The UK’s Independent newspaper today had an “exclusive” article, in which they claim that documents from Ed Snowden’s leaks revealed a secret internet surveillance base in the Middle East run by the UK government. There’s just one problem. While the article implies (though does not state) that it got those documents from Snowden, Snowden says he’s never talked to nor given anything to The Independent. Instead, he argues, that he’s worked carefully with key journalists (namely, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Barton Gellman) to make sure that the things they publish don’t reveal anything that might put anyone in danger. Snowden suggests, instead, that this is the UK government itself releasing this information in an attempt to “defend” the detention of David Miranda.
I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.
It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act.
If you read the Independent’s coverage carefully, they never actually claim they got the documents from Snowden, even if they leave that impression. Instead, they claim that “information on [the base's] activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden.” In other words, they got that information from someone else — almost certainly the UK government. And, yes, that’s convenient timing for the UK government to claim that some of the documents that Snowden downloaded might contain useful information to terrorists, so that they can then turn around and argue that they detained Miranda and took all of his electronics (and destroyed a Guardian hard drive) to avoid having this information “fall into the hands of terrorists.”
The Independent article also implies that the UK government is afraid that Greenwald is going to start revealing this type of info in response to the Miranda detention, even though there’s no basis to believe that all. Greenwald has been quite careful so far not to reveal any information that puts anyone at risk, so it’s odd to believe that he’d start doing so now. Of course, it’s fairly bizarre since the Independent story itself contains tons of details — the kinds of details that Greenwald has avoided.
If Snowden’s assertion is correct — and it does seem like the most plausible argument at this point — then it highlights the ridiculous lengths to which the UK government is going: releasing potentially damaging information that Snowden himself has avoided revealing just to suggest that Snowden was leaking damaging information. Incredible.
Nagakaki before and after being nuked by the US
Britain supported the vicious US nuclear attacks against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War, newly released top secret documents show.
The US government documents, declassified by the National Archives and Records Administration after almost 70 years, show London was involved in Washington’s decision to carry out the nuclear attacks as a close ally.
London’s support was officially expressed to US officials one month before the first and only nuclear attacks on a real target killed an estimated 250,000 civilians on August 6 and 9, 1945.
The go-ahead was given in a meeting of the Combined Policy Committee of the US and the UK in Washington on July 4, 1945 in which British officials referred to the nukes as Tube Alloys, a codename they used for their research on nukes and plutonium at the time.
British Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson told the meeting chaired by U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson that the British government “concurred in the use of the T.A. weapon against Japan”, Kyodo News Agency reported.
“The Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States had agreed that T.A. weapons should be used by the United States against Japan, the agreement of the British Government having been communicated” by Wilson, the documents said.
According to the documents, the initial agreement for the use of nukes against Japan when they are developed was made back in September 1944 in a meeting of the then US President Franklin Roosevelt and the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
LONDON – The UK Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Bank Mellat, Iran’s largest private bank, in a result which will see it removed from the United Kingdom’s sanction list.
The appeal was heard by nine out of the Supreme Court’s twelve judges after the UK’s highest court was forced to enter closed session for the first time in its history, in order to receive secret evidence from the security services.
Her Majesty’s Treasury imposed sanctions against the bank in 2009 alleging that the bank’s activities supported the Iranian nuclear program, but Wednesday’s ruling found no evidence to support this claim. The UK Supreme Court result follows similar success for the bank at the European Court in January of this year in respect of sanctions which had been imposed on the bank by the EU Council.
The ruling is a blow to the controversial system of “secret courts” which have allowed the security services to provide evidence to the Supreme Court behind closed doors for the first time in its history.
The Supreme Court reluctantly entered into closed session in March, effectively barring the bank from accessing the evidence against it. Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors, the London-based international law firm representing the bank, had argued against the imposition of closed courts on the grounds that it contravenes the British common law principle of open justice. The failure of the Treasury to produce compelling evidence, despite the controversial new powers, puts the spotlight back on the Justice and Security Bill, which expanded the system of closed courts to civil cases.
