Posts tagged "CIA"

Files on UK role in CIA rendition accidentally destroyed says minister

Files on UK role in CIA rendition accidentally destroyed says minister

Rights groups say claim that records of Diego Garcia flights are missing due to water damage ‘smacks of cover-up’. Read more…

Posted by admin - July 10, 2014 at 09:36

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CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11 taskforce finds

CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11 taskforce finds

Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes. Read more…

Posted by admin - November 5, 2013 at 09:57

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Ghost money from MI6 and CIA may fuel Afghan corruption, say diplomats

Failure of peace initiatives raises questions over whether British eagerness for political settlement may have been exploited

The CIA and MI6 have regularly given large cash payments to Hamid Karzai’s office with the aim of maintaining access to the Afghan leader and his top allies and officials, but the attempt to buy influence has largely failed and may have backfired, former diplomats and policy analysts say.

The Guardian understands that the payments by British intelligence were on a smaller scale than the CIA’s handouts, reported in the New York Times to have been in the tens of millions, and much of the British money has gone towards attempts to finance peace initiatives, which have so far proved abortive.

That failure has raised questions among some British officials over whether eagerness to promote a political settlement may have been exploited by Afghan officials and self-styled intermediaries for the Taliban.

Responding to the allegations while on a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Karzai said his national security council (NSC) had received support from the US government for the past 10 years, and the amounts involved were “not big” and were used for a variety of purposes including helping those wounded in the conflict. “It’s multi-purpose assistance,” he said, without commenting on the allegations that the money was fuelling corruption.

Yama Torabi, the director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan said that the presidency’s low-key response to the reports had “outraged people”.

“As a result, we don’t know what was the amount of money that was given, what it was used for and if there was any corruption involved. Money when it is unchecked can be abused and this looks like one. In addition, it can be potentially used to corrupt politicians and political circles, but there is no way to know this unless there is a serious investigation into it,” Torabi told The Guardian.

Kabul sources told the Guardian that the key official involved in distributing the payments within the NSC was Ibrahim Spinzada, a close confidant of the president known as Engineer Ibrahim. There is, however, no evidence that Spinzada personally gained from the cash payments or that in distributing them among the president’s allies and sometimes his foes he was breaking Afghan law.

Officials say the payments, referred to in a New York Times report as “ghost money”, helped prop up warlords and corrupt officials, deepening Afghan popular mistrust of the Kabul government and its foreign backers, and thereby helped drive the insurgency.

The CIA money has sometimes caused divisions between the various branches of US government represented in Kabul, according to diplomats stationed in Kabul, particularly when it helped give the CIA chief of station in Kabul direct access to Karzai without the US ambassador’s knowledge or approval.

One former Afghan budgetary official told the Guardian: “On paper there was very little money that went to the National Directorate of Security [NDS, the Afghan intelligence service], but we knew they were taken care of separately by the CIA.

“The thing about US money is a lot of it goes outside the budget, directly through individuals and companies, and that opens the way for corruption.”

Khalil Roman, who served as Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the New York Times: “We called it ‘ghost money’. It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

One American official told the newspaper: “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States.”

Sources said the MI6 aid was on a smaller scale, and much of it was focused on trying to promote meetings between Karzai’s government and Taliban intermediaries, as was embarrassingly the case in 2010 when MI6 discovered a would-be Taliban leader in talks with Karzai was an impostor from the Pakistani city of Quetta.

The British payments have also been designed to bolster UK influence in Kabul, in what a source described as “an auction with each country trying to outbid the other” in the course of an often fraught relationship with the Karzai government.

Vali Nasr, a former US government adviser on Afghanistan, said: “Karzai has been lashing out against American officials and generals, so if indeed there has been funding by the CIA, you have to ask to what effect has that money been paid. It hasn’t clearly brought the sort of influence it was meant to.”

Nasr, now dean of the Johns Hopkins school of advanced international studies and author of a new book criticising US policy in Afghanistan, The Dispensable Nation, said: “If the terms of such payments are not clear, the question is how well do they tag with US policy … The CIA has a narrow, counter-terrorism purview that involved working with warlords, but that is quite a different agenda, on how we conduct the war or how we build a government.”

