Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of British intelligence service MI5, admitted US authorities tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in order to gain a confession. Manningham-Buller, who headed MI5 between 2002-2007, was speaking and answering questions after delivering a lecture in the House of Lords.
She revealed that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush “all watched 24” – the fictional US TV drama that popularised the ticking bomb theory. This theory hypothesised an imminent terrorist attack that could be averted only by gaining information from a suspect in custody, providing justification for torturing the suspect if necessary.
Manningham-Buller’s admission is further embarrassment for the British government and its intelligence services which have been resolute in denying any involvement in torture. On 10th February 2010 Britain’s highest judges ruled against the British government in the case of Binyam Muhammed.
Manningham-Buller is also reported to have said, “It wasn’t actually until after I retired that I read that, in fact, he [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] had been waterboarded 160 times.” The fact that she now denies knowing about mistreatment of detainees was mocked by some who reminded her that all she needed to do was read the daily newspapers during her tenure in office.
Accounts, and not just allegations, of US and British involvement in torture are now frequent, widespread and from multiple sources, including intelligence staff. However, why has it taken Manningham-Buller so many years to speak out about the torture? Moreover, why is the British government and intelligence services threatening and coercing authorities against raising claims of torture?
Furthermore, revelations that key former US administration officials – Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush – supported the use of torture based on a TV drama is a damning indictment against the values of human rights these very same individuals professed to further in invading Afghanistan and Iraq.
Muslim lands have been invaded and occupied in the name of spreading freedom and democracy. However, these same values have been so readily and routinely violated through torture and pointless deaths of many thousands. Now, the US and British governments are attempting to cover the failure of their compromised values in an attempt to hide the truth about their disastrous foreign policy.
It is beyond belief that western politicians still claim – with a straight face – the values of freedom and democracy as non-negotiable!