The ruling sends a strong message to the UK government that political expediency is not a sufficient legal justification for sanctions placed against Iranian private businesses which operate out of Iran. The Supreme Court is now expected to order the British government to pay Bank Mellat all of its legal costs and damages for the wrongful listing of Bank Mellat.
After initial failure to challenge sanctions before the English High Court and the Court of Appeal, Bank Mellat turned to Zaiwalla & Co in 2010 and has since gone from strength to strength in the European and now Supreme Court. The firm, led by Sarosh Zaiwalla, have shown that even in cases of national security, the UK government must abide by the rule of law, with the some of the justifications for the sanctions considered “arbitrary”, “discriminatory” and even “irrational”.
Sarosh Zaiwalla, senior partner at Zaiwalla & Co said, “Today’s ruling is a victory for the rule of law as much as it is for Bank Mellat.
“The judgment will put enormous confidence in the independence of the British judiciary and sets an example that even controversial disputes can be resolved by applying the principle of rule of law through the British courts.
“Nevertheless, the reading of the closed judgment clearly contravenes the British principle of open justice, the bank’s success demonstrates just how unjustified closed sessions are.”
British Respect party MP George Galloway has slammed the government’s small payment of £3,000 apiece to Kenyan victims of torture and mistreatment under British colonial rule during the 1950s.
On Press TV’s weekly program Comment, Galloway reviewed the torture Kenyans experienced during the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule, explaining that a recent compensation of around £20 million to 5,000 victims is not enough.
“Now that sounds like a lot of money [£20 million] but it actually works out at £3,000 compensation each”, Galloway said.
“We’re talking about men who were castrated by the British colonial administration in Kenya. I’m talking about women who were multiply raped and sexually abused, for that kind of torture. £3,000 ain’t much,” he added.
Galloway also said that British Foreign Secretary William Hague did not accept the legal liability for British colonizers’ brutal crimes in Kenya.
At least 10,000 people died during the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule, with some sources giving far higher estimates.
Moreover, Galloway highlighted that the British government still has “hundreds of thousands” of uncompensated victims of British imperial crimes around the world.
- Over 8,000 Mau Mau victims seek compensation from Britain (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Britain pays £20m to Mau Mau victims (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The UN’s torture watchdog has hit out at the British government for human rights abuses. In its harshest criticism yet of the British government, the panel warned that urgent action is needed for the country to meet international standards.
The UN Committee against Torture focused on human rights abuses during the so-called war on terror and the mistreatment of prisoners in British custody in Iraq. It also flagged up some 40 separate incidents on which the UK government must act.
The findings highlighted the British governments actions following 9/11 and the commission urged the British government to quickly establish an inquiry into whether detainees held overseas were ill-treated or tortured by British officials.
The report reads that the committee is “deeply concerned at the growing number of serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment, as a result of the state party’s military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
The UN team also slammed what they called “an escape clause” in the Criminal Justice Act (1988), which allows British officials to escape prosecution for inflicting severe pain or suffering if they can show that they had “lawful authority, justification or excuse” for doing so.
Another legal loophole the committee voiced concern about is the Intelligence Services Act (1994), which effectively insures that intelligence officers cannot be prosecuted within the UK once a warrant giving them lawful authority has been signed by a government minister.
The panel was disappointed at the failure to date to prosecute anyone for the torture of Iraqi prisoners and in particular the failure to convict anyone for the murder of Baha Mousa who died in British custody in 2003. Only one soldier received a one-year sentence for admitting inhumane treatment.
There was also concern with the government’s planned introduction of secret court procedures in July for issues that may affect national security under the Justice and Security Act. Closed Material Procedures as they are known make it easier to use hearsay evidence or evidence obtained through torture, the committee maintains. The system of Special Advocates – lawyers who are vetted and chosen by the government – “have a very limited ability to conduct a cross-examination and cannot discuss full content of confidential materials with their client thus undermining the right to a fair trial,” the report reads.
