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British Surrender to Former Gitmo Detainees

Investigating abuse claims that have been investigated and dismissed before – repeatedly.

3:47 PM, Jul 13, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government has agreed to investigate torture allegations made by former Guantanamo detainees. The inquiry is expected to last one year. And, according to Cameron, it will look into claims that British officials knew of “improper treatment of detainees held by other countries in counterterrorism operations overseas, or were aware of improper treatment of detainees in operations in which the UK was involved.”

British Surrender to Former Gitmo Detainees

But before the inquiry even gets underway, Cameron’s government is probably going to pay the former Gitmo detainees cash settlements. Why?

The Sun (UK) offers a forthright assessment: The former detainees and their lawyers have buried British intelligence in paper.

“Our services are paralysed by paperwork as they try to defend themselves in lengthy court cases with uncertain rules,” Cameron is quoted as saying. “We cannot have their work impeded by these allegations.”

The Sun says the former detainees are suing British officials for “up to £500,000 each” and Cameron’s government has “been left with little choice but to settle with the men - once feared to have been some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world.”

In other words, the former detainees and their lawyers have already won, which isn’t altogether surprising.

For years, former detainees and their lawyers have spun stories of abuse and torture where there is absolutely no evidence of either. Consider the case of Moazzam Begg, one of the former Gitmo detainees living in the UK who stands to receive a hefty cash settlement. Begg’s claims are frequently repeated by organizations like the ACLU and Amnesty International. (For more on Begg see hereherehereherehere,  here, and here.)

Begg’s allegations have been investigated – repeatedly – before, and no evidence has surfaced to support his claims. The British surely know this.

The story is laid out in detail in a report prepared by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The report is titled “A Review of the FBI’s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq” and is freely available online. (You can download the pdf here.) The section dealing with Moazzam Begg’s claims can be found on pages 266 through 276.

Begg’s allegations were first investigated years ago. On page 268, the OIG found (emphasis added):

According to an undated letter from the United States Principal Undersecretary of Defense to the British Embassy, the Department of Defense (DOD) conducted three investigations of Begg’s allegations of abuse and found no evidence to substantiate his claims. The DOD provided the OIG with a Report of Investigation prepared by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command dated July 23, 2005. According to this report, the Army reviewed correspondence and statements by Begg and interviewed over 30 witnesses who were stationed at the facilities at which Begg claimed the abuses occurred. The report concluded that “the offenses of Communicating at Threat, Maltreatment of a Person in U.S. Custody, and Assault did not occur as alleged.” Many of the witnesses interviewed by the Army investigators said that Begg cooperated with military interrogators by assisting with translations, that Begg received comforts such as reading and writing materials, and that Begg never complained about mistreatment while he was at Bagram.

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