Hear that tearing noise? It's the so-called “Special Relationship” between the US and England being torn to shreds. Why? Because Britain says it no longer believes what the American government says about torture. In other words, to England our government is run by liars.
That’s the remarkable conclusion of a Parliamentary committee’s report published today in London. It also calls for an immediate investigation into allegations that the UK government “outsourced” torture of its own nationals to Pakistan.
In a damning criticism of US integrity, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said ministers should no longer take at face value statements from senior politicians, including George Bush, that America does not torture in the light of the CIA admitting it used “waterboarding,” unreservedly condemned by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who called it torture.
A change in approach would have implications for extradition of prisoners to the US, especially in terror or security cases, as the UK has signed the UN convention which bars sending individuals to nations where they are at risk of being tortured.
The committee report said there were 'serious implications' of the striking inconsistencies between British ministers continuing to believe the Bush administration when it denies using torture. “The UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the government does not rely on such assurances in the future,” the committee said. “We also recommend that the government should immediately carry out an exhaustive analysis of current US interrogation techniques on the basis of such information as is publicly available or which can be supplied by the US.”
It also urges the government to press the US authorities for information on whether any American military flights landing in the UK were part of the 'rendition circuit', even if they did not have detainees on board at the time.
The government has repeatedly accepted US assurances that UK territory has not been used for rendition, the extra-judicial transfer of suspects between countries. But in February, Miliband told the Commons he was told by the US that two rendition planes refuelled on the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
The MPs also urged the Foreign Office to investigate a report in The Guardian that six British nationals claimed to have been detained and tortured by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency, where they were also interrogated by British intelligence officers.
It’s not so much that someone else has joined the long queue of people who know that George Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain and their friends in high places are liars; it’s that another country, an ally and close friend, has figured it out and said so publicly.
What, oh what, have we become?
*When I was young, oh so much younger than today, I believed that the United States would become completely unhinged at some point in my lifetime. This...