[JURIST] Sir Richard Dearlove [BBC profile], former head of the British intelligence agency known as MI6 [official website], has said that two components of the US war on terrorism would be illegal under British law. Dearlove, who led the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) from 1999 to 2004 and is now master of Pembroke College, Cambridge [college website], said the CIA's practice of extraordinary renditions [JURIST news archive] and the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] "would have been illegal under British common law," and he urged the West to reclaim "the moral high ground" in the fight against terrorism. Dearlove made the remarks last week at the Aspen Ideas Festival [website; Atlantic blog post]. He later told the Guardian that although the approach to fighting terrorism might have made sense immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, it "may well need adjustment" now.
Dearlove said the Criminal Justice Act 1988 [text] allows MI6 officers to be charged with a crime if they acquiesce in acts of torture that take place outside the UK. His comments on the Guantanamo detentions echo those made by UK Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith [official profile], who has called on the US to close the facility [JURIST report]. The Guardian has more.