02/09/2011 Newsnight


Newsnight looks into rendition claims made by a Libyan rebel leader which if true suggest a closer than expected relationship between the US and Gaddafi regime.

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Tonight, just how close was the CIA to Gaddafi's own regime? A new


leader of Libya says he was imprisoned and tortured by the


Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, then handed over to the curl nel


for more. What hope is there for trust between the two sides now. Do


we really know who was behind this revolution.


Here in Libya there is an international scramble to make


friends with the new leadership, even if some of them turn out to be


old enemies. Another coalition triumph, control


orders restricting the movement of terrorist suspects were dumped by


the Liberal Democrats. Why are they now back in all but name.


Also tonight, whatever happened to the August silly season.


What a summer it's been, riots, Libya, the economy, phone hacking,


and now I've been called back from the Newsnight Villa in Tuscany, to


do a special report on a Good evening. One of NATO's key


allies in Libya, the leader of military forces in Tripoli has


alleged he was kidnapped and interrogated by the CIA, and then


turned over to Gaddafi. Abdul Hakim Belhaj said he was turned over to


the CIA for his alleged links with Al-Qaeda, links he denies. These


are the strange bedfellows and allegations emerging.


We have a bit more now. There is more light being shed on


the dark side of the war on terror, that is for sure. 30 years ago


Islamist fighting groups were America's great friends, fighting


the good fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. Ten years ago that


all changed with the war on terror. The enemy's enemy, Colonel Gaddafi


became the great friend. Now that's all changed again, and we have a


former Jihadist leading the fight against Gaddafi's forces in Tripoli.


He's revealing some embarrassing secrets.


Suddenly everything has changed, the rebel force that took Tripoli


is now the de facto army of the new Libya. The man who led them is


Abdul Hakim Belhaj. Today we are witnessing a new revolution which


everyone is happy about. But the hero of this new revolution,


championed by NATO and America, has also said just a few years ago he


was being tortured by the CIA. Back in the 1990s, Belhaj led an


Islamist guerrilla group fight to go overthrow Gaddafi. Then the


Americans lent Gaddafi a hand. According to Belhaj he was first


detained in an airport in Malaysia in 2004. From there he was taken to


a secret prison in Bangkok, Thailand, where, he says, two CIA


agents took a direct part in his torture. He don't give details.


Days after that he was handed to the Libyans, a gift from America to


the Gaddafi regime. He was to spend six years in Tripoli's notorious


Abu Salemprison. The CIA, Libya relationship is no surprise to this


man. Libyan-born he was locked up in Guantanamo Bay. In September


2004, two Libyan intelligence officers turned up as his


interrogators. He said the real enemy is not the Americans, we are


the real enemy, you are our enemy. They said things like they will


kill me when I went back, they came to take me back to Libya. The real


problems are in Libya where they will kill me. Clearly you are like


the son, opposing the Gaddafi regime and an enemy of the


revolution. They were making all sorts of threats. Were you worried?


I was very worried. The Americans kept threatening with handing us to


the Libyans. Six years ago Newsnight coroborated his story


about Libyan agents in Guantanamo, by following the logs of a CIA


plane, tracked from Washington DC to Tripoli and back to Guantanamo


Bay. All the Libyan detainees in


Guantanamo were interrogated by Gaddafi's agents, says this man.


One of them, still locked up in Guantanamo, they threatened to


sodomise him when he came back. They said he was pretending to be a


man. They said he had this orange suit, they will make him look


orange without the suit, they will have the iron and use it on his


skin until the skin will become orange, things like that. They made


threats to all of them. Newsnight established that he was


in Guantanamo, because the Americans had confused him with a


Jihadi from somewhere else. Did they believe it? The rubbish


intelligence that came out. I think at that time they were so hungry


for information that the Security Services of Libya or more cock co-


could take the CIA for - Morocco could take the CIA for a ride.


far did they take them for a ride? All the way. You remember Colin


Powell talking about WMDs and all gad da links, that came from an Al-


Qaeda man who was Libyan and rendered, the Americans went to war


on that, and it wasn't true. He turned up dead two years later in a


Libyan prison. You can see the truth of the platitude, your


enemy's enemy is your enemy's friend, is more true now. How are


everyone feeling about the allied forces involved in the revolution.


