back to article Brit spooks: Yanks are frightful cowboys

The UK Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has released the results of its long-running investigation into involvement by the British secret services in "rendition" operations - the forcible moving of people, normally suspected terrorists, from one country to another without any judicial process such as …

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What Lewis is writing matters.

Another excellent article by Lewis.

To the vast majority of the British population, there is a general mush of terms, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, Abu Graib, but what is really going on is totally unknown.

This matters. The dirty business is not carried out at Guantanemo, but in central asian countries which most of us have barely heard of. So what should we do about information which has been extracted by torture?

On the one hand, the torture has already taken place. Ignoring the information *may* heighten the chance of a successful attack (a real one, not kids setting fire to a couple of cars). On the other hand, by accepting the information we become complicit in the actions by which it was gathered. We are at least abetting the torturers, and IMHO implicitly endorsing the action, making further torture more likely. This is fundamentally different to benefiting from Mengele's research - by the time the results were adopted, the regime and process by which the were obtained had been destroyed.

On balance, I think we should do more to protest to the Americans. The end result of Extraordinary Rendition is evil, and the intelligence ends cannot justify the means. And for evil to prevail, all that is necessary is for good people to do nothing.

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Good coverage!

I'm very glad to see The Register covering this kind of important news topic.

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sadly

The US has misused this information from more than the UK. Canada was bitten a couple of times.

But the sad truth is, I do not for a second believe that "Extraordinary Rendition" or other "Black Ops" are new, or the exclusive domain of the USA. I think when it comes to certain matters, all Intelligence Agencies know the score.

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totally right,

thats right. subject the people who are willing to blow your ass off for not being muslim to reason and process. they understand and respect those measures completely.

If that wasnt sarcastic enough let me know and I'll try again.

but seriously, this conflict is nothing new folks. Religious ass-clown'ism has been around since the beginning of civilization. This isn't the first jihad and it wont be the last. You can be sure of one thing though. Any concessions made for humane treatment are purely one sided.

The only reason this conflict continues is because of world reluctance to recognize it is not a social issue anymore, and start treating it as a military one. These people come from countries that allow themselves to be breeding grounds for jihad'ism, there will be no co-operation or due process in stopping the attacks before they happen. These places are co-operative in words alone. In a time long ago where world politics werent such a issue, these countries wouldve been crushed under a firm military boot, and the population subdued without all the ignoramous political dancing you see in Iraq today. This isnt just news-stories and American imperialism(though it may be a result of it), real people are really dying, and jihadists could give a damn if youre american or not at this point - youre white and look close enough, so youre a target.

The point you say? get off your high horses and recognize the real issues in front of you, not the sensastionalist garbage being force fed to you by articles like this. There is a war going on, and in every war there are bystanders who get hurt. On the flip side of this though,much less bystanders would be getting hurt if they didnt hide the identities of these people, or treat them as some sort of hero.

I know this looks like bigot rantings, and maybe they are, I dont know. All I'm saying is, take a vacation in Iraq or Afghanistan and see if you get due process.

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Sorry

Can I immigrate to the UK? I no longer recognize my own country. I am filled with disgust and revulsion at what has happened in the USA. The country is run by greedy men that want to return to the turn of the last century. They look up to the robber barons of the early 1900s and want to be just like them. Just look at the USA and take a warning; this is what happens when you have professional politicians that can think of nothing but getting enough money to keep their carer going. Bush the younger s new Spanish American war in Iraq is not going nearly as well as William McKinley's, but he does use the news as well as Hearst did to shape public thinking. I wanted to say more but work calls.

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In other words

"It never crossed my mind that [the intelligence] was coming from torture. We are talking about the Americans, our closest ally. This now, with hindsight, may look naive,........" No, you look like either a liar or a liability.

As to the previous wringing-of-hands and bleeding-of-hearts comments, I certainly hope that the safety of my family friends and society is never trusted to the likes of you. (Well, apparently it is in Britain - where the judiciary et al would rather feel morally upright than be effective - but, fortunately, I don't live there.)

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True test

These are very complicated questions, but countries should merely ask themselves, "What would James Bond do?" Would he support the secret transport of mass murderers who would otherwise escape justice, resulting in the deaths of untold numbers of innocents?

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Democratic values

To me there is a central question that needs to be asked of all countries that partake of the various forms of rendition.

What is more important, the values and beliefs that give us the so-called moral high ground, or a willingness to do anything at all to save our skins?

The reality is the threat from being blown up by terrorists pales into insignificance every time you drive your car on the M-25 or the 305 interstate. You take your life into your own hands every day, but you're not willing to face the small risk that not torturing someone might end up with the deaths of innocents.

I value my country's integrity far more than I value my life. Unfortunately others didn't feel that way and flushed that integrity down the toilet in.

I have nothing but contempt for the cowards that did so, and unfortunately the massive recruitment drive going on in the Middle East and Asia seems to indicate they have created a whole bunch of people that feel the same way. Nice job with the war on terror. If the goal was to create 10 times the number of terrorists you've done splendidly.

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wtf

Doing anything with intelligence aquired like this says only one thing:

Do whatever you feel like to however many brown people you want as long as you think there might be a chance that it could save a couple of white people.

