The Disappearance of Craig Murray 134

Ian Cobain’s history of British state involvement in torture, “Cruel Britannia” – appears to have been radically censored between the review copies and publication.

This from Peter Oborne’s review of Cruel Britannia :

Some heroes do emerge from this sordid story. There is Lt Col Nicholas Mercer, the British army lawyer, who warned against the Iraqi atrocities. He was frozen out of the army and is now an Anglican priest. And Craig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan, was horrified by what he found out and lost his job.

While Nicholas Mercer’s own review has this:

At the same time, the few good men who do speak out know what fate will befall them. Craig Murray was drummed out of the Foreign Office for revealing Foreign Office connivance with torture evidence and Ben Griffin, the former SAS Trooper who spoke out against the UK treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, is now living under a Government injunction which prevents him from speaking any further. If he breaks the terms of the injunction he will go to jail. In Cruel Britannia you can lose your job or go to jail for revealing UK complicity in torture and rendition. Those who are complicit meanwhile remain untouched and untroubled. The only tap on the shoulder is the sword used to knight them.

Yet the book as put on sale contains not one single mention of me or my evidence, and the book’s chapters on British complicity with torture in the war on terror are extremely short and scanty, given Cobain’s genuine wide knowledge and expertise in the subject.

For a book to be radically changed between the review copies and general release is very unusual. What exactly has happened here?

UPDATE Comment from Ian Cobain below states that I was never in the book. I should be interested in any further comment he has as to why it is so thin on recent torture; there is a great deal of fascinating and directly relevant stuff that I know he knows that is not there.

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134 thoughts on “The Disappearance of Craig Murray

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  • Fred

    Anonymous is linked to the people everywhere, China, Palestine, Wall Street you name it, links is what Anonymous is. Everywhere you see a Guy Fawkes mask you see a link.

  • A Node

    I doubt if ‘Anonymous’ was ever anything more than a false flag of the establishment. If it was such a serious threat to them, why have they given it so much publicity? It’s the media who have built up its credibility.

    No matter what it’s origins, it is likely that the people now claiming to represent it are actually either fantasising teenagers or spooks establishing an ‘Al Qaeda of the internet’ with which to justify repressive regulation.

    I mean, really ………

  • doug scorgie

    Will Julian Assange be safe even if he gets to Ecuador?

    From RT Online:
    Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has said the CIA may try to kill him prior to upcoming elections. Citing reports of a plot to “destabilize the region,” Correa said the threats were “credible,” given the history of US involvement in Latin America.

    Correa alluded to reports by Chilean journalist Patricio Mery Bell, who allegedly passed on information to the Ecuadorian government that President Correa’s life was “under threat” by a CIA plot.

    Bell claimed in his report that the main motives behind the CIA plot were the closing of the US Manta military base, hailed as a victory for Ecuadorian national sovereignty, and the granting of asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

  • thatcrab

    A very valuable clarification from Wikispooks on the situation. But Ians retort ‘he is mentioned.. read it before commenting’ was shallow. We can agree with Craig here that his work should be more than briefly acknowledged in a book of this title without needing to buy a copy of it. Ian should be diplomatic not only dismissive of this complaint. But on the strength of our old confident wikispook’s recommendation , may it get a good read anyway.

  • Vronsky

    Story on BBC news pages, Brennan may be next head of CIA.

    (scroll down a bit)


    “Although put forward for the same role in 2008, Mr Brennan withdrew his name amid questions about his connection to interrogation techniques used during the administration of George W Bush.”

    Torture experience must look good on certain CVs.

  • Mary


    From Prof Michel Chossudovsky

    : El Salvador Death squads

    The recruitment of death squads is part of a well established US military-intelligence agenda. There is a long and gruesome US history of covert funding and support of terror brigades and targeted assassinations going back to the Vietnam war.

    As government forces continue to confront the self-proclaimed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), the historical roots of the West’s covert war on Syria – which has resulted in countless atrocities – must be fully revealed.

