‘Hard to think’ UK wouldn’t have known about CIA torture, says former Executive Director

London, United Kingdom (Reprieve) – The man who was third in command of the CIA between 2001-2004 has told the BBC that it’s “hard…to think” that UK intelligence would not have been aware of the US Agency’s torture programme.

AB ‘Buzzy’ Krongard, formerly Executive Director of the CIA, was asked by the BBC’s Panorama programme whether British intelligence knew that torture was going to be used in interrogations. In comments due to be broadcast tonight, he replied, “It’s hard for me to think that they didn’t, they’re professional intelligence people, I mean obviously.”

As Executive Director between March 2001 and November 2004, Mr Krongard would have been in post at the time of the 2002 renditions of captives via the British territory of Diego Garcia – which the UK Government has publicly acknowledged – and the 2004 renditions of a pregnant woman and four young children to Libya, revealed in documents found after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

The latter, which saw Gaddafi opponents rendered alongside their families in a joint CIA-MI6-Libyan operation, is currently the focus of an investigation by London’s Metropolitan Police, and a civil case expected to be heard before the Supreme Court this autumn.

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in the CIA torture programme shortly after taking office in 2010, but has since backtracked, proposing instead to hand the task to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). However, the move has been criticised by rights groups who argue that the ISC lacks the necessary powers and independence to get to the truth.

Question marks also remain over the full role played by Diego Garcia in the rendition programmes, as the Government continues to withhold flight records relating to the island – despite having said it was considering their suitability for release over a year ago.

Last year, it emerged that UK Government agencies had successfully sought for redactions to be made to UK-related material in the US Senate’s report into the CIA’s interrogation programme.

Torture is wrong Image Source: takomabibelot, Flickr, Creative Commons

Torture is wrong
Image Source: takomabibelot, Flickr, Creative Commons

Commenting, Kat Craig, legal director at human rights organisation Reprieve said: “We already know that the UK played a central role in some of the worst abuses of the ‘war on terror’ – notably, the kidnapping and rendition of a pregnant woman and young children to Gaddafi’s Libya. However, instead of answers, we have seen repeated attempts by the Government to stymie accountability, whether through the courts or a proper, independent inquiry. How much more do we need to hear about British involvement in the CIA torture programme before the Government finally comes clean?”