Emails to Joint Human Rights Committee Were Read 18


Mark Egan, clerk to the committee, has sent an assurance that the emails to the Joint Human Rights Commission were in fact read, at least by the secretariat. Thanks to the correspondent who passed this on:

Thank you for your email to Andrew Dismore MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Mr Dismore has asked me to reply.

The Committee staff received over 500 emails relating to Craig Murray’s request to give oral evidence to the Committee. All were read by the staff – I read many of them myself – and the Committee was informed of the number of emails we received and the nature of them.

The emails were deleted on Friday because Mr Dismore had replied to Mr Murray and indicated that people who had emailed the Committee should read his reply, and we needed to free up space in our inbox. We were not able to respond to each email individually because of the number we received.

Most of the emails were read using Outlook’s preview facility, which is why they were technically “unread” according to Outlook. Those which were opened properly were converted back to “unread” so that we could more easily count the total number we had received.

I hope this fully explains how we handled the Murray emails and deals with your suggestion of discourtesy.

Yours sincerely

Mark Egan, Commons Clerk, JCHR

I accept Mark Egan’s word on this. It remains the fact however that the Committee has still not agreed to hear my evidence.

Mark Egan should be receivng the signed top copy by registered post today. This bears repeating at every possible occasion: this is the signed statement I have sent to the Joint Committee and on which I wish to testify.

WITNESS STATEMENT TO THE PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

My name is Craig Murray. I was British Ambassador in Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004.

I had joined the Diplomatic Service in 1984 and became a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Senior Management Structure in 1998. I had held a variety of posts including Deputy High Commissioner, Accra (1998 to 2001) and First Secretary Political and Economic, Warsaw (1994 to 1997).

I had also been head of the FCO section of the Embargo Surveillance Sector leading up to and during the first Gulf War, monitoring and interdicting Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement. In consequence I had obtained security clearances even higher than those routinely given to all executive members of the Diplomatic Service. I had extensive experience throughout my career of dealing with intelligence material and the intelligence services.

It was made plain to me in briefing in London before initial departure for Tashkent that Uzbekistan was a key ally in the War on Terror and to be treated as such. It was particularly important to the USA who valued its security cooperation and its provision of a major US airbase at Karshi-Khanabad.

As Ambassador in Uzbekistan I regularly received intelligence material released by MI6. This material was given to MI6 by the CIA, mostly originating from their Tashkent station. It was normally issued to me telegraphically by MI6 at the same time it was issued to UK ministers and officials in London.

From the start of my time as Ambassador, I was also receiving a continual stream of information about widespread torture of suspected political or religious dissidents in Tashkent. This was taking place on a phenomenal scale. In early 2003 a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, in the preparation of which my Embassy much assisted, described torture in Uzbekistan as “routine and systemic”.

The horror and staggering extent of torture in Uzbekistan is well documented and I have been informed by the Chair is not in the purview of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. But what follows goes directly to the question of UK non-compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture.

In gathering evidence from victims of torture, we built a consistent picture of the narrative which the torturers were seeking to validate from confessions under torture. They sought confessions which linked domestic opposition to President Karimov with Al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden; they sought to exaggerate the strength of the terrorist threat in Central Asia. People arrested on all sorts of pretexts ?” (I recall one involved in a dispute over ownership of a garage plot) suddenly found themselves tortured into confessing to membership of both the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Al-Qaida. They were also made to confess to attending Al-Qaida training camps in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In an echo of Stalin’s security services from which the Uzbek SNB had an unbroken institutional descent, they were given long lists of names of people they had to confess were also in IMU and Al-Qaida.

It became obvious to me after just a few weeks that the CIA material from Uzbekistan was giving precisely the same narrative being extracted by the Uzbek torturers ?” and that the CIA “intelligence” was giving information far from the truth.

I was immediately concerned that British ministers and officials were being unknowingly exposed to material derived from torture, and therefore were acting illegally.

I asked my Deputy, Karen Moran, to call on a senior member of the US Embassy and tell him I was concerned that the CIA intelligence was probably derived from torture by the Uzbek security services. Karen Moran reported back to me that the US Embassy had replied that it probably did come from torture, but in the War on Terror they did not view that as a problem.

In October or November of 2002 I sent the FCO a telegram classified Top Secret and addressed specifically for the attention of the Secretary of State. I argued that to receive this material from torture was:


18 thoughts on “Emails to Joint Human Rights Committee Were Read

  • Polo

    Perhaps, then, I should gold-plate the automatic online acknowledgment that my email was read.

    Worth as much as the first Cuckoo?

    Hard to see how they can respectably duck out of hearing your evidence with that submission.

  • Tom Welsh

    “…we needed to free up space in our inbox”.

    Hmmm. If you buy a PC for about £450 today at PC World, it will probably come with a 500 GB hard drive. One tenth of that would hold at least 10 million lengthy emails.

    I have retained every single email I have received or sent since I started using Windows in 1992. It is all in one email database, and I can search and access every single message within seconds. It all fits into one tiny corner of my (second) hard drive.

