UK and Torture: The Bitter Truth 65

Saloon bar bigot Bruce Anderson came out with a fierce defence of the government’s use of torture. It could have been written by Torquemada, Walsingham or Franco. To get that vital information about the ticking bomb, it would be morally imperative to torture the terrorist’s wife and children, he concluded.

Interesting is it not that to opine that Palestinian suicide bombers are justified is illegal, but to advocate torture of innocent women and children is patriotic?

I took grave exception because I saw the effects of women and children being tortured in front of suspects in Uzbekistan, where it happens pretty often. I wonder if Anderson would like to wield the electrodes on children himself. The man should be shunned from all civilised society.

What he is too thick to understand is that the “ticking bomb” scenario has never happened and almost certainly never will. His idea of the intelligence world is gleaned from Hollywood. I was delighted today to have the oportunity to publish the true situation in the Evening Standard. They gave me 950 words and I think it was the best turned piece I ever penned.

This is the truth of it:

The key point ?” and one I cannot stress too much ?” is that the vast majority of this material was absolute rubbish. The Uzbek government was eager to convince the US it was fighting a massive Islamic militant threat, so that the US government would continue to give large subsidies to this appalling dictatorship, and particularly to its security services.

The Uzbek government therefore rounded up en masse dissidents, the religious and those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and tortured them into admitting membership of al Qaeda or other allied terror organisations, and into denouncing long lists of other “terrorists”.

The tortured were given the lists to sign up to, exactly as done by Stalin’s secret police, the direct institutional ancestor of the Uzbek security service.

The mundane truth is that torture in the “War on Terror” does not bring Hollywood-style information about ticking bombs in shopping malls.

It brings piles of rubbish that clog up our intelligence analysis. Torture gives not the truth but what the torturer wants to hear to make the torture stop. And given the destinations on the extraordinary rendition circuit ?” like Egypt, Morocco, Afghanistan, Syria and Uzbekistan ?” the relationship between the torturers and the truth was often very distant indeed.

I can swear to you that none of the intelligence I saw from detainees in Uzbekistan was useful. Much of it was palpably untrue, such as referring to terror training camps in places where we knew they physically did not exist.

Please do read the full piece. Not sure if they are going to open comments on this one.

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65 thoughts on “UK and Torture: The Bitter Truth

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  • arsalan goldberg

    I’ve got an idea, next time M16 decides to gang rape a 5 year old to make her father talk, they should do the same thing to Bruce Anderson to see if he still thinks torture is useful?

  • glenn

    Shouldn’t that be an anti-Christian rally, rather than an anti-Welsh rally? Wouldn’t mind joining an all-encompassing ‘anti-religion’ rally myself!

    Treherbert eh – a hotbed of fanatical Muslim sleeper-cells if ever I heard of one. Sheesh.

  • arsalan

    I think there are three Muslims in treherbert if you count the cat of the couple who run the corner shop where these idiots buy their pints of milk.

  • tony_opmoc

    Whilst we have seen him loads of times before, I am extremely vulnerable when presented with new information on a Friday evening by my wife as I was a few weeks ago

    So I paid significantly more than twice the face value of the tickets

    Knowing that sometimes these things are sold out in minutes

    And the tickets have been delivered, and I feel embarrassed about having paid so much

    And so today whilst doing our weekly shop in the supermarket – we looked at the CD – Top 50

    And it was there at about Number 31

    And so we bought it £9.99

    We haven’t heard it yet

    Peter Gabriel


  • tony_opmoc

    The Tickets Are Not For Sale

    We have been to The Millennium Dome Before

    But We Have Never Seen This


  • tony_opmoc

    She said Stop Crying. I said I Can’t It’s Completely Brilliant.

    She said – Well You Are Not Playing It Tomorrow Night. No One Will Understand.

    I Said I Won’t Unless Van der Graaf Generator and Peter’s Mates Turn Up


  • technicolour

    September 1, 1939

    by W. H. Auden

    I sit in one of the dives

    On Fifty-second Street

    Uncertain and afraid

    As the clever hopes expire

    Of a low dishonest decade:

    Waves of anger and fear

    Circulate over the bright

    And darkened lands of the earth,

    Obsessing our private lives;

    The unmentionable odour of death

    Offends the September night.