Sick. It's not necessary. Terrorism happens. The harshest police state you can imagine can't stop it entirely. Chances are good it will only make it worse. A few bombs are not going to "defeat" any western country. If every terrorist alive right now instantly teleported to random populated locations in the USA and detonated themselves, that would not destroy the entire country. The danger is in overhyped reactions, *not* in the attacks themselves. You *lose* when you change your way of life. We're *losing* because people spend twice as much time in airports getting their water bottles confiscated. We *lose* as the world police get slowly closer to the Sadaam Husein government.

An emotional appeal to "what if it could save your child" is just that. Nothing to base policy on. We show our strength by withstanding a few fly bites. By not getting hysterical. By catching criminals and trying them properly and punishing them. Sometimes you can't solve the crime. Sometimes you can't get a conviction even if you know what happened. That's the way it goes. That's no excuse for changing the rules of the game. The kind of nuttery we see today is simply crass politics, being seen to be doing something about the problem, and I want to puke.

If only there was some kind of frontier, some kind of New World, where we could go and leave all this ridiculousness behind. And get on with our lives as free people. And start something that won't end up the way the USA has. Sigh.

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@Andy Bright

"What is more important, the values and beliefs that give us the so-called moral high ground, or a willingness to do anything at all to save our skins?"

There is no such thing as a "moral high ground" there is only self-satisfaction. Therefore, my answer would be: The latter.

"The reality is the threat from being blown up by terrorists pales into insignificance every time you drive your car on the M-25 or the 305 interstate."

Nonsense. I do everything in my power to mitigate risk when I'm on the road - including making allowance for those who are not qualified to share the road.

"You take your life into your own hands every day, but you're not willing to face the small risk that not torturing someone might end up with the deaths of innocents."

Yes I am. I choose not to because, if that - admittedly - "small risk" results in me being blown to smithereens, having the "moral high ground" isn't going to make me feel even a little bit better.

"I value my country's integrity far more than I value my life."

Wonderful. But please don't make such irrational decisions on my behalf.

"Unfortunately others didn't feel that way and flushed that integrity down the toilet in."

Your country's integrity - no matter which country - is even more imaginary than your "moral high ground". Flushing imaginary things is the province of small children and the deluded.

"I have nothing but contempt for the cowards that did so......"

Congratulations. I imagine, however, that your smugness - along with your "moral high ground" - will vaporise at the very first close call for you or a loved one where you deem that more could've been done by your government to prevent it.

".........and unfortunately the massive recruitment drive going on in the Middle East and Asia seems to indicate they have created a whole bunch of people that feel the same way."

Tired, baseless and utter nonsense. Cart before horse. Neither the government of the country I inhabit nor of the one in which I'm a citizen is the sole cause of the current fad for blowing oneself and those surrounding into teeny little bits. Ignorance, religious mania, brainwashing and economic deprivation account for more influence.

"If the goal was to create 10 times the number of terrorists you've done splendidly."

And, in my book, the sooner we can track down viable suspects, wring the necessary information out of them - by whatever means necessary - and use that information to decimate the rest, the better for everyone in my part of the world.

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J

Ai, ai...

It's funny... The cowards like "jack schitt" are the first to ask for violence, isn't it funny? At the slightest sign of any possible menace, they throw all the hard won rights and judicial protections brought by centuries of civilization effort into the wind.

Cowardly scum, you don't know what you will get if you really get what you want, do you? I don't want that. Trust me, I'm from a (formerly dictatorial) 3rd World country, and don't think you can't get there yourself in a hurry given just the right circumstances. There's a lot of people in YOUR countries who'd love to see it happen so they can be even freer in their... whatever it is they like to do.

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cowboys

Folks in Europe need to get it through their thick skulls that in American English, calling someone a cowboy is the highest compliment. That is true everywhere in the US, including here in Cambridge Mass, not just in the Southwest. You need to use words as pejoratives that actually are pejorative to Americans if you want to convey your displeasure with our behavior.

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Anonymous Coward

sniffing

"The report also covers the issue of whether CIA flights may have moved secret prisoners through the UK."

My question is why send them through Britain when it's probably a lot simpler and attracts less scrutiny to send them through Ireland? The Irish Defence Forces, judicial authorities and G2 Intelligence know this is happening but don't do anything about it. The British spooks in Belfast, Dublin and Galway probably also know, as well as the hordes of Russian and European shadesters who hang around this English speaking country for training and Yank watching.

For neutral nations to ape their aligned neighbours in this behaviour is truly insidious to the rules of the game many posters above have mentioned.

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Anonymous Coward

How bad?

This is a dirty battle, it will last many years. It's not one country versus another, this makes it complicated. Boil it down and it goes back to the middle east conflict though ideologies and other factors complicate it.

The US and UK are strong allies, the SIS have to work within tighter constraints than the CIA, so the SIS obtaining assurances from the CIA was necessary and for the US not to honour them will lead to less overt cooperation.

The UK has faced the IRA over several decades, the numbers of civilians injured during the Troubles was 14,000 (Wikipeadia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_Irish_Republican_Army) . The UK did not fly off suspects abroad and torture them, only infiltration over a number of years leads to good intelligence. There is no magic way to win, launching missiles at suspected IRA bases in Southern Ireland would not have helped either.

