The Torture Cover-Up 73

It emerges from the USA that 9,000 documents proving direct involvement of the White House in cases of brutal torture are being withheld from the Senate Committee by the Obama administration.  This should surprise nobody, as Obama has done everything in his power to protect George W Bush and the many in the administration, diplomatic service and CIA involved in the whole secret web of torture and murder.  The entire programme was on a scale and of an order of brutality much greater than anything that has been yet understood by the public.  All of those foreign nationals rendered to Uzbekistan, for example, were killed during or following torture and buried in the desert.

It seems that Obama and the Republicans are combining to make sure that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the subject – which by all accounts will be damning enough – is never going to be made public in any way that reveals anything not already known.  The Republicans – and Fox News – have already united behind the extraordinary assertion that the CIA were entitled to spy on the Committee’s activity on its computers, because the physical computers had been provided by the CIA.

At least there is some traction for outrage in the United States.  In the UK, Downing Street dismissed the Gibson Inquiry as soon as it became clear that Gibson was not prepared to be a patsy like Lord Hutton.  I had some small part to play in that.  Gibson had instructed the Foreign Office that, in preparing my own evidence, I had to be given access to any document I had been able to see while I was Ambassador.  This caused huge alarm in the Foreign Office and security services as I knew precisely where the incriminating documents lie and how to find them in a way an outsider never could. Gibson’s insistence on my behalf put the wind up Downing Street and Cameron and Clegg decided to cancel the inquiry.  Similarly Downing Street is postponing the report of the Chilcot Inquiry until Chilcot – who is by no means as “difficult” as Gibson – produces a sufficiently anodyne report.  Even Chilcot’s ultra-Establishment panel of pro-war enthusiasts is having some difficulty with the demands on their intellectual integrity. In particular, Cameron is still refusing to let the Chilcot Committee see, let alone publish, the memos between Tony Blair and George Bush which make it absolutely clear the invasion was agreed long before has been admitted, and also cast some light on its true motives.  Cameron’s withholding of the invasion docs is a precise parallel to Obama’s withholding of the torture docs.  The complete media, political and public silence on this in the UK is terrifying in its implications.



73 thoughts on “The Torture Cover-Up

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  • Ba'al Zevul (O Tempora! O Mores!)

    I’m getting Russian dolls here, Craig.

    The torture was secret.
    The reasons for stifling any realistic enquiry into the torture are secret.
    And the reasons for suppressing the reasons are secret….etc.

    Neat. But I’m thinking this country is badly overdue an honest administration.

  • Clark

    In George Orwell’s 1984, the media broadcast exactly that which the government wants said, the entire population are under surveillance, and anyone organising to change this is taken for torture, but not generic torture; personalised torture, based upon intimate knowledge of the individual gained from the universal surveillance.

    It seems that the first two points are already reality in the UK and US systems, and progress toward the third point is being concealed.

  • passerby

    Craig said;

    The complete media, political and public silence on this in the UK is terrifying in its implications.

    Kassandra saw it all too ;

    National security officials in the United Kingdom will be given “special access” to some key YouTube features by Google, The Irish Times reports. Apparently Google will give officials in the U.K. the ability to raise a “super flag” on videos that they deem dangerous to national security. The Irish Times says that these “super flagger” powers mean that any content that U.K. officials flag will be immediately reviewed for takedown. Additionally, national security officials will have the ability to flag content in bulk so they won’t have to flag individual videos to be reviewed on a one-at-a-time basis.

    When will this site be “super flagged”, and you along with the rest of us taken to secret courts and given very real sentence, to be imprisoned in one of the many Gitmos dotted around?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    This, from Oborne in the Telegraph, makes good background reading. And follows the money –

    ‘Four years ago, when still in opposition, David Cameron claimed that Chilcot was part of an “establishment stitch-up”. Now he has changed his mind. He suggests instead that it wasn’t needed in the first place. “I would want to reassure people and say the lessons of Iraq have been learned,” he told the BBC last month, when asked whether intelligence concerning the use of chemical weapons in Syria could be trusted. But this is not reassuring at all: it was the job of Sir John Chilcot to learn the lessons of the Iraq fiasco, and his report is now three years overdue.

