the redactions. Obama, however, has fronted for the CIA and tacitly supported its months-long efforts to undermine the Senate probe and delay the release of the Intelligence Committee’s findings.

The Obama administration has allowed CIA Director John Brennan to hold secret meetings with Bush-era CIA officials who are, like Brennan himself, directly implicated in the crimes reportedly described in the Senate report. Among those who have met to review the report and plot against it are former CIA directors George Tenet and Michael Hayden, and other former top agency officials such as J. Cofer Black, John McLaughlin, Peter Goss and Michael Morell. No doubt the extensive redactions made by the CIA were discussed by these officials.

Last week Brennan, chosen by Obama for the top agency post after having served as the White House’s chief counter-terrorism adviser and heading up its drone assassination program, was exposed as a liar when the CIA inspector general reported that the agency had indeed hacked into computers being used by Senate committee staff conducting the probe. Last March, Brennan denied that his agency had spied on the Senate after Feinstein denounced him on the floor of the Senate for violating the separation of powers laid down by the US Constitution and attacking the Senate committee charged with overseeing CIA activities.

The military-intelligence apparatus responded with indignation to Feinstein’s request that there be fewer redactions. The CIA declined to comment, but Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who perjured himself before Congress last year when he denied the existence of the massive NSA spying programs subsequently exposed by Edward Snowden, issued a three-sentence statement.

“More than 85 percent of the Committee Report has been declassified,” the statement reads. “The redactions were the result of an extensive and unprecedented interagency process, headed up by my office, to protect sensitive classified information.”

If the redaction process was “unprecedented,” it was not in the sense stated by Clapper. Obama essentially gave those guilty of crimes against the Constitution and the democratic rights of the American people the power to select the evidence against them that would be made public.

The fact that they chose to redact one-sixth of the summary report—or 90 pages—is a further demonstration of the unchecked powers of the unelected cabal of spies and generals and the de facto subordination of all other official institutions, including the presidency, Congress and the courts to it.

According to US officials who spoke to VICE news, the CIA “vehemently opposed” the inclusion of material in the report because it reveals “specific” details about the types of torture methods employed, how victims were held captive, and the role played by foreign governments working with the CIA.

The officials told VICE that the Senate report includes evidence that the CIA systematically used torture techniques that went beyond even those approved in the infamous “torture memo” written by Bush administration attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee. Officials assert that the details of the report highlight the “cruelty” of the programs.

In a statement made last week, Obama said, “We tortured some folks.”

See also here.

C.I.A. Hires Yossarian to Censor Torture Report: here.

Top senator rejects CIA torture report redactions ahead of public release: here.

Sorry, New York Times. Torture “debate” isn’t about efficacy, but why no one has been prosecuted to date: here.

CIA, torture, spying on Senate, and cover-up


This video from the USA is called CIA Confesses To Hacking Senate.

By Eric London in the USA:

A law unto themselves: the CIA and the torture cover-up

1 August 2014

A report by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) marks a significant escalation in the constitutional crisis over the systematic cover-up of the CIA’s widespread torture programs.

According to the Inspector General David Buckley, five CIA officials surreptitiously gained access to the computers used by Senate staff investigators while compiling a still-classified 6,300-page report on CIA torture. Two CIA attorneys and three CIA information technology employees created fake accounts in order to follow the movements of Senate staff as they worked.

The OIG weakly asserts that the employees were “acting in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” brokered between the CIA and the Senate.

What is involved is not a breach of a “common understanding,” but a breach of laws and the Constitution. Not only did the spying violate the Fourth Amendment’s proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures and laws that prohibit domestic spying by the CIA, it also violated the basic constitutional principle of separation of powers—in this case, a clear intrusion by the executive branch on the investigatory powers of the legislature.

The gravity of the CIA’s actions is amplified by the fact that the Senate was investigating actions of the executive branch that already violated the Eighth Amendment’s proscription on cruel and unusual punishment.

The OIG report provides proof that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, lied as part of the cover-up. When first faced with allegations of CIA spying, Brennan declared: “When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

In fact, this is exactly what the CIA was doing, and there is every indication that it was done at the direction of Brennan himself.

Each individual layer of illegality implicates top officials in the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required for impeachment and criminal prosecution of high-ranking officials.