    Accurate scholarship can

    Unearth the whole offence

    From Luther until now

    That has driven a culture mad,

    Find what occurred at Linz,

    What huge imago made

    A psychopathic god:

    I and the public know

    What all schoolchildren learn,

    Those to whom evil is done

    Do evil in return.

    Exiled Thucydides knew

    All that a speech can say

    About Democracy,

    And what dictators do,

    The elderly rubbish they talk

    To an apathetic grave;

    Analysed all in his book,

    The enlightenment driven away,

    The habit-forming pain,

    Mismanagement and grief:

    We must suffer them all again.

    Into this neutral air

    Where blind skyscrapers use

    Their full height to proclaim

    The strength of Collective Man,

    Each language pours its vain

    Competitive excuse:

    But who can live for long

    In an euphoric dream;

    Out of the mirror they stare,

    Imperialism’s face

    And the international wrong.

    Faces along the bar

    Cling to their average day:

    The lights must never go out,

    The music must always play,

    All the conventions conspire

    To make this fort assume

    The furniture of home;

    Lest we should see where we are,

    Lost in a haunted wood,

    Children afraid of the night

    Who have never been happy or good.

    The windiest militant trash

    Important Persons shout

    Is not so crude as our wish:

    What mad Nijinsky wrote

    About Diaghilev

    Is true of the normal heart;

    For the error bred in the bone

    Of each woman and each man

    Craves what it cannot have,

    Not universal love

    But to be loved alone.

    From the conservative dark

    Into the ethical life

    The dense commuters come,

    Repeating their morning vow;

    “I will be true to the wife,

    I’ll concentrate more on my work,”

    And helpless governors wake

    To resume their compulsory game:

    Who can release them now,

    Who can reach the deaf,

    Who can speak for the dumb?

    All I have is a voice

    To undo the folded lie,

    The romantic lie in the brain

    Of the sensual man-in-the-street

    And the lie of Authority

    Whose buildings grope the sky:

    There is no such thing as the State

    And no one exists alone;

    Hunger allows no choice

    To the citizen or the police;

    We must love one another or die.

    Defenceless under the night

    Our world in stupor lies;

    Yet, dotted everywhere,

    Ironic points of light

    Flash out wherever the Just

    Exchange their messages:

    May I, composed like them

    Of Eros and of dust,

    Beleaguered by the same

    Negation and despair,

    Show an affirming flame.

  • technicolour

    Dear Craig: Yes, I am sorry for the complete off topic (I blame Tony x); am very glad you wrote this.

    I would be interested to hear Bruce Anderson’s response to the majority of comments on his article. I wonder if we will, or if he is up to it. I remember an odd interview with him on Radio 4 back in 2001, where he said, with some conviction, that people in the City (bankers etc) were afraid of New Labour; not the other way round. Always wanted to ask him to expand on that.

    Like Baroness Warnock, he’s responsible for doing what the German equivalent of ‘She’ magazine did in the Nazi era – bringing the hideous and brutal into the public domain, and treating it as though it was rational. Warnock attracted relatively little condemnation, I think, perhaps because people were so stunned at the idea that at some point we will merrily start killing off our parents (or encouraging them to kill themselves).

    I wonder if he realises that?

  • technicolour

    PS Could you try and interview him? Perhaps not after calling him a ‘saloon bar bigot’. But no, I’m sure you could swing it. It would make a great piece.

  • tony_opmoc

    I never look back, well hardly ever,but this is the last thing I posted in my manic state on Thursday Morning

    And yes I know all about Aspartame and Exceedigly Strong Mint Flavoured Chewing Gum

    I say to her can you please not do that, you are chewing Rat Poison and I do not Approve of The SMELL

    But I know he is sponsored by an American Chewing Gum Company

    But whatever

    This is Completely Fucking Brilliant

    You Have Got To See The Video


  • arsalan

    We already live in a facist state.

    The question is where are we going to move to to excape this facism.

  • you_wont_listen

    “torture of innocent women and children is patriotic” – Yes it is, because that’s the path trodden by the ruling elite.

