Daily archives: January 6, 2006

Whitehall unconfidential: the censors are on the run

The Guardian writes on how powerless Tony Blair has become to stem a tide of embarrassing disclosures, including the Tashkent Telegrams.

“Another renegade ex-ambassador, Craig Murray – forced out of his job in Uzbekistan for objecting to British/US complicity in torture – is defying the same act with impunity. Over the New Year, he published on his website many classified Foreign Office telegrams and, in a modern touch, has ensured their circulation to more than 4,000 bloggers.”

By David Leigh in The Guardian

A series of important battles is going on between the prime minister’s men and a growing number of more junior officials over who is allowed to censor whom. Censorship attempts always have their funny side. Everyone had quite a laugh last year when Lance Price, the one-time spin doctor, defiantly published his diary entry saying that “we are devising a glasses strategy”. The short-sighted premier’s new specs were to be laid “accidentally” on his desk and a friendly profile-writer allowed to spot them. But Blair wanted Calvin Kleins, while Alastair Campbell thought an NHS pair would play better. Sir Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet secretary, subsequently pronounced of these disclosures: “Making money out of private conversations is wrong” – which, considering the circumstances, was even more amusing.


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Sun Tzu and the Art of Spying

A White House official’s wisecrack about an ancient Chinese philosopher actually provides critical insights into Bush’s views on spying and executive branch power.

By Noah Leavitt at AlterNet

Last week, White House spokeperson Trent Duffy provided the Bush administration’s rationale for its extralegal program to spy on United States citizens. Duffy quipped: “The fact is that Al Quaida’s play book is not printed on Page 1, and when America’s is, it has serious ramifications. You don’t need to be Sun Tzu to understand that.”

Duffy was referencing the “big idea” of Sun Tzu’s seminal work, “The Art of War,” which could be stated as “the ideal strategy is to win without fighting — to defeat the enemy before combat becomes necessary.”

It was an odd but telling comment, and worth exploring for the critical insights it provides about Bush’s views on spying and executive branch power.


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Liberty – No Torture, No Compromise

Liberty is one of the UK’s leading human rights and civil liberties organisations. They lobby Parliament, aiming to expose laws that undermine civil liberties and human rights, and work with politicians to correct them. They also challenge laws, by taking test cases to UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights and conduct research on diverse issues.

They have recently launched their No Torture – No Compromise campaign


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