Torture Cover-Up

by craig on January 25, 2012 10:51 am in Uncategorized

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would not be allowed to question witnesses, the Cabinet Secretary, not Gibson, would decide what could and could not be published, and the CIA would have a veto on the publication of anything that related to their activities – including my own evidence.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.

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  1. Uzbek in the UK

    25 Jan, 2012 - 11:02 am

    It seems that it has been left to the British bureaucratic mechanisms to chew up torture inquiry. I wonder how many more decades will pass before we ever know the scale and detailed involvement of western intelligence services in torture. Having said this Obama is about to start his re-election campaign in which I bit there will be no mentioning of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

  2. Craig, typo, para #5, “torture anent Libya”.

  3. Unbelievable but at the same time, not unexpected. And Cam has beetled off to the ECHR to tell them to keep their noses out of our affairs. Fascism is not creeping in, it is galloping.

    PS Why is nonentity Martin Vickers invited in to speak on the subject other than he is anti EU?
    His Wiki page says nothing
    {} and an almost empty register of interests.

    Has a lot to say on everything including railways, christians in Zimbabwe, fishing and floods, some comments quite parochial. {}

  4. Uzbek in the UK

    25 Jan, 2012 - 11:37 am

    Well, it seems that world order is now changing and everything else is changing with it. What was good after WWII is not good enough nowadays. Euro is collapsing, Iran is considering to sell oil for gold, China is western largest creditor and largest trade partner, Russia is using energy in blackmailing European nations, US spent 4 trillion dollars on wars and is about to start another war (one at least). Times when west was morally obliged to harbour all those oppressed at their homelands is coming to the end as well as times when west was obliged to stick to Human Rights and all this crap. Cameron is just clearing a passage for British elite to do well in the coming new world order. Can you blame him?
    I am of course being sarcastic

  5. ” Kenneth Clarke has announced that the Gibson Inquiry cannot go ahead because of the Metropolitan Police inquiry into rendition and torture anent Libya”,
    How will they rush to answer the charges of winging it, and lying through their teeth?
    Clearly Mr. Clarke is not misleading the public, stuff, etc. He has been given bum steers by the Vauxhall Cross, and Sawers and anyway the police inspector would not know because he is not security cleared and stuff, and so forth.
    BBC soon will obligingly go through the above lines.
    Why don’t we water board the lot of them in an enhanced interview, so to get to the bottom of it all?
    The disgraceful conduct of Clarke, I somehow mistakenly imagined he had a pair.

  6. Off-topic – a petition to Toys R Us, to stop using cotton from child slavery in Uzbekistan.

  7. Clark,
    anent = with regard to.

  8. “Scotland Yard stated that there is no investigation into complicity with rendition and torture in Libya.”
    I would pass that on to Amnesty. Here is what they issued when Gibson was wound up:

  9. Giles, thanks, never seen that before…

  10. Very old-fashioned – kept alive in diplomatic circles.

  11. Uzbek in the UK

    25 Jan, 2012 - 12:49 pm

    Thank you for the web link Clark.
    It is believed that Uzbek authorities are now using third party companies to export Uzbek cotton to the world market. Those companies often display false documents to hide the information on that the cotton has originated in Uzbekistan. It is also believed that both Karimov daughters are involved in cotton scam. The only problem is that I am not able to get any information on particular companies that are involved in the scam and some of them are believed to be UK based. Can anyone help with names of the companies?

  12. The dictionary is your friend.

    n preposition archaic or Scottish concerning; about.

    Old English on efen ‘in line with, in company with’.

    (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)

  13. Why shouldn’t Craig use a Scots or is it Lallands – I’m out of touch!) word if it comes naturally to his pen? The context made the word ‘anent’ quite clear

  14. Nobody said he shouldn’t use it.

  15. Thanks for the link to the Uzbekistan cotton petition, Clark.
    Thanks for becrying the Gibson inquiery, should we not accuse all the main parties of supporting torture, rather than singling out this Government?

    ca’nt say that labour would do any better. With the war pending, Camcleggs tough talking will no doubt lift them further into the polls, making a snap election more likely.

    What would we do if there is an election? I mean apart from eating drinking, farting behind our keyboards as usual and watering the plants?
    Is there any appetite to oppose these rascals? if NO? why not?

  16. Craig, did you really (in your wildest dream) think there was going to be any other outcome ?.
    I see GEAB have a new article on their site

  17. Uzbek,
    ask former Liverpool cotton association (International cotton association nowadays) they may give you full list of not just the UK but other country based companies who deal with cotton trade from Uzbekistan.
    There is also a cottong association in Germany. Forgot its name. They also do with membership of international cotton trading companies.
    some companies are mentioned in these films.

