Evidence To Parliament – Live Webcast 97


If I pretended I wasn’t nervous about my appearance before the parliamentary committee today I would be lying. Little patches of moisture appear briefly on the keys as I hit them, then evaporate.

I am nervous not for myself, but in case I fluff this real opportunity to redeem something of the honour of our country, and to end this barbarous collusion with torture. If I had the chance to speak uninterrupted for ten minutes, I am sure I could make an impact. But I am limited to short answers to questions from the committee.

You will be able to see this on live webcast here at 1.45 BST today.

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/VideoPlayer.aspx?meetingId=3978

If anyone knows how to capture this for podcast or youtube or anything…


97 thoughts on “Evidence To Parliament – Live Webcast

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  • Kiron Reid

    Congratulations. Quite impressive being the front page story on the Parliament official website when I went to look up a bill just now. Text was:

    Latest news from the House of Commons and House of Lords

    Human rights inquiry hears from former ambassador on torture Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan appears before Joint Committee on Human Rights

    Obviously I disagree with a lot of your posts but dissenters are necessary. Even better on such an important issue as this one that you get to put your case at what is hopefully returning to be the seat of power!

  • pren

    Well done, Craig.

    The suggestion that change in policy seems to have been made after beginning of US waterboarding seems to have taken them aback.

  • Kiron Reid

    Congratulations. Quite impressive being the front page story on the Parliament official website when I went to look up a bill just now. Text was:

    Latest news from the House of Commons and House of Lords

    Human rights inquiry hears from former ambassador on torture Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan appears before Joint Committee on Human Rights

    Obviously I disagree with a lot of your posts but dissenters are necessary. Even better on such an important issue as this one that you get to put your case at what is hopefully returning to be the seat of power!

  • kathz

    well done – evidence clearly given with the authority of knowledge and experience. Effective even over the tiny screen on the web-page. Now it’s the responsibility of the committee to sum up and act.

  • Vronsky

    You did very well, Craig – pour yourself a stiff one. But I get a bad feeling that you were trying to tell a lot of fat, superannuated flat-earther twats that the earth is round. I do so hope I’m wrong.

  • Ed

    Bravo, CM!

    “Rather you than me,” your colleagues said.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” said Burke. Do nothing – and say nothing, he might have added.

    [And thanks for your tech help, Mae. Got the video version now.]

  • Mae

    You are welcome Ed.

    There seemed so be some press I recognized, depends on what gets back to the desks. sadly Committees are very often just gossip groups who use legal language and go to great lengths to include it but come to general and open ended conclusions – the key is always in the remit.

    Today for instance was not a procedural setting that was fit for purpose, I have no master plan for an over-haul but have seen it fail too many times.

  • Jives

    Very well done indeed Craig.

    Perfect tone and demeanour.

    Forgive a slight tangent but some here may enjoy visiting the Grauniads’ Comment Is Free page and revel in the total pasting John Reid’s “article” on Big Brother UK is receiving from the readers.He is being utterly savaged by the comments.The guy is such a dangerous thick twat though so he deserves all of it.

    Thanks again Craig!

  • Anonymous

    Craig,that was an awesome testimony,you should be proud of yourself.

    And I do think that some committee members were astounded with some of the things you said.

    Thatcher’s policy MUST be buried in some FCO manual,unless Torquemada burns it all this evening.

  • Mentalogirl

    Craig,that was an awesome testimony,you should be proud of yourself.

    And I do think that some committee members were astounded with some of the things you said.

    Thatcher’s policy MUST be buried in some FCO manual,unless Torquemada burns it all this evening.

  • mary

    This is what Craig was standing against today.

