Torture in the 21st Century 48


On Monday 30 July at 11am on Radio 4 there will be a BBC radio programme entitled “Torture in the 21st Century”, presented by John Sweeney. I was interviewed extensively for it, though I don’t know how much of my interview will feature. I shall be in Ghana then and iPlayer does not work abroad, so if anybody has the technical ability to make a sound file and send it to me, I should be grateful.

Britain has still not admitted, let alone sought to redress, its complicity in post 9/11 torture networks, and indeed its continued receipt on a regular basis of intelligence from torture from the security services of, for example, Bahrain. The worrying thing about the disingenuous vapourings of John Sawers, head of MI6, is that he still maintains that torture gets you the truth. It does not. It gets you whatever the Bahraini, Uzbek, US, or whatever government wishes to hear, which is a very different thing.

The Gibson Inquiry into complicity in torture was unceremoniously halted, a total fail like every other stated aim of the coalition government. It has presented an interim report to ministers who have spent two weeks considering the “security risk” of publishing it. This is nonsense as the interim report is purely procedural. It contains recommendations for how a resumed inquiry (ha ha) should conduct its business. Gibson’s interim report contains no reference to any evidence on any cases of torture or on the policy of complicity in torture.

In fact ministers are really stalling publication because they are hoping simply to let the entire notion of an inquiry die away.

This is the response I got from the Gibson Inquiry secretariat on the fate of my own evidence in relation to the interim report:

There was no specific reference to evidence from individual witnesses as we were in the pre-evidence gathering phase prior to being wound up and your evidence was provided to the police in relation to their investigation into the Libyan cases. The Panel has seen your evidence and will ensure that this is included in the handover materials that are to be stored and provided to the next Inquiry as and when it is established.

I am convinced there is no chance I will ever get to testify either in court or to a judicial inquiry. The powers that be in this country have great finesse. They don’t have to do anything too messy to inconvenient witnesses, they just freeze them out.


48 thoughts on “Torture in the 21st Century

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  • MarkU

    Craig you are absolutely right, torture is not about getting information from the guilty but mainly about extracting false confessions from (and against) the innocent. What we are seeing is a return to utter barbarity.

    We have completely lost control over our own government. The prime minister, once (theoretically at least) the captain of the ship of state, is now relegated to a role more resembling that of the bos’n (roughly equivalent to a foreman)

  • Mary

    It says Have Your Say but there are really no words.
    .
    The debate following Clarke’s weasel words when he announced the ending of the Gibson Inquiry were mostly more weasel words, from Straw for instance, supporting the hush up. The only ones who spoke for some truth were Andrew Tyrie and old Mr Winnick.
    .
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2012-01-18a.751.0&s=date%3A20120118+column%3A751+section%3Adebates#g751.1
    .
    Clarke added this on 17 July 2012.
    Kenneth Clarke (Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State, Justice; Rushcliffe, Conservative)
    .
    In my statement on 18 January 2012, Official Report, column 751,announcing the Government’s decision to bring the detainee inquiry to a conclusion, I said that Sir Peter Gibson, the inquiry chair, had agreed to provide the Government with a report on its preparatory work to date, highlighting particular themes or issues which might be the subject of further examination. The inquiry sent its report to the Prime Minister on 27 June 2012. The Government are now looking carefully at its contents and remain committed to publishing as much of this interim report as possible. I will provide a further update when the House returns.
    .
    Do not hold your breath as Craig tells us.

  • james nelson

    Craig, you can use a VPN on your laptop. Normally, I use 12VPN when I am abroad.It allowed me to access, among other things, iPlayer when I was in China. A number of U.K. ips are available through it.

  • mike

    O/T but I need to say this: why do I want the Syrian regime to defeat the rebels? I’m very uneasy about feeling this way, but I know fine well who has armed and trained and financed the rebels, and what those generous souls are after, geostrategically speaking. We’re looking at the bloody expansion, into the few remaining non-aligned enclaves, of capitalism with a neocon face. That’s been then process for the last 13 years, since the neutering of Serbia. I guess that’s why I want Assad to win, and I’ll just have to swallow my distaste for his kind of regime. Profound apologies to those who have suffered at their hands. “We” support many other nasty governments, of course.

  • nuid

    Craig, the shelving of the Gibson Inquiry must be very hard for you to take. God knows what would have come out of it anyway, possibly not very much. Keep your heart up.
    .
    Mike, you just described almost to a T what’s going on in my head about Syria. “I know fine well who has armed and trained and financed the rebels, and what those generous souls are after, geostrategically speaking” – and that makes me angry. It’s got nothing to do with supporting Assad or his ilk, per se.

