Monthly archives: February 2005

The Observer – British liberty is under threat

The Observer – British liberty is under threat (leader)

Terrorism directed at innocent civilians is an affront against every norm of every society. Certainly, we need laws that deal determinedly with terrorist networks and can track down and imprison terrorists, and British law rightly gives our security and intelligence services powerful instruments with which to discharge this vital responsibility. They can arrest and question suspects on the basis of intelligence information. They can put their networks under surveillance, tap phones, and examine every detail of the lives of suspected terrorists and their contacts. Suspects can be detained for up to 14 days and, once evidence has been secured, they can be brought before a court to secure further detention under a wide array of potential charges.

Where to strike the balance between the need for a tough framework to protect citizens from terrorist attack and the need to respect individual justice has always been hotly contested territory. But an inviolable principle has always been that no British citizen should be denied liberty without the promise of the evidence against him or her ultimately being tested in court.

In one of the toughest ever anti-terrorist measures taken in Britain, the former Home Secretary held foreign terrorist suspects in Belmarsh without trial or knowledge of the evidence against them. He was rightly condemned by the Law Lords. Tomorrow, the government will try to wriggle free from this hook. David Blunkett’s successor, Charles Clarke, will attempt to reframe the law with ‘control orders’ and give himself the power to order the indefinite house arrest of any British citizen suspected of terrorism on the advice of the intelligence services. There will be no need for the evidence ever to subjected to the scrutiny of a trial.

Mr Clarke inherited an incredible mess from his predecessor, who seemed never to comprehend that the rule of law was an indispensable component of a free society. Those who cared about such questions were condemned. But Mr Clarke’s initial compromise – to release the detainees but subject them to de-facto house arrest – in no way improved the situation.

Even worse is the Prime Minister’s argument that there is no greater civil liberty than to live free from terrorist attack. It is comic in its misrepresentation of the issues. Labour election strategists concerned about disillusion in Labour’s base should look no further than such asinine and debasing justifications. Yes, the right not to be killed is fundamental, but so is the right not to be deprived of one’s freedom on evidence that will never be subject to the independent scrutiny of a court.

The Prime Minister’s attempt at clever paradox traduces generations of Western politicians, philosophers and lawyers who have strived for political rule that maintains liberty and security.

The new compromise – that the government will undertake to have its decision validated by a judge at an early stage in the process – does not allay our fears. Judges can make mistakes and, like politicians, have only the untested evidence provided by the intelligence services to go on. This, we know all too well, is variable in quality. Indeed, it says much for the corruption of our political culture that the brave parliamentary critics of control orders consider settling for so little to give their consent to a deeply flawed and illiberal bill.

What is now needed, following the judgment of the Law Lords, is adoption of the principle that any form of detention must be followed by the requirement of a trial. Monday’s vote is crucial – for civil liberties and for the rule of law. Labour is on the wrong side of this argument and has to be opposed.

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“Talking to Terrorists”

A new play, “Talking to Terrorists”, by the Out of Joint Theatre Company and the Royal Court Theatre features several scenes from Craig Murray’s life, and he is one of the leading characters of the play. The play’s publicity opens with a quote from Craig Murray on his leading the peace negotiations in Sierra Leone – “I looked round the room, and I thought, I’m the only one in this room who hasn’t killed anybody.” For further information click here.

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Evening Standard – Jack Straw on Labour danger list

Evening Standard – Jack Straw on Labour danger list (by Andrew Gilligan)

Labour’s general election managers are treating Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s normally rock-solid constituency as a marginal, according to the party’s official list of its most vulnerable seats leaked to the Evening Standard.

The news comes as two opinion polls show Labour’s lead over the Tories narrowing dramatically.

The list, showing the 106 “key seats” Labour considers most at risk, includes the constituencies of three Cabinet ministers. Labour also believes Education Secretary Ruth Kelly and Transport Secretary Alistair Darling are in danger of defeat. Dozens of seats in London and the South-East are listed as vulnerable amid growing poll evidence that Tony Blair’s “southern appeal” has faded.

The “key seats” are where Labour will target most of its doorstep campaigning, leafleting, phone canvassing and visits by national figures.

Most on the list are genuine marginals with majorities of only a few thousand or less. But some highly marginal seats are not included and several seats normally thought totally safe are on the list. The inclusion of Mr Straw’s Blackburn constituency is the clearest sign yet of just how worried campaign managers are about the anti-war vote.

One Labour insider said: “Turnout and the disaffection of the core vote are issues for us.”

Blackburn has been Labour-held without a break since 1945. Mr Straw had a majority of nearly 10,000 at the last election and won more votes than all his rivals put together. The Tories, who came a distant second last time, have put Blackburn more than 200th on their list of target seats and for the Liberal Democrats it is 384th.

But Blackburn is heavily Muslim and a high turnout of Muslim voters enraged about the Iraq war is expected. The Tory candidate in Blackburn, Imtiaz Ameen, is a Muslim and was against the war.

“Jack Straw has been relying on the Muslim vote for too long,” said Mr Ameen. “He was part of the decision-making process which led to thousands of Iraqi Muslims being killed – and that rankles with the Muslim community. They will not support him as they have done before. Labour clearly do feel vulnerable in Blackburn because they’ve done two leaflet drops since I was selected in December. They never used to do anything until just before the election.”

Several of the other safe seats on the list also have high numbers of Muslim voters. In London, the list includes the East End seat of Bethnal Green and Bow, where the pro-war Labour MP, Oona King, faces a challenge from Respect’s George Galloway.

Ms King’s seat is theoretically one of the safest in London with a majority of more than 26 per cent. But Bethnal Green’s Bangladeshi voters, who make up half the electorate, are expected to desert Labour in droves.

An ICM poll this week showed Labour’s overall lead cut to three per cent, with a Mori survey in the Financial Times showing a two per cent lead.

Despite this, it is unlikely that all the seats on the at-risk list will be lost by Labour. Even the latest opinion polls suggest they will lose about 40 seats – still giving them a majority of nearly 100.

Sir Robert Worcester, chairman of Mori, who did Labour’s private polling for many years, said: “What Labour are frightened of is not losing the election but winning it with a majority of 40, and then having more than 40 rebels in the parliamentary Labour Party. This list is about putting the frighteners on the troops.”

The second-place challengers in the vast majority of the “key seats” are the Conservatives, again showing that Labour does not appear to be too worried about a Liberal Democrat “protest vote.” This may simply be because there are so few seats.

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“The pathologist also found that his fingernails had been pulled out. That clearly took me a back.”

The following is a transcript of a speech given by former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray at York University on the 24th February. It has been slightly edited for ease of reading.

I’m going to start with a brief anecdote from my career. I was in the

diplomatic service for twenty years after leaving university in 1984. I worked my way up the ranks until I became Ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2002 until October 2004 when I was sacked. It had been a good career up until then. I’d like to tell you something from a slightly earlier period in my career. It may not seem immediately relevant but later on you’ll hopefully understand its relevance.

I was first secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw in the mid-90’s. I was in charge of the political and economic section of the British embassy in Warsaw. There was another first secretary in the Embassy who officially did a similar job to me, but in fact he was MI6. I had a friend in Warsaw who was a Polish restaurenteur; he owned and ran the best restaurant in Poland at that time. He also ate at a lot of government functions. He was a kind of society figure, he’d be invited to political dinner parties, he was a great gossip and purveyor of political tittle-tattle. His name was Stephan. One day I met Stephan and he told me a story about the then Polish

Prime Minister- Joseph Alexis and I was able to say to Stephan – that’s not true, it didn’t happen- I was there, that isn’t what he said. ‘Alright’ said Stephan.

The next day I was at a different restaurant in Warsaw – that’s what

diplomats do mostly – they sit in restaurants and eat substantial amounts. I was having lunch in another restaurant and I saw Stephan and this other first secretary Tom ensconced at a table on the far side of the room. Low and behold the very next day I received on my desk in its striking bright red cover a piece of MI6 intelligence material containing this story about the Polish Prime Minister. And I wrote on it ‘This is nonsense, this came from Stephan (and I put his full name) – he told me this too. It’s not true, I was there.’ And I sent it back to MI6. The result of this was that I was formally disciplined for having named the source of the information- which

you’re never allowed to do. The fact that the information wasn’t true at all didn’t seem to trouble MI6 in the least. And the sequel is even more interesting.

Two days later I met Stephan again and I said ‘Stephan you told Tom that story didn’t you?’ And he said ‘Yeah.’ And I said ‘but I’d already told you that it wasn’t true’- why did you do that? Stephan smiled and said ‘well he paid me $8000 for it.’ Absolutely true story. It will give you more of an insight into the actual workings of MI6 than James Bond Films ever will. And the relevance of it will perhaps become obvious to you as I carry on with my tale of what happened to me in Uzbekistan. And what I saw in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is a pretty dreadful state. It’s immediately North of

Afghanistan. It’s one of those former Soviet Union States “the stans” that people have difficulty telling apart. It’s the largest of them. Its population at 24 million is effectively half the population of central Asia. And Tashkent the capital was the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union. The government is a post-soviet government and the leadership hasn’t changed. Islam Karimov the President was the resident of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and had been for many years. Its well to understand what happened and how the country got independence.

Most of you are probably too young to recall it but there was an attempt at a coup against Gorbachev while he was President of the Soviet Union. They had tanks outside the Russian Parliament- the white house. There was a big stand off – the parliament building was being fired at by the tanks. Yeltsin famously clambered up on the tanks and talked to the soldiers out of supporting the coup which subsequently collapsed. It was the start of Yeltsin’s rise to power. Karimov and the other heads of the central Asian states who were politburo members supported the hardliners – supported the hardline communist coup against Gorbachev and were most upset when it failed. Very quickly after the Soviet Union fell apart and the reason they

opted for independence was to maintain the soviet system. Plainly Russia was going its own way – Russia was abandoning communism – moving towards market reform and greater political freedom. They didn’t want that- they could actually only maintain the soviet system by seceding which is slightly counter-intuitive but that’s how it happened.

Now it’s very important to understand that because George Bush doesn’t

understand it. Karimov is now the United States’ great friend and ally in the region. And Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney – they’ve all been to visit Uzbekistan. Karimov has been Bush’s guest in the Whitehouse for tea. When then US treasury secretary O’Neil visited in November 2002 he gave a speech which absolutely sums up the American misconception in that he praised Karimov as one of the people who helped destroy the Soviet Union and bring down the evil empire and said he was a freedom fighter alongside Walleca and Havel. Completely wrong, fundamental

misconception of the kind that only an American Neo-conservative could come up with.

The Soviet system has been maintained in that there’s no private ownership of land – all land is still state owned. There’s been very little privatization of industry – and what has been privatized has been privatized into the hands of members of the regime and their families notably into the hands of the daughter of the president. The economy is still very heavily agriculturally based – 60% of the workforce work in agriculture on state farms and agriculture produces about 60% of GDP. Cotton is the biggest single crop – Uzbekistan is the world second largest exporter of cotton.

The cotton is produced on state farms and sold only to state trading

companies – they are the monopoly purchasers. The price the companies pay for the cotton is about 3% of the price of cotton in neighboring Kazackstan where production is private. So that’s a pretty good guide to the market price- it’s about 3% of the market price. The state trading companies then sell it on to international trading companies at the world price- so as you can imagine their profit margin is absolutely incredible. Not only incredible but totally non-transparent – there are no official statistics – you’re not allowed to know revenue is, what expenditure is, where it goes. This of course leads to a tremendous margin for corruption. It’s important

to understand that western trading companies are involved in that


How do you make cotton farms produce cotton so cheaply? Well I visited one farm for example with 12000 hectares and 16000 workers. And the workers are $2 a month which is 7 US Cents per working day. The point is this is slave labour. They still have not only exit visas to prevent the population from escaping the country – they still have internal visas. If you are born on an Uzbek state farm you are there for life. You are not allowed to leave and go to another town. So effectively the system is serfdom. Not only that but

come the cotton harvest which is harvested by hand in scenes reminiscent of the American south 150 years ago, others are conscripted in for no money at all to harvest and particularly all university students and all school pupils have to, without pay, harvest cotton for two or three months in the autumn. University students having to go three whole months and live and work in the cotton fields. They have to pick 80 kilos a day each of cotton.

Schoolchildren as young as seven have to do this – they sleep in the fields, they are hardly fed. And no one is paid for it. This really is slave labour on a massive scale. And there is almost no realization of this in the west.

Sadly there is not a great deal that can be done about it other than try and put pressure on the trading companies. None of us know whether the shirt we are wearing contains Uzbek cotton because while the labeling will tell you where the shirt was manufactured it won’t tell you where the cotton fibres came from. That’s the cotton industry.