  18. Uzbek,
    ask former Liverpool cotton association (International cotton association nowadays) they may give you full list of not just the UK but other country based companies who deal with cotton trade from Uzbekistan.
    There is also a cottong association in Germany. Forgot its name. They also do with membership of international cotton trading companies.
    some companies are mentioned in these films.

  19. Reminder Protest Saturday afternoon Grosvenor Square 2 – 4 pm



    Hands off Iran and Syria
    2 – 4pm, US Embassy
    Grosvenor Square
    London W1K 2
    Called by Stop the War Coalition.
    Supported by UNITE the Union, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
    Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention on Iran, Friends of
    Al-Aqsa, Goldsmiths Student Union and SOAS Student Union.
    This is the most dangerous moment in the world since 2003. The sanctions on Iranian oil imposed by the EU on Monday are a provocation that could spark a war at any time. Iran’s threats to retaliate by closing the Straits of Hormuz were answered on the weekend by US Defence Secretary Panetta saying the US would ‘respond’ if there was a closure and by US, British and French navy ships sailing through the Straits.
    The new sanctions mark a sharp escalation in an ongoing campaign of cyber
    attacks, assassinations and US troop deployments in the area all designed to destabilise the Iranian regime. Such a strategy of tension isn’t just deeply irresponsible. It shows the argument for war is gaining ground in the west. An article by influential US hawk Matthew Kroenig in the current edition of Foreign Affairs is headlined ‘Time to Attack Iran’. His basic argument is summed up in a single subheading: ‘Strike Now or Suffer Later’.

  20. I hope Mr.Sawers realises that to be held in high esteem by torturers is hardly a badge of honour.

  21. O/T Another dreadful cover up. The case of the abuse of Hollie Grieg by her father and brother. Robert Green who tried to get justice for her was arrested and has now been found guilty of a breach of the peace. If this is Scottish justice, it is worse than the English variety.

  22. “Nothing short of assassination would prevent me from publishing my own evidence online”
    Didn`t Dr David Kelly have plans to “publishing” a book, if memory serves me, his draft pages went missing at the same time as his death!, strange that!.

  23. Glenn Greenwalds current post covers similar issues in the US.

  24. “Obama has charged a former CIA officer with espionage for giving reporters information on US government torture activities.
    “Obama has attacked whistleblowers like no president before. In effect, Obama considers that telling the public is telling the enemy, because the public is the enemy”. (with thanks to Richard Stallman)

  25. From the article linked by Edwin above:

    Thus continues the perfect streak of every single War on Terror victim — literally — being denied a day in America’s courts. That does not mean that every War on Terror victim has had their cases heard and lost. It means that each and every one has been denied the right even to have their claims heard in an American court; their cases have been, without exception, dismissed on the grounds of secrecy and/or immunity before the merits of their claims are examined.

  26. Uzbek in the UK

    25 Jan, 2012 - 3:03 pm

    Thank you for this information.
    Case gets complicated because as you might know some large western buyers have boycotted Uzbek cotton but unfortunately not all of them. But even at this stage in order to get Uzbek cotton to the western markets it is believed that Uzbek authorities deal with third parties. Officially those third parties do not buy cotton from Uzbekistan as they produce fake documentations of cotton originating somewhere else but in fact still keep trading Uzbek cotton. It is believed that major cotton trading companies are involved in this and also in money laundering (payment for cotton) for Uzbek authorities.
    Switzerland based ECOM is at least one company that could be seen as benefiting from child slavery. Below is the statement on their website. Their representative is still registered for the International Cotton Association.

    Following several years of reduced activity in Central Asia, ECOM has recently opened an office in Tashkent with the intent of developing integrated origination and logistics for deliveries in Russia, Europe and China. The office also coordinates operations in other regions of Central Asia.

    Uzbekistan has traditionally been a major producer and exporter of cotton. With the stabilization of demand and manufacturing structures in Russia, it is expected that inter-regional trade will continue to grow.’

  27. There is an investigation into two specific cases concerning the alleged rendition of named individuals to Libya and the alleged ill-treatment of them in Libya – Abdel Hakim Belhadj & Sami al-Saadi. DAC Sue Akers leads small team under Detective Superintendent John Levett – you should ask for them.

