Torture Cover-Up 85


The security services are delighted at the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry into torture. Gibson had been showing worrying signs of independence. To use my own humble case as an example, he instructed the FCO, to their fury, that I must be allowed to see unredacted any document which I had already seen whilst Ambassador, and that I must be provided with paid legal assistance for my evidence on the same basis as other former public servants.

It is true that the terms which the government had set for the inquiry were ludicrous. Security service evidence would all be heard in secret, victims would not be allowed to question witnesses, the Cabinet Secretary, not Gibson, would decide what could and could not be published, and the CIA would have a veto on the publication of anything that related to their activities – including my own evidence.

But it was nonetheless true that a bad inquiry would be better than no inquiry, particularly given Gibson’s signs of fairness. Nothing short of assassination would prevent me from publishing my own evidence online, for example, and I would encourage detainees and others to take the same attitude.

The huge amount of time and energy devoted by the security services to persuade ministers firstly to constrain and then to cancel Gibson, is sufficient evidence in itself that the Gibson Inquiry would have been worth having. John Sawers has devoted more of his time to fighting the inquiry internally than to any single other subject, and become a hero to the torturers of Vauxhall Cross in the process.

It is ludicrous that Kenneth Clarke has announced that the Gibson Inquiry cannot go ahead because of the Metropolitan Police inquiry into rendition and torture anent Libya, when the Leveson Inquiry continues despite the long-running and delberately ineffective police investigations into News International.

The Gibson Inquiry contacted me in a friendly and helpful way, inviting me to submit a short evidence narrative for consideration in the interim report they will publish, to explain and put in context the official documents which I had supplied.

It dawned on me that my evidence of ministerial endorsement of a secret policy of collusion in torture, is extremely important to the Metropolitan Police investigation into rendition and torture, in favour of which Gibson has been cancelled.

This morning I therefore contacted Scotland Yard. I gave details of who I was and what I wanted to give evidence about. I was told a senior inspector would need to be consulted. Eventually, I was phoned back.

Scotland Yard stated that there is no investigation into complicity with rendition and torture in Libya.

UPDATE: Through the Gibson Inquiry secretariat I have now been put in contact with a senior policeman who will see me next week. Insofar as it is wise to comment on a criminal investigation (I certainly don’t want to jeopardise any prosecution) I will keep you posted on how “real” the police investigation seems to be.


85 thoughts on “Torture Cover-Up

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  • nuid

    “It matters also whether ones target group has historically been the target of substantial ongoing racism.” — Jon
    .
    {http://www.aoh61.com/images/ir_cartoons/shakespeare.htm}
    .
    {http://www.aoh61.com/images/ir_cartoons/political_cartoon.htm}
    .
    {http://www.punchcartoons.com/History-and-Politics-Ireland-Cartoons/c273_351/index.html}
    .
    {http://www.irishhistorylinks.net/More_Links/Racism.html}
    .
    “The judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated. … The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.”
    – Charles Trevelyan, head of administration for famine relief, 1840s
    .
    “[existing policies] will not kill more than one million Irish in 1848 and that will scarcely be enough to do much good.”
    – Queen Victoria’s economist, Nassau Senior
    .
    “I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country…to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black one would not see it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours.”
    – Cambridge historian Charles Kingsley, letter to his wife from Ireland, 1860
    .
    (I could c ‘n’ p here all day but I won’t!)

  • Vronsky

    @nuid
    .
    By way of retaliatory abuse (but for fun only, I stress) I like the saying among Irish harpers: ‘may your harp never lack a string while there are guts in an Englishman’.

  • craig Post author

    In general, I don’t think there is much harm in English and Scots making jokes about each other in good humour. Intent is important. Politically correct humour is generally unfunny.

  • Azra

    Welcome to the Free Land of Libya!

    “Several people have died after being tortured by militias in Libyan detention centres, humanitarian group Amnesty International has said.

    It claimed to have seen patients in Tripoli, Misrata and Gheryan with open wounds to their head, limbs and back.