I think "cowboy" in Europe is regarded as an insult because of the "shoot before you think" image of a cowboy; as El Reg is a British company (Situation Publishing Ltd, Company Number 3403653) the use of English (as opposed to American English) should be tolerated !

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Title

To fight real criminals one cannot play by the liberal handbook of niceties, especially with fanatics, to whom the threat of possible prison terms are no threats at all. Torture is an absolute necessity, and, personally, I do not think that is it such a bad thing to torture a person who is planning to explode a bus with civilians. By torturing such a person vital intelligence on his associates and support networks may be uncovered, and further civilian casualties minimized. Even torturing a sister, of a successful suicide bomber may bring intelligence about the people who talked him into it. So you see, torture is a necessary evil, and it does not have to be electrocution or inserting matches underneath fingernails – “humane” chemical solutions exist, as well as sensory deprivation and psychotropic methods.

Having said that, a bag full of wires should under no circumstances constitute a prerequisite for torture. Clear, irrefutable evidence is needed that the person is so beyond the law that the law no longer applies to that person. Only then should all the detentions without trial and torture occur.

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Silver badge

Grain of Salt

'MI5 said the Americans had completely disregarded their request that no "overt, covert or executive" action be taken. They said it "was a surprise to us that the Americans were operating in this way."'

SIS, like any intelligence operation, has to be able to obfuscate its own activities. So why, in this case, should we take it as read that they are completely innocent? Because they say so? Because they produced documents that say so? Witnesses? I'd lose all respect for any intelligence organization which could not produce whatever evidence they need these days (which is why I'm quit disenchanted with the CIA...)

I cannot speak to what SIS has or hasn't done. But I can say that it's very important to their credibility and the British ego for SIS to be able to claim that they're morally superior to the US intelligence services -- when in fact they may just be better at hiding their skeletons.

Oh, and by the way, there are plenty of Americans who think "cowboy" is an insult. And some of us think the same of "naive."

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Sad

It is sad to see rational sane people being stampeded by illogical drunken little tyrants who say one thing and then do the exact opposite!

As for the list of countries of choice for the missing rendition victims one could choose the very impoverished Ethiopia coming out of a combination of a vicious civil war and a border war with Eritrea , and with a little help from Uncle Sam , have become an army of occupation in Somalia , which by all accounts appears to be slowly being bled to death with daily army casualties the country can ill afford to lose and all is not going well, with the Yankee backed quisling government, which is both unpopular and barely hanging by it's fingertips!

Now , we have seen since the Americans have taken over in Afghanistan , that country has moved from being a small bit player in supplying heroin on the world market to be the major player complete with crop surplus(all this massive production of opium requires vast amounts of cheap slave labor and since twenty thousand or more innocent souls have been swept up in the US great witch hunt for the imaginary Al Queda,terrorists.)

Interestingly as for Syria , strangely whilst Washington raised great hype about Syria being the axis of evil and causing numerous unstated problems in Iraq, at the same time almost on a daily basis number of CIA registered passenger jet aircraft were delivering rendered prisoners to Damascus! The Anti Syrian hype was there to hide an important fact about which important key US Ally Arab country the majority of Iraqi suicide bombers originate from, and has something to do with the fact that less then ten per cent of the resident population have actually benefited from all the oil wealth and most live in abject extreme poverty of third world standards! It is so easy to spot CIA Air , even though they change the tail registration numbers on a regular basis , they give themselves away , by doing stupid things! , for smart people they sure are dumb most of the time!

Basically based on numbers , we have very little to fear from random death at the hands of any lunatic mislabeled as a terrorist , the biggest killer of humans , by far is something called basic human mortality!. Surprisingly more people are killed in industrial accidents annually then those that have been killed by all terrorist listed actions for the past 100 years throughout this world of ours! This fear of terrorism defies all logic , and is most illiogical , but is designed to scare the weak minded into surrendering all democratic rights and freedoms, for the illusion of safety!(something Hitler , did so well in the summer of 1933 and we all know the price the world paid for that man to be defeated and destroyed)

To finish up in the words of Dwight D Eisenhower "If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking is freedom."

And in the words of Benjamin Franklin "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

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Since When

Since when have "spooks" ever been (or ever should be) tied down to government legislation, sure you get the occasional media coverage which brings the odd reprimand or arrest but these are just to keep the average joe smelling the roses. Secret agencies are a must to keep the order flowing and the social fabric maintained and I applaud them for their hard “behind the scenes” work. So let them get on with their torture, murder and forbidden frolics for we will all have a better tomorrow as a result.

P.S. any bets on how long it will take the author to get "lost"?

P.P.S. FYI Mullen was not released, he was reprogrammed as an undercover operative.

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Mat

@Mike Morgan

You don't really think the UK is any better do you?

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Not me Guv - Honest

Lewis' article speaks volumes, as much unsaid as said.

The British reply reads like a bunch of schoolkids, caught red handed and then trying to pass the blame. Trouble is, it's not schoolkids caught in a bit of playground mischeif, it's big bully's breaking the law and wrecking peoples lives based on no more than suspicion.