    Sir John’s failure to deliver on time is part of what is becoming a Whitehall pattern. The Gibson Inquiry into powerful allegations that Britain was involved in extraordinary rendition and torture, also supported by the prime minister in opposition, has been abandoned. We ought to have enough confidence in our magnificent values to be able to cast daylight on our national errors, crimes and misfortunes. Yet, as the experience of Gibson, Chilcot and Hillsborough suggests, the culture of secrecy seems always to prevail.’

    I am waiting for an Excrescence to identify Oborne as a compost-smoking sandalled, bearded leftie…might be a long wait.

  • Clark

    Craig, over the years on this blog, you and I have had a disagreement that you may not even have noticed. I have asserted that if a government maintains a secret service, some accountable, civilian structure needs to be interwoven into it, using cryptographic techniques, such that activities of individual agents would be monitored on a one-to-one basis, and a comprehensive civilian assessment of overall secret service activity could thereby be reconstructed for the purpose of accountability and regulation. You have counter-asserted that ensuring the personal integrity of secret service staff and chiefs would be a sufficient check upon secret service power.

    We are now seeing, in the US and the UK, the results of unchecked power among the secret services, the most obvious examples being the CIA surveillance of the US Senate Oversight Committee, and NSA spying upon friendly or allied foreign governments such as that against the German Chancellor.

    I become ever more convinced that relying upon personal integrity in intelligence is insufficient, and that a comprehensive structural approach is urgently needed.

  • Brendan

    I feel Mr Murray’s anger here. Cameron is a shit, of course. Obama, alas, betrays many signs of a personality disorder, and a very serious one at that. Worryingly, I suspect his handlers know it, which means the US basically doesn’t have a president; they have a speech-maker. Works in a Heinlein novel. Doesn’t in real life.

    Sadly, I suspect Cameron himself is miles to thick to refuse\not refuse anything Chilcott might ask. Cameron is, quite clearly to anyone who is looking, dumb as a rock. He is, alas, PM. So, someone is making decisions on his behalf, which is genuinely weird. Hague is – as we know – too compromised by his, ah, weakness, so I’ve no idea who might be our de-facto PM. Probably Blair.

    But really, our rulers prefer utter secrecy.

  • Clark

    Ba’al Zevul, 11:29 am: “Follow the money”.

    Well it could be money. It could equally be blackmail. Modern communications create such vast potential for surveillance, and personality profiling and personal leverage based thereon, that no politician or any person with power can be considered safe from such coercion. Exactly where would the strings of such power lead back to? We can’t know, because that entire area is cloaked in legally enforced institutional secrecy.

  • mike

    Democracy in late capitalism (exit phase): The right to chose the colour of our manager’s tie meant that the boardroom has had to close the curtains.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Afraid American concern about rendition and torture is like the Whigs concern about the new Queen;s favor in the late 1830s – they just wanted to keep their jobs, as do the current Demorats, confronted by lame duck Obama and his hated Obamacare,

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I’ll stick with the money, Clark. Where there’s blackmail, there’s a financial interest in the blackmailees actions…

    To paraphrase you, with apologies, – “Political office creates such vast potential for profit, and such widespread knowledge of the politician’s peccadilloes, that no politician or person with power can automatically be considered immune to coercion.”

    Whether it’s blackmail, bribery or just good friends.

  • Herbie

    In both the US and UK, the spooks run politicians the way they run any other asset.

    I’m not quite sure why some here seem to think that the spooks are the junior party in this arrangement.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    ‘I’m not quite sure why some here seem to think that the spooks are the junior party in this arrangement.’

