Tony Blair Iraq war crimes investigation in The Hague


This video from Britain says about itself:

Iraq torture claims: Detainees subject to ‘sexual abuse’

14 November 2009

Lawyer Phil Shiner claims some Iraq detainees suffered severe abuse whilst in UK custody.

By Jean Shaoul:

UK referred to International Criminal Court for war crimes in Iraq

3 June 2014

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has accepted the complaint lodged in January alleging that UK military personnel committed war crimes against Iraqis in their custody between 2003 and 2008. She has ordered a preliminary investigation.

It is the first step into a possible criminal prosecution against Britain’s political and military leaders, including politicians, senior civil servants, lawyers, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Defence Intelligence, who bear ultimate responsibility for systematic abuse of detainees in Iraq.

This is the first time the ICC in The Hague has opened an enquiry into a Western state. Almost all of the ICC’s indictees have been African heads of state or officials. The United States—not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC in 2002—and the other major powers get off scot-free. The ICC has turned a blind eye to the most blatant human rights abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the West Bank and Gaza, where their perpetrators are protected by a US veto at the United Nations Security Council.

At the same time, the imperialist powers cynically use the court to target people hostile to their interests. As a result, the ICC has become widely discredited.

Bensouda’s decision flows from an official complaint by the British Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) last January. Their 250-page submission, the most detailed ever submitted to the ICC on war crimes committed by British forces in Iraq, took years to compile. It documented the new facts and additional evidence that had become available since the initial complaint in 2006.

In 2006, the ICC’s then-prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said that he had received more than 240 complaints relating to alleged war crimes during the Iraq war and occupation, mostly by the US and Britain. He concluded that there was little doubt that wilful killing and inhumane treatment, crimes that fell within the ICC’s jurisdiction, had been committed. But he refused to mount an investigation because of the small number of cases—fewer than 20.

PIL and ECCHR’s compilation of evidence relating to hundreds of other victims and thousands of claims makes a mockery of his decision, which the ICC has been forced to concede. Bensouda said that she was reopening the case because the new complaint “alleges a higher number of cases of ill-treatment of detainees and provides further details on the factual circumstances and the geographical and temporal scope of the alleged crimes.” The Responsibility of UK officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008 documents claims by 412 Iraqis of severe physical and psychological abuse while in the custody of UK services personnel. The list of the most serious allegations is damning.

They include the use of sensory deprivation and isolation, food and water deprivation, the use of prolonged stress positions, the use of the “harshing” technique which involves sustained aggressive shouting in close proximity to the victim, a wide range of physical assault, including beating, burning, electrocution or electric shocks, both direct and implied threats to the health and safety of the detainees and/or friends and family, including mock executions and threats of rape, death, torture, indefinite detention and violence.

There are claims that British personnel used environmental manipulation such as exposure to extreme temperatures, forced exertion, cultural and religious humiliation. Other allegations referred to a wide range of sexual assaults and humiliation including forced nakedness, sexual taunts and attempted seduction, touching of genitalia, forced or simulated sexual acts, and forced exposure to pornography and sexual acts between soldiers.

In all, the victims made thousands of allegations of mistreatment that amount to war crimes: torture, inhuman or degrading treatment as well as the deliberate infliction of grievous suffering and/or serious injury. They were not dissimilar from those of the infamous US torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The sheer scale of the crimes, committed repeatedly at numerous sites and over a long period, testify to the systematic use of illegal methods of detention and interrogation, sanctioned at the top of the military and political chain.

UK military commanders “knew or should have known” that forces under their control “were committing or about to commit war crimes,” but failed to act. “Civilian superiors knew or consciously disregarded information at their disposal, which clearly indicated that UK services personnel were committing war crimes in Iraq.”

PIL and ECCHR specifically called for Britain’s most senior army personnel and politicians, including former Secretaries of State for Defence Geoffrey Hoon, John Reid, Des Browne and John Hutton and Ministers of State for the Armed Forces Personnel Adam Ingram and Bob Ainsworth as officials who should have to answer claims about the systematic use of torture and cruelty.

The British government has rejected the allegations. Foreign Secretary William Hague argued that there was no need for an ICC investigation because Britain had in 2010 set up IHAT, the Iraq historic allegations team, which was already examining allegations of mistreatment.

