British Foreign Office Claims Documents Relating to CIA Abduction Program were “Accidentally” Destroyed

Friday, July 11, 2014
U.S. military planes on Diego Garcia (photo: USAF, AFP)

The British government has resorted to what some critics are calling a pathetic excuse to explain why it will not be turning over documents that could show officials were more involved last decade in the United States’ secret rendition program targeting terrorist threats than previously known.


Just how involved may never be known, now that the British Foreign Office has said that secret files documenting Britain’s role in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program were destroyed by “water damage.”


The information in question purportedly contained details about CIA flights in 2002 carrying detainees to and from the secret military installation known as Diego Garcia, located in the middle of the Indian Ocean.


The British-controlled island, which the U.S. has long used for military operations, may have also housed a “black site” prison operated by the CIA for the purpose of interrogating detainees.


London has long insisted that it was unaware of any rendition activity on Diego Garcia until 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration that launched the war-on-terror program. At that time, the British Labour party admitted that assurances given by Tony Blair, while serving as Prime Minister, and by Jack Straw while Foreign Secretary, that the island had not been used for the U.S. rendition program were wrong. In fact, two rendition flights had stopped at the island, but only to refuel, reported the British government in its correction.


The timing of the latest British announcement was particularly alarming to critics, including human rights groups that have sought a full accounting of the country’s role in the renditions.


A U.S. Senate committee that investigated the CIA’s clandestine counterterrorism efforts is expected to release its findings soon, and with it, more news about Britain’s level of knowledge and participation in the controversial effort to neutralize al Qaeda operatives.


The Senate report, in fact, may even reveal that the shadowy activities on Diego Garcia were carried out with the “full co-operation” of the British government, The Independent reported.


“It’s looking worse and worse for the UK government on Diego Garcia,” Cori Crider, a director of the legal charity Reprieve, told the British newspaper. “First we learn the Senate’s upcoming torture report says detainees were held on the island, and now, conveniently, a pile of key documents turn up missing with ‘water damage?’”


Crider added: “The Government might as well have said the dog ate their homework. This smacks of a cover up. They now need to come clean about how, when and where this evidence was lost.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Government Needs to 'Come Clean' about Extent of Its Knowledge of US Activities on UK Soil, Campaigners Say (by Cahal Milmo, The Independent)

Files on UK Role in CIA Rendition Accidentally Destroyed, Says Minister (by Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian)

Newly-Discovered Documents Reveal CIA Helped Gaddafi against His Opponents (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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