    Possibly because they’re a subset of a much larger class. Lobbyists, essentially; which includes foreign governments, large corporations, industry associations (formal and informal), the forces (who always want new kit) and intelligence. Some bribe, some blackmail, some do both. If I’m a major aircraft company paying – let us say – Wahhabistan a gigantic illegal sweetener ultimately derived from UK taxpayers, I find it handy to have friends who can drop the OSA on any public knowledge of my transactions. Which requires the somehow extorted co-operation of the security services. I think they’re pawns. They’re not paid enough to be senior parties, bar the usual swine at the front of the trough queue. And those would be on The Network whatever they were being paid to “do”.

    The Old School Tie and The Upstart Rich Club have amalgamated now.

  • Herbie

    When I say spooks I mean their organisation and mandate and so on. I’m not talking about the worker bees.

    Why would the organisation be junior to any politician. During the post war period when politicians thought they had the upper hand, there are numerous accounts of their difficulty managing even their civil servants.

    Hoover wasn’t junior to any politician. No 10 was bugged during Wilson’s time.

    Any evidence we see indicates that the spooks are in charge, and have been since oiks started becoming politicians as mass enfranchisement spread.

    I’d have said that the spooks, insofar as they work for anyone, work for banking and corporate interests, as you’ve mentioned above, but more than that I’d say they are in fact one and the same.

    I think you can see this more clearly in the US where much more info is available.

  • Abe Rene

    Many of the documents might contain secrets of methods and sources which the U.S. doesn’t want to be disclosed, and I don’t mean techniques of waterboarding, or Cheney’s advocacy of such methods. They might, for disclose the royal secret recipe of making Prince William’s chocolate biscuit cake, and that would never do, because (a) it would undermine the mystique of the royal family, (b) undermine the sales of similar comestibles in coffee houses, and so (c) undermine the Special Relationship. And I haven’t even begun on secret intelligence methods and sources. You see? Too much at stake. 🙂

  • Herbie

    This is quite a good article explaining the intimate connection between Wall St and the CIA:

    “According to former CIA director Richard Helms, when Allen Dulles was tasked in 1946 to “draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency,” he recruited an advisory group of six men made up almost exclusively of Wall Street investment bankers and lawyers. Dulles himself was an attorney at the prominent Wall Street law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. Two years later, Dulles became the chairman of a three-man committee which reviewed the young agency’s performance. The other two members of the committee were also New York lawyers.i For nearly a year, the committee met in the offices of J.H. Whitney, a Wall Street investment firm.ii

    According to Peter Dale Scott, over the next twenty years, all seven deputy directors of the agency were drawn from the Wall Street financial aristocracy; and six were listed in the New York social register.iii So we see that from the beginning the CIA was an exclusive Wall Street club. Allen Dulles himself became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence in early 1953.

    The prevalent myth that the CIA exists to provide intelligence information to the president was the promotional vehicle used to persuade President Harry Truman to sign the 1947 National Security Act, the legislation which created the CIA.iv But the rationale about serving the president was never more than a partial and very imperfect truth.v”

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    I agree generally Herbie, but some spooks, like Peter Wright, Bill Harvey, James Angleton, Dick Helms, and also Hoover, worked for themselves, especially to promote or more generally fix the commies, domestic and foreign.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I’d have said that the spooks, insofar as they work for anyone, work for banking and corporate interests, as you’ve mentioned above, but more than that I’d say they are in fact one and the same.

    I think we can converge on that. Though I’d suggest that bugging Wilson was more connected with preventing oiks becoming politicians, and the UK at any rate was under the Old School Tie regime, throughout. In which the US terror of Communism mingled with downright snobbery.

  • Mary

    Ironic that the hypocritical Zuckerberg is protesting to Obomber about excessive surveillance when his own Facebook collects a lot of the info.

    14 March 2014
    Mark Zuckerberg ‘confused and frustrated’ by US spying


    BT’s hands are none too clean either.

    14 March 2014

    BT investigated over email data
    BT is being investigated by the UK’s data authority following whistleblower claims the company “exposed user credentials en masse”.

    Q Could BT run the proverbial whelk stall?

