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Boris Johnson Must Waive Any Claim of Immunity for Prince Andrew 41

Contrary to the Establishment line, Prince Andrew does not automatically have diplomatic immunity for statutory rape charges in the USA: and if he does, the UK Government can waive it.

Any British diplomat facing investigation for under-age sex in the USA would, beyond doubt, instantly have their immunity waived by the UK government. There is no reason why Prince Andrew should be different.

That is even if he has diplomatic immunity in the first place. The children of a Head of State do not have immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. It is generally accepted that they do often enjoy such immunity, but this is not contained in any international treaty and most experts in public international law do not even think it reaches the bar of customary international law, rather reaching the lower standard of comity – what states usually do in friendly co-operation. Comity can be argued in an international court, but it is the weakest form of international law below treaty law and customary law. Comity in this case boils down to no more than the notion that Donald Trump would not want Andrew in the dock in Florida, because he would want Ivanka to be protected from ending up in the dock in London.

A UN Commission considered this subject:

128. The doctrine reflects the various viewpoints. It is noted in Oppenheim’s International Law that a comparison of the status of members of the family of a Head of State with the position of the family of a diplomatic agent indicates that members of the family of a Head of State forming part of his household enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the host State. The fact that members of the family of a Head of State and Head of Government are protected by immunity is also acknowledged by P. Gully-Hart. In the view of A. Watts, the immediate family of a Head of State may enjoy immunity, but on the basis of comity and not of international law. This view is endorsed by S. Sucharitkul. The view that, if the members of the family of a Head of State are also granted immunity, it is on the basis only of international comity and not of international law was supported in the resolution of the Institute of International Law.

Even then, it is universally agreed that children of a Head of State would only be covered by immunity if they were part of the head of state’s household. Now it is important to note that the word “household” here, in international law, does not necessarily have the same precise application as it does in UK domestic political parlance. In the UK, Prince Andrew is part of the “Royal Household”, which is why he troughs a massive £280,000 a year for doing very little. But in international law the provision is much more likely to be interpreted in the common meaning, as in dependent family living together in a single home. Dependent children might include adult students but does not stretch to 60 year old millionaires.

The USA of course has a habit of ignoring international law when it so wishes under the doctrine of “exceptionalism”. However it would need British agreement not to claim diplomatic immunity for extradition proceedings in the UK to go ahead. It is sickening that Julian Assange is in a maximum security prison awaiting extradition for publishing the truth, while Prince Andrew is in some mansion having his feet massaged.

There is a further argument that Prince Andrew had immunity while on his visits to Epstein because of his status as “International Trade Ambassador” for the UK. That is a possible argument, although just like immunity for children of the Head of State, the situation on temporary visiting envoys is not firmly established by treaty. There is a UN Convention on Special Missions, but only about 30 countries ever ratified it, and neither the UK nor USA has ever done so. If Andrew was in the USA in that capacity, and if the State Department had received a formal Diplomatic Note indicating he was visiting on official business, customary international law would tend to support the view he had a claim to immunity. This quote from the German Federal Supreme Court is given in a very interesting paper on the subject in the European Journal of International Law:

irrespective of the [UN Special Missions Convention], there is a customary rule of international law based on State practice and opinio juris which makes it possible for an ad hoc envoy, who has been charged with a special political mission by the sending State, to be granted immunity by individual agreement with the host State for that mission and its associated status, and therefore for such envoys to be placed on a par with the members of the permanent missions of State protected by international treaty law.

However, it is not plain that on all occasions when he partied with Epstein, Andrew was in the States on an official basis, and even if he was, the UK government can still waive his immunity. The media are attempting to fix in our minds the idea that his immunity is immutable and nothing can be done. Far from it. It is conferred by the sending government and agreed by the receiving government. The sending government can simply waive or revoke it at will. This is frequently done.

All of this might be entirely academic because of the extraordinary inaction of the FBI on the case. It beggars belief that Ghislaine Maxwell has not yet been arrested or interviewed about the overwhelming evidence of her role as a procuress or pimp. It further beggars belief there has been no interview under caution of Prince Andrew in either the United States or the UK. The problem is, of course, that any number of very powerful people are going to be implicated in any serious investigation. In particular, the Clintons still have an astonishing amount of influence over senior staff of the FBI.

Only the power of public outrage is ever going to force any action, and this will be difficult to mobilise and focus; doubtless the mainstream media will shortly seek to close the matter down. But we can do a little to push things forward by insisting on a declaration from Boris Johnson that Prince Andrew’s bogus claim to diplomatic immunity will be denied or waived.

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The Roger Stone – Wikileaks – Russia Hoax 24

As ever, the Guardian wins the prize for the most tendentious reporting of Roger Stone’s conviction. This is not quite on the scale of its massive front page lie that Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But it is a lie with precisely the same intent, to deceive the public into believing there were links between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. There were no such links.