IHAT is little short of a farce. In the nearly four years since its establishment, IHAT has completed just a handful of the cases on its books, fining one soldier a measly £3,000 for badly beating an Iraqi, which was captured on video. Its case list includes 52 allegations of “unlawful death” involving 63 victims, and 93 allegations of mistreatment involving 179 victims, including all but one of the cases referred to the ICC.

Should IHAT determine that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with charges, it will be up to the director of service prosecutions, Andrew Cayley QC, responsible for bringing court martial cases, to determine whether charges are in the public interest. Furthermore, it will need the attorney general’s consent before he can charge individuals with committing war crimes under English law.

In other words, top government and military figures will determine whether charges can be brought.

A year ago, two High Court judges called for “a new approach” to the probe into the allegations made by 180 Iraqis. While they stopped short of ordering a full public inquiry, they concluded that the IHAT investigation “does not fulfil” the UK’s human rights obligations under international and domestic law, requiring there to be proper public scrutiny of these cases.

The ICC’s enquiry hinges on its confidence in IHAT. While Bensouda agreed to a preliminary enquiry, she did not ask the court to order the formal investigation under article 15(3) that PIL and ECCHR had requested. The court will only try defendants when states are unwilling or unable to do so, i.e., if the British government is unable to demonstrate it is investigating the allegations and is prepared to bring charges against the alleged perpetrators of war crimes.

The ICC has form. The imperialist powers had sought the trial in 2011 of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi during the illegal regime-change campaign waged by the American, British and French governments.

Following the gruesome murder of Gaddafi, and the capture of Saif al-Islam and al-Senussi by Libyan militias, Washington, London and Paris lost interest in an ICC trial which would expose embarrassing details about the intimate relations between the Gaddafi regime and the Western powers between 2004 and 2011.

Al-Senussi would undoubtedly spill the beans about Washington and London’s global torture network, while Saif al-Islam might call the UK prime minister Tony Blair and others as witnesses. Instead, according to the Libyan government, the ICC—at the behest of the major powers—has agreed to al-Islam and al-Senussi being tried in Libya, even though the legal process is a travesty of justice.

In retrospect, the title of this blog post could be too optimistic. One should fear that maybe a British private soldier; maybe even a lance corporal will be prosecuted for war crimes in Iraq. While the top brass and politicians like Tony Blair will not, because of pressure on the ICC by US, UK, etc. governments.

THE mother of a British soldier killed during the invasion of Iraq launched a High Court bid against the government yesterday seeking an inquiry into the circumstances of her son’s death in 2003: here.

The Law Society has demanded action from the Home Secretary, Theresa May, over a string of violent threats dating back a decade against the human rights lawyer who brought cases against British soldiers over alleged brutality in Iraq and Afghanistan. Security has been stepped up at Phil Shiner’s Birmingham-based law firm after a string of abusive messages. The messages spiked once his team withdrew claims that British troops killed unarmed civilians at an army base, following a year-long £22m public inquiry. One of the emails said: “Pick a lamppost you scum, we’ll bring the piano wire”: here.

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After NATO’s bombs on Libya, bloodshed in Africa


This video from Libya says about itself:

Troops Allied to Renegade General Haftar Behind Attack on Parliament in Libya

18 May 2014

Para-Military Troops allied to Renegade General Khalifa Haftar, former Commander in Gaddafi’s Army [and later CIA agent] are Behind the Attack on Parliament in Libya.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Coups and terror are the fruit of Nato’s war in Libya

The dire consequences of the west’s intervention are being felt today in Tripoli and across Africa, from Mali to Nigeria

Seumas Milne

Thursday 22 May 2014

Iraq may have been a blood-drenched disaster and Afghanistan a grinding military and political failure. But Libya was supposed to have been different. Nato’s war to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi in 2011 was hailed as the liberal intervention that worked.

The western powers might have had to twist the meaning of the UN resolution about protecting civilians, the city of Sirte might have been reduced to rubble, large-scale ethnic cleansing taken place and thousands of civilians killed. But it was all in a noble cause and achieved without Nato casualties.

This wasn’t Bush and Blair, after all, but Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy. The people were free, the dictator was dead, a mooted massacre had been averted – and all this without any obvious boots on the ground. Even last year the prime minister was still claiming it had all been worthwhile, promising to stand with Libyans “every step of the way”.

