A former security minister has said that British spies may have been aware of torture carried out by CIA agents. Lord West of Spithead, who served in Gordon Brown’s Labour government, said there may have been the “odd case” where UK agents knew mistreatment was happening, and may have even been in the same building while it was happening.
He told the BBC: “Looking back historically, if you are an agent embedded in some foreign country and this was going on, it was quite difficult for them to extricate themselves even though they weren’t implementing that torture.
“So I’m sure there may be the odd case where an agent was aware what the Americans were doing, but that has now been sealed off because they are very clear now what the position is.”
His comments are likely increase calls for a full judicial review into the UK’s role in CIA torture. John McTernan, who served as senior advisor to Tony Blair, said: “If the US can come clean, why can’t we? If this is not done, then a suspicion hangs over our security services. We have a right to know.
“But the traditional UK parliamentary scrutiny is inadequate – the intelligence and security committee is not up to it. Having failed to rise to the occasion after the Snowden leaks and the question of GCHQ’s role in monitoring citizens, the ISC surely has no credibility in looking into this.
“Britain does have a process for investigating issues like this – it’s a Royal Commission.”
The Daily Mail reports that Home Secretary Theresa May is set to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Monday when she is expected to face questions about meetings she attended with US Senate’s intelligence committee. Dianne Feinstein, who led the senate investigation, may even come to Britain to talk to MPs about the UK’s involvement in CIA torture.
Former CIA direct Robert Woolsey remained unrepentant, however, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “Would I waterboard again Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 killings and beheader of over 40 people? Would I waterboard him if I could have a good chance of saving thousands of Americans or, for that matter, other allied individuals? Yes.”