US used Diego Garcia for terrorism probe: Time

August 2nd, 2008 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Aug 2 (IANS) The US imprisoned and interrogated some terrorism suspects in 2002 and possibly 2003 on Diego Garcia, an island under British control in the Indian Ocean, Time magazine reported quoting a former US official. According to the official, a “CIA counter-terrorism official twice said that a high-value prisoner or prisoners were being held and interrogated on the island”, wrote Time, but said the identity of the captive or captives was not made clear.

The official, privy to White House Situation Room meetings after 9/11, said the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer volunteered the information apparently to demonstrate that the agency was doing its best to obtain valuable intelligence. The US may also have kept prisoners on ships within Diego Garcia’s territorial waters, a contention the US has long denied.

Diego Garcia, a tiny island, is about 1,600 km south of the southern coast of India.

Richard Clarke, a special adviser to Bush on the National Security Council dealing with counter-terrorism until 2003, found “the report that the US did use the island for detention or interrogation entirely credible”, he told Time.

According to Clarke, who was in charge of US-Britain cooperation on Diego Garcia in the early ’90s, using the island for interrogations or detentions without British permission “is a violation of UK law, as well as of the bilateral agreement governing the island”.

Diego Garcia’s use by the US as a detention or interrogation site has global significance, commented Time. Unlike the governments of Poland and Romania which have faced few domestic consequences for their rumoured cooperation with US counter-terrorism measures, many in Britain have strongly opposed what they see as the US’s abrogation of human rights as well as violations of law and British sovereignty.

The chief spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Time: “Our intelligence and counter-terrorism relationship with the US is vital to the national security of the UK. We accept US assurances on rendition in good faith. But if others have definitive evidence of rendition through the UK or our overseas territories, including Diego Garcia, then we will raise it with the US authorities.”

A CIA spokesman told Time that the agency’s position on Diego Garcia remains unchanged since February 2008, when CIA director Michael Hayden admitted that the agency’s previous denials about US activities on the island were incorrect.

Hayden acknowledged then that the US had inadvertently misled the British government and that two suspects had been on flights that stopped to refuel on Diego Garcia en route to Guantanamo Bay and Morocco in 2002.

“Neither of those individuals were ever part of CIA’s high-value terrorist-interrogation programme,” said Hayden. He also insisted that no other US prisoners have been on Diego Garcia since 9-11 attacks.

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