United Kingdom officials tolerated 'inexcusable' abuse of USA detainees, report finds

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British intelligence officers saw USA operatives torture and subject terror suspects to inhumane treatment in the years that followed the September 11 attacks, a report by London's Intelligence and Security Committee said Thursday. It revealed that the domestic security agency MI5 and the overseas agency MI6 were far more involved in the torture and rendition of suspects than previously believed.

'That being said, we have found no "smoking gun" to indicate that the Agencies deliberately overlooked reports of mistreatment and rendition by the U.S. as a matter of institutional policy.

"With that said, more could have been done at an agency and ministerial level to seek to influence US behavior".

But the report said it had found 232 cases where British personnel continued to supply questions or intelligence to allies after they knew about suspected mistreatment.

There were 13 incidents where United Kingdom personnel witnessed at first hand a detainee being mistreated. "In some cases, these were correctly investigated but this was not consistent".

The earlier investigation said Britain knew about the mistreatment of suspected militants but did not intervene for wear of offending United States allies.

It found that in 22 cases, MI6 or MI5 provided intelligence to enable a rendition operation to take place, while in a further 23, they did nothing to prevent a rendition.

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The committee also found 28 cases where intelligence agencies suggested, planned or agreed to rendition operations and three cases where they offered to make a financial contribution to conduct a rendition operation.

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"It is hard to comprehend how those at the top of the office did not recognize the pattern of mistreatment by the USA", the committee said in a statement.

In 198 cases, they received intelligence obtained from detainees who they knew or should have suspected had been mistreated, the committee said.

'With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that United Kingdom personnel were working within a new and challenging operating environment for which, in some cases, they were not prepared, ' she said.

'The agencies responded to what they thought were isolated allegations and incidents of mistreatment, but the ISC concludes that they should have realised the extent to which others were using unacceptable practices as part of a systematic programme.