MPs’ torture statement based on “limited” evidence

February 11, 2015

Image of Barbed wire

A statement published today by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) on whether the UK requested redactions from the Senate torture report has admitted that it was only able to consider “limited” evidence.

The ISC was considering whether the UK requested redactions in order to cover-up evidence that it had been involved in CIA rendition and torture operations. Although the Committee claims today that those allegations are “unfounded,” it admits that it has in fact not seen many of the “specific redactions proposed.” This is because – as the ISC says – the redactions were proposed by the CIA in consultation with the UK agencies, rather than directly by the UK agencies themselves.

The ISC says it has only been able to consider UK Agencies “internal file notes, but not the specific redactions proposed by the CIA” which “relat[ed] to UK intelligence material” and “which the UK Agencies agreed.” The Committee says it has questioned the UK Agency heads, but makes no reference to any verbal requests which may or may not have been made by the UK for redactions from the report.

The ISC also stresses that today’s statement has “no bearing on the more critical question of any complicity by the UK security and intelligence Agencies in the mistreatment of detainees.”

Commenting, Donald Campbell from legal charity Reprieve said: “This statement raises more questions than it answers. The ISC clearly states that its conclusions are based only on ‘limited’ evidence. It appears that it has not even been able to see the bulk of the redactions proposed by the CIA in consultation with the UK. The ISC has had the wool pulled over its eyes in the past, and sadly it is hard to be sure this has not happened again.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell at Reprieve: +44 (0) 207 553 8166

2. The ISC’s statement can be found here.   It includes the following (emphasis added):

“The CIA themselves proposed redactions to the Executive Summary and Minority Views relating to UK intelligence material, to which the UK Agencies agreed. From the evidence we have seen, the CIA proposals related directly to national security interests, and the UK Agencies did not request any additional redactions to these documents. However that evidence is limited. We note that the UK Agencies were at no stage provided with the draft reports. Rather they were given sight of heavily-edited extracts, which they could not retain. We have seen the Agencies’ internal file notes, but not the specific redactions proposed by the CIA.”