Then, just two weeks ago, the US Department of Justice announced that it would not launch a criminal investigation into the CIA spying—an act that was no doubt taken with foreknowledge of the conclusions of the inspector general report. On Thursday, the White House again jumped to defend Brennan, with press secretary Josh Earnest saying that the report proved that Brennan had “done what is necessary to get to the bottom of what exactly happened,” and that he showed the kind of “proactive leadership that the president would expect.”

As for Congress, after Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed the illegal spying in a speech on the floor of the Senate in March—accusing the CIA of illegal and unconstitutional activities—the issue was completely dropped. The prostration of the legislative branch before the intelligence apparatus was expressed in Feinstein’s statement that the OIG report “corrects the record.” She praised Brennan for taking “positive first steps.”

The whole affair reveals a political system in which the trappings of democracy are a thin cover for a state that is controlled by a gigantic military-intelligence apparatus (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Department and associated agencies) that operates as a law unto itself.

Consider what has happened. In the midst of a series of illegal wars, the CIA under the direction of the Bush administration established an international network of secret prisons and torture centers. This network operated effectively as a separate organization within the government to which the law—both domestic and international—did not apply. Conscious that what they were doing was illegal, high-ranking CIA officials destroyed evidence (including video tapes) of the torture.

Many of the victims of torture were held indefinitely with no semblance of due process and without ever being charged with committing a crime. In those cases where the victim could not stand the pain, the torturers became executioners. Leaks made by those who have read the Senate report have described the methods as “brutal” for inducing “excruciating” pain at “sprawling” black site prisons.

None of those who ordered these illegal actions or carried them out have been prosecuted. The Obama administration, while nominally ending the torture program, continues it in different forms while vastly expanding the illegal drone assassination and domestic spying programs.

Then, after all of this, Senate investigators into the torture program were spied on and threatened, their computers hacked.

The CIA torture cover-up reveals the collapse of democratic forms in the United States, the consequence of unending war abroad and extreme levels of social inequality at home.

Under the auspices of the “war on terror,” practically every democratic right has been effectively repealed by a collection of scoundrels and political criminals. The state is overseen by a spying apparatus that seeks to monitor all communications and a president that declares the right to assassinate without due process. The entire political establishment is complicit in torture and other illegal activities, and there is not a hint of opposition from the corporate media. Policy is dictated by a cabal that lives in constant fear of the social explosions that will arise inevitably out of the policies that it has pursued.

The breakdown of democracy is one expression of the protracted crisis of American capitalism and a ruling class that, in its determination to defend its interests at home and abroad, is dispensing with all legality.

Obama: “We tortured some folks” after 9/11: here.

Senators slam CIA spying as “worse than criminal”: here.

The White House and Senate Intelligence Committee are in disagreement over whether blacking out 15% of the CIA’s long-awaited torture report is acceptable.

In an internal State Department memo inadvertently leaked to the press, the United States government acknowledges that it orchestrated an international program of torture, the limits of which extend far beyond what is already known to the public: here.

Britain ‘attempts to censor’ US report on torture sites. US Senate report may confirm that Diego Garcia was used for extraordinary rendition after 9/11: here.

CIA ‘hid its torture from United States government’


This 1 April 2014 video from the USA is called CIA Lied About Torture To Justify Using It (Senate Report).

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

CIA hid prison brutality from State Department’

Thursday 31st July 2014

A LEAKED White House document concludes that the CIA kept the US secretary of state and some ambassadors in the dark about brutal interrogation techniques and secret prisons.

An internal briefing on an upcoming Senate report on the CIA interrogation programme was accidentally emailed to a reporter, the Associated Press news agency said.

According to the briefing, the still-classified full report maintains ambassadors who were informed about interrogations at black sites were instructed not to tell their State Department superiors.

The four-page White House document is significant because it reveals some of the report’s conclusions as well as State Department concerns over how it will be portrayed around the world.

Allegedly, the Senate report concludes the CIA used brutal techniques on detainees and then misled Congress and the Justice Department.

The briefing said the full report “leaves no doubt that the methods used to extract information from some terrorist suspects caused profound pain, suffering and humiliation.

“It also leaves no doubt the harm caused by the use of these techniques outweighed any potential benefit.”