Gold is Uzbekistan’s second biggest industry. Uzbekistan is the 6th or 7th largest Gold producer in the world. Again it’s produced by a state combinat also one of the worlds leading producers of Uranium. It does not operate as a company in the sense that we understand it. The companies revenues bear no relation whatsoever to its sales or the price of gold. The company gets an allocation of funds to meet its costs from the ministry of finance with which it pays its meager wages and for its equipment and other costs.

The gold is shipped off to Switzerland to be sold. How much is produced is a state secret. The price at which it’s sold is a state secret. There’s no means of knowing what the revenue was but it’s a hell of a lot more than the ministry of finance allocation to the company. The huge profits are what finance the state budget but also the secrecy of it gives tremendous opportunity for stealing. The gold industry in particular is where the bulk of the President’s personal fortune comes from. And he takes according to sources I believe who are in a position to know he takes 10% of the revenue of the gold industry.

Socially and political Uzbekistan is an efficient totalitarian state with no freedom of assembly, no freedom of speech, absolutely no freedom of the media, no freedom of religion, no opposition is allowed to contest elections. The system runs on informants and secret police and torture. Tashkent is a city of just over 2 million people; one telling fact is that there isn’t a bookshop in Tashkent, not one in the whole of the city. There are a few stalls that sell old books which occasionally get closed down. But there’s no bookshop. Gives you some idea of the poverty of information.

There’s no independent media at all. All information is strictly state

controlled. When 9/11 happened everywhere in the world within a few hours people were seeing that dreadful event on television screens. In Uzbekistan no news of it was permitted at all for 72 hours after the event and you are talking of a country so remote, so cut off, that that kind of news management can work; people just don’t get information.

When I arrived in this country and I’d been there about a fortnight a chap in my political section came and asked if I wanted to go and attend the trial of a dissident. I agreed to go along. The gentleman on trial was a chap called Hudar Begeinov. He along with five others were charged with a series, a charge sheet of about 20 crimes. Not all of them were charged with each of the crimes. It was a kind of pick and mix thing. Some were charged with some of them. Three charged with this one, two charged with that one and so on. They were kept in an Iron cage they looked emaciated, they looked bruised. They were surrounded by 17 armed guards. Throughout the trial they were harangued regularly by the judge.

The atmosphere was just awful; it called to mind for me old television

pictures of Nazi show trials. Two comments of the judge stick in my mind and they were typical of the general anti-Islamic tone of his comments. He said “I’m surprised they found the time to do all these evil things when they had to stop and pray five times a day.” All the court officials laughed in unison. Similarly he said at one stage “How could you understand each other talking when you all have such long beards”.

A jeweler came in who’d been the victim allegedly of an armed robbery. It was alleged that three of the men had robbed him. He was asked to identify the three who had robbed him. I’m not a statistician but the odds against this are extremely high- he managed to choose three of the six who were not charged with robbing him. The judge got very angry at this, read out the names of the three who should have been identified, they stood up and he said “that was the men wasn’t it” the witness said “oh yes” and the judge said “let the record show that they were correctly identified”. I just find it hard to believe I was there.

And then something happened that put the seal on the nature of the event – what it was designed to show us. An old man came in and he was charged, he had signed a statement saying that two of the accused who were nephews of his were associates of Osama Bin Laden, had been to Afghanistan, and met Bin Laden on a regular basis. He was standing there, and he was an old gentleman, frail and bowed, with a very oriental appearance, a long white beard, and a skull cap. And he was standing there while his sentence was given out, mumbling his answers and suddenly he pulled himself erect looked at the judge in the eye and he said “it’s not true- they tortured my children in front of me until I signed this. We are poor farmers, what do we know of Osama Bin Laden? What have I to do with Bin Laden?” He was quickly hustled out by the military. It felt to me that what he was saying was the


At the end of this trial the defendants were all found guilty and some were given death sentences. One of the charges they were involved in was the murder of two policemen. I discovered from Human Rights Watch that a significant number of people 12 or 20 I forget which, had already been convicted of this murder. There was no suggestion that these policemen had been murdered by a mob or that it was a conspiracy. It’s simply that when a real crime occurs, like a murder, the Uzbek government uses that to get rid of a lot of dissidents and they don’t have any trouble. The other people

convicted were not just people in Tashkent- people all round the country had been convicted for this particular murder.

I’ll tell you another fact- in Uzbekistan the conviction rate in trials is over 99%. I know this because DFID had a project of putting recording equipment into courtrooms so there could be an official record. Because one of the problems of the system was that nothing the defense said was ever recorded. Several thousand trials had been conducted, that had been recorded. So I asked how many verdicts of not-guilty were there among these trials- the answer was nil. No one had ever been found not-guilty in any of the trials recorded. I raised this with the Uzbek foreign minister and he said to me “you see our system is perfect” “You have a very bad system – in your country innocent people get accused. In our country the innocent are

never accused, only the guilty are accused. That’s why they are all

convicted.” This of course left me greatly reassured.

The next day I received from the same member of my political section an envelope. He said you might not want to look at these; this is a case that’s come in. I did in the end take the photos out of the envelope. They were photos of a corpse of a gentleman called Avazov. The photos had been brought in by his mother. He was allegedly a member, he probably was, of the Hiz but Tahrir sect- a rather extreme Muslim sect, though not one that promotes violence. Membership of that sect is itself a crime and he had been put into prison where he had been tortured to sign a recantation of his faith this is something prisoners are very regularly tortured to sign. They have to sign a recantation of faith, an oath of loyalty to the president and then give the names of half a dozen or so of their associates. If you do all that you then have a fair chance of getting out of jail through a presidential amnesty. He had been tortured with a view to signing the recantation along with his colleague Mr Abisov. They had refused and had also refused to cease praying five times a day. As a consequence they had been plunged into a vat of boiling water and had died both of them as a result. I didn’t know that at the time, I just saw the photographs of this body in this appalling state; I couldn’t work out what could account for it.

I sent it to the pathology department of the University of Glasgow; there were a lot of photographs. The chief pathologist of the University of Glasgow who is now chief pathologist of the United Kingdom wrote that the only explanation for this was “immersion in boiling water”. He said it was immersion, not splattering or splashing, because there was a clear tide line around the upper torso and upper limbs. It was also clearly the kind of burning caused by boiling liquid not by flame. The pathologist also found that his fingernails had been pulled out. That clearly took me aback.

Once it became known in Uzbekistan that I was interested in such cases

people started coming to my door- both victims and parents of victims and we started to build up a catalogue of these dreadful cases and I can’t give you a precise statistic but of those 99% of people convicted well over 90% confess very often to things they didn’t do at all. And that extraordinary conviction rate and that extraordinary confession rate is based on these appalling forms of torture and this is in no way isolated- the United Nations special rapporteur on torture came in November 2002 and produced a report in which he said the practice of torture in Uzbekistan was “widespread and systemic” throughout the security services.

When you become an ambassador you pay courtesy calls on your counterparts. I went and I called on the French and the German ambassadors and I said to them ‘this is just appalling, I can’t believe the things I’m finding here. I’m completely struck by it’. The French ambassador said ‘Oh well you shouldn’t meet these people if it upsets you’. The German ambassador said ‘of course we all know human rights abuses here are very bad, but of course we also know President Karimov is a very close ally of the United States and

so we have an agreement that we don’t mention it’. I sent a telegram back to London in which I reported he’s said this and said that I presumed that there wasn’t such an agreement in any formal sense and I had no doubt whatsoever that British ministers wouldn’t agree to such a thing and I proposed to start making some speeches and kicking up a fuss about it, which I then did (before they had time to reply).

The call I made on the American ambassador was the most interesting. I said that Human Rights Watch were saying that there were some 7000 political prisoners in Uzbekistan. Now by this stage I had started going round towns and villages talking to people. I was trying on each occasion to get an idea of how many political/religious prisoners had been taken in, in that town. In one town in the Ferghana valley they had lost over 300 people out of a population of about 1500. I was forming a view that actually there were an

awful lot more than 7000 prisoners. Particularly as the 7000 only included those who were imprisoned on ostensibly political or religious grounds. Whereas many thousands more had narcotics or firearms planted on them. It seems remarkable but almost all political dissidents in Uzbekistan appear to sleep with substantial amounts of narcotics in their bedside cabinet which the police invariably “find”.

If you include these people, whom Human Rights Watch don’t like to adopt because officially they have been charged with some crime, the number is more like ten to twelve thousand people in jail in Uzbekistan effectively for their beliefs. The American ambassador said to me ‘well most of them are Muslims’ as thought that explained everything. I said that I didn’t think that seemed like particularly good reason why they should be locked up. He said ‘But they’re extreme Muslims’. I said ‘from what I can see there is very little history of political or terrorist violence in Uzbekistan and

most of these people are not extreme in the sense that they are advocating violence’. What he said to me was ‘We are next door to Afghanistan; we are next door to the Taliban. The kind of society the Taliban impose is itself a form of violence and for example the subjugation of women is itself a form of violence. So if that’s what we are holding back, then some reduction of civil liberties in the interim is no bad thing. To which I replied that there was virtually no history of Taliban type Islamic extremism in Uzbekistan and certainly the people I had been meeting were not Taliban type extremists in any sense. Furthermore even if some of these people did

propound a Muslim based society, with Sharia law and so on, then as long as they were not advocating violence to achieve it then this was a case of’well I detest what you say but I will defend your right to say it.’ I certainly didn’t think there was any excuse at all for throwing them in jail and pulling their fingernails out.

However the Americans were prepared and are prepared to give Karimov a great deal of latitude. To the extent that several hundred million dollars a year in aid goes to Uzbekistan. Since concern has arisen regarding human rights in Uzbekistan the Americans have become much more reluctant to admit the full extent of aid. There is so much coming from different budgets (some of which are hidden) that it is very hard to pin down exactly how much aid Uzbekistan gets from the United States. In December 2002 the US embassy in Uzbekistan put out a press release saying that US aid to Uzbekistan in 2002 was over 500 million dollars. To put that into perspective that is a great deal more than the total aid given by the US to all of West Africa which

shows I think that development isn’t the criteria. Since then they are much more wary, particularly when it comes to the military and security aid of giving an exact figure. It has probably come down a bit – it is probably now somewhere between 300 and 500 million dollars a year going to prop up the Karimov regime.

Now I said to you before that there’s no room for democracy, there was

something of a tradition of parties dating back to the pre-Soviet period. There were two parties in Uzbekistan both of which include distinguished dissidents amongst their membership. Both were banned from contesting December’s parliamentary elections and I very much doubt anyone here knew this, as there’s no way you would, but Uzbekistan held elections on the 26th of December the same day as the Ukraine- both former Soviet republics. In the Uzbek elections opposition parties were not allowed to stand; only parties who supported the President and his program were allowed to stand.

Now we all saw Colin Powell on TV decrying electoral fraud in the Ukraine,talking about the need to spread democracy. The United States said absolutely bugger all about their friend and his rigged election in Uzbekistan, because democracy is not really the agenda. Just as we allegedly went to war with the United States – I thought at the time it was to do with this dodgy dossier of lies on weapons of mass destruction- but apparently it wasn’t that at all- it was to impose democracy. How can we do that their when we are backing one of the worlds most vicious dictators in Uzbekistan at the same time? The answer is of course that there is no logic because democracy in Iraq is an excuse for a war designed to promote the hydro-carbon oil and gas interests in the United States- which is also their interest in Uzbekistan.

America has an airbase in Uzbekistan at which there are officially two

squadrons of the United States Air force – there is plenty more that they will not tell you about. It is defended by several thousand troops; it was used in operations in Afghanistan. It has now become a permanent installation. It’s a vital component in Donald Rumsfeld’s concept of what he calls “lilleypads” surrounding what he calls “the wider Middle East”. This is a series of airbases which the US has access to – the British bases in Cyprus are at the Western end and Uzbekistan is at the eastern end- a series of “lilleypads” whereby America can project military power quickly in any of the oil-rich regions of the Middle East.

Just in the last couple of days the go-ahead has been given for the

construction of the pipeline to Afghanistan which will bring Central Asia’s massive gas reserves out. Uzbekistan while the dominant country in central Asia it does not have the dominant amount of hydro-carbons but in terms of military strength and population it is the dominant regional player and central Asia has enough gas to supply the Western world at present levels of consumption for at least fifty years. So this is all about power play and hydro-carbons and if that power play is best advanced by backing a dictator that’s fine so long as no-one knows about it because no-one in the West does know about it. The number of people in the West who already know the things

I have told you is extremely small. You’re probably the only people in York who know anything about Uzbekistan. The Uzbek’s play their part and help the American justification for what they are doing by saying that they are an integral part in the war on terror. The main way they do this is by providing intelligence material linking the Uzbek opposition to Al-Qaeda.

