Newspaper headlines: 'Torture' on British island, and Tasers plea

Suspicions that the CIA was interrogating terror suspects at a secret base on a British island in the Indian Ocean appear to have been confirmed, the Independent says.

Image caption Diego Garcia lies 1,120 miles south-west of India

The paper says an admission that Diego Garcia island was one of the US spy organisation's "black sites" has come from Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief aide to then US secretary of state Colin Powell.

Mr Wilkerson is quoted as saying Diego Garcia - which hosts a US air base - was not used as a permanent prison but it was used to interrogate prisoners in transit and he believed the British authorities were aware.

The Independent says the UK has always denied any use of its territory has been made by CIA interrogators.

The paper says Mr Wilkerson told the Vice News website: "You might have a case where you simply go in and use a facility at Diego Garcia for a month or two weeks or whatever and you do your nefarious activities there."

Sir Menzies Campbell, a member of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security committee, tells the Independent the claims should be investigated with "full rigour".

Image caption Sir Menzies Campbell

"If true, they would constitute a very different picture to that which has previously been painted of the use to which Diego Garcia has been put by the United States."

Cori Crider, of the charity Reprieve, says: "This suggests the UK Government has not told the whole truth about Diego Garcia's part in the CIA's torture programme."

The Independent says it had been reported that the use of Diego Garcia would emerge in the report on CIA "enhanced interrogation techniques" that was compiled by Democrats in the US Congress, but when the document was released, the locations of "black sites" had been redacted.

The foreign Office tells the Indy that it has been assured that US rendition flights have only landed in Diego Garcia on two occasions - both in 2002.


The Guardian claims a front page exclusive with a report that the Police Federation is calling for its members to carry Tasers whenever they are on frontline duties.

Steve White, who chairs the organisation which represents rank-and-file police officers, said terrorists threats to kill law enforcers make the carrying of the electrical weapons imperative.

He tells the paper: "The terrorist ideal to get attention no longer relies on an attack being in a place of note. It could be in Cheam high street, in any town, in any part of the UK.

Image copyright PA

"We know there are more dangerous people out there, preparing to attack police officers and we need to be able to respond to that threat."

The Guardian notes that the stun weapon - which discharges 50,000 volts of electrical current - has been linked to 10 deaths in England and Wales over the past decade.

The Police Federation's 127,000 members are to vote on the Taser proposal next month, the paper adds.

Mr White says every officer is a potential target for terrorists.

"Talking to them with a cup of tea and a biscuit is not going to work," he tells the Guardian.

A senior police officer, talking to the paper on the condition of anonymity, says he believes chief constables, although sympathetic, will resist expansion in Taser carrying.

The officer tells the paper, "The idea of arming every police officer with a Taser is alien to 200 years of police culture."

An Amnesty International spokesman is also cautious.

He says, "Tasers should be used sparingly and only by highly trained officers."

The Guardian notes: "At present, about 10% of officers are trained to use Tasers. The training takes two to three days and costs £1,000 per officer."

Complex world

"Keyboard warriors" is the Sun's jokey headline, over the story that the Army is to form a new unit to fight enemies using psychology and social media's influence, as well as with traditional weapons.

The new 77 Brigade are to be modelled on the Chindits, the WWII special forces units that operated behind enemy lines in Burma and were engaged both in sabotage activities, but also in winning the support of the local populace.

The Sun says the unit will "draw on experiences learnt in Helmand, Afghanistan and the Ukraine".

Image copyright Army Film & Photographic Unit
Image caption The original Chindits: the guerrilla unit was named after a mythical Burmese beast

The Daily Mail says the new force will fight "the social media war being waged by Islamic State and other terror organisations and their fight to radicalise young people."

A defence source tells the paper: "We are being challenged in this complex world. It is warfare short of what we would describe as war. We are thinking about fighting in a cleverer, smarter way.

"It is a different way of thinking and it is a different way of fighting."

The brigade is to have as many as 2,000 troops, 42% of whom will be reservists, and will be based in Hermitage, Berkshire.

"Some of the members will be specialists responsible for the delivery of 'psychological operations', 'security and stabilisation' and 'media operations'," the paper explains.

The Times suggests that the unit could "evolve" into a British version of the "little green men", Russian militiamen who wore no identifying insignia but spread "dissent and confusion" in Ukraine in order to "push Vladimir Putin's agenda".

Recalling the original Chindits, the paper says they "did not operate in regular formations nor did they enjoy the usual supply chains that support normal army operations".

The Times adds it remains to be seen if a modern unit can recapture the Chindits' spirit of "derring-do" and determination.

The paper's defence analyst Deborah Haynes says "the creation of 77th Brigade is a welcome but long-overdue attempt by the British Army to start to break free from the rigid structure of traditional assumptions that conventional infantrymen will be the only front line of any future war effort."

White stallion

There's no theme to Saturday's main headlines, but is there a theme to some of the lighter stories?

The Times reports that the president of Turkmenistan has turned car pioneer Henry Ford's famous maxim on its head.

Ford is reputed to have said that you can have "any colour of car - as long as it's black", but Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has ordered his country's car dealers to sell only white cars.

The Times reports that the Turkmen leader is a former dentist "who has built a cult of personality around himself" in the gas-rich central Asian republic.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov pictured before his all-white period

A police official reportedly told Radio Free Europe that his force had been ordered to stop black, red and dark blue vehicles from entering the country.

Mr Berdimuhamedov's preference is not just a personal quirk however, the Times continues.

White is seen as a lucky colour in Turkmenistan and much of the capital Ashgabat is paved in white marble.

The president "is often pictured wearing white, amid white carpets and white flower arrangements, or mounted on a white stallion."

But it's not just popular on the streets on Ashgabat it seems.

The Daily Mail reports that white has become the preferred colour of the UK's car buyers.

"Despite more trips to the car wash," as the paper observes, the colour is now more popular than ever with British motorists.

The Mail speculates that this is based on the popularity of white Apple products, such as the iPhone.

However in a move destined to enrage central Asian dictators, some motorists are resisting white's charms, with 19% of new cars sold in black, 14% in grey with blue, red and silver stalled in joint fourth most popular place.

The research quoted by the Mail suggests that if you like to buck trends and go for a more retro colour, don't expect to cash in when you trade up.

Green, purple and maroon cars lost value quicker than their more conservatively hued counterparts, the paper notes.

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