The watchdog also urged the UK government to halt the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. The deportation of failed Tamil asylum seekers has led to their torture or ill-treatment on return and the UK government hasn’t changed its policy on the issue despite a ruling by the High Court in February ordering them to suspend deportations.
The government was criticized in its handling of the case of Shaker Aamer, the last remaining UK resident in Guantanamo. The committee regretted that despite the “best endeavors” of the UK to try and get him released “there are no encouraging signs of this happening soon”.
There were also accusations against the UK government on several issues connected with Northern Ireland. The Northern Irish justice system must abolish all non-jury trials the report concludes, adding that historical investigations into past misconduct, particularly of military officials, must not be delayed or suspended.
The committee asked that police officers only use tasers when they face “a real and immediate threat to life or risk or serious injury”.
There was also unease that the age of criminal responsibility in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has not been raised from 10-years, despite calls by more than 50 organizations for this to be done.
Further concerns were raised about the steady increase of the prison population over the past decade and the problem of overcrowding. To help rectify the issue the committee urged the government make wider use of non-custodial sentences.
In a further blow, committee members accused the UK delegation of being evasive when questioned about Britain’s human rights record during a two-day hearing in Geneva last month.
The British government was given a year to explain how it could improve its human rights record in 4 key areas: overseas torture, getting Shaker Aamer out of Guantanamo, stopping the forced deportation of Sri Lanka asylum seekers and setting up inquiries into past abuses in Northern Ireland.
The British government has approved plans for opening controversial military-style state schools as a likely new method to lure British children into the armed forces.
The UK Education Secretary, Michael Gove is proposing a system of a chain of state-funded “free schools” that impose an influential Armed Forces culture at the same time that the United States government plans to do.
The revelation came as the Department for Education granted approval for one military-style school in Oldham – the first of its kind in Britain.
According to the plans, The Phoenix Free School will open from September 2014, which will be staffed by former members of the Armed Forces and led by an active Army captain.
Meanwhile, two campaign groups announced in April that the UK government continues to recruit 16 and 17-year-olds to its armed forces irrespective of the fact that most countries in the world had stopped the practice a long time ago.
The argument stated that while under-18s are banned in Britain from many activities considered harmful — including drinking alcohol and smoking — they are allowed to risk their lives in military exercises.
Britain is negotiating out-of-the-court settlements to compensate thousands of Kenyans severely mistreated under British colonial rule during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising.
According to a letter sent to lawyers representing some of the claimants, the Foreign Office has changed its mind on appealing last October’s High Court ruling that gave victims the green light to sue the government, The Guardian reported.
“The parties are currently exploring the possibility of settling the claims brought by our clients,” Dan Leader, a partner with the Leigh Day law firm told the paper.
“Clearly, given the ongoing negotiations, we can’t comment further.” He added.
The Foreign Office has refused to comment on the issue, but admitted the victims suffered “pain and grievance” during the bloody events of the Emergency period in Kenya.
Three victims won the case to sue the government at the High Court last year.
The trio’s lawyers said one of them was castrated, antoher severely tortured and the third subjected to appalling sexual abuse in detention camps during the Mau Mau rebellion.
There was also a fourth claimant Susan Ngondi who has died since legal proceedings began.
The British government has admitted to British forces’ torturing of detainees at the time following disclosure of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office had kept secret for decades.
- Britain to pay out to Mau Mau victims (morningstaronline.co.uk)
British police forces are making as many as 250,000 requests to snoop on people’s email and phone call details every year, a new report reveals.
According to a survey, which was carried out by civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, 25 police forces across Britain made 506,720 requests for people’s “communications data” over the past three years, The Telegraph reported.
The survey released under the freedom of information laws found that the number of requests for Britons’ phone or email records has risen from 158,677 in 2009-10 to 178,985 in 2011-12. However, the figure could be increased to up to 250,000 including estimates for the forces that failed to reply to the research.
This comes as the UK government is seeking more snooping powers through the controversial Communications Data Bill, which is due to be published in the summer.
