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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  • Habbabkuk

    @ David : I believe that Wikispook’s belief about self-censorship is a possibility, but since I don’t know on what that belief is grounded I’m unable to say whether or not its view is “stupid or overly conspiratorial”. I don’t know – as you and all the other eager commenters here don’t know either. You musn’t confuse a wish to believe that something is the truth with the truth itself.

  • Habbabkuk

    “Ignoring the petty earlier ad hominem, I will continue!” (Mary, above).

    Oh, I’m sure you will, Mary and that you’ll go on…and on…and on….; even a regiment of Habbabkuks wouldn’t be enough to stem the flow. Et encore!

    BTW, one’s still waiting for the POINT you were trying to make by juxtaposing the two publishers. Was there one?

  • technicolour

    Of course investigating the UK government’s direct use of torture is a serious and laudable remit, and the book sounds as though it has done this. Thanks to the writer.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    When we take a step back and look at what has been happening, at what British service personnel have been doing, it is shocking. That nice, baby-faced doctor who signed the updtade version of the Hippocratic Oath. One is lost for words, really. What were ‘we’ doing in Iraq in the first place and what possible justification could there be for treating human beings that way? None, of course. That there was systemic, organised torture is beyond question. We already knew this about US personnel – as my friend, Lila Rajiva showed in her groundbreaking and under-sung book, ‘The Language of Empire’ and as Andy Worthington has elucidated in his superb work as well.

    Perhaps, though, we ought not to be at all surprised. Torture is, after all, the language of empire. And it is deeply corrosive of the society that perpetrates it.

    Technicolour – great to see you here!

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Spoke too soon. Maybe as a consequence indeed somebody’s now gone & upped ‘Cruel Britannia”s Kindle edition to its presumably correct price of £9.02. My eyes were not deceiving me; definitely on there a few hours ago at £1.89.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Indeed. As Kampfner says in this Observer review I’d hitherto missed: ‘The lack of outcry to the issues raised in Cobain’s book speaks volumes.’

  • David


    If the view expressed is, as you agree, a posibility then it’s neither stupid nor overly conspiratorial.

    That’s obvious enough. The question has been answered.

    Unfortunately you then rather bizarrely go on to talk about knowing or not knowing the truth, as if all reasonable opinion must be stayed until absolute truth is revealed.

    I can see why you’re having problems with this discussion business.

    Quick clue. It’s only ever a journey.

  • Jives

    Mary 10.31pm,

    “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.’”

    Well dearie me.

    The nauseating idiocy of these fools knows no bounds.

    What kind of,ahem,intelligence organisation interrogates someone(presumably for information)and,by doing so,kills them?

    I’m no expert but even a fool like me understands,in the interrogational pursuit of information,it kinda doesn’t make any sense to kill the person.

    That would render any possible information to be gleaned somewhat obsolete i would’ve thought.

    Or maybe it’s just me being dumb?

    Obviously not being an elite intelligence operative i’m a lesser dumber being…


  • Jives

    And,while i’m here,allow me to flag up my ongoing disgust at the MSM’s oh-so-casual yet deliberate euphemisms.

    Let’s be absolutely clear here:

    Extraordinary Rendition=Kidnapping

    Advanced Interrogation Techniques=Torture

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Craig’s unfortunate misconstrual has had the happy, if that’s the right word, consequence of leading me to a powerful recording I’d not previously heard of Gareth Pearce speaking at the LSE last year on the subject of torture. She subjects Blair, Straw, Blunkett & Bradshaw—memoirs, memos—to forensic specificity. Her conclusion? ‘Proof positive of criminality.’

  • angrysoba

    Happy New Year all!

    May I just quickly concur with Suhayl, that Craig Murray ought not to be doing stressful things like scouring the index of books he hopes to be mentioned in and he should stay off the deep-fried Mars bars.

    I hope everyone has a prosperous and enjoyable 2013, but do check under the bed for lizard men.




  • Ex Pat


    Nicholas Mercer’s review – link above, and below – refers to the London Cage.

    Ian Cobain got an excellent article about it into the Daily Heil. (Oops, our bad. Ed.). Wonder of wonders!

    The Daily Heil which very occasionally surprises with real journalism … Along with the urge to murder someone from at least six stories in every issue. No change there, then! Or is it just me? (??? Ed. ; ) )

    – “How Britain Tortured Nazi POWs – The horrifying interrogation methods that belie our proud boast that we fought a clean war,” by Ian Cobain – 26th October 2012 The Daily Heil (ER, Mail? Ed.) –

    Nicholas Mercer’s review –

  • Ex Pat


    Nicholas Mercer refers to the ongoing quest for recognition of torture by three elderly Kenyans – some of the up to 300,000 Kenyans murdered by the British Empire during Mau-Mau according to Harvard historian Caroline Elkins.