The process of law is there to stop the kangaroo courts, lynch mobs and physical abuse of earlier times. Perhaps these people are suspected of terrible crimes - or are thought to be contemplating them. Does this justify abuse at any level? Under most western law a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

There's been an international outcry over the Libyan treatment of the Bulgarian medics, human rights abuses in Serbia, Africa, South America, but the US seems to think it's OK for them to do the same... Hypocrisy rules!

The end does not justify the means

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Torture is an absolute necessity?

"Torture is an absolute necessity, and, personally, I do not think that is it such a bad thing to torture a person who is planning to explode a bus with civilians."

Oh well done voshkin. So how do you _know_ the person you are torturing is going to explode a bus with civilians?

Right, Mr Maybe Terrrorist, we're going to attach these wires to your gonads and ask you some questions. Are you planning on blowing up a bus?

No.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZTT!!! (shriek)

Nooo

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTT!!! (shriek)

NOOOOO

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZTT!!! (shriek) BZZZZZZZZZZZZZTT!!! (shriek)

OK, OK, I'm planning on blowing up a bus.

You bloody idiot -- not only do you run an extraordinary chance of torturing some muppet that was at the wrong place and the wrong time, but any information they give is likely to be seriously flawed. That's WHY civilised governments ban torture... you risk punnishing the innocent, you frequently get useless information, and you become the people you're supposedly fighting.

Let's see you defend the torture policies when it's YOU strapped to the chair with your nadgers in a vice.

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Anonymous Coward

Cowards, racists and reactionaries

"I do not think that is it such a bad thing to torture a person who is planning to explode a bus with civilians."

And you know he was planning to murder civilians, right? He wasn't just a passer-by picked up by overzealous spooks? (See "Maher Arar").

And even if he is guilty (although you have no way of knowing for sure), how do you the know that the info he gave you under torture is correct? That he didn't just name his irritating brother-in-law whom he has always hated?

And now that you've arrested the innocent brother-in-law, and tortured him, the names he gives you are probably going to be quite random, as he has no intelligence for you, but will say anything for the pain to stop.

And now thousands of brown men know that they are at risk whether or not they are terrorists, so they might as well become one for real.

Ask Maher Arar how well the "torture random brown men" approach to law enforcement works.

Those psycopaths advocationg mass torture are nothing but cowardly racists. As another commenter said, they're willing to torture any number of brown people just to possibly save a few white people. Their attitude is just one small step away from the "Let's just glass the entire Middle East! What are those people doing sitting on *our* oil?" crowd of dangerous imperialists.

I spit on you all. You belong in hell just like the real terrorists. Maybe then you can swap stories with them while the flames cleanse your filthy souls.

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Racisum

Clearly the people who are Pro this kind of action are Racists.

Why? Because they are happy with it "To protect our freedom" What freedom? The freedom of the white middle classes (Of which I am one)? The only reason the support it is because they know it will not be them that "Disappears". And the argument "Well we are still better that Jahadists" is stupid. All countries and people should aim to make themselves above reproach.

On a side note, I believe MI5 and MI6. If you look at the way people act they act as culture defines their roles. In the UK that is 007/Spooks cool thoughtful approach, getting what you need with thought and outwitting the enemy, in the US it is all gung ho beat um till they talk stuff. That is my feeling, not fact.

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Relatives

Voshkin: "Even torturing a sister, of a successful suicide bomber may bring intelligence about the people who talked him into it." ... "Clear, irrefutable evidence is needed that the person is so beyond the law that the law no longer applies to that person."

Even if I accepted your latter position, which I don't, the former cannot be reconciled with it. The sister, on the off-chance that she knows something, can be tortured for the bomber's actions by your logic? If you truly believe that then you really can't be in a position to argue that the bomber has done anything wrong, since they attacked those who they feel have committed just as grievious a wrong by cultural definition ... or some of their relatives ... of some remote degree.

Do I get to judge that someone's actions have placed them outside the law? Do you? The law currently does not give that ability to anyone. Even high treason is punished within the law.

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Anonymous Coward

"Yeah, so... like... America has this reputation and stuff..."

""Ethical dilemmas are not confined to countries with poor track records on human rights – the UK now has some ethical dilemmas with our closest ally.""

SRSLY?

'Etraordinary Rendition' - now there is a fine shining example of Orwellian language if ever I saw one.

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Moral High Ground

Well personally I believe the moral high ground is vitally important.

Why? Well two reasons

First it is one of the things that defines who we are as a society i.e. what our values are, for years now "who we are and what we stand for" has become vague but there was still a core, things like an independent judiciary and the rule of law (international or otherwise)

Second: We become hypocrites, we go around nagging various countries about their record o human rights, when we ourselves are guilty of the same things. so why should they pay any attention to us, I wouldn't in their shoes.

In fact one can make a strong case for this sort of behavior playing into the hands of the terrorist recruiters, we have at least one example of this when the UK had a policy of interment in Northern Ireland, what happened? It just swelled the ranks of the IRA, it was totally counter productive and I suspect it will be the same thing with this.

Now all of the things we have talked about have been going on for years (way before 9/11) but the difference was they knew it was wrong and if caught would suffer the consequences (not that it ever happened, but the threat was there) now its officially sanctioned.

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So anything is OK to protect yourself?

