Monthly Archives: January 2010


Blair Getting Away With Murder

Blair just said “You would be hard pressed to find anyone who in September 2002 doubted that Saddam had WMD”.

It wouldn’t have been that hard. If he had asked members of the Near East and North Africa Department of the FCO, the Middle East experts in the FCO’s Research Analysts, or in the Defence Intelligence Service, he would have found absolutely no shortage of people who doubted it, whatever position No 10 was forcing on their institutions.

One of the many failures of this Inquiry has been a failure to ask individual witnesses before it whether they personally had believed in the existence of any significant Iraqi WMD programme. I know for certain that would have drawn some extremely enlightening answers from among the FCO and probably MOD participants.

Sir Martin Gilbert allowed Blair to conflate Iran, Iraq, Al-Qaida, WMD and terrorism in a completely unjustified way. When Straw tried exactly the same trick, Rod Lyne did not allow him to get away with it.

A further stark contrast with Straw is that both Blair and Straw were asked about the failure of the UK to secure movement in the Middle East peace process by using our role in Iraq to influence the USA. A major, detailed and fascinating part of Straw’s answer was that Israel’s – and specifically Netanyahu’s – political influence in the USA had prevented progress.

By contrast, Blair did not even mention Israel in response to the questions on the failure to achieve progress in the Middle East. He solely blamed the Palestinian Intafada. He has been anxious to widen the discussion beyond Iraq at every opportunity, and frequently referred to destabilising factors in the Middle East, and again and again pointed to a growing threat from Iran and Iranian sponsorship of terrorism, and to Palestinian terrorism (including Saddam Hussein’s past sponsorship of it).

He has made not one single comment about Israel’s behaviour as a contributing factor in Middle East instability. Given Blair’s official position as Middle East envoy, this lack of any bare pretence at impartiality is most revealing.

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Blair’s Demeanour

I am astonished that Blair had not prepared a convincing answer to the question of why he told Fern Britton that, if he had known there were no WMD, he would have found another argument “to temove” Saddam. Blair blustered, failed to finish several sentences and then concluded that he had not used the words “regime change”. So “to remove” Saddam from the local knitting circle, then.

I have no hopes rhe ultimate report will be anything but a whitewash. However the body language is fascinating. Baroness Ushar is not a good forensic questioner but is looking at him with great disataste. Blair has lost his smoothness in lying. When pushed on the details of Crawford Blair varies between stumbling and gabbling too quickly for the stenographer. When he manages to get off subject, for example on to Clinton and Kosovo, his whole demeanour changes and he is his old fluent self – but only when he wriggles off subject.

“I would not have done Iraq if I had not thought it was right” he just said. Nobody doubts that. I think Hitler could have honestly said the same too. There is nothing more dangerous than a sociopath who thinks he is right.

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Standing Down as Dundee Rector

My three year term as Rector if the University of Dundee comes to an end shortly. I have decided not to seek re-election. I was touched by the very kind observations on Subrosa’s blog including the comments.

http://subrosa-blonde.blogspot.com/2010/01/craig-murray-to-stand-down.html

I am not standing for re-election becuase I have come to the conclusion that it is essential that the Rector lives in Scotland to do the job properly.

When I was elected I did hope to move to Scotland. However Nadira has made it very clear she does not want to live in Scotland – or indeed anywhere but London. Personally, if I had the chance to live in any town in the entire world, plus the seventh circle of Hell and an oxygenless planet off Alpha Centauri, London still might be bottom of my list. But that’s family life for you.

I missed the December university court meeting because weather related London Transport problems meant I missed my flight from London City airport. I am flying back from Africa to make it to a university nominations committee on Tuesday (I’ll come to why shortly). Despite being non-resident, I have had a much better attendance record than any recent Rector. I attended over 70% of Court meetings to argue for the students – and that’s 70% more than Lorraine Kelly, my immediate predecessor.

We also have established the Rectors’ Group. All five Scottish University Rectors meet on a regular basis to agree joint positions – for example against student tuition fees – and to lobby for those postitions. We are meeting again on Wednesday, and then as a group meeting the Scottish Parliament Education Committee and the Scottish Education Minister Fiona Hislop on Thursday. A major theme will be that the public spending deficit should not be used to heap the costs of education further upon students.

The Scottish Rectors’ Group has been possible because we have achieved a situation where all five universities have Rectors who are really committed to doing the job. It is perhaps not a coincidence that, for the first time in history, all five were R|ectros of their own Alma Mater.

What I was not able to do was to spend as much time as I would like at the University, meeting individual students and dealing with their problems. I would not recommend anyone to become Rector unless they are able to devote twenty working days a year to the job.

Subrosa is quite right that the University authorities will be delighted to be rid of me. Lorraine Kelly was their ideal Rector. She never went to committee meetings, and allowed the University authorities to nominate her Assessor, who can represent the Rector. I nominated my old student friend Mike Arnott, described to me by a shocked University official as “A communist from the trades unions”. Pretty accurate, exactly. And just what they need.

Universities to New Labour were in one sense just another quango into which they could place supporters. The Chairman of Dundee University Court is John Milligan, close to Gordon Brown and biggest single donor to Scottish New Labour and its tax dodge, the “Charitable” Smith Institute. The Court is packed with businessmen, whose idea of the value of education is measured in pounds and pence. Teaching is viewed as vastly less important than income-bringing research.

What the University does not feel like at all is a self-governing University community exisitng primarily for the benefit of its students. I did my best to apply that view to all issues, and to remind others at least that this view still exists. Looking back, I remain proud of my Rectorial Address. The University refused to follow tradition and print it and put it in the University library, let alone give it to the media.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2007/10/freedom_of_spee.html

The University administration had put their press and public affairs office fully behind their candidate, former British Lions captain Andy Nicol, whom I beat in the election. Andy is a nice man, but he was precisely what the University would want – a local celebrity they could use for PR, but with no particular views on higher education and most unlikely to turn up to a string of committees.

