Condoleeza Rice – The Mask Slips 52


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.

http://marjoriecohn.com/

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF9spgagSHI

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”.

FCO Finally Admits To Receiving Intelligence From Torture

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.

www.charlescrawford.biz – Torture – See It All?

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.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,621450,00.html

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.


52 thoughts on “Condoleeza Rice – The Mask Slips

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  • Craig

    Douwe was the chap with the beard sitting behind me. I was not allowed to have him sit next to me.

    Which was interesting as Ministers are allowed to be flanked by their officials, and Tim Spicer gave evidence on Arms to Africa with his criminal solicitor next to him!

  • Anonymous

    the information that has been uncovered, by investigative journalists in Poland is interesting.

    looks like despite official denials , Cia rendition flights did take place.

    also looks like false flight plans have been logged (by the CIA), record keeping has been irregular ( by Polish ground staff), however somebody overlooked the records and invoices for re-fuelling and this has revealed revealed interesting traffic.

    http://cryptome.com/0001/cia-pl-flights.htm

    Looks like it’s all begining to unravel.

  • Leo Davidson

    The “War on Terror” has resulted in the same judgement call on a lot of people:

    Evil or Stupid?

    In the end it doesn’t matter which they are; they’re just more names to add to the overflowing ledger, the historic document known as The Book of Cunts.

    Cheney and Rice are most definitely and aggressively evil, FWIW. That’s been clear for a very long time.

  • Jon

    Does anyone know if a transcript exists of Craig’s and Phillipe’s testimony? I think that would be useful when submitting details to the UN and media outlets and NGOs.

  • xsdogskin

    “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” – George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

    In my most recent interview of The Other Scott Horton (no relation), the heroic anti-torture human rights attorney, Columbia lecturer and author of the indispensable blog “No Comment” at Harper’s magazine, we discussed the prisoner of war policies of General George Washington, Commander of the Continental Army, and an incident after the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey on December 26, 1776.

    It seems that after the battle, the Continentals were preparing to run some of the British Empire’s German mercenaries through what they called the “gauntlet.” General Washington discovered this and intervened. As Horton explained in the Huffington Post, Washington then issued an order to his troops regarding prisoners of war:

    “‘Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands,’ he wrote. In all respects the prisoners were to be treated no worse than American soldiers; and in some respects, better. Through this approach, Washington sought to shame his British adversaries, and to demonstrate the moral superiority of the American cause.”

    In the worst of times ?” when foreign troops literally occupied American soil, torturing and murdering American patriots ?” and few believed that the cause of the revolution could ultimately win against the might of the British Empire, the first Commander in Chief of the U.S.A. set the precedent that this society is to lead even our enemies by “benignant sympathy of [our] example.” To win the war against the occupying army of Redcoats, the American revolutionaries needed right on their side.

    And it worked. Many of the German Hessians in fact joined the revolutionaries in their fight against the English and stayed here in America to be free when the war was won.

    http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2007/12/24/george-washington-no-torture-on-my-watch/

  • Merkin

    We are always presented by the spin doctors who try to say ‘cock-up rather than conspiracy’.

    When we change the language to say ‘ wicked rather than stupid’ we get a different answer.

  • Jon

    @Craig – I agree entirely about Lord Onslow. He was willing to state that we was prepared to +consider+ the idea of complicity, as I noted on the other thread. But others, particularly Evan Harris, launched against the idea with such ferocity that one wonders what sort of evidence would be required to dislodge their prejudices.

  • Craig

    Jon

    My view of Harris was that he had been pointed down an extremely narrow blind alley, and with enormous scrupulousness he was meticulously exploring and documenting the blind alley, thinking himself both very clever and very dutiful, and with a complete lack of ill-intention.