    From the outset in March 2011, the US and its allies have supported the formation of death squads and the incursion of terrorist brigades in a carefully planned undertaking.


  • Habbabkuk

    “Kashmiri” writes at 10.27am today ;

    “…Did anyone believe, even for a moment, that Western Europe is more “free” and “democratic” than, say, Egypt or China? Come on…”

    If this comment is seriously meant, then it is a breathtakingly stupid one.

    My answer to the question would be yes, I do believe that Western Europe is freer and more democratic than Egypt and China (and most other countries as well, for that matter).

    Hands up any commenter on this blog would would rather live in Egypt or China than in Europe!

  • Habbabkuk

    Mary, in apparent connection with the posts regarding Portobello Books, posts (11.40am) a link to Granta Books and prefaces it with the following comment:

    “Same people and almost identical website”.

    Very interesting, Mary, but what exactly is the point you’re trying to make?

    My conspiracy-sniffing mechanisms are, alas, not as finely tuned as yours.

  • Habbabkuk

    Good to see you back in action, Jives! I hope you’ll get more coherent as the year advances.

  • Mary

    Habbabkuk You are being rather ridiculous. The only point was that Granta Books run Portobello Books which is a subsidiary and that both websites and staffing are almost identical. A statement of fact.

    Vronsky I see that the BBC use the same expression for torture (prisoner interrogation techniques) as Bigelow does in her Zero Dark Thirty film. Latter best avoided from all accounts.

    ‘Bigelow has very clearly stated that she set out to make make pro-CIA propaganda:

    “I want them [the audience] to be moved. I want them to know that this is the story of the intelligence community finding this man. These are incredibly brave individuals, dedicated individuals who sacrificed a lot to accomplish this mission…”

    Key role of the CIA for many decades has been to prop up torture states around the world. If you are pro-CIA – as both Bigelow and her film clearly are – then you are pro-torture whether you care to know it or not.’

  • Jives

    I don’t give a fuck what you think of me Habbakuk.

    Concentrate on refining your studied ignorance of what are usually clear posts by others.

  • Wikispooks

    As inticated above, my initial feeling on reading the book was of no more than mild surprise at its minimal mention of Craig. That feeling remains but, to clarify a bit further, this is what I think is going on here:

    In dealing with the 21st century stuff, the matter of major prospective and ongoing litigation over Iraq and Afghanistan atrocities is very much in play. HMG and the MOD are twisting and turning and ducking and diving with their IHAT process and efforts to have such cases heard in secret. MSM editors must therefore take due account of their prevailing wounded, angry mood on this whole subject area. For insight into why this is so, I recommend this brief article by Phil Shiner – It is a real shocker.

    Ian is an MSM journalist, with the legion constraints that continuation of such a career imposes (Media Lens does a creditable job of airing them btw). Publicising current/recent activities that reflect badly on the UK Military and Security Services in an ongoing alleged ‘war on Terror’ and with the official mood noted above, involves walking on eggshells for any career journalist. Would that it were not so; but it is. Period. ‘Our boys are Heroes with a capital ‘H’ (occasional bad apples notwithstanding) dontcha know? ‘ and our erstwhile PM is determined that the military should be placed ‘at the centre of our national life’ — bla bla bla — we all know the score. So called ‘Journalists’ promoting this stuff are legion and well rewarded; vanishingly few – Jon Pilger being the pre-eminent current example IMHO – try to tell it like it is and in so doing forfeit any prospect of a gong (aka Michael White and his ilk) in the process.

    Ian Cobain’s book is the best I for one have read on the history of UK ‘hands-on’ involvement in torture since the start of WWII. It even deals with UK connections to the US CIA MKULTRA program plus many seemingly disparate events linked only by the theme of the UK Security State being ready willing and able to resort to the most depraved and barbaric treatment of its prisoners, should a small coterie of senior military/security professionals deem it to be ‘necessary’ to their goals.