On the day of the election itself, the Dundee edition of the New Labour touting Daily Record was being given out free around the University and extraordinarily the full front page was devoted to the Dundee Rectorial election, with a huge photo of Andy Nicol and a banner headline “I was born to lead Dundee students”. (Wrong!!)

It had been organised by the University press office, as had the front page endorsement of Andy Nicol by my two immediate predecessors – Lorraine Kelly and Fred Macaulay. The involvement of the University Press Office was completely out of order. I also believe that it was very bad form indeed, and against all tradition in all the Rectorial universities, for past Rectors to endorse a candidate and thus oppose others.

The University were plainly stunned and very unhappy when I won. They couldn’t understand how I had defeated their much more famous candidate. It is also worth noting that my immediate predecessor Lorraine Kelly made no attempt to contact me or offer advice – perhaps unsurprising as she knew fuck all anyway. The predecessors who did give me some advice were Stephen Fry and Gordon Wilson.

Which brings me back to why I am making a point of attending Nominations Committee on Tuesday. The committe is deciding on the appointment of two more members of University Court, and that learned body has already opined that “Finance and Pensions Experience” should be key qualifications, as a preliminary attempt to exclude from University governance anyone interesting.

My last act as Rector will be to attend the Scottish parliament to argue for continued investment in higher education and against tutition fees. But my penultimate action will be to create as big an unpleasant row as I can about the packing of Court with yet more balance sheet dullards. All entirely appropriate.

The election for my successor is now on. I am going to return to what I consider proper behaviour and not tell students for whom to vote. But I do recommend criteria to them.

Judge the candidates’ on their views on the funding of higher education and on tuition fees in particular. But also judge candidates on their views on the position of students within the university, how the university should be governed, and further on the purpose and value of higher education in society.

Then – and without this the rest is pretty worthless – judge whether they are both willing and able to actually turn up on a regular basis to argue for these views and values.

To my successor, please continue to fight cuts in the University and especially the pruning of arts and environmental subjects in order to concentrate on “Core” (ie money-making) activity. Be sceptical of all governments, and conscious that the value of education is much more than merely economic. Remember that the University has become essential to the remaining economy of a fine but shrinking old city, and that brings its responsibilities too.

I wish all the best to all the candidates.

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Address to Scottish Independence Convention

I am addressing the plenary of the Scottish Independence Convention at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood on Thursday 4 February at 6.30pm. The subject of my address is

Might is Right: Torture and the Moral Void of UK Foreign Policy Since Robin Cook.

As ever, I won’t have a text, but I expect to cover extraordinary rendition, Iraq and Afghanistan – and why an independent Scotland ought not to maintain a common defence policy and armed forces with the rump United Kingdom.

The meeting is open (and free, I think) but you have to book in with the Scottish Independence Convention. Contact details are here:

http://www.scottishindependenceconvention.com/Contacts.asp

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Lord Goldsmith Was Never The Attorney General

…in Scotland.

One of the things that makes Scotland a nation is that it has its own legal system. This is not only quite separate from the English legal system but has a distinctly different origin, in Roman as opposed to Anglo-Saxon Law.

Lord Goldsmith was never Attorney General in Scotland. His legal writ carried not a milligram of weight in Scotland.

Scotland has a Lord Advocate.

It speaks volumes about the reality of the so-called Union, that the English Attorney General advises the Cabinet on whether to go to war, and in so doing he travels to Washington to consult the opinion of US legal authorities, but he does not travel to Edinburgh to consult the opinion of Scottish legal authorities.

As a matter of urgency, the Scottish parliament should now request the Lord Advocate to produce a review of Lord Goldsmith’s opinion on the Iraq War in the light of the Scottish understanding of international law. He should also produce views on the constitutional questions which may arise when the Scottish Lord Advocate takes a different view on the legality of war to the English Attorney General.

The Parliament should make plain that the notion that Scotland does not have a view on the legality of a war in which Scottish troops will be involved, but is bound to follow the English Attorney General, is not an acceptable position.

AMENDMENT

(I initially proposed that the Advocate General undertake this, as he is the officer who normally advises the UK government on Scots law. It has been suggested that the Lord Advocate would be more appropriate, and after consideration I agree, despite sharing the concerns about the wide range of the Lord Advocate’s powers. The key point stands that Goldsmith’s writ did not run in Scotland).

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The Partiality of Lord Goldsmith

bahamousa.jpg

Lord-Goldsmith-001.jpg

One of these two was an honest man. The other one caused his death.

Lord Goldsmith is partial to war. He likes to sit his well-padded bottom on comfortable leather chairs in expensive offices, and be flattered into agreeing that a bit of war would not be a bad idea.

Baha Mosua was a very quiet man, not partial to war at all. Unfortunately he is the one who got killed.

I have a policy of not using atrocity photos, not even on the issue of torture and extraordinary rendition. But the contrast between the easy glibness of Goldsmith and the consequences of his actions needs to be rammed home. The media seems imprssed by his 248 pages of well rehearsed verbiage. I am not.

http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/43803/100127-goldsmith.pdf

To call Lord Goldsmith’s evidence yesterday “Partial” would be ludicrously polite. It turned on the crucial period in March, when he changed his advice to the view that UNSCR 1441 did indeed give, in itself, sufficient grounds to invade. With no personal experience of ever having negotiated a Security Council Resolution, Goldsmith did this in the teeth of fierce opposition from the FCO Legal Adviser Sir Michael Wood, a world renowned eminence in the subject of use of force and the security council, who had also served for four years in our mission to the United Nations.

Goldsmith’s change of mind was based on the notion that the negotiating history of UNSCR 1441 revealed intentions which were not plain from the text – a text which Goldsmith was at pains to characterise as extremely unclear, when actually it isn’t. He also took the view that the negotiating history should have more weight than the formal explanations of vote given in public.