    Fed a diet of quazi-Imperialism and irrational fear(s) (to name just two from many) this fascism – which I sometimes hope will end in tears – has come about due to the silence (deliberate/apathetic/pressurised) of

    i) herr mudjesty

    ii) the oppositon

    iii) the courts

    iv) the media

    v) the church

    vi) the (so called) intellectuals and academics

    vii) the people

    viii) the military

    That’s the problem with democracy. If a “democracy” decides to go for fascism, then all you who support democracy have no choice but to accept it.

    And as most people lack sturdy morals and spine, if it is ever fought, that fight will never take place outside the boundaries that fascistic democracy allows.

    The situation is terminal. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

  • mary

    Contributors to Medialens are running a campaign to contact all the advertisers in the Independent on these lines –

    I write to draw your attention to a deeply disturbing article carried by a newspaper in which your [company/business/organisation] advertises.

    The article in question is by Bruce Anderson, in the Independent, and is apparently endorsed by the editor, Roger Alton.

    In this article, Anderson unequivocally asserts the necessity in some circumstances to torture not only people who are merely suspected of grave crimes, but also wholly innocent members of their family INCLUDING CHILDREN.

    I append a link to this article so that you can see for yourself that this is no exaggeration.

    I’d like to ask whether you think that your [company/business/organisation] should really be sustaining with your advertising revenue a newspaper which endorses such shocking, and deeply-depraved ideas?

    May I ask further whether you consider that it will benefit your [company/business/organisation] to be seen to be associating with and supporting such a newspaper?

    With all due respect, may I suggest that it might be a good idea to withdraw your advertising from the Independent, or at least to contact them and make your disquiet known.

    I hope you’ll be good enough to drop me a brief line in answer to this query, and thanks most sincerely for your time and attention in this matter.

  • peacewisher

    Aspects of the media provide publicity for many bad things – like encouraging the “shock and awe” invasion of a country which is certain to involve considerable loss of young life.

    In that case, the newspaper is question was one of the few siren media voices against it.

  • peacewisher

    Not that I don’t agree with you… Let’s just be thankful, Mary, for people like Craig Murray, flawed as he is… like the rest of us.

  • writerman

    Bruce Andersen may not be a fool, but his job at the Independent is to write like a fool and a bigot, and this is what’s troubling. Why does the Independent employ him? After his latest vile outburst advocating the use of torture against the innocent, surely no respectable newspaper would employ such a man, with such despecable views, if he really means what he says?

  • Apostate

    medialens is a gatekeeper outfit that pretends it’s on a crusade to cut out the cancer of “corrupt journalism” etc.

    Sorry they’re aiders and abettors.

    All they’re good for is the email addresses for the target journalists they provide.Usually you are reminded by medialens to addresss your complaint respectfully.

    I vented my spleen to Nick Cohen and the equally appalling Bronwen Maddox and felt better for that.

    If I were to write to a man like Anderson whose articles I would not read if I saw his name above them- because I know what an awful vainglorious overfed gobshite he is from his t.v. appearances-my words would be simply unprintable.

    Anderson,Maddox,and Cohen are despicable Rothschild pens who will propagandize for war-the War on Terror, the one in Aghanuistan,Iraq or on the moon they’re not that bothered where.But if there’s a war going on they’ll support it.That’s what they’re paid to do.

    medialens is just a gatekeeper for such people.If you don’t like horseshite don’t go into the stable.

    In other words only people daft enough to read The Indie in the first place could think that medialens is there to cut out “the cancer of bent journalism”.

    They’re about as serious re-such reporting as the crook who uttered the words in the first place.

    Venerable ex-con,reformed Profumo-type character to whom we should all now pay our respects cos “he does a lot for charity” Jonathan Aitken.Well known former friend to the House of Saud for whom he provided vital services.

    email Jonathan here:

  • writerman

    Once opon a time… I think there used to be something called liberal opinion in the UK. It was flawed, confused, and naive; but had qualities none-the-less.

    The Observer used to be a great newspaper, now look at it. The Sunday Times had quality writing, now look at it. The Guardian had standards, now look at it.

    I wonder, whatever happend to liberal Britain? I suppose Thatcher and the last decade of New Larbour, killed it off, like they killed off the working class?

