Britain’s Colonial Torture Program

First the reason why it is so important our spooks and the government deny this to their graves-

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is an offence for British officials to instigate or consent to the inflicting of “severe pain or suffering” on any person, anywhere in the world, or even to acquiesce in such treatment. Any such offence could be punished by life imprisonment.

And what John McDonnell and others are finding, more cases of our agents being at Pakistani torture centres-

MPs are calling for an investigation into allegations that British intelligence has “outsourced” the torture of British citizens to Pakistani security agencies after hearing accounts of people being abducted and subjected to mistreatment and, in some cases, released without charge.

John McDonnell, the Labour member for Hayes and Harlington, and Andrew Tyrie, Conservative member for Chichester, say the allegations should be examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Westminster body that oversees the Security Service, MI5, and the Intelligence Service, MI6.

In a statement to the Guardian, released via the Home Office, the Security Service insisted it did “not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture”. However, details of three new cases have raised concerns among MPs.

McDonnell says he wants to know whether British officials colluded in the abuse of one of his constituents.

The man, a medical student, said he was abducted at gunpoint in August 2005 and held for two months at the offices of Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau opposite the British Deputy High Commission in Karachi. The student, who has not spoken out before, has described how he was whipped, beaten, deprived of sleep, threatened with execution and witnessed other inmates being tortured. He was questioned about the suicide attacks on London’s transport network in July of that year, and says that after being tortured by Pakistani agents he was questioned by British intelligence officers. He was released to his father, who says he received a personal apology from the director of the Intelligence Bureau.

The student returned to his London teaching hospital, qualified last year, and is now working in a hospital in the south-east of England. He remains terrified of both Pakistani and British intelligence agencies, however, and has asked not to be identified. A second Briton, Tariq Mahmood, 35, a taxi driver from Sparkhill, Birmingham, has said he was abducted in Rawalpindi in October 2003 and released without charge about five months later.

He is thought to have been held in a prison run by a different agency, Inter-Service Intelligence, where a number of other Britons have also been held and allegedly tortured before being flown to the UK to stand trial. Mahmood’s family say he was tortured, and that MI5 officers and American intelligence officers had a hand in his mistreatment. They have declined to issue any detailed allegation, however, apparently fearing for the safety of relatives in Pakistan.

A third Briton, Tahir Shah, 41, an author from London, was held for 16 days in 2005. He says he was interrogated about the July 7 bombings in what he describes as “a fully-equipped torture chamber”, with mangles, whips and electrical equipment.

He says he was hooded and shackled for long periods and deprived of sleep. He does not allege that British officials were involved, but believes it is unlikely they would not have been informed. He was eventually bundled aboard a scheduled flight to Heathrow, where his passport was returned by an unnamed official whom he believes to have been from MI5.

Allegations of collusion in torture could be examined by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, established eight years ago with a remit to investigate complaints against MI5 and MI6. Another possibility is that the ISC could look into the claims.

McDonnell said of his constituent: “I believe that there is now sufficient evidence from this and other cases to demonstrate that British officials outsourced the torture of British nationals to a Pakistani intelligence agency.

“This warrants the fullest investigation by the ISC, which is best placed initially to undertake such an inquiry. I would expect the government to cooperate fully with such an investigation and eventually for the prime minister to make a statement to parliament on how this practice has been allowed to develop and what action is to be taken.”

Earlier this year representatives of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch told another Commons body, the Foreign Affairs Committee, they believed British intelligence officers were colluding in torture.

Tom Porteous, London director of Human Rights Watch, told MPs: “It is pretty clear the US and the UK are relying rather heavily on the well-known abusive Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, in the counter-terrorism operations. It is one of the most brutal intelligence agencies in the world.” He added that British interrogations of people being held by this agency “seem to amount to complicity and collusion in the mistreatment”.

In April the Guardian reported that four other British men, who had been detained in Pakistan during British-led counter-terrorism operations and held illegally for several months without access to a lawyer or court, had each alleged that British officials colluded in their torture. (ht2 Stephen Soldz @ Psyche, Science, and Society)

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Criminal Regime & State Sponsor of Terror Expand Nuclear Ambitions

Gordon Brown has said the UK needs to increase its nuclear power capacity – raising the prospect of plants being built in new locations. The prime minister said that with oil prices soaring, it was time to be “more ambitious” for nuclear plans.

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George Plays a Blinder

This government has been the most rightwing since the second world war– Monbiot.