There was jubilation in Benghazi this week, as bus loads of


Gaddafi's victims came home. Political prisoners from Libya's


most notorious jail. Tripoli's Abu Salem. One released earlier


remembers the massacre there in June 1996, when an estimated 1200


prisoners were shot dead. Saturday 29th at 11.00, they started


shooting them from the roof. I saw six special forces shooting with a


Kalashnikov and the other guy has a heavy machine gun, from the roof,


on the top of the roof, shooting the protestors inside the yards.


Relatives weren't told, cynically for years afterwards, guards


accepted food parcels for the dead and resold them. The victims'


families had been bringing food and needs to their kids. Believing and


hoping their kids were still alive. The jail commander with his


soldiers would take those things. The jail's victims included both


opposition activists and others merely suspected of dissident


thoughts. Some were Democrats, others Islamists.


This young man, I interviewed him alongside his father, earlier this


year in the eastern city of Deraa, were among hundreds jailed after


fighting. He said he wouldn't do that again. TRANSLATION: I went to


Iraq for love of the country, to sacrifice myself because of what


happened in the Abu Graib jail, and the occupation.


Today in Benghazi, as every Friday, they were praying on the square,


that for months was the heart of the Libyan revolution. This is an


overwhelmingly devout and socially conservative society, but one that


now claims to be committed to pluralistic democracy. Libya's new


leaders vehemently deny there is any major strain of Islamism in


their revolution. Most former Islamists within their ranks say


they long ago abandoned any extreme views they may once have held. Even


so, some western politicians, particularly in America, think


Libya needs to be watched very carefully in future, for any


possible resurgence of radicalism. It was the murder, just over a


month ago, of this man, the rebels' Commander-in-Chief, Abdel Fattah


Younes, that most alarmed Libya's western backers, and many within


the country. The investigation's continuing, but both the National


Transitional Council and Younes's family say Islamist militia men


were to blame. They were an Islamic radical group, who committed this


execution. According to the eyewitnesses, who have been with


him, his guards, so that people looked in a strange shape, with a


long beard, with their vocalisation, the way that they spoke, were


obviously looking like people from extreme background. No-one's yet


sure whether the transitional council can control radical groups,


or how far it may go to co-opt Islamists into its vision of the


future. Libya's revolutionaries are so keen on legality, that here on


Benghazi water front, amid the souvenir stall, with the hats and


the bags, you can also find a copy in Arabic and English of the Libyan


constitution. This isn't the new constitution, it is the


constitution of the Libyan monarchy from 1951. And 1952, under the


monarchy, is the only year that Libya has ever had an election.


There is an interesting difference between this old 1950s constitution,


and the new one worked out very scruplously by the National


Transitional Council. Here you can see under the old one, article five,


saying Islam is the religion of state. Now, under the new draft


constitution, that is rather amplified, to say that Sharia,


Islamic law, will be the primary source of all future legislation


here. That's a distinct difference that some people feel is a


concession to Islamists. But not major one.


For now, gratitude for the west's support is linked to a desire for


diversity in Libya and there is a willingness to forgive America for


its security links with Gaddafi after 9/11. If you go and knock on


any door in Tripoli, Benghazi, or in the southern part, asking what


friends of the United States or Britain, what the west means to you,


they would say, our lives. They do appreciate what they did. To


protect civilians. Britain, America and other western states may


sometimes have found the Libyan dictator useful in the past, the


feeling here is they have certainly redeemed themselves now.


We can speak now to Sheuer, the former head of the CIA Bin Laden


unit in Edinburgh, and the former leader of the Liberal Democrats,


Menzies Campbell joins us too. Michael Sheuer, it is pretty


embarrassing if this is proved that the Americans and Gaddafi were


working rather well together, all the time? Why would that be


embarrassing, mam, Mr Blair, Condoleezza Rice and others went to


kiss Colonel Gaddafi's butt when he gave up weapons of mass destruction.