  • Jon

    Craig, I do hope you are right regarding Harris – he would otherwise be a member of the wrong political party, for starters. I shall defer to your opinion on it, but I wonder in your analysis whether you are too kind to him :o\

    Perhaps it is the Britishness of it all that is the issue. The cynicism of the committee may have been borne of the proud belief that we are not the sort of country that would tolerate torturing people, ever, under any circumstances, and so it must be argued against to keep the awkward cognitive dissonance at bay.

  • mrjohn

    I watched the entire proceedings and I thought Craig obviously warmed to his task and did a good job of persuading the committee there was a case to answer.

    The tide is turning and they know it.

  • JimmyGiro

    Condescending Condi; I wonder what the response would have been if a white man said “get your facts straight dear” to a black woman?

    I wonder why she’s still single?

  • Charles Crawford

    Craig,

    Dear. Oh. Dear.

    Are you really insinuating that somehow I have been put up by the FCO to posting about the Torture issue on my blog as part of some deep plan to undermine or distract attention from your HoC evidence session?

    My diplomatic career record on working to promote human rights eg in apartheid South Africa and in pursuit of Balkan war criminals is different to yours, and none the worse for that.

    If by ‘sock-puppet’ you mean a person who is put up by someone else to mouth that latter’s words as if they were his/her own, you know perfectly well that of all people previously in the FCO I am not in that category, never have been, and never will be. My views differ from yours in key respects. It’s called freedom. You say you are a Liberal. Deal with it.

    You write: “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.”

    The first part is true, since what you wrote was indeed ridiculous. But where do you get the claim that I falsely “assured” anyone that the intelligence behind those bomb suspect arrests was good? Do explain.

    As for the argument that “torture works”, is not that the point? If it did not work it would be trivial cruelty, to no end whatsoever.

    The disturbing ethical issues arise over torture (and have done for centuries) because people think it does work to some extent, some of the time. This is what gives us agonising choices over how best to get information out of dangerous suspects which might save the lives of others. The UN Convention defines torture as inflicting “serious pain…”. That definition like all definition forces us to look at where lines are drawn – what type and level of pain up to “serious” can be inflicted in a just cause? Surely a legitimate subject to talk about when we are up against many would-be terrorists who have no compunction about inflicting death and pain on countless people at random?

    The problem with diplomacy is that it is complicated. And that we have to deal with the world as it is. Sure it is deeply problematic to receive intelligence information from a regime which probably or even possibly has used torture to get it. But why is that in substance any less problematic than chatting politely with that regime over coffee about trade ties or regional political questions or all the other things which go on? The issues are less directly linked to ‘security’. The villains taking the decisions and smiling blandly at you across the table – and being legitimised by your very presence – are the same.

    Where and why did you draw your professional lines? For all the noise and self-congratulation in your book it is not really clear. You bang on tirelessly about the iniquities of the top levels of the Uzbekistan regime, while at the same time in your book warmly patting yourself on the back for the number of them who attended your Queen’s Birthday Party in Tashkent. Did you think they would mend their evil ways by guzzling their way for hours through the “2000 bottles of beer and many hundreds of bottles of wine and soft drinks” which you provided for them, sending the bill to the British taxpayer? Was that a morally honourable way to behave?

    Maybe you would like to tell us – haplessly hypocritical , or just out of your depth?

    Happy to debate these issues publicly with you at a mutually convenient venue.

    Charles

  • hatfield girl

    The Earl of Onslow went straight to the point on two important issues:

    did the UK policy on accepting information from torture change from the policy set out by Lady Thatcher to that set out by Jack Straw? Was that alteration hidden? Could that be proven by documentary evidence?

    and did that change lead to the development of a ‘market in torture’?

    I had the impression he would not leave matters resting there but would press for more evidence on a disturbing case being made.

  • MJ

    “They seemed to have no particular concern about men, women and children screaming in agony under torture”.

    If I have one reservation about your testimony on Tuesday it was your refusal to give any graphic details of the torture to which you were referring. I think you said you didn’t want to be ‘sensationalist’ or something like that.

    If you had overcome this reluctance you may have pierced the very noticeable emotional detachment of the Committee.