Those methods included slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold, sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

The report may not draw the conclusion that the CIA actions legally constituted torture, but it makes clear that in some cases they amounted to torture by common definition.

According to the leaked document, the State Department wants to embrace the conclusions of the Senate report and blast past CIA practices.

“This report tells a story of which no American is proud,” it says.

CIA initially ‘kept Colin Powell in the dark’ about torture practices. It’s not entirely clear exactly which US officials knew about the practices at the time they began, a Senate report concludes: here.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the agency employees spied on committee staff and reversing months of furious and public denials: here.

CIA torture in Poland


This video from the USA is called Secret CIA Black Site Prison In Poland.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Poland assisted US in torture, Europe’s rights court rules

Thursday 24th July 2014

THE European Court of Human Rights ruled today that the Polish government actively assisted a US “black site” programme, which saw detainees tortured in secret prisons.

The Strasbourg court ruled in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah — a Guantanamo detainee who the US has already admitted it mistakenly believed to be a senior member of Al Qaida.

Judges concluded that it was “established beyond reasonable doubt” that Mr Zubaydah had been flown from a secret site in Thailand to another CIA prison in northern Poland.

They described the evidence as “coherent, clear and categorical” and ruled that it was “inconceivable” that Poland had been unaware of his mistreatment.

The ruling means that Poland actively violated the European Convention on Human Rights in failing to stop the “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” of Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah, who were transported to Poland in 2002.

Poland was ordered to pay €100,000 (£79,000) to Mr Nashiri and €130,000 (£103,000) to Zubaydah.

The US has previously acknowledged the existence of its “extraordinary rendition” scheme in the years after the September 11 2001 attacks but has never revealed which of its allies hosted the secret jails.

But the ruling has implications for other European states alleged to have hosted CIA prisons — similar cases have been lodged with the court against Romania and Lithuania.

Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah are still being held in Guantanamo Bay prison camp and the court stated that this ongoing imprisonment without charge amounted to a “flagrant denial of justice.”

CIA Diego Garcia torture flights and the British government


This video is called Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA ‘torture flights’.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Government challenged over ‘damaged’ Diego Garcia evidence

Friday 18th July 2014

GOVERNMENT claims that potential evidence of the extent of the CIA’s use of Diego Garcia as part of its rendition programme had been damaged were challenged yesterday.

Foreign Office ministers Mark Simmonds and Tobias Ellwood both told MPs this week that “extremely heavy weather in June 2014” had damaged flight records held in Diego Garcia, a British territory which the government has admitted was used by CIA aircraft carrying detainees as part of its programme of “extraordinary rendition.

However, records from a US commercial weather service obtained by legal action charity Reprieve show that the total rainfall for the month was well below average.

Legal charity Reprieve’s Cori Crider said: “Perhaps there is a microclimate over the hut on Diego Garcia where all the embarrassing files are kept? The Foreign and Commonwealth Office needs to hand the documents over to Parliament before some other invisible monsoon strikes.”

President Obama is allowing a dozen current and former CIA officials access to the still-classified Internal Panetta Review—a document which contains evidence of state torture of hitherto unknown proportions: here.

CIA torture flights to Diego Garcia update


This video from the USA is called CIA Lied About Torture To Justify Using It (Senate Report).

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA ‘torture flights’

Police given crucial logs about Diego Garcia‘s role in rendition programme when it was allegedly used as a secret prison

Jamie Doward and Ian Cobain

Saturday 12 July 2014 21.36 BST

Crucial logs revealing flights to a British overseas territory when it was allegedly used as a secret US prison are in the possession of the police, the Observer has learned.

The revelation has raised concerns about why, despite repeated demands, details of the flights have not been shared with lawyers and MPs, who for years have been investigating the role played by Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian ocean, in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme.

A Whitehall official was photographed last week carrying documents marked “sensitive” confirming that the logs recording details of planes landing and taking off at the atoll have been handed to detectives. The documents, a series of printed emails and handwritten notes made by the official, reveal internal Foreign Office discussions about the line to take in response to questions about the British territory raised by lawyers and MPs.

