The government would never condone torture
Your leader (“Tell us the truth about torture, Mr Miliband”, Comment, last week) suggested that I had “suppressed evidence” linking British officials to serious offences allegedly committed against Binyam Mohamed, and that my decision to seek public interest immunity against public disclosure of the documents might be from “fear of offending an ally”.
The truth is quite the reverse. The British government worked hard, and successfully, to have the material at issue provided to Mr Mohamed’s defence counsel. Since then, we have secured the agreement in principle of the United States to Mr Mohamed’s release and return to the UK. When the question of possible criminal wrong-doing by British officials emerged, the Home Secretary, with my full support and agreement, referred the matter to the attorney general. The British government abhors torture and would never authorise it or condone it. Where allegations are made of possible complicity, they should be properly considered by the correct authorities. That is exactly what is happening.
Public debate and accountability are important. But it is a basic principle of intelligence exchanges that the disclosure of intelligence from foreign countries must always be a matter for the country which issued the intelligence, not its recipient. That is important for our own intelligence, which is shared with other countries. That is the principle which has been defended in this case and, as the court said, to no detriment of Mr Mohamed.
Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
I have been tortured and I know others who have been and still are being IN THIS COUNTRY.
Torture is not an aberration within a system, but an integral part of a system. Kelman again:
The conditions conducive to the rise of torture as an an instrument of State policy are the authorities’ perception of an active threat to the security of the State from internal and external sources; the availability of a security apparatus, which enables the authorities to use the vast power at their disposal to counter that threat by repressive means, and the presence within the society of groups defined as enemies of or potential threats to the State … The recourse to repression is particularly likely in situations in which opposition represents a challenge to the legitimacy of those in power and thus a fundamental threat to their continued ability to maintain power, such as States in which the rulers’ legitimacy rests on unitary, unchangeable ideology (political or religious), or States run by a ruling clique with an extremely narrow population base (in socio-economic and/or ethnic terms) but with the support of military forces. 37
The two key points of Kelman’s analysis are, first, to understand torture as “an instrument of State policy” directly sanctioned by authorities, and second, to see the authorities’ justification for the use of torture as a defense against perceived threats to their legitimacy.
Eleain Scarry, in her remarkable book The Body in Pain: the Making and Unmaking of the World, defines torture as “the conversion of absolute pain into the fiction of absolute power” 38. Here the physical act – inflicting pain on a defenseless person – and the verbal act – the interrogation – combine to form a “grotesque piece of compensatory drama” the purpose of which is “the production of a fantastic illusion of power”. The interrogation is neither the true motive or the true goal of torture. The information gained is secondary to the fact of breaking the will of the prisoner 40. Rare are the documented cases where tortured prisoners actually had information useful to the states intelligence desires, but the key here is the very nature of the state’s intelligence desires, namely the drive to crush any perceived threat to it’s legitimacy.
37. Herbert C Kelma, “The Policy Context of Torture”, 2005, pp 128-129.
38 Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain, 1985 pp 27-35.
40 “It is not primarily the victims information, but the victim, that the torture needs to win – or reduce to powerlessness” (Peters, Torture, p. 164) “In compelling confession, the torturers compel the prisoner to record and objectify the fact that intense pain is world destroying . It is for this reason that while the content of the prisoner’s answer is only sometimes important to the regime , the form of the answer, the fact of answering, is always crucial” (Scarry, The Body in Pain, 29).
I had this done to me in 2003. A few months before I had been at a local party event in a local town square. The local party crew were trying to setup a sound system … party people and local activists were in attendance. It was also a protest against the Iraq War and an increase in local traffic as well as road building. Attempts were made to block the main road. Police were in attendance as well, seemingly to deal with traffic problems, but this was not the real reason. Also in attendance was a Police intelligence unit. Policemen dressed in black, semi military unforms taking carefully gathered photographs. I was no doubt in one of those photo’s, as were as many others.
The following is repulsive … so dial off if you just want to “have a nice day” !
A few months later after a carefully orchestrated campaign by the authorities and the “Mental Health System” I was characterised as “having gone mad” (for doubters, please note that the former Soviet Union and other regimes have been documented as using this technique to silence dissenters).
I was then systematically tortured using drugs. This technique is designed to look like something else. It is carefully shielded and deceptively presented to make it seem like (perversly) someone is “being helped”.
As in the quote from “Mexico Unconquered” (p. 69) above, I was was interrogated. I was asked the question “Do you hear voices” … I answered “I hear your voice” … at least partially not falling for what was going on. I probably should have stayed silent .. but that may have bought on even more brutal treatment … more drugs. I had drugs forced upon me against my will. I was so traumatised after being terrorised by these people for days that I think I took the drugs orally without much resistance. They would cause me much pain. Memory damage. Almost loss of life, although from the outside you seem to be “OK” because you’ve been given a huge tranquillizer … a sleeping pill.
The same thing happened to me in 2005. As my memory came back about what had happened – I was taking their torturing drugs less and less – I began to realise with rising horror what was going on. I made a strong verbal complaint in a local day care center about what was being done to people as well as trying to cut off contact with the local “carers”. I was threatened with my door being battered down. I was taken away in a Police van with blood still on the seats from … something .. probably some poor schmuck like me. I was put through the same regime again, although without the interrogation this time. Unlike last time I actively tried to avoid being drugged .. but I was threatened with being held down and injected. Fearing being smothered and suffocating to death I had to take the drugs. Early 2006 … I hesitate to say me … the drugs tried to kill me … I had a “suicide attempt” – read “almost being tortured to death by proxy”.
So to those who say “Torture does not happen in Britain” .. or that “The British Government does not condone torture” .. I would say you are fast asleep. I would also say that some people are wide awake and know this goes on but they condone it, or at least ignore it because it removes threats to their power.
British people may be shocked to read this. I am not against the people in this country. It is factions in this country that allow this to carry on … but it is also you … dear British people who allow it to carry on, because you hypnotise yourself everyday out of seeing these acts of torture for what they are.