  28. UK PM David Cameron at Council of Europe: ‘I want noone here to doubt the British commitment to defending human rights’
    Story metadata:
    Submitted 32 mins ago by editor

  29. Ben Franklin

    25 Jan, 2012 - 4:27 pm


    Marcy Wheeler @ Empty Wheel is atop most of these stories. Fitz will, no doubt be successful against a whistleblower in contrast to his miserably unsatisfying ‘victory’ against Scooter Libby.

  30. The UK government continues to assert that where intelligence gained from torture “bears on threats to life, we cannot reject it out of hand.” It is clear from the evidence of Craig Murray and others that there is no evidence that the government has in fact faced such a situation.
    UK involvement in torture is clandestine, an abomination no recently recruited intelligence operatives in the UK have any knowledge of. Yet after the towers were destroyed by explosives there has been an increase in the frequency of such practises. The conduct of the “war of terror” in has led to serious violations of human rights some of which have been made public.
    The ‘dirty’ or ”dark’ corridors of British intelligence is known to have drafted lines of inquiry necessary to incriminate an arrested or abducted victim by extreme fear so powerful that victim can be released on an assignment several years in the making.
    It is not the physical pain of torture that is the darkest anathema, it is the neurasthenia and prostration that results from torture that keeps victims in a state of acute fear for years. Such victims can be controlled and even induced to recruit others.
    Rashid Rauf, Salahuddin Amin, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Rangzieb Ahmed, and an individual who wishes to remain anonymous, have described meeting British officials while detained in Pakistan. In some cases this happened shortly after sessions in which the individuals had been tortured, when it was likely that clear and visible signs of torture were present. For example, Rangzieb Ahmed alleges that he was interrogated by British security officials shortly after three fingernails had been pulled out.
    Rashid Rauf was reportedly killed in a US drone missile strike in Pakistan in November 2008. It is agreed he knew too much.

  31. Clark, thank you for the link (Cotton), I have signed, as well as sent to everyonein my email address book, as well as posting it on my FB.

  32. Ben Franklin

    25 Jan, 2012 - 4:39 pm

    In addition, this just came up, Clark….

    Shades of Valerie Plame and Joe Clark….The Kiriakous on the hotseat.

    Weird synchronicity here, with Fitz as Prosecutor/Iran-Iraq. Deja-vu, all over again.

  33. “I will keep you posted on how “real” the police investigation seems to be.”
    As real as this

  34. Uzbek in the UK

    25 Jan, 2012 - 4:58 pm

    Here is something extraordinary interesting indeed
    “Nat Rothschild seeks ‘very substantial’ damages over newspaper claims”
    Mr Tomlinson said: “Mr Rothschild is a financier of GREAT international reputation. As a financier, his reputation is extremely important to him.
    “He is a man who regularly approaches major institutions to raise considerable sums of money and his integrity is absolutely crucial to the deals that he does.”

  35. Don’t worry too much about jeopardising any prosecutions, because there are not going to be any, not under Gibson, not under a police inquiry, not anywhere, any time, any place. The only likelihood of a prosecution is against a minion who ‘chose to disobey protocol’. I understand your integrity in this but my cynicism grows daily, especially since the US soldiers who shot up and killed villagers in revenge for a roadside bomb in Iraq were pretty well absolved of any wrongdoing. Justice today is farcical.

  36. Why are these loadsofmoney Saudis abandoning this Sheerness firm and its employees?

    PS Happy Burns Night to Craig and all those who wish to break away. The referendum question – The SNP leader said Scots would be asked: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” in a ballot which he wants to hold in 2014

  37. Mary,a good question it is, and they want to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in that referendum, which should be a winner. Secondly, they will have no more argument to delay letting 16 year olds vote in general elections. I like the way they are setting precedences, :) cause England, just as any other union country, would not get away with having arbitrary arrangements.

  38. Yers happy Burns night. This German has got himself a haggis, some neeps and tatties as well as the main ingredients, some prose and wiski.

  39. Ben Franklin

    25 Jan, 2012 - 6:23 pm

    From time to time, if it is helpful, I like to give you some yankee links. This is an Econ blog that seems right on most of the time.’s-fiscal-union-from-us-federalism.html

    “Before drawing too heavily on the US experience in concluding that constitutional debt brakes are a key solution to Europe’s debt problems, however, Europeans should consider three essential aspects of the context in which the balanced-budget rules of the American states operate.