    I think these constant wars have eaten away of the soul of Britain, with terrible results to follow. First we had the dirty war in Northern Ireland, then that sordid bloodbath about sheep in the Falklands, then the attack on Serbia, then Iraq, Afghanistan, and just around the corner the coming conflict with Iran. All these wars make Britain a less liberal country, and pervert our culture, making us more nationalistic, brutish, and square.

    And I almost forgot this ghastly war on terror, which undermines what’s left of our old, hard-won, liberties.

    Then there is our virtual unconditional support for whatever madness the extremists in the right-wing government of Israel decide opon. They are preparing even more wars, as we speak.

    Where will all this madness and bloodshed stop?

    Unfortunately… it won’t. It’s going to get worse, because it’s what we’re good at. Imperialism is in our political DNA, except for a brief gap in the 1960’s when the ruling class were to broke and discredited to join any substantial wars under the imperialist banner. But that’s over. We’re now firmly on the imperialist trajectory, scrabbling over what’s left of the earth’s bountry, like vultures over a rotting carcass.

    Is there hope? Only if somehow people revolt and clear out the old order, which should have happened decades ago, after the debacle of the two world wars, that bankrupted the country and turned it into a vassal state, an appendage to the American Empire. Irony here, the country we created, turns the UK into a colony!

    What’s irritating is that people are too peaceful, too reasonable, too democratic, and wait too long before they finally can’t take it anymore and rise up. By that time the ruling oligarchy can have caused so much damage to society that re-building becomes a massive task taking decades, if the decline can be reversed.

    One of the irritating things about modern society is the dogmatic belief that we cannot suffer the same fate as ancient Rome; that somehow our civilization is different, that time cannot move backwards, but only forward.

  • Jon

    Agree with Frazer – you sent them the wrong picture! But good article. Only a few comments, one from a “disgusted from Tunbridge Wells type” but otherwise supportive.

    Couldn’t comment though, the CAPTCHA image widget keeps coming back, even though I get it right every time. I’ll try again in the week!

  • Jon

    @Apostate, I agree with you about the Indie – and wonder if peacewisher’s “siren media voices” is perhaps a touch too generous.

    But Medialens a “(left) gatekeeper” – rubbish. They’re not funded by anything other than donations, as far as I know, and the only reason why they implore people to be nice to journos is that they know it is counterproductive to be written off as loony. Maddox and Cohen are indeed defenders of the Establishment, but if their respective bosses see an abusive rant from a reader, they will throw it in the bin immediately. Worse, it convinces these types to “stay the course”, so your missives may actually have been counterproductive!

  • peacewisher


    I agree that the Indy has frequently disappointed – but not as much as the Guardian… remember the days of David Aaronovich?

    I was very surprised – indeed, amazed – to find that the only british newspaper that would touch “sensitive” stories – was The Mail (especially on Saturday). There must be a reason for this.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Spinwatch is a good site, it’s run by Professor David Miller from Strathclyde University. Also, Corporatewatch seems very on-the-ball, a good resource as well as a news-point. Lobster magazine, now online, is gold-dust.

    I agree with writerman about the MSM.

  • Apostate

    What a lot of liberal left mush re-medialens and spinwatch.

    No wonder elite domination is as far advanced as it is.

    Look,media gatekeepers are there to do a job.That job is to provide fake opposition to the elite agenda.Medialens and spinwatch are extensions of the corporate media that are there to convince you that there are just a few nasty journalists about who can be dealt with by decent,polite complaints from readers.

    Spinwatch is like the university-sponsored arm of medialens with the same people involved.The research is not independent.It is channeled in particular directions by elite Foundation sponsorship.That sponsorship manufactures a patently phoney left-right paradigm that obscures the extent even the existence of elite domination.

    The journalists the gatekeepers pretend to critique are bought and sold Rothschild hacks who brief for the intelligence services and those that abet them have bought into a now absurdly anachronistic manufactured left-right paradigm.

    Have you still not worked out that the political system the corporate media pretend to critique is and has been puppeteered by elite interests over centuries? Their instruments in the press a.k.a.Cohen,Anderson,Maddox,

    Aaronavitch,Charles Moore are endemic in the media system.

