Since being outed as the person who approved waterboarding, Condoleeza Rice has been unable to maintain that veneer of manicured niceness. She has a hunted, vicious look in this video from the brilliant Marjorie Cohn.
This line of steaming bullshit from Rice shows just how very rattled she is:
“By definition, if it was authorized by the President, it didn’t violate our obligations under the Convention against Torture.”
Now I have had time to consider my appearance to give evidence to parliament last Tuesday, my overwhelming impression remains the lack of compassion displayed by the MPs. They seemed to have no particular concern about men, women and children screaming in agony under torture. They were solely concerned with whether the government’s collusion with it could be justified by legal sophistry. It may be that they are genuinely motivated by humanitarian concern, but the Earl of Onslow was the only one who really gave me that feeling.
I do understand that, in their very British way, they were sticking like limpets to their remit. But that opens another very interesting question. This committee is tasked by parliament to monitor British compliance with its international human rights obligations. But Foreign Office ministers are refusing to cooperate with, or appear before, this enquiry into our complicity with torture. What does that say about the weakness of our parliament?
I have decided that my next move will be to send copies of my evidence to the UN Committee on Torture, together with the information that the UK government has refused to appear before the parliamentary committee to answer these allegations.
On the positive side, my evidence and that of Phillippe Sands strips away any pretence by the government that they do not obtain a great deal of intelligence by torture. There was no serious attempt by the committee to query that.
The Foreign Office has started to shift its ground towards the Cheney argument that “Torture works”.
The leading FCO sock-puppet on the internet is Charles Crawford. Charles on his “Blogoir” (Pretentious? Moi?) had managed to write a nine part review rubbishing Murder in Samarkand without once even mentioning the word torture, thus forwarding the FCO myth that torture was not the subject of my dispute with them.
More recently he ridiculed me on his blogoir for my contention from that it is not normal to enter No 10 to give secret briefings by the front door, and assured us (falsely) that there was good intelligence behind the recent fake Manchester Bomb Plot scare, whipped up by the government.
This week he has moved on to aggressive promotion of the “Torture works” neo-con school.
Coincidental timing by the FCO sock-puppet? I think not.
There is an interesting link between Charles and I on torture. The Dick Marty official European report into extraordinary rendition revealed ten CIA rendition flights to Uzbekistan from Europe (and many more from Baghram).
All the CIA rendition flights to Uzbekistan came from Szczytno-Szymany in Poland. We now know that the CIA had both use of that airbase and a secret torture prison nearby.
I was Ambassador in Uzbekistan, and Charles Crawford was Ambassador in Poland, at the time this torture traffic was happening. In Tashkent I uncovered it meticulously, reported it and protested against it. In Poland Charles made no protest. Either he did not know it was happening – in which case he was a lousy Ambassador – or he did not care – in which case he is complicit in the torture.
Charles may wish to let us know which it was – haplessly ignorant, or complicit?
Given his recent post on torture, plainly complicity would not have given him moral qualms.