    Summayah

    BY KHALIL

    when the dark of evening came,

    you began your reign of bombs on our ancient land

    and against the fires of anti-aircraft guns

    i cradled my summayah in my arms,

    and I vowed to you,

    oh, enemy of the sun,

    we will resist.

    your blue black bombs fell as

    you came to our lands proclaiming

    “all aggression must end!”

    but it was you who created these nation states,

    and for what reasons were our lands divided at your conference tables?

    who was it that cut up our peoples into artificial boundaries?

    who separated brothers, uncles and cousins?

    before your coming we did not know such worlds.

    did you not know?

    that at the end of my day,

    summayah would run to the gate and jump into my arms?

    ahmad.

    summayah loved her uncle, ahmad.

    before the torturers trained at fort bragg, north carolina

    disappeared him for one year.

    before the electric prods

    before the pulling of nails from fingers

    drove him insane.

    she loved ahmad.

    now he sits in the sun

    everyday.

    listen, enemy of the sun,

    there are those of us who have read and studied

    those of us, who know who underdeveloped africa,

    the middle east,

    asia,

    the pacific,

    and the americas.

    summayyah would have been six in a month.

    and she had asked me to buy her a blue bicycle.

    listen, enemy of the sun,

    be I left childless,

    be i a grave digger,

    be I chisling stone markers

    i will rise,

    you may delay us,

    but you cannot stop us.

    today, we are burying summayah.

    no one speaks.

    this is the new world order.

    STOP, enemy of the sun!

    do not tell me of your democracy,

    do not speak of humanitarianism

    oh, enemy of the sun,

    if you continue to tell me these lies

    I will tell you of the middle passage,

    i will tell you of your wounded knee,

    i will tell you of your trail of tears,

    i will tell you of hiroshima,

    I will tell you of chile,

    i will tell you of grenada,

    i will tell you of panama,

    i will tell you of my iraq,

    i will tell you of my summayah.

    but, for the peoples of the world,

    i would like to imagine my grand-daughter describing summayah’s laughter

    filling clear air, and playing in open fields.

    in writing the setting

    she will point to these summayahs looking to the skies:

    the skies will be blue, clear and bright.

    and our summayahs will taste the scent of wildflowers

    blossomings.

    COPIED FROM POET’S BASEMENT COUNTERPUNCH

  • MJ

    Whatever the outcome and the repercussions – if any – you can be proud of that Craig. Well done.

  • Woobus

    Have been following this blog with interest for a month. Great work Craig I have passed the link onto all the sites I normally visit.

    Keep up the good work and hopefully today helped save a few people from the harm that you work against.

  • Jon

    I sit outside a little Italian cafe as I type, a minutes walk from Portcullis House, having attended the public session. And I agree: Craig did good. It was a pity that Phillipe Sands’ evidence was cut short by a vote in the Lords, but all in all, a good day. There was no doubt that there was plenty at stake here, with one clearly angry member of the public having to be escorted from the room for making interruptions.

    I was rather expecting most of the opposition to come from Andrew Dismore MP, but in the end the most difficult hawk was Evan Harris MP, who started by saying he had no wish to defend the government, but ended up – for whatever reason – as their staunchest defender. He engaged in a fair bit of semantic trickery (“perhaps they encouraged torture, but were not complicit”) to get off the Article IV hook, but this tactic evaporated in the heat of Craig’s insistence about how awful the Uzbek torture really was. There was some discussion prompted by Harris based on the idea that complicity needed to hinge on “thanking” or “expressing gratitude” to providers of torture material, but it did not seem that other members of the committee were inclined to chase this point in any great detail.

    There was some focus on the “remote chain” of complicity from Andrew Dismore, and input from Edward Timpson MP that corroboration from other FCO individuals would lend credibility to the story, but Craig got out some good key points. In particular, the “schizophrenic” nature of the government policy – that they not only condemn torture and undertake programmes to eradicate it, whilst at the same time accepting intelligence material tainted by it. The was a comparative discussion between accepting torture material on a limited basis to prevent an atrocity and accepting it in a “systemic” way, and there did not seem to be any mood to question that it *had* been accepted systemically. The two unanswered telegrams, sent by Craig and alleging serious illegality, were also mentioned – any respectable committee would fail to be moved by that point. This could not fail to raise two questions; firstly, why did senior FCO staff not respond on either occasion, and secondly, is anyone seriously suggesting that Foreign Sec Jack Straw did not see these communications?