But three years after Nato declared victory, Libya is lurching once again towards civil war. Over the past few days, the CIA-linked General Hiftar launched his second coup attempt in three months, supposedly to save the country from “terrorists” and Islamists. On Sunday, his forces stormed the national parliament in Tripoli, after 80 people were killed in fighting in Benghazi two days earlier.

Now Libya’s chief of staff has called on Islamist militias to defend the government in advance of new elections. Since the country is overrun with militias far more powerful than its official forces, riven with multiple divisions and prey to constant external interference, the chances of avoiding full-blown conflict are shrinking fast.

But these are only the latest of the clashes and atrocities that have engulfed Libya since Nato’s “liberation”: including bombings, assassinations, the kidnapping of the prime minister, the seizure of oil terminals by warlords, the expulsion of 40,000 mainly black Libyans from their homes, and the killing of 46 protesters on the streets of Tripoli in one incident — ignored by the states that supposedly went to war to protect civilians.

In reality, the west seized the chance to intervene in Libya to get a grip on the Arab uprisings. Nato air power in support of the Libyan rebellion increased the death toll by a factor of about 10, but played the decisive role in the war— which meant no coherent political or military force was ready to fill the vacuum. Three years on, thousands are held without trial, there are heavy curbs on dissent, and institutions are close to collapse.

But the US and Britain are still training Libyan troops to keep control. Before Gaddafi’s overthrow, Hiftar headed the military wing of the CIA-backed National Salvation Front. In advance of his latest coup attempt, a sympathetic US sent a force of marines to Sicily ready to intervene, and John Kerry has promised to help Libya with “security and extremism”.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are openly backing Hiftar, as is the military coup leader in Egypt, General Sisi. Having suppressed, jailed and shot in large numbers Egypt’s own Islamists, Sisi and his Gulf backers are determined to prevent them consolidating power in oil-rich Libya. There are signs that Sisi – who complains that the west failed to garrison Libya after Gaddafi’s overthrow – wants to use Libya’s crisis to send in his own forces.

But it’s not just Libya that’s living with the fallout from Nato’s intervention. Blowback from the Libyan war has spread across Africa, destabilising the Sahel region and beyond. After Gaddafi’s fall, Tuareg people who had fought for him went home to Mali, bringing Libyan arms caches with them. Within months, that had tipped northern Mali into full-scale armed rebellion and takeover by Islamist fighters.

The result was last year’s French military intervention, backed by the US and Britain. But Libya’s impact goes much wider. Among the groups whose armed campaigns have been fuelled by large-scale heavy weapons supplies from Gaddafi’s looted arsenals is Boko Haram.

Support for the fundamentalist Nigerian terror sectwhich kidnapped 200 schoolgirls last month and has been responsible for more than 1,500 deaths since the start of the year – has been fed by deprivation, drought and brutal state repression in the Muslim north.

But, as elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East, each outside intervention only spreads the cycle of the terror war. So the call for action over the outrage of the Boko Haram kidnapping has brought US, British and French forces to oil-wealthy Nigeria, just as the Mali crisis last year led to the establishment of a US military drone base in neighbouring Niger.

US armed forces are now involved in 49 out of 54 African states, along with the former colonial powers of France and Britain, in what’s becoming a new carve-up of the continent: a scramble for resources and influence in the face of China’s growing economic role, underpinned with an escalating military presence that spreads terror as it grows. That will bring its own backlash, as did the war in Libya.

Supporters of Nato’s Libyan war counter that, even if the country is now plagued by chaos and violence, there was no western military intervention in Syria and more than 150,000 have died in its horrific civil war. But of course there is large-scale covert intervention in support of the Syrian rebels by both the Nato powers and the Gulf states.

One of the ugliest aspects of western policy towards Syria is the turning on and off of that backing to keep their favoured armed groups in the game – without giving them any decisive advantage. In fact, US, British and Gulf support is being stepped up right now because of regime advances on the field.

But it defies logic to imagine that the death toll would have somehow been lower in Syria, or the sectarian conflict less brutal, if the US and its allies had launched a full-scale military attack at any stage of the conflict. The experience of Iraq, where the war is now estimated to have killed 500,000, makes that obvious enough.

But such is the expectation of routine war-making among parts of the western elite that they’re already impatient for another outright intervention. “What would America fight for?” asked the Economist plaintively earlier this month, echoing the US Republican charge of weakness in the White House. For the rest of the world, the reality of Libya and its disastrous consequences should be answer enough.

