- Created: Friday, 07 October 2011 13:58
FRFI 223 October/November 2011
Gibson Inquiry – cover-up for British complicity with torture
Over the years, allegations of complicity with torture have been made against Britain, based on the accounts of their accusers. Not surprisingly, new allegations have surfaced, this time in Libya. In this case, the evidence not only includes the victims’ accounts, but top secret documents detailing the activities between Libya and MI6.
In response to this expose, Prime Minister David Cameron has come out in defence of the agencies, reminding people of the difficult times we are in. He has, however, indicated that these new allegations will be examined by the Gibson Inquiry.
The sudden appearance of these documents seems to have surprised everybody, including the Prime Minister. But the surprise is not that these documents show Britain’s complicity with torture but that it should have come to everyone’s attention. Such documents have existed for a long time, but only a few have been privy to them as they reside under the much misused category of ‘National Security’.
The current government is quick to point out that all these alleged events occurred under the tenure of the previous regime. They have also stated that they will investigate allegations made against the intelligence agency. So far their attempts have been woeful.
The inquiry set up to investigate allegations of involvement in rendition by the British intelligence agencies is known as the Gibson Inquiry. Sir Peter Gibson, who is heading it, was himself the intelligence services commissioner responsible for reviewing the activities of the Home Secretary and the intelligence services between 2006 and 2011. As he is to investigate the very organisation he was watching over, there is a conflict of interest.
Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, has criticised the inquiry for taking a series of wrong turnings and said that Sir Peter’s early decisions do not inspire confidence. The inquiry itself is being boycotted by solicitors and human rights organisations.
If the previous government is guilty of allowing MI6 to partake in torture, then the current government will be guilty of suppressing the evidence. The government will continue to plead ignorance, the judge will decide they have no case to answer and the intelligence services will go on spouting the same nonsense about non-complicity.
RANGZIEB AHMED A6326AC
HMP Full Sutton, Moor Lane, York YO41 IPS
The Deputy Warden of Woodhill...
There is a Clint Eastwood film called Escape from Alcatraz that many prisoners can relate to. A few scenes stand out to me...
The Warden, not liking the artwork from a prisoner, gives the order that his painting privileges be removed. The Deputy Warden, who receives the order, questions what he should tell the prisoner is the reason for this and is told he is the Deputy Warden so make something up.
As the prisoner has his paintings and materials removed from his cell, he says in a very hurt tone ‘but paintings are all I have’. The prisoner is then unable to cope and chops off his fingers at the first opportunity.
The film, which was made in 1979, is a prime illustration of the detrimental impact of the Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme. Prisoners throughout England are subjected to this level of control, but none more so than those in the Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) which are this country’s Supermaxs. In the CSCs most privileges are removed and human rights along with them. Apparently it is a privilege to do such things as shower in privacy or out of the sight of female staff, or to receive confidential medical treatment, which CSC prisoners are no longer entitled to.
The new restrictions I face are a ban on my mother’s phone number and home number and the need to book all phonecalls in advance and have every call subject to line monitoring, including legal calls. The reason the ‘Deputy Warden’ gave me is that I ‘may’ have contravened the regulations around the use of the telephone. Upon complaint, I am told a bit more – prisoners are not permitted to use the telephone for the disclosure of information intended for publication which may identify staff.
So now on top of the fact that I have hardly any time out of my cell I now struggle to maintain ties with family and legal advisers. With all this spare time do you think I will expose more or less corruption?
Also, thank you to anyone who has written to me. It has been greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, the Deputy Warden has been returning my mail to sender, claiming I am no longer located here or just failing to post my response. So if you haven’t heard back from me, please write again. I do respond to all my mail.
Please check out my website for more information on my current prison conditions: www.justiceforkev.webs.com
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
HMP WOODHILL (CSC),
Milton Keynes, MK14 4DA
Working class youth bear brunt of Scottish cuts
Youth unemployment in Scotland has increased by 10% over the past year, with around 46,300 people aged between 16 and 24 currently on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), according to the Scottish Herald (15 September 2011). This excludes those not in education or claiming JSA, a figure estimated by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion to be 238,000 across the UK. It is in this climate that the Scottish government has announced a budget which will cut £74m from colleges by 2014/15, further reducing college staff after 1,000 jobs were lost last year following a 10% cut in funding (Scottish Herald 22 September 2011). This will lead to the closure of courses, larger class sizes and ultimately fewer college places, despite government assurances to protect these for school leavers and unemployed youth. Funding to universities is to increase slightly. I myself went to college after leaving school at 16 and failing to find a job – this gave me a chance to find my feet and I am now in university. The cutbacks are denying the present and upcoming generations the same chances and condemning them to a life on the dole. We must fight back for them and for ourselves!