In November 2002 I was sitting looking through MI6 intelligence material I saw some of which the markings indicated it was a re-release of CIA material passed on from another security service – from the text it was plain that was Uzbek. There were two intelligence reports; one about a threat to Samarqand – a city in Uzbekistan- from Tajik militants in the hills- Islamic militants who were supposedly going to sweep down and attack the city. We happened to know that this just wasn’t true- the defense attach? had been there, we knew the places, there weren’t training camps where it said there were. The second one was talking of the links between some Uzbek opposition group with Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden – it was just the same formula that I had seen before. And I started thinking now has this been got through torture? How did it get here? Where did it come from? So I said to my deputy ‘I want to go back to London and complain about this but I don’t want to make a fool of myself so could you go and see the Americans because it’s possible that they have a protocol in place to make sure that any information passed on by the Uzbek’s doesn’t come from torture. Perhaps Americans have to be present during Uzbek interrogation if the material is to be used by the Americans.’

This of course is before Abu Ghraib when I rather naively felt that having Americans present at the interrogation would prevent people being tortured as opposed to helping to facilitate it. So She went and saw the CIA head of station in Tashkent and said to him’ my boss has been worried that this intelligence might be obtained by torture’ and he said to her ‘well it probably is obtained by torture – we don’t see that as a problem’ She came back and reported to me so I went back to London saying’ This material is nonsense and probably obtained by torture’ London did not actually reply.

I went back in February saying much the same thing and they called me back to a meeting in March 2003 where the foreign office legal advisor Sir Michael Wood said that it was not illegal to obtain or use intelligence material that had been got under torture. If you read the UN convention against torture it didn’t say you couldn’t do it- it said you couldn’t torture people, it said you couldn’t use material obtained by torture in court- it didn’t say that you couldn’t go to someone else who’d tortured someone, get the torture material off him and use it. I think it didn’t say it because it didn’t need to be said. Also he was ignoring article four of

the convention which talks about complicity in torture. Basically if you are regularly obtaining material from a security service that is routinely practicing torture and you have a system of getting that material again and again then you become complicit. The foreign office argues to this day that it’s ok to get the stuff. The official line is ‘we do not torture and we do not instigate torture but it would be irresponsible to ignore material which is relevant to the war on terror.’

If you really push them they’ll say ‘what if the Uzbek’s suddenly gave us information that an airplane was about to crash into Canary Wharf? Would you really want us to ignore the information?’ This of course discounts the fact the information’s all not true anyway. It’s all nonsense. It would be impossible through all that dross to pick out the true bits. I must admit I was completely flabbergasted, again possibly naively. I thought ‘we’re getting this material from people who have been tortured; obviously people in London don’t realize that. When I point it out to them they will want to stop.’

This of course was not the case. At this stage they got very annoyed, they seemed particularly annoyed that I was saying that the intelligence wasn’t any good. I don’t think I helped myself by pointing out that the dossier on Weapons of Mass Destruction was rubbish too. They seemed very fond of intelligence that was rubbish. So they didn’t find that very conciliatory. But it’s a very important point; you have to ask yourself why do the intelligence services like material?

I told you the story of my mate Tom and Stephan; the dossier on weapons of mass destruction which contained 152 articles all of which turned out to be untrue, every bloody single one of them. Almost all of those had come from paying wadges of cash to dodgy informants. Not only that they were getting the information they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear that Saddam Hussein was a terrible threat; they want to hear that the opposition in Uzbekistan are all linked to Al-Qaeda and all want to blow up Canary Wharf. Why? Well if you’re going to be totally cynical you’d say that whether subconsciously or not the truth is the bigger the threat out there the more we need the

security services, the more they need massive budgets and resources and pay increases and toys to play with. And you have to ask ‘who benefits?’ Well they benefit, they benefit. They also benefit government by providing these excuses for Tony Blair to stand up in the house of commons and say ‘because I am responsible for the safety of all the people in the UK we can abolish freedoms that have existed in this country since Magna Carta. They benefit from this edifice of lies, and lies gained through torture. There are people still today in Belmarsh prison who have been in there for three years without charge, without trial. Without even being told what they are accused

of, on the basis of intelligence material.

Now I only saw it in Uzbekistan. If I’d been the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the ambassador in Egypt or in Syria and a number of other countries I would also have been seeing material obtained through torture. Furthermore there is increasing evidence that the United States is shipping people from country’s that don’t practice torture to those that do in order to get them tortured. A kind of sub-contracting of torture. So this is the kind of rubbish evidence that the government is using to lock people up in this country and it seems to me that we have lost all perspective of legality in

international relations. In November, this country – the United Kingdom – was criticized by the UN committee against torture in Geneva. How did we let that happen? We entered an illegal war against Iraq, expressly against the wishes of the Security Council. We didn’t even bother to go for a second resolution because we had checked and we knew we were going to lose the vote, so we went to war without it. Koffi Annan has subsequently said that that war was illegal. And I don’t think you will find many academics or public international lawyers that will disagree. Legal opinion is very heavily on the side of the view that that war was an illegal war.

We have abandoned morality; we seem to have no shame at the fact that we presented to the Security Council a dossier full of actual lies. What has happened to this country? I used to enjoy my job, I was proud to represent this country, I was proud to represent a country that I thought stood for human rights. And that stood for the rule of law that stood for the United Nations, stood for fairness in nternational relations. And we seem to have thrown that entirely out of the window in favor of a policy that says ‘the United States is the world’s only superpower – they can do what the hell they want and we’ll be ok cos we’ll be their best mate. That’s no basis for foreign policy at all.

I think it’s absolutely necessary for people of good will in this country to really start to kick up a fuss about it. And you’ve got a chance because there’s a general election coming. It’s imperative that when you get back to your homes, to your constituencies that you find candidates who are willing to take these issues on. If they are in the Labour party you ask why the hell they haven’t left the Labour party. They can be liberal democrats, greens whoever, but we have to try to reinvigorate the democratic process and get people interested. I’m actually going to go to Blackburn and stand against Jack Straw as an independent in order to raise public awareness of these issues as far as I can. ‘The Guardian’ are going to publish my campaign diary which will give an opportunity to get some of these issues aired. But it’s no good just saying ‘oh yeah, it’s terrible’ you need to get

out there and do something, because there’s a real danger that in a few years time if we continue this slide towards authoritarianism and this slide towards supporting an international order based on nothing but a single superpower that in a few years time this won’t be a country that any of you will be able to be proud of.

Thank you.

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Sunday Herald – Ex-ambassador slams Straw over torture

BBC Sunday Herald – Ex-ambassador slams Straw over torture (by Alan Crawford)

FOREIGN Secretary Jack Straw has abandoned all pretence of an ethical foreign policy, and the government’s condemnation of torture “doesn’t mean anything”, a former British ambassador has told the Sunday Herald.

Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan who last week announced he would stand against Jack Straw in the general election, was speaking after receiving ?315,000 in red undancy pay from the Foreign and Commonwealth Off ice. He insists the pay-off means he has been exonerated of misbehaviour in speaking out about human rights abuses in the former Soviet republic and accusing the UK government of using intelligence obtained by torture.

“The UN has said torture is widespread and systematic in Uzbekistan. But the Uzbeks know fine that their security services are passing on to the CIA and MI6 the results of the torture, and they’re lapping them up,” Murray said.

“So even though the Foreign Office will tell you, ‘Oh, we have condemned torture in Uzbekistan’, it doesn’t mean anything, because by accepting the intelligence you are tipping them the wink to carry on.”

He added: “I think Jack Straw has chucked any notion of an ethical foreign policy completely out of the window.”

Murray, 46, a Scot and graduate of Dundee University, also criticised the Home Office decision to place suspects under house arrest without trial on the basis of intelligence reports, saying that the reliability of evidence obtained under torture was “questionable”.

“One thing that’s so horrible about this whole thing is that this kind of evidence obtained under torture is the kind of material that’s being used to keep these poor people locked up for three years without trial and without charge on the basis on intelligence reports,” he said.

“What they don’t tell you is that that was probably some poor bugger in prison in Egypt with electrodes on his testicles, screaming in agony, who named a name to try and stop the torture.”

Murray has been a controversial figure since late 2002, when, just a few months after taking up his posting, he publicised his fears that “brutality” was rife in Uzbek jails and highlighted a case where two men had been boiled to death.

In March 2003 he was summoned to the Foreign Office, where, he says, he was told that “yes, [intelligence] may be obtained under torture, but provided we didn’t specifically ask for the individual to be tortured or do the torturing ourselves, that’s not illegal. And that Jack Straw had personally considered the matter and the security services decided this was useful material, so we should keep getting it and I should shut up.”

He did not, and later faced a disciplinary hearing on unrelated allegations of financial corruption, being drunk on duty and having sex with Uzbek women in return for UK visas. He was subsequently exonerated, but not before he suffered a nervous breakdown .

The only explanation for the allegations, he claims, was that the Foreign Office “simply invented them to scare me into resigning”.

Murray, who is to speak to students at Dundee University tomorrow, is to contest the Foreign Secretary’s Blackburn seat at the general election .

“I’ll be standing as an independent under the slogan ‘No to George Bush’,” he said. “If people want to send a strong message of disquiet about the government’s foreign policy, there’s no better way to do that than to unseat Jack Straw.”

Murray is hard on Straw, but harder still on the US. He accuses the US campaign to spread democracy worldwide of “total hypocrisy” in supporting client states which practise torture, such as Uzbekistan .

Islam Karimov, the Uzbek president, was largely ignored by the West until after 9/11, since when he has been supported by Washington.

” The Uzbek regime is very substantially propped up by the Americans,” Murray said. “It receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in American aid, including military aid and aid to its security services. It has several thousand US troops in the country. ”

Murray said the US risked creating a fundamentalist Isla mic state by supporting Karimov. “People don’t see any means of opposition except for the underground Islamic movement. I think by our stupid support for the dictatorship we are going to create a radical Islamic movement where there wasn’t much of one before,” he said.

“Iran under the Shah is a good example, where the West was backing the Shah despite the fact he was ultra-unpopular, and an Islamic movement grew up which was terribly anti-Western. I fear the same will happen in Uzbekistan . ”

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The Independent – A UK diplomat says Britain is part of a worldwide torture plot. Is he telling the truth?

The Independent – A UK diplomat says Britain is part of a worldwide torture plot. Is he telling the truth? (by Raymond Whitaker)

Craig Murray is a very undiplomatic diplomat. Former ambassadors are supposed to be tending their flowers in Home Counties gardens, but this one is not. He is, instead, making extraordinary allegations, the most damaging of which is that Britain is using information obtained from torture to imprison people indefinitely. So convinced is he of the truth of this and other claims that he plans to stand against his former employer, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, at the general election.

Not for this man the emollient, languorous language normally associated with his profession. Our former ambassador in Uzbekistan is nothing if not forthright. “Unreliable information, obtained under torture in countries where it is routine, can be used against people in Britain,” he told The Independent on Sunday in his first interview since leaving the Foreign Office last week with a ?315,000 payoff. “On the basis of such information, they can be detained in Belmarsh prison or in future be put under house arrest for life. It impacts here in the UK.”

The departure of Mr Murray, 46, from the diplomatic service is the culmination of an extraordinary two-year battle with his masters. His public denunciations of the Uzbek regime, and private complaints at American and British support for it, led to a confrontation in which he was accused of drunkenness and trading visas for sex with local women, and told to “resign or be sacked”. The charges were leaked; when his marriage broke up over his relationship with a 23-year-old Uzbek hairdresser, Nadira Alieva, who now lives with him, that got out too. Now he plans to expose Britain’s “hypocrisy” in the “war on terror”.

“We have abandoned the notion of a foreign policy based on the rule of international law, in favour of one which says might is right, that there is one superpower and we’ll be its best friend,” he says. “I want to put these issues in front of the voters.”

The ex-envoy’s stand is almost the only sign of dissent in official circles over Britain’s role as America’s closest partner in the “war on terror” and the invasion of Iraq. Not only has the Government departed from European human rights law to detain foreign terror suspects without trial, it is implicated in what critics call a “web of illegality” spun by the Bush administration. The abuses at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad created a scandal, but evidence continues to emerge that this was simply the worst example of a pattern of mistreatment that extends from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to Bagram in Afghanistan and other facilities around the world, some undisclosed, in which hundreds of suspects are held in legal limbo.

