A judge in Washington, DC has allowed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency to keep information secret regarding the complicity of British authorities in extraordinary rendition.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition – an activist group of British Members of Parliament – inquired through Freedom of Information requests about the release of documents, but US law says such requests can be denied to anyone representing a foreign government.
The judge’s decision comes amid fresh reports of US-UK cooperation on the extraordinary rendition – the process whereby the government sends terror suspects off to the custody of authoritarian states to be tortured – with the former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.
Tony Lloyd, vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Group, said the decision was “disappointing” and was intended to avoid embarrassment, instead of for national security reasons. “It suggests this material is not really something that affects national security or intelligence, but is being withheld to prevent the embarrassment of officials,” he said.
The British group made up to 43 requests for information from the CIA in 2008, focusing on “various aspects of the US and the UK’s involvement in extraordinary rendition, secret detention, coercive interrogation of suspected terrorists and the sources of information about alleged terrorist plots.”
The decision fits well with typical Obama administration practices of secrecy and protection of Bush-era officials for past crimes.