Mr Blackley... that lump of cheese in your bags that your broken alarm clock intermingled with when it broke in your luggage looks a great deal like a bomb. Time to arrest you, torture you for several months... and if you're lucky, release you, but all this was done in secret and it's really much more convenient to have you disappear.

Things like due process are there to protect the innocent. They're also called upon to protect the guilty from time to time, because we don't really know who is innocent and who is guilty until there's been a proper trial, and the freedoms of the innocent are abused *before* the trial happens. Only by making sure those freedoms aren't abused can we be sure that the innocent are protected.

You may be happy to give up your freedoms for a little safety. You would be well-advised to keep in mind that it is in part those freedoms that keep you safe - from your own government. Historically speaking it's the governments that do the heavy killing, of which Iraq is only the most modern example, and by no means do goverments always exempt their own citizens when eliminating the inconvenient.

How many people have been killed in the actions against Al Qaeda and Iraq? The number is at least ten times the number killed in the Twin Tower attacks. To me it's looking like the US is the one causing terror here. It's not your freedom that's being abridged, but those of the Iraqi civilians. I can think of nothing more likely to drive somebody to terrorist actions than randomly killing members of their family.

...Ronny

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Anonymous Coward

UK's recent history - logical conclusion

Those Bush folks who follow blindly follow the assumption that you can bludgeon your way through terrorism - try this for an example of your logic...

Remember not so long ago the UK was under constant terrorist attack from the IRA? Tens of thousands of UK citizens were murdered by people who thought they were righteous and had God on their side as well as benefactors from abroad (sound similar to today's situation in Iraq?)

Now imagine if the UK had followed the US's current methods insted of using the careful intelligence-based hard work they did use:

1. attack many of the Catholic "strongholds" in Northern Ireland with bombs.

2. attack Dublin (obviously the root of evil!) and try to oust their Leader and replace with a UK-friendly figure.

3. track down the foreign IRA benefactors and either bomb them or try to kidnap them and bring them back to the UK for trial/torture.

BTW, those "benefactors" would have been US citizens and high profile politicians in Boston and New York (many of them still in politics or public service). In today's language, they would have been part of an Axis of Evil. Are we sitting comfortably now?

As it happens, luckily, we did not take that path - instead the UK and the moderate Irish actually worked together over MANY years to try to come to some kind of resolution. It took a generation of hard work and intelligence to avoid full scale war with Eire and the north coast of the USA.

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@totally right,

I agree with Jack Schitt we should do everything we can to stop people that want to harm us. No holds barred.

What he fails to mention and this is the most important point in whole thing. We have to identify them first. This is what innocent until proven guilty means . This is what freedom means. This is what hundreds of thousands of Americans have died for over the years.

What is going on here is abducting and torturing people because they look suspicious. Jack, I'm sure you would be the first to join the fight if a member of your family was kidnapped and tortured because they looked suspicious to some powerful group somewhere. And what is more you would be right to do so.

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Torture? Necessary?

Hey, Voshkin. Just for your information, torture really doesn't work. It tends to get the answers the torturer wants to hear, rather than the truth.

Oh, and Blackley, you troll, "moral high ground" does exist. It might be shorthand for "being allowed to wear pretty much what I like, read, write and say pretty much what I like (including worshipping or not according to my conscience), being unafraid of the authorities, generally, and having some say in how my country is run," or some lengthier treatise on liberty and liberalism. We start throwing away Habeas Corpus and the right to trial by jury, and we're crawling back to the Stone Age. Bear in mind that all the changes to the criminal justice system are more likely to have a direct effect on you than anything a terrorist does.

It's a shame you gung-ho lackwits don't pay more attention to some really sharp Americans: the Founding Fathers.

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Questionable opinions

It astounds me at the number of people here who advocate torture. Clearly you are not thinking the consequences through correctly. Perhaps you should imagine yourself being tortured and detained for a perceived crime, as this is an entirely possible event. You are a fool if you think you are immune to this as if the spooks are kidnapping people randomly off the street. You cannot be 100% sure you will not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Plus, torture is pointless - the victim will tell you what you want to hear. If he doesn't know, he'll make something up, dragging further innocents in. You then get a lot of noise, preventing you from finding the truth.

Plus if we sacrifice our humanity, what justification do we have for villifying the enemy? Surely we then become the enemy.

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Thank you

Thanks again for reaising these issues, keep it up.

There's a damn good reason why there are laws of due process and limits to times of detention. We all know what they are yet there are people, some of whom have already posted, who are prepared to pick up their pitchforks, light torches and burn the legal system from the ground up. It boggles the mind.

There are huge mistakes being made, people are being released after years of inprisonment without charge and that appears to be ok. These people then become prime recruits for the very terrorist organisations that they were accused of belonging to. Measures like this create terrorists. The moderate become vocal, the vocal become extreme and the extreme become active.

It is the duty of every American, Briton, Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, Brazilian, Belgian, every human being alive to stand up what they know to be wrong. This is the very definition of wrong.

A brief note from history.

They came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a communist;

They came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I was not a socialist;

They came for the union leaders, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a union leader;

They came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me ....

- Pastor Martin Niemöller

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Anonymous Coward

Attention pro-torture chickenhawks...

