However intelligence sources who spoke to The Telegraph earlier this year alleged that both Mr Blair and Mr Straw knew in detail about the CIA’s secret programme after the September 11 attacks and were kept informed “every step of the way”.
“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 with direct and detailed knowledge of the transatlantic relations during that period.
The source’s claims echoed 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,” the source said.
Mr Blair has never confirmed what he knew about the rendition programme and declined to comment at the time.
Mr Straw has denied on several occasions that he was briefed in detail about CIA torture. He also refused to confirm or deny his role in the 2004 rendition of Mr Belhadj, the Libyan dissident, citing the need to protect official secrets in court documents related to the case.
The Gibson Inquiry was unable to establish the facts because it was not able to question witnesses on the issues, but noted that there was at least some communication between the Secret Intelligence Services (MI6) and ministers.
“Although SIS did inform Ministers of exchanges with US counterparts in November 2001, it is not clear how complete a picture of the Agencies’ growing awareness of the new scope of US rendition practice was communicated to Ministers both at this stage and subsequently,” Gibson wrote.
The report added that the inquiry would have wished to investigate “the extent to which the Agencies reported to Ministers their growing awareness of the US Government’s rendition programme.”
In the light of the deeply shocking new details that are expected to emerge from the US torture report, the question bears repeating: how much did Mr Blair and Mr Straw know, and to what extent were they complicit in giving British assistance to US operations?
by craig on December 15, 2014 in Uncategorized
The Independent have Jack Straw well and truly cornered:
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Craig Murray, who was sacked as UK ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2004 after alleging that Britain used intelligence obtained by the CIA under torture, said he attended a meeting at the Foreign Office where he was told that “it was not illegal for us to use intelligence from torture as long as we did not carry out the torture ourselves” and claimed this policy came directly from Mr Straw.
The former Foreign Secretary said: “At all times I was scrupulous in seeking to carry out my duties in accordance with the law. I hope to be able to say more about this at an appropriate stage in the future.”
I hope so too, and I hope that the appropriate time is either at the Old Bailey or The Hague.
Straw has climbed down a bit from his days of power and glory, when he told the House of Commons, immediately after sacking me, that there was no such thing as the CIA extraordinary rendition programme and its existence was “Mr Murray’s opinion.” He no longer claims it did not exist and he no longer claims I am a fantasist. He now merely claims he was not breaking the law.
His claim of respect for the law is a bit dubious in the light of Sir Michael Wood’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry. Wood said that as Foreign Office Legal Adviser, he and his elite team of in-house FCO international lawyers unanimously advised Straw the invasion of Iraq would be an illegal war of aggression. Straw’s response? He wrote to the Attorney General requesting that Sir Michael be dismissed and replaced. And forced Goldsmith to troop out to Washington and get alternative advice from Bush’s nutjob Republican neo-con lawyers.
Jack Straw did not have any desire to act legally. He had a desire to be able to mount a legal defence of his illegal actions. That is a different thing.
Should any of us live to see the publication of the Chilcot Report, this will doubtless be clear, though probably as a footnote to page 862 of Annex VII. That is how the Westminster establishment works.
The SNP has weighed in on the side of the angels:
Revelations by the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan of the UK’s knowledge and acceptance of torture must see those involved answer questions on what happened.
In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Murray reveals that he attended a meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was told that “it was not illegal for us to use intelligence from torture as long as we did not carry out the torture ourselves” and revealed that this policy came directly from Jack Straw.
Mr Murray also reveals that “there was a deliberate policy of not writing down anything… because there should not be evidence of the policy.”
Craig Murray also states that “for the past year the British Ambassador in Washington and his staff have regularly been lobbying the US authorities not to reveal facts about the UK’s involvement in the CIA torture programme” and claims that is one of the reasons the full Senate report has not been published.
The SNP has called for a full judicial inquiry to be set up as a matter of urgency to get to get to the truth of who knew what and when.
Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said:
“Mr Murray’s revelation of the attitude taken by then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw only adds to the urgency with which we need a full judicial inquiry.
“Craig Murray’s article lifts the lid on the UK’s role in the human rights abuses that the US Senate has reported on and there can be no more attempts to avoid answering the tough questions that have been posed.
“Clearly answers are needed just as much from the politicians who led us at the time as from those directly involved in what was going on. The need for an independent judicial inquiry is now clear for all to see.
“It is also long past time that the findings of the Chilcot inquiry were published and there can be no more delays to that report being made public.
“There needs to be a full judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of the UK’s involvement in rendition flights that passed through UK territory and the UK’s wider knowledge of the abuses that the Senate has revealed.”
Craig Murray’s revelations can be viewed on page 25 of today’s Mail on Sunday
But with Malcolm Rifkind being promoted everywhere by the BBC to push his cover-up, it remains an uphill struggle.