Back last year, as you may recall, there was a dustup between the British and the United States over the release of classified documents on the treatment of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed, a 31-year-old Ethiopian, who grew up in Britain and ended up in Guantanamo.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, told Parliament at the time that the U.S. had threatened to break off intelligence sharing with Great Britain if the British revealed details about how Mohamed had been treated. The British promised to keep the secrets, in the face of court rulings that ordered their release.
That ended Wednesday, when, bowing to a ruling from Britain's Court of Appeal, he Foreign Office posted on its Web site the seven paragraphs on how Mohamed had been treated during his time in U.S. custody.
If you've followed the rulings of U.S. federal judges in the Guantanamo habeas cases, the description won't come as any surprise. There's a growing body of court rulings that pretty much find that U.S. authorities at Guantanamo and elsewhere brutalized more than just high value detainees. But the U.S., even under the Obama administration, would just as soon keep that quiet.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued this disapproving statement:
The protection of confidential information is essential to strong, effective security and intelligence cooperation among allies. The decision by a United Kingdom court to release classified information provided by the United States is not helpful, and we deeply regret it.
The United States and the United Kingdom have a long history of close cooperation that relies on mutual respect for the handling of classified information. This court decision creates additional challenges, but our two countries will remain united in our efforts to fight against violent extremist groups.
Here's what the British found about Mohamed:
[It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.
v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.
vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.
vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews
viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the interviews were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.
ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.
x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities]"
An Associated Press version of the story can be found here.
The British Foreign Office statement can be found here.