The latest revelations concern the practice of “extraordinary rendition”. Using unmarked planes, the CIA is delivering prisoners to regimes which practise torture and then making use of the information produced. “There is increasing evidence that America is shipping people round the world to be tortured,” Mr Murray says. “I saw it in Uzbekistan because I happened to be there, but it’s also happening in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”

Britain is unapologetic about making use of such information. The Foreign Office line is that while it totally condemns torture, it cannot rule out using any reliable intelligence, wherever it comes from, if it will save lives. But it is the reliability of the information that Mr Murray questions. In a scathing final memo to the Foreign Office, he wrote: “We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror … we are selling our souls for dross.”

Eight months later, he says: “What really seems to have angered them is that I was disputing the quality of the intelligence they were receiving. I began saying this at the time Britain was putting forward its dossier on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were keen on intelligence that exaggerated the threat.” He adds that he has “a good deal of experience” in intelligence analysis. “During the first Gulf war, I worked full-time on analysing Iraq and its WMD.”

Mr Murray was Britain’s youngest ambassador when he was appointed to Tashkent in mid-2002, and it did not take him long to realise the nature of the regime. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the old Communist Party boss, Islam Karimov, remains in charge of a Stalinist dictatorship which treats all devout Muslims as potential subversives, and has been known to boil prisoners alive. A couple of weeks after he arrived, the new ambassador attended a political trial, at which he met an old man. “Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family’s links with Bin Laden,” he told the Foreign Office. “Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do.”

After three months he said publicly that Uzbekistan was “not a functioning democracy”. The major political parties were banned, and there were between 7,000 and 10,000 political and religious prisoners. The Americans – who were pouring money, warplanes and military personnel into Uzbekistan, valuing its position near central Asia’s huge reserves of oil and gas – were upset, but in public the Foreign Office backed him.

Behind the scenes, however, he was getting into a worsening dispute with his employers over the question of torture. In October or November 2002, he says, he saw intelligence about an Uzbek dissident, his cell and its connections with Bin Laden. “I could see from the codes that it had gone from Uzbek intelligence to the CIA, and was then issued by MI6 as part of intelligence sharing. I remembered the old man, and a light went on.” He sent his deputy to check with the CIA head of station in Tashkent whether the agency had any safeguards against receiving information obtained under torture. “He told her, yes, it probably is obtained under torture, but the CIA doesn’t see that as a problem.”

Mr Murray says he was probably naive. “I honestly thought that it was only a matter of pointing out to London how this material was sourced, and they wouldn’t have any truck with it.” But he heard nothing from the Government, which was preoccupied with the rush to war in Iraq. After several more complaints, he was summoned to London for a meeting at the Foreign Office in March 2003. He was told the information was useful and not illegal to obtain, although it could not be used in a court of law. His line manager later told him he was “unpatriotic”.

He continued to speak out about human rights in Uzbekistan until the Foreign Office accusations against him – later withdrawn – and the subsequent breakdown of his health, which kept him in London for most of the second half of 2003. When he returned to Tashkent, he says, he was determined to “keep my head down”. But after the Abu Ghraib revelations last year, which led the Foreign Office to remind its diplomats that they should report torture by allies, he discovered that a meeting in London, which he had not been told about or asked to attend, had decided to continue receiving Uzbek intelligence material.

“This is morally, legally and practically wrong,” he wrote in his final memo. “It exposes as hypocritical our post-Abu Ghraib pronouncements and undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture [if] they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.” When this memo was leaked to the press, the Foreign Office argued that he could no longer stay in Tashkent.

Now he is free to pursue the issue as a private citizen, Mr Murray says: “We argue that we don’t carry out or instigate torture ourselves, but if information from it comes our way, we won’t refuse it. But in criminal law, when a known thief asks you to buy a stolen TV for ?10, it is no defence to say that I didn’t ask him to steal it and I wasn’t there when he stole it – I just bought the stolen goods.”

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Sunday Herald – Ex-ambassador slams Straw over torture

Sunday Herald – UK Ex-ambassador slams Straw over torture (by Alan Crawford, Special Correspondent)

FOREIGN Secretary Jack Straw has abandoned all pretence of an ethical foreign policy, and the government’s condemnation of torture “doesn’t mean anything”, a former British ambassador has told the Sunday Herald.

Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan who last week announced he would stand against Jack Straw in the general election, was speaking after receiving ?315,000 in red undancy pay from the Foreign and Commonwealth Off ice. He insists the pay-off means he has been exonerated of misbehaviour in speaking out about human rights abuses in the former Soviet republic and accusing the UK government of using intelligence obtained by torture.

“The UN has said torture is widespread and systematic in Uzbekistan. But the Uzbeks know fine that their security services are passing on to the CIA and MI6 the results of the torture, and they’re lapping them up,” Murray said.

“So even though the Foreign Office will tell you, ‘Oh, we have condemned torture in Uzbekistan’, it doesn’t mean anything, because by accepting the intelligence you are tipping them the wink to carry on.”

He added: “I think Jack Straw has chucked any notion of an ethical foreign policy completely out of the window.”

Murray, 46, a Scot and graduate of Dundee University, also criticised the Home Office decision to place suspects under house arrest without trial on the basis of intelligence reports, saying that the reliability of evidence obtained under torture was “questionable”.

“One thing that’s so horrible about this whole thing is that this kind of evidence obtained under torture is the kind of material that’s being used to keep these poor people locked up for three years without trial and without charge on the basis on intelligence reports,” he said.

“What they don’t tell you is that that was probably some poor bugger in prison in Egypt with electrodes on his testicles, screaming in agony, who named a name to try and stop the torture.”

Murray has been a controversial figure since late 2002, when, just a few months after taking up his posting, he publicised his fears that “brutality” was rife in Uzbek jails and highlighted a case where two men had been boiled to death.

In March 2003 he was summoned to the Foreign Office, where, he says, he was told that “yes, [intelligence] may be obtained under torture, but provided we didn’t specifically ask for the individual to be tortured or do the torturing ourselves, that’s not illegal. And that Jack Straw had personally considered the matter and the security services decided this was useful material, so we should keep getting it and I should shut up.”

He did not, and later faced a disciplinary hearing on unrelated allegations of financial corruption, being drunk on duty and having sex with Uzbek women in return for UK visas. He was subsequently exonerated, but not before he suffered a nervous breakdown .

The only explanation for the allegations, he claims, was that the Foreign Office “simply invented them to scare me into resigning”.

Murray, who is to speak to students at Dundee University tomorrow, is to contest the Foreign Secretary’s Blackburn seat at the general election .

“I’ll be standing as an independent under the slogan ‘No to George Bush’,” he said. “If people want to send a strong message of disquiet about the government’s foreign policy, there’s no better way to do that than to unseat Jack Straw.”

Murray is hard on Straw, but harder still on the US. He accuses the US campaign to spread democracy worldwide of “total hypocrisy” in supporting client states which practise torture, such as Uzbekistan .

Islam Karimov, the Uzbek president, was largely ignored by the West until after 9/11, since when he has been supported by Washington.

” The Uzbek regime is very substantially propped up by the Americans,” Murray said. “It receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in American aid, including military aid and aid to its security services. It has several thousand US troops in the country. ”

Murray said the US risked creating a fundamentalist Isla mic state by supporting Karimov. “People don’t see any means of opposition except for the underground Islamic movement. I think by our stupid support for the dictatorship we are going to create a radical Islamic movement where there wasn’t much of one before,” he said.

“Iran under the Shah is a good example, where the West was backing the Shah despite the fact he was ultra-unpopular, and an Islamic movement grew up which was terribly anti-Western. I fear the same will happen in Uzbekistan . ”

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Radio Free Europe: Uzbekistan: Interview With Former British Ambassador Craig Murray

Radio Free Europe – Uzbekistan: Interview With Former British Ambassador Craig Murray (by Kathleen Moore)

Prague, 18 February 2005 (RFE/RL) — Craig Murray may be one of Britain’s least diplomatic diplomats in recent memory. While ambassador to Tashkent, he spoke publicly about repression and the lack of democratic freedoms in Uzbekistan. Last year he accused the United States and United Kingdom of using intelligence gained from people tortured in Uzbekistan. And in a widely published speech in November, he criticized the United States for helping prop up what he called President Islam Karimov’s “brutal” regime. Murray was suspended from his post in October 2004 and has now taken severance pay — moves the British Foreign Office has said are not connected with his outspoken views. He now plans to run against British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Britain’s Parliamentary election, expected in May.

RFE/RL: What’s prompted you to stand against Jack Straw in the upcoming general election?

Murray: I think that under this government Britain has moved away from the basic principles that governed foreign policy for many years, in particular support for the United Nations, support for the role of international law. And that’s really quite a serious step which the British people didn’t approve of, people didn’t approve of us entering into an illegal war against Iraq without the sanction of the UN Security Council. So I’m trying to bring that home to the foreign secretary, because he obviously carries the responsibility for foreign policy.

RFE/RL: Are you hoping to emulate Martin Bell [a former British journalist who entered politics in order to defeat a member of parliament embroiled in a corruption scandal] or is winning not the point?

Murray: I’m hoping to do a “Martin Bell” in the sense that I want to make the illegal war on Iraq, the government’s attacks on human rights at home, its failure to support human rights abroad — I’m hoping to make those key issues which get more national attention than they would otherwise. Martin Bell did the same two elections ago for the issue of sleaze, and concentrated media attention on that. I’m hoping to concentrate media attention on the issues of legality and foreign policy. So I’m hoping to emulate him in that sense, bring media attention on a relevant issue. Obviously I’d like to emulate him in terms of being elected, but that’s entirely up to the voters of Blackburn [Straw’s constituency].

RFE/RL: And you are including in those issues that you want to highlight the U.K.’s acceptance of intelligence gained under torture overseas?

Murray: That’s one of the key issues I will highlight, the fact that Jack Straw has personally sanctioned the use by the U.K. of intelligence materials obtained under torture. I came across it in Uzbekistan, but exactly the same thing is happening in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, many many countries. What is worse, people have been able to be locked up here in the U.K., detained without trial, on the basis of such intelligence, which is really a dreadful scandal. I will by trying to highlight that in the election campaign.

RFE/RL: What was it that prompted you to speak out about rights abuses while you were ambassador to Uzbekistan?

Murray: I think the brutality in Tashkent was so extreme and so all-pervasive that it was necessary to expose it. I did speak out very strongly, but for example [former U.S. Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright had made a speech in 2000 which was just as strong as anything I ever said about the regime in Tashkent. Sadly, of course, with the coming of the [George W.] Bush administration, America decided it was again going to start backing some nasty dictators who they viewed as on their side, and the American position changed, and the rest of the West was only too eager to fall in behind that noncritical support of [Uzbek President Islam] Karimov. But that was in violation of every international agreement on human rights, and I was only speaking along the lines of accepted British policy.

RFE/RL: What was the reaction of you fellow ambassadors?

Murray: I think they were pretty surprised. When I first arrived in Uzbekistan, as a new ambassador you make courtesy calls on other ambassadors. When I called on other European Union ambassadors and said to them, ‘Goodness the human rights situation here is terrible, this is a really nasty dictatorship,’ two of them said to me absolutely directly, ‘Yes we know, but we don’t mention that because they’re [Uzbekistan] close allies of the United States.’ And there was an understanding among ambassadors in Tashkent that they just pretended not to notice what was going on. That made their lives more comfortable living and working in Tashkent, they weren’t people personally fond of confrontations. And I think there was some discomfort and pique that I had brought to public attention issues that they viewed as best swept under the carpet.

RFE/RL: The United States has said it’s promoting reforms in Uzbekistan and that it has kept human rights on the agenda, withholding some aid last year because of the poor human rights record. The EU has also spoken in terms of supporting and encouraging reforms. Has this approach brought any results, do you think?

Murray: No, none whatsoever. There isn’t any reform happening. The U.S. sometimes tries to pretend there are bits and pieces of reform. For example, two years ago the U.S. ambassador was loudly proclaiming the abolition of censorship. [the U.S. ambassador said in 2002 he welcomed the move to end official media censorship, but added it was only a first step leading Uzbekistan to an open society.] In fact no such thing has happened, Uzbekistan is still 100 percent censored in its media. And when the State Department cut $12 million of aid last year because of Uzbekistan’s appalling human rights record, the Pentagon immediately gave an increase in military aid of more than twice that to make it up. [In August, General Richard Meyers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced in Tashkent that Washington would give Uzbekistan an additional $21 million to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons.] I think that the U.S. is in an absolutely disgraceful position with regard to Uzbekistan.