The CIA has also been heavily criticised for conducting drone attacks against suspected militants over the border in Pakistan and for calling in air strikes inside Afghanistan while on joint operations with NDS units, leading to civilian casualties. A report on Monday by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a thinktank in Kabul, said the latest such NDS-CIA operation, in Kunar province on 13 April, killed 17 civilians.

Kate Clark, one of the network’s analysts, said: “It is one thing to conduct covert operations in a hostile country. I’m flabbergasted that the CIA is running these kind of covert operations in a friendly country. It runs counter to accountability, democracy and the rule of law, and is damaging what the US is trying to do.

“The CIA puts certain things as a priority – whether someone is against al-Qaida, for example – and damn the rest.”

Julian Borger


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Posted by admin - April 30, 2013 at 07:55

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CIA and MI6 ghost money may fuel Afghan corruption, say diplomats

Failure of peace initiatives raises questions over whether British eagerness for political settlement may have been exploited

The CIA and MI6 have regularly given large cash payments to Hamid Karzai’s office with the aim of maintaining access to the Afghan leader and his top allies and officials, but the attempt to buy influence has largely failed and may have backfired, former diplomats and policy analysts say.

The Guardian understands that the payments by British intelligence were on a smaller scale than the CIA’s handouts, reported in the New York Times to have been in the tens of millions, and much of the British money has gone towards attempts to finance peace initiatives, which have so far proved abortive.

That failure has raised questions among some British officials over whether eagerness to promote a political settlement may have been exploited by Afghan officials and self-styled intermediaries for the Taliban.

Responding to the allegations while on a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Karzai said his national security council (NSC) had received support from the US government for the past 10 years, and the amounts involved were “not big” and were used for a variety of purposes including helping those wounded in the conflict. “It’s multi-purpose assistance,” he said, without commenting on the allegations that the money was fuelling corruption.

Yama Torabi, the director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan said that the presidency’s low-key response to the reports had “outraged people”.

“As a result, we don’t know what was the amount of money that was given, what it was used for and if there was any corruption involved. Money when it is unchecked can be abused and this looks like one. In addition, it can be potentially used to corrupt politicians and political circles, but there is no way to know this unless there is a serious investigation into it,” Torabi told The Guardian.

Kabul sources told the Guardian that the key official involved in distributing the payments within the NSC was Ibrahim Spinzada, a close confidant of the president known as Engineer Ibrahim. There is, however, no evidence that Spinzada personally gained from the cash payments or that in distributing them among the president’s allies and sometimes his foes he was breaking Afghan law.

Officials say the payments, referred to in a New York Times report as “ghost money”, helped prop up warlords and corrupt officials, deepening Afghan popular mistrust of the Kabul government and its foreign backers, and thereby helped drive the insurgency.

The CIA money has sometimes caused divisions between the various branches of US government represented in Kabul, according to diplomats stationed in Kabul, particularly when it helped give the CIA chief of station in Kabul direct access to Karzai without the US ambassador’s knowledge or approval.

One former Afghan budgetary official told the Guardian: “On paper there was very little money that went to the National Directorate of Security [NDS, the Afghan intelligence service], but we knew they were taken care of separately by the CIA.

“The thing about US money is a lot of it goes outside the budget, directly through individuals and companies, and that opens the way for corruption.”

Khalil Roman, who served as Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the New York Times: “We called it ‘ghost money’. It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

One American official told the newspaper: “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States.”

Sources said the MI6 aid was on a smaller scale, and much of it was focused on trying to promote meetings between Karzai’s government and Taliban intermediaries, as was embarrassingly the case in 2010 when MI6 discovered a would-be Taliban leader in talks with Karzai was an impostor from the Pakistani city of Quetta.

The British payments have also been designed to bolster UK influence in Kabul, in what a source described as “an auction with each country trying to outbid the other” in the course of an often fraught relationship with the Karzai government.

Vali Nasr, a former US government adviser on Afghanistan, said: “Karzai has been lashing out against American officials and generals, so if indeed there has been funding by the CIA, you have to ask to what effect has that money been paid. It hasn’t clearly brought the sort of influence it was meant to.”