    The British Empire – ‘official’ history undone by Caroline Elkins. It was a woman Harvard historian, Caroline Elkins, who reported the slaughter of 300,000 Kikuyus by the British during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. What most outraged one reviewer was that the British Oxbridge historians knew all about it for _fifty_ years. But not one breathed a single mention of it.

    _That_ is how the British establishment does its business. Collusion. At war crimes and everything else. No change there, then!


    Who knew?! (ER, The entire Kenyan population. The rest of Africa. Any other country that Britain every colonized. “All of the above”! Ed.)

    Nicholas Mercer’s review includes the following description of the British treatment of Kenyans during Mau-Mau.

    “It exposes the exceptional brutality of the British in the treatment of the Mau Mau in Kenya – as is just beginning to emerge in the case of Nzili, Nyingi and Mara, currently being heard in the High Court.”

    “Evidence reveals that one British policeman at the time described the conditions in the camps as “far worse than anything I experienced in my four and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese”. To hear the British described as being more brutal than the Japanese will come as a great shock but, should there be any doubt as to the depravity of British Forces, the description in the book is unequivocal.”

    *** “Men were whipped, clubbed, subjected to electric shocks, mauled by dogs and chained to vehicles before being dragged around. Some were castrated. The same instruments used to crush testicles were used to remove fingers. It was far from un-common for men to be beaten to death” ***

    That quote comes from Caroline Elkins excellent book “Imperial Reckoning”. The ongoing press reports of the torture trial are not a surprise to those who have read the book.

    The trial is over a request for recognition of British torture by three aged Kenyans who personally were subject to that torture.

    – “Imperial Reckoning” by Caroline Elkins

    The War Nerd – “Gary Brecher” wrote an excellent piece reviewing Caroline Elkins’s book – Monty Python Burning Kikiyu Skit” by Gary Brecher – 14th April 2011 – The Exiled –

    Nicholas Mercer’s review –

  • Ex Pat


    Nicholas Mercer’s review is particularly interesting because he points out that this time those in the firing line for a war crimes trial – and conviction – are the British establishment, British governments since 1940 and every officer remotely associated with what _are_ war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    To which those of us outraged by the non-pursuit of the Blair / Cheney war criminals – and those in their administrations – might say “Hard luck pal – couldn’t happen to a nicer illegal war, murdering, disappearing, torturing-to-death, genocidal, ethnic cleansing, death-squad organizing war crminal. Let the door hit you on the way out.” ; ) (*)

    “Finally, the most explosive part of the book is the fact that complicity in torture and rendition are potentially war crimes and are required to be outlawed in our domestic criminal law. The UN Convention against torture (UNCAT) states:”

    – “each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture”. –

    “If such acts are committed during armed conflict then they constitute a war crime or, in the case of rendition, a crime against humanity. However, to date despite increasingly weighty evidence no one has been prosecuted. As the Tory MP David Davis recently stated in the case of R v Ahmed and others

    – “Although the combined circumstantial evidence of complicity in all these cases is overwhelming, it has not so far been possible — because of the government’s improper use of state secrecy to cover up the evidence — to establish absolutely clear sequences of cause and effect.” –

    “This is why Cobain’s allegations in Cruel Britannia are like a hand grenade in the heart of the establishment. The truth has had the pin pulled out of it by this book and is likely to go off at any moment. When it does, it will not only be the foot soldiers who end up being caught in the explosive consequences.”


    Poor US Empire (Neo-Con) Nazis – Cheney, Bush, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Generals Holder, Keane, Allen, Petraeus / ‘Our Tony’, Brown, Cameron, Clegg, Berlusconi, Sarkozi / and many, many more — Terrified of their date with destiny — A long drop on a short rope. – Nuremberg Mk II. –

    Mk I for comparison – Nuremberg Executions of Nazi Leaders for ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ and ‘Crimes Against the Laws of War.’ – Original –

    Nicholas Mercer’s review –

  • Mary

    A great edition of the Anti Empire Report from William Blum where he discusses Syria, guns, fundamental religion, the killing of OBL and Muslims and finally this –

    One way to look at it

    Capitalism can be seen in historical evolutionary terms, independent of any moral point of view or judgement. Broadly speaking, the organization of mankind’s societies has evolved from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. And it’s now time for the next step: socialism.

    Socialism or communism have always been given just one chance to work, if that much, while capitalism has been given numerous chances to do so following its perennial fiascos. Ralph Nader has observed: “Capitalism will never fail because socialism will always be there to bail it out.”

    Capitalism gave rise to some very important innovations, such as mass production and distribution, and many technological advances. But now, and for some time past, the system has caused much more harm than good. It’s eating its young. And our environment. We can take the advances instituted by capitalism for the purpose of profit and use them to create a society based on putting people before profit. Just imagine.

