When Moonbats attack…

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The blogosphere has played a key role in developing the story surrounding the UK government’s alledged involvement in rendition and torture in the War on Terror. J.J. King reviews the progress online.

Not Leaking, But Blogging

What to do if you can’t get your damning documents picked up by the mainstream media? The answer, it seems, is to take it to the blogs — from whence, if the story has ‘legs’, it may eventually get dragged into the press.

That is precisely what has happened in the case of Craig Murray , former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan. Murray lost his position after he defied a Foreign Office prohibition on publishing documents concerning the UK’s use of information obtained by rendition and torture (inlcuding, incidentally, boiling alive) in the War on Terror.

On Murray’s request, bloggers reproduced his documents online , making further suppression practically impossible. The mainstream, now assured that it was not breaking a story that might cause it trouble, ran the Murray story in due course.

The ‘Moonbat Craze’

Murray may have a book to promote , but that doesn’t make a rightwing blogger like Michelle Malkin look any more convincing when she calls the furore around his published telegrams a ‘Moonbat Craze’ . The documents on offer may not quite be the ‘Smoking Gun’ Murray claims, but they are certainly significant.

Whereas the Bush regime tacitly condoned torturous methods in February 2002, when it indicated the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to captured members of al Qaeda and Afghanistan’s Taliban, the UK had taken no such public stance. In fact, as blog BlairWatch points out , the government has been holding steadfastly, if increasingly unbelievably, to the line that they knownothing about Extraordinary Rendition or torture used to obtain information for the War on Terror.

As a result of Murray’s blog publication, such claims now appear ‘superlatively disingenuous’, as John Lettice puts it for The Register . ‘In order to sustain the “see no evil” policy in the face of these,’ the telegrams appear to show, Lettice argues, ‘Jack Straw must presumably also now claim to have been entirely unaware of what one of his own ambassadors was telling him, repeatedly and at some considerable length.’

Comment: There appears to have been some confusion over what constitutes the “smoking gun” proving that Jack Straw lied over the government’s use of information extracted under torture. Perhaps the clearest example is Jack Straw’s response to a constituent during his April/May 2005 re-election campaign:

Constituent: “This question is for Mr Straw; Have you ever read any documents where the intelligence has been procured through torturous means?”

Jack Straw: “Not to the best of my knowledge… let me make this clear… the British government does not support torture in any circumstances. Full stop. We do not support the obtaining of intelligence by torture, or its use.”

Straw claimed that he had “not to the best of my knowledge” read any document based on torture-tainted intelligence, yet Craig Murray had sent back memo after memo pointing out that the intelligence coming into London from Uzbekistan was torture-tainted.

Craig Murray was even verbally informed by his Foreign Office superiors that Jack Straw wanted him to know he’d lost sleep over the issue. Straw’s claim that he hadn’t “to the best of my knowledge” ever seen any torture-tainted documents appears to have been a lie.

NB – Craig Murray was Britain’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 until he was removed from his post in October 2004. He resigned from the Foreign Office in February 2005. Click here for a full timeline