Nasr, now dean of the Johns Hopkins school of advanced international studies and author of a new book criticising US policy in Afghanistan, The Dispensable Nation, said: “If the terms of such payments are not clear, the question is how well do they tag with US policy … The CIA has a narrow, counter-terrorism purview that involved working with warlords, but that is quite a different agenda, on how we conduct the war or how we build a government.”

The CIA has also been heavily criticised for conducting drone attacks against suspected militants over the border in Pakistan and for calling in air strikes inside Afghanistan while on joint operations with NDS units, leading to civilian casualties. A report on Monday by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a thinktank in Kabul, said the latest such NDS-CIA operation, in Kunar province on 13 April, killed 17 civilians.

Kate Clark, one of the network’s analysts, said: “It is one thing to conduct covert operations in a hostile country. I’m flabbergasted that the CIA is running these kind of covert operations in a friendly country. It runs counter to accountability, democracy and the rule of law, and is damaging what the US is trying to do.

“The CIA puts certain things as a priority – whether someone is against al-Qaida, for example – and damn the rest.”

Julian Borger


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Posted by admin - April 29, 2013 at 16:50

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MI6 and CIA heard Iraq had no active WMD capability ahead of invasion

BBC’s Panorama reveals fresh evidence that agencies dismissed intelligence from Iraqi foreign minister and spy chief

Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.

Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was “active”, “growing” and “up and running”.

A special BBC Panorama programme tonight will reveal how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.

It describes how Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, told the CIA’s station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had “virtually nothing” in terms of WMD.

Sabri said in a statement that the Panorama story was “totally fabricated”.

However, Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMD. The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British government published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.

Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary who led an inquiry into the use of intelligence in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, tells the programme that he was not told about Sabri’s comments, and that he should have been.

Butler says of the use of intelligence: “There were ways in which people were misled or misled themselves at all stages.”

When it was suggested to him that the body that probably felt most misled of all was the British public, Butler replied: “Yes, I think they’re, they’re, they got every reason think that.”

The programme shows how the then chief of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, responded to information from Iraqi sources later acknowledged to be unreliable.

One unidentified MI6 officer has told the Chilcot inquiry that at one stage information was “being torn off the teleprinter and rushed across to Number 10″.

Another said it was “wishful thinking… [that] promised the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow”.

The programme says that MI6 stood by claims that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger, though these were dismissed by other intelligence agencies, including the French.

It also shows how claims by Iraqis were treated seriously by elements in MI6 and the CIA even after they were exposed as fabricated including claims, notably about alleged mobile biological warfare containers, made by Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, a German source codenamed Curveball. He admitted to the Guardian in 2011 that all the information he gave to the west was fabricated.

Panorama says it asked for an interview with Blair but he said he was “too busy”.

• The Spies Who Fooled the World, BBC Panorama Special, BBC1, Monday, 18 March, 10.35pm

Richard Norton-Taylor


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Posted by admin - March 18, 2013 at 06:00

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Break the grip of corporate power to secure our future | George Monbiot

Neoliberal dogma forbids the intervention required to stop climate change. To save the planet we must articulate a new politics

Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that man-made climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.

Neoliberalism, also known as market fundamentalism or laissez-faire economics, purports to liberate the market from political interference. The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call “the market” looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich. Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy.

The doctrine was first applied in Chile in 1973, as former students of the University of Chicago, schooled in Milton Friedman‘s extreme prescriptions and funded by the CIA, worked alongside General Pinochet to impose a programme that would have been impossible in a democratic state. The result was an economic catastrophe, but one in which the rich – who took over Chile’s privatised industries and unprotected natural resources – prospered exceedingly.

The creed was taken up by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. It was forced upon the poor world by the IMF and the World Bank. By the time James Hansen presented the first detailed attempt to model future temperature rises to the US Senate in 1988, the doctrine was being implanted everywhere.

As we saw in 2007 and 2008 (when neoliberal governments were forced to abandon their principles to bail out the banks), there could scarcely be a worse set of circumstances for addressing a crisis of any kind. Until it has no choice, the self-hating state will not intervene, however acute the crisis or grave the consequences. Neoliberalism protects the interests of the elite against all-comers.