The draft bill is dubbed as the Snooper’s Charter, because it is considered as a significant threat to British citizens’ privacy.
The measures mark a serious increase in the powers the British government has to order any communications provider to collect, store and provide access to information about emails, online conversations and texts.
Former British shadow home secretary David Davis said, “It is frankly not good enough that the government is considering introducing a snoopers’ charter without even being able to tell us what they have used communications data for in the past.”
British anti-war activists have sealed off a weapons manufacturing company in Brighton to mark 10 years after the UK government joined the U.S.-led invasion on Iraq on March 2003.
The protesters, who had gathered in front of the EDO MBM weapons manufacturing plant from dawn, fastened themselves to the front gates with superglue and bicycle locks.
Two arrests were made by police forces during the six-hour standoff, but the whole gathering continued without violence, according to British media reports.
The anti-war activists from Smash EDO lashed out at engineers of the factory for churning out millions of pounds worth of bomb racks, arming units and parts for aircraft weapon systems every year.
EDO MBM is one of several companies supplying Paveway missiles used in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a component for U.S. planes carrying cluster bombs banned under an international treaty signed by Britain in 2008.
Smash EDO’s Chloe Marsh described the day’s protest as a memorial to Iraq’s dead as well as a direct action.
“The case for war was put to people in the UK on the basis of an immediate threat from Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction.’
“This turned out, as expected, to be a lie. As a result, according to the Lancet, over a million Iraqi citizens have died.”
Fellow protester Andrew Beckett said: “We are here to commemorate those who died in the aerial bombardment of Iraq and to resist EDO MBM’s continued supply of components to the US/UK military.”
- Iraq: Decade of war ‘based on lies’ (morningstaronline.co.uk)
The so-called Justice and Security Bill will enable the UK government, its security services and spying apparatus to cover up their crimes, such as rendition and torture of detainees.
The Bill, which was pushed through the House of Commons by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government last week, will also raise the specter of an untrammeled dictatorship, so to speak.
Under the bill, government ministers will be able to establish secret trials for civil law cases in which the public and media are excluded from proceedings where the government is a defendant and national security is said to be at stake.
The planned legislation will enable the UK government to suppress information about the handover of Afghan detainees by Britain to Afghan jails where they risk being tortured, or about UK involvement in U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere around the world.
The bill also allows the “government to appoint special advocates to represent the claimants, instead of lawyers of their own choosing, making it impossible for the claimants to know why their cases failed or succeeded”.
It is a profoundly undemocratic bill that marks a major departure in long-held principles of English law-that cases are held and decided in public and that the evidence presented by the other party is disclosed.
As Andrew Tyrie MP and Anthony Peto QC point out in their report, Neither Just nor Secure, secrecy could be imposed to prevent inquiries by investigative journalists, halt or limit protests, prevent people from recovering property seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act and stop injured servicemen from suing the Ministry of Defence for faulty equipment.
Taken together, the bill will make it impossible for claimants to know anything about their case, making it easier for ministers and the security services to cover up their crimes, such as rendition and torture.
As various cases show, the entire British state machinery is guilty of criminality: torture, abduction, extraordinary rendition and the denial of due process.
British activists being detained in UK airports under anti-terrorism legislation on return home from Palestine
Two British peace activists have been detained in recent weeks after arriving home from the West Bank, occupied Palestine. They have been detained and taken in for questioning, over suspected links with the International Solidarity Movement.
“We are concerned about the British police using anti-terrorist legislation to target non-violent pro-Palestinian activists. We are a transparent group, trying to uphold the principles of international law; even inside Israel the International Solidarity Movement is not considered illegal. We would encourage the British Police to ask any questions they wish to do so, directly, and not by detaining affiliated activists at the airport”
The Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which the two activists have been held on, allows the police, under certain specified circumstances, to arrest individuals without a warrant who are reasonably suspected of being terrorists. These laws are draconian measures which give the British police powers to detain suspects for up to 28 days without charge.