The Foreign Office has repeatedly stressed there is no evidence Diego Garcia was used in the rendition programme, with the exception of two occasions in 2002 when two planes, each carrying a detainee, landed to refuel. But in April leaked classified CIA documents from a forthcoming US Senate intelligence committee report revealed that the US had held “high value” detainees on Diego Garcia, which has been leased by Britain to the US since 1966, with the “full co-operation” of the British government. The Metropolitan police are currently investigating allegations that an opponent of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was rendered via Diego Garcia.

Attempts to obtain the logs, which would allow lawyers to check them against planes known to have been used for rendition, have met with stonewalling from ministers. When Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP who is chair of the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, demanded to see the logs in 2008, he was told “a thorough review had been conducted which had found no such information”.

The Commons intelligence and security committee has also complained in its annual reports that a lack of access to such documents compromised its ability to carry out an effective investigation into rendition, resulting in the publication of an inaccurate and misleading report. Last week, in an astonishing new twist, the Foreign Office revealed in a parliamentary answer to Tyrie that the flight logs existed, but maintained some had been lost “due to water damage”. Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds said: “Daily occurrence logs, which record the flights landing and taking off, cover the period since 2003. Though there are some limited records from 2002, I understand they are incomplete due to water damage.”

However, blowups of the photographed emails reveal that both “monthly log showing flight details” and “daily records [obscured] month of alleged rendition” exist and are in the possession of the police.

“All relevant treaties, UN mandates and an ever-increasing body of authoritative court rulings demand that investigations into suspected state involvement in the mechanisms of torture, including rendition, be speedy, transparent and far-reaching,” said Gareth Peirce, a lawyer for several Guantánamo detainees.

“If answers to Andrew Tyrie’s direct questions have contained no mention of highly relevant logs seemingly at all times in the possession of police, then the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] has marched this country into clear violation of its most fundamental legal obligations.”

“The FCO should immediately release all documents, including the water-damaged ones, so a proper assessment can be made of this material and what it means,” said Cori Crider of human rights group Reprieve. “Only this can begin to address the decade-long whitewash of Diego Garcia‘s position in the CIA secret prison system.”

An FCO spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on internal documents.”

US Department of Justice whitewashes CIA spying on Senate


This March 2014 video from the United States Senate is called Senator Feinstein Accuses CIA Of HACKING Senate Intelligence Committee Computers.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Obama administration drops investigation into CIA spying on US Senate

12 July 2014

The US Department of Justice announced Thursday that it would not investigate charges that the CIA had spied on members of the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, whitewashing the brazenly illegal actions of the US intelligence apparatus. “The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation,” read the Justice Department statement.

The department will also not investigate countercharges by the CIA that Senate staffers had gained unauthorized access to CIA documents, effectively equating the two and prompting the corporate-controlled media (which has largely buried the story) to portray the action as a neutral, “hands-off” position in a murky dispute between the Senate and the CIA.

The CIA surveillance of the activities of the Senate committee—which is charged by law with oversight of the CIA—was such a flagrant violation of the constitutional separation of powers that the panel’s chairman, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, took the extraordinary step of denouncing the agency in an hour-long speech on the Senate floor on March 11.

A longtime hardline defender of the intelligence apparatus, Feinstein was visibly disturbed by what she had learned of the CIA’s actions, which she said “may well have violated the separation-of-powers principle embodied in the United States Constitution,” and also “the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.”

The conflict arose over the four-year campaign by the CIA to stall the Senate committee’s inquiry into torture of prisoners at secret CIA-run prisons (“black sites”) between 2002 and 2006 under the Bush administration. Dozens of prisoners captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries were taken to these secret prisons in a half dozen countries—Thailand, Romania and Poland among them—and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Bush ordered the “black sites” shut down and most of their prisoners transferred to Guantanamo in 2006, after the existence of the secret prisons became public knowledge. The Senate Intelligence Committee began an investigation in 2009 and has drafted a voluminous report, comprising more than 6,300 pages, including extensive details of both the torture operation and the efforts by the CIA to cover it up and lie to Congress and the American people.

The report was completed in 2012, but its publication has been repeatedly delayed by CIA stonewalling. At some point in 2013, staff members of the Senate committee became aware of an internal CIA document, dubbed the “Panetta review” after Leon Panetta, the CIA director who commissioned it, giving a summary of the evidence of torture. The review contradicted the official CIA position that the operations at the black sites conformed to international and US law.

