This week the US Senate published a report into the extent American intelligence services were employing methods of torture post-2001. In turn, old questions concerning the UK’s role in the extra-legal rendition of suspects from foreign lands resurfaced, also raising questions of a former foreign secretary or two. In this same week, David Miliband hinted at a return to politics. Why this banana-waving PR genius thought this week was a good time to do this is uncertain, but clearly there are more important questions for ‘Rendition Dave’ that were not answered before and need to be answered now.
1. It has come to light that the Foreign Office ‘lost’ key evidence logging rendition flights from Diego Garcia. Apparently key papers, conveniently, sustained ‘water damage’. Is Miliband prepared to admit, at least, that this sounds like made up nonsense, and that a cover up was pursued before and during his stint as foreign secretary?
2. In 2005 the Guardian reported that in the four years since 2001, 240 rendition flights had used UK air space and airports. Foreign Secretary Miliband, after months of government denials, confirmed the existence of these to Parliament in 2008. But, his stint as transparent democrat was short lived, as he, and Jack Straw, then opposed a judicial inquiry ordered by David Cameron in 2010. Why was he opposed to this? What does he have to hide? Does he not now accept a full review would be in the best interests of Britain ‘s reputation and his own?
3. Fundamentally, does Miliband approve of torture, and the use of extra-judicial mechanisms such as rendition? or are these unacceptable in an open, democratic society where the rule of law is meant to mean something?
4. Would he be quite so subservient to the foreign policy desires of the US in the future if he becomes prime minister one day?
Of course, there is a temptation to subject Miliband senior to a bout of waterboarding, so he is a) fully aware of what we’re talking about and b) we might get some answers from him. But as we’ve found out by the CIA’s report this week, this is neither humane in a civilised society nor effective in sourcing reliable information.
Of course, Jack Straw is probably far more culpable as foreign secretary for blind acquiescence to American requests. Miliband much more so in any cover up. But he must answer these questions, whether he’s to be prime minister one day or not.
Miliband’s apology over ‘rendition’, BBC 2008
David Miliband hints at another stint in British politics, the Guardian, December 2014
In full: Miliband rendition statement, The BBC, 2008.
US hid UK links in CIA torture report at request of British spy agencies, The Guardian, December 2014
Foreign Office ‘Cover Up’ After Extraordinary Rendition Documents Lost To ‘Water Damage. Huffington Post, December 2014
How far was the UK complicit in CIA rendition and torture?, Left Futures, December 2014