Weasel Words 723

The Independent have Jack Straw well and truly cornered:

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Craig Murray, who was sacked as UK ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2004 after alleging that Britain used intelligence obtained by the CIA under torture, said he attended a meeting at the Foreign Office where he was told that “it was not illegal for us to use intelligence from torture as long as we did not carry out the torture ourselves” and claimed this policy came directly from Mr Straw.

The former Foreign Secretary said: “At all times I was scrupulous in seeking to carry out my duties in accordance with the law. I hope to be able to say more about this at an appropriate stage in the future.”

I hope so too, and I hope that the appropriate time is either at the Old Bailey or The Hague.

Straw has climbed down a bit from his days of power and glory, when he told the House of Commons, immediately after sacking me, that there was no such thing as the CIA extraordinary rendition programme and its existence was “Mr Murray’s opinion.” He no longer claims it did not exist and he no longer claims I am a fantasist. He now merely claims he was not breaking the law.

His claim of respect for the law is a bit dubious in the light of Sir Michael Wood’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry. Wood said that as Foreign Office Legal Adviser, he and his elite team of in-house FCO international lawyers unanimously advised Straw the invasion of Iraq would be an illegal war of aggression. Straw’s response? He wrote to the Attorney General requesting that Sir Michael be dismissed and replaced. And forced Goldsmith to troop out to Washington and get alternative advice from Bush’s nutjob Republican neo-con lawyers.

Jack Straw did not have any desire to act legally. He had a desire to be able to mount a legal defence of his illegal actions. That is a different thing.

Should any of us live to see the publication of the Chilcot Report, this will doubtless be clear, though probably as a footnote to page 862 of Annex VII. That is how the Westminster establishment works.

The SNP has weighed in on the side of the angels:

Revelations by the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan of the UK’s knowledge and acceptance of torture must see those involved answer questions on what happened.

In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Murray reveals that he attended a meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was told that “it was not illegal for us to use intelligence from torture as long as we did not carry out the torture ourselves” and revealed that this policy came directly from Jack Straw.

Mr Murray also reveals that “there was a deliberate policy of not writing down anything… because there should not be evidence of the policy.”

Craig Murray also states that “for the past year the British Ambassador in Washington and his staff have regularly been lobbying the US authorities not to reveal facts about the UK’s involvement in the CIA torture programme” and claims that is one of the reasons the full Senate report has not been published.

The SNP has called for a full judicial inquiry to be set up as a matter of urgency to get to get to the truth of who knew what and when.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said:

“Mr Murray’s revelation of the attitude taken by then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw only adds to the urgency with which we need a full judicial inquiry.

“Craig Murray’s article lifts the lid on the UK’s role in the human rights abuses that the US Senate has reported on and there can be no more attempts to avoid answering the tough questions that have been posed.

“Clearly answers are needed just as much from the politicians who led us at the time as from those directly involved in what was going on. The need for an independent judicial inquiry is now clear for all to see.

“It is also long past time that the findings of the Chilcot inquiry were published and there can be no more delays to that report being made public.

“There needs to be a full judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of the UK’s involvement in rendition flights that passed through UK territory and the UK’s wider knowledge of the abuses that the Senate has revealed.”

Craig Murray’s revelations can be viewed on page 25 of today’s Mail on Sunday

But with Malcolm Rifkind being promoted everywhere by the BBC to push his cover-up, it remains an uphill struggle.

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723 thoughts on “Weasel Words

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  • Peacewisher

    @RD: I don’t think you are right about Gorbachev/Putin in the current context. The reason I say this is that The Saker is critical of Putin for persisting with a free market approach to economics, and he is even taking it one stage further (at last!) by encouraging the innovation and entrepreneurship of small businesses.

    Like the “neocon tendency”, you are treating Putin as if he is pre-Gorbachev Soviet leader, seeking to extend state boundaries, but he is far from that. Russia has learned to play the game and the only reason it is getting criticised is that it is playing that game so well it is threatening Western interests.

    Great cartoon, Macky.

    The hack of Sony’s website is an organisational security matter.

  • Tim

    The interesting thing about Putin’s rule is that if you include his first period as President it more or less coincides with the rise of China as an industrial power. It would be more interesting to compare and contrast this period than worry about Mao versus Stalin. The fact that after so many years with Putin in charge, Russia is basically still a primary product exporter while China has become an integrated part of the global economic system would seem to show that he has been pursuing the wrong priorities. The fact that the U.S. is wasting vast resources in the futile pursuit of “geo-strategic advantage” does not mean that others have to copy them.