The headline “Roger Stone: Trump Adviser Found Guilty On All Charges in Trump Hacking Case” is deliberately designed to make you believe a court has found Stone was involved in “Wikileaks hacking”. In fact this is the precise opposite of the truth. Stone was found guilty of lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee by claiming to have links to Wikileaks when in fact he had none. And of threatening Randy Credico to make Credico say there were such links, when there were not.

It is also worth noting the trial was nothing to do with “hacking” and no hacking was alleged or proven. Wikileaks does not do hacking, it does “leaks”. The clue is in the name. The DNC emails were not hacked. The Guardian is fitting this utterly extraneous element into its headline to continue the ludicrous myth that the Clinton campaign was “Hacked” by “the Russians”.

It is worth noting that not one of those convicted of charges arising from or in connection with the Mueller investigation – Manafort, Papadopolous, Stone – has been convicted of anything to do with Wikileaks, with anything to do with Russia or with the original thesis of the enquiry.

Astonishingly, in the case of Stone, he has been convicted of saying that the Mueller nonsense is true, and he was a Trump/Wikileaks go-between, when he was not. Yet despite the disastrous collapse of the Mueller Report, and despite the absolutely devastating judicial ruling that there was no evidence worthy even of consideration in court that Russiagate had ever happened, the Guardian and the neo-con media in the USA (inc. CNN, Washington Post, New York Times) continue to serve up an endless diet of lies to the public.

Randy Credico was the chief witness for the prosecution against Roger Stone. That’s for the prosecution, not the defence. This is the state’s key evidence against Stone. And Credico is absolutely plain that Stone had no link to Wikileaks. The transcript of my exclusive interview with Randy has now been prepared (thanks to Sam and Jon) and follows here.

I spoke to Randy yesterday to clarify one point. The first conversation Randy ever had with Julian Assange was on 25 August 2016 and it was on-air on Randy’s radio show. There was no private talk off-air around the show. That was Randy’s only contact of any kind with Julian Assange before the 2016 election. His next contact with him, also an on-air interview, was not until Spring 2017, well after the election. He could not have been in any sense a channel to Wikileaks.

Here is the unedited interview from 10 November:

RC: Hello.
CM: Hello there, Randy. Hello, can you hear me OK?
RC: Yes, perfectly.
CM: Yeah. I’m good, I’m very good indeed. OK, let’s do it like this, shall we, it seems …
RC: Now listen, before you start, you can ask me anything you want, and this is the only interview I’m going to do. I’ll be in town with—like, all day long—with people asking me to talk about this and I just want to get it out of the way and move on. All right?
CM: No, I quite understand. And that’s very sensible. Now, let’s start then … let’s start … before we get into the substance, let’s start then with some of the atmospherics. How did it feel to you, you know, to be you … to be Randy walking into that courtroom?
RC: Well, you know, when I, when I … first of all, for the last eight months I knew this was eventually going to happen. So I’ve been on needles and pins, a lot of anxiety that … Wait a second … Hold on, hold on … can you start and do that again?
[aside] Bye, everybody. … I’m doing an interview with somebody here.
Hi, Craig. Hi, Craig.
CM: Yep. Yep. I’m here.
RC: Hello. All right. Start going. Start … start again.

