Records published under Britain’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Act have compounded concerns that the UK government lobbied US officials to keep Britain’s role in CIA torture and rendition out of a soon-to-be published Senate report.
Newly-released data reveals Britain’s ambassador to the US, Peter Westmacott, engaged in at least 21 separate meetings with members of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) prior to its publication of this report, heightening existing allegations that the British government may be seeking to sanitize the document.
Westmacott met with key Democrats and Republicans on the SSCI throughout the body’s investigation of the CIA program, records obtained by the UK legal charity Reprieve reveal.
Of particular note are two separate meetings with Senator Feinstein in the immediate aftermath of the US government’s decision to publish what is expected to be a damning report on CIA torture, interrogation and rendition.
Multiple leaks concerning the Senate’s findings have thus far indicated the document will unveil new information relating to Britain’s collaborative role in the program, particularly with respect to the US’ use of British foreign territory Diego Garcia to transfer detainees via rendition flights.
In early April, it emerged that the Senate’s investigation had uncovered CIA detention of core suspects on the Indian Ocean Island of Diego Garcia – a territory that has long been leased by the UK as a military base to the US. The Senate’s findings, in their leaked form, contradicted a serious of UK government denials that Britain presided over the CIA’s use of Diego Garcia for its extraordinary rendition program.
Following these revelations, several human rights groups have publicly said Diego Garcia played a crucial role in CIA extraordinary rendition – a program of moving terrorist suspects to covert prisons around the world in the absence of legislative oversight.
In light of leaked data from the Senate’s investigation and escalating criticism from NGOs, the UK government has faced mounting pressure to reveal the full extent of Britain’s role in the contentious CIA program – specifically with respect to its alleged complicity in the running of a covert black site prison at Diego Garcia.