WASHINGTON, December 14 (Sputnik) — Information in the CIA torture report indicating the United Kingdom's cooperation with the agency in the program will likely be declassified in US first, the head of a Washington-based foreign policy nonprofit told Sputnik on Saturday.
"The UK Freedom of Information Act simply does not apply to the British security agencies like MI-6," Executive Director of National Security Counselors Kel McClanahan said. He noted that CIA records are just as subject to the Freedom of Information Act as records of the Department of Agriculture.
"For that reason, it is likely that this information will ultimately be released here before it is released elsewhere, although we're still talking about years or decades from now," McClanahan said. He added that the records about UK's involvement not necessarily have to be released, but they have to be considered for release.
A member of the UK parliament who sits on the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) told Sputnik on Friday that it is investigating the issue of an alleged request by British intelligence agencies to delete references to the United Kingdom from the recent CIA torture report. His statement came after the Guardian reported, citing the prime minister's deputy official spokesman, that there had been UK-US discussion on the report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee prior to its publication to remove any suggestion that Britain was complicit in US torture practices.
McClanahan said that information obtained from foreign governments is often classified in the United States, sometimes at the other government's request, sometimes without ever asking. Whether or not it should have been withheld is a different question from whether or not it can be, he added.
"The law affords intelligence agencies extraordinary flexibility when it comes to another government's information, allowing agencies to classify that information based only on the fact that it came from another country as long as it has anything to do with national security, McClanahan explained. "By the same token, declassifying that information is virtually impossible, because in order to be properly classified, it really only has to be "foreign government information," and with most agencies and judges, the question ends there."
McClanahan underlined that citizens of any country should know if their government cooperated in torture.
"Ideally they would use that information to hold the decision-makers accountable," he said, adding that it is unlikely to happen. "I think that, at best, this information is significantly more likely to be used for political gain in those countries by politicians who are less concerned with the torture than they are with obtaining a political advantage."
Following the release of the 500-page summary of the report on the CIA's torture program after September 11, 2001, the UK government has been under increased pressure to conduct a transparent inquiry into Britain's involvement.
On Tuesday, the US Senate Intelligence Committee released a summary of the detailed investigation into the CIA interrogation techniques that were used following the September 11 attacks on alleged al Qaeda agents between 2001 and 2006.
The comprehensive report was commissioned by the Intelligence Committee in 2009 and contains a 6,300-page description of CIA interrogation techniques used against detainees, including waterboarding, threats of sexual assault, forced nudity, prolonged sleep deprivation, use of stress positions, mock executions, threats against children and family, use of power drills and many other torture practices carried out in CIA detention centers around the world.
According to the report, the agency, aided by various countries particularly in Europe, abducted and transferred suspects to secret detention facilities where they were subjected to interrogation techniques.
The Senate report has sparked wide international reproach. However, the US Justice Department has said that it was not planning to launch investigations into CIA torture claims.