    First, the US constitutional design is very different from what European leaders envisage for the Eurozone, ie debt brakes that are mandated by the union and enforced by the Commission and the European Court of Justice. The difference is likely to be consequential in two respects. We suspect that local ownership and enforcement make debt brakes more effective than under central mandates, particularly in the context of credible no-bailout norms, and that rules that are centrally mandated are likely to prove to be more brittle than those adopted in a decentralised fashion. When one state violates the rule, as the experience with the Stability and Growth Pact demonstrates, its applicability to other states is less credible. That is less likely to be the case with rules that have been adopted autonomously.
    We acknowledge that some of the impetus for debt brakes comes from within Eurozone countries. The present crisis could be sufficiently traumatic and thus politically transformative to produce an autonomous reduction in debt tolerance within some of the most afflicted member states, just as the American states adopted balanced-budget rules autonomously from the federal government in the 19th century. Such an autonomous change in preferences would serve as an omen for the effectiveness of debt brakes. But the strength of the internal shift in debt tolerance is uncertain and is likely to vary significantly among member states.”

  40. For Burns Night one of those joke things that came by e-mail from Yankee land. D)
    An Arab Sheik was admitted to St Vincents Hospital for heart surgery, but prior to the surgery, the doctors needed to store his blood in case the need arose.

    As the gentleman had a rare type of blood, it couldn’t be found locally, so, the call
    went out to all the states.

    Finally a Scot was located who had a similar blood type. The Scot willingly donated
    his blood for the Arab. After the surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman as appreciation for giving his blood, a new BMW, diamonds & US dollars.

    A couple of days later, once again, the Arab had to go through a corrective surgery. His doctor telephoned the Scotsman who was more than happy to donate his blood again.

    After the second surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman a thank-you card & a jar of candies. The Scotsman was shocked that the Arab this time did not reciprocate his kind gesture as he had anticipated. He phoned the Arab & asked him: “I thought you would be generous again, that you would give me a BMW, diamonds & money… But you only gave me a
    thank-you card & a jar of candies”.

    To this the Arab replied: “Aye, but I now have Scottish blood in my veins”.

  41. Ben Franklin

    25 Jan, 2012 - 6:34 pm

    ” “Aye, but I now have Scottish blood in my veins”.”

    Now, that’s funny….

  42. I’ll mention again, the case of Salahuddin Amin, whose evidence, extracted under torture by the pakistan ISI, after Amin volunteered himself to the Pakistan authorities, was used to shore up the Operation Crevice/’Feriliser Plot’ convictions.

    No wonder Gibson wouldn’t go there…..

  43. Hot off the press. Slightly OT as it regards Goldsmith’s lies to Chilcot. Another unminuted meeting.
    Stephen Frost is one of the Medical experts challenging the AG’s decision not to hold an inquest into the death of weapons’ expert Dr David Kelly.

  44. The Usual Sick Assasins pissing on the world from Haditha to Abu Ghraib from Fallujah to Bagram with this Kingdom of Uranus sliming on behind. Water boarding sliting pricks think of a horror we do it they do it Bliar Sawer Evans the public will never know as all they read is the Sun or the Wail.What a black black nightmare for the people of Iraq Afghanistan Libya and soon I fear Syria and Iran.A Holocaust for our brave new century,can anyone think of any way this can be STOPPED???

  45. Scotland Yard stated that there is no investigation into complicity with rendition and torture in Libya.
    Funny that. I thought it was precisely that investigation which caused K Clarke to stop the Gibson enquiry.
    Scotland Yard put out another statement this morning denying their own existence. ‘ Some people have been watching far too much Sherlock Holmes mysteries and Mid Summer murders. ‘ This may have led them to believe that police officers are employed in investigating criminal activity.
    The statement read that ‘ If we exist, which we categorically deny, it is only as a sub-plot of a popular crime writer and TV series. No-one should read other things into that, such as the existence of the Police in reality. They are living in cloud-cuckoo land, and spend too much time reading misinformation on the internet.

  46. In case anyone missed it, here’s how the US of A deals with its war criminals:

  47. Just saw this from Craig (up above):
    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.
    Small mercies I suppose

  48. Craig – may the Force go with you. Gan canny as I believe some say.

  49. pictishbeastie

    26 Jan, 2012 - 1:38 am

    Re. Mary’s Scotsman joke,how about we replace the Scotsman with a Jew? Oh aye,cannae huv that,that’d be racist!!! Seems we Scots are still fair game for xenophobic stereotyping! SAOR ALBA!

