Britain involved up to its neck in rendition

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LAST week, the House of Commons was told by the Foreign Secretary, Miliband, that it had been deceived in numerous statements by Labour government leaders.

They had denied, point blank, that the US had flown ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights into British airports or air bases, and over British territories, carrying ‘terrorist suspects’ who had been seized illegally in different parts of the world, and were being transported to torture chambers for ‘interrogation’ as part of the ‘War against Terror’.

Minister Miliband blamed the US government for the lies to parliament saying that the assurances that the US had given to the UK were wrong, and mistaken, although the US believed at the time they were given, that the information was correct.

Miliband assured the House of Commons these mistakes would never be made again.

The US now admits that there were two rendition flights over the Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia.

Diego Garcia is part of the Chagos Islands group, whose population was ethnically cleansed by mainly Labour governments so that the islands could be handed over to the US for the construction of a military base from which the US bombed Somalia, Iraq and intends to bomb Iran.

News Line said after Miliband’s admission that the current British government was no more believable than was the US administration and that US military officers had said that ‘terrorist suspects’ were being kept on Diego Garcia.

Now new evidence has emerged to prove that Britain is at the centre of the extraordinary rendition campaign.

Ben Griffin, who quit the elite Special Air Service (SAS) in 2005 after taking part in operations in the Gulf, said yesterday that: ‘The UK government is deeply involved in the whole process of rendition.’

Griffin added: ‘Far from being unknowing partners in the process of rendition the UK Government is deeply involved.

‘United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) operating in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first link in the chain. Since 2001 UKSF, operating within a joint US/UK task force, have been detaining individuals and then handing them over to the US.

‘These individuals have ended up in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. A legal loophole has been used by UKSF in that they do not arrest individuals, but just detain them before handing them over.’

Griffin added: ‘We detained individuals and carried out our own interrogation before handing them over to the US.

‘Some of my colleagues witnessed a brutal interrogation carried out by US forces in which near drowning and a cattle prod were used. We were under no illusion as to what awaited the individuals handed over by us.

‘For the British Government to claim that they only became aware of the use of British territory this week is disingenuous.

‘The Foreign Secretary made clear in his statement that there were no other cases in which the US failed to ask permission.

‘UKSF are being used at the “coal face” to mine these individuals. The use of British territory as a stop-off during the rendition process pales into insignificance in light of the fact that it is often British soldiers detaining these individuals in the first place.

‘The UK government is deeply involved in the whole process of rendition. I have details of dates of operations in which I was involved and I have a letter from a British Interrogator upset at what he has been a part of.’

The US intends to continue with its rendition programme and Diego Garcia is central to its plan for a new war, this time, against Iran.

The trade unions in Britain must learn the lesson of the failure of the campaign to stop the war against Iraq that saw millions marching up to and after March 2003. It was not possible to stop the war against Iraq without bringing down the Blair government. The way to stop rendition and the approaching war with Iran is for the trade unions to bring down the Brown government with a general strike, to go forward to a workers’ government.