Simon McDonald 33

I keep linking a lot to the Daily Mail lately. Their coverage of the revelations of security services complicity with the Gadaffi regime has been outstanding.

Yesterday they showed that Libyan dissidents in the UK were made victims of control orders at the request of Colonel Gadaffi – not because they posed any particular threat of terrorism in the UK, but to handicap their anti-Gadaffi activities.

It is hard to imagine something that points up current hypocrisy over Libya more starkly. It also increases the shame of Nick Clegg for caving in to the Tories over the continuance of rebranded control orders. We are told that these are essential to protect the public when the Home Secretary has evidence that cannot be put before the court. The government continually briefs that this is communications intercept intelligence. In fact, as I have revealed before on this blog, that is a smokescreen – virtually none is communications intercept intelligence.

Most people under control orders were victims of “intelligence” from torture chambers overseas. That is why the “evidence” could not be put to court. That is the simple, shameful truth. But we now know, that in some cases the people whose lives were ruined by the extreme restrictions of Control Orders, were simply accused to please a dictator.

I do hope this opens the eyes of some who believe liberties can be surrendered to government in security matters because government can be trusted.

It is interesting to see Simon McDonald’s name appearing on one decidedly embarrassing letter published by the Mail. Simon, now our Ambassador in Germany, seems to have been one civil servant with no scruples about the dirtiest of dirty work. It was he who minuted Jack Straw’s approval of the meeting at which I was told it was policy to obtain torture from intelligence abroad. If the Gibson Inquiry were a genuine public inquiry, he should be in for a major grilling.

It is also good to see the Mail not scrupling to publish documents found, they say, not in Libyan security service offices, but in the British Ambassador’s Residence. This is however somewhat strange – you are not supposed to keep this kind of document lying around your Residence. In truth, every Ambassador sometimes takes classified papers home to work on, but these predate the current Ambassador. I am surprised if they really came from the Residence.

33 thoughts on “Simon McDonald

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  • David

    … it was policy to obtain torture from intelligence abroad … ?

    Funny way to put it but it also makes sense this way.

  • Paul Johnston

    “I am surprised if they really came from the Residence.”
    So give us a clue to where you think they did come from?

  • Quelcrime

    Slightly OT

    I’m disgusted at the publication of Colonel Gadaffi’s family photos and home movies by the UK (and other) press. How can it be acceptable to publish private pictures of a grandfather playing with his grandchildren, when those pictures are only available because they were stolen by looters? Maybe you don’t think well of the grandfather. Maybe you accept uncritically the demonisation of him and his government. Maybe you think he’s a frightful villain. Maybe you think the looters have a genuine grievance, but how can you justify publishing stolen photographs of his family? By being a hypocrite journalist working for the Guardian or some similar gutter rag.

  • anno

    Given the sophistication of modern eavesdropping, the purpose of these control orders would surely be to limit the amount of information obtainable and thus obstruct Gaddafi’s ability to benefit from British intelligence. Eavesdropping is harvested on a grand scale in Muslim households and data sending equipment, cctv and through informants. But if you control people’s links to the outside world, you are in effect increasing their privacy.
    The objective of that may in turn to limit the degree of collaboration visible to Gaddafi’s regime, between the dark forces of the UK intelligence services and the opponents of his regime.
    When the victim of UK rendition, Belhadj, CIA asset and friend of AlQaida ( if it exists ) becomes the head of the Libyan Army, you realise that the murkiness of politics is extreme. Surely Craig knows the game better than anyone. Are we being lulled into a false sense of security that rules really govern international diplomacy? The idea that Clegg or other politicians like Blair or Obama represent us is laughable. They are fragile and expendable tools of a much more powerful world order than democracy. They are schooled in deceit. It’s just amazing that they can still ooze touchy feely normality in front of a TV camera at the same time.
    Is there a touchy feely pill, or is it just the thrill of pure deception which enables these shite to switch on the charm?

  • Clark

    Anno, such people are selected by the system to be the rulers because they have the appropriate skills. Blair is the progeny of lawyers and actors, the ideal combination for this purpose. The “Media Image / Soundbite” model of “democracy” can elect no others. All politicians should be banned from all video and audio media – it should be text or nothing.

  • Brendan

    I’m afraid I have a deeply suspicious nature. Regarding the DM, as I do, as the main point of spook disinformation, I wonder at the provenance of their current scoop. It just seems a little too good to be true, which means it probably is.

    And, yes, I really am that cynical about how the MSM works nowadays. Possibly I am being unreasonable on this occasion, granted, but normally I’d be fairly within my rights.

    It should be noted that these scoops are falling on deaf ears, too. I don’t see any enquiries lined up, and I don’t see the PM bothering to answer any questions either. Odd that.

  • Clark

    Is the Libya issue in the UK split along party political lines? Was support for Gadaffi’s regime a New Labour / Blair thing, and now Cameron is supporting the other side? Would this explain the early SAS / arms-dump incident?

