Attention to detail

This entry was posted on
Monday, January 23rd, 2006
9:24 am and is filed
under It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!.

Independent – Westminster ‘misled’ over CIA torture flights: Pressure over the use of British airports for secret CIA torture flights increased dramatically yesterday after it emerged that a Foreign Office minister misled Parliament over a meeting between the UN and UK civil servants about the issue. The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Lord Triesman, the Foreign Office minister, misled peers when he told the House of Lords that no such meeting had ever occurred. But Martin Scheinin, the UN Human Rights Commission’s special rapporteur, travelled to London to hold meetings with Home Office and Foreign Office officials between 21 and 22 November last year. He raised concerns about the issue of “extraordinary rendition” – the policy of moving terror suspects to countries that use torture – and is so concerned following the lack of disclosure that he is writing to ministers. In his recent parliamentary reply to Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, the senior Liberal Democrat MP, Lord Triesman said: “As far as we are aware, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have not held meetings with United Nations officials since 1 November on extraordinary rendition.” The Foreign Office admitted yesterday that the answer was incorrect and that one of its civil servants had been at a Home Office meeting with Dr Scheinin, where rendition was discussed, eight weeks ago… In a report last year, the committee accused the Government of failing to answer questions about extraordinary rendition “with the transparency and accountability required on so serious an issue”. The report called on the Government to “end its policy of obfuscation and that it give straight answers” to questions posed by MPs. Andrew Tyrie, the Tory chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on rendition, accused the Government of “wilful ignorance” and said he had first written to ministers about the issue in 2003.

Meanwhile, the spirit of openness continues as the government gives yet another important issue the attention it deserves….

Soldiers to sue MoD for lives blighted by Iraq: The decision by ministers to publish figures on servicemen injured in Iraq is a gesture too late for many. Now The Observer can reveal 15 soldiers are to take action against the government…. A year ago, a parliamentary answer put the number of British servicemen and women wounded in Iraq at 794. Last Wednesday afternoon, The Observer was sent figures by the MoD claiming that 177 British men and women had been wounded as a result of hostile action in Iraq. Shortly after midday last Friday this had changed again when Reid announced that in fact this figure was 230, including 40 very seriously injured. At least 11 are known to have lost limbs. The previous figure of almost 800 was suddenly ‘withdrawn’ and would ‘never be used again’. Sources from the MoD struggled to explain the sudden discrepancy, saying only that previous figures were invalid. But the new data raised their own questions, omitting as it did, the fact that 3,800 UK personnel had been hospitalised after being airlifted from Iraq without any detailed explanation of their condition. As Reid said: ‘It depends upon the definition of casualty.’

Yes… it much the same way that you might say that it depends upon your definition of the words ‘meeting’ or ‘torture’….

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