  • Bert

    Let’s see if the cases of British Involvement in Cases of Torture in Pakistan are discussed….
    .
    Salahuddin Amin
    Zeeshan Siddiqui
    ZZ (name withheld)
    Rangzieb Ahmed
    Rashid Rauf

    .
    Somehow, I think not. The government/spooks do not want you to know about these cases. The torture & extraction of false confessions from these persons props up the British edition of the War on Terror.

  • Jives

    Craig,
    .
    If youre unable to listen on a VPN then drop me an e-mail and il be happy to send you a sound file.Youll have my e-mail on your database here i presume.

  • War Dance

    The worrying thing about the disingenuous vapourings of John Sawers, head of MI6, is that he still maintains that torture gets you the truth.
    .
    No one knows about the truth better than Mr Intelligence Guy.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/mitt-romney/9430076/Mitt-Romney-is-given-his-own-intelligence-briefing-by-MI6-chief-Sir-John-Sawers.html
    .
    Maybe Mr Intelligence Guy was filling the next Moron in chief in on the upcoming false flag attack on the Olympics: Hezbollah releases chemical/bio weapons in London. Maybe this is why Moron man was dissing the Olympic’s security, so he can have his “I told you so” moment later.

    A chemical/bio attack is the perfect pretext for Israel’s long sought war against regional competitors and it just so happens Israel has been obsessing about the security of Syria’s WMD for the last few weeks, which makes you wonder where was that concern for the previous 16 months and why are they concerned now that NATO has been blocked at the UN and Syria has finally gotten the upper-hand against the Wahhabi terrorists?

  • War Dance

    Lee Hazledean worked for G4S while he was an undercover reporter and revealed that 200,000 body bags had been ordered and advanced plans to evacuate London were often discussed – and yet G4S couldn’t recruit enough people in one of the countries most deprived areas during the worst economic outlook for generations? G4S is part owned by Israeli company Hashmira Group.

  • nobody

    The key word here is ‘too’, as in ‘too messy’. I have to ask: what qualifies as too messy? Was Gareth Williams’ death too messy? I’m thinking ‘not’ what with his entirety jammed into a gym bag with almost no splash at all, either literal or figurative. ‘And long may his case remain unsolved’, say the people who like their bathrooms clean.
    .
    Speaking of ‘messy’, spook assassins aren’t called cleaners for nothing. Between the mess of an un-freeze-outable whomever spilling the beans, and the mess involved in faking a suicide, the only certainty is that there will be cleaning. It’s just part of the job description.
    .
    And not forgetting that when a thing cannot be allowed to fail no mess is too big. Then, any given mess is merely another contingency that must be dealt with. And it will be, just ask Peter Power. And sure it’s true: less messy is preferable to more messy, but this is the omelet cooking business and eggs is eggs.
    .
    Hmm… and were one of these hypothetical omelets to qualify as ‘cannot fail’, I reckon that anything shy of Thames House in flames is eminently do-able, public executions like Charles de Menezes included. And of course, thank God for a complicit media. A mess is only so if they say it is. If they don’t tell us about it, it never happened. Mess? What mess?
    .
    Can I ask a question Craig? How many spooks do you know? I’m thinking more than a few what with you having been the full HE and in their loop daily. I even expect that there’d be some you’d call friends, yes?
    .
    And do any of these friends ever have any suggestions re your latter-day public utterances and what you ought and ought not to say? And if one of them gave you a tap on the shoulder and had a quiet word would you tell us?

  • John Goss

    From the Telegraph’s piece on Sir John Sawers speech to senior civil servants:
    .
    ““The Americans have done that over their interrogation techniques after 9/11. They got so obsessed with getting a right answer that they drifted into an area that kind of amounted to torture.
    “We’ve never been there, we’ve never been involved in that, and I think our accountability, our disciplines, have helped us keep on the right side of these lines.
    “It’s not always been easy. There are investigations gong (sic) on about things which are close to the line.””
    .
    That phrase ‘getting a right answer’ is not getting the truth. That other phrase ‘kind of amounted to torture’ is just as ridiculous a use of words. Was it torture, or not? We all know that water-boarding, extraordinary rendition and the disgusting happenings at Abu Ghraib did not kind of amount to torture, but were torture in the extreme. For ‘things which are close to the line’ read ‘things which are over the line’. Sawers has the same difficulty as Tony Blair in getting the truth beyond his forked tongue.