  • Clark

    Craig, further to our exchange about control of the secret services, here’s a quote from Annie Machon at the bottom of the Daily Mail page you linked to:
    “Annie Machon, Shayler’s former girlfriend and fellow MI5 officer, said yesterday: ‘At the time we knew MI6 was out of control from its political masters [my emphasis]. Had David’s [Shayler’s] claims been taken seriously and there been a full public inquiry at the time, perhaps we would not be seeing all the things now emerging in Tripoli.’ ”
    Obviously, this would contradict with my comment above. Also, Machon’s statements could just be a convenient get-out route for the politicians.

  • Tom Welsh

    Off topic, anyone else hear the bloke on the Today programme this morning who recalled Tony Blair’s attempt to talk French to the press after a boozy lunch with Lionel Jospin? Apparently he wanted to say that he always envied Jospin’s policies. What emerged from the Blair spin orifice was:

    “J’ai envie de Lionel en toutes positions et tout le temps”.

    (“I lust after Lionel in every position and always”).

    There is a God after all…

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Second thoughts: a torture chamber does indeed figure in the above item.
    ‘Louise,’ it seems, was Osborne’s safe word.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Governments have a slimy underbelly which deals with and does a lot of shit – which we the ordinary citizen are not privy to. The link and arrangements between Libya and the UK brings back to mind the BAE scandal when the government had to stop the investigation, since the prosecutor was getting too close to the slimy underbelly – bribery and corruption all the way to the top would have been fully revealed in trial. Not unlike the Matrix-Churchill scandal when UK arms were still being sold to Saddam after the war had started. Tell me about corruption – and if you look hard enough – you just might find it in abundance in every country on the face of the planet.

  • Ruth

    My belief through various experiences is that there’s a government within the government or perhaps a better description is a permanent government which deals with vital interests to the UK. Blair or Cameron were/are just its executives in this area. This permanent government controls parts of the intelligence service, whose remit is to protect the UK’s security and economic well-being and in doing this anything goes. Hence, this permanent government controls or has ownership of a vast plethora of companies all over the world and in the UK. The booty of the intelligence services is invested in such companies and people who have served the government well are rewarded with directorships etc.

    So I don’t think Libyan policy was changed because of a new prime minister. It was changed because of the situation. France and the US wanted a larger slice of Libya’s resources and investment opportunities and in doing so to get rid of the Russians and Chinese. Under Gaddafi things weren’t always consistent. The UK had major interests in Libya and an excellent relationship with the regime so initially they held back thinking the uprising would be crushed. I suspect the SAS group found just outside Benghazi blew up the arms depot to weaken the revolt. When the UK found things were going a bit better than expected for the rebels they changed tack so as not to lose out. Their very good friend Saif Gaddafi also didn’t help matters with his brutal speech.

  • Roderick Russell

    @ Clark – Your quote from Annie Machon – ‘At the time we knew MI6 was out of control from its political masters”. I don’t think it is a convenient “get out” statement for the politicians, but just simply the truth. It is very clear to me from my own experience that MI6 sees itself as being a tool of the high establishment rather than the politicians that it is meant to serve. Hardly a “get out” clause for the politicians since it shows them up as not having the courage to do their job properly which includes controlling the secret services.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Roderick Russell and Ruth – yes, I think that’s likely to be an accurate depiction of what is known as ‘the hard state’ (and we’re not talking George Osborne on this thread).
    Craig, what are your views on the picture which Ruth has painted?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Ruth,

    ” So I don’t think Libyan policy was changed because of a new prime minister. It was changed because of the situation. France and the US wanted a larger slice of Libya’s resources and investment opportunities and in doing so to get rid of the Russians and Chinese. Under Gaddafi things weren’t always consistent.”
    I think that you have your finger on the pulse here.

  • Canspeccy

    well make up yer bloody mind. Do you believe in bombing the shit out of Libya or do you believe Britain should have maintained normal diplomatic relations with Libya? If the latter, what was there to object to in Britain restricting the activities of anti-Gaddafi dissidents, i.e., rebels or potential assassins? By condemning the British Government’s action in mildly inconveniencing anti-Gaddafi rebels in Britain you imply support for the current war of terror being perpetrated against Libya by Britain.
    Anyway, where’s the hypocrisy? The control orders on anti-Gaddafi dissidents were imposed by the Labour government. The war on Gaddafi is being prosecuted by a Liberal/Tory government. Different governments, different policies. So what?
    The significant question is, which government had the right policy. The labour Government of Blair and Brown, obviously, whereas the lust for murder that you attributed to Blair, seems to be just as much a characteristic of the Clegg/Cameron government — if it makes sense to attribute government action in such motivation, which I doubt.

  • Syd Walker

    My opinion FWIW…

    The Daily Mail article is not an ‘expose’. It’s a deliberately constructed piece of spin. The goal is to help whitewash what is seemingly inexplicable – the decision by the UK Government to ‘switch sides’ in a War on Terror it had declared, in which one of the ‘radical Islam’ groups it decided to fight had been the LIFG.