The US military launched a new deployment of 80 troops to Chad this week, in the latest expansion of a military “footprint” that stretches across the African continent: here.

Three years after the NATO-led campaign backed armed Islamist militias to overthrow the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libya teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. With rival militias fighting for control of Libya’s vast energy resources, the coup bid by retired general Khalifa Hifter’s Libyan National Army killed at least 79 and wounded more than 140 in attacks in the eastern port city of Benghazi and the capital Tripoli: here.

The State Department on Tuesday told U.S. citizens in Libya to leave immediately, warning that the security situation in the country was “unpredictable and unstable”: here.

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Beautiful bird recorded in Libya for the first time


This video from Bulgaria is called Ficedula semitorquata – Semi-collared Flycatcher.

Ever since in 2011 in Libya a movement with legitimate grievances was hijacked by domestic religious fanatic militarists, foreign Al-Qaeda militarists, foreign militarists like the Qatar dictatorship and “regime change” NATO miltarists, there is often bad news from Libya.

From racism to torture on many days to especially today, refugees fleeing Benghazi from the violence of a warlord general. That general is called Khalifa Hifter, with a second job as CIA agent), who started violence today in Tripoli as well (see also here).

Fortunately, sometimes there is better news.

From North African Birds blog:

First documented record of Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata) for Libya

Posted on 17/05/2014

Hamza, A. & Yahia, J. 2014. First documented record of Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata for Libya. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 21 (1): 83-85. PDF

An adult male Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata was photographed on 31 March 2010 at Sebkhet Hasila, on the Libyan coast about 90 km east of Sirte. Two previous observations of males were reported at two different sites between Ajdabiya and Benghazi, on 29 March and 1 April 2006. The observation presented here, however, is the first documented record for the country of this Palearctic migrant.

LIBYAN President Nouri Abusahmein ordered Islamist-led militias to deploy in the capital Tripoli today after forces loyal to General Khalifa Hifter stormed parliament. Gen Hifter’s action threatens to detonate volatile divisions among the multiple militias that dominate Libya: here.

Heavily armed militiamen reportedly loyal to a retired general with deep ties to the US Central Intelligence Agency stormed Libya’s parliament building Sunday with armored vehicles and heavy weapons, seizing its speaker and armed forces chief Nouri Abusahmain together with some 20 other officials and setting the building on fire: here. And here.

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Libyan artists in danger


This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014

Interview

Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

Libya remains in the grip of rivalrous rebel factions. Three years after ousting dictator Moammar Kadafi, the militias have turned to smuggling and extortion, and left Libya without a real government: here.

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CIA Libyan torture scandal on Diego Garcia island


This video says about itself:

New website reveals extent of secret CIA flight network

29 May 2013

A team of academics have launched the world’s largest interactive database detailing suspected CIA rendition flights, many of which may have transported detainees to Guantanamo Bay.

Scotland is the only country so far which has raised any questions on the alleged rendition activity on home soil.

The Rendition Project is a product of a collaborative research between Dr. Ruth Blakely from the University of Kent and Dr. Sam Raphael from Kingston University, London.

Now anyone with an internet connection can understand, view, and track over 11,000 CIA flights detainees who may have been aboard between 2001 and 2006 under the US rendition program, a murky operation of secret detention and torture.

“Our purpose is to shed as much light as possible on this system,” Blakely told RT.

Blakely’s team has compiled a unique database sourced from freedom of information requests, testimonies from detainees, Red Cross reports, courtroom evidence, flight records, and invoices.

The data is categorized into four subcategories- flights which definitely had a detainee on board, those which are suspected of having suspected terrorists on board, and ‘dummy’ or test flights, and other circuit flights, all on 122 different US-registered civilian aircraft.

“Our main aim was to try and map the global rendition system to try and provide a comprehensive a picture as possible how rendition took place, which countries were involved,” Blakely told RT.

Most information was already in the public domain, but Blakely hopes by making it web-accessible, the project will assist human rights investigators and lawyers to defend the rights of detainees who have been victims to unfair torture or questionable tactics.

The site will help reveal “how the CIA managed to hide individuals in this system as it transported them around the world to hold them in prisons where they could be tortured and interrogated,” said Blakely.

