CIA torture report redacted at request of British spies

Downing Street admits information was censored on 'national security grounds', but denies complicity

Guantanamo Bay prison
(Image credit: Chris Hondros/Getty I)

Parts of the damning report into the CIA's torture programme were redacted at the request of British intelligence agencies, Downing Street has admitted in a dramatic U-turn.

The government previously said that it had made no such requests, but a spokesperson from Number 10 has now admitted that requests were made on "national security grounds".

However, the government denies that it sought to redact "any allegations of UK involvement in activity that would be unlawful". The 500-page summary report on the CIA's use of torture following the 9/11 attacks makes no reference to Britain or British intelligence agency actions, but the admission has raised concerns about British involvement in the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" programme.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"Downing Street’s U-turn on its previous denial that redactions had taken place tells us what we already know – that there was complicity, and that it wasn’t reflected in the Senate report," said Tory MP David Davis.

The government and intelligence agencies have always insisted that torture was not used to extract information from suspects. However, this will "fuel suspicions" that the redactions were made to conceal the way in which close allies of the US became involved in the global kidnap and torture programme," The Guardian reports.

"The US is at least trying to be honest about what went on," said Labour MP Diane Abbott. "To their shame, the UK authorities are still trying to hide their complicity in torture.

As a result of the admission, the government is coming under increasing pressure to launch a full judicial review into allegations that British spies at MI5 and MI6 were complicit in the American torture programme.

The calls have been led by Tory MP Andrew Tyrie who told the Daily Telegraph that a judge-led inquiry is essential in order to restore public trust in the intelligence agencies.

"Until that work is completed, until the scope and limits of our involvement are known, allegations – whether true or not – will continue to be made, corroding public confidence," he said.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us