    Meanwhile, charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has suspended operations in Misrata after treating 115 patients with torture-related wounds.

    The UN says it is concerned about the conditions in which patients are held.

    “The torture is being carried out by officially recognised military and security entities as well as by a multitude of armed militias operating outside any legal framework,” a spokesman for London-based Amnesty said.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16741937

    Who cares, we got what we wanted out of Libya, right?

  • nuid

    “27% of Scots mobilised in World War I were killed compared to 12% for the UK. In World War 2 Scots were a third of the UK’s dead and in Korea one in four.”
    .
    A Scottish friend of mine used to say that Celts were sent in first as cannon fodder. I don’t know if this is accurate, but he said something similar about Northern Ireland. He used to complain bitterly that “Celts were sent in first against Celts”. I never checked up on that, I just assumed he knew what he was talking about.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Well mentioned Bert – I am still investigating Salahuddin’s confession after he was repeatedly beaten and flogged, threatened with an electric drill, paraded before other prisoners who had been tortured, and forced to listen to the screams of men being abused nearby.
    .
    Typically while this thread confronts torture, pain, suffering, violations of rights and slavery, an American visitor postulates the balanced-budget rules of the American states.
    .
    Instead of ranting or arrogant bombastic rhetoric I am infrequently accused of, perhaps a quote will suffice:
    .
    The government of Iraq, and the future of your country, will soon belong to you. … We will end a brutal regime … so that Iraqis can live in security. We will respect your great religious traditions, whose principles of equality and compassion are essential to Iraq’s future. We will help you build a peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens. And then our military forces will leave. Iraq will go forward as a unified, independent, and sovereign nation that has regained a respected place in the world. You are a good and gifted people — the heirs of a great civilization that contributes to all humanity.

    President George W. Bush to the people of Iraq, April 4, 2003

  • nuid

    I have to include one more quote because it’s so ironic (I’ll stop then.)
    .
    “The Celts are not among the progressive, initiative races, but among those which supply the materials rather than the impulse of history … The Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Teutons are the only makers of history, the only authors of advancement. … Subjection to a people of a higher capacity for government is of itself no misfortune; and it is to most countries the condition of their political advancement.”
    — British historian Lord Acton, 1862

  • John Goss

    Nuid, re bombs in Iraq. It’s never going to be over. So much for Bush and Blair making Iraq a better place. I don’t agree with bombing and maiming but it seems the targets of these attacks are not the thieves who went in to steal their oil.

  • Azra

    John Goss, USA has built its biggest Embassy which houses 17000 personnel. YOu can bet half of them security ones who will defend the interest (thievery) of the USA and its poodles.

  • boindub

    VERONSKY I like the saying among Irish harpers: ‘may your harp never lack a string while there are guts in an Englishman’.

    In 40 years of listening to harpers I have NEVER heard anything like that. Nor has any harper I checked. That untrue “joke” could alienate English friends.

  • Fedup

    Azra,
    The most striking fact never hinted at in the Media/history, is the constance of topology of tyranny.
    ,
    The ownership of same blocks of buildings; offices, palaces, facilities of oppression,and incarceration, are seamlessly transferred from one batch to another.
    ,
    Saddam’s palaces and prisons, became to be the Green Zone.
    ,
    Strange how evil can last?

  • lwtc247

    Craig.
    I really admire your dogged “pursuit of justice through the system” inspite of the utter skeptics like me.
    Well done!
    but…

  • Azra

    Fedup : you are right, reminds me of Evin Prison of Tehran, and its torture chambers, from crowned canniblas changed hand to and became the property of the turbaned cannibals!

