Westminster Foundation For Torture 57


This is Linda Duffield’s take on the vexed moral question on whether or not it can be justifiable to boil somebody alive to obtain information from them:

There were difficult ethical and moral issues involved and at times difficult judgements had to be made weighing one clutch of “moral issues” against another. It was not always easy for people in post (embassies) to see and appreciate the broader picture, eg piecing together intelligence material from different sources in the global fight against terrorism.


Linda is now the chief executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, an all-party supported organisation, funded by the FCO, to spread democracy abroad. This is their blurb:

Established in 1992, WFD is an independent public body sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, from which it receives an annual grant. Over the years we have grown in strength and diversity, working to achieve sustainable political change in emerging democracies. Working with and through partner organisations, we seek to strengthen the institutions of democracy, principally political parties (through the work of the UK political parties), parliaments and the range of institutions that make up civil society. We believe that, for a democracy to flourish, all of these institutions must be strong and sustainable.

I don’t imagine this includes training in the reasons why it can be OK for a democracy to condone boiling people alive, but who knows? I have worked with WFD in Poland and it used to do very good work, but it was distorted by Blair to focus its work in support of places we were invading, occupying, bombing or selling arms to. See how many of the current case studies on its website fall into that category?


And what an interesting gathering this was in Prague of the proponents of “democracy” by invasion, organised by “democracyandsecurity.org”.


The conference brought together Richard Perle, Aznar, the American Enterprise Institute, the exiled Cuban opposition, numerous Israeli representatives and the neo-con funded Amir Abbas Fakhravr of the “Iranian Freedom Institute of the USA”. From Wikipedia about Fakhravr:

In late April 2006, he arrived in the United States from Dubai where he had been greeted by Richard Perle [5] who interrupted his trip to central Asia in order to meet Fakhravar in a hotel. [23] They had been in touch through a contact since 2003. [23] Their meeting in Dubai was recorded and some of it is included in a documentary titled “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom”. [24][25]

Since his arrival he has called for a unified Iranian opposition to the Islamic government, in order to bring regime change in Iran. [23] He has had several meetings with American officials from the Pentagon to the State Department, as well as with Vice President Dick Cheney.[26]

Some very interesting other delegates included the Las Vegas Sands Corp.. From Wikipedia:

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) is a casino resort company based in Paradise, Nevada. It is the world’s leading Casino based company with a market capitalization of $17.3 billion as of April 2010. At one point in 2007, it had a market capitalization of $43.7 billion, making its majority shareholder, Sheldon Adelson, one of the world’s richest men.

Any idea what they were doing there? Oh yes, and Linda Duffield was there too. Doubtless it was relaxing to be in the company of so many who might share her views on the efficacy of torture.

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57 thoughts on “Westminster Foundation For Torture

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  • JimmyGiro

    Of course, some of us regard democracy as a means of stopping “sustainable political change” and “strengthen[ing] the institutions of democracy”.

    A Marxist-Revolutionary agitprop by any other name…

  • Edward Spalton

    As the late Professor Joad of Brains Trust fame used to say “It all depends what you mean by…” – in this case “condoning” torture.

    The world is full of countries with beastly governments, many of which treat prisoners and suspects appallingly. If we don’t deal with them (e.g. China) with whom do we deal?

    Did the UK’s alliance with Soviet Russia during the war “condone” the methods of torture and mass murder which that country habitually employed?

    If the Soviets had (unusually) sent vital information known to have been obtained by torture, would HMG have been justified in using it to save British lives? (I think so)

    Going further back, was HMG “condoning” Bolshevik terror by sending Bruce Lockhart to establish relations with them in the early days of the revolution?

    Was HMG condoning genocide when it supported the Tudjman regime in Croatia? Tudjman had written defending genocide and NATO sent air power to help him practise it against the Krajina Serbs. Mrs Thatcher accepted a decoration from him. Was she “condoning” genocide?