@voshkin (and anyone else here who's pro-torture),

Please put down your worn-out, drool-stained DVD boxed sets of 24 and spend a few minutes reading an interview with former US Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis:

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/15/1632233

In three years of working at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere he got no useful information whatsoever using torture. So even if you can't bring yourselves to support crazy left-wing ideas like the rule of law and habeus corpus, the reality is that torture does not produce reliable intelligence.

You say "torture is an absolute necessity". How would you know? Ever worked for a security service? Or are you just saying that from your armchair in your Jack Bauer wet dream fantasy world?

It's pretty simple. Torture is savagery, and any government that legitimises it is committing a war crime.

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Anonymous Coward

Northern Ireland

I find this BS of the British security forces taking the moral high ground laughable.

- It is not like in the recent past that British security forces illegally tortured confessions from innocent people and imprisoned them:

See Birmingham Six and Guildford Four

- Or shoot unarmed peace protesters

See Bloody Sunday

- Or collusion between British security forces and loyalist gangs to shot and kill innocent people, republicans and to set off bombs in Ireland:

See Miami Showband killings, Dublin and Monaghan bombings

- Or MI5 deciding not to pass on information about the upcoming Omagh Bombing.

Give me a break with the moral high ground, rightfully or wrongfully, the British security forces have been involved in dirty operations for many years.

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@John A Blackley

It does follow that methods like this lead to further radicalisation, take the example of opposers of the death penalty. When I'm asked whether I would still oppose the death penalty if my mother was murdered, I say no. In that case I would hope to hunt down the guy myself and rip him into tiny little pieces. When torture and death is part of your and your family's life I am quite sure it would drive you out of your mind with grief and anger. I am sorry to impose human characteristics on bogey men but the idea that getting tough with people who are at breaking point will get the job done is ludicrous and creates more problems than it solves. Even in this country where Muslims have freedoms they have to put up with racism and are treated like potentials terrorists. Mix that in with Guantanamo and the errosion of civil liberties and hey presto.

I don't know all the answers and don't pretend to but I won't ever support this kind of torture and rendition while peace protectors in the UK are being arrested under "anti-terrorism" laws

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/6563591.stm

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I'm suprised

Every time one of these clowns make it into a blogosphere as classy as this one.

All of these fight fire with fire bullshit artists are deluded. They claim it is justified because the "enemy" does the same or worse. But what about those that are not the enemy? imagine getting tortured by the USA "intelligence" services when you may never have set foot in their country, or plan to. Taken off a plane in Zambia having travelled through the UK, to be interned for 5 years in gitmo.

My father is an electronic engineer and he has built radio receivers and voltmeters, etc. with me as a child. If I were not white and american then this could be construed as a terrorist act????

The USA claims not to be a terrorist supporting nation but what do you call being just as bad as the terrorists to a few innocent people? Believe me they wouldn't set the man free from gitmo without being damned sure he was innocent.

And BTW, John A. Blackley if...

"If the goal was to create 10 times the number of terrorists you've done splendidly."

"And, in my book, the sooner we can track down viable suspects, wring the necessary information out of them - by whatever means necessary - and use that information to decimate the rest"

Decimating them means eliminating 1 in 10. That leaves us with 9 times more terroists still. DO YOUR MATH. Imbecile!!

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Re Mr Burns comment

The censors stop us all posting what we REALLY think of spur wearing, gun toting, war mongering tin tanks.

It starts with a C anyway and has just enough letters that GW can count them all by himeslf.

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Re: title

"Clear, irrefutable evidence is needed that the person is so beyond the law that the law no longer applies to that person. Only then should all the detentions without trial and torture occur."

So how is it decided whether the evidence is clear and 'irrefutable'? At a TRIAL, that's how.

JHC!

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To those advocating torture

Even if you are prepared to ignore the illegality and morality of such actions, ask yourself this: if someone were to wire your bollocks to the mains, or subject you to "humane" techniques such as sensory deprivation for that matter (wtf? is mental torture somehow more humane than physical torture?), how long do you think it would be before you were declaring your father, your grandmother and your twelve year old niece as terrorists?

Information gained from such methods will be at best sketchy and at worst complete fabrication. The anonymous poster above hits the nail on the head with "only infiltration over a number of years leads to good intelligence".

Would you be so happy with the practice if you were taken from the street one day to be flown to another country for torture or detention, your friends and family having no idea where you've gone, just because the guy who lives down the road gave them your name to make them stop?

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Anonymous Coward

Mike Morgan - Sorry

I was going to say more-or-less the same about the UK and ask if I'd be allowed to emigrate 'Stateside, but it sounds like this wouldn't be such a good plan. Does anyone have a progress report for the Man-Plus programme? I don't suppose it needs any volunteers?

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Racist?

What's all the racist talk for?? Sure it's true that torturing ethnic minorities is an everyday part of national security but it's only a small part, they'd much rather record your phone calls, easily decrypt your internet and wireless traffic, scan your 'puters, track your every move with CCTV, road camera's and cyborg insects. ECHELON does it all automatically so most secret work is now done behind a desk. You see most torture today is automated by kill bots (robots aren’t racist) and only the old school hacks can be bothered with the torturing of minorities, and these specialists are slowly dying off anywho.

Thankfully we infidels can sleep easy for another day thanks to these vast underground automated services. Halleluiah.