That might be because the UK explanation of vote said this:

We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about “automaticity” and “hidden triggers” — the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. Let me be equally clear in response… There is no “automaticity” in this resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required in paragraph 12. We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities.

As I have posted before, as a British Ambassador I saw at the time the telegrams of instruction go out from the FCO. The matter was so grave that not only was 1441 being negotiated for in New York, we were lobbying for it in capitals as well, and the instructions were clearly to stress that 1441 contained “No automatic triggers.”

Indeed, our original draft did authorise “all necessary means” – the accepted formula for force – but we dropped it in negotiation. That part of the negotiating history was something that Goldsmith did not volunteer at all. He repeated the Jack Straw line that UNSCR 1441 must authorise force because France and Germany had dropped wording making specific that it did not do so. But we dropped our wording too. That didn’t count in his Lordship’s mind.

Where he was really partial was the “Mr Goldsmith goes to Washington episode”, He met the Americans, listened to their legal interpretation, and crucially listened to their version of the negotiations with the French. But as Michael Wood had pointed out, these negotiations were private meetings, some literally in corridors, of which no records were taken and which are disputed.

Goldsmith absolutely gave himself away in the contempt with which he greeted Rod Lyne’s suggestion that he might have asked the French for their version of events – what happened in the negotiating history and what they believed the resolution meant. There is an important point here, United Nations documents are produced in five languages, all equally valid.

Personally, I believe with Sir Michael Wood that for Goldsmith to put so much weight on the negotiating history, in order to give 1441 a meaning which is not apparent in the text or in the public explanations of vote on the text, is very dubious. But if you are going to rely on the negotiating history, it is ludicrously partial to rely only on the assertions of one party – the Americans – and they being the party known to have the most extreme position on the issue.

Goldsmith accepted the US account that in negotiations, though not in their explanation of vote, the French had accepted 1441 provided a basis for the use of force. This exchange is highly revealing:

SIR RODERIC LYNE: What evidence did they give you that the French had acknowledged this?

RT HON LORD GOLDSMITH QC: I wish that they had presented me with more. That was one of the difficulties.

That Goldsmith point blank refused in these circumstances to ask the French, is evidence that he was partial. he was firmly committed to the US, and to the invasion. He had chosen sides. His legal advice was going to back his mate Tony. All this pretence of his careful legal consideration is a transparent sham.

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The 9/11 Post

Having complained of people posting off topic, it seems a reasonable solution to give an opportunity for people to discuss the topics I am banning from other threads – of which 9/11 seems the most popular.

I do not believe that the US government, or any of its agencies, were responsible for 9/11. It would just need too many people to be involved. Someone would have objected. There are some strange and dangerous people in America, but not in sufficient concentration for this one. They couldn’t even keep Watergate quiet, and that was a small group. Any group I can think of – even Blackwater – would contain operatives with scruples about blowing up New York. They may be sadly ready to kill people in poor countries, but Americans en masse? Somebody would say it wasn’t a good idea.

I asked a friend in the construction industry what it would take to demolish the twin towers. He replied nine months, 80 men, and 12 miles of cabling. The notion that a small team at night could plant sufficient explosives embedded at key points, is laughable.

The forces of the aircraft impacts must have been amazingly high. I have no difficulty imagining they would bring down the building. As for WTC 7, again the kinetic energy of the collapse of the twin towers must be immense.

I admit to a private speculation about WTC7. Unfortunately in construction it is extremely common for contractors not to fix or install properly all the expensive girders, ties and rebar that are supposed to be enclosed in the concrete. Supervising contractors and municipal inspectors can be corrupt. I recall vividly that in London some years ago a tragedy occurred when a simple gas oven explosion brought down the whole side of a tower block.

The inquiry found that the building contractor had simply omitted the ties that bound the girders at the corners, all encased in concrete. If a gas oven had not blown up, nobody would have found out. Buildings I strongly suspect are very often not as strong as they are supposed to be, with contractors skimping on apparently redundant protection. The sort of sordid thing you might not want too deeply investigated in the event of a national tragedy.

Precisely what happened at the Pentagon I am less sure. There is not the conclusive film and photographic evidence that there is for New York. I am particularly puzzled by the much more skilled feat of flying that would be required to hit a building virtually at ground level, in an urban area, after a lamppost clipping route – very hard to see how a non-professional pilot did that. But I can think of a number of possible scenarios where the official explanation is not quite the whole truth on the Pentagon, but which do not necessitate a belief that the US government or Dick Cheney was behind the attack.

In my view the real scandal of 9/11 was that it was blowback – the product of a malignant terrorist agency whose origins lay in CIA funding and provision. Also blowback in a more general sense that it was spawned in the nasty theocratic dictatorship of Saudi Arabia which is so close to the US and to the Bush dynasty in particular. As with almost all terrorist activity, I do not rule out any point on the whole spectrum of surveillance, penetration and agent provocateur activity by any number of possible actors.

But was 9/11 false flag and controlled demolition? No, I think not.

(Now I have given full opportunity to discuss 9/11 here, any further references on other threads will be instantly deleted).

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Agents Provocateurs

A number of pro Iraq War bloogers have started commenting more or less full time on this blog for the last few weeks. If you look through a number of comments threads, you will see that angrysoba and Larry from St Louis, for example, have actually spent more time on this blog in the last couple of weeks than I have.

When they first appeared, I made a point of saying that free speech is the basic rule of this blog, and they were welcome.

But increasingly angrysoba, Larry from St Louis, and alan campbell are not putting any rational argument about the whole string of vital, evidential posts on Iraq that prompted their appearance. Instead they seek to provoke commenters into discussing, 9/11, and attempt to provoke anti-semitic commenters to inhabit the blog.

For example, in the post about Lord Goldsmith below, at 11.47am Alan Campbell posted:

“And not only is he not an expert in international law, he’s looking particularly Jewish, ‘eh lads?”