    He’s wonderful. Such wit and wisdom.

  • Mary

    There has been one more British death in Afghanistan.

    Do they call it green on blue??

    This morning, there was this segment on Radio 4 Today.

    President Obama meets Afghan President Hamid Karzai today and talks are expected to focus on US troop levels in the country after 2014. Lucy Morgan Edwards, author of The Afghan Solution and former political advisor to the EU ambassador in Afghanistan, explains that there is no expectation the two will sign a bilateral security agreement.

    It was a copy of what we have all been saying for years.

    Obama’s advisor on Afghanistan Lawrence Korb also spoke.

  • John Goss

    John Angus Mackay at 2.19 am.

    Thanks for posting that address from Gareth Peirce to the LSE. I rate her right up there with Clive Stafford Smith as a human rights’ lawyer of whom we can be proud. On the other hand we should all be ashamed that nobody else in this country is fighting for British subject Shaker Aamer who has been almost 11 years in Guantanamo Bay without charge, who has a ten year old son who he has never seen, and all because he has been tortured and the United States don’t want us to know that they are just as bad as the Third Reich. Well we already know that. And those who care want Shaker home with his family.

    And is it not disgusting that the racist Theresa May has sent Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan (already having spent nearly 20 years collectively in UK prisons without any charge) to this evil regime where it is known they imprison people for no reason? Supermax prisons are another form of torture. 23 hours a day in a cell 75 square ft with a 3 inch window. And not a breath of opposition from our journalists. Shame on them!

    As far as I’m concerned when the trials start Theresa May is on the same list as Jack Straw and Tony Blair.

  • nevermind

    Get better soon Craig and our best to Nadira and the family, you have to start watching what you eat and where, or, start doing some cooking yourself.

    The torture history shows us that politics did not really matter in these decisions, that the decisions to torture happened under both Labour and Tory Governments.

    Our secret services have undertaken torture of individuals in an organised fashion, a machine within a machine. Thanks to contributors for contributing.

    Habbabkuk, mascot or mongrel? that is the proposition.

  • nevermind

    hence the little formula to remember next May.
    Torture = Conservative = Labour = Lib Dem = UKIP

    No better reason to become an Independent.

  • angrysoba

    Brian Fujisan: Check out this Amazing Speech By President Bashar Al-Assad. Sunday, in the Opera House, Damascus.

    Imagine hearing a speech as profound as this in so called modern Western Democracies.

    We interrupt this bewailing of state censorship of the press, torture, unjust imprisonment and stifling of democracy to bring you an “Amazing Speech by President Bashar Al-Assad”!

    Eyes moisten with tears as we look upon this gifted paragon of social justice, liberty and democracy.

  • Mary

    When have the BBC ever referred to the over 1m Iraqi people who died because of the sanctions imposed by an evil coalition or to the 1.5m Palestinians in Gaza on the Israeli diet behind the blockade? And how are the Iranian people managing without the imports they need and which are prohibited by sanctions? We are never told.

    Syria crisis: Food aid ‘cannot reach a million people’

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Ian Cobain,

    I have an update for “Gruel Britannia” – a thin veneer of Guardian stories that hides the truth embedded in UK State sponsored terrorism. I have included first-hand accounts from a ‘British mercenary’ based in Dubai on £400/day+ who thankfully recorded atrocities in Libya and currently Syria.

    None of this information will tick the British intelligence services approval box. It appears Saudi thugs really do walk over the eyeballs of innocent civilians caught up in divide and conquer regime change.

  • Kempe

    “Ian Cobain got an excellent article about it into the Daily Heil. (Oops, our bad. Ed.). Wonder of wonders! ”

    Errr, the uncorroborated testimony of convicted Nazi war criminals? Of course they wouldn’t have an axe to grind against anybody would they? Reading Cobain’s article you’d be forgiven for thinking that Fritz Knöchlein was the victim of a miscarriage of justice but no account of his trial that I can find mentions a confession extracted under duress or otherwise. He pleaded not guilty on the grounds that he wasn’t there and that the British troops used dum-dum ammuntion against his men; trying to have his cake and eat it. He was however positively identified by the two survivors and a French woman he threatened whilst hunting for any British survivors he might’ve missed. Nice bloke.

    Tempting to accept Cabain’s book without question when it’s what you want to hear but my inner cynic wonders if shock horror sensationalism hasn’t taken precedence over historical accuracy. If that is the case Craig is well out of it.

  • Mary

    I watched Duncan Smith. So full of hate for the untermenschen. Skivers and shirkers. His lot should know.

    At least there is one dissenter in the nasty and cruel ‘Koalition’.

    Penalising the poor: Lib Dem MP vows to vote against her own Coalition’s benefits cap

    Ex-Schools Minister Sarah Teather said the Tories’ “strivers vs skivers” argument was about scoring political points

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