    The reason that disinformation comes to dominate the media system is because left-gatekeepers like medialens and spinwatch are so constricted in their perspective by the elite-sponsored codes that determine what is reported and how-that real critical thinking is filtered out of their journalistic or research practice.

    Where corporate hacks are condoning torture or, like Cohen when I wrote to him, attacking the brave and principled anti-war stand taken by Commons-vigil protester,Brian Haw,we should get angry and demand medialens and spinwatch expose them and the system in which they operate.

    Check out Bob Feldman’s left-gatekeeper research:

    Fat,overfed elite-sposored dissidents forward left establishment ideological warfare against conspiracy researchers who are far more vigilant re-civil liberties and the need for independent critical thinking than themselves.Gatekeepers have an internalized impulse that waters down analysis.Because they signally fail to inspect and properly scrutinize the inner power structures and elite forward planning systems involved their critique amounts to a destinationless circular series of overlapping arguments that entirely miss the point.

    The elites that sponsor such media practice are left entirely unscathed and so to dictate and manage the course of history.

    The day when we stop getting angry about torture,war,and kicking a man when he’s down and rely on medialens and spinwatch to do that for us will be the day we surrender to the elites that sponsor all these endemic evils.

  • Freeborn

    Unless this hack is involved in some sort of double-deception we’ve got at least one corporate journalist who is at least willing to point out the provenance of attacks on judges who condemn torture.

    Timothy Garton Ash fingers the MI6-embedded hacks and politicians here:


  • Steelback

    Right on,Apostate.

    I too detest the Foundation-funded leftgatekeeper “alternative media” crew.Most of these outfits have spent decades bolstering the status quo by failing to challenge official narratives re-911,Rwanda,Yugoslavia,7/7.

    Real alternative opinion and investigative journalism is increasingly hard to find in the corporate media.For the time being at least there is no shortage on the internet.

    Steer clear of medialens,alternet,Dissident Voice,The Progressive,Counterpunch,The Fanonite,The Nation-all peddle antiquated establishment left narratives that are actually impediments to the creation of a meaningful resistance network.

    Go there and you’ll read a lot about the colour revolutions in the former Soviet Union.They’ve probably already got a colour ready for the revolution the opposition movement in Iran is trying to bring about.

    After all these are the same people who told us that Khomeini’s Islamist take-over in 1979 was an exercise in national self-determination.To suggest otherwise was to deny the Iranian people’s capacity for “agency”.

    The American journalist,Robert Dreyfuss,described in Hostage to Khomeini how the Islamist take-over was in fact engineered with the complicity of Western intelligence with the BBC in the vanguard.

    Dreyfuss now works for The Nation and has had to distance himself considerably from his former position.He might stand as an example of a reporter willing to compromise his original vocation as an investigative reporter to regain admission to the more lucrative establishment left media.

    Real investigative journalism and research is often undertaken by truthseekers who pay a heavy price.Check out what happened to Gary Webb who wrote re-CIA drug-running via the Contras in Central America:

    Bush research is especially dangerous to your health and wellbeing and those who go there have been known to pay the ultimate price.James Hatfield,who wrote the book re-Dubya,Fortunate Son,was one of several who have been “suicided”.

    Before people get all pious re-medialens and their voluntary research on our behalf they need to ask themselves whether anyone on that team has been put out of a research library,or their job,or even “suicided” yet.How many whistleblowers have been interviewed by such sources?

    It ain’t gonna happen any time soon.Keep asking the wrong questions about the wrong players and you’ll be all right.The gatekeeper media will employ you tomorrow.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I don’t disagree, actually. Nothing substitutes for a genuine revolutionary movement and its sustained critique of th structures of power. Otherwise, we have only hot-air bourgeois sources, as you suggest.

    However, while recognising this – that significant revolutionary change will not occur in the absence of a united political movement, so long as we do not confuse bourgeois media organs with revolutionary ones, there is no requirement/ it would be unwise for us to ignore them; there is much to be learned from them, even if, as you suggest, it is merely their limitations.

    Having said all that, most/ all of the prominent whistleblowers – Katharine Gunn et al – have been extensively interviewed on a number of the media organs mentioned in the above posts. The Gary Webb story was reported extensively and in great detail on Counterpunch, for example, and in Lobster magazine.