    The book does pull a few punches. These mainly involve Cobain’s own opinion of motives or situation gravity when commenting on particular examples. They will be more than obvious to anyone schooled in this subject area though and, IMO, do not detract from the books value at all.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    V well worth watching this Frontline Club discussion that coincided with publication. Particularly for the tantalising contribution from former Shadow Home Secretary Davis. Recall it occurred to me that evening: ‘Craig Murray is . . . not here.’

  • Jives


    Thank you for that,as always,excellent and informative post.

    The Shiner link,and what it reveals,is both terrifying and disgusting.Regrettably i have to say i’m not surprised by any of the revelations.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Craig, forgive my lecture, but for goodness sake, take it easy and get better – esp. if you’re still in CCU! How come you’re even able to use electronic equipment while in CCU? Maybe I’m behind the curve with these things… a technical Neanderthal!

    I will read the book before making any comment on it. Thanks to Mr Cobain for taking the time to comment and so, engage, and thanks also to Wikispooks for their comments and very useful info., above. It’s good that Peter Oborne and Nichloas Mercer have mentioned Craig’s key whistleblowing contribution to this area.

    In the meantime, let’s continue to read widely and deeply in general and communicate as much information wrt this thematic area as is available by all the media at our disposal. Both this blog and Wikispooks are superb at doing just that. I see them as complementary to hard copy.

  • Habbabkuk

    Ah, Jives doesn’t “give a fuck” – aqnd thereby displays his usual verbal elegance.

    A vulgar, even ugly, character.

  • Habbabkuk

    Mary : go easy with the insults, for it is perhaps you who is being ridiculous again. You’re certainly very thin-skinned.

    To help you understand, since you seem to be having difficulties : my question was WHY are you bringing these facts to our attention? Are you trying to infer anything, and if so, what? Or are you just acting out your usual role of unpaid media-crawler, researcher and bringer-forward of a thousand and one facts to the grateful readers of this blog?

  • Anon

    Habbabkuk wrote:

    Ah, Jives doesn’t “give a fuck” – aqnd thereby displays his usual verbal elegance.

    A vulgar, even ugly, character.

    You forgot “Pleb”

    And, speaking for myself, as an ugly vulgarian and pleb, I don’t really give a fuck what you think either – whoever you are anyway.

  • Jives

    Interesting Habbabkuk,in a serious thread about the horrors of torture you should focus,and take faux-offence,on a perfectly mundane piece of Anglo-Saxon vernacular whilst ignoring the extremely serious subject the rest of us are following.

    I marked you here early on,and have repeatedly drawn your hand; nothing you have “contributed” on this blog illuminates or extends the debates.You specialise in trying to derail or interrupt threads.It’s well noted.

    This is my last post to you.The acutely serious subject matter of this thread means that i do not wish to clutter the thread up having to deal with your wilfully ignorant and disruptive gambits.

    Feel free to respond ad nauseam with your own ad-hominems about someone you’ve never met let alone have the knowledge of to characterise.I shall simply ignore you.

    Apologies to other posters for cluttering this most important thread.

  • Habbabkuk

    Thanks for joining in, Anon, and yes, you’re right, I forgot “pleb”. Apologies for that!

  • Habbabkuk

    Jives : glad to note that the “fucks” have given way to the “faux” and the “ad hominem”s – you are improving faster than I would have draed to hope.

    As to the O/T, understand the following :

    1/. One might be forgiven for thinking that the theme of this thread is not torture, as you claim with such emotion and eloquence, but rather the inexplicable failure of Ian Cobain to mention Craig Murray (sufficiently). Indeed, Craig suspects, in his start-up post, that there might have been censorship somewhere along the line.

    2/. I shall continue, Jives – whether you like it or not – to attempt to combat and draw attention to stupidity (cf. “Kashmiri”), woffly-woolly, pointless (in the true sense of the word) commenters (Mary, very often) and frustrated, ill-educated vulgarians like yourself. So get used to it.