Nothing in my post or in any of the comments had made any inference at all about Goldsmith’s ethnic origin, of which I know nothing and which is in any case completely irrelevant.

Similarly Larry from St Louis at 8.56pm on the thread “Government Ban Protest Outside Blair Iraq Hearing” posted

Still waiting on Craig to delete references to the Protocols …

on a thread where the only nutter wittering on about the Protocols of Zion was Larry.

The object of these interventions is to provoke anti-semites and others to comment on this blogsite. On other sites around the blogosphere, the same individuals then post entries and comments saying

“Ignore Craig Murray’s articles, his site is inhabited by 9/11 truthers, green lizards and anti-semites”, with an inference, or sometimes direct accusation, that I hold those views myself.

The objective of the exercise is to reduce public belief in my evidential postings on extraordinary rendition, Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am not positing that the individuals involved are anything other than individuals with an amazing amount of time on their hands and a fervent attachment to the “War on Terror”.

I remain fundamentally committed to free speech. Contrary comments from all angles remain welcome here. I don’t read all comments – it would be a full time job – but I will knock out racism where I come across it. You can bring it to my attention by email. The only views which are mine are those I post myself.

We have some regular commenters who regularly take an opposite view to me, and who remain welcome – Eddie for one is a good example. Eddie does argue about the posting in question and does not routinely try to provoke strange views. But I will be much more ruthless in deleting off topic comment.

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God, I Didn’t Know

UPDATE

Feeling much better now. Many thanks for the many kind – and often very wise – comments. I know why I can’t sleep, why can’t you lot?

I hate being away from Nadira for lengthy periods and am not well equipped to pass the small hours alone. Still feeling an immense frustration that truly evil men like Blair prosper, but that has been part of the human condition forever. Oh well – really must try and get some sleep now, it’s 5am here,.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a manic depressive and sometimes feel almost suicidal, Don’t worry, I have three wonderful children and I am not going to leave them. But I feel so weak this evening. compared to the strength of the forces of evil, if you describe evil as illegal war and the massive profits to be made from waging it, and the sunsequent looting of resources.

I hope that those who saw Sir Michael Wood’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry today, and who have also read Murder in Samarkand, feel that I painted an accurate pen-portrait of my once friend.

I felt that Michael had stabbed me in the back by refusing to back me in saying unequivocally that intelligence from torture was illegal.

I did not know that, exactly at that time, he was engaged in a heroic struggle to try to stop the war in Iraq on legal grounds, and that he had drawn the full fury of Blair and Straw. He could not afford to open a second front on extraordinary rendition.

I have been struggling ever since to come to terms with what I saw as his going along with torture. I misjudged him.

But the way that the evil people like Blair and Straw manage to split decent people like Michael and me, is the lesson to avoid in future. Why is it that people like Michael, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Bill Patey and I never managed to get together? (Bill Patey was the head of the FCO geographical department which included Iraq, and he, like very many others in the system, never believed the “Evidence” on Iraqi WMD.)

I am feeling so sad because different ways of trying to resist took us down different paths, and perhaps I am sad because I was harsher on some than they deserved.

But I am most sad because hundreds of thousands died so Blair and Straw could earn their lucrative standing in the USA. I feel nothing but despair.

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Vanity Posting

Could someone who knows how to do it, kindly replace my photo on Wikipedia with a more flattering one?

I am very grateful to the person who took and posted it, but at the time I was standing on a train while stooping to speak into a microphone tethered on a short lead three feet from the ground, As a result I look stunted and a very strange shape (no offence meant to anyone who is a very strange shape).

Pure vanity, and I am sorry 🙂

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Government Ban Protest Outside Blair Iraq Hearing

Not content with spending ?250,000 on “security” for the war criminal Tony Blair’s appearance on the Iraq Inquiry, the government have banned protestors from areas where Blair will see them. This from Stop The War:

Negotiations between the police and Stop the War broke down

today when it became clear that the government is trying to

hide our legitimate peaceful protest from Tony Blair when he

gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Friday.

After days in which we were told by the police that they would

try to facilitate our protest, Stop the War has been told we

will not be allowed to protest on the grass outside the QEII

Conference Centre.

This is a denial of our democratic rights and Stop the War

will now call for the widest possible mobilisation, not just

to express the majority view in this country that Tony Blair

should be held to account for war crimes, but in defence of

the right to protest.

Why should the public be denied the right to peaceful protest,

particularly when the latest evidence given to the Chilcot

Committee shows beyond doubt that Tony Blair knew he was

taking Britain into an illegal war, and that he doctored legal

advice to deceive his Cabinet, Parliament and the British

public.

Stop the War is calling on all its supporters, local groups

and affiliated organisations to mobilise the widest possible

support for the Blair protest on Friday.

We urge everyone who can to join the demonstration at the QEII

Conference Centre from 8am. Full details for the planned

events are here: http://bit.ly/8mKM0T

Spread the word as widely as you can among your family,

friends, work colleagues, fellow students etc, etc

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Sir Michael Wood Damns Blair, Straw and Croney Goldsmith

Sir Michael Wood confirmed today that the consistent advice from the FCO’s Legal Advisers was that it was illegal in international law to invade Iraq without a second Security Council Resolution following UNSCR 1441. He also made plain that he consistently over two years advised both Blair and Straw direct that the war would be illegal.

Everything Sir Michael Wood said was 100% consistent with my contention that Straw was lying throughout his testimony on the key point of whether it was believed in the FCO that UNSCR 1441 made the war legal. As I stated, every one of the scores of telegrams of instructions to posts between UNSCR 1441 and just before the March invasion clearly was predicated on a second resolution being necessary, and we were telling security council members in asking them to vote for UNSCR 1441 that it conained “No automatic triggers”. Michael Wood confirmed that too.