    It is difficult to imagine that JHRC cannot afford £450. The emails should have been filed or archived, not deleted.

  • A Hawkins

    Human rights as it stands is total nonsense.I dont care if torture is being used on terrorists,in fact I am all for it. If information obtained this way saves the lives of innocent people,it can only be justified.Terrorists give up their human rights,as soon as they commit or plan the atrocities they are now getting away with thanks to the PC brigade and human rights idiots.The human rights of the victims are totally ignored.

  • paul

    You might want to stop watching “24” mate. Apparently, everyone ever accused of terrorism by any state is 100% guilty by definition eh? Why dont you throw an “If youve got nothing to hide, youve got nothing to fear” in there too while youre at? How “all for it” will you be sitting in a cell without charge for 48 days? After youre penis is chopped up with a razor blade in Morocco you can console yourself with all the innocent lives saved by the lies you told to get the torture to end!

  • eddie

    That’s a tad extreme. I don’t have a huge amount of sympathy for those who were in Guantanamo as many of those who have been released have gone back to Jihad, but if we are to uphold any notion of moral superority I think we need to desist from physical abuse.

  • anticant

    The entire conduct of human relations is increasingly based upon physical abuse, and fewer and fewer people seem to find anything wrong with that. Indeed, they celebrate it and applaud the perpetrators.

  • Kath

    Only one comment, I too use Outlook and I never open emails, I read them all using the preview facility then delete or save as necessary.

    Thing is, simply highlighting an email to bring it up in the preview pane triggers a request for a read receipt without fail, in fact, if the preview pane is open just scrolling down the highlighted list will mark all emails as read.

    Obviously settings can be changed but if senders were getting delete notices it is unlikely that the setting have been changed to deny read receipts, much more likely it is set to respond automatically.

    So to the best of my knowledge this is excuse is complete and utter gsrbage.

    Sorry

  • Ed Davies

    A. Hawkins: torturing know, convicted even, terrorists is wrong. Torturing those for whom there is no reason to even suspect terrorism is even worse and that’s what’s under discussion here. If you don’t realise that I suggest that you read Murder in Samarkand.

  • Chuck Unsworth

    Complete High Altitude Pork.

    Mr Egan has clearly learned his craft from Mr Dismore.

    “the Committee was informed of the number of emails we received and the nature of them.”

    OK so who collated this information and who categorised them? What was the categorisation process?

    “The emails were deleted on Friday because Mr Dismore had replied to Mr Murray and indicated that people who had emailed the Committee should read his reply”.

    So Dismore is expecting people to know that he will solely be replying to Murray, that Murray will publish this reply, and this is to be Dismore’s only response – despite his own website welcoming e-mails (which actually raise other points) and sending automatic receipts (which themselves do not refer people to Murray’s site to read the Dismore response)? Amazing. Do other Committees ‘communicate’ in this peculiar manner? Seems a cack-handed way of responding. Why not draft a response and then just mass ‘Reply’, if he didn’t want to respond individually?

    “and we needed to free up space in our inbox. We were not able to respond to each email individually because of the number we received.”

    Complete garbage. ‘Free up space’? What after only 500 e-mails? ‘Not able to respond individually’? How many staff do they have? Does any one of them have the slightest knowledge of Outlook?

    And Outlook Preview does register if e-mails are read even for only one second. Just check out the basic settings, dummy. However – and crucially – Outlook Preview only reveals the first few lines of text. I suppose in Mr Egan’s world that constitutes ‘reading’ the e-mails. For most others it would constitute a deliberate dereliction of his duty.

    “I hope this fully explains how we handled the Murray emails and deals with your suggestion of discourtesy.”

    It actually raises more questions than it answers. This is not about ‘courtesy’ is it? It’s about a manifestly deliberate policy of destroying public property and communications, and refusing to place evidence before a Committee charged with a grave and serious responsibility.

    The question for Mr Egan now is – are you, too, part of this whole process of manipulation and disinformation? Clearly Dismore is. How long before Egan has a new master, do we think?

    If this Committee’s membership is at all serious it should insist on these e-mails being retrieved from the back-up systems – and being allowed to read them as part of its search for the truth. Maybe the Committee members are prepared to accept a totally implausible description of events. So let’s see what these ‘honourable members’ actually do, eh?

  • Chuck Unsworth

    @ cmain

    There are a number of settings. The Autopreview setting does not show the whole message – as I said. The Reading Pane is a separate function – and can be turned on or off – but even that does not show the full message – unless that message is quite brief and the image is maximised. However this does not excuse Egan’s actions in deliberately deleting these messages from the public. And how can we be sure that his ‘summary’ is in any way an accurate reflection of the reality?

    One would expect the House of Commons to have a very sophisticated data retrieval facility – if not, why not?

  • nobody

    The excuse ‘”…we needed to free up space in our inbox” is transparently bullshit. This might have flown ten years ago when hard drives were measured in Mb but now (seconding Tom Welsh) it’s just pathetic. I laugh in his face.