  • Frazer

    Of course they won’t let you testify at an enquiry. They know damned well you will tell the truth !!

  • John Goss

    “Not only was Hicks’s admission forced by torture but the charge itself is a fabrication. Never has ”material support for terrorism” (or MST) been a war crime in the entire history of the world – until it was manufactured by the US Congress in the Military Commission Act of 2006.”
    .
    The US introduced the Military Commission Act to, among other things, prosecute Guantanamo internees for a non-existent crime at the time it was allegedly committed. This article by Richard Ackland argues that the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, is as much a stooge of the US over her willingness to throw Julian Assange to the Yankee lions, as did John Howard with David Hicks.
    .
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/australia-debarked-once-again-as-us-tells-its-lapdog-to-heel-20120726-22uzd.html

  • guano

    For those who have no shame, let them do whatever they like.
    Some acquire no shame by being tortures, so that the boundaries of their upbringing are stretched or reversed. in my own case, the experience of UK Family enforcing my removal from my own house and children so that my ex could live in it with her various boyfriends, changed my boundaries. That’s what the Law intended. I am still not back to the black and white I used to be, but getting there.

    Others who have been tortured now see nothing wrong in spying on other Muslims. It’s such a pathetically unpainful form of torture, and so prevalent in Muslim dictatorships and communist regimes. That is one of the intentions of using torture as well, to prime the victim for levels of co-operation with their political enemies and use them as tools for installing client regimes after the so-called popular uprisings of the Arab Spring.

    Why would Western governments abandon a tool which has worked successfully for world domination for so many hundreds of years. Craig, you were supposed to have learnt this stuff fagging at Eton. Didn’t you do any research? I’m joking with you. We always assess the ground and think we can handle the risks beforehand, like Frazer and his African landmines. You survived the ordeal and were strengthened by the experience.

    I don’t know how the pro-torturers learnt their ambition for their trade. It can’t just have been potty-training rage against their Black Muslim nannies’ composure. When I was at school with these guys, they knew everything about the politics of colonialism from their families at a very tender age.

  • Abe Rene

    Where does that article about Sawers say that torture gets to the truth? I doubt whether an intelligence officer as experienced as yhe head of MI6 would believe such a thing. It speaks of a “right answer” which I take to mean, whatever the interrogators want to hear.

  • Mary

    More of the slime from HMG, from the mouth of Lord Astor this time. The slime drips so slowly but incessantly.
    .
    British pilots flew armed US drones in Libya, MoD reveals
    Disclosure comes 10 months after end of a campaign in which the government insisted no British drones were involved
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/26/british-pilots-drones-libya
    .
    ‘RAF pilots flew armed US drones as part of Nato’s military effort in last year’s Libyan conflict, the Ministry of Defence has revealed.
    .
    The disclosure, slipped out in a parliamentary answer, comes 10 months after the end of a campaign in which the UK government had insisted no British drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), were involved.
    .
    Though that remains true, the MoD has admitted RAF personnel on an exchange programme in the US flew American Predator drones, which were a key component of the air campaign.
    .
    The US announced last April it was deploying two patrols of armed UAVs above Libya and they launched numerous missile strikes against buildings, tanks and other military equipment being used by forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.
    .
    Between April and October the Predators conducted 145 air strikes in Libya, the Pentagon said. It is not known how many missions were flown by the British, or how many targets were destroyed by them.’
    .
    I expect you have all heard the lies being out by Ms Nuland from the White House on a mass slaughter/massacre about to take place in Aleppo. She and her ilk move seamlessly from one lie to the next. Libya last year. Syria this year. Where next time?

  • John Goss

    Mary, it British pilots flying US drones in Syria fills me with disgust. We are further involved in US war-crimes. I go to bed full of disgust. I wake up full of disgust. Mark Golding probably already knows about us flying drones in Syria. I bet he’s disgusted too.