  • Anonymous

    @ Charles Crawford

    Torture Works?

    ‘Washington – President Barack Obama said Wednesday night that waterboarding authorized by former President George W. Bush was torture, and the information gained from terror suspects through its use could have been obtained by other means.’

    Charles Crawford, in excusing the use torture you every bit as bad as the barbarian you rail against. You Sir, are a fool and a hypocrite.

  • George Dutton

    Charles Crawford

    “Torture”

    It has the intent to make people frighten to speak out against government.That is it’s true purpose.A warning to all.

  • John D. Monkey

    Mr Crawford says

    “we are up against many would-be terrorists who have no compunction about inflicting death and pain on countless people at random?”

    On that definition the UK and US Governments, to say nothing of the Israelis, are state terrorists.

    He also says

    “As for the argument that “torture works”, is not that the point? If it did not work it would be trivial cruelty, to no end whatsoever.”

    Precisely!

  • Christopher Dooley

    The reason for torture …

    If you torture one monkey for an infinite amount of time you get and infinite amount of ‘facts’ to use for any foreign policy + the complete works of shakespear.

    It is a little know ‘fact’ that the lyrics to ‘I am the Walrus’ came from the interrogation of John Lennon after 11 days of sleep deprivation at a CIA black site.

    All together now … ‘Goob Goob Gjoob’

  • amk

    “The disturbing ethical issues arise over torture (and have done for centuries) because people think it does work to some extent, some of the time.”

    That is the wrong question to ask, even from a purely utilitarian perspective. The real question is whether torture works better than non-torture techniques, e.g. rapport based. It does not. Nazi Germany’s best interrogator didn’t torture.

    “That definition like all definition forces us to look at where lines are drawn – what type and level of pain up to “serious” can be inflicted in a just cause?”

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Anything less than “serious” pain would be utterly ineffective in making people talk, and thus if it weren’t torture, they wouldn’t bother doing it.

  • Vronsky

    >>”Evil or stupid.” Why not both?

    Are they different? Read Dawkins.

  • amk

    “Sure it is deeply problematic to receive intelligence information from a regime which probably or even possibly has used torture to get it. But why is that in substance any less problematic than chatting politely with that regime over coffee about trade ties or regional political questions or all the other things which go on?”

    Scenario:

    Dodgy regime in Central Asia has a mass-movement opposition problem

    Said mass movement is mostly of Muslim heritage

    Dodgy regime wishes to brand the mass-movement as Al-Qaeda so it can buy British arms to kill them with

    Dodgy regime tortures a member of mass-movement until he says “Why yes, I am AQ”

    Subsequent intelligence is passed on to British intelligence, who gladly accept anything that will help the War On Terror

    So what is the end result?

    a) Dodgy regime is able to manipulate West

    b) Dodgy regime has an increased motivation to torture

  • glenn

    I wrote the following to Crawford’s blog:

    ———

    What a miserable apologia for the war crimes of Bush and

    Blair. Shame on both Crawford and Fernandez for writing

    it.

    Nothing useful came out of this torture, or we would be

    hearing ALL about it. Unless, by useful, one meant the

    extracted false confessions which gave the excuse for a

    war in Iraq. Which indeed “new” Labour, Bush, Cheney

    and their apologists do.

    The methods used by the CIA and contractors, taken from

    communist China’s torture manuals, were designed to

    gain false confessions. They didn’t want to hear the truth

    from their victims, any more than we wanted it out of ours.

    Countless victims confessed to sorcery and witchcraft in

    the middle ages under much the same duress.

    There are a thousand reasons not to torture – it being

    contrary to International Law and a crime against humanity

    being just the beginning. There is self interest too – we

    cannot complain if they torture our people. We cannot

    expect the enemy to surrender – ever – if they fear being

    tortured should they fall into our hands.

    To hear a British government official cravenly supporting

    such filthy war crimes beggars belief, but reflects fairly

    on the rottenness at the heart of our government.