RFE/RL: How should the West treat the Uzbek regime?

Murray: We should treat it as a pariah regime. There is certainly no more freedom in Uzbekistan than there is in Belarus, and the regime in Tashkent is still more vicious and violent than the regime of [Belarusian President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka. And Lukashenka we’re quite happy to ostracize and bring sanctions against while we court Karimov. If you take Zimbabwe, which was named as one of [U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice’s evil dictatorships, I have no time for President [Robert] Mugabe, but there is an opposition in Zimbabwe, and people can, at some risk, go to the polls and vote for an opposition candidate, and they do so. There is an independent judiciary in Zimbabwe whereas there is no such thing in Tashkent. Uzbekistan is certainly in the ‘Top 10’ for dictatorial regimes in the world and we should treat it as such. We don’t have any difficulty treating Mugabe and Lukashenka as pariahs, so why should we not treat Karimov in the same way?

RFE/RL: Do you think you achieved anything by speaking out?

Murray: There are individual cases of people who would be in prison today and possibly would be dead today if we hadn’t managed to act and intervene in their cases in Uzbekistan. I think there is much more international attention towards Uzbekistan. I don’t believe, for example, that the [U.S.] State Department would have made its token cut in aid if it wasn’t for the international attention that the U.K. brought to the human rights violations in Uzbekistan. So I have achieved something in at least raising an awareness of the problem in the world. But plainly I haven’t achieved any real reform in Uzbekistan because there is no sign of that.

RFE/RL: Do you have any regrets about what you did?

Murray: Obviously on a personal basis I enormously regret the loss of my career which had been extremely successful in my 20 years at the Foreign Office. I didn’t head to Uzbekistan thinking, ‘This is a good place to throw my career away.’ It wasn’t intended. I regret that, but I don’t feel I could have done anything else.

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The Guardian – Former ambassador takes redundancy

The Guardian – Former ambassador takes redundancy (by Nick Paton Walsh)

Craig Murray, the controversial former ambassador to Uzbekistan who was removed from his post, has taken a ?315,000 redundancy payment from the Foreign Office, it emerged yesterday.

Mr Murray was recalled to Britain in October after a memo was leaked to the media in which he criticised the FO’s use of information obtained under torture in Uzbekistan. He was suspended on full pay pending an investigation.

The action capped months of internal investigations in which Mr Murray was accused of being drunk at work, having sex with local girls for visas, and driving the embassy car badly. All charges were subsequently dropped.

“It’s better than a kick in the teeth,” Mr Murray said in a telephone interview. He said the money was part of “a redundancy scheme that is ongoing” in the FO, which all its employees could apply for.

While the payment does not amount to an admission of fault by the FO, Mr Murray said: “Plainly, if they felt they could have made any of the ludicrous charges against me stick they would have sacked me rather than paid me off.”

He said the FO was “very anxious” to avoid a full tribunal investigation of the charges, which would have given him the opportunity to cross-examine the foreign secretary, Jack Straw.

He said he would continue to take legal action against the FO for the damage done to his health by the stress of his ordeal.

He also announced his decision to stand for parliament against Mr Straw in his Blackburn constituency in the expected May general election.

He said: “I think that it will give people the chance to show their disapproval at the government’s foreign policy.”

In a statement he added: “Straw is the foreign secretary who was in charge of MI6 when it produced its dossier of lies on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

“Straw is the foreign secretary who saw the UK enter an illegal war against the wishes of the UN security council.

Straw is the foreign secretary who expressly agreed that MI6 should use intelligence material obtained under torture. And Straw is foreign secretary when we have slavishly sold out any ethical principles for blind support of George Bush.”

The statement added: “Many Labour supporters are angry, disillusioned or plain bewildered by this. Nationally, they still may want Labour to win. But in Blackburn they have the opportunity, by rejecting the foreign secretary, to reject this aberrant foreign policy.”

It continued: “A vote for Jack Straw is a vote for a dossier of lies. A vote is a vote for illegal war. A vote for Jack Straw is a vote for torture. A vote for Jack Straw is a vote for George Bush.”

A FO spokesman said Mr Murray had applied for redundancy and been accepted because of “compassionate and medical circumstances”, adding: “It is absolutely not paying him off.”

He said the investigation had been suspended because they were not able to interview him, for “health reasons”.

Paul Whiteman, the First Division Association official responsible for FO members, said the agreement did not contain a gagging clause and that Mr Murray would still get his FO pension.

He added: “You could say it is a very convenient solution [for the FO] … He has not got anything that his colleagues are not entitled to and is hitting the peak of what this scheme pays out.

“I think he deserves every penny.”

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Murder in Samarkand – and other books that may be of Interest


Craig Murray was the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was removed from his post in October 2004 after exposing appalling human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of President Islam Karimov. In this candid and at times shocking memoir, he lays bare the dark and dirty underside of the War on Terror. In Uzbekistan, the land of Alexander the Great and Tamburlaine, lurks one of the most hideous tyrannies on earth – one founded on cotton slavery and brutal torture. As neighbouring ‘liberated’ Afghanistan produces record levels of heroin, the Uzbek rulers cash in on massive trafficking. They are even involved in trafficking their own women to prostitution in the West. But this did not prevent Karimov being viewed as a key US ally in the War on Terror. When Craig Murray arrived in Uzbekistan, he was a young Ambassador with a brilliant career and a taste for whisky and women. But after hearing accounts of dissident prisoners being boiled to death and innocent people being raped and murdered by agents of the state, he started to question both his role and that of his country in so-called ‘democratising’ states. When Murray decided to go public with his shocking findings, Washington and 10 Downing Street reached the conclusion that he had to go. But Uzbekistan had changed the high-living diplomat and there was no way he was going to go quietly.


On December 28th 2000, Charlotte Wilson, a 27-year-old VSO worker, was killed when her bus, the inauspiciously named Titanic Express, was ambushed in war-torn Burundi. The attackers were members of the Hutu-extremist FNL, a faction linked to those responsible for the Rwandan genocide. Twenty others died with Charlotte, including her Burundian fiance. One of the few survivors was given a chilling message for the Burundian government: “We’re going to kill them all and there’s nothing you can do”. In “Titanic Express”, Charlotte’s brother Richard charts his painful struggle to unravel what happened that day, to understand the complex and brutal history that lay behind it. Cutting through the obfuscations of the authorities, he uncovers a story of violence, fanaticism and neglect that exposes the self-interest and double standards at the heart of our supposed commitment to human rights and the fight against terror. As the facts begin to emerge, the family’s deep personal grief is compounded by the realisation that this murder is just one among thousands, in a war fuelled as much by western cynicism and African greed as by ethnic divisions. “Titanic Express” is a political detective story, a memoir of grief and a moving portrait of an extraordinary woman who died at the very moment she had found fulfilment. In gripping detail it shows the human reality of lives torn apart by the machinations of war and diplomatic expediency, where competing versions of the truth can be as deadly as bullets and machetes.


International lawyer Philippe Sands has a unique insider’s view of the elites who govern our lives. His sensational revelations in Lawless World changed the political agenda overnight, forcing Tony Blair to publish damning material that he’d tried to hide. Now, in this updated edition with a shocking new chapter, you can get the full story of how the US and UK governments are riding roughshod over international agreements on human rights, war, torture and the environment – the very laws they put in place. Here sands looks at why global rules matter for all of us. And he powerfully makes the case for preserving them …before justice becomes history.


The Caspian Region, lying south of Russia, west of China and north of Afghanistan, contains the world’s largest untapped oil and gas resources. As much as 100 billion barrels of crude oil and 40 per cent of the world’s global gas reserves can be found in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Since the fall of communism, politicians and multi-national companies have struggled to possess and develop these resources.

In his penetrating new book, Lutz Kleveman reveals that there is a new ‘Great Game’ being played out in the region, a modern variant of the nineteenth-century clash of imperial ambitions between Britain and Russia, but with higher stakes. Desperate to wean itself from dependence on the OPEC cartel, the United States is now pitted in a struggle with Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran ‘ most of which are nuclear powers ‘ for dominance of the Caspian’s fabulous energy reserves and its pipeline routes.

Lutz Kleveman researched and travelled extensively in the Caucasus, the Caspian and Central Asia, meeting with oil barons, generals, diplomats and warlords from Kabul to Moscow. The New Great Game is a revelatory and extremely timely account of the perilous game to dominate the crucial resources ‘ one that mixes religion and oil to explosive effect.

From Scotland’s best traditional music outfit.

Includes the original track ‘Ambassador Craig Murray’s Reel’.

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The New Yorker – Outsourcing Torture

The New Yorker – Outsourcing Torture (by Jane Mayer)

On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that “torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture.” Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush’s statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that “you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother.”

Arar, a thirty-four-year-old graduate of McGill University whose family emigrated to Canada when he was a teen-ager, was arrested on September 26, 2002, at John F. Kennedy Airport. He was changing planes; he had been on vacation with his family in Tunisia, and was returning to Canada. Arar was detained because his name had been placed on the United States Watch List of terrorist suspects. He was held for the next thirteen days, as American officials questioned him about possible links to another suspected terrorist. Arar said that he barely knew the suspect, although he had worked with the man’s brother. Arar, who was not formally charged, was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet. The plane flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan.

During the flight, Arar said, he heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of “the Special Removal Unit.” The Americans, he learned, planned to take him next to Syria. Having been told by his parents about the barbaric practices of the police in Syria, Arar begged crew members not to send him there, arguing that he would surely be tortured. His captors did not respond to his request; instead, they invited him to watch a spy thriller that was aired on board.

Ten hours after landing in Jordan, Arar said, he was driven to Syria, where interrogators, after a day of threats, “just began beating on me.” They whipped his hands repeatedly with two-inch-thick electrical cables, and kept him in a windowless underground cell that he likened to a grave. “Not even animals could withstand it,” he said. Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say. “You just give up,” he said. “You become like an animal.”

A year later, in October, 2003, Arar was released without charges, after the Canadian government took up his cause. Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Ambassador in Washington, announced that his country had found no links between Arar and terrorism. Arar, it turned out, had been sent to Syria on orders from the U.S. government, under a secretive program known as “extraordinary rendition.” This program had been devised as a means of extraditing terrorism suspects from one foreign state to another for interrogation and prosecution. Critics contend that the unstated purpose of such renditions is to subject the suspects to aggressive methods of persuasion that are illegal in America?including torture.

Arar is suing the U.S. government for his mistreatment. “They are outsourcing torture because they know it’s illegal,” he said. “Why, if they have suspicions, don’t they question people within the boundary of the law?”

Rendition was originally carried out on a limited basis, but after September 11th, when President Bush declared a global war on terrorism, the program expanded beyond recognition?becoming, according to a former C.I.A. official, “an abomination.” What began as a program aimed at a small, discrete set of suspects?people against whom there were outstanding foreign arrest warrants?came to include a wide and ill-defined population that the Administration terms “illegal enemy combatants.” Many of them have never been publicly charged with any crime. Scott Horton, an expert on international law who helped prepare a report on renditions issued by N.Y.U. Law School and the New York City Bar Association, estimates that a hundred and fifty people have been rendered since 2001. Representative Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, said that a more precise number was impossible to obtain. “I’ve asked people at the C.I.A. for numbers,” he said. “They refuse to answer. All they will say is that they’re in compliance with the law.”

Although the full scope of the extraordinary-rendition program isn’t known, several recent cases have come to light that may well violate U.S. law. In 1998, Congress passed legislation declaring that it is “the policy of the United States not to expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.”

The Bush Administration, however, has argued that the threat posed by stateless terrorists who draw no distinction between military and civilian targets is so dire that it requires tough new rules of engagement. This shift in perspective, labelled the New Paradigm in a memo written by Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel, “places a high premium on . . . the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians,” giving less weight to the rights of suspects. It also questions many international laws of war. Five days after Al Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vice-President Dick Cheney, reflecting the new outlook, argued, on “Meet the Press,” that the government needed to “work through, sort of, the dark side.” Cheney went on, “A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in. And so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”

The extraordinary-rendition program bears little relation to the system of due process afforded suspects in crimes in America. Terrorism suspects in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have often been abducted by hooded or masked American agents, then forced onto a Gulfstream V jet, like the one described by Arar. This jet, which has been registered to a series of dummy American corporations, such as Bayard Foreign Marketing, of Portland, Oregon, has clearance to land at U.S. military bases. Upon arriving in foreign countries, rendered suspects often vanish. Detainees are not provided with lawyers, and many families are not informed of their whereabouts.