It is a strange way to phrase it to say the CIA had a relationship with


Libya, the United States Government had a relationship with Libya, as


did Britain and France and all the Intelligence Services. This is not


a surprise. Is it something you are proud of or is it a source of


regret? Certainly I don't regret it. You work with whoever you can work


with to protect the United States, that is the bottom line. Our


Government said he was a good guy now and we should deal with them.


The Intelligence Services are not independent actors, in the United


States, everything we did with Gaddafi was approved by Mr Bush,


and had to be reapproved by Mr Obama. That is the real truth of it,


Israel poll teak means we have always - real politk means we have


always had to use dictators? supported Saddam Hussein when he


was using chemical weapons against the Iranians and his own people,


look how that turned out. I agree with what was said, it is not the


Intelligence Services that need to be embarrassed, it is the


Governments. I have some form on this. He said there is no


embarrassment at all, why would you be embarrassed in protecting


national security in doing so? said it was understood that the


Intelligence Service was not embarrassed. I think Governments


are embarrassed. As I say, I have some form on this, I was taken to


task by a commentator in national newspaper here, after I was thought


to be unenthusiastic about the deal which Tony Blair had done. Of


course you have to do deals, often with people whose methods and whose


philosophy you don't like. But that doesn't mean to say you shouldn't


be as if todayous about how you deal with - as if stidous about how


you deal with grb fastidious about how you deal with them.


ascensionly believe now these men are terrorists? NATO has supplied


air support to people who would be called the Taliban. We walked into


the affair in Libya with the basis of the revolution coming out of


Benghazi, the most strongest Islamist place in Libya, and those


people have carried the fighting, while pushing forward English


speaking, legalistic intellectuals, who are on the transitional council


now. Whether that holds steady in the future I think is highly


unlikely. So much for the utopia, Menzies Campbell, how worried are


you that the man militarily leading Libya is a former Jihadi, you heard


in Tim's piece that Sharia is a part of the future legislation and


this man is a Jihadi? As was said a few moments ago, we have to keep


our eye on Libya. Mr Belhaj is surprisingly short of rancour about


any of the things that happened to him. He does claim that he has


abandoned the whole notion of holy war, it is not what people say that


matters, it is what they do. That is why the west has been at pains


to embrace the national council, why else was there that meeting


yesterday in Paris when we were trying very closely to embrace the


leaders of the new Libya, in order to ensure that we have some


influence in relation to their promises to accept, adopt and


implement. Do you accept that rendition was the wrong policy?


think it was absolutely the right policy, and will have to be revived


under the next President, whether that is a re-elected President


Obama or a Republican. Is the CIA still monitoring, what are


essentially the new leaders of Libya now? I would certainly hope


so, I would certainly hope they would be doing that now. I I was


going to say there is a fundamental difference. On these matters, as


far as I'm concerned. Rendition is illegal, it is illegal in


international law, and almost certainly illegal in the domestic


law of the countries in which it is practised. And if you accept that


rendition is a legitimate means of conducting the campaign against


terrorism, then you are giving away an enormous amount of your moral


authority. You lose your moral authority by doing so? The moral


high ground is where you shoot your guns straightist from. I wouldn't


worry about international law for a second if I was in charge of


protecting the United States. David Cameron was once reported to


have said control orders had the potential to be an car crash. After


spending months trying to relocate terror suspects, ministers have


draft proposals appearing to endorse what they tried to get rid


of. The terrorism and detention and investigation measure, which came


to be known as TPIMS, have been lambasted this week, but are


control orders back in all but name. What are - What are they actually


doing, with this complicated set of measures? It is best to look at a


terrorist suspect under the name PD. He's under a old style control


order, he's under virtual house arrest. It is deemed his


prosecution is impossible because the intelligence and evidence is


inadmissible in court. The Liberal Democrats have always been opposed


to a control order regime, one of the things they were opposed to was


the forcible relocation. PD has been relocated to the Midlands, to


break connections with co- conspirators and supporters. The


Liberal Democrats as soon as they came into the coalition Government


started arguing strongly against the Conservatives that they needed


to water down, to weaken, and dilute the control order


legislation. To a certain degree they were successful. They wrung


out a new legislation, proposed, and coming into force in January.