    Lila Rajiva’s pioneering book on CIA black sites which was boycotted by all MSM outlets in the USA/ UK, was sold on the Counterpunch website, which also regularly features writers critical of the likes of gatekeeper Noam Chomsky and also of the ‘accepted’ Yugoslavia narrative.

    David Miller, together with Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media Group, brought out an excellent critique, in book form of the biased manner in which the Palestine-Israel issue is reported in the UK media; I forget the title right now.

    I agree though that some of the organs to which people have alluded frame the discourse in order to limit it. There is nothing new there, if you study the manner in the Left was ‘modulated’ during the Cold War.

    The answer, in the limited world of information, i.e. outsdoie of revolution, is to read intelligently and skeptically, which I’m sure all the contributors to this site already do.

  • Apostate

    If you’re using terms like “bourgeois” pejoratively you have been duped into the left-right paradigm I mentioned previously.

    It’s probably high time you did some research on the elite provenance of Marx’s economic thought.Ask yourself why in the first instance the middle class are targetted for dispossession in the revolution envisaged by Marx.

    Likewise Fabianism was another “left” political project sponsored by elites whose real agenda was not so much the vaunted dictatorship of the proletariat as one of “scientific dictatorship”.H.G.Wells wrote extensively on this agenda in The Open Conspiracy.

    If having researched the provenance of Marxism and Fabianism you still see some utility in the anachronistic left-right paradigm it’s time to find out who bank-rolled Bolshevism and Nazism.

    On this there is research by Anthony Sutton et al that demonstrates that both social systems are conducive to top-down elite management.

    The sources you extol and piously advise us to read “intelligently and sceptically” are both examples of tired left “alternative media” all too willing to give credibility to establishment cover-ups like 911 and the “War on Terror”.

    We need not dwell on Alexander Cockburn at Foundation-funded Counterpunch but Robin Ramsay at Lobster is an interesting case-study.His “parapolitical” vocation to uncover the “deep politics” behind elite state management with particular focus on assassinations and warfare comes from Professor Peter Dale Scott.

    Scott is a conspiracy theorist of some longevity whose work as a diplomat in the Canadian embassy persuaded him of US culpability in undermining the Geneva Accords making another war in SE Asia inevitable.Scott’s work noted the importance in CIA machinations of the Golden Triangle narcotics trade.

    Little wonder then that Gary Webb whose research led him in exactly the same direction features prominently in the pages of Lobster.

    Sadly Ramsay got tired and wound up Lobster magazine.In its last hard copy Ramsay wrote of the masses’ disinclination to want to read radical magazines even if it they were given them free of charge!

    “Most people simply don’t like politics and aren’t interested in politics.Politics means conflict;and conflict means stress;and most people automatically avoid stress if they can…..If this depression we are entering turns out to be severe as some are predicting,and millions are thrown into poverty,maybe a general taste for politics will be overcome.

    “But I kind of doubt it.”

    By contrast well into his eighties interest in Scott’s work increased after 911 which he famously compares to the JFK assassination.

    Moral of the story seems to be that Foundations will fund leftgate-keepers like The Nation and Counterpunch because they absorb lots of dissenting energy that will be swallowed up in endless debates,tertiary issues and disinformation.

    Where smaller media operations like Lobster fail to sustain their parapolitical critique of elite power or take it to its logical conclusion they too can become an ennervating drag on the development of a wider critical consciousness.

    In the final analysis the closer the researcher gets to uncovering elite corruption the closer s/he is to danger. is in no danger whatever.

    independent research into precisely how elites operate and sustain themselves is now a matter of far more public concern than left establishment gatekeeper media are ready to acknowledge.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Actually, FYI, apostate, Lobster remains in existence, twice a year, but now on the web. It’s free on the web.

    As I said, I do agree with your basic premise, contained essentially in your last paragraph.

    I consistently have urged for such research to be conducted into the publishing industry (not just the non-fiction aspects) but my urgings have fallen on deaf ears (surprise, surprise). I guess I used the term, ‘bourgeois’ as a catch-all for ‘elites’, which was lazy and clumsy of me.

    Thank you for your engagement and astute analysis. Much appreciated (by me, anyway!).

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