Yesterday I wrote this querying why a political appointee mate of Blair can overrule our foremost expert on international law:

A Politician Should Not Rule on the Legality of War

Tomorrow morning, Sir Michael Wood, former Foreign and Commonwealth Office Legal Adviser, gives evidence to the Chilcott Inquiry. To my mind, this is the most important evidence to be given so far. Michael’s then deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, who resigned over the war of aggression, will give evidence in the afternoon, I believe speaking in public for the first time since her resignation.

The Legal Adviser at the Foreign Office is a very grand person indeed. You should understand it is a full time position. The FCO has a big department, named Legal Advisers. It is staffed by the cream of public international lawyers. There are assistant and deputy legal advisers,serving in the FCO in London and sometimes being posted to large Embassies abroad. Then there is THE Legal Adviser, who is a very grand personage indeed, with a palatial office overlooking St James’ Park.

I have no doubt at all that both Wood and Wilmshurst will rebuke Starw’s appalling lie that UNSCR 1441 was considered sufficient to justify an invasion, at the time that it was adopted. Wilmshurst’s resignation letter made it perfectly plain that was not true.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/01/jack_straws_big.html#comments

But the question is, whether the Committee will manage to hide that truth by leading the lawyers away from it in their questioning. I have previously described their method as obscuring all the key points in a comfortable fog of chuminess. Expect every possible use of the lateral tangent, the chairman’s intervention and the friendly assumption.

I am very sorry that until now Sir Michael Wood has perhaps been best known to a wider public as the man that the FCO wheeled in to tell me that it was perfectly legal to obtain intelligence from torture, as long as somebody else did the torture.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/documents/Wood.pdf

As I explain in Murder in Samarkand I was shocked by this because I knew Michael and he is a nice man. Even though he made a point in the meeting of indicating moral disapproval of a policy of using torture, it seems to me there should be a limit to which a lawyer is prepared to advise what the government can get away with.

I am hoping that Michael will redeem himself in the eyes of decent people tomorrow, and I believe that he will.

One of the most important structural questions that the Chilcott Inquiry must ask, is this:

Why does the Attorney General have the power to overrule the Legal Adviser on a point of international law?

The answer is not that the Attorney General has a democratic mandate. Nobody has ever voted for Lord Goldsmith. His only qualification was that he was a buddy of Tony and Cherie Blair.

Here is a select list of some of Sir Michael Wood’s internationally accepted publications on international law:

“The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents”, 23 International and Comparative Law Quarterly (1974)

“The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism”, 1 Yearbook of European Law (1981)

“The Legal Status of Berlin” (1987, with I. D. Hendry)

“Participation of Former Yugoslav States in the United Nations and in Multilateral Treaties”, 1 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1997)

“The Interpretation of Security Council Resolutions”, 2 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1998)

“International Seabed Authority: the First Four Years”, 3 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1999)

“Northern and Western European Maritime Boundaries”, in: Colson/Smith, International Maritime Boundaries, Vol. V (2005)

“Towards New Circumstances in which the Use of Force may be Authorized? The Cases of Humanitarian Intervention, Counter-terrorism, and Weapons of Mass Destruction”, in: The Security Council and the Use of Force: Theory and Reality – A Need for Change? (eds. N. Blokker/N. Schrijver, 2005)

“The United Kingdom’s Acceptance of the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice”, in: Festskrift til Carl August Fleischer (eds. O Fauchald/H Jakhelln/A Syse, 2006)

“N?cessit? et l?gitime d?fense dans la lutte contre le terrorisme: quelle est la pertinence de l’affaire de la Caroline aujourd’hui?”, in: La n?cessit? en droit international Soci?t? fran?aise pour le droit international, Colloque de Grenoble, 2006

“The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and General International Law”, 22 International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (2007)

“The Selection of Candidates for International Judicial Office: Recent Practice”, in: Law of the Sea, Environmental Law and Settlement of Disputes: Liber Amicorum Judge Thomas A. Mensah (eds. T M Ndiaye/R Wolfrum, 2007)

Three lectures on “The UN Security Council and International Law” (2006), available on the website of the Lauterpacht Centre for Intenrational Law, University of Cambridge. An expanded version of these lectures will be published in due course by Cambridge University Press as a book within the Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures series

“The Law on the Use of Force: Current Challenges”, 11 Singapore Yearbook of International Law (2007)

“The Security Council and International Criminal Law”, 5 Romanian Journal of International Law/Revista Rom?na de Drept International (2007)

“The International Seabed Authority: Fifth to Twelfth Sessions (1999-2006)”, 11 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (2007)

“The General Assembly and the International Law Commission: What Happens to the Commission’s Work and Why?”, in: I Buffard, J Crawford, A Pellet, S Wittich (eds.), International Law Between Universalism and Fragmentation. Festschrift in Honour of Gerhard Hafner (2008)

“The Principle of Non-Intervention” (with Maziar Jamnejad), 29 Leiden Journal of International Law (2009)

“Detention during International Military Operations: Article 103 of the Charter and the Al-Jedda case”, 47 Revue de Droit Militaire et de Droit de la Guerre/The Military Law and the Law of War Review (2009)

Entries in R Wolfrum (ed.), Max Planck “Encyclopedia of Public International Law” (online edition 2008), including:

Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law (CAHDI) International Courts and Tribunals, Discontinuance of Cases Final Act International Seabed Authority Legal Advisers Macedonia Peace, Breach of State Practice Teachings of the Most Highly Qualified Publicists United Nations Administrative Tribunal, Applications for Review (Advisory Opinions) United Nations Charter, Enemy State Clauses United Nations Security Council Use of Force, Prohibition of Threat

Here is the complete list of all of Lord Goldsmith’s internationally accepted publications on international law

NOTHING

Which is why the Legal Adviser is paid more than the Attorney General.

So the government spends a very great deal of public money on employing a whole cadre of the best public international lawyers in the world, but takes its legal advice on matters of war and peace from a shifty barrister mate of Tony Blair.

The decision whether to go to war is a political question. But the legal advice should come from the most qualified source, not the source most likely to agree with the Prime Minister.

