Thursday, March 11, 2010

MI 5 ex-chief criticises torture

British intelligence is exceptional in many ways- very effective, with a good international reach, especially in the Arab world, and with a good record of electronic interception. Another is that it has had women at the top- there was Stella Remington some years ago and, more recently, Dame Eliza Manningham- Buller, who headed MI 5. So, the more recent James Bond movies that have a lady as 'M' are not far-fetched. (If memory serves right, the original 'M' was Admiral Sir Miles Messervy).

Dame Eliza revealed recently that the UK government had protested to the US against the use of torture on suspects:
Asked if she had known of the use of waterboarding and other techniques of pressure while she was director-general of MI5, from October 2002 until her retirement in April 2007, she said she had done, and had disapproved. "Nothing - not even the saving of lives - justifies torturing people," she said. She added that "the Americans were very keen to conceal from us what they were doing" with suspects.
The ex-chief of MI 5 also took a swipe at the previous US administration:
"Bush, [Dick] Cheney [the former US vice-president] and [Donald] Rumsfeld [former US defence secretary] certainly watched 24 " - the Fox television drama that has run since late 2001 and features an agent, Jack Bauer, saving people and sometimes cities from terrorist destruction, often with the use of violence on suspects.
Dame Eliza's comments are refreshing indeed but one wonders what effect these would have on those in charge of security at the US. I can almost hear them saying, "We gotta cut back on intelligence-sharing with the Brits, can't trust these guys".

1 comment:

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