Preventing climate breakdown – the four, five or six degrees of warming now predicted for this century by green extremists like, er, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and PriceWaterhouseCoopers – means confronting the oil, gas and coal industries. It means forcing those industries to abandon the four-fifths or more of fossil fuel reserves that we cannot afford to burn. It means cancelling the prospecting and development of new reserves – what’s the point if we can’t use current stocks? – and reversing the expansion of any infrastructure (such as airports) that cannot be run without them.

But the self-hating state cannot act. Captured by interests that democracy is supposed to restrain, it can only sit on the road, ears pricked and whiskers twitching, as the truck thunders towards it. Confrontation is forbidden, action is a mortal sin. You may, perhaps, disperse some money for new energy; you may not legislate against the old.

So Barack Obama pursues what he calls an “all of the above” policy: promoting wind, solar, oil and gas. Ed Davey, the British climate change secretary, launched an energy bill in the House of Commons last week whose purpose was to decarbonise the energy supply. In the same debate he also promised that he would “maximise the potential” of oil and gas production in the North Sea and other offshore fields.

Lord Stern described climate change as “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen”. The useless Earth summit in June; the feeble measures now being debated in Doha; the energy bill and electricity-demand-reduction paper launched in Britain last week (better than they might have been, but unmatched to the scale of the problem) – all expose the greatest and widest-ranging failure of market fundamentalism: its incapacity to address our existential crisis.

The 1,000-year legacy of current carbon emissions is long enough to smash anything resembling human civilisation into splinters. Complex societies have sometimes survived the rise and fall of empires, plagues, wars and famines. They won’t survive six degrees of climate change, sustained for a millennium. In return for 150 years of explosive consumption, much of which does nothing to advance human welfare, we are atomising the natural world and the human systems that depend on it.

The climate summit (or foothill) in Doha and the sound and fury of the British government’s new measures probe the current limits of political action. Go further and you break your covenant with power, a covenant both disguised and validated by the neoliberal creed.

Neoliberalism is not the root of the problem: it is the ideology used, often retrospectively, to justify a global grab of power, public assets and natural resources by an unrestrained elite. But the problem cannot be addressed until the doctrine is challenged by effective political alternatives.

In other words, the struggle against climate change – and all the crises that now beset both human beings and the natural world – cannot be won without a wider political fight: a democratic mobilisation against plutocracy. This should start with an effort to reform campaign finance – the means by which corporations and the very rich buy policies and politicians. Some of us will be launching a petition in the UK in the next few weeks, and I hope you will sign it.

But this is scarcely a beginning. We must start to articulate a new politics, one that sees intervention as legitimate, that contains a higher purpose than corporate emancipation disguised as market freedom, that puts the survival of people and the living world above the survival of a few favoured industries. In other words, a politics that belongs to us, not just the super-rich.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot

A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com


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Posted by admin - December 3, 2012 at 22:28

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Shadow justice secretary steps up attack on secret courts bill

Sadiq Khan accuses Kenneth Clarke of making ‘inaccurate and misleading’ claims about justice and security bill

Kenneth Clarke has been accused of making “inaccurate and misleading” claims about the government’s secret courts bill, which is designed to protect secret intelligence.

In an intensification of Labour’s attack on the justice and security bill, which will restrict access to some sensitive intelligence, the shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan accuses Clarke of misrepresenting it.

Clarke retained responsibility for the controversial bill when he was demoted from his post as justice secretary to minister without portfolio in the reshuffle.

The former home secretary described critics of Closed Material Procedure (CMP) in a Guardian article in September as “reactionary parts of the human rights lobby”. Clarke defends his plans, which would restrict access to some sensitive intelligence to the judge, but not by claimants or their lawyers, on the grounds that it would allow more cases to proceed. He says that at the moment many trials cannot go ahead because some intelligence cannot be heard in open court.

The bill was drawn up after the public airing of evidence during litigation brought on behalf of Binyam Mohamed and other former Guantánamo Bay detainees. The court of appeal agreed to disclose CIA information which showed MI5 and MI6 knew Mohamed, a UK resident, had been abused.

Khan has stepped up his criticism of the government after Clarke dismissed his concerns, which the shadow justice secretary had outlined in a letter. Khan writes: “I believe your letter contains a number of misleading statements about how your proposals to introduce secret courts into our civil justice system will operate in practice.”