  50. Hi Craig, I read your testimony transcript linked to in your earlier post, Complicity in Torture. I’m trying to follow along as best I can, from a distance (America). One of the points you made was that UK policy changed between Thatcher and Blair. You knew personally that Thatcher rejected but Blair accepted evidence obtained by torture. But there was no written policy then that anyone could produce to trace wording or responsibility. Has that policy been produced since your testimony? It was also described as a kind of schizo left hand/right hand thing, that one hand would loudly and brightly condemn what the other was quietly and darkly facilitating. Is that where the ball was at with the Gibson inquiry?

  51. @mary

    The Daily Mail gave over the front page of its ‘Scottish’ edition to a declaration of support for the Union, swearing damnation to all those who would destroy it. Looks like independence is in the bag.

    There are several superficially unrelated cases hanging in space at the moment: the extra-judicial execution of Dr David Kelly, the framing of Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing, the Werrity affair, state complicity in torture, the News International hacking scandal. I don’t think we can arrive at justice in any single one of these matters – all will be resolved, or none. My money’s on none, but good luck anyway.

  52. Scottish parsimony eh?
    Just another Enger-lund PR myth developed conveniently over a few suitable centuries.

  53. Me In Us
    It was also described as a kind of schizo left hand/right hand thing, that one hand would loudly and brightly condemn what the other was quietly and darkly facilitating. Is that where the ball was at with the Gibson inquiry?
    No, that isn’t where the ball was at that hearing.
    It was stuffy, nit-picking, legalistic, UK parliamentary quibbling about the right to torture in order to save lives, and the decision of George Bush to cancel the Geneva Convention rights of captives under the terms of the War on Terror.
    They were trying to justify torture and rendition in the circumstances of the time, combined with flat denials from David Miliband.
    The new Tory party in power today is on the schizo left/right hand not knowing what they were doing. That is because they know they can’t keep the lid on the criminal activities of the UK government any longer. This Tory government is now linked not only to Zionism but also to political Islamism. between the two, the latter are the more schizo, and the greater liars.
    The ball was in the Zionist playing field when Craig gave his testimony. It is now in the playing field of political Islam.
    The Tories are recruiting their old friends Al Qaida to fight proxy colonial wars in Libya, Syria and later Jordan. Al Qaida have no connection with Islam, just a miss-match of blood-thirsty fanatics crammed into one pocket of the West’s great coat while the Zionists occupy the pocket on the other side.
    A fog of deception is being woven, thicker than the old Victorian smogs of London, in which you literally cannot see your own hand.

  54. From a CNN source on Twitter
    BREAKING: Doctors without Borders pulling out of Misrata Libya over detainees “being tortured and denied urgent medical care,” MSF says

  55. @pictishbeastie/@Jives – I think some national stereotypes can be amusing, but the intent of the speaker is critical. There was a poster that went up in the US before Christmas which made the same sort of joke about Jewish people (“Christmas quality, Hanukkah pricing”). But the intent would be difficult to paint as racist, given that the campaign manager responsible is himself Jewish.
    It matters also whether ones target group has historically been the target of substantial ongoing racism. The Scots have broadly not imo, just the same as the English. Making black stereotypes however is quite a different matter, as it is tainted by the history of genuine racism. Unfair possibly, but that’s how it is.

  56. PictishBeastie It was only a joke for Burns night. Sorry if it offended you and other Scots.

  57. Blair always used to refer to those who fought against our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as ‘foreigners’, forgetting our own position in those lands.
    So Arab Sheikh topped up by English blood transfusion would announce, ‘ I feel so much better, I feel as if I now belong in my own homeland.’

  58. Vronsky, you can add to that list of overhanging cases those of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. The law has changed and continues to change for the worse. While Bradley Manning rots in prison for speaking the truth, and Mordechai Vanunu continues to be under house arrest for the same reason, mass-murdering marines go free.
    Comments are welcomed at Poetry24.

  59. “It matters also whether ones target group has historically been the target of substantial ongoing racism.” — Jon
    “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!)

  60. @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’.

  61. 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.

  62. Vronsky :)
    Thank god for humour. And I’m all in favour of it here, too.

  63. More benefits of the Union.
    “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.”

  64. 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.”

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

  65. “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.

  66. 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

  67. Well said, Mark.
    Meanwhile on Twitter “Bomb attacks in Musayyib and Kirkuk in Iraq kill 13”
    Iraq is a basket case courtesy of GW Bush.

  68. 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

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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?

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

  74. 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!

  75. “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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. @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.

  79. “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.]

  80. 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.’

  81. 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.

  82. Good to start my day with a laugh. :)

  83. Clark, Vronksy – thanks, very good!

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