The most common destinations for rendered suspects are Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Jordan, all of which have been cited for human-rights violations by the State Department, and are known to torture suspects. To justify sending detainees to these countries, the Administration appears to be relying on a very fine reading of an imprecise clause in the United Nations Convention Against Torture (which the U.S. ratified in 1994), requiring “substantial grounds for believing” that a detainee will be tortured abroad. Martin Lederman, a lawyer who left the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2002, after eight years, says, “The Convention only applies when you know a suspect is more likely than not to be tortured, but what if you kind of know? That’s not enough. So there are ways to get around it.”

Administration officials declined to discuss the rendition program. But Rohan Gunaratna, a Sri Lankan expert on terrorist interrogations who has consulted with several intelligence agencies, argued that rough tactics “can save hundreds of lives.” He said, “When you capture a terrorist, he may know when the next operation will be staged, so it may be necessary to put a detainee under physical or psychological pressure. I disagree with physical torture, but sometimes the threat of it must be used.”

Rendition is just one element of the Administration’s New Paradigm. The C.I.A. itself is holding dozens of “high value” terrorist suspects outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., in addition to the estimated five hundred and fifty detainees in Guant?namo Bay, Cuba. The Administration confirmed the identities of at least ten of these suspects to the 9/11 Commission?including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a top Al Qaeda operative, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a chief planner of the September 11th attacks?but refused to allow commission members to interview the men, and would not say where they were being held. Reports have suggested that C.I.A. prisons are being operated in Thailand, Qatar, and Afghanistan, among other countries. At the request of the C.I.A., Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally ordered that a prisoner in Iraq be hidden from Red Cross officials for several months, and Army General Paul Kern told Congress that the C.I.A. may have hidden up to a hundred detainees. The Geneva Conventions of 1949, which established norms on the treatment of soldiers and civilians captured in war, require the prompt registration of detainees, so that their treatment can be monitored, but the Administration argues that Al Qaeda members and supporters, who are not part of a state-sponsored military, are not covered by the Conventions.

The Bush Administration’s departure from international norms has been justified in intellectual terms by ?lite lawyers like Gonzales, who is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Gonzales, the new Attorney General, argued during his confirmation proceedings that the U.N. Convention Against Torture’s ban on “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” of terrorist suspects does not apply to American interrogations of foreigners overseas. Perhaps surprisingly, the fiercest internal resistance to this thinking has come from people who have been directly involved in interrogation, including veteran F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents. Their concerns are as much practical as ideological. Years of experience in interrogation have led them to doubt the effectiveness of physical coercion as a means of extracting reliable information. They also warn that the Bush Administration, having taken so many prisoners outside the realm of the law, may not be able to bring them back in. By holding detainees indefinitely, without counsel, without charges of wrongdoing, and under circumstances that could, in legal parlance, “shock the conscience” of a court, the Administration has jeopardized its chances of convicting hundreds of suspected terrorists, or even of using them as witnesses in almost any court in the world.

“It’s a big problem,” Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general and a member of the 9/11 Commission, says. “In criminal justice, you either prosecute the suspects or let them go. But if you’ve treated them in ways that won’t allow you to prosecute them you’re in this no man’s land. What do you do with these people?”

The criminal prosecution of terrorist suspects has not been a priority for the Bush Administration, which has focussed, rather, on preventing additional attacks. But some people who have been fighting terrorism for many years are concerned about unintended consequences of the Administration’s radical legal measures. Among these critics is Michael Scheuer, a former C.I.A. counter-terrorism expert who helped establish the practice of rendition. Scheuer left the agency in 2004, and has written two acerbic critiques of the government’s fight against Islamic terrorism under the pseudonym Anonymous, the most recent of which, “Imperial Hubris,” was a best-seller.

Not long ago, Scheuer, who lives in northern Virginia, spoke openly for the first time about how he and several other top C.I.A. officials set up the program, in the mid-nineties. “It was begun in desperation, ” he told me. At the time, he was the head of the C.I.A.’s Islamic-militant unit, whose job was to “detect, disrupt, and dismantle” terrorist operations. His unit spent much of 1996 studying how Al Qaeda operated; by the next year, Scheuer said, its mission was to try to capture bin Laden and his associates. He recalled, “We went to the White House”?which was then occupied by the Clinton Administration?”and they said, ‘Do it.'” He added that Richard Clarke, who was in charge of counter-terrorism for the National Security Council, offered no advice. “He told me, ‘Figure it out by yourselves,'” Scheuer said. (Clarke did not respond to a request for comment.)

Scheuer sought the counsel of Mary Jo White, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who, along with a small group of F.B.I. agents, was pursuing the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case. In 1998, White’s team obtained an indictment against bin Laden, authorizing U.S. agents to bring him and his associates to the United States to stand trial. From the start, though, the C.I.A. was wary of granting terrorism suspects the due process afforded by American law. The agency did not want to divulge secrets about its intelligence sources and methods, and American courts demand transparency. Even establishing the chain of custody of key evidence?such as a laptop computer?could easily pose a significant problem: foreign governments might refuse to testify in U.S. courts about how they had obtained the evidence, for fear of having their secret co?peration exposed. (Foreign governments often worried about retaliation from their own Muslim populations.) The C.I.A. also felt that other agencies sometimes stood in its way. In 1996, for example, the State Department stymied a joint effort by the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. to question one of bin Laden’s cousins in America, because he had a diplomatic passport, which protects the holder from U.S. law enforcement. Describing the C.I.A.’s frustration, Scheuer said, “We were turning into voyeurs. We knew where these people were, but we couldn’t capture them because we had nowhere to take them.” The agency realized that “we had to come up with a third party.”

The obvious choice, Scheuer said, was Egypt. The largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel, Egypt was a key strategic ally, and its secret police force, the Mukhabarat, had a reputation for brutality. Egypt had been frequently cited by the State Department for torture of prisoners. According to a 2002 report, detainees were “stripped and blindfolded; suspended from a ceiling or doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beaten with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; subjected to electrical shocks; and doused with cold water [and] sexually assaulted.” Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leader, who came to office in 1981, after President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamist extremists, was determined to crack down on terrorism. His prime political enemies were radical Islamists, hundreds of whom had fled the country and joined Al Qaeda. Among these was Ayman al-Zawahiri, a physician from Cairo, who went to Afghanistan and eventually became bin Laden’s deputy.

In 1995, Scheuer said, American agents proposed the rendition program to Egypt, making clear that it had the resources to track, capture, and transport terrorist suspects globally?including access to a small fleet of aircraft. Egypt embraced the idea. “What was clever was that some of the senior people in Al Qaeda were Egyptian,” Scheuer said. “It served American purposes to get these people arrested, and Egyptian purposes to get these people back, where they could be interrogated.” Technically, U.S. law requires the C.I.A. to seek “assurances” from foreign governments that rendered suspects won’t be tortured. Scheuer told me that this was done, but he was “not sure” if any documents confirming the arrangement were signed.

A series of spectacular covert operations followed from this secret pact. On September 13, 1995, U.S. agents helped kidnap Talaat Fouad Qassem, one of Egypt’s most wanted terrorists, in Croatia. Qassem had fled to Europe after being linked by Egypt to the assassination of Sadat; he had been sentenced to death in absentia. Croatian police seized Qassem in Zagreb and handed him over to U.S. agents, who interrogated him aboard a ship cruising the Adriatic Sea and then took him back to Egypt. Once there, Qassem disappeared. There is no record that he was put on trial. Hossam el-Hamalawy, an Egyptian journalist who covers human-rights issues, said, “We believe he was executed.”

A more elaborate operation was staged in Tirana, Albania, in the summer of 1998. According to the Wall Street Journal, the C.I.A. provided the Albanian intelligence service with equipment to wiretap the phones of suspected Muslim militants. Tapes of the conversations were translated into English, and U.S. agents discovered that they contained lengthy discussions with Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy. The U.S. pressured Egypt for assistance; in June, Egypt issued an arrest warrant for Shawki Salama Attiya, one of the militants. Over the next few months, according to the Journal, Albanian security forces, working with U.S. agents, killed one suspect and captured Attiya and four others. These men were bound, blindfolded, and taken to an abandoned airbase, then flown by jet to Cairo for interrogation. Attiya later alleged that he suffered electrical shocks to his genitals, was hung from his limbs, and was kept in a cell in filthy water up to his knees. Two other suspects, who had been sentenced to death in absentia, were hanged.

On August 5, 1998, an Arab-language newspaper in London published a letter from the International Islamic Front for Jihad, in which it threatened retaliation against the U.S. for the Albanian operation?in a “language they will understand.” Two days later, the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were blown up, killing two hundred and twenty-four people.

The U.S. began rendering terror suspects to other countries, but the most common destination remained Egypt. The partnership between the American and the Egyptian intelligence services was extraordinarily close: the Americans could give the Egyptian interrogators questions they wanted put to the detainees in the morning, Scheuer said, and get answers by the evening. The Americans asked to question suspects directly themselves, but, Scheuer said, the Egyptians refused. “We were never in the same room at the same time.”

Scheuer claimed that “there was a legal process” undergirding these early renditions. Every suspect who was apprehended, he said, had been convicted in absentia. Before a suspect was captured, a dossier was prepared containing the equivalent of a rap sheet. The C.I.A.’s legal counsel signed off on every proposed operation. Scheuer said that this system prevented innocent people from being subjected to rendition. “Langley would never let us proceed unless there was substance,” he said. Moreover, Scheuer emphasized, renditions were pursued out of expedience?”not out of thinking it was the best policy.”

Since September 11th, as the number of renditions has grown, and hundreds of terrorist suspects have been deposited indefinitely in places like Guant?namo Bay, the shortcomings of this approach have become manifest. “Are we going to hold these people forever?” Scheuer asked. “The policymakers hadn’t thought what to do with them, and what would happen when it was found out that we were turning them over to governments that the human-rights world reviled.” Once a detainee’s rights have been violated, he says, “you absolutely can’t” reinstate him into the court system. “You can’t kill him, either,” he added. “All we’ve done is create a nightmare.”

On a bleak winter day in Trenton, New Jersey, Dan Coleman, an ex-F.B.I. agent who retired last July, because of asthma, scoffed at the idea that a C.I.A. agent was now having compunctions about renditions. The C.I.A., Coleman said, liked rendition from the start. “They loved that these guys would just disappear off the books, and never be heard of again,” he said. “They were proud of it.”

For ten years, Coleman worked closely with the C.I.A. on counter-terrorism cases, including the Embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania. His methodical style of detective work, in which interrogations were aimed at forging relationships with detainees, became unfashionable after September 11th, in part because the government was intent on extracting information as quickly as possible, in order to prevent future attacks. Yet the more patient approach used by Coleman and other agents had yielded major successes. In the Embassy-bombings case, they helped convict four Al Qaeda operatives on three hundred and two criminal counts; all four men pleaded guilty to serious terrorism charges. The confessions the F.B.I. agents elicited, and the trial itself, which ended in May, 2001, created an invaluable public record about Al Qaeda, including details about its funding mechanisms, its internal structure, and its intention to obtain weapons of mass destruction. (The political leadership in Washington, unfortunately, did not pay sufficient attention.)

Coleman is a political nonpartisan with a law-and-order mentality. His eldest son is a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan. Yet Coleman was troubled by the Bush Administration’s New Paradigm. Torture, he said, “has become bureaucratized.” Bad as the policy of rendition was before September 11th, Coleman said, “afterward, it really went out of control.” He explained, “Now, instead of just sending people to third countries, we’re holding them ourselves. We’re taking people, and keeping them in our own custody in third countries. That’s an enormous problem.” Egypt, he pointed out, at least had an established legal system, however harsh. “There was a process there,” Coleman said. “But what’s our process? We have no method over there other than our laws?and we’ve decided to ignore them. What are we now, the Huns? If you don’t talk to us, we’ll kill you?”

From the beginning of the rendition program, Coleman said, there was no doubt that Egypt engaged in torture. He recalled the case of a suspect in the first World Trade Center bombing who fled to Egypt. The U.S. requested his return, and the Egyptians handed him over?wrapped head to toe in duct tape, like a mummy. (In another incident, an Egyptian with links to Al Qaeda who had co?perated with the U.S. government in a terrorism trial was picked up in Cairo and imprisoned by Egyptian authorities until U.S. diplomats secured his release. For days, he had been chained to a toilet, where guards had urinated on him.)

