How did Bush-era torture policies affect our allies in the war on terror? Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former director of MI5, made stinging remarks yesterday suggesting that the torture dilemma in which British intelligence is now enmeshed is an American product.
The Independent reports:
During a lecture given at a meeting in the House of Lords, Dame Eliza said the British government had made an official complaint to Washington over the abuse of detainees. But no futher details have emerged on either side of the Atlantic of when this complaint was made, or what form it took.
In her speech, highly critical of the US’s conduct during the war on terror, the former secret service chief implied that the leadership in Washington was inspired by watching the TV espionage thriller 24. She said: “Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld certainly watched 24”. Dame Eliza said: “The Americans were very keen that people like us did not discover what they were doing.” She insisted that she had been unaware of what was going on until her retirement in 2007. One of her retrospective discoveries was the interrogation method used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When she asked her subordinates why the senior al-Qa’ida member was offering so much information, they told her he was “very proud of his achievements when questioned”. She added: “It wasn’t actually until after I retired that I read that he had been water-boarded 160 times.”
Dame Eliza stated publicly what a number of figures in the British establishment have been saying off the record for some time. But it will do little to dispel the current controversy swirling around British intelligence and its proximity to torture. In America, the issue has been put on the shelf. But in Britain, a criminal investigation seems in immediate prospect.