    I am very glad I don’t have to deal with these questions but very much doubt whether any international convention can have any real, practical effect. Whilst Britain may be able to exercise some good influence occasionally and should control its own operatives strictly, torture seems to be a result of Original Sin in a fallen world – and HMG controls very little of that.

  • Craig


    You take resort, as torture apologists always do, in the Holywood fantasy of the single bullet item of life-saving information obtained by torture – the “ticking-bomb scenario”.

    In fact it’s not like that. We were knowingly accepting via the CIA a stream of information obtained by torture in uzbekistan, where the vast majority of those tortured had nothing to do with terrorism, and none of the material pointed to a threat to the UK. Which is why La Linda was falling back on the argument that the information helped build up a wider picture.

    By accepting the mateiral we and the US were creating a market for torture. More people were being tortured to supply us with information, and the Uzbeks got rewards – international backing for the regime and hard cash to the security services from the CIA.

    Your “torture works” defence could have been put forward by Torquemada or Walsingham or Himmler. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Craig

    You also make an otiose point I have frequently had thrown at me. It is almost always wise to have diplomatic relations with other countries, whoever is in charge of them. But that does not necessitate accepting information from their torture chambers.

  • somebody

    I’m confused. Is/was this drab looking woman HM Ambassador to the Czech Republic? I thought that she was based in the FCO in London and held the post of Director Wider Europe.


    She looks as if she could have been at home in the Ceausescu regime.

  • craig


    she went from director wider europe to Ambassador to the Czech Republic.

  • ingo

    thanks for enlightenment. lloking through the liust of delegates, it appears thatthere are many from the Chech republic and israel, some from Poland, a sole Ms. Tomashenko from the Ukraine, but

    Nobody from Hungary Romania, Turkey or Lithuania and Estonia, are these countries not interested in democracy and security as hawked by this eclectioc club.

    Anything Richard perle is involved stinks of double dealing and tripple agenda’s, he is the work horse of the apocalypse.

    Question to Edward: do you think the dastardly handling by US/UK and the French, ‘holing up’ German soldiers returning from the war in fileds, starve them slowly to death at below survival ration calories, some 300.000 of them, was slow torture? against the standing conventions of POW’s?

    Do you also belive that the subsequent destruction of all relating evidence to that torture feast by the victors, on already emaciated soldiers returning from the war, was something beast do, revenge torture and subsequent killing, well after the war, treatment that was not metted out to those responsible in the Nuremberg trials, whatever one thinks of them?

    Toprture in this and many other colonial rulers countries has a history far longer than Human rights, to deny it now, because of some pathetic notion of ‘democracies don’t torture’ is childish and naive rewriting of history.

  • David Halpin FRCS

    Craig reminds me of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Is this not the outfit that spent our money tweeking the vote in the presidential elections in the Ukraine? The major help for that orange revolution came though from an oily ex-Russian oiligarch.

    This is a quote from its web site re Ukraine:-

    ”An important contribution was made to ensuring free and fair elections by preparing activists with the skills to educate voters on their rights in preparation for the 2004 presidential election.”

    You will note ‘educate’. The words here fit very well with those from Ms Duffield at the head of Craig’s posting. There is a continuum between the ability to lie and to justify torture of man or animal.

  • Craig


    Interestingly Julia Timoshenko was among those at the Prague conference.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    This sounds like the British version of the National Endowment for Democracy. Basically, the NED does sort-of overtly what the CIA used to do covertly. People from big financial institutions seem to be engaged in proliferating various ‘foundations’ all over the world. The octopus.

  • mike cobley

    “Working with and through partner organisations, we seek to strengthen the institutions of democracy, principally political parties (through the work of the UK political parties), parliaments and the range of institutions that make up civil society. We believe that, for a democracy to flourish, all of these institutions must be strong and sustainable.”

    This is the key passage, I feel. It sounds high-flown and lofty but cunningly leaves undefined “the range of insitutions that make up civil society” – this is code for neoliberal markets, advanced financial instruments under the control of the private sector, as well as the popular media which – under GATS – can quite legitimately be bought by brobdingnagian transnational corporations.