Under such circumstances, it might seem difficult for the U.S. government to legally justify dispatching suspects to Egypt. But Coleman said that since September 11th the C.I.A. “has seemed to think it’s operating under different rules, that it has extralegal abilities outside the U.S.” Agents, he said, have “told me that they have their own enormous office of general counsel that rarely tells them no. Whatever they do is all right. It all takes place overseas.”

Coleman was angry that lawyers in Washington were redefining the parameters of counter-terrorism interrogations. “Have any of these guys ever tried to talk to someone who’s been deprived of his clothes?” he asked. “He’s going to be ashamed, and humiliated, and cold. He’ll tell you anything you want to hear to get his clothes back. There’s no value in it.” Coleman said that he had learned to treat even the most despicable suspects as if there were “a personal relationship, even if you can’t stand them.” He said that many of the suspects he had interrogated expected to be tortured, and were stunned to learn that they had rights under the American system. Due process made detainees more compliant, not less, Coleman said. He had also found that a defendant’s right to legal counsel was beneficial not only to suspects but also to law-enforcement officers. Defense lawyers frequently persuaded detainees to co?perate with prosecutors, in exchange for plea agreements. “The lawyers show these guys there’s a way out,” Coleman said. “It’s human nature. People don’t co?perate with you unless they have some reason to.” He added, “Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that. Besides, you lose your soul.”

The Bush Administration’s redefinition of the standards of interrogation took place almost entirely out of public view. One of the first officials to offer hints of the shift in approach was Cofer Black, who was then in charge of counter-terrorism at the C.I.A. On September 26, 2002, he addressed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and stated that the arrest and detention of terrorists was “a very highly classified area.” He added, “All you need to know is that there was a ‘before 9/11’ and there was an ‘after 9/11.’ After 9/11, the gloves came off.”

Laying the foundation for this shift was a now famous set of internal legal memos?some were leaked, others were made public by groups such as the N.Y.U. Center for Law and National Security. Most of these documents were generated by a small, hawkish group of politically appointed lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and in the office of Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel. Chief among the authors was John C. Yoo, the deputy assistant attorney general at the time. (A Yale Law School graduate and a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, Yoo now teaches law at Berkeley.) Taken together, the memos advised the President that he had almost unfettered latitude in his prosecution of the war on terror. For many years, Yoo was a member of the Federalist Society, a fellowship of conservative intellectuals who view international law with skepticism, and September 11th offered an opportunity for him and others in the Administration to put their political ideas into practice. A former lawyer in the State Department recalled the mood of the Administration: “The Twin Towers were still smoldering. The atmosphere was intense. The tone at the top was aggressive?and understandably so. The Commander-in-Chief had used the words ‘dead or alive’ and vowed to bring the terrorists to justice or bring justice to them. There was a fury.”

Soon after September 11th, Yoo and other Administration lawyers began advising President Bush that he did not have to comply with the Geneva Conventions in handling detainees in the war on terror. The lawyers classified these detainees not as civilians or prisoners of war?two categories of individuals protected by the Conventions?but as “illegal enemy combatants.” The rubric included not only Al Qaeda members and supporters but the entire Taliban, because, Yoo and other lawyers argued, the country was a “failed state.” Eric Lewis, an expert in international law who represents several Guant?namo detainees, said, “The Administration’s lawyers created a third category and cast them outside the law.”

The State Department, determined to uphold the Geneva Conventions, fought against Bush’s lawyers and lost. In a forty-page memo to Yoo, dated January 11, 2002 (which has not been publicly released), William Taft IV, the State Department legal adviser, argued that Yoo’s analysis was “seriously flawed.” Taft told Yoo that his contention that the President could disregard the Geneva Conventions was “untenable,” “incorrect,” and “confused.” Taft disputed Yoo’s argument that Afghanistan, as a “failed state,” was not covered by the Conventions. “The official United States position before, during, and after the emergence of the Taliban was that Afghanistan constituted a state,” he wrote. Taft also warned Yoo that if the U.S. took the war on terrorism outside the Geneva Conventions, not only could U.S. soldiers be denied the protections of the Conventions?and therefore be prosecuted for crimes, including murder?but President Bush could be accused of a “grave breach” by other countries, and be prosecuted for war crimes. Taft sent a copy of his memo to Gonzales, hoping that his dissent would reach the President. Within days, Yoo sent Taft a lengthy rebuttal.

Others in the Administration worried that the President’s lawyers were wayward. “Lawyers have to be the voice of reason and sometimes have to put the brakes on, no matter how much the client wants to hear something else,” the former State Department lawyer said. “Our job is to keep the train on the tracks. It’s not to tell the President, ‘Here are the ways to avoid the law.'” He went on, “There is no such thing as a non-covered person under the Geneva Conventions. It’s nonsense. The protocols cover fighters in everything from world wars to local rebellions.” The lawyer said that Taft urged Yoo and Gonzales to warn President Bush that he would “be seen as a war criminal by the rest of the world,” but Taft was ignored. This may be because President Bush had already made up his mind. According to top State Department officials, Bush decided to suspend the Geneva Conventions on January 8, 2002?three days before Taft sent his memo to Yoo.

The legal pronouncements from Washington about the status of detainees were painstakingly constructed to include numerous loopholes. For example, in February, 2002, President Bush issued a written directive stating that, even though he had determined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the war on terror, all detainees should be treated “humanely.” A close reading of the directive, however, revealed that it referred only to military interrogators?not to C.I.A. officials. This exemption allowed the C.I.A. to continue using interrogation methods, including rendition, that stopped just short of torture. Further, an August, 2002, memo written largely by Yoo but signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee argued that torture required the intent to inflict suffering “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” According to the Times, a secret memo issued by Administration lawyers authorized the C.I.A. to use novel interrogation methods?including “water-boarding,” in which a suspect is bound and immersed in water until he nearly drowns. Dr. Allen Keller, the director of the Bellevue/N.Y.U. Program for Survivors of Torture, told me that he had treated a number of people who had been subjected to such forms of near-asphyxiation, and he argued that it was indeed torture. Some victims were still traumatized years later, he said. One patient couldn’t take showers, and panicked when it rained. “The fear of being killed is a terrifying experience,” he said.

The Administration’s justification of the rough treatment of detainees appears to have passed down the chain of command. In late 2003, at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, photographs were taken that documented prisoners being subjected to grotesque abuse by U.S. soldiers. After the scandal became public, the Justice Department revised the narrow definition of torture outlined in the Bybee memo, using language that more strongly prohibited physical abuse during interrogations. But the Administration has fought hard against legislative efforts to rein in the C.I.A. In the past few months, Republican leaders, at the White House’s urging, have blocked two attempts in the Senate to ban the C.I.A. from using cruel and inhuman interrogation methods. An attempt in the House to outlaw extraordinary rendition, led by Representative Markey, also failed.

In a recent phone interview, Yoo was soft-spoken and resolute. “Why is it so hard for people to understand that there is a category of behavior not covered by the legal system?” he said. “What were pirates? They weren’t fighting on behalf of any nation. What were slave traders? Historically, there were people so bad that they were not given protection of the laws. There were no specific provisions for their trial, or imprisonment. If you were an illegal combatant, you didn’t deserve the protection of the laws of war.” Yoo cited precedents for his position. “The Lincoln assassins were treated this way, too,” he said. “They were tried in a military court, and executed.” The point, he said, was that the Geneva Conventions'”simple binary classification of civilian or soldier isn’t accurate.”

Yoo also argued that the Constitution granted the President plenary powers to override the U.N. Convention Against Torture when he is acting in the nation’s defense?a position that has drawn dissent from many scholars. As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn’t have the power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.” He continued, “It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.” If the President were to abuse his powers as Commander-in-Chief, Yoo said, the constitutional remedy was impeachment. He went on to suggest that President Bush’s victory in the 2004 election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was “proof that the debate is over.” He said, “The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.”

A few months after September 11th, the U.S. gained custody of its first high-ranking Al Qaeda figure, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. He had run bin Laden’s terrorist training camp in Khalden, Afghanistan, and was detained in Pakistan. Zacarias Moussaoui, who was already in U.S. custody, and Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber, had both spent time at the Khalden camp. At the F.B.I.’s field office in New York, Jack Cloonan, an officer who had worked for the agency since 1972, struggled to maintain control of the legal process in Afghanistan. C.I.A. and F.B.I. agents were vying to take possession of Libi. Cloonan, who worked with Dan Coleman on anti-terrorism cases for many years, said he felt that “neither the Moussaoui case nor the Reid case was a slam dunk.” He became intent on securing Libi’s testimony as a witness against them. He advised his F.B.I. colleagues in Afghanistan to question Libi respectfully, “and handle this like it was being done right here, in my office in New York.” He recalled, “I remember talking on a secure line to them. I told them, ‘Do yourself a favor, read the guy his rights. It may be old-fashioned, but this will come out if we don’t. It may take ten years, but it will hurt you, and the bureau’s reputation, if you don’t. Have it stand as a shining example of what we feel is right.'”

Cloonan’s F.B.I. colleagues advised Libi of his rights and took turns with C.I.A. agents in questioning him. After a few days, F.B.I. officials felt that they were developing a good rapport with him. The C.I.A. agents, however, felt that he was lying to them, and needed tougher interrogation.

To Cloonan’s dismay, the C.I.A. reportedly rendered Libi to Egypt. He was seen boarding a plane in Afghanistan, restrained by handcuffs and ankle cuffs, his mouth covered by duct tape. Cloonan, who retired from the F.B.I. in 2002, said, “At least we got information in ways that wouldn’t shock the conscience of the court. And no one will have to seek revenge for what I did.” He added, “We need to show the world that we can lead, and not just by military might.”

After Libi was taken to Egypt, the F.B.I. lost track of him. Yet he evidently played a crucial background role in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s momentous address to the United Nations Security Council in February, 2003, which argued the case for a pre?mptive war against Iraq. In his speech, Powell did not refer to Libi by name, but he announced to the world that “a senior terrorist operative” who “was responsible for one of Al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan” had told U.S. authorities that Saddam Hussein had offered to train two Al Qaeda operatives in the use of “chemical or biological weapons.”

Last summer, Newsweek reported that Libi, who was eventually transferred from Egypt to Guant?namo Bay, was the source of the incendiary charge cited by Powell, and that he had recanted. By then, the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq had passed and the 9/11 Commission had declared that there was no known evidence of a working relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Dan Coleman was disgusted when he heard about Libi’s false confession. “It was ridiculous for interrogators to think Libi would have known anything about Iraq,” he said. “I could have told them that. He ran a training camp. He wouldn’t have had anything to do with Iraq. Administration officials were always pushing us to come up with links, but there weren’t any. The reason they got bad information is that they beat it out of him. You never get good information from someone that way.”

Most authorities on interrogation, in and out of government, agree that torture and lesser forms of physical coercion succeed in producing confessions. The problem is that these confessions aren’t necessarily true. Three of the Guant?namo detainees released by the U.S. to Great Britain last year, for example, had confessed that they had appeared in a blurry video, obtained by American investigators, that documented a group of acolytes meeting with bin Laden in Afghanistan. As reported in the London Observer, British intelligence officials arrived at Guant?namo with evidence that the accused men had been living in England at the time the video was made. The detainees told British authorities that they had been coerced into making false confessions.

Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, told me that “the U.S. accepts quite a lot of intelligence from the Uzbeks” that has been extracted from suspects who have been tortured. This information was, he said, “largely rubbish.” He said he knew of “at least three” instances where the U.S. had rendered suspected militants from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan. Although Murray does not know the fate of the three men, he said, “They almost certainly would have been tortured.” In Uzbekistan, he said, “partial boiling of a hand or an arm is quite common.” He also knew of two cases in which prisoners had been boiled to death.

In 2002, Murray, concerned that America was complicit with such a regime, asked his deputy to discuss the problem with the C.I.A.’s station chief in Tashkent. He said that the station chief did not dispute that intelligence was being obtained under torture. But the C.I.A. did not consider this a problem. “There was no reason to think they were perturbed,” Murray told me.

Scientific research on the efficacy of torture and rough interrogation is limited, because of the moral and legal impediments to experimentation. Tom Parker, a former officer for M.I.5, the British intelligence agency, who teaches at Yale, argued that, whether or not forceful interrogations yield accurate information from terrorist suspects, a larger problem is that many detainees “have nothing to tell.” For many years, he said, British authorities subjected members of the Irish Republican Army to forceful interrogations, but, in the end, the government concluded that “detainees aren’t valuable.” A more effective strategy, Parker said, was “being creative” about human intelligence gathering, such as infiltration and eavesdropping. “The U.S. is doing what the British did in the nineteen-seventies, detaining people and violating their civil liberties,” he said. “It did nothing but exacerbate the situation. Most of those interned went back to terrorism. You’ll end up radicalizing the entire population.”