By Rory MacKinnon in Britain:

CIA ‘held Gadaffi torture victim on British soil’

Monday 14th April 2014

Kidnapped Libyan politician Abdelhakim Belhadj held briefly in overseas territory Diego Garcia

Fresh evidence emerged yesterday that the CIA held a Libyan opposition leader on British soil before delivering him to Gadaffi torturers.

Kidnapped Libyan politician Abdelhakim Belhadj alleged that he was told by Gadaffi’s own spy chief that the plane which delivered him to Libya had stopped at the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia.

Mr Belhadj, who was kidnapped along with his pregnant wife as they boarded a flight in Malaysia in 2004, made the claim through his lawyers, provided by human rights charity Reprieve.

He said: “The first time I heard that I had gone through a place called Diego Garcia was when I was told by the head of the Libyan intelligence, Moussa Kousa, during my first interrogation session in a prison outside Tripoli.

“He was running the interrogation, and was angry that it had taken a long time for me to arrive in Libya.

“I told him that the plane had stopped somewhere on the way from Bangkok.
“He told me that he knew, and that the plane had landed on an island in the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia.”

The claim is supported by a CIA flight plan discovered in 2011 at the offices of Gadaffi’s head of intelligence Moussa Kousa showing the joint CIA-MI6 operation had been scheduled to stop at Diego Garcia.

Reprieve deputy director Polly Rossdale said the revelations pile pressure on Tory Foreign Secretary William Hague to answer the allegations.

“The government must come clean about the UK’s role in this dirty affair,” she said.

MINISTERS must face up to the US’s use of Diego Garcia for torture and kidnapping flights, legal action charity Reprieve demanded yesterday: here.

Carl Bernstein – article about the CIA’s interaction with journalists since WW2: here.

Tony Blair in CIA torture flights scandal


This video from the USA is called Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Boeing in CIA Torture Flight Program.

From the Daily Telegraph in England:

Tony Blair ‘knew all about CIA secret kidnap programme

Former British PM was ‘fully briefed’ on CIA’s interrogation programme after Sept 11 attacks

By Peter Foster, Washington

8:53PM BST 05 Apr 2014

Tony Blair knew in detail about the CIA’s secret kidnap and interrogation programme after the September 11 attacks and was kept informed “every step of the way” by MI6, a security source has told The Telegraph.

Mr Blair, the then prime minister, and Jack Straw, his foreign secretary, were fully briefed on CIA activities and were shown now infamous Bush administration legal opinions that declared “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding and stress positions to be legal, the source said.

“The politicians took a very active interest indeed. They wanted to know everything. The Americans passed over the legal opinions saying that this was now ‘legal’, and our politicians were aware of what was going on at the highest possible level.

“The politicians knew in detail about everything – the torture and the rendition. They could have said [to M16] ‘stop it, do not get involved’, but at no time did they,” said the source, who has direct and detailed knowledge of the transatlantic relations during that period.

The claims come as Scotland Yard continues to investigate whether MI6 officers should face criminal charges for alleged complicity in the rendition of suspected terrorists, including two Libyan Islamists who were sent back in 2004 to Tripoli, where they were tortured.

The case was opened in January 2012 after documents recovered during the Libyan revolution appeared to show that Sir Mark Allen, the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, and other agents had been complicit in the rendition of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who was captured by the CIA with his pregnant wife and sent back to Libya.

Among the documents was a memo apparently signed by Sir Mark congratulating the then Libyan intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, on the “safe arrival” of Mr Belhadj.

The Telegraph understands that MI6 has been forced to hand over top secret documents from that period to police and that senior officers who served at the time have been interviewed as part of the investigation. It is not known whether Mr Straw, who intelligence sources have indicated was fully briefed on the rendition, has also been interviewed by police.

The source’s claims echo those made publicly by Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, who said in a speech in 2012 that MI6’s cooperation with the CIA’s rendition programme was a “political” decision.

Tony Blair absolutely knew, Dearlove was briefing him all the time. He was meticulous about keeping the politicians informed. Whether there was anything in writing, well that is a different matter,” added the source, who said it was laughable to suggest that the approval for British security services to cooperate with the CIA programme had been authorised by Mr Straw alone.

“The understanding at SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] was it was acting in the ‘national interest’ and with clear political approval.

“SIS is not a rogue organisation. It would never do this kind of thing alone and without explicit authorisation; that is just not how it works.”

