Was MI5 complicit in torture?
Last week we were busy launching “Stuff of Life” – a short film exposing what’s involved in waterboarding, the partial drowning of suspects during interrogation. The excellent Malcolm Nance, an American security expert now strongly opposed to this form of torture, helped us with the media work.
I quietened the children just long enough to listen to his 7.05am interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC radio. The presenter didn’t take on Malcolm in quite the combative way that he often unleashes on us human rights-loving, Guardian-buying liberals but I groaned – audibly, to the surprise of my son and daughter – when Mr Ferrari, who had been motoring so well suddenly swerved off the road and reached in the glove box for the “ticking bomb” scenario.
The what? The ticking bomb scenario. It’s what anyone debating torture appears obliged to quote in the name of balance (strange in itself – torture is illegal and we generally expect our security services to operate within the law, so why the eagerness to try and justify them breaking it?)
But Nick Ferrari asked Malcolm and then his listeners whether torture could be justified in certain (extremely unlikely) scenarios. “It’s the 6th of July 2005 and you’ve a suspect who has information that could prevent the bombings.” Etcetera.
Here at Amnesty we’re keen to remind anyone tempted to agree to torture being carried out in their name just what they are potentially saying okay too. That’s what the Stuff of Life does.
Ian Cobain does a brilliant job for the Guardian of exposing allegations that MI5 was complicit in torture by Pakistani intelligence services. And he goes into detail about just what the torture in these case is said to have involved. Finger nails being pulled out with pliers. The threatened use of an electric drill. Beating while suspended by the wrists. Etcetera.
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Several men who have first-hand knowledge of human rights abuses in the so-called ‘war on terror’ were in this building yesterday – all former detainees of Guantanamo Bay. One, Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born and raised in Germany, was here to launch his new book “Five Years Of My Life: an innocent man in Guantanamo”. It seemed strange to see them beforehand, chatting over a sandwich. A world away – but for some just a few short months – from an ordeal that appeared to have no end.
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