Although the Administration has tried to keep the details of extraordinary renditions secret, several accounts have surfaced that reveal how the program operates. On December 18, 2001, at Stockholm’s Bromma Airport, a half-dozen hooded security officials ushered two Egyptian asylum seekers, Muhammad Zery and Ahmed Agiza, into an empty office. They cut off the Egyptians’ clothes with scissors, forcibly administered sedatives by suppository, swaddled them in diapers, and dressed them in orange jumpsuits. As was reported by “Kalla Fakta,” a Swedish television news program, the suspects were blindfolded, placed in handcuffs and leg irons; according to a declassified Swedish government report, the men were then flown to Cairo on a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V jet. Swedish officials have claimed that they received assurances from the Egyptians that Zery and Agiza would be treated humanely. But both suspects have said, through lawyers and family members, that they were tortured with electrical charges to their genitals. (Zery said that he was also forced to lie on an electrified bed frame.) After spending two years in an Egyptian prison, Zery was released. Agiza, a physician who had once been an ally of Zawahiri but later renounced him and terrorism, was convicted on terrorism charges by Egypt’s Supreme Military Court. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.

Another case suggests that the Bush Administration is authorizing the rendition of suspects for whom it has little evidence of guilt. Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born citizen of Australia, was apprehended in Pakistan in October, 2001. According to his wife, Habib, a radical Muslim with four children, was visiting the country to tour religious schools and determine if his family should move to Pakistan. A spokesman at the Pentagon has claimed that Habib?who has expressed support for Islamist causes?spent most of his trip in Afghanistan, and was “either supporting hostile forces or on the battlefield fighting illegally against the U.S.” Last month, after a three-year ordeal, Habib was released without charges.

Habib is one of a handful of people subjected to rendition who are being represented pro bono by human-rights lawyers. According to a recently unsealed document prepared by Joseph Margulies, a lawyer affiliated with the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Chicago Law School, Habib said that he was first interrogated in Pakistan for three weeks, in part at a facility in Islamabad, where he said he was brutalized. Some of his interrogators, he claimed, spoke English with American accents. (Having lived in Australia for years, Habib is comfortable in English.) He was then placed in the custody of Americans, two of whom wore black short-sleeved shirts and had distinctive tattoos: one depicted an American flag attached to a flagpole shaped like a finger, the other a large cross. The Americans took him to an airfield, cut his clothes off with scissors, dressed him in a jumpsuit, covered his eyes with opaque goggles, and placed him aboard a private plane. He was flown to Egypt.

According to Margulies, Habib was held and interrogated for six months. “Never, to my knowledge, did he make an appearance in any court,” Margulies told me. Margulies was also unaware of any evidence suggesting that the U.S. sought a promise from Egypt that Habib would not be tortured. For his part, Habib claimed to have been subjected to horrific conditions. He said that he was beaten frequently with blunt instruments, including an object that he likened to an electric “cattle prod.” And he was told that if he didn’t confess to belonging to Al Qaeda he would be anally raped by specially trained dogs. (Hossam el-Hamalawy said that Egyptian security forces train German shepherds for police work, and that other prisoners have also been threatened with rape by trained dogs, although he knows of no one who has been assaulted in this way.) Habib said that he was shackled and forced to stand in three torture chambers: one room was filled with water up to his chin, requiring him to stand on tiptoe for hours; another chamber, filled with water up to his knees, had a ceiling so low that he was forced into a prolonged, painful stoop; in the third, he stood in water up to his ankles, and within sight of an electric switch and a generator, which his jailers said would be used to electrocute him if he didn’t confess. Habib’s lawyer said that he submitted to his interrogators’ demands and made multiple confessions, all of them false. (Egyptian authorities have described such allegations of torture as “mythology.”)

After his imprisonment in Egypt, Habib said that he was returned to U.S. custody and was flown to Bagram Air Force Base, in Afghanistan, and then on to Guant?namo Bay, where he was detained until last month. On January 11th, a few days after the Washington Post published an article on Habib’s case, the Pentagon, offering virtually no explanation, agreed to release him into the custody of the Australian government. “Habib was released because he was hopelessly embarrassing,” Eric Freedman, a professor at Hofstra Law School, who has been involved in the detainees’ legal defense, says. “It’s a large crack in the wall in a house of cards that is midway through tumbling down.” In a prepared statement, a Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant Commander Flex Plexico, said there was “no evidence” that Habib “was tortured or abused” while he was in U.S. custody. He also said that Habib had received “Al Qaeda training,” which included instruction in making false abuse allegations. Habib’s claims, he suggested, “fit the standard operating procedure.”

The U.S. government has not responded directly to Habib’s charge that he was rendered to Egypt. However, several other men who were recently released from Guant?namo reported that Habib told them about it. Jamal al-Harith, a British detainee who was sent home to Manchester, England, last March, told me in a phone interview that at one point he had been placed in a cage across from Habib. “He said that he had been in Egypt for about six months, and they had injected him with drugs, and hung him from the ceiling, and beaten him very, very badly,” Harith recalled. “He seemed to be in pain. He was haggard-looking. I never saw him walk. He always had to be held up.”

Another piece of evidence that may support Habib’s story is a set of flight logs documenting the travels of a white Gulfstream V jet?the plane that seems to have been used for renditions by the U.S. government. These logs show that on April 9, 2002, the jet left Dulles Airport, in Washington, and landed in Cairo. According to Habib’s attorney, this was around the same time that Habib said he was released by the Egyptians in Cairo, and returned to U.S. custody. The flight logs were obtained by Stephen Grey, a British journalist who has written a number of stories on renditions for British publications, including the London Sunday Times. Grey’s logs are incomplete, but they chronicle some three hundred flights over three years by the fourteen-seat jet, which was marked on its tail with the code N379P. (It was recently changed, to N8068V.) All the flights originated from Dulles Airport, and many of them landed at restricted U.S. military bases.

Even if Habib is a terrorist aligned with Al Qaeda, as Pentagon officials have claimed, it seems unlikely that prosecutors would ever be able to build a strong case against him, given the treatment that he allegedly received in Egypt. John Radsan, a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law, in St. Paul, Minnesota, who worked in the general counsel’s office of the C.I.A. until last year, said, “I don’t think anyone’s thought through what we do with these people.”

Similar problems complicate the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in March, 2003. Mohammed has reportedly been “water-boarded” during interrogations. If so, Radsan said, “it would be almost impossible to take him into a criminal trial. Any evidence derived from his interrogation could be seen as fruit from the poisonous tree. I think the government is considering some sort of military tribunal somewhere down the line. But, even there, there are still constitutional requirements that you can’t bring in involuntary confessions.”

The trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, in Alexandria, Virginia?the only U.S. criminal trial of a suspect linked to the September 11th attacks?is stalled. It’s been more than three years since Attorney General John Ashcroft called Moussaoui’s indictment “a chronicle of evil.” The case has been held up by Moussaoui’s demand?and the Bush Administration’s refusal?to let him call as witnesses Al Qaeda members held in government custody, including Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. (Bin al-Shibh is thought to have been tortured.) Government attorneys have argued that producing the witnesses would disrupt the interrogation process.

Similarly, German officials fear that they may be unable to convict any members of the Hamburg cell that is believed to have helped plan the September 11th attacks, on charges connected to the plot, in part because the U.S. government refuses to produce bin al-Shibh and Mohammed as witnesses. Last year, one of the Hamburg defendants, Mounir Motassadeq, became the first person to be convicted in the planning of the attacks, but his guilty verdict was overturned by an appeals court, which found the evidence against him too weak.

Motassadeq is on trial again, but, in accordance with German law, he is no longer being imprisoned. Although he is alleged to have overseen the payment of funds into the accounts of the September 11th hijackers?and to have been friendly with Mohamed Atta, who flew one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers?he walks freely to and from the courthouse each day. The U.S. has supplied the German court with edited summaries of testimony from Mohammed and bin al-Shibh. But Gerhard Strate, Motassadeq’s defense lawyer, told me, “We are not satisfied with the summaries. If you want to find the truth, we need to know who has been interrogating them, and under what circumstances. We don’t have any answers to this.” The refusal by the U.S. to produce the witnesses in person, Strate said, “puts the court in a ridiculous position.” He added, “I don’t know why they won’t produce the witnesses. The first thing you think is that the U.S. government has something to hide.”

In fact, the Justice Department recently admitted that it had something to hide in relation to Maher Arar, the Canadian engineer. The government invoked the rarely used “state secrets privilege” in a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Arar’s lawyers against the U.S. government. To go forward in an open court, the government said, would jeopardize the “intelligence, foreign policy and national security interests of the United States.” Barbara Olshansky, the assistant legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing Arar, said that government lawyers “are saying this case can’t be tried, and the classified information on which they’re basing this argument can’t even be shared with the opposing lawyers. It’s the height of arrogance?they think they can do anything they want in the name of the global war on terrorism.”

Nadja Dizdarevic is a thirty-year-old mother of four who lives in Sarajevo. On October 21, 2001, her husband, Hadj Boudella, a Muslim of Algerian descent, and five other Algerians living in Bosnia were arrested after U.S. authorities tipped off the Bosnian government to an alleged plot by the group to blow up the American and British Embassies in Sarajevo. One of the suspects reportedly placed some seventy phone calls to the Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in the days after September 11th. Boudella and his wife, however, maintain that neither he nor several of the other defendants knew the man who had allegedly contacted Zubaydah. And an investigation by the Bosnian government turned up no confirmation that the calls to Zubaydah were made at all, according to the men’s American lawyers, Rob Kirsch and Stephen Oleskey.

At the request of the U.S., the Bosnian government held all six men for three months, but was unable to substantiate any criminal charges against them. On January 17, 2002, the Bosnian Supreme Court ruled that they should be released. Instead, as the men left prison, they were handcuffed, forced to put on surgical masks with nose clips, covered in hoods, and herded into waiting unmarked cars by masked figures, some of whom appeared to be members of the Bosnian special forces. Boudella’s wife had come to the prison to meet her husband, and she recalled that she recognized him, despite the hood, because he was wearing a new suit that she had brought him the day before. “I will never forget that night,” she said. “It was snowing. I was screaming for someone to help.” A crowd gathered, and tried to block the convoy, but it sped off. The suspects were taken to a military airbase and kept in a freezing hangar for hours; one member of the group later claimed that he saw one of the abductors remove his Bosnian uniform, revealing that he was in fact American. The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied its role in the operation.

Six days after the abduction, Boudella’s wife received word that her husband and the other men had been sent to Guant?namo. One man in the group has alleged that two of his fingers were broken by U.S. soldiers. Little is publicly known about the welfare of the others.

Boudella’s wife said that she was astounded that her husband could be seized without charge or trial, at home during peacetime and after his own government had exonerated him. The term “enemy combatant” perplexed her. “He is an enemy of whom?” she asked. “In combat where?” She said that her view of America had changed. “I have not changed my opinion about its people, but unfortunately I have changed my opinion about its respect for human rights,” she said. “It is no longer the leader in the world. It has become the leader in the violation of human rights.”

In October, Boudella attempted to plead his innocence before the Pentagon’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The C.S.R.T. is the Pentagon’s answer to the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, over the Bush Administration’s objections, that detainees in Guant?namo had a right to challenge their imprisonment. Boudella was not allowed to bring a lawyer to the proceeding. And the tribunal said that it was “unable to locate” a copy of the Bosnian Supreme Court’s verdict freeing him, which he had requested that it read. Transcripts show that Boudella stated, “I am against any terrorist acts,” and asked, “How could I be part of an organization that I strongly believe has harmed my people?” The tribunal rejected his plea, as it has rejected three hundred and eighty-seven of the three hundred and ninety-three pleas it has heard. Upon learning this, Boudella’s wife sent the following letter to her husband’s American lawyers:

Dear Friends, I am so shocked by this information that it seems as if my blood froze in my veins, I can’t breathe and I wish I was dead. I can’t believe these things can happen, that they can come and take your husband away, overnight and without reason, destroy your family, ruin your dreams after three years of fight. . . . Please, tell me, what can I still do for him? . . . Is this decision final, what are the legal remedies? Help me to understand because, as far as I know the law, this is insane, contrary to all possible laws and human rights. Please help me, I don’t want to lose him.

John Radsan, the former C.I.A. lawyer, offered a reply of sorts. “As a society, we haven’t figured out what the rough rules are yet,” he said. “There are hardly any rules for illegal enemy combatants. It’s the law of the jungle. And right now we happen to be the strongest animal.”

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