    Otherwise, may I go big picture here? There is no Al Qaeda. Not beyond the ‘al qa’idah bayanat’, which is Arabic for ‘database’, as in the actual intranet database initially established by the CIA to keep track of the Muslim extremists it was funding, organising and flying into Kosovo out of Afghanistan. Speaking of Afghanistand let’s not forget that Osama Bin Laden was precisely a CIA asset (codenamed ‘Tim Osman’) who came from a family that were the best of friends with CIA head Bush the Elder.

    And did anyone see Osama’s latest tape? Seems Al Qaeda, the globe spanning super group, still haven’t managed to scratch up enough money to buy a handicam to film their leader. Go figure. And yet madly they have access to post production facilities to insert their flashy graphics. Ha ha ha. Idiocy aside, Bin Laden died years ago. Thus we get old footage (replete with John Stewart gags about him dying his beard) or video still images with voice over.

    And then there’s Al Qaeda’s number three leader, Azzam Alriki, aka Adam Gadahn, aka Adam Pearlman, a nice Jewish boy from Southern California whose Grampa was head of the ADL there. What a whacky world! It’s certainly a whacky Al Qaeda. And go google ‘adam pearlman’ if you don’t believe me. Otherwise someone should get in touch with Adam and tell him to flee before the otherwise internet-savvy Al Qaeda figures out how to use google and wises up to the fact that he’s Jewish. Or perhaps that’s no big deal for them? Who knows? Almost nothing about Al Qaeda makes sense apart from the fact that they’re everywhere and nowhere and there’s nothing for it but to bomb Muslim wedding parties.

    As for ‘terrorists’ in Guantanamo, when the US lobbed into Afghanistan and offered thousands of dollars a head for any Al Qaeda members, anyone who didn’t have someone to stick up for them was promptly handed over.

    “Hey, is this guy Al Qaeda?”

    “He says he does not know.”

    “Okay, no money for him then.”

    “Oh sorry, he said he didn’t understand the question. Yes, he is definitely Al Qaeda.”

    “Alrighty, here’s $5000. Have a nice day.”

    And if that poor hapless bastard denies being an Al Qaeda member (well, he would wouldn’t he?) happily we can torture him until he does.

    And just as well too, since there’s a bomb set to go off in 24 hours! Aargh!

  • Leo Davidson

    He’s not talking about clearing up disk-space in the inbox, he’s talking about removing 500 messages that are getting in the way of seeing other messages.

    My message would have been one of the 500 but I can completely understand someone wanting to delete them all after reading. Perhaps they should’ve filed them into a folder or something but is anyone really going to want to re-read them?

    I configure Outlook in the same way, FWIW. The preview pane does show the complete message and, unless I reply to something or need to view two messages at once, it’s the only way I read messages. I have it set not to automatically mark-as-read because I use the read/unread status as a “needs attention flag.” (I know there is an explicit flag for that but it doesn’t highlight folders like the unread flag does.)

    If I want to keep a message that I’ve read, but clear the tag, then I’ll push Ctrl-Q (be careful, that hotkey quits some other mail programs :)). If I don’t want to keep it then I’ll delete it while its still unread.

    Now, it is possible that they are lying and looked for an excuse to explain why they deleted all these messages without reading them, but the excuse is entirely plausible and is exactly how I personally use Outlook.

    (Except that I turn off all processing of read/delete receipts — in both directions — because I think they are a stupid, unreliable and misleading feature. The only way to know if someone has actually read and taken in your email is to get a reply from them which addresses every point you made.)

  • craig

    Leo

    I think that the point is, as you suggest, that it is fine to delete them from an inbox, but you would expect them to be archived as public representations to public bodies usually are.

    Future historians wull definitely be looking at our torture complicity in the War on Terror and its cover-up, just as say McCarthyism and its demise are studied. This little episode is not without interest and the public contributions not without value.

  • lwtc247

    @ eddieTroll(TM)

    “those who have been released have gone back to Jihad,” – yet more EddieBS.

    BACK to jihad means they were conducting jihad (a word EddieToss doesn’t even understand) BEFORE they were tortured in Guantanamo and in other torture dungeons along the way.

    EddiePratt therefore strangely KNOWS what they were up to, and just as strangely, the torturers in Guantanamo apparently didn’t know what EddieWee knowsm, because they were eventually set free.

    Not only that EddiePratt via his Zionist underpants polished crystal ball KNOWS what ALL of them are doing right now.

    Sheesh! I don’t know what they are paying you Eddie, but it’s obviously way too much.

    What a complete tosser.

  • Chuck Unsworth

    @ Leo Davidson

    Are you, too, some sort of public servant? Are you charged with a public duty to keep detailed records of communications from taxpayers to a Parliamentary Committee? Or do you regard it as perfectly acceptable for some civil servant to delete such communications and present his bosses with his own ‘intepretation’ of what ‘may’ have been said?

    Well, it’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along time again.

    You see, the whole point of accountability is that everything can be verified. If this nice Mr Egan chooses to issue a load of bollocks to the Committee, who would know?

    As to 500 messages ‘getting in the way’ of reading other messages – where do you get that information from? Did he tell you? Seems to me it’s about time someone taught Mr Egan the basics of using a computer and an e-mail system.

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