Scots put May under pressure to tackle Trump’s torture stance

Nathanael Williams

Scots MPs and charities raise issue of torture with May ahead of her first meeting with US President Trump

UK PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has found herself under pressure by Scottish MPs to refute the acceptability of torture as a staple of the methods used by the UK and US intelligence services.

The demands come after comments made by the newly elected US president Donald J Trump this week, who told media that CIA analysts had told him “torture absolutely works”.

Angus Robertson MP the leader of the SNP group in Westminster demanded to know if May would raise the issue with Trump and uphold the current official intelligence service rejection of torture.

“What will she say to President Trump about torture?” Angus Robertson

Robertson said: “I think plans by UK PM Theresa May are going off the rails a bit. What will she say to President Trump about torture?

“If President Trump reintroduces torture it will profoundly damage intelligence cooperation with allies including the UK. Will Prime Minister May tell him this?”

Critics in the areas of international law and intelligence have pointed to the failure of the ‘war on terror’ years following the 2001 terror attacks in the US, which saw the explicit use of methods such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation by the CIA.

During the years between 1999 and 2009 it was alleged that MI6 analysts had been present at the interrogation of American, British and other foreign national suspects in US “black sites”.
These black site areas were notorious for their violation of international law, anti-torture conventions and the sovereignty of the third party nations where they were based.

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Trump, who gave an interview with the US news channel ABC, his first since his inauguration as president, said: “When Isis [Daesh or Islamic State] is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?”

“I have spoken with people at the highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question ‘Does it work? Does torture work?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely’”.

Charities have expressed deep concern over a “turning back of the clock” on issues such as torture or what the CIA during the early 2000s called “intensified interrogation techniques.” As recently as last week a Lybian national called Abdul-Hakim Belhaj won the right to sue former foreign secretary Jack Straw, who along with the UK Government was allegedly complicit in the practice of “extraordinary rendition”.

“Britain’s prime minister must make clear to President Trump this week that the UK will not support torture or mistreatment of prisoners, and make clear to the British public what safeguards she will put in place when dealing with US agencies.” Katie Taylor

This was the infamous method of kidnapping citizens and transporting them to facilities such as the US military base at Guantanamo Bay and undisclosed sites in North Africa for “enhanced interrogation.”

Speaking to CommonSpace Katie Taylor, deputy director at Reprieve the international human rights organisation, said: “The CIA’s secret prison program was one of the most shameful chapters in recent US history.  It saw men, women and even children kidnapped, abused and ‘rendered’ to dungeons around the world – causing untold damage to America’s reputation and security.

“America’s allies must ensure they never again support a revived CIA torture program. Britain’s Prime Minister must make clear to President Trump this week that the UK will not support torture or mistreatment of prisoners, and make clear to the British public what safeguards she will put in place when dealing with US agencies.”

When contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office refused to comment on whether security issues and intelligence methods would be discussed. However, they commented that “the trip will cover all the important areas of cooperation that are crucial to UK-US relations.”

Picture courtesy of Mike Holmes

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