  • Clark

    Ba’al Zevul and Herbie; money, influence, blackmail/coercion – we can’t sort out what’s what due to secrecy. Of course we can assume that both money and power are incentives. Eliminating the secrecy, including corporate secrecy, is a prerequisite to public accountability of all channels of influence.

    Ironically, the surveillance capabilities developed by the NSA and GCHQ (and doubtless the secret ‘security’ services of other governments) is exactly the sort of physical tool needed to curtail secrecy in general, but its control and output have to be public rather than secret. The required non-physical instruments are legal ones.

  • Herbie

    Yes, Trowbridge, but you can see that this whole commie menace thing is there to preserve and enhance CIA empire building, in an institutional sense.

    It mostly interfered with the rapprochement in which senior politicians wished to engage, even including Nixon, and up to the present day.

    Again, the politicians are junior partners.

  • Mary

    Today we’re giving a major boost to a pair of petitions in support of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Please add your name to one or both.

    Tell President Obama and Attorney General Holder:
    Hands off Snowden!
    Click here to tell the Obama administration: Hands off Snowden!

    Tell Secretary of State Kerry: Restore Snowden’s Passport!
    Click here to tell Secretary of State Kerry: Give Snowden back his passport!

    RootsAction is getting ready to publicly deliver these petitions to officials in Washington. The more signers, the greater the impact — as we reach out to news media everywhere.

    Truth must be told: Edward Snowden’s “crime” was to educate Americans and the world about the dangerous growth of the U.S. surveillance state.

    Last summer — after Snowden released documents on the NSA’s mass surveillance programs — the State Department suddenly revoked his passport in an effort to prevent him from reaching any country willing to grant political asylum.

    Snowden didn’t get the due process he deserves.

    Freedom to travel requires a passport. It’s a basic principle.

    Tell Kerry to reinstate Edward Snowden’s passport now.

    But returning Snowden’s passport isn’t enough. The U.S. government should make an ironclad commitment to fully respect his legal rights to seek political asylum.

    You can send a clear message that insists the U.S. government must not engage in any abduction or other foul play against Snowden. Your name can go on this petition right now: Mr. President, Hands Off Edward Snowden!

    You can also help by forwarding this email to people you know who care about civil liberties.

    Thank you!

    — The team

    P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, and many others.

    Reuters: U.S. Revokes Snowden’s Passport
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Washington Post: NSA Collects Millions of Address Books
    Ray McGovern: Snowden Accepts Whistleblower Award

  • Mary

    Mod. Could you please remove the bullet points above to make the petition links live. Thanks.


  • Herbie

    Yes, Clark, but if the spooks are the senior partners why would they allow politicians to expose their secrets.

    They’ve never done so in the past, even in the best of times as during the 1970s and the Church Committee.

    This is precisely why Julian Assange devised his plan to expose what politicians could never achieve, and of course why he was such a danger to them.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Right, Herbie, the institutional relationship became fixed when Nixon fired Hoover, only to see the spooks go haywire during Watergate – what led to Nixon’s end.

    No politician has been willing, knowingly, to challenge their subordination since.

    Obama has come close, but he still just manages the junction box where the various spook lines meet up.

  • Herbie

    Hoover wasn’t fired by anyone. He died in office.

    They were all afraid of him as they’re afraid of those who came after him, though to be fair the front guy in these outfits today isn’t the real guy.

    It was the CIA who got rid of Nixon.

    That whole brave journalists on the Washingto Post thing is all pooh, I’m afraid.

  • mike

    So the CIA really is just another Company, and its job is to protect American investments overseas. This includes eliminating threats to those investments, such as wayward dictators who start selling oil in euros, not dollars.

    And the President? Just a doddery old chairman who’s only interested in the share price. He turns up for monthly board meetings to be told that everything is fine, just fine…

  • Herbie

    Yeah, kinda like Richard Branson, PR like chairmen.

    The only recent exception was George Bush Sr. Other than he, since Nixon, all Republican US Presidents have been subordinate to their vice presidents.

    You’ll note that George Bush Sr had an exceptionally stupid vice president.

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