When the Senate committee pressed for official release of the “Panetta review,” they were told that the document was privileged material for executive branch use only. CIA Director John Brennan told Feinstein in January 2014 that the CIA had conducted a search of the Senate committee’s computers in an effort to determine how the staff had obtained the document.

This search was a flagrant violation of the separation of powers set down in the US Constitution, which bars the executive branch from interfering in the internal operations and deliberations of the legislative branch.

Even more ominously, after the CIA inspector general filed a criminal referral to the Justice Department over the surveillance of the Senate committee staff, the CIA general counsel retaliated with its own criminal referral, seeking federal prosecution of the Senate staff members for alleged illegal access to classified documents. In other words, the CIA sought to criminalize any effort by Congress to supervise the CIA’s own operations.

Feinstein’s March 11 speech was a protest against this second referral, but it has been followed by four months of silence, both from congressional leaders, Democratic and Republican, and from the Obama administration. The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify its torture report, but the White House handed over responsibility for declassification to the CIA itself—allowing the agency to decide what portions of the report criticizing its actions should be made public. No date has yet been set for final publication of what will be a severely redacted document.

Even the way the Justice Department announced its decision underscores the supremacy of the intelligence apparatus over the elected institutions that nominally hold sway in Washington. The department informed the CIA Wednesday that it would not investigate either criminal referral, but it waited to tell the Senate committee until Thursday.

The response of leading Senate Democrats was a further demonstration of their prostration before the intelligence agencies. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared, “I think what the CIA did to my senators is wrong. I’m going to drop it at that.”

Feinstein issued no official statement, but commented briefly to reporters, calling the Justice Department decision “good,” because it ended the possibility of prosecution of her staff: “We have a lot of young people, with families, and with this it’s a very hard thing to have hanging over your head. And they’ve done a very good job. It’s just a good day.”

The California senator said nothing about the whitewash of the constitutional issues involved in the CIA spying on the Senate committee, which she had made the axis of her Senate speech four months before.

The two leading “critics” of the CIA on the Senate panel did address that issue, although in terms that indicated they accepted the refusal of the Obama administration to investigate.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said the CIA “still has some very serious questions to answer about the unauthorized search of Senate files and whether CIA officials believe they have the authority to do this again.”

Senator Mark Udall of Colorado said, “The Justice Department’s decision is troubling and draws a false equivalency between congressional staff fulfilling their constitutional obligations and an executive branch agency potentially breaking the law.”

However, Udall made it clear that his concern was to restore credibility to the CIA torturers, assassins and spymasters, not to hold them accountable for their crimes. “Independent oversight of our intelligence agencies is essential for the American people to trust what they’re doing to protect our national security,” he concluded.

The Justice Department action was greeted by most of the press with a yawn. There were perfunctory accounts published Friday by the New York Times (on page 8) and the Washington Post (a four-paragraph wire service story). The television networks ignored the issue.

When Feinstein made her speech on the Senate floor, the World Socialist Web Site pointed to the significance of the fundamental constitutional issues raised. We wrote: “The trajectory of this conflict is an ominous warning: the criminality of the military-intelligence apparatus is metastasizing into an open onslaught on constitutional principles, including such fundamental precepts as the separation of powers.”

But we warned, “Neither Feinstein nor any other capitalist politician in Washington, Democratic or Republican, is capable of serious resistance to the emergence of a police state in the United States… democratic rights are increasingly incompatible with the capitalist profit system, characterized by rampant social inequality and deepening economic crisis.”

This warning has been amply vindicated in the whitewash announced by the Obama administration, and the virtual silence that has followed it. The defense of democratic rights, abandoned by every representative and faction of big business politics, must be taken up by the working class, fighting in its own class and social interests.

The author also recommends:

Obama and the CIA—who runs Washington?
[11 July 2014]

CIA torture and the threat of dictatorship
[3 April 2014]

The CIA, the Senate and the breakdown of American democracy
[12 March 2014]

Last Thursday, the US Department of Justice quietly announced that it would not launch a criminal investigation following the revelation in March that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had spied on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee. News of this decision—which concerns one of the most significant constitutional breaches in modern American history—was barely reported in the establishment media and prompted no significant response from any section of the political establishment: here.