    That’s pretty much all you need for a managed democracy – an economic sphere utterly fenced off from democratic control, and a media owned by corporate interests. Yay, let freedumb ring.

  • Clark

    Edward Spalton,

    you seem to be unaware of exactly what it was that Craig Murray was opposing. In Uzbekistan, the authorities were (and are) torturing ordinary people to secure false confessions of involvement with terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda. This “information” was then given to the CIA, as “proof” of the Uzbek regime’s commitment to the War on Terror. Such “information” does not in any way help to save lives, US, UK or any other. It does cost the lives of Uzbeks.

    International conventions can only have any real, practical effects if countries including the US and the UK actually abide by them.

    You write that “Britain […] should control its own operatives strictly”. In fact, this seems to have been the problem. A POLICY of approval of torture was in place. Britain tried to control its “operative”, Craig Murray, and make him shut up about torture in Uzbekistan. When he proved impervious to such immoral control, they used other methods. They smeared his reputation, raised fabricated disciplinary charges against him, and sacked him.

    If you wish for fuller details, I suggest that you read Craig’s book, Murder in Samarkand.

  • Ishmael

    Erm, anyone notice how she actually looks a bit like a bloke. Maybe another feminist foisted on menfolk with an absurd agenda.

  • Suhayl

    Come on, guys, I know what you mean and I don’t mean to be sanctimonious or inordinately PC, but let’s focus on what the conference, etc. represents, not on how the person in the photo looks or her couture.

  • Chubby Charles

    Reza Pahlavi and Kanan Makiya. Blasts from the past. Yulia Tymoshenko and Joe Lieberman too. Quite a party. I wonder if they dance naked round a stone owl at the end.

  • MJ

    “…Joe Lieberman too”

    Would that be the same Joe Lieberman whose regard for democracy is such that he is currently pushing through legislation that would enable Obama to shut down the internet? I thought so.

  • Chubby Charles

    “Would that be the same Joe Lieberman whose regard for democracy is such that he is currently pushing through legislation that would enable Obama to shut down the internet? I thought so.”

    I don’t know. Doesn’t Bill Gates have the keys? Surely Al Gore must have a spare set as he was the inventor.

    Ha ha! I’m just kidding.

    I don’t know about this legistation though.

  • ed

    Las Vegas Sands Corp – from ‘source watch’:

    Sheldon Gray Adelson “is one of several prominent conservatives and board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition funding Freedom’s Watch, a new White House front group[5] which on August 22, 2007, began “a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to urge members of Congress who may be wavering in their support for the war in Iraq not to ‘cut and run’.”[6]

    “Freedom Watch’s ad buys target both Porter and Heller in Nevada?”to the tune of $202,110.[7]

    “As of July 2008, Adelson had reportedly spent at least $30 million on political activities in the 2008 election cycle.[8]


    “…also into the newspaper business ?” in Israel.[12] Yisrael Hayom is a new daily paper closely tied to the ultra-nationalist wing of the Likud party, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s political aspirations.[13] It was recently launched with a massive free mailing to hundreds of thousands, and has attracted considerable attention,” Justin Raimondo wrote August 24, 2007, at Antiwar.com.[14]”


  • Chubby Charles

    I found iit now….


    Unfortunately I dont understand much about the Inetrnet and how it works. Didn’t the American government kind of make it in the first place? But how can they shut down the Internet in England or in other countries? Can they do that? Do you think that is one thing being discussed at this meeting? Under “security”?

    (by the way is “internet” with a capital “I” or small “i”?)

  • catherine

    Just finished your book and now here is a photo of one of the major players, as well as an update in her CV. One is delighted with so much information.

    Thanks so much for your work, then and now, and for introducing me to a part of the world I knew little about (being an American, you see, I need to know next to nothing about anybody else.)

    Are you still able to get Uzbek people to safety now and then? Granted, that’s not an answer to such a mass problem, but it’s something.

