The intelligence and security committee has revealed the scale of abuse. We now need an inquiry with access to all witnesses
That the UK was complicit in torture and rendition after 9/11 was well known, largely thanks to the work of investigative journalists. But what was not known until the publication last week of two reports by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) was the sheer scale. The statistics are shocking. British intelligence officers were present at, or knew about, hundreds of incidents, working alongside the CIA and other American partners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo.
Scattered throughout the reports is overriding concern not for human rights but fear of offending the US, and of being excluded from the intelligence gained through methods that breach international law. The UK inquiry began in 2010 under a judge, Sir Peter Gibson, but he ended up publishing only an interim report, stymied by a lack of cooperation. The ISC took up the investigation but, like Gibson, also gave up. Given the restrictions it worked under, the committee did a commendable job. But it acknowledged there were still too many gaps, too many unwilling to testify and too many obstructions – such as Theresa May, who refused to allow four key officers in the intelligence agencies and the military to give evidence.