He knocks out some nice riffs on the utter bankruptcy of the NuLabour regime and coincidentally he was dreaming of Gini too-

Labour has shifted taxation from the rich to the poor, cutting corporation tax from 33% to 28% and capital gains tax from 40% to 18%, and introducing a new entrepreneurs’ relief scheme, taxing the first million of capital gains at just 10%. It tried to raise the income tax paid by the poorest earners from 10% to 20%. Labour has lifted the inheritance tax threshold from £300,000 to £700,000, and maintained the cap on the highest rates of council tax. While vigorously prosecuting benefits cheats, it has allowed tax avoidance, mostly by the very rich, to reach an estimated £41bn. Inequality today is slightly worse than it was when Labour took power in 1997 (the Gini coefficient which measures it has risen from 0.33 to 0.35).

Above all, the Labour government has destroyed hope. It has put into practice Thatcher’s dictum that “there is no alternative” to a market fundamentalism that subordinates human welfare to the demands of business. Labour has created a political monoculture that kills voters’ enthusiasm, and has delayed electoral reforms that would have given smaller parties an opportunity to be heard. All we are left with is fear: the fear that this awful government might be replaced by something slightly worse. Fear has destroyed the Labour party, but people keep supporting it in trepidation of letting the other side win.

Ps. But he is a meaty bugger.

Kiss of Death

Tony Blair is giving advice to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and has told him how to win the next election, Cherie Blair has said.

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Hey NuLabour

How’d that pro-war, Bush poodling, zionist, authoritarian, neoliberal privatisation agenda work out for ya? Here’s the only real headline losers- turn out was 35% (and still below 50% in London) that is the state of our democracy, ‘consensus’ politics denying any real choice other than differing brand names on rich getting richer, war, police and fuck the rest. It’s not apathy, it’s hatred.

PS. When visitors to these shores are ridiculed for London-centric geographical lack of awareness they are only going off our media, Boris/Ken, oh get over yourselves. [And if Boris wins I would look at the possibilty of electoral fraud perpetrated by hack stand up comedians, because they just got handed years of free material, The Now Show must be wetting themselves].

Bravo Jon Kelly at the BBC

A nice piece about how people on low wages are betrayed by the Labour government’s recent tax changes-

Hoarding loose change. Always having to buy the cheapest groceries. Dreading the arrival of utility bills through the door. Britain’s low earners say their lives are already difficult enough. But changes to the tax system could mean that making ends meet becomes even harder for many.

Under the new system, standard income tax has been cut from 22% to 20% and tax credits raised – but the lowest 10p band has been scrapped entirely…

“As it is I always try to buy the cheapest own-brand groceries but it’s never enough. I’d love a fresh wardrobe but I can’t remember the last time I bought new clothes. I don’t think it should be people on low incomes who have to pay more. It should be those with higher incomes – like MPs.”

Fuck Tha Poor

Mother-hating-psycho John Hutton defends the Labour government as it increases tax on the poorest. Now far be it from me to say mother-hating-psycho John Hutton is happy with this because of his hatred of his working class mother and his working class upbringing… But it’s worth considering. Oh yes thanks Labour government, really exemplifying your roots here-

Business Secretary John Hutton has ruled out a rethink on the decision to scrap the lowest tax band, amid claims Labour has abandoned low-paid workers. He said he did not think it possible to go back on a decision to scrap the 10p rate, despite Labour MPs’ unhappiness.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg told the BBC it was a “cheap political stunt” to allow a 2p cut in the basic tax rate at the expense of the poorest people. Mr Hutton said the move had to be seen as part of a wider package of tax cuts. From Sunday standard income tax is being cut by 2% to 20% but the lowest 10p band is being scrapped entirely.

Mr Clegg told the BBC earlier : “Over five million of the poorest people, it’s estimated with incomes between £5,000 and £18,000, are suddenly finding their starting rate of tax is doubling, why? So Gordon Brown could offer a 2p cut in the rate from 22p to 20p for the following day’s headlines. I think that is an outrageous political stunt at the cost of the poorest in British society.”

(ps. check the picture on that BBC story, c’mon he is a psycho & the beeb agrees!) God forbid they tax the rich who under their stewardship have grown richer at a higher rate than anyone while the poor got poorer and social mobility (although that there is a need for that demonstrates gross inequity & class stratification anyway) has declined…Under a Labour government. All neatly done over the weekend when the people worst affected get away from their wage slavery and escape & relax so they will know the least about it, nice.

Corporate Manslaughter Law a ‘damp squib’

Under the new legislation companies may face higher fines of up to 10% of turnover, or more in the most serious cases. And for the first time the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act will make government bodies liable for prosecution by lifting their Crown immunity.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of trade union Unite, said: “Individual directors or senior managers will still not be held responsible for health and safety failures that result in the death of either their employees or members of the public.” Construction industry union Ucatt was even more damning, describing the law as “the dampest of damp squibs”.

Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: “Only by creating the possibility that directors will go to jail will there be a change of culture in the construction industry. “The new Act will not save the life of a single construction worker,” he said, adding that in 2007, 77 construction workers were killed at work.