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Tuesday, January 24, 2006 

Sophristy from the government of the highest order; report says "a great deal" of evidence points to "outsourcing" of torture.

Blair in his press conference yesterday made a rather shocking but unsurprising statement when asked about rendition. You might not have read it or heard about it, as the Guardian in their report on rendition didn't bother to mention it. (Thanks to Curious Hamster for this.)

Question: You have not made enquiries as to whether people have been illegally transported through this country from Place A to B?

Prime Minister: No.

So, err, just what has the UK being investigating about rendition all this time? It seems all they've done is make sure that the United States hasn't actually asked permission to use UK airports and airspace when they have been transporting those they've kidnapped. That has never been the issue. The issue was that the US is using our airspace and airports to break international law, while the UK has either been complicit in not asking any questions, or wasn't informed by the security services. This explains why the foreign office secretary was so desperate in trying to get the politicians to "move the issue" on. Too much dwelling on the topic and the reality might actually come out. The need for an inquiry is now greater than ever.

And that inquiry has become more necessary after the EU report by Dick Marty found that "a great deal" of evidence had led him to believe that the US has been operating a system of outsourcing torture.

"It has been proved that individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and all rights and transported to different destinations in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture," he told the council's assembly in Strasbourg.

"The entire continent is involved. It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware."

His report said that "there is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture".

It also said that extraordinary rendition - the transfer of terror suspects to countries where they may face torture or ill treatment - "seems to have concerned more than a hundred persons in recent years".

Mr Marty also expressed his frustration that in the face of enormous pressure to come up with evidence of secret CIA prisons, he had received little help from the Council of Europe or governments.

"I am not a judicial authority, I have no means of investigation, the logistical support available to me is very limited," he said.

In other words, they've set up an inquiry and then not bothered to actually help him. Is it possible that all the countries in Europe were not aware, or were aware that this has been going on? Seeing as the CIA and MI6 pool a lot of their intelligence, and other European intelligence agencies do the same, it seems unlikely that every single country is in the dark on this. What is more likely is that either the intelligence agencies have not bothered informing their governments, or that those who are afraid of snubbing America just rolled over and played dead, hence the alleged but not proved prisons in both Poland and Romania. All the while, most countries can also claim that they were not aware through the conceit of plausible deniability, so as both not to offend the US by condemning what they have been doing and also fooling the majority into thinking that either nothing has been going on, or that they really didn't know.

Are we ever going to get to the bottom of this? It really does seem entirely unlikely. Blair's spokesman in response to today's report said that "there are no new facts". Of course, and they're going to do their damndest to make sure that it stays that way.

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