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Clinton won't comment on report she tried to deep-six torture evidence
John Byrne
Published: Thursday July 30, 2009


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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressured the British intelligence service not to disclose evidence of alleged US torture of a British national, Britain's foreign secretary told the UK's top court Wednesday.

Asked about the claim at a press availability by a BBC reporter Wednesday, Clinton declined to comment.

"Im not going to comment," Clinton said when asked. "Obviously, the issue of intelligence sharing is one that is critically important to our two countries, and we have both a stake in ensuring that it continues to the fullest extent possible."

Reporters are seeking access to a secret seven-paragraph CIA summary which posits that the United States told the UK they'd trim intelligence sharing if the Brits "outed" their treatment of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed. British judges have seen the CIA brief but have yet to release it. The country's top lawyer says release of the memo would undermine national security, a claim that judges seem skeptical of.

British foreign secretary David Milbrand said in a statement to the court that Clinton personally "indicated" that disclosing the CIA memo "would affect intelligence sharing." Milbrand's lawyer, Karen Steyn, also told the court that such a loss of spy cooperation "would put lives at risk."

The BBC's question to Clinton follows.

Lord Justice Thomas, one of the judges hearing the case, expressed reservations about heeding the US' request to keep the CIA document out of the public eye. He argues that the national security charge is dubious, dubbing it "the exercise of naked political power."

A letter from the CIA asking him to deep-six the memo "merely demonstrated that the CIA would like the court to withhold from the public findings about CIA wrongdoing," he said.


MR. KELLY: Last question, James Robbins from BBC.

QUESTION: James Robbins from the BBC. On Afghanistan, to both of you, please, youve outlined a comprehensive political and military strategy. Do you accept that there can be no guarantee of success? And to increase the chances of success, is it likely within the future, both countries both your countries are going to have to commit further troops to Afghanistan?

And specifically to you, Madame Secretary, this morning in London, British judges who want to publish a summary of the alleged torture of Binyam Mohamed were told in court that you personally have said that such publication would damage intelligence-sharing relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. So may I ask you, is that correct? And are you at all concerned that the judges think that justice would be better served if the material was published?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Im not going to comment on the last question. Obviously, the issue of intelligence sharing is one that is critically important to our two countries, and we have both a stake in ensuring that it continues to the fullest extent possible.



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