Even that commonsense observation is going to be much too radical for the stuffed Establishment shirts of the Chilcott Committee.

Last week I published this on Straw’s testimony. Michael Wood’s testimony absolutely confirms that I was telling the truth and Straw was lying:

Jack Straw’s Biggest Lie

I was a British Ambassador at the time of the events covered by the Iraq Inquiry. I know many of the witnesses and a great deal of the background. I can therefore see right through the smooth presentation. Jack Straw was the smoothest of all – but he told lie after lie.

Straw’s biggest and most important lie goes right to the heart of the question of whether the war was legal. Did UN Security Council Resolution 1441 provide a legal basis for the invasion, or would a second resolution specifically authorising military action have been required? The UK certainly put a massive amount of diplomatic effort into obtaining a second resolution.

Here is Straw’s argument that the invasion was legal without a second resolution:

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Then you make a point very strongly in your statement and this has been confirmed by Sir Jeremy Greenstock that you did not believe that military action thereafter, in the event of noncompliance, would depend on a second resolution. It would be desirable but it wasn’t dependent on that. We are not, today, going into the legal arguments on that. Sir Jeremy’s basic contention was that he had got the Americans and British into a comparable position as before Desert Fox in December 1998. So I think that’s quite important, that your understanding, at least of the position, was that it wasn’t absolutely essential to have a second resolution.

RT HON JACK STRAW: I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it. We tabled a draft, which, as I set out in this memorandum, and which Sir Jeremy Greenstock confirms in his memorandum, was aimed to be selfcontained, in the sense that, if very important conditions were met through failures by the Saddam regime, that of itself would provide sufficient authority for military action, and no doubt the next time we will get into the wording of the resolution, which, as I say in this memorandum, I can virtually recite in my sleep, but there are reasons why in OP12 we use the language that we do, and serious consequences are mentioned in OP13 and so on. For sure, we wanted a second resolution after that and well, again, I set out

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We will come on to that in a moment.

http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/43198/100121pm-straw.pdf

As Ambassador in an Islamic country, I was copied all or nearly all of the telegrams of instruction on the diplomatic efforts to secure a second resolution. I can tell you these facts as an eye-witness.

Straw argues that the proof that no second resolution was needed is that

I was not in any doubt about that and neither was Jeremy Greenstock, and for very good reasons, which is that there had been talk by the French and Germans of a draft which would have required a second resolution, but they never tabled it.

But they did not table it because we gave assurances to the French and Germans (and Russians and Chinese) that our draft of UNSCR 1441 did not authorise military action. The instructions were to inform those governments that UNSCR 1441 contained “no automatic trigger” which would lead to military action. I remember the phrase precisely “no automatic trigger”. Rod Lyne on the committee must remember it too, because he was one of the people, as Ambassador in Moscow, instructed to give that message.

It is the most perverse of lies by Straw to argue that the fact that the Germans and French did not table their draft proved that 1441 authorised war, when we had told them not to table their draft because 1441 did not authorise war.

I read with enormous care and in real time every single word of the scores of telegrams on the effort to secure the second resolution. Not one word gave any hint at all that a second resolution might not be necessary to authorise war. There was absolutely no mention in telegrams to Embassies of the notion that UNSCR 1441 was a sufficient basis for war, and no second resolution needed, until many weeks after 1441 was passed, just before the invasion.

STOP PRESS ADDITION

In response to New Labour hacks questioning my word, I can offer you irrefutable evidence to back up my own evidence that all the FCO material at the time of the adoption of UNSCR 1441 and for weeks afterwards right up until March, took the view that UNSCR 1441 did not provide legal grounds for the invasion.

It is the resignation letter of Deputy FCO Legal Adviser Elizabeth Wilmshurst in which she stated:

“I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it.

My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN security council resolution 1441 and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line.) ”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4377605.stm

All FCO instructions in the period to which I refer would have had to be in line with the view expressed by FCO legal advisers at that time. That view was precisely as I have stated it above.

This part of Straw’s evidence is therefore a huge lie.

There were numerous other minor lies from Straw. It is completely untrue that we had persuaded the three African security council members to support a second resolution authorising war. Baroness’ Amos mission to Francophone states we had ignored for years was a miserable failure. That was clear from reporting telegrams from posts.

It’s a small point, but Straw’s lie that upset me most personally was:

I don’t in the least mind people disagreeing with me, indeed I encourage it, but I do ask them to be loyal, because, otherwise, you can’t operate any kind of governmental system.

I disagreed with Straw, over the issue of the use of torture to gain intelligence in the “War on Terror”. I was very loyal. I kep my disagreement entirely internal and argued it in top secret telegrams and internal policy meetings. As a result of my disagreeing, Straw attempted to have me framed on false charges, destroying my health in the process and leaking false accusations to the tabloids to ruin my reputation too. When my name was finally cleared, they had to give me six year’s salary to settle.

I defy anyone to read Murder in Samarkand and say Straw is not a liar.

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Attempts to Deflect Michael Wood Evidence

STOP PRESS

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MICHAEL WOOD’S TESTIMONY, THE GOVERNMENT – NOT CHILCOTT, THE GOVERNMENT – HAS RELEASED MINUTES FROM JACK STRAW ATTACKING SIR MICHAEL WOOD AND HIS LEGAL ADVISERS FOR NOT OFFERING “A FULL RANGE OF VIEWS”.

WOOD’S DAMNING EVIDENCE WAS INTERRUPTED FOR TEN MINUTES, AND NOW THE COMMITTEE ARE ATTACKING MICHAEL ON THE BASIS OF WHAT THE GOVERNMENT JUST RELEASED, FOR FAILING TO OFFER A VIEW THAT THE WAR WAS LEGAL.

INCREDIBLE BIT OF NEWS MANAGEMENT IN WHICH THE COMMITTEE IS COMPLICIT. SKY NEWS THEN IMMEDIATELY CUT TO A VERY LONG AND DULL STATEMENT ON THE NORTHERN IRELAND TALKS – NOT CONNECTED TO A CRITICAL DEVELOPMENT THERE.

