Eliza Manningham-Buller does all her own stunts

There’s been a frisson of film fun here in the east London office of Amnesty because a film crew has been outside half the day. There’ve been stunts, explosions (really) and lots of people walking around with walkie-talkies.

Blimey. I can’t tell you how exciting it’s all been, darling.

One office rumour is that it’s a Sky film “starring Neil Morrissey”. Maybe. I reckon it looked more like a Shoreditch-set episode of 24, but that’s probably because I’m still marvelling at the mental image of “Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush all watch[ing] 24."

This, of course, is what Eliza Manningham-Buller claimed in her big speech this week. These – she was clearly intimating in her talk – were the kind of people we were having to deal with during those dark days of the Bush years. People who believed this stuff …

Except … it’s strange that she knew about the TV viewing habits of the USA’s leaders – did she actually discuss this with them? – but didn’t seem to know about allegations that US officials were mistreating “war on terror” detainees in a distinctly Jack Bauer-like fashion.

As Vikram Dodd points out, there’s a very tortured logic to all this. Could it really be the case that the head of the security service, the country’s top intelligence official, just didn’t know about a mountain of allegations that the CIA and its proxies were abducting people, holding them in secret, torturing them and then – at best – depositing them in Guantánamo Bay?

Come on. I’m reliably informed that Ms Manningham-Buller does all her own stunts, but this is surely making the suspension of disbelief just too difficult. For five years did she somehow manage not to read countless newspaper articles, to watch numerous television news reports or even to skim some of her own agency’s intelligence reports? Or – to borrow a virtual leaf from Vikram Dodd’s book – did she never think about consulting one or two of these Amnesty documents?:

USA: Congress rubber stamps torture and other abuses

USA/ Iraq: Abuses without accountability a year after Abu Ghraib

Guantánamo: Torture and other ill-treatment

Rendition – torture – trial?: The case of Guantánamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi 

Beyond Abu Ghraib: detention and torture in Iraq

UN Committee Against Torture condemns US detention policies, calls for change

USA: Days of adverse hardship in US detention camps – Testimony of Guantánamo detainee Jumah al-Dossari

Cruel and Inhuman: Conditions of isolation for detainees at Guantánamo Bay

Even if Ms Manningham-Buller had said something like “oh, we knew there were allegations around and we were trying to establish their veracity”, I don’t think we would be particularly reassured right now. Not after the serial obfuscation of the Binyam Mohamed case and a mounting number of other cases. Surely there ought now to be no serious argument against the need to have an inquiry into the UK’s alleged involvement in “war on terror” human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, now the film crew outside have departed, I’ll say “cut” and stop thinking about Eiza M-B doing her TV reviewer thing over messrs Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush and their supposed enjoyment of Jack B’s implausible antics … And …. that's a WRAP! Thanks everyone, well done.

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