  • Peacewisher

    @Tim: I suspect that you are correct, and that the reason Russia wasn’t able to diversify was because of the controlling stakes of various oligarchs who didn’t want diversification. It is good to see that Putin used the recent fall of the rouble as an opportunity to tell the oligarchs to eat cake, in this respect.

  • Republicofscotland

    “Let me remind you that you disappeared from this blog for a few months – left in quite a huff, in fact – because you couldn’t agree with Craig about Russia/Ukraine.”


    I find it rather interesting in a macabre, sort of way that you know who disappears from this blog, and who writes what when and where. One could possibly say that you’re writing things down and keeping notes.

    I’ve never know anyone on any other blog to be so specific, regarding comments and commenters, of course if one were profile building, then that would explain it all.

    I’m not going to ask you if that’s what your doing, I’m just wondering if you’re alone in your, data gathering, crusade.

  • Herbie

    “The fact that the U.S. is wasting vast resources in the futile pursuit of “geo-strategic advantage” does not mean that others have to copy them.”

    It does mean however that those who wish to survive as sovereign entities do have to resist them.

    The only entity that can currently do that is Russia.

    China can’t resist them, nor can anyone else, hence the vassal status of the rest.

    You need to factor in the fact that the West expected Russia to roll over as it had been doing during the Yeltsin period. Putin had enough on his hands turning that around with all the opposition from within. And they’re still there in media, in politics and in the Central bank.

    The West didn’t want Russian diversification. They just wanted their companies to roll in and hoover up its resources, split it up and defang it.

    On the other hand, the West actively assisted Chinese development, particularly in R&D.

    China was to be the producer of finished products, whilst Russia provided the energy.

    That hasn’t been going to plan of late, of course, which is why Putin is a problem. A Hitler. A Stalin. Whatever.

    And the muppets repeat that propaganda without thinking.

  • Mark Golding

    Not so fine Peacewisher; the intention is weak and sterile, lacking true emotion. Blair’s evolution was driven by an Oath of Allegiance that set a corridor with doors leading to capitalism and Admiralty law, other virtual doors lead to dark places forged from the forces of massacre, butchery, carnage, annihilation, extermination and abuse of the innocent.

  • Peacewisher

    Liam Harrigan, Max Kaiser & Stacy Herbert also explain:


    Only just come across this, but seems to confirm that:

    1. Putin staying with free market despite expectations of capital controls
    2. West concern that with a 2 trillion economy, Russia will become an equal player (e.g on the FOREX market)

    RD you should be welcoming this, because it IS taking Perestroiker further…

  • Peacewisher

    @Mark: Maybe. He got the words right though, and he would have got an awful lot of stick for publicly calling her “The Peoples’ Princess” and potentially destabilising the monarchy.

  • Peacewisher

    @Tim: Some argument about whether Chinese holdings are going up or down, agreed, but according to the WSJ article, the total figure seems to be about $1200 billion. If correct, this is a staggering amount.

  • Tim

    @ Peacewisher – indeed staggering, but for as long as China runs a huge export surplus with the US they have to put the dollars that the USA pays them somewhere. It seems that they might now be dealing thorugh Belgium so that the numbers don’t look too unseemly.

  • Peacewisher

    OK… that would account for the differences. However, with a potential ally like that, Russia is perhaps not the economic pygmy that David Cameron was making it out to be in PM’s questions last Wednesday.

  • Republicofscotland

    The United Nations has adopted a resolution, urging Israel to pay Lebanon in excess of USD 850 million for causing an “environmental disaster”.

    The UN General Assembly approved the non-binding resolution overwhelmingly on Friday.

    As many as 170 countries voted in favor of the resolution, six countries said “no” and three abstained.

    No doubt the poor old American taxpayer will pick up the tab, after all, they pick the tab up for every other Israeli bill.

  • Herbie

    There is quite a lot of western corporate dosh sitting in tax havens just idling its time.

    Some trillions. Like $12 trillion at least.

    Normally you’d expect that money to be productively invested.

    But no. It’s just sitting there waiting. Waiting for what?