The key changes they have forced through is the idea that people,


suspects, weren't going to be forcibly relocated any more. Wind


forward six months to today, and now we seem to have something of a


vault fast. The Government have now proposed draft legislation, that


seems to indicate in exceptional circumstances, this won't be the


case and these suspects will be allowed to be forcibly relocated in


a time of crisis. To try to cut through all the confusion, I spoke


to Lord McDonald, the former head of public prosecutions today, to


ask him, in effect, what then is the difference between the old


control order regime and this new set of measures? None at all. The


new powers in the enhanced bill as published yesterday are control


orders. There is one substantial difference s they be limited to two


years, unless there was further evidence coming forward. The suite


of powers is the same. Telephone bans, computer bans, the advanced


bill is a control order bill. The Government has to make its mind up.


I don't really like the look of a situation in which the Government


makes its mind up and says hang on, just in cautious we will have


something else up our sleeve. They have done it with control orders


and 28 days. Ministers need to stand back from Security Service


advice and take decisions in the public interest.


Security sources have told me it may not be as simple as that, they


were comfortable with the new measures. It may be people in the


police or the Home Office. It remains a mystery tonight. We asked


the Home Office to clear up the mystery on the programme, they


denied. Joining me now is Tom Brake and the


former Labour cabinet minister, Hazel Blears. I guess this is the


car crash that David Cameron proverbly first warned of? What we


have is the TPIMS legislation going through the House of Commons at the


moment, which will get rid of control orders. That is what the


counter terrorism review which we initiated...In All but name? It has


got rid of relocation and control orders. What the council also said


was there may be a need for additional legislation if there


were extreme, exceptional circumstances. That is what has now


come forward. That is draft legislation. That is not going to


be legislation, unless those extreme circumstances apply. It is


not clear to me what those extreme circumstances might be. You are


playing with words? There would be a parliamentary debate and a vote


at the end of the process. If we are not happy that extreme


circumstances apply, I'm sure we will vote against that legislation.


Hazel Blears, does this make sense to you, does it seem difference


from what you set up in the first place? It is an absolute and utter


shambles. For the last few months on the committee which I have been


a member of. I have been moving amendments saying the Home


Secretary should at least have the power to consider relocation, she


might not decide to use it in every case, but it might be appropriate


In the last six months the Home Secretary has used two control


orders and used the power of relocation and then proposed not to


give herself the power. Then yesterday we hear there will be an


emergency bill. The prospect of making emergency legislation, when


we might have a number of terrorist attacks going on, where we have a


debate in the House of Commons, to see whether or not we have the


power of relocation, is absolutely ludicrous. If the Government now


have accepted they need the powers, it should be in the ordinary


legislation, which is what we have been arguing for from day one. This


might be a car crash, I think it is an absolute dog's breakfast.


good faith it would be hard for the public to see the difference


between one circumstance and another, when you are bringing in


emergency legislation all the time? It is not a surprise. It was known


in January that legislation of this nature would come forward. It is


only draft legislation. Will you vote against it? It is not


something going through the House of Commons. The TPIMS legislation,


getting rid of control orders and relocation, that is what is going


through the House of Commons, that is what I'm sure parliament is


going to vote for. Now at some point in the future, there are


extreme circumstances, perhaps multiple, potentially put pel


attacks in London, say, when - multiple attacks in London, say,


when the Government feels the legislation will need be debated,


we will cross that bridge when we come to it. You heard there, they


are the same thing, you are reintroducing the same thing, but


reduceing to admit to the public you are doing so? We are not


reintroducing it, there aren't extreme circumstances in parliament


and we haven't voted to implement it, it is not the same as control


orders. Fundamentally t doesn't get past the real issue, a lazy way to


deal with people? It doesn't push people towards a court process or a


trial, or monitor them properly. It leaves them in limbo? We have


always said that prosecution has to be the preferred way of dealing


with these people. There are a small number of cases, perhaps just


a dozen of them, where you have very dangerous people. You cannot


get the evidence through the conventional criminal justice


system, and therefore you have to control their movements. What we


have seen now is a political fudge with the Liberal Democrats, who


wanted to get rid of control orders, the Conservatives know that you


need, as last resort, to take these steps, and we're now seeing, I


think a really big split in the coalition b what the legislation


should be like. When Tom Brake says that London could be facing


multiple attacks and then we will a parliamentary debate as to whether


or not to relocate people, I'm desperately worried if the


legislation goes through as it is, we could find people coming back to


London w all of their associates and co-conspirators, before the


Olympic Games next year, I don't think that is a risk worth taking.