Coincidently most suicide bombers are programmed by the secret service in order to increase the yearly budgets

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No holds barred - no thanks...

"I agree with Jack Schitt we should do everything we can to stop people that want to harm us. No holds barred."

I totally disagree with that last statement. We have to have constraints on our actions so that we can go back to being civilized again after being... well, not animals, they just don't have the skill for bad stuff that we have. But less-than-ideal humans. A society inured to suffering is going to have plenty of it - hands up everyone who wants to live in that kind of place. Anyone? Thought so.

Niemöller had it right, IMO. Could some of the cowboys in this forum please say when we should start speaking up against uncivilized actions, if not at the first one...?

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Anonymous Coward

@M.Burns

"Folks in Europe need to get it through their thick skulls that in American English, calling someone a cowboy is the highest compliment."

You need to get it through your thick skull that this is a British website, aimed primarily at a British audience and thus uses the most commonly spoken native language of Britain, i.e. so-called "British" English.

Perhaps you think that Japanese, French or German websites (to name but a few) should display all their text in Americanese, just for the benefit of you and your fellow countrymen?

Besides, you seem to have understood its meaning in this instance. Perhaps you have no faith in the intelligence of your fellow Americans?

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Anonymous Coward

Balls to "ethics"

I'm not racist but we have to face facts and stop with all this PC crap, if they're somebody who fits the profile, and they're flying with unusual luggage then thats grounds for them to be stopped and questioned.

If they're acting suspiciously and their story's can't be confirmed then get the needles, turn on the generator and let the unplreasantness begin!

The Jihaddies certainly don't read the rule book when kidnapping or mass murdering people.

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Anonymous Coward

@ ALL

Don't travel with bomb-making material and you'll be OK. Not good enough? Don't associate with terrorists and you'll be OK. Still not good enough?

Consider: a religion is at war with certain countries described in the article. Perhaps it would be wise to make it clear that you don't condone the actions of the religion waging the war and then you won't have to worry about becoming a military target.

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re: @ ALL

it is not "a religion is at war with certain countries described in the article".... it's just a bunch of people who _call_ themselves christian

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Anonymous Coward

Where is this all going

I have found some of the morally dysfunctional posts very disturbing, it cant be long before one of the trolls suggests a "Final Solution".

How long till we are in the position where if an immigration official takes a disliking to to someone, they will be taken out back and shot.

"well they looked like a terrorist they had a big bag and they didn't speak very good English" must be a terrorist.

Damn, getting rid of a bad neighbor will be easy just plant some fertilizer or flour on them before they go on holiday, I'm sure after they have been introduced to some of the more interesting interrogation technique's they will admit to belonging to just about any organization you care to name.

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@K Menzies

Mr., Mrs, or Ms. Menzies, thanks for your comments.

"It does follow that methods like this lead to further radicalisation, take the example of opposers of the death penalty. (etc.)"

I don't believe that my previous post denied that. I did put it that methods like this are not the sole cause nor even the major cause. Uneducated, hysterical and economically-depressed mobs are there to be used by whatever 'cause' can capture their limited imaginations.

"Even in this country where Muslims have freedoms they have to put up with racism and are treated like potentials terrorists. Mix that in with Guantanamo and the errosion of civil liberties and hey presto."

(Sarcasm on): My heart aches for immigrants who have to put up with racism (Sarcasm off) and please, do tell me how they are treated like terrorists and feel free to speculate on why that might be.

"I don't know all the answers and don't pretend to but I won't ever support this kind of torture and rendition while peace protectors in the UK are being arrested under "anti-terrorism" laws."

Nor do I know all the answers, K. Menzies. I do know - and this may be in reponse to others' posts - that I live my life in a way that makes it highly unlikely that I'll ever be arrested and tortured in the mistaken belief that I know anything about terrorist activity. I also know that I'll sanction every legal action and every extra-legal action we can get away with to protect that way of life. So long as enough people are prepared to support that, my way of life may be preserved. When the majority would rather apply civilised rules to uncivilised people and their actions, we will lose that way of life.

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@John A Blackley

"I also know that I'll sanction every legal action and every extra-legal action we can get away with to protect that way of life. So long as enough people are prepared to support that, my way of life may be preserved."

My way of life, on the other hand, is threatened by exactly the type of laws which are currently applied to brown people. My way of life is to (peacefully) oppose war and human rights abuses. My way of life does not involve walking around terrified that everyone who doesn't look like me wants to kill me.

You may be happy for murder and torture to continue in order to maintain your way of life, your way of life which clearly decides that all Muslims are immigrants who should allow racism to be part of their lives. My great-grandfather was French so should I too? Or does being white excuse me?

I am assuming that we are both white and middle class, I am at least. That doesn't mean that we think alike though, but that is how you judge "other" people. What a sad and small world you live in

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quick defenses.

