Duck! Here Comes More Whitewash! 11

I have just got round to reading the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Extraordinary Rendition

This really is the most laughable cover-up job I have ever seen. The committee does venture that some things might have happened which were – well perhaps morally difficult. It even in one sentence goes so far as to hint that the United States might have been a bit naughty:

“What the US rendition programme has shown is that these ethical dilemmas are not confined to countries with poor track records on human rights – the UK now has some ethical dilemmas with our closest ally.”

But fortunately, nobody actually did anything wrong and the phrase “No evidence” repeats again and again like a mantra. Nobody ever saw any evidence. British intelligence officers interrogating detainees in the rendition programme never saw any evidence of torture. The police never saw any evidence of rendition flights in the UK. Nor does the committee think that anybody should have looked to see if they could find any evidence – of course the police and security services are too busy protecting us from those dreadful terrorists to worry about the odd British Muslim being tortured by the Americans.

The Committee also fails to address the straightforward question of whether we do or whether we do not obtain intelligence from torture. It dances around the subject with equivocations like:

“These issues are not easily resolved. Intelligence and security services, here and abroad, rarely divulge information on their sources when sharing intelligence with foreign liaison services. The location, circumstances or treatment of a detainee (or even the fact that the source is a detainee) would not usually be shared.”

So there you have the basis of a defence: “We had no idea the Algerians had tortured him to get the information, your Honour.” Except that the statement above from the report is a direct lie. You very often know it is a detainee, and can easily discover from your liaison something about his circumstances, including torture, if you ask. If you’re a good enough liaison officer you’ll find out without asking. The details the Committee claim we “Don’t know” are in fact deliberately sanitised out by the Security Services before the intelligence report is issued, to give Ministers plausible deniability of knowing the information came from torture.

The Committee however have a second line of defence. Torturing people is OK anyway because it saves lives. Take Khalid Sheikh Mohammed:

“When he was in detention in 2003, place unknown, he provided [The pseudonyms of] six individuals…who were involved in AQ activities in or against the UK. The Americans gave us this information… These included high profile terrorists – an indication of the huge amount of significant information that came from one man in detention in an unknown place.”

In fact, KSM confessed under years of torture to an incredible amount of stuff, much of which could not possibly have been true. The Committee give a lot of space to the “Torture Works” arguments put forward by our security services, but fail to address – or even to meniton – the counter argment that torture gets you not the truth, but what the victim thinks will make the torturer stop. A few hundred years ago we would have succesfully been making KSM confess to communing with the Devil in the form of a cat. That wouldn’t make it true.

My breath is taken away by the moral cowardice of the committee in putting forward the argument that we need intelligence from torture, while pretending not to know if people are actually tortured or not. I could have given them irrefutable evidence that we do have a policy of obtaining evidence through torture – which I presume is why they did not call me to give evidence. I am named in the Report as having given evidence to the European Parliament Report on Extraordinary Rendition, but they make no mention at all of what my evidence was. They then dismiss the European parliament report of having “No real evidence”.

It is a matter of genuine sorrow to me that I have never given evidence in this country to the events outlined in Murder in Samarkand. I was called to give this evidence to both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, but our own parliament – including all three major parties – regard it as far too embarassing. Acknowledging our involvement in torture is inconvenient, because politicians would then have to support or oppose it. Everyone prefers that the security services do it, with government approval, while we all pretend it isn’t happening.

This was the result when I tried to submit evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee:

Dear Mr Murray,

The Committee considered your e-mail at its meeting yesterday, 15 March. As you requested, it was made available to all members.

The Committee decided not to receive the communication as evidence.

Steve Priestley

Clerk of FAC

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11 thoughts on “Duck! Here Comes More Whitewash!

  • Sabretache


    In case you miss this on the same subject:

    Guardian article about Bisher al-Rawi's capture and rendition to Guantanamo with the assistance of MI5 whom he had been working for. Frankly it's mind-boggling.

    When I write things like 'Burning the bloody Union flag' as per your earlier Karimov post, it's out of frustration and deep shame at the behaviour of the State which I am cursed to be a citizen of. I really do dispair at the sanctimonious, self-justifying arrogance of our rulers right now – and the puscilanimous toadying aquiescence of our elected representatives that makes it possible.

  • johnf

    More rendition, kidnapping and modern day slavery mayhem:

    Mayberry Testimony on Kidnapping of Workers for US Embassy Baghdad

    I mentioned story the other day briefly about allegations that the Kuwaiti contracting firm building the US embassy in Baghdad has Shanghaied workers, bringing them to the Middle East under false pretences and depriving them of their passports– In essence, of kidnapping them. The video testimony below by medic Rory Mayberry is much more powerful than a newspaper report could be. He talks about a gun being used to silence protesting workers just told they are really going to Baghdad!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Dear Craig,

    I think that what you have done over the past few years is very courageous. Furthermore, your website is excellent. I thought that I was pretty well informed, but the information in your speeches, postings, articles, etc. has filled a number of large gaps in my knowledge of the subjects covered and given me a more lucid understanding of the detailed mechanism of the very toxic international machine that is the UK 'hard' state.