In his letter to Clarke, the shadow justice secretary addresses what he calls “inaccurate and misleading” claims. Khan says Clarke:

• Wrongly claims that he is creating a judge-led process in which judges will have complete freedom to rule whether a case should be designated as CMP. Khan says that the judge’s discretion would be fettered to such an extent that it would be “a judicial decision in name only”.

• Has failed to provide evidence to support his contention that cases are collapsing because some secret intelligence cannot be shown to the court at all.

Khan said to Clarke: “I do not believe the government has made the case that this fundamental change in our civil justice system is justified. And, even if this case had been made, the proposals in the justice and security bill on CMPs represent a considerable concentration of power in the hands of government ministers to keep material secret without any of the necessary checks and balances.

“I am also disappointed that you have chosen to misrepresent the contents of your own bill which risks confusing a crucial debate involving highly sensitive issues. Defending your introduction of secret courts by repeatedly describing yourself as a liberal does not detract from the concerns many have with this bill.”


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Posted by admin - November 10, 2012 at 09:40

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David Petraeus resigns as director of CIA over affair – US politics live

Former general David Petraeus has announced his resignation as director of the CIA after admitting to an affair




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Posted by admin - November 9, 2012 at 21:16

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Secret courts bill under attack as House of Lords prepares for second reading

Reforms go against principles of open and adversarial system of justice say campaigners, lawyers and MPs

Plans for secret hearings in civil courts being put before parliament on Tuesday “offend the principle of open justice”, a prominent Conservative MP has warned the government.

Andrew Tyrie, the member for Chichester who is chair of the all party group on rendition, has challenged ministers to abandon the proposals which he says are more in tune with a dictatorship than a democracy.

His comments to the Guardian are further evidence of widespread unease among senior lawyers and constitutional experts over the justice and security bill, which has its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday afternoon.

Last week, the Lords’ constitution committee, whose members include Lord Irvine, the former lord chancellor, and Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general, described the expansion of secret hearings into civil courts as “flawed” and “unfair”.

Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, has defended the bill as a necessary method of exploiting intelligence material in court cases while protecting it from general disclosure. The bill will introduce secret hearings, known as closed material procedures (CMPs) into civil courts where a defendant or clamant is not permitted to see all the evidence.

But a submission from the majority of special advocates, security-cleared barristers who appear in sensitive cases, have also described CMPs – which are already used in special immigration tribunals – as “inherently unfair”.

Tyrie’s comments add to the pressure on the Ministry of Justice to defend the reforms. “The changes introduced since the green paper flatter to deceive,” Tyrie said.

“The crucial offence to justice remains. The most important of which is that material will be presented to the court without the claimant or even his lawyers being able to see it. Instead he or she will be represented by special advocates – who have told us it’s inherently unfair.

“It also offends the principle of open justice. However the government describes this, others will, with some justification, be able to describe this as ‘secret courts’. Secret courts and impunity for state officials involved in wrongdoing sound more like the tools of dictatorships than Britain.

“We would have found far less out about rendition [under the system proposed by the justice and security bill]. We wouldn’t know that the UK facilitated rendition. The scope for the judges to decide whether or not here should be a CMP is much narrower than it has been represented [by the government].”

Tyrie is currently involved in legal action against the CIA and the state department in the US, in an attempt to uncover more information about rendition.

The civil rights organisation Liberty is planning a protest outside the supreme court to coincide with the second reading of the bill, deploying bouncers to emphasise that ordinary members of the public and claimants will be kept out of court by the new rules on secret hearings.

Liberty’s director, Shami Chakrabarti, said: “We will never shine a light on abuses of power by turning British courts into secret commissions locked away from victims, the press and public.

“The House of Lords has an uncertain future but peers have their first opportunity to pass judgment on a bill that would put future governments above the law and leave the rest of us in the dark. This is a perfect opportunity to see the second chamber at its best, defending ancient freedoms and equality before the law.”

The legal reform campaign, Justice, condemned the bill as “unfair, unnecessary and unjustified” and likely to “undermine public confidence in the administration of civil justice [as well as] damaging the credibility of our judiciary”.