  • nevermind

    Fully agree with your resume Craig, not only has the Gibson inquiry been thrown into the long grass, the mower has been thrown into a disused well.
    .
    When the new to be elected/crowned bully in charge of western hegemonic torturing says this
    .
    “I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the Government here and the opposition here as well as the head of MI6 and as we discussed Syria and the hope for a more peaceful future of that country.”
    .t
    then he is lying through his perfect teeth, he will carry on making out that revenge means justice in his book.
    Whilst American children are going hungry and are left without homes due to his money making ilk, he will go hell for leather into Syria and Iran.
    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/08/25/where-americas-children-are-going-hungry/
    .
    The Taliban renegades touted as having found the solution, i.e. Taliban/US cooperation for peace have obviously not talked to fellow Taliban about it. This talk of compromise is aimed at the deliverance of power differences. Attacking Iran and Syria will stretch US contingencies and leave them wanting in other places.
    .
    What if Zhang Zhaozhng was not a young Chinese general wanting to make his mark? what if he was old and well connected to the polit bureau? His uttering cannot be ignored, he was put up for it, Chinese sea manoeuvres confirm this.
    .
    China and Russia will not have the middle east oil reserves under sole control, China depends on it more than Russia, but its base in Tartus is not up for discussion nor does it want to ruin its chances on a southern access to the Indian Ocean.
    .
    compared with the 1970’s/80’s cold war period we are experiencing a ‘Cuba crisis’, this time with China and Russia opposed to western hegemony.

  • Mary

    I heard James Reynolds in the night on the World Service. He is in Azerbaijan and was putting out a atory about Azerbaijan giving airports and airspace to Israel if and when they launch an attack on Iran. The story is denied by the Azerbaijan government but who knows where the truth lies. They have a cosy relationship with Israel anyway to the extent that they ordered $1.6bn worth of weaponry from Israel in February.
    .
    Azerbaijan Makes Massive Israeli Weapons Purchase — But Not Because of Iranhttp://www.eurasianet.org/node/65053
    .
    Iran warned them off two days later.{http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/29/197616.html}
    .
    The border between Iran and Azerbaijan is quite open at Astrara according to Reynolds where both nationalities cross for shopping trips.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Mr Murray
    .
    “head of MI6, is that he still maintains that torture gets you the truth. It does not. It gets you whatever the Bahraini, Uzbek, US, or whatever government wishes to hear, which is a very different thing.”
    .
    You are ABSOLUTELY right here.
    .
    You are also right that you will never be called to testify before Gibson or any other inquiry. This is because you know too much and you also have not just words but fact to show them. And this is not what they want. They want to maintain the delusion of enemies of the state, so that they can benefit from it. They need enemies both at home and abroad, so that they can maintain military spending and use military power to continue to rob other nations and take what is not theirs for their benefit.
    .
    You are very brave man Mr Murray, but unfortunately lonely in your cause, or at very best in a very tiny minority.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Nevermind
    .
    Not to disappoint you but there is no China-Russian alliance, although it seems that there is. Both nations are at best competitors in the region, and the only reason that seemingly holds them together is opposition to the west. For Russians it is very sensitive to be forced to play second role, even there where Russians were dominant, in Central Asia for instance.
    .
    On the other hand, even if both Russian and Chinese navies combine their forces, they are at their very best not even close match to the US navy alone, not to compare it to the NATO forces. US navy could, if needed, hit Chinese navy and Russian pacific fleet in China sea and , without even letting them to get close to the Strait of Hormuz. But this is in case of maintaining conventional warfare.
    .
    In reality three major nuclear powers if engaged in a warfare will for certain exchange few nuclear shoots and that how it will start. I believe all three parties are aware of this and will maintain relationship of strategic competition without risking a war between them.
    .
    And also, for China, when it is ready to challenge US, it will for certain make sure that the question of Taiwan is resolved in Beijing’s favour.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Nevermind
    .
    Wrong again.
    .
    No warfare in Central Asia, unless between Central Asian republics themselves. Too sensitive for both China and Russia, and too inconvenient for both of them. Russia tactically has upper hand here, as there are still good logistics for delivery of military personnel from Russia, but it is perfectly happy with the status quo, even though they would prefer to replace karimov to more pro-Russian dictator. China although has the largest land army, it is unlikely to get involved in a warfare in Central Asia, leaving behind its unstable Kashgar and it is unlikely to get Russian blessing for ever deeper penetration of what Russia still calls its backyard.
    .
    Both China and especially Russia can make it very inconvenient for US, if only Russia revokes its blessing for using Central Asia for NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. China could press on Pakistan to make it harder for US to use their territory either.

  • help

    iPlayer doesn’t work outside the UK, but iPlayer is for TV, not radio. You can listen to Radio 4 content online, live or after the event, in the same way as from the UK.

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