Shorter version of the official British policy regarding atrocities: ‘Avert your eyes.’
Tony Blair was aware of the existence of a secret interrogation policy which effectively led to British citizens, and others, being tortured during counter-terrorism investigations, the Guardian can reveal.Look at that date. January 2002.
The policy, devised in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, offered guidance to MI5 and MI6 officers questioning detainees in Afghanistan whom they knew were being mistreated by the US military.
British intelligence officers were given written instructions that they could not “be seen to condone” torture and that they must not “engage in any activity yourself that involves inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners”.
But they were also told they were not under any obligation to intervene to prevent detainees from being mistreated.
“Given that they are not within our custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene to prevent this,” the policy said.
The policy almost certainly breaches international human rights law, according to Philippe Sands QC, one of the world’s leading experts in the field, because it takes no account of Britain’s obligations to avoid complicity in torture under the UN convention against torture. Despite this, the secret policy went on to underpin British intelligence’s relationships with a number of foreign intelligence agencies which had become the UK’s allies in the “war against terror”.
The policy was set out in written instructions sent to MI5 and MI6 officers in January 2002, which told them they might consider complaining to US officials about the mistreatment of detainees “if circumstances allow”. Source
It naturally follows that, as the policy was developed in response to witnessed torture or other abuse, that those instances — clearly implicating and confirming U.S. personnel as being among those performing such acts — had to occur in 2001, at or near the very beginning of the war in October of that year.
Yet more reason to investigate the still secret Justice Department memos whose existence is known, particularly the one from Nov. 20, 2001, all the more so as so many of the DOJ memos have been demonstrated as being developed to provide cover for circumstances already undertaken.