    I was once, a couple of years ago, on BBC Radio Scotland (live) on the Colin MacKay Show with, down a studio-link to London, the (I suspect) rather ominous Baroness Caroline Cox, of the right-wing think-tank, Civitas, allegedly ex-of-the-IRD and at that time, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords. Her arrogance was stunning. Smugly, she described the progression of what she called 'Western Civilisation' as being basically a story of progress "with a few hiccoughs like the Second World War". Eh? I said, really Caroline, you cannot call the Second World War – the deaths of 50 million people in 6 years, the Holocaust, etc. – "a hiccough". Her statement – a sort of trumpeting of (ironically) Whig History – is neither historically nor ethically accurate. Can you imagine if a left-wing politician had said that, it would've been all over the the 'papers. But she got away with it. She might deny having said it, but the disc is there – somewhere deep in the BBC files – assuming the Beeb record these things now, but maybe they don't record ephemeral live stuff. The point is, the arrogance and amorality of these people is deeply shocking, but unsurprising.

    Good on you and keep on!

    Best wishes,


  • Chuck Unsworth

    None so blind as those who will not see, eh? These disgusting people are morally bankrupt.

  • Strategist

    Craig – are you saying that the Commons Select Committee simply rejects the European Parliament's report on extraordinary rendition out of hand?

    Is this the same report that was chaired by the Swiss guy and revealed a lot of information about use of Polish bases etc – or am I getting my reports jumbled up?

  • Strategist

    Here they are, the roll call of shame:

    The Rt. Hon. Paul Murphy, MP (Chair)

    The Rt. Hon. Michael Ancram QC, MP

    The Rt. Hon. Alan Beith, MP

    Mr Ben Chapman, MP

    The Rt. Hon. Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (from 7 February 2007)

    The Rt. Hon. George Howarth, MP

    The Rt. Hon. Michael Mates, MP

    Mr Richard Ottaway, MP

    Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale (until 6 February 2007)

    Ms Dari Taylor, MP

    Get them off your Christmas card list now!

  • Craig


    There were two European reports. The trail-blazer was the Council of Europe report, by Senator Dick Marty (the Swiss bloke). The second was the European parliament report, formally adopted by Resolution of the European Parliament.

    I gace witness evidence and was formally questioned in session for both reports.

    This British report rejects the European Parliament report out of hand. It doesn't even bother to consider the Council of Europe report.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Nearly all of these names belong to well known advocates of the aggressive re-colonisation of the 'Greater Middle East' (eg. George Foulkes), of the entire slavish adherence of UK foreign policy to that of the USA and some are even allegedly superannuated (?ex-)officers of the security state. Names like the hysterically-named, 'Mates' crop up again and again, it seems. Perhaps they are all old mates from Oxbridge and Glasgow Universities. In particular, I always seem to get Baronness Margaret 'Meta' Ramsay (Peace Be Upon Her) meta-physically, perhaps, mixed-up with the aforementioned Baroness Caroline Cox, (Peace Be Upon Her, too), the Tory peer from depths of the 'Black Magic' box of Civitas. I really cannot imagine why. They're supposed to be in opposing political parties… it seems that once again, we are to be ruled by the barons of darkness.

  • Strategist

    Thank you Craig and Suhayl. How can Dick Marty's report simply be ignored! What a disgrace – beyond belief.

    What astounds me is that I expect this bunch of nasties and has-beens/never-weres would be genuinely shocked to find that literally nobody outside Westminster thinks they have any credibility or integrity, nobody thinks they have a genuine mandate to speak on our behalf, nobody has any respect for them whatsoever, thinking rather that they are just a bunch of pathetic creeps.

    And the one thing uniting the apparatchiks of the security state and the concerned citizens who care about our civil rights is that neither gives the remotest toss about their crappy whitewash of a report.

  • Sabretache

    Would that it were so Strategist. But it isn't

    Just read a few of the comments in yesterday's Telegraph piece on Brown's meeting with the Shrub here: to see how wilfully blind people can be when it comes to the US and our 'Special Relationship' for example.

    I'm afraid that the State and its agencies can ALWAYS rely on the support of somewhere between 35 and 50% of the population no mattter what it does – suitably massaged and spun to make it appear necessary for own safety of course. That is quite sufficient to man the security surveillance and enforcement apparatus necessary to keep us all in our places or smack us down if we become too uppity. The odd – or rather legion – 'Mistakes' (or collateral damage as it is euphemistically called these days), like the execution of Jean Charles de Menenez or the bombing of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afganistan are just 'unfortunate' – so long as they only happen to people with brown skins or funny accents of course – but soon forgotten when they register at all. If there is any doubt then a bit of water-muddying by the State's tame MSM apologists and attack-dogs, and BINGO! – you're a 'leftie-traitor' if you dare to call the official line into serious question and most of the population agree.

    Don't forget this country, to its shame, three-times elected that santimoniuous, self-pitying, shallow apology for a human being – Tony Bliar to govern it. Says it all really; as a country we are just like him.

    My only consolation is that we are heading for one almightly fall, as an irreversible resource (particularly oil/energy) crunch looms ever closer – unless the present military pursuit of what's left goes nuclear, in which case all bets are off.

  • jscholes

    One problem is that we need better scrutiny of the security services. Blunders will always happen. The problem about the security services is that they are rarely fixed, because there is inadequate public scrutiny.

    Of course, this is strongly encouraged by governments who have discovered that if they say the magic words "national security", even quite sensible people immediately accept that they cannot enquire further.

    I am sure there are some admirable people in GCHQ, MI5, MI6 etc, but the organizations are sufficiently large that there are bound also to be many less than admirable people.

    We need better oversight. I am surprised that the light clearly shone by the Butler report (and even by the earlier Hutton enquiry, which put onto the internet some interesting emails) seems to have done nothing to alert the public to the dangers.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the Met goes on trial in September (?) for failing in its duty of care to Menezes. I found the promotion of Cressida Dick to be bizarre.

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