    Waiting to see who wins?

    Waiting for the Kabuki to end?

    Waiting for a withdrawal from the Western empire, before sailing to Byzantium?

  • Resident Dissident

    “Like the “neocon tendency”, you are treating Putin as if he is pre-Gorbachev Soviet leader, seeking to extend state boundaries, but he is far from that.”

    You clearly haven’t read much of what I have written in the past regarding Putin – his economic model is a combination of Pinochet and Don Corleone. The former Soviet leaders at least had more than a skin deep commitment to social provision and equality of incomes.

  • Resident Dissident

    “RD, didn’t Stalin make mistakes similar to your own mistake here? It’s never about “cleaning away parasites” or “moral pygmies”. It is always about respect, education, and persuasion.”

    I just don’t think they should belong to the political Left – I don’t believe in their physical liquidation like their former hero.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    You say:

    “The UN General Assembly approved the non-binding resolution overwhelmingly on Friday.”

    and then go on to say:

    “No doubt the poor old American taxpayer will pick up the tab, after all, they pick the tab up for every other Israeli bill.”

    If the Resolution is non-binding, by what strange alchemy do you arrive at your “No doubt”?

    Pre-Christmas drinks?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    See what you come up with, RoS, when you stop cutting-and-pasting and offer us one of your famous “thoughts”!

    Mistake! Stick to what you do best.

  • nevermind

    A truly western and pro NATO interview by der Spiegel with CIA agent Yatseniuk. He denied that Kiev has stopped social security benefits blaming ‘terrorists’ robbing his cash deliveries to ATM’s.

    And he dissed Kohl, Schmidt and Schroeder for being too nice/scared to/of Putin,
    As for the NATO accession question, he is holding firm to what decided at the Bucharest summit.


  • Resident Dissident

    “He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he recognized would host a NATO naval base.”

    Unlikely since their was a clear international treaty that allowed the continuation of the Russian naval base in the Crimea – which Putin violated when he seized the Crimea.

    Putin interfered in the Ukraine because he saw it falling out of the influence of his gangster capitalism – he had continually interfered over the years in Ukrainian affairs, just as he does in other former Soviet Republics that do not seek to do his bidding – he helps fix elections, he turns off gas supplies in the heart of winter, he sets up cyber attacks, he imposes economic sanctions. He has done this for many many years. Let us not forget that the previous Ukrainian President’s son was responsible for 60% of contracts with the UKrainian State when he fled the country.

    Yes the former republics have close economic and often family ties with Russia and it makes sense for their to be close co-operation with Russia, but I’m afraid it has to be on something other than the old master servant relationship now. Those of us who are truly anti-imperialists know that the former republics need to be respected as truly independent entities in their own right, rather than just as dispensible pawns to be played with in the Great Struggle against western democracies.

  • Peacewisher

    RD: I don’t think Putin would have such a high public rating if he neglected social services… of course, it could be that they were so bad under Yeltsin that improvement was very easy – but Putin has now been in power for 15 years. I’ve never been to Russia, but if their economy doesn’t flop tempted to do the “Paulo Coelho” trip.

  • Herbie

    “his economic model is a combination of Pinochet and Don Corleone.”

    This RD is a complete buffoon. He just makes this crap up, or more likely has it made up for him.

    These low analysis, smeary tropes are in fact the very stuff of the propaganda approach.

    The Mafia model is in fact the American model, from in fact the 1920s on. That’s kinda obvious, from Prohibition on. Seagrams, Bronfman etc.

    Pinochet is in fact the protection of wealth model, during decline, as seen in Italy, Spain and of course Chile. Chile imposed by the Americans.

    And soon to be imposed on the Americans themselves, of course. And the British.

    This distractor is best ignored. He’s played this same dreary hand for quite some time now.

    A complete waste of space fraud.

  • Herbie

    Ahhh. The Bush Crime Syndicate.

    But even at that, they’re still only bagmen. Think Capone.

    US movies have convinced everyone that Italians controlled the mob.

    Scorcese used to drop a few clues, but. Even Wag the Dog didn’t shift’em.

  • Peacewisher

    US govt showing its usual impartiality re Sony hack… despite denials, North Korea guilty without specific evidence. As with Bin Laden and 9/11. Now quite a pattern of finger-pointing governments they don’t like; most US citizens are not dumb and dumber though.

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