    As we’ve seen, this year suddenly a long-standing ‘enemy’ morphed into a close ally. I suspect this had been in the making for quite a while.

    Let’s get real. A cabal able to control several western nations suckered Ghadafi and the Libyan people into imagining they could be friends with western nations, while preparing a bloody coup that would require 30,000+ bombs to enforce ‘regime change’ (and counting) on a largely unwilling population.

    This is a most terrible crime against humanity IN PROGRESS (although that term is so grossly over-used these days I use it with some irony). In the process, the concept of ‘humanitarian intervention’ has been trashed. Africa’s most prosperous nation (according to the UNDP’s Human Development Index standard) has been wrecked.

    The Daily Mail would have us believe the big scandal and the thing to focus on is that western politicians were once friendly with another nation’s leadership. It’s tittle-tattle too banal to take seriously (although it is interesting to see how they were trying to use Libya to put pressure on Iran).

    Surely you can see the banality of the Mail’s spin too Craig?

    Here’s a reference I think may help bring home what’s really been going on in Libya.

    Brief extract: “In an interview inside his Northwest D.C. home last week, the noted civil rights leader (former U.S. Congressman Walter Fauntroy) told the Afro that he watched French and Danish troops storm small villages late at night beheading, maiming and killing rebels and loyalists to show them who was in control.”

  • Canspeccy

    False dichotomies?
    What would suggest as another option, then?
    i.e., other than, (a) maintaining normal relations with Libya as Britain did under the Labour government and still does with Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Zimbabwe, etc. or (b) joining the “humanitarian” crusade to place Libya under the rule of a western-controlled puppet government.
    And if you have such an alternative, explain how Britain is supposed to apply this third option not only in Libya but in every other country that fails to meet the fastidious Clegg/Cameron standard of democracy or whatever the criterion is.
    I doubt you can do that without falling into hopeless contradictions.

  • Canspeccy

    Re, Syd Walker’s comment, James Petras has another view. He takes the Labour government’s policy to have been genuine, but he says that NATO panicked when the Arab spring went out of control and so resorted to brutal violence in Libya to make it clear to all and sundry that the forces of imperialism are not dead. This seems a realistic account.

  • Felix

    As Simon McDonald told the Iraq Inquiry:

    “Before that [August 2006], I was Ambassador in Israel, so in the Middle East but not directly relevant to Iraq.[ho ho]
    Before that, I was Principal Private Secretary to Jack Straw in the run-up to and indeed through the invasion of 2003, and I served twice in Saudi Arabia.”

    Which I think nicely lays out his stall. How he managed to avoid being called to the Hutton Inquiry I will never know, author of the Iraq Options (2001) and Iraq Ultimatum (2002)letters

  • Syd Walker

    @Canspeccy Thanks for that reference. James Petras is usually a good read although my analysis of what’s ultimately behind the attack on Libya would put the emphasis in somewhat different places.

    I never intended to suggest the Blair & Brown Government’s – at cabinet level – sat and planned how to pull a fast one over Libya. I don’t think Britain works like that any more, if it ever did.

    I do suspect that elements in the British intelligence agencies and the British Zionist movement – in cahoots with their counterparts in the USA and France – had been cooking this plot for a lot longer than a few months.

    Was it pre-planned before 2011? I don’t know. It may well be serendipity came into it. But I think the idea it was a RESPONSE to the so-called Arab Spring (that seems to be Petras’ main proposal) is absurd. I wrote up my own theory in a little parable entitled “Stealing peace for the nth time”, written back in late March when the penny had dropped in my case:

  • Canspeccy

    But then maybe the trashing of Israel’s embassy in Cairo was just a bit theatre. The interim government has to run for election at the end of the year.

  • Syd Walker

    @Canspeccy “But then maybe the trashing of Israel’s embassy in Cairo was just a bit theatre.”

    Are you suggesting Libya has been bombed with more than 8,000 “strike sorties” to try to head off invasions of Israeli Embassies? (unsuccessfully)

    Saying the ‘Arab Spring’ might get out of control has been a nice piece of theatre IMHO. There’s a fair amount of evidence these protests/revolts – at least in part and in Tunisia & Egypt – were also made in the USA/UK etc.

    The idea the ‘Arab Spring’ posed a real threat to core Israeli interests is indeed absurd IMO. Of course, nothing is simple and all plans can go pear-shaped. There are certainly dangers for Israel in a more independent Egypt, if that eventuates (it hasn’t yet). How convenient Egypts neighbours are greatly weakened. That makes any prospect of the resurgence of Nasser-style Arab nationalism that much less likely… (Now that WOULD threaten Israeli interests!)

    “But… surely at least the Tunisian “revolution” was authentic!” I hear someone say…

    Maybe. Maybe not. Odd how little coverage this story received, although it did make it once into the Guardian:
    Fedia Hamdi’s slap which sparked a revolution ‘didn’t happen’

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