“That one party will present his or her case unchallenged to the judge in the absence of the other party and his lawyers is inconsistent with the common law tradition of civil justice where proceedings are open, adversarial and equal,” Justice warned.

The bill, it said, would allow the government “to more effectively control the handling of information in cases against them involving national security”. It added: “The government has produced no evidence to support the case for this fundamental reform. These measures are not justified on the grounds of national security.”

On the question of whether a judge would have the final word, the campaign group believes that Clarke, has exaggerated the judiciary’s role.

“In practice, the decisions allocated to the judge are very limited ,” the campaign group said. “… If there is any evidence that there will be harm, the judge must order CMP. The deference afforded by the judiciary to the executive on questions of national security is well documented. It is highly unlikely that the court would challenge the evidence of the secretary of state on the degree of risk.”


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Posted by admin - June 18, 2012 at 19:46

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Drone attacks: MI5 and MI6 will have to get used to prying eyes | Richard Norton-Taylor

As the role and reach of British security and intelligence agencies increases, they are being watched – and rightly so

The last thing MI5 and MI6 wanted after the exposure of their involvement, wittingly or otherwise, in the abuse and torture of terror suspects was to be dragged into a huge new controversy. This time, it involved a double agent’s sting operation leading to the capture of an apparently sophisticated “underwear” bomb and the deaths of suspected militants and potential terrorists in US drone attacks.

For the CIA, MI6, and their Saudi and Yemeni partners, it seemed a brilliant intelligence coup. MI5 and MI6’s role would not have been revealed had it not been for it leaking out in Washington.

That their role emerged in the US is deeply embarrassing for Britain’s security and intelligence agencies. Their fury comes with a taste of bitter irony. British ministers, with the backing of MI5 and MI6, have used US anger at snippets of CIA information being disclosed by UK courts as the reason for a change in the law. As was announced in the Queen’s speech earlier this week, any information relevant to legal proceedings held by the intelligence services will be dealt with in secret. That CIA information, it must not be forgotten, contained hard evidence that the UK agencies knew British citizens or residents were abused and did nothing about it.

Now, as a result of information disclosed not in UK courts but in the US press we know that Britain’s security and intelligence agencies were involved in an operation designed, among other things, to target al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) chief bomb-maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. It seems he has not been found, though we are told by the US media that intelligence garnered by the double agent, a UK passport holder, was used to launch a CIA drone strike that killed a senior AQAP figure, Fahd al-Quso. The US launched further drone strikes on Thursday killing several AQAP suspects.

When Sir Dick White, then head of MI6, learned about a plot to kill Egypt’s nationalist president, Abdul Nasser, in the 1950s, he said MI6 should never be involved in assassinations.

“Assassination,” Sir Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6 told the inquest into the death of Princess Diana, “is no part of the policy of Her Majesty’s government” and would be contrary to the agency’s ethos.

Lethal force, he added, had never been authorised in his 38-year career at MI6.

Under the 1994 Intelligence Services Act, MI6 has to get authority from the foreign secretary to carry out any operation that would involve breaking the law. The CIA is free to target individuals in drone strikes in Yemen, MI6 is not.

“As foreign secretary, I see operational proposals from the agencies every day, amounting to hundreds every year,” William Hague said in a carefully prepared speech last November. “They are often not easy decisions,” he added. “I take ultimate responsibility for these operations, and I do not approve them all.”

Though it has been reported that Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time, knew of the decision in 2004 to render two Libyan dissidents into the hands of Gaddafi’s secret police, we do not know whether Hague authorised the Yemen sting operation that came to light in the US this week. We may never know.

The US defence secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday that disclosures about the bomb plot had hurt intelligence efforts. “You have to protect” the agents who are used to penetrate such organisations as al-Qaida, he said.

We also have to protect the integrity of Britain’s security and intelligence agencies. They must be imaginative, skilled, brave, even aggressive, to carry out their work. They also have to be under British political control whatever the CIA or any other foreign intelligence agency might want them to do.

The role and reach of our security and intelligence agencies is increasing and will continue to do so as Britain, like the US, relies more and more on them in future conflicts.

That is why they should be carefully watched, and this week’s leak to the US media welcomed.

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Posted by admin - May 11, 2012 at 18:30

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