June 28 (UPI) — British intelligence officers saw U.S. operatives torture and subject terror suspects to inhumane treatment in the years that followed the Sept. 11 attacks, a report by London’s Intelligence and Security Committee said Thursday.
The ISC report — one of two Thursday that detailed how Britain handled detainees during the 2000s — said British authorities tolerated the U.S. mistreatment of suspects and continued to collaborate in the interrogations.
“It is difficult to comprehend how those at the top of the office did not recognize the pattern of mistreatment by the U.S.,” the committee said in a statement. “That the U.S., and others, were mistreating detainees is beyond doubt, as is the fact that the agencies and defense intelligence were aware of this at an early point.”
The report cites no evidence of British officials being directly involved in mistreatment, but it notes “13 cases where spies witness first-hand a detainee being mistreated by others.”
British officials supplied intelligence to allies in 232 cases where they knew or suspected mistreatment, the report added.
The report expressed “serious concerns” about the conduct and called some actions by British officials inexcusable.
“That being said, we have found no ‘smoking gun’ to indicate that the agencies deliberately
overlooked reports of mistreatment and rendition by the U.S. as a matter of institutional
policy,” the ISC report said.
The evidence suggests, investigators said, British agencies had a difficult balancing act — as a junior partner with limited influence, careful not to upset U.S. counterparts for fear of losing intelligence supplied by the detainees that could have been vital in preventing an attack in Britain.
“It is easy to criticize with the benefit of hindsight,” the panel said. “We wish to be absolutely clear that we do not seek to blame individual officers acting under immense pressure.
“Our findings must be viewed in the context in which the events took place … after 9/11. With that said, more could have been done at an agency and ministerial level to seek to influence U.S. behavior.”