The British government has never formally admitted its role in rendition or officially apologised to victims, although it has paid out several multi-million pounds in “no fault” settlements to rendition victims and former Guantánamo Bay inmates who sued for damages.

The claims against Mr Blair come as the US Senate voted this week to declassify a summary of a 6,300-page report into the CIA’s rendition programme in a move that legal experts say will put added pressure on the British government to come clean about its role.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat chairman of the committee that conducted the research, said the “shocking” report had “uncovered the facts” behind the secret programme and could be made public within 30 days following a security review by the White House and the CIA.

As well as the continuing criminal investigation, the British government, MI6 and Mr Straw are being sued by Mr Belhadj. In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph this week, Mr Belhadj said he was determined to pursue the British government through the courts for an apology and the truth about what happened to him – and what senior figures such as Mr Blair knew about it.

“When he was sitting in the tent with the dictator Gaddafi, I was facing torture at the hands of my own country’s [intelligence] services,” Mr Belhadj said by phone from Tripoli, referring to Mr Blair’s meeting with the Libyan leader in March 2004.

Mr Blair has never confirmed what he knew about the rendition programme, but has argued that Libya played a vital role in the “war on terror”. Mr Belhadj’s case was thrown out last December by a High Court judge who acknowledged that he had a “well-founded claim”, but declined to hear it, citing British government legal arguments that it would seriously damage US-UK relations.

It was decided that English courts had no jurisdiction over events that may have taken place in other countries.

However, legal experts said that the Obama administration decision to declassify its investigation into the torture programme seriously undermines the British government’s claim that all information relating to the case must still be kept secret or be heard in secret courts that were set up last year to hear such cases.

“The fact that President Obama himself has said that this report should be released only confirms that the UK now has no leg to stand on,” said Amrit Singh, a senior lawyer with the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative.

Mr Belhadj said: “In light of the publication of this report it appears that the British legal argument that my case cannot be discussed for fear of upsetting the Americans is actually just a pretext.

“It’s going to make it clear that the British government’s attempt to cover up the abuse that my wife and I suffered are not to do with national security but are to do with avoiding national embarrassment.”

USA: While CIA torturers are protected, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou is in prison. Help get him out: here.

Nancy Pelosi blames CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” on Dick Cheney: here.

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Libya news update


This video says about itself:

Tawergha: Libya‘s Ghost Town

8 Nov 2011

In October, Refugees International visited Tawergha, Libya from which all 35,000 inhabitants of the town were forced to flee after Misrata brigades ransacked the area.

By Aya Elbrqawi, 28 February 2014:

Libya: Slow Death of Derna

Benghazi — Derna residents live a life of fear. Al-Qaeda has transformed their eastern Libya port city into a new base for its global campaign and as the prime export centre for jihadists.

Known for its long history of fierce fighters and proud tribes, Derna has faced relentless violence. Now it will not have a say in national governance because it is too unsafe to vote.

The night before last week’s constituent assembly elections, six polling stations were struck by bombs. The High National Election Committee (HNEC) had rescheduled the ballot for Wednesday (February 26th), but the Derna Local Council said elections could not be held since no one was securing the polling centres.

Dozens of protesters have stormed Libya’s parliament building, shooting and injuring two lawmakers and wounding several others. The protesters were contesting the interim parliament’s decision to extend its mandate: here.

A French engineer has been shot dead in the Libyan city of Benghazi, hospital sources said Sunday. The man, so far unnamed, was shot as he was working on extension work at Benghazi Medical Centre: here.

Unidentified gunmen shot an Egyptian worker in Libya’s city of Benghazi on Sunday, leading to his injury, state-owned agency MENA reported: here.

Already buffeted by lawlessness and seemingly unending political turmoil Libya is now facing budgetary and energy crunches, say top officials: here.

With all the attention being paid to Ukraine, Venezuela and other geopolitical hot spots, energy investors may take their eye off Libya, whose oil production has derailed and may not come back anytime soon: here.

At the heart of the Libyan capital, the open-air Fish Market was once a place where residents went to buy everything from meat and seafood to clothes and pets. Now it’s Tripoli’s biggest arms market, with tables displaying pistols and assault rifles. Ask a vendor, and he can pull out bigger machine guns to sell for thousands of dollars: here.

Three years after Gaddafi, Libya is imploding into chaos and violence: here.

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