  • Vronsky

    “In 40 years of listening to harpers I have NEVER heard anything like that. Nor has any harper I checked. That untrue “joke” could alienate English friends.”
    .
    I have played celtic harp for many years and frequently attended the Irish Harp Fesitival in Termonfeckin (known to locals as Feckin’ Termon). I have heard the like often, and seen it in print. Perhaps you are confusing harpers and harpists.
    .
    Harpist: elegant lady in long gown at back of orchestra playing arpeggios.
    .
    Harper: slightly uncouth person in the pub playing jigs and reels.
    .
    I once had to pick up a rented harp in Edinburgh but wasn’t sure of the address. As I walked along the street a man emerged from a house and said ‘Are you the harper?’ I asked how he knew. ‘You look like one’ he said.
    .
    Anyway, all *my* English friends love that joke. Those you know must have awfully thin skins.

  • nuid

    Vronsky, the proof of the pudding:
    About 3 million British visitors come to Ireland every year. Britain is Ireland’s biggest “visitor market”. If they couldn’t take a few rebel songs, or the odd Irish/English joke, they wouldn’t be coming.

  • alexno

    re Mary’s joke @ 25 Jan, 2012 – 6:24 pm

    When I read it, I immediately thought it might be a version of the story of Nasrudin Khoja (in Arabic Jukha) going to the hammam, but the punchline has changed.

    You probably know the story.

    Nasrudin goes to the hammam, dressed in tatters (as befits the idea of Nasrudin as a Sufi). The attendant, seeing him, gives him a worn-out towel, and treats him with disdain. When he comes out, he gives the attendant a gold dinar as a tip. The next time he goes to the hammam, the attendant treats him royally, providing the best the establishment has, expecting appropriate recompense. When he comes out, Nasrudin gives him a small copper as a tip. When questioned, he says, “the copper was for the last time, the gold dinar for this”.

    I don’t suppose that even that was the original. We need a PhD student of jokes to find the origin.

  • Jon

    @nuid – I hear you regarding anti-Irish sentiment. They may be from a long time ago, but of course, the examples you cite are every bit as shocking as the racism that drove slavery or the Holocaust.
    .
    But now, can an English person make a joke about the dim Irishman? I say yes, in general, so long as it is done in kindness and with no intention to offend. Similarly the French will have a canon of dentistry and rosbif jokes, and that’s fine, as long as they’re funny.

  • nuid

    “But now, can an English person make a joke about the dim Irishman?”
    .
    Jon, it would be interesting to read a Ph D student on jokes + stereotypes of one nationality or another.
    In general I don’t think we’re particularly sensitive as long as the jokes are funny. And, as you say, as long as there’s no malice involved. I’m not overly PC about humour myself.
    .
    But, the stereotype of the thick, lazy, drunken Irish lives on. You’ll find it all over American joke sites, and also in Australia. The general theme tends to be the same. Just as the theme in Irish jokes about the English tend to centre on ‘taking the Englishman down a peg or two’ (or even getting rid of him altogether!)
    .
    I think there is a difference between English/Irish jokes, which originated in colonialism and racism, and English/French jokes which are based in rivalry, and tend to centre more on mocking each others food, mannerisms, etc. But I’ve never examined them that way.
    .
    [Interestingly, there are very few anti-American jokes on the net — at least if the search results I got a few years ago still hold true (and leaving aside “redneck” jokes which originate in the US itself). The only decent one I know is the one about the aircraft carrier and the Canadians, now an urban legend. I’m sure everyone here has heard it by now.]

  • Clark

    Joke on the Americans, here you go…
    .
    Scientists at Roll Royce built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners and military jets. The idea was to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields. American engineers heard about the gun and were eager to try it on the windshields of their new high-speed trains. Arrangements were made and a gun was sent to the American engineers. When the gun was fired, the engineers watched in shock as the chicken hurtled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer’s back-rest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin. The horrified engineers sent Rolls Royce the film of the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the British scientists for suggestions. Rolls Royce responded with a one-line memo:
    .
    ‘Defrost the chicken.’

  • Vronsky

    At the butcher meat counter in our local supermarket I used to see sausages labelled ‘Irish’ . Added in brackets on the label was ‘extra thick’. I always wondered if someone was at it.

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