    Craig was excellent in responding to Timpson’s point – why did other ambassadorial colleagues and FCO individuals not come forward in the same way? The simple answer from Craig was that he did not know, and that career security was a prime consideration for many, and there was an unwillingness to put heads above parapets, or to criticise the govt during the run-up to Iraq. One would hope that that statement alone should prompt a great deal of personal soul-searching in individuals working in the FCO at the time.

    That there had been a sea-change in policy in terms of accepting tainted intelligence was also explored by the committee, especially by Lord Onslow. The Lord sounded far more sympathetic to Murray’s basic position, and outlined his basic support for accepting the possibility for UK complicity just as Harris had made plain his opposition to it. That there was a “vogue for false intelligence” amongst the Americans was clearly stated, and no-one on the committee appeared willing to argue against it. It felt that, in light of Craig’s early point that the Uzbek intelligence had no security bearing on the UK, and that it was really designed to prop up Karimov’s regime, that no-one on the committee was inclined to defend US policy here either.

    Prior to closing, Andrew Dismore suggested that material might come as a ‘package’ i.e. some would be tainted, and other items untainted, and it seemed he was suggesting that one might have to put up with the one in order to obtain the other. However, this too did not lead to a new branch of questioning.

    Craig did manage to state unequivocally that the government had attempted to undermine him, and one wonders that more could have been made of this. He mentioned the false allegations of alcoholism, but a reading of Murder in Samarkand would, I think, make any reasonable person think that this was somewhat understating the case. Perhaps though, an examination of the mendacity of govt would have distracted from the central issue of torture; equally it is difficult to believe that no members of the committee have read some material on Craig’s case, and so they would be at least partly aware of these things anyway.

    In my view Craig should be heartily congratulated for appearing today, and there did not seem to be many points where he was disallowed from raising related topics. He may not have got his clear ten minutes, but nevertheless, the government now has a very serious charge to answer. Let us hope that today, and the change of American mood under Obama, force that to happen.

  • nextus

    Well presented, indeed! The committee seemed very concerned and listened sympathetically. Job done!

    A lot now hinges on proof of the change of policy at the top level. Prof Sands pointed the finger clearly at the Strawman – who will undoubtedly deny everything. Anybody want to extract a confession?? Don’t really care how you do it – I’m happy to turn a blind eye (but won’t say so on paper).

  • JimmyGiro

    Well done Craig; now that you’ve dealt with the moral part, who are you going to hire as your lawyer to get just compensation for your constructive dismissal?

  • mary

    Thanks very much Jon for your analysis and for putting names to faces. I agree about Harris. I am not forgetting that that he is a member of the Liberal Party’s Friends of Israel. Presumably the non-lovers of Islam will be keen supporters of US policies following the close links in America between the Zionist lobbies such as AIPAC and the Washington beltway. They would not want the part the CIA played in the torture in Uzbekistan to be thus exposed.

    http://forum.mpacuk.org/showthread.php?p=10395

    Has the position on human rights in Uzbekistan really improved as this press release suggests?

    http://www.uzbekistan.org/social_issues/

  • lesage

    You have spoken for millions of people around the world who know that a gang of thugs have taken over this world.

    Your courage is an example to all of us who wish to see George Bush, Tony Blair, and the rest of their gang, that rotten coalition of the willing, spend the rest of their lives in jail.

    You are making this possible. You are not alone.

  • Harry Barnes

    That could not have been bettered. The fact that you were nervous and thus careful (especially at the start when drinking all that water) added to the serious nature and impact of your evidence. I hope that your former fellow ambassadors were watching and wondering what they should do next.

  • anticant

    Mary – why do you assume that non-lovers of Islam are all pro-Zionist? I am vehemently against religion of all “faiths” – it rots the brain. And look at the results in terms of global conflict and tribalist hatred. I have nothing against Muslims as human beings; I know some very nice ones. But their beliefs are incompatible with the society I wish to live in.

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