As the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches and details of the U.S. employing controversial measures in Guantanamo Bay to obtain information on Bin Laden, the former head of the MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence service, said the use of torture is "wrong and never justified".
Eliza Manningham-Buller, giving her second BBC Radio Reith lectures, said it should be "utterly rejected even when it may offer the prospect of saving lives" and also acknowledged recent documents indicating there had been British intelligence operations in Libya would "raise widespread concerns".
"No-one could justify what went on under Gaddafi's regime," she added.
The Baroness Manningham-Buller's lectures focus on terrorism and security and make references to U.S. and UK strategies used during the war on terror and the Libyan conflict.
Question the U.S. reaction's to the 9/11 attacks by deciding to wage a "war on terror" and using brutal torture to get detained to talk, saying that far from making the world a safer place, the use of torture and techniques such as water-boarding by the United States was a "profound mistake" and illustrated America has lost its "moral authority".
The attacks were a crime, a monstrous crime, not an act of war, Eliza Manningham-Buller said in a lecture broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday. It was a mistake to declare a war on terror.
Following the discovery of documents suggesting the CIA, M16 and the Gaddafi regime worked closely, the UK was also recently rocked by allegations that the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) was involved in the rendition of Libyan terror suspects, which angered the Libyan National Transitional Council.
Approaching the subject, the Baroness said that despite the fact she "would like to say more" on the recent allegations, she could not say much as she is expected to be called to give evidence to the Gibson Inquiry which will investigate the subject.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron set up a detainee inquiry, which is led by Sir Peter Gibson. The inquiry is in charge of investigating the alleged involvement in torture by UK security agencies.
Following the string of documents found in Libya, the inquiry said it will also consider the new allegations of UK involvement in rendition to Libya. Following the lecture, which was held in Leeds City Museum, Lady Manningham-Buller answered questions posed by members of the audience.
In her lecture Baroness Manningham-Buller's rightly said that while the 9/11 attacks were a terrible crime they were not act of war. The "war on terror" is an elusive and broad concept with no clear targets or time frame. By using torture, Western countries that are willing to intervene dictatorial regimes that use brutal methods, discredit their own call for morality and fairness. The Baroness also questioned the motivations usually attributed to jihadist and said the initial U.S. reaction might have been counterproductive as it beneficiated Bin Laden.
The second of Eliza Manningham-Buller's Reith Lectures, which is entitled Security, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, 13 September.
While the speech is worth reading in its entirety, here are a few highlights:
"And I call it a crime, not an act of war. Terrorism is a violent tool used for political reasons to bring pressure on governments by creating fear in the populace. In the same way, I have never thought it helpful to refer to a "war" on terror, any more than to a war on drugs. For one thing that legitimizes the terrorists as warriors; for another thing terrorism is a technique, not a state. Moreover terrorism will continue in some form whatever the outcome, if there is one, of such a "war". For me what happened was a crime and needs to be thought of as such. What made it different from earlier attacks was its scale and audacity, not its nature.
During the question and answer period, Manningham-Buller was asked if she ever told President Bush of her intense disapproval of the phrase "war on terror."
America's reaction to the 9/11 attacks might have beneficiated Bin Laden by creating fear, a massive security industry.
"Bin Laden must have expected that these murderous attacks would force a reaction that would make it easier for him to persuade others of his argument that Islam was under attack from the West. It suited his agenda for Muslims to be viewed with suspicion. In addition to mass casualties, Bin Laden sought an economic impact through driving up security costs and disrupting normal life."
Were the terror attacks on Freedom?
"But I still find it difficult to accept that the terror attacks were on "freedom" or democracy as some have claimed. The young men who committed the crime came from countries without democratic rights and freedoms, with no liberty to express their views in open debate, no easy way of changing their rulers, no opportunity for choice and well aware that the West often supported those autocratic rulers. For them, as for many others, an external enemy was, I believe, a unifying way of addressing some of their own frustrations. "
While Manningham-Buller supported the war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.she thinks the war in Iraq was wrong.
"His human rights record was atrocious, his prisons torture chambers. He was a ruthless dictator and the world is better off without him. But neither he nor his regime had anything to do with 9/11 and despite an extensive search for links, none but the most trivial and insignificant was found.
Manningham-Buller supported the war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But she is unwavering in her thinking that the war in Iraq was wrong, and has served as an effective recruiting cry for al Qaeda."
Political solution to win against terrorism?
"The war in Northern Ireland ended not because of the might of the British military nor because of intelligence but because there was a political solution, with the bitterly divided parties talking to each other. Drawing on that experience, she said, it is necessary to talk to al-Qaeda."
While pointing out that she did not necessarily know the answers to the questions she raised in her lecture, the Baroness added "What I think is that I hope -- I don't know -- that thinking about the answers to those questions is something that is currently happening. But to say that you're never going to speak to them or never going to try to, I think that's foolish."