UK may stop intelligence sharing with the US if Trump brings back torture

Theresa May Donald TrumpThe British government may limit or end intelligence cooperation with the United States, if Washington revives its post-9/11 torture program, according to reports. On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said he had asked “people at the highest level of intelligence […], does torture work?” and had received the answer “yes, absolutely”. He added that he was considering reviving some of the torture techniques that were used in the “war on terrorism”, including waterboarding and, in his words, “a hell of a lot worse”.

But on Thursday, the British Prime Minister Theresa May warned that her government might be forced to reexamine its intelligence-sharing relationship with Washington, if the US reinstituted torture as a method of interrogation. Speaking to journalists during a flight to the US to meet President Trump, the British prime minister stressed that the United Kingdom “absolutely condemn[ed] the use of torture” and that she would deliver that message to her American counterpart. According to British law, government officials and intelligence personnel are forbidden from sharing intelligence with countries that are known to employ torture against detainees. They are also not allowed to use intelligence gathered by other countries through the use of torture.

Thursday’s comments by Theresa May point to a potentially serious rift between American and British, as well as European intelligence agencies, whose attitudes toward so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’ differ widely from those of President Trump. British newspaper The Daily Mail quoted Matt Tait, a former information security specialist for Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s signals intelligence agency, who warned of a potential split between British and American spy agencies. If Trump reinstituted torture as a form of interrogation, it would mean that the United States Intelligence Community would “intentionally engage in war crimes”, said Tait. That would “make it impossible” for the UK to cooperate with the US “across a range of intelligence programs”, he added.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 27 January 2017 | Permalink

Senate report: CIA misled US government about torture

CIA headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A United States Senate report on the use of torture to extract intelligence from terrorism detainees accuses the Central Intelligence Agency of severely overstating the usefulness of the information gained. Details of the long-awaited report, produced after a four-year investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have been leaked to The Washington Post. The paper reports that the probe is a damning indictment on the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program, implemented during the administration of President George W. Bush. The report contains over 20 different conclusions. But the most critical are that the CIA misled the government and the American public by: (a) understating the severity of the interrogation methods used; and (b) overstating the actionable intelligence extracted through torture. The Post cites unnamed “US officials” who have reviewed the Senate report as stating that the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program “yielded little, if any, significant intelligence”. According to one source, in some cases the Agency proceeded to waterboard terrorism detainees after recognizing that all actionable intelligence had already been extracted from them. In one instance, says the paper, nearly all valuable intelligence gained from al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida was extracted by CIA interrogators before he was subjected to waterboarding nearly 100 times. Notably, the Senate report also highlights deep divisions within the CIA, as many units protested the practices employed under the Agency’s interrogation program. But The Post also quotes “current and former officials” who are critical of the Senate report for containing “factual errors” and “misguided conclusions”. One CIA veteran told the paper that the 6,300-page document reflected “Federal Bureau of Investigation biases”, and that CIA officials are critical of the fact that one of the report’s main authors is a former FBI analyst.
Read more of this post

Ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou’s indictment made simple

John KiriakouBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On Monday, the United States Department of Justice charged former Central Intelligence Agency officer John Kiriakou with leaking classified government information to reporters and deceiving a CIA review board. An FBI press release accused Kiriakou of repeatedly providing secrets to journalists between 2007 and 2009, and said the former CIA officer would be tried under the Espionage and the Intelligence Identities Protection Acts. The latter forbids the disclosure of the identities of undercover intelligence personnel, which is precisely what Kiriakou is accused of having done. An American of Greek descent, Kiriakou joined the CIA in 1990 and did tours in Greece, Pakistan, and elsewhere, before retiring in 2004. While in Pakistan he commanded the CIA team that helped capture senior al-Qaeda logistician Abu Zubaydah. In 2010 he published a memoir titled The Reluctant Spy.  Two years earlier, Kiriakou had made international headlines by becoming the first US intelligence official to publicly acknowledge that a terrorism suspect —in this case Zubaydah— had indeed been waterboarded while in CIA custody. Speaking on ABC News, the former CIA officer recognized that waterboarding was torture, but said it was “necessary” in the “war on terrorism”. In subsequent interviews, however, he questioned whether any actionable intelligence had been extracted from waterboarding, and opined that torturing terrorism detainees “caused more damage to [America’s] national prestige than was worth it”. Kiriakou’s skepticism, at a time when the incoming President, Barack Obama, publicly condemned waterboarding as torture, worried the CIA. Eventually, the Obama Administration backed down on its public proclamations about torture, and ruled out criminal prosecutions of CIA personnel. But he Agency didn’t forget Kiriakou’s role. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #337

  • Another Iranian nuclear researcher reportedly defects. An academic linked with Iran’s nuclear program has defected to Israel, according to Ayoub Kara, Israel’s deputy minister for development in the Negev and Galilee. Kara said it “is too soon to provide further details”, adding that the defector is “now in a friendly country”.
  • Dutch spies to become more active abroad. The Dutch secret service, the AIVD, has announced a shift in strategy, deployed increasingly more officers abroad: “in Yemen, Somalia, and the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
  • Why did the CIA destroy waterboarding evidence? It has been established that Porter J. Goss, the former director of the CIA, in 2005 approved the destruction of dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogation of two terrorism detainees. But why did he do it? Former CIA officer Robert Baer examines the question.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #324 (CIA edition)

  • Intelligence not hampered by waterboarding ban, says CIA’s top spy. Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, told a student audience last week that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration.
  • CIA given details of British Muslim students. Personal information concerning the private lives of almost 1,000 British Muslim university students is to be shared with US intelligence agencies. IntelNews has frequently reported on the CIA’s increased activities in the UK.
  • CIA death at Salt Pit gets fresh attention. Jeff Stein revisits the case of Gul Rahman, who died in 2002 after weeks of interrogations at the Salt Pit secret CIA facility in Afghanistan. His death was kept off the CIA books, and his body, which was secretly buried, has never been found.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #310

  • Analysis: Outsourcing Intelligence. David Ignatius points out that the latest rogue operation of the US Defense Department, revealed last weekend by The New York Times, points to the increasing irrelevance of the CIA in the so-called “global war on terrorism”: “by using contractors who operate ‘outside the wire’ in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the [US] military has gotten information that is sometimes better than what the CIA is offering”, says Ignatius.
  • White House threatens veto on intelligence bill. The White House has renewed its threat to veto the fiscal 2010 intelligence authorization bill over a provision that would force the administration to widen the circle of US lawmakers who are informed about covert operations and other sensitive activities.
  • CIA’s Kiriakou authors new book. John Kiriakou, who spent 14 years working for the CIA, and has made headlines in the past for defending the practice of waterboarding in interrogations, while recognizing it is torture, has a new book out, entitled The Reluctant Spy.

News you may have missed #0035

Bookmark and Share