Meet The Labour MP Who Agrees With Dick Cheney On The Torture Report

Meet The Labour MP Who Agrees With Dick Cheney On The Torture Report
REX Features

The grisly United States Senate report published last week concluded that the use of torture by the CIA on detainees was not only brutal, but did not actually produce information that helped prevent any terrorist attack. Questions have also been raised about whether Britain, under the previous Labour government, was complicit in the torture of terror suspects.

But Labour MP Ian Austin has criticised the report as a "party political" act by Democrats on the senate intelligence committee and dismissed "conspiracy theories" about torture triggered by its findings.

And he attacked "attempts by liberal handwringing journalists who want to undermine any attempt by the West to protect our democracy".

The report found prisoners held at CIA black sites around the world were, among other things, beaten, deprived of sleep, waterboarded, locked in a small box, subjected to Russian roulette and to a process known as "rectal feeding".

On Tuesday The Times reported Tony Blair is willing to appear before any new UK inquiry into torture. The move puts pressure on former foreign secretaries David Miliband and Jack Straw to also appear.

Austin was a key aide to Gordon Brown in both the Treasury and 10 Downing Street. He was elected MP for Dudley North in 2005.

Speaking during a meeting of the home affairs committee yesterday, Austin said the debate about torture had been "swept away on this sort tide of mad conspiracy theory [and] party political point scoring".

"What is clearly fuelling this is absolutely clear. This report, so-called report, that we are discussing, is a partial account published by one side in the States to score party political points over there. It has produced absolutely no evidence, no evidence at all, no evidence even up until this report has been produced, to show that British officials or British politicians have been complicit in torture which is defined by the UN as inflicting sever pain or suffering to obtain information, there is no evidence that has happened," he said.

He added: "Other senior politicians in the States have said that the inquiries that this covers did in fact produce fairly useful information, including preventing attacks on Canary Wharf and Heathrow and leading to the discovery of Osama Bin Laden."

Several veterans of the George W. Bush administration have defended the CIA's activities on their watch. Dick Cheney, the former vice president, has defended the treatment of prisoners as necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. "I'd do it again in a minute," Cheney told Meet the Press on Sunday. "It worked. It absolutely did work."

And like Austin, Cheney said the report was partisan. Cheney said it was "full of crap" and "based on, done only by, Democratic staff".

Four of the eight most frequently cited examples by the CIA of how torture worked were connected to plots in the UK. But the senate concluded the CIA lied about having prevented attacks on Britain through its use of torture.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chair of the intelligence committee, has hit back at claims by Cheney and others that the torture of suspects produced reliable intelligence. "No evidence that terror attacks were stopped, terrorists captured or lives saved through use of EITs [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques]," she said.

Yesterday May insisted she had not personally asked the US senate to redact any mention of the UK from its report, but she acknowledged British officials had been given the chance to request UK national security was not damaged by its publication. "Torture is wrong. Torture is abhorrent," May told MPs. "I can't speak for what might have happened in the past before this government came into office."

Austin faces a tough re-election right in his marginal Dudley North constituency in May. His majority of 649 is under threat from the Conservative candidate Afzal Amin, a former British Army officer who served in Iraq.


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