Schedule 7 is clearly being used as a tool to find out more about activists involved in a wide variety of types of political dissent and to provide profiles of activists for the police to use in trying to undermine political movements. None of the questions about movements in the UK were designed to root out terrorism or uncover the preparation for terrorism. In fact, the movements concerned have never even been accused of terrorism (with the exception of completely false accusations made against the ISM, see here).
Britain abstained at the last vote at the United Nations deciding whether Palestine should be accepted as a non-member observer state. But in the last two weeks the double standards of the British government in relation to Palestine and Israel have again been laid bare; Saeed Amireh, has been refused a visa to visit the UK. Amireh is a peaceful campaigner against Israel’s occupation and the theft of Nilin’s land. He was told he hadn’t provided “enough supporting documents”, even though he had supplied everything that was asked for, including a letter of invitation and guarantee from the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign of his costs being paid.
The use of these powers as a way to clamp down on non violent activists from Palestine and Britain is not acceptable, what is the British government afraid of? Maybe the fact the activists, returning home from Palestine, work with Corporate Watch and have helped reveal the continued supply of weaponry from Britain to the Israeli army has made them a target. This is despite the current British arms export policy stating it won’t deliver weapons to any countries breaking UN treaties. British companies are still complicit in Israeli war crimes in Gaza, as was proved in the EDO Decommisioners case of 2011.
Read more about the misuse of these powers and much more at corporateoccupation.org
- Farming Injustice (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Stop EU funding of Israeli military companies and illegal settlements (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- I find it sinister that the british firm securicor (“G4S”) is “providing services to israeli prisons and west bank checkpoints” (niqnaq.wordpress.com)
- Spies “monitoring” Palestine solidarity groups around world, says Israeli military correspondent (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
Never before seen files on Britain’s cruel colonial grip on Kenya have revealed a desperate attempt to cover up the massacre of unarmed prisoners during the Mau Mau uprising.
Eleven prisoners at the Hola detention camp were brutally clubbed to death and dozens more injured by prison wardens on March 3 1959 after they refused to work.
One of three elderly Kenyans, who last month won a High Court ruling to sue the British government for damages over torture, claims he was beaten unconscious during the incident.
Despite the overwhelming evidence nobody has ever been prosecuted.
Shockingly, the previously secret documents show that British colonial officials refused to identify individuals involved and attempted to blame the deaths on the prisoners “drinking too much water.”
The prison camp was one of many built during the uprising in which suspected rebels were detained by British colonial forces, often in dire conditions.
Shortly before the Hola deaths, a plan had been drawn up by colonial authorities allowing prison staff to use force to make detainees work if they refused, the Foreign Office files released by the National Archives show.
Prison officer Walter Coutts told the inquest into the Hola deaths that the detainees either “willed themselves to death or had died because they drank too much water.”
But a colonial official’s assistant, Kenyan Johannes Ezekiel, said he saw camp commandant Michael Sullivan moving between groups of prison warders, and could “see perfectly well what was going on.”
Mr Ezekiel’s comments were discounted by attorney-general Eric Griffith-Jones, who was in charge of criminal prosecutions, as he was “strongly suspected” to have links with Kenyan nationalist opposition politician Tom Mboya.
After post-mortem examinations revealed the deaths were caused by violence, the commissioner of prisons, who authorised the plan to use force, claimed that he had warned there were risks.
To make matters worse the attorney-general caused uproar in Britain after announcing that no charges could be brought against any individuals.
He said in a secret letter to the Kenyan chief secretary: “No evidence was available to establish whether any, and, if so, what, injuries had been inflicted by the beating in question or on whom.”
The Hola deaths signalled the beginning of the end of Britain’s clampdown on the Mau Mau uprising as colonial authorities began to close prison camps around Kenya in the following years.
Kenya declared independence from Britain just over four years after the Hola deaths, on December 12 1963.
Separate government files, also released for the first time today, show that colonial officials in Cyprus had considered producing adventure comic books and running an essay competition in the 1950s as part of a propaganda bid to stop youngsters rebelling against British rule.
Cyprus won independence from Britain in 1960.