  • David


    I’m grateful for your comments. I well understand the difficulties that contemporary mainstream journalists face. I’m willing too to accept that there is much value in the book so far as it goes and that such historical accounts can have much value.

    It’s worth pointing out though that journalists of the calibre of Jon Pilger were once mainstream themselves and we need to continually challenge and expose contemporary mainstream media for its current deference to powerful interests as compared to the very much more critical estate it used to be.

    As you suggest, they’re still shaping opinion or perhaps more correctly shaping the limits of acceptable discourse, so it’s perhaps worth exposing their omissions, at least until a more critical media emerges.

    We should always of course condemn their smearing of those who seek to tell the truth, whilst they themselves fear to do so.

  • David


    Wikispooks, in defending Mr Cobain, have said that they believe self-censorship, at the very least, to have been the reason for not including Craig.

    Do you believe this to be a stupid or overly conspiratorial view?

  • Flagg

    Who says the UK is soft on torture?
    A recently arrested Nepalese officer may disagree.

    But of course he’s not a UK officer complicit with UK/Nato torture.

    One rule for one, etc etc.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Just noticed that while the RRP of the hardback edition is £18.99, the Tetra Pak heiress—whatever else one may think of her—appears to have made the Kindle edition of ‘Cruel Britannia’ available at the bargain pak price of £1.89.
    Reinforces me in my conviction that, when circumstances require, all modern States—Ukania, contrary to superficial appearances, included—are police states. Highly recommended.

  • technicolour

    I also think it’s odd. I can imagine the book, especially after Mark Curtis’ Web Of Deceit; but can’t imagine not including at least a postscript bringing into focus recent events, including the smearing, on 17 false counts, of one of the UK’s ambassadors, precisely because they protested against government complicity with torture (including, let us not forget, boiling people alive). This is not, as some people, including, sadly, Mr Cobain, seem to be trying to imply, just about Craig himself.

  • Mary

    Ignoring the earlier petty ad hominem, I will continue!

    Last year, Mark Bowden an American author wrote The Finish:The Killing of Osama Bin Laden. Black Hawk Down was also one of his which was made into a film.


    On Coercive Interrogation and Torture

    In the October 2003 issue of The Atlantic, Bowden’s article “The Dark Art of Interrogation” appeared,[6] advocated a ban on all forms of coercive interrogation, but acknowledged that in certain rare instances interrogators would be morally justified in breaking the law, and ought to face the consequences. Written more than a year before the violations revealed at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers, It said, in part:

    The Bush Administration has adopted exactly the right posture on the matter. Candor and consistency are not always public virtues. Torture is a crime against humanity, but coercion is an issue that is rightly handled with a wink, or even a touch of hypocrisy; it should be banned but also quietly practiced. Those who protest coercive methods will exaggerate their horrors, which is good: it generates a useful climate of fear. It is wise of the President to reiterate U.S. support for international agreements banning torture, and it is wise for American interrogators to employ whatever coercive methods work. It is also smart not to discuss the matter with anyone.

    On pages 231-234 of the book The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson, Bowden’s article is mentioned as a reference to the CIA’s Project ARTICHOKE, a program to create ways of interrogating people that could be brutal or even fatal.’

    Revolting views.

    During an interview with him on New Zealand National Radio this morning, the female interviewer went along with and actually used such euphemisms such as rendition instead of kidnap and enhanced interrogation instead of torture.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    PS: Craig’s opening sentence above, no doubt unintentionally, understates the gravamen of Cobain’s admirable volume . . . ‘Ian Cobain’s history of British state involvement in torture.’ Not mere involvement. ‘Cruel Britannia’ details the British state’s long-established & sustained USE of torture. That is why the book is of such importance. And that’s why I urge anyone who’s not yet done so to watch the Frontline Club video linked to above—the only real attempt so far to discuss, to my knowledge, the shameful truth.

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