Further – Sky has now cut to a very dull pre-recorded interview with Alistair Darling. Having given us wall to wall testimony from the New Labour liars, there is no live broadcast of the most important evidence to date.

I have cut this thread to stop discussion of whether Sky acted deliberately from detracting from the main point that the war was deemed illegal.

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A Politician Should Not Rule on the Legality of War

Tomorrow morning, Sir Michael Wood, former Foreign and Commonwealth Office Legal Adviser, gives evidence to the Chilcott Inquiry. To my mind, this is the most important evidence to be given so far. Michael’s then deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, who resigned over the war of aggression, will give evidence in the afternoon, I believe speaking in public for the first time since her resignation.

The Legal Adviser at the Foreign Office is a very grand person indeed. You should understand it is a full time position. The FCO has a big department, named Legal Advisers. It is staffed by the cream of public international lawyers. There are assistant and deputy legal advisers,serving in the FCO in London and sometimes being posted to large Embassies abroad. Then there is THE Legal Adviser, who is a very grand personage indeed, with a palatial office overlooking St James’ Park.

I have no doubt at all that both Wood and Wilmshurst will rebuke Starw’s appalling lie that UNSCR 1441 was considered sufficient to justify an invasion, at the time that it was adopted. Wilmshurst’s resignation letter made it perfectly plain that was not true.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/01/jack_straws_big.html#comments

But the question is, whether the Committee will manage to hide that truth by leading the lawyers away from it in their questioning. I have previously described their method as obscuring all the key points in a comfortable fog of chuminess. Expect every possible use of the lateral tangent, the chairman’s intervention and the friendly assumption.

I am very sorry that until now Sir Michael Wood has perhaps been best known to a wider public as the man that the FCO wheeled in to tell me that it was perfectly legal to obtain intelligence from torture, as long as somebody else did the torture.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/documents/Wood.pdf

As I explain in Murder in Samarkand I was shocked by this because I knew Michael and he is a nice man. Even though he made a point in the meeting of indicating moral disapproval of a policy of using torture, it seems to me there should be a limit to which a lawyer is prepared to advise what the government can get away with.

I am hoping that Michael will redeem himself in the eyes of decent people tomorrow, and I believe that he will.

One of the most important structural questions that the Chilcott Inquiry must ask, is this:

Why does the Attorney General have the power to overrule the Legal Adviser on a point of international law?

The answer is not that the Attorney General has a democratic mandate. Nobody has ever voted for Lord Goldsmith. His only qualification was that he was a buddy of Tony and Cherie Blair.

Here is a select list of some of Sir Michael Wood’s internationally accepted publications on international law:

“The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents”, 23 International and Comparative Law Quarterly (1974)

“The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism”, 1 Yearbook of European Law (1981)

“The Legal Status of Berlin” (1987, with I. D. Hendry)

“Participation of Former Yugoslav States in the United Nations and in Multilateral Treaties”, 1 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1997)

“The Interpretation of Security Council Resolutions”, 2 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1998)

“International Seabed Authority: the First Four Years”, 3 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1999)

“Northern and Western European Maritime Boundaries”, in: Colson/Smith, International Maritime Boundaries, Vol. V (2005)

“Towards New Circumstances in which the Use of Force may be Authorized? The Cases of Humanitarian Intervention, Counter-terrorism, and Weapons of Mass Destruction”, in: The Security Council and the Use of Force: Theory and Reality – A Need for Change? (eds. N. Blokker/N. Schrijver, 2005)

“The United Kingdom’s Acceptance of the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice”, in: Festskrift til Carl August Fleischer (eds. O Fauchald/H Jakhelln/A Syse, 2006)

“N?cessit? et l?gitime d?fense dans la lutte contre le terrorisme: quelle est la pertinence de l’affaire de la Caroline aujourd’hui?”, in: La n?cessit? en droit international Soci?t? fran?aise pour le droit international, Colloque de Grenoble, 2006

“The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and General International Law”, 22 International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (2007)

“The Selection of Candidates for International Judicial Office: Recent Practice”, in: Law of the Sea, Environmental Law and Settlement of Disputes: Liber Amicorum Judge Thomas A. Mensah (eds. T M Ndiaye/R Wolfrum, 2007)

Three lectures on “The UN Security Council and International Law” (2006), available on the website of the Lauterpacht Centre for Intenrational Law, University of Cambridge. An expanded version of these lectures will be published in due course by Cambridge University Press as a book within the Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures series

“The Law on the Use of Force: Current Challenges”, 11 Singapore Yearbook of International Law (2007)

“The Security Council and International Criminal Law”, 5 Romanian Journal of International Law/Revista Rom?na de Drept International (2007)

“The International Seabed Authority: Fifth to Twelfth Sessions (1999-2006)”, 11 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (2007)

“The General Assembly and the International Law Commission: What Happens to the Commission’s Work and Why?”, in: I Buffard, J Crawford, A Pellet, S Wittich (eds.), International Law Between Universalism and Fragmentation. Festschrift in Honour of Gerhard Hafner (2008)

“The Principle of Non-Intervention” (with Maziar Jamnejad), 29 Leiden Journal of International Law (2009)

“Detention during International Military Operations: Article 103 of the Charter and the Al-Jedda case”, 47 Revue de Droit Militaire et de Droit de la Guerre/The Military Law and the Law of War Review (2009)

Entries in R Wolfrum (ed.), Max Planck “Encyclopedia of Public International Law” (online edition 2008), including:

Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law (CAHDI) International Courts and Tribunals, Discontinuance of Cases Final Act International Seabed Authority Legal Advisers Macedonia Peace, Breach of State Practice Teachings of the Most Highly Qualified Publicists United Nations Administrative Tribunal, Applications for Review (Advisory Opinions) United Nations Charter, Enemy State Clauses United Nations Security Council Use of Force, Prohibition of Threat

Here is the complete list of all of Lord Goldsmith’s internationally accepted publications on international law

NOTHING

Which is why the Legal Adviser is paid more than the Attorney General.