NHS: calculating profit and loss
Following on from the review on the privatisation of health care on FRFI online (http://tinyurl.com/
3jc8tnt), comrades may be interested in this article article (www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n18/james-meek/its-already-happened) from the current edition of London Review of Books. Note how the journalist has no problem (unlike the left) locating the current Coalition attack as a continuation of the Labour government’s policies throughout their term in office.
I found the article particularly useful in understanding how surgeons are calculating the profits and losses of specific surgical procedures. The article quotes Martyn Porter, a senior surgeon:‘“The case we’re doing this morning, we’re going to make a loss of about £5,000. The private sector wouldn’t do it,” he said. “How do we deal with that? Some procedures the ebitda is about 8 per cent. If you make an ebitda of 12 per cent you’re making a real profit.” You expect medical jargon from surgeons, but I was surprised to hear the word “ebitda” from Porter. It’s an accountancy term meaning ‘earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation.’
‘“Last year we did about 1,400 hip replacements,” he said. “The worrying thing for us is we lost a million pounds doing that. What we worked out is that our length of stay [the time patients spend in hospital after an operation] was six days. If we can get it down to five days we break even and if it’s four, we make a million pound profit.” I felt as if I’d somehow jumped forwards in time. Lansley has not yet, supposedly, shaken up the NHS. He’d barely been in power a year when I talked to Porter. But here was a leading surgeon in an NHS hospital, about to perform a challenging operation on an NHS patient, telling me exactly how much money the hospital was going to lose by operating on her, and chatting easily about profit and loss, as if he’d been living in Lansleyworld for years. Had the NHS been privatised one day while I was sleeping?’
It will come as little surprise to regular readers of FRFI ‘Health matters’ articles.
Spanish state persecutes Basque nationalists
On 16 September, the Spanish National Court sentenced five Basque nationalists to prison terms of between eight and ten years, charging them with belonging to ETA and trying to reform a banned organisation. One of those receiving a ten-year sentence was Rafa Diez, former general secretary of the Basque Abertzale Left trade union (LAB). LAB has issued a statement condemning the judgment. We condemn the Spanish state for continuing to place shackles on the open, democratic process. Partisan and electoral interests have been prioritised by the PSOE (main Spanish social democratic party) and the PP (main Spanish conservative and right-wing party) and once again the wishes of the majority of the Basque people have been disrespected and dismissed.
basque abertzale left
Parole knock-back leads to 32nd year inside
I’m writing to inform you that I have moved again, so that you don’t send FRFI to my previous prison, and that my case is now being examined by Bristol University Innocence Project, after my rejection by the CCRC last year. It’s at the initial stage, but I will update you with any developments.
I also received another 18 month parole knock-back that takes me into my 32nd year [of imprisonment]. I expect to be rejected again next year, when the tenth review is due to take place.
I am otherwise fine, despite being back at the prison where this injustice began.
RAY GILBERT A6806AJ
Warrington WA3 6BP
Justice for Terry Allen
Thank you so much for the write-up you gave me in the August/September issue of FRFI (Letters, FRFI 222). I guess it must have touched a sensitive spot, because I heard from my solicitor today that we don’t have to pay a penny towards DNA testing as she’s been granted a full legal aid certificate for all the DNA testing that is to be done, so she’s not stopping at one any more. Yippee!
Thank you, FRFI, for all the support you have given me over the years. It has been one very long road.
TERENCE ALLEN A6119AD
HMP Leyhill, Wotton-under-Edge, Bristol GL1Z 8BT
More Marxism-Leninism, please
In FRFI 222, I really liked the new style for the Editorial, just inside the front page. Also Steve Palmer’s article on the US Civil War was very interesting: it would be great to have more historical and educational articles in future, especially on Marxism and the works of Lenin, putting current events into context.