The protection of the public needs to be first and forecast, it is


less likely considering the less loved up Cameron, he will be


listening to these views? Public security has to be the security,


and it is. That is why, as well as getting rid of control orders, at


the same time we have introduced additional resources for


surveillance, so we can make sure that some of the people who


previously would have been relocated, if they are going to


remain in there n their existing properties, there will be increased


surveillance to make sure if they were intent of committing any acts


that they would be stopped. At Newsnight we would never stoop


so low as to do silly stories, no matter what the season was. But it


has been the talk, Orlament of the newsrooms up and down the country,


that there has been too much news to touch on the normal August fair,


- fayre, including surfing dogs. We went out to find some, this report


contains flash photography and quite poor jokes, even by his


standard! Hey kids, how have you been


enjoying the summer, that magical time when you pack up your troubles


and head to the beach, and the newspapers and telly join in the


fun w light-hearted stories that wouldn't normally see the light of


day. That didn't really happen this year z it. What a summer it has


been, riots, Libya, phone hacking, now I've been called back from the


Newsnight Villa in Tuscany, to do a special report on a skateboarding


dog. That's right. You won't want to


Miss Theo here on his deck. It's what Lord Wreath would have wanted.


Elsewhere, it's not really been a light and fluffy few months has it.


After the riots, politicians dumped their buckets and spades and


grabbed brooms instead. There were huge big events going on through


August, that was unusual. There was a more secular trend at work here,


in an age of globalisation, things happening far way from Britain have


a direct effect on what happens here. And the House of Commons


after the expenses scandal felt it had to reassert itself as the main


forum for discussing things, and it is not right it is just in TV and


radio studios, it wanted to reassert itself as part of British


national life. As night follows day, we turn to a foreign policy think-


tank. Their gaem German spokesperson said riots are one


thing, but politicians shouldn't be unnerved by things like the markets


in August. Mrs Merkel while wandering the hills was asked to


interrupt her holiday to come back because of market volitility. To my


mind, rightly, she said, no. The markets are volatile in August


because the trading is very thin, most of the senior people are away.


Junior people are trading, they are very nervous, they come up with


stories and I'm interrupting my holiday for market volitility. She


didn't say anything, she kept on hiking. Every dreamed of owning one,


soon you can, this will be available in a few months time.


Perhaps I'm very old fashioned, but this country has a proud tradition


of utterly fatuous summer news, which we discard at our peril. In


the past we have heard about the world's tallest man, an eight foot


five Ukrainian, an upside down house in Poland. And this photo


shoot in the Alps. And who can forget, the important historical


document of what Freddie Star once did to a hamster. Animals always


feature heavily in summer season stories, and probably my favourite,


and many people's favourite silly season story, was the time that


John Prescott and Peter Mandelson were vying for control of the


levers of power, and Peter Mandelson was compared by John


Prescott, just down the river, actually, memorably to a Chinese


mitten crab. His name is Peter. That was one of the finest of the


silly season stories. Still to come, our skateboarding dog, don't look


for it anywhere else, they don't have it. We have had a mini-silly


season this year, I suppose, with the Speaker's wife in the Big


Brother house. But as so often in the summer, the British have been


left standing by the Germans, they got an entire season's worth of


news out of a missing cow. They were chasing a cow recently in


Germany, it was a big story. They were chasing a a cow? One escaped,


Story.? And now because we know you have


missed that kind of thing. Even you, Newsnight viewer, it is Theo, an


11-year-old skateboarding dog. If that doesn't have you rushing out


to renew your license fee in the morning, nothing will!


You can find Theo on the website shortly I'm sure.


That's all from Newsnight tonight. After a summer of rioting and


clashes with police in Chile over education costs, the students of


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