Torture

British values, Western barbarity

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The Tories talk about democratic “values”, yet the hypocrisy of the British state — one of the world’s top arms dealers — is astounding. John Clossick looks at a new book on Britain’s role in spreading torture.

The British establishment revels in its certainties, not least its “British values”. Actions, say ministers, are always consistent with international legal obligations and “our values as a nation”. Yet torture led directly to the Iraq war. Wide-ranging hypocrisy is plain for all to see.

Theresa May declares claims of abuse by British troops against former detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan are “an industry of vexatious allegations”. The European Human Rights Convention formally bans torture. So the Tory response is withdrawal from parts of the convention.

Brown's Guantanamo, Miliband's disgrace

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New Labour is seriously concerned about its election prospects. One of the many fronts on which it is attempting damage limitation is the mounting evidence of involvement by MI5 and the Foreign Office in the Guantanamo torture of British residents.

The so-called "war on terror" is in reality a war of terror, and the Labour government has been intimately caught up in this. It tried to cover this up. It does not read well for a party that wants to present itself on voting day as enlightened, law abiding and anti-racist and as having, in Robin Cook's words, "an ethical foreign policy".

Interview: Moazzam Begg: Operation end your freedom

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As Labour imposes more draconian legislation, Patrick Ward asks former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg for his views on civil liberties today

The government won the House of Commons vote to extend detention without trial to 42 days. What do you think about this attack on civil liberties?

It's important to remember that the government didn't want 42 days - they wanted 90 days and they've settled for less than half of that. What's really bizarre for me is that I was at the protest close to Downing Street when George Bush visited and I actually caught a glimpse of him.

Bad Men

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When George Bush opened his offshore prison camp of Guantanamo in January 2002, he was proclaiming to the world that he and the US were above the law.

In the "war on terror" US agents were given licence to abduct Muslim men from almost anywhere in the world and transport them to prisons. A gruesome list of torture methods was then approved at the highest level.

Torture Couture

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Post-9/11, there's a trend towards combining torture and pornography.



The blurry, pixelated images of a dead Saddam Hussein on the covers of our newspapers were just the latest evidence of the way the "war on terror" has helped produce and normalise a voyeuristic image culture of death and torture. It is an "aesthetics of terrorism" that has drawn on the darker corners of violence and pornography in US culture, and helped, in turn, to bring those formerly fringe values into the mainstream.

Iraq: Abusing the Position of Power

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Two reports have revealed that the issue of torture of Iraqi detainees is far more widespread than either US or British officials would have us believe.

The first report, from Human Rights Watch, found that Iraqi police and intelligence forces themselves have been involved in the abuse of detainees.

On the basis of research conducted between July and October 2004, the report concludes that Iraqi police and security services conducted arrests without warrants, and that many detainees were beaten with cables, hosepipes and metal rods. Detainees also reported 'prolonged suspension from the wrists with the hands tied behind the backs and electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body'.

War and Resistance: A Perversion of Justice

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Britain is colluding in torturing prisoners from the Afghan war.

The British government claims to act as a restraining force on the US military at Guantanamo Bay, but this is far from the truth.

Last month, in a deeply cynical move, the British attorney general, Peter Goldsmith, claimed to have won concessions on the two British Guantanamo Bay detainees, Feroz Abbasi and Moazzam Begg. He announced that the US government had agreed not to seek the death penalty against the two men.

Torture US Style

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The treatment of Afghan prisoners shows the brutal face of US imperialism.

So there we have it! A 'war against terrorism' turns out not to be a war at all. A 'war of precision' turns out to be a war of totally indiscriminate killing, and a 'war for civilised values' ends up with the most brutal and uncivilised treatment of the enemy.

Somehow it is meant to be the opponents of the war who got it all wrong. All those who thought it a civilising mission are apparently in the clear, despite the evidence in front of their very own eyes.

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