I'm not gonna bother to offer a rebuttle to everything, but a quick few that stand out. People here are under the assumption that I'm pro American or Pro-war, in reality, I'm pro-not-getting-my-ass-blown-off. I don't care for any government, let alone the US government. If the US government was completely ousted something else equally as evil would be quick to replace it, there is no such thing as a honest government and you people are fooling yourselves by thinking your's gives a damn about you. ALL politicians are career politicians, EVERYWHERE. However, I care less for countries full of people who want me dead for no other reason than where I was born. These people dont understand that citizens dont control their government, just like it is in their country, just like it is in your country.

so on with the long-winded opinionated rantings,

"U.S. moral high ground" has never existed, its all been propoganda for as long as this country has been around. Are you aware this country has been at war since its conception? There has never been a time when the US has not had troops in a foreign country, or killing people right here at home. It's only now with the level of free mass communication that it can't be hidden anymore. This situation in Iraq exists solely BECAUSE of oil, the people who control it, and what it has done to the economy in the countries it comes from. this whole extremist issue has risen up because people in these countries believe that jihad is the way to bring down US imperialism. Mistaken or not, they believe it and will continue to kill until they are stamped out - unfortunately for us(the Americans who are being killed but cant do anything to stop either side), it's harder to kill ideas than it is to kill people.

which brings another point across, I saw it mentioned that somebody believed that, because single bombings here and there wont bring down the US, that we should just forget about it and leave them alone. Like enduring the bombings will bring some kind of victory over evil. Heres reality for you sir, bombings kill people. Less bombing kill less people. You may not be at risk in BFE Iowa, but people who live in places that terrorists deem important are at risk. sorry you have to wait longer and have your water bottle confiscated(never happened to me, and I just flew during an orange alert), but I value my life - something suicide bombers don't.

to the guy who says "do unto others.." - You watch the news? been to any sites that carry videos on the internet? you can probably catch a couple decapitations with knifes that werent exactly quick and easy. You people have your definitions of torture messed up. Pain torture produces no results, people can endure pain - hell it's a hobby in the US(tattoos), real torture - psychological torture, takes time. Thats the torture that produces results. So, abductions are needed. You think the CIA cant tell if somebodys lying? There are CIA agents that put polygraph to shame. If somebody knows something its gonna come out, in time. SO, to answer the question - if some power swept in and killed my family would I fight them? absolutely, but I wouldnt expect any quarter from them either. And by the way - some power did sweep in and kill some of my family, they did it on a plane in New York. And I have been to Iraq, I've been on streets where everybody is waiting for a chance to shoot me in the back, there is no love for the united states in Iraq. They dont care if you haven't personally done anything to affront them, you're american and you deserve to die. You aren't a human being to these people. I was only there for 2 weeks consulting with an Iraqi firm on networking issues and I had to peep around every corner, lock every bolt on my door and keep one eye open when I slept. I also got spit on twice at random. If it wasn't for my companys use of the much loathed "corporate security" forces(who, as Im told by a co-worker, engaged in outright warfare in front of the building we use as corporate housing 3 weeks after my departure), I would most likely be a dead man right now. The things we are loathe to do to get results they would love to do for fun. The real hypocrisy lies in the fact that you people think fighting an enemy as willing combatants is somehow wrong. In Iraq, everybody has seen something, or knows something and theyre not going to tell the US army/intelligence anything freely because they support it. Torture is necessary. The people who are perpetuating the hysteria in these countries need to be dealt with. The situation is out of control when people are likely to be murdered and have their corpse defaced just for being alive.

to the person who says afghanistan is only now a major supplier of heroin...

thats because previously to the US hunt for terrorists, the area was ruled by a terrorist regime know as the taliban. You may have heard of them, you know, those guys who kill at will for doing anything remotely unorthodox muslim. They are so bold as to have had several videos floating around the internet of them executing people en masse, most of which by bounding and slitting of the throat. men, women, children, all. AND previous to the muslim resurgence, Afghanistan might not have been huge suppliers of heroin, but they were the key source of the number one ingredient - opium. read history k? thanks.

to J, 'Mr. came from dictatorship and now has a axe to grind', NEWS FLASH!! the US is ruled by corporations not the government. Corporations are interested in one thing - profits. they throw the average citizen a bone every now and then, but most laws passed in this country are done so to either protect profits or make profits. so knowing this, you realize the government is basically a corporation. This country has the most citizens behind bars per capita than any other nation in the world. 1 in 10 has been behind bars. thats amazing. Slowly the Prison system in America is heading from state run to privately run. The profit off the "justice system" in america is the most in any country in the world. This country holds prisoners, and converts them to slaves. Yet you people still have the gall to call this a "free" country? where are the freedoms? the freedom to criticize a government that really doesnt matter? the freedom to put your vote in for the pre-selected officials? the freedom to lobby for some new ridiculous law that the government can twist into a way to make more money? Your freedoms are imaginary. the only difference between this country and the others is, here you can say what you want - so long as it's not against the law. try acting on it in any kind of way and see if youre so free.

you do as the government tells you to do or you go to prison and/or pay fines.

to the "oh my god you racist whiteys, leave the brownies alone" - get over yourself. if these people were stark, snow white I'd still advocate they be abducted and held. For the record, Im a card holding Native American with more than half in my bloodline from both sides of the family, I grew up on a reservation. I pass for a whitey, but everybody thinks my brother is mexican - genetics, go figure. I realize racism exists, however you're putting it in places it doesnt belong. This more than anything is what hurts civil rights movements everywhere. shame on you.

this ended up longer than intended, but it conveys things you all need to consider before you down the use of torture of as an acceptable practice.

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