So the government spends a very great deal of public money on employing a whole cadre of the best public international lawyers in the world, but takes its legal advice on matters of war and peace from a shifty barrister mate of Tony Blair.

The decision whether to go to war is a political question. But the legal advice should come from the most qualified source, not the source most likely to agree with the Prime Minister.

Even that commonsense observation is going to be much too radical for the stuffed Establishment shirts of the Chilcott Committee.

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David Tennant Stars as Craig Murray

I am a great fan of BBC Radio 4 in general, so I am really pleased that this is quite a coup for them.

World Premiere of Murder in Samarkand by Sir David Hare

Based on the memoir by Craig Murray.

Saturday 20 February 2010 at 2.30pm BBC Radio 4 “The Saturday Play”.

Starring

David Tennant as Craig Murray

Jemima Rooper as Nadira

Directed by Clive Brill

There is a large and truly impressive cast of some of the finest stage actors in Britain. Nadira herself plays Dilobar as well as two or three other small parts. I will link to a full cast list as soon as the BBC publish it.

I watched David Tennant’s Hamlet over Christmas and was very impressed, so I am delighted to have him as my alter ego. I have to confess to being a Dr Who fan ever since William Hartnell. I actually knitted myself a Tom Baker scarf

Of course, David Tennant is not really good looking enough to play me, but it’ll be OK on radio.

UPDATE:Recording has now finished. I couldn’t be in the studio as I am in Africa. Possibly that’s not a bad thing: if I were playing someone I don’t thnk I would want him around watching. But Nadira and several others have told me the atmosphere in the studio was brilliant, and at times electric.

If you click on the link in the top left margin you can buy a copy of Murder in Samarkand and read the book before you hear the play – or you can get it from your local library.

I own up – I am reposting this really because a Monday morning post gets, all other things being equal, three times the readership of a Sunday evening post.

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David Tennant Plays Craig Murray

I am a great fan of BBC Radio 4 in general, so I am really pleased that this is quite a coup for them.

World Premiere of Murder in Samarkand by Sir David Hare

Based on the memoir by Craig Murray.

Saturday 20 February 2010 at 2.30pm BBC Radio 4 “The Saturday Play”.

Starring

David Tennant as Craig Murray

Jemima Rooper as Nadira

There is a large and truly impressive cast of some of the finest stage actors in Britain. Nadira herself plays Dilobar as well as two or three other small parts. I will link to a full cast list as soon as the BBC publish it.

I watched David Tennant’s Hamlet over Christmas and was very impressed, so I am delighted to have him as my alter ego. I have to confess to being a Dr Who fan ever since William Hartnell. I actually knitted myself a Tom Baker scarf!

Of course, David Tennant is not really good looking enough to play me, but it’ll be OK on radio.

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David Kelly’s Murder

The Iraq Inquiry has taken us back again to that period where the government had engaged in a massive military build up ready to invade Iraq, and was desperately looking for evidence on WMD to trigger the invasion – an invasion on which the Washington neo-cons had pinned their entire hopes for the future of the Bush presidency.

Just at that crucial time, one of the UK’s foremost experts on Iraqi WMD had let slip to the BBC that the government’s claims did not stand up. As a result, he was found dead in a wood, while the BBC journalist, Andrew Gilligan, who correctly reported that there were no WMD, was fired for telling the truth.

The punishment of the BBC for failing to unquestioningly echo Blair lies went much further. The Chairman and Director General were forced out. All because the BBC said there may have been no WMD, when there were not.

It is almost incredible even now to state what New Labour have done. God know what future historians will make of it.

The BBC was traumatised, and went through an acceleration of cultural change that prized “managers” over journalists, and stopped criticising government. A foundation stone of democracy had been blasted away by Tony Blair.

Kelly’s death was extremely convenient for Blair, Cheney and a myriad of other ultra ruthless people. It paved the way for war. We should not forget how very crucial the WMD issue was in convincing enough reluctant New Labour MPs to go along. Without the UK there would have been no coalition – most of the other Europeans would have quickly dropped out too. It is by no means clear that, despite Cheney’s bluster, the Americans would have invaded Iraq alone.

So Kelly was the first man killed in the Iraq war. Hundreds of thousands of people died in Iraq after Kelly. Arms manufacturers, mercenary companies and the security industry made tens of billions in profit. That’s a powerful motive to remove an obstacle. The Western oil companies are getting back into Iraq.

We will never know if Kelly would have gone on to repeat his – perfectly correct – doubts about Iraqi WMD, or if he would have shut up, as ordered by Tony Blair through the MOD. I do know, as many doctors have attested, it is extremely unlikely to bleed to death by cutting a wrist. I do know that the paramedics who attended said there was very little blood at the scene. I do know that the painkillers he took were a tiny proportion of a fatal dose and were not an anticoagulant. I do know that a chemical weapons expert like Dr Kelly would know better ways to kill himself.

And I do know that the government is keeping the evidence hidden for seventy years.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245599/David-Kelly-post-mortem-kept-secret-70-years-doctors-accuse-Lord-Hutton-concealing-vital-information.html

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The “Threat” From Central Asia

The threat of Islamic fundamentalism rising up in and pouring out from Central Asia, is a popular theme of those who design Western security – or hydrocarbon – strategies. It is in order to exagerrate the threat from Central Asia that the US and UK use the Karimov regime to torture “Confessions” out of Central Asian “Al-Qaida” members.

Al-Jazeera has this week been running a feature documentary by Michael Andersen, a Danish journalist who really does know Central Asia, It should be required viewing for anyone with an interest in the “War on Terror”. You can still catch it on Al-Jazeera today and tomorrow, or throught this link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zckWipmOxG8

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