    —————-

    He doesn’t get many comments. Perhaps others will be kind enough to provide their own contributions.

  • Chris

    Charles Crawford: “…what type and level of pain up to “serious” can be inflicted in a just cause?”

    None. Once you go where you seem to wish to go then your cause is no longer just.

    What a fool.

  • anticant

    I hsave just posted the following on Charles Crawford’s blog:

    Mr Crawford, I find your post here and on Craig Murray’s blog on the subject of torture extremely disconcerting, not to say dismaying.

    You purport to debate the ethics of torture by asserting that the “point” is whether it works, and you add: “If it did not work it would be trivial cruelty, to no end whatsoever.” But that is surely not the point. The point is that whether torture “works” (i.e. provides useful information that would not otherwise be obtained) or not, it would never be “trivial cruelty”. It is always inhumane, barbaric and inexcusable treatment which forfeits all claim by those who use, sanction, or connive in it to occupy the moral high ground.

    You say: “The disturbing ethical issues arise over torture (and have done for centuries) because people think it does work to some extent, some of the time. This is what gives us agonising choices over how best to get information out of dangerous suspects which might save the lives of others.” In other words, the end justifies the means ?” the plea of the conscienceless criminal down the ages. You continue: “The UN Convention defines torture as inflicting ‘serious pain…’. That definition like all definition forces us to look at where lines are drawn – what type and level of pain up to ‘serious’ can be inflicted in a just cause? Surely a legitimate subject to talk about when we are up against many would-be terrorists who have no compunction about inflicting death and pain on countless people at random?” You are saying that as long as the pain ?” physical or mental ?” is not ‘serious’ ?” as defined by whom? ?” torture is OK in a ‘just cause’. If you really believe that, you are utterly unfitted for the posts you have held and exclude yourself as a serious commentator on ethics.

    But of course, you are (or were) a diplomat; and, as you say, “The problem with diplomacy is that it is complicated. And that we have to deal with the world as it is.” I agree with that. But your next statements are preposterous: “Sure (you say) it is deeply problematic to receive intelligence information from a regime which probably or even possibly has used torture to get it. But why is that in substance any less problematic than chatting politely with that regime over coffee about trade ties or regional political questions or all the other things which go on? The issues are less directly linked to ‘security’ The villains taking the decisions and smiling blandly at you across the table – and being legitimised by your very presence – are the same.” If you really cannot see that the villains are the same, but the issues are not, you are close to being a moral imbecile.

    And I find this deeply worrying. Because if you have risen through the diplomatic service to the rank of ambassador and have such a slim grasp of basic ethics and the requirements of our country’s honour, this says something even more dire about the prevailing ethos of the Foreign Office than it does about you personally.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I assume that it is part of every diplomat’s training to be familiar with Sir Henry Wotton’s observation that “an ambassador us an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country”. While a little incidental lying may be excusable and even laudable, the crux of the matter is basic honesty. I regret having to say this, but the tenor of your remarks to which I am responding indicates that basic honesty is something you are not as tuned in to as you should be.

  • MerkinOnParis

    Excellent points, Anticant.

    I commented on Mr Crawford’s blog as well.

    However, not being blessed with the same union with the Blarney Stone as your goodself, I was a bit more succint in commenting on this government spin doctor’s view.

    ‘1st May 2009

    MerkinOnParis

    ‘Did you think they would mend their evil ways by guzzling their way for hours through the “2000 bottles of beer and many hundreds of bottles of wine and soft drinks” which you provided for them, sending the bill to the British taxpayer?’

    Oh, dear!.

    Reminds me of Sir Geoffrey Howe and Mrs. Thatcher.

    Not.’

  • anticant

    Thanks, Merkin. The argument that torture is OK so long as the pain isn’t “serious” is of course the classic unmarried Victorian maidservant’s defence of her baby: “Well, it’s only a little one, Mum”.

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