    I thought, somewhere about two-thirds of the way through the book, that if you were to be taken into custody by Karimov or his henchfolk, the UK would probably have done little or nothing to secure your freedom (well, apart from some PR statements). That gave me a cold chill, as I imagine it might have done you.

    Please don’t misunderstand, the people who deserve the most justice are the Uzbeks, not the ambassadorial elite, but you’re the one whose face I know.

  • MJ

    “Didn’t the American government kind of make it in the first place?”

    Good lord no. It was developed by academics who wanted to be able to share research papers etc instananeously and across different platforms.

    “But how can they shut down the Internet in England or in other countries?”

    In theory they can’t but ICANN, the system that administers domain names and IP addresses, is based in the US and if it were shut down it would cause havoc world-wide.

  • Clark


    Chubby Charles,

    I usually capitalise “Internet”. I thought it was developed in collaboration between academics and US defence; “Darpanet”?

    Yes, the Domain Name System (DNS) is vulnerable because it’s centralised. It’s a database that turns the web addresses we see into a numeric codes. If we started caching the numeric codes ourselves, I think we could keep on-line, mostly, if the DNS servers were disabled.

    The Internet Service Providers are big companies that would shut down if ordered, but we could maintain dial-up connections across ‘phone lines. Slow, and we’d need to be prepared.

  • Abe Rene

    Are you sure that’s not Col. Kleb as a young woman in the picture?

    Recording of an acrimonious conversation in KGB HQ:

    ‘Comrade ambassador, we need information about saboteurs and wreckers. That is why we get information from such interrogations in Lubyanka.’

    ‘Comrade Colonel, the confessions are false. They are based on torture. The interrogators are feeding us lies that they think the Comrade General Secretary wants to hear.’

    ‘Comrade, you have to remember that the words and ideas in the confessions follow a pattern. Our analysts put them together with the information from other interrogation centres, and this gives us an indication of activity in an area. You see, that can be operationally useful to our analysts.’

    ‘But Comrade, the interrogators might simply be trying to fill their norms for the number of confessions over a year required of them, as the annual target assessments come up.’

    ‘Let me remind you, Comrade ambassador, that the interrogators include Colonels in the state security service. You are wandering on to dangerous ground, and what’s more, the norms have been ordered by the …’

    (At this point the comunication has been cut).

  • avatar singh

    In other words she is a n enemy spy in whichever country she or her organisation works. and the country targetted by her or her organsitation wouldbejustified in dealing with such enemis in whatever form it deems correct to safegaurd the sovernity of the nation concered,

    talk about democracy-first bring that to your co=own country britian then talk about democracy !

    msiot parastic group of people everr populated on theis earh and talk of democracy!

  • avatar singh

    suhail wrote-“This sounds like the British version of the National Endowment for Democracy. Basically, the NED does sort-of overtly what the CIA used to do covertly. People from big financial institutions seem to be engaged in proliferating various ‘foundations’ all over the world. The octopus. ”

    but donot confuse octopus with cancer that is england. both are entwined now.

    “Modus operandi of british and american scumbags –Groom an opposition candidate to run against the guy you hate, pay him well and line up your media to back him.

    During the campaign, sell him as the savior of the bourgeois opposition who lost their money in the revolution. Use your own pollsters and media propaganda to convince his followers that they are going to win by a wide margin.

    When your guy loses, scream “FRAUD!” It’s akin to yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre, inflaming all those disappointed bourgeois counter-revolutionaries. Get them out on the street, setting fires, playing the victim, waving flags, ready-to-go placards, banners, women crying in front of CNN and BBC cameras and men yelling angrily ”

  • Abe Rene

    Seriously, if Linda Duffield is looking unhappy because of some personal tragedy, I wouldn’t criticise her for that. Also, she must be most gifted and capable to have reached the rank of ambassador. I can respect accomplishment like that without approving of the views of the person concerned.

    But wouldn’t it be delicious if William Hague kicked her out of her job as ambassador for not being *sufficiently* committed to human rights, for example those of communities in the Czech republic with whom Britain had trade relations elsewhere!

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