[1:30]
CM: OK. Before we get into the substance, Randy, let’s talk about the atmospherics. How did it feel to be you? How did it feel to be Randy Credico walking into that courtroom?
RC: Well, you know, all of my life … I got into show business when I was 18 years old and I really was pursuing fame and notoriety and, you know, I finally got it, and this is “be careful what you wish for”—because this is certainly not something that I was relishing. For the past eight months, when Mr Stone was indicted, I have been suffering from heavy anxiety, having to appear as a witness under subpoena. And then when it finally happened, eight months went by quickly, and I got to tell you something, going into that courtroom, and anticipating it the previous night in which I couldn’t sleep was not a very comforting feeling. I walked in and, you know, it wasn’t the traditional way where you walk in from the back. You had to walk through the very front of the courthouse, past the defendant, past his family, past his friends, past his supporters, and then get on that witness stand right next to the jury, and begin answering questions. So after a while I was OK with it, but I knew it was going to be a long session; I knew I was going to have to come back the next day and continue and then I was going to have to go through the cross-examination. So it was just nothing but anxiety going in, and there was some relief when it was over but it was a different kind of a feeling because I felt bad for the defendant at the end of the testimony.
CM: Yeah, no, I’m sure you did. Did you catch his eye at any slight stage while you were … while you were talking?
RC: Yeah. You know, I tried not to. I didn’t think that was fair, so I did look at him. He was very morose looking, very sullen looking … and, you know, but for the grace of God, there goes I. I could’ve been in that seat, in that situation at some point in my lifetime, and the weight of the federal government with the vast resources in a case like that, and the defendant, he had … he had a lot of attorneys, but I didn’t think they were … they were really sufficient. These were not great barristers, you know what I mean? They were not good. And I found out they weren’t really that good because I had known earlier the way they were cross-examining previous witnesses that they just weren’t up to the job.
So, you know, you go in there and you’re under a lot of stress, and you’ve got to tell the truth and at the same time the truth is going to hurt the guy who’s sitting there … you know, just 25 or 30 feet away from you, and it could put him in prison. I mean—who wants to be in that position? All of my life, I have worked to get people out of prison. I’m a prison reformer. I’ve extricated people out of prison through clemency and changes of laws in the State of New York. And other activism that I have done like in Texas, I got 46 people out of prison. So this was a very bizarre, ironic situation that I was in at that particular point.
So yes, I caught his eye; I did catch his eye. You know, it’s such loose strings—it’s someone that you’ve known. I’ve known the guy for 17 years. And people say “How were you ever friends with this guy? You know, you’re an extreme left-winger, the guy is an extreme right-winger”. Well, I have no regrets meeting him, because I met him in 2002, after I had been working 5 years, visiting prisons, organizing families of prisoners who were subjected to New York’s racist and draconian Rockefeller drug laws. They were called the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. I was working with him, organizing, visiting their loved ones in prison, and we were moving forward to getting some substantial change in 2002, but we were at loggerheads with the government. So because Roger Stone was running the campaign of a third party candidate—a billionaire, a real maverick individual, who had some great ads that I saw—I went to Mr Stone because the Democrats and the Republicans in the race were not addressing the issue. Mr Stone actually not only agreed with my position there, but he spent … had his candidate spend … millions of dollars doing ads to repeal New York’s racist Rockefeller drug laws. And that was a very key moment in the historical run of this movement. Within a year and a half, the laws had changed, and each year there was major building blocks. We got the public to support us; we were getting politicians to support us. In 2002, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer—our two Democratic Senators—were not on board. And so, this guy Tom Golisano was on board and he did rallies with these families, he put them on television, and he, like I said, spent millions of dollars on ads. And if it weren’t for Roger Stone, that wouldn’t have happened. And so because of that within a year and a half, these families that I had worked with, there was retroactivity when the laws were changed within a year and a half, and that was a key component. And Mr Golisano stayed with it for another year, he continued to work with us.
So, something like that. Even though Mr Stone had screwed me over, had done some very nasty things over the next 17 years, there was still that soft spot for him because, when I look at those families and I remember their faces when they get reunited with their loved ones—he played a role in that.
So that’s the dilemma I was facing when I was on that witness stand. I was an aggrieved person. This could’ve been done, by the way, in a civil court, you know, my grievance against Mr Stone because, for me—for me—my position was I was kind of smeared by being associated with the Trump campaign with these bogus allegations of being the back channel to Wikileaks—which we’ll get into. There was never any back channel to Wikileaks—that was all hocus pocus! So, answering your question, it was … it was a very bizarre, uncomfortable experience undergoing those {inaudible} in that highly publicized and media-covered circus that was going on. Not a circus, but whatever was going on there, it was something that I would not want to go through again. And, look, I’ve performed in front of a million different audiences; I’ve worked strip joints when I was in air force bases; I’ve done vigils, rallies; I’ve worked the worst toilets in the room over a 45 year period in show business, but I still wasn’t prepared for that kind of atmosphere.
CM: Yes, I can imagine. Is it a fair characterisation to say that you, Randy, you’re on the libertarian left of politics, whereas Roger’s on the libertarian right, and you both met because there were some issues such as drug decriminalization on which you agree and on which he then did good work in decriminalizing communities in New York. Is that the basic analysis?
RC: Yes, I would say I once ran on the Libertarian party line in 2010. A lot of their positions I don’t agree with … but I’m on the left, he’s a libertarian right. He’s not like one of these people—when I met him he was not the ideologue that he was portrayed to be in the media in 2002—a far right Jesse Helms type or a far right John Ashcroft type. He was a libertarian, he smoked pot; you know, we had the same views on music. He actually was advocating for the pardon of Marcus Garvey, who was framed, who was a leader of Black Nationalism in the 20s, on these bogus mail fraud charges. So, you know, he’s kind of a sphinx, you know, politically. He’s not, like I said, a hard-core right-winger. He was not for the war in Iraq back in 2003. So, you know, I don’t even know what the right and the left is sometimes. You know, I really don’t know what that means. I mean Tony Blair’s supposed to be a Labour guy, but he’s as bad as George Bush is, and always has been. So does he really support Labour, is he a leftist? No. So, you know, these labels are a little confusing to me. But like I said, Stone—you know—he’s a showman. He’s a showman; he’s an exhibitionist. That’s what got him in trouble here. The poor guy is … you know, he’s a megalomaniacal showman. Just like I am. I’m in show business, why? Because I’m like him—I like to get laughs, and I want to be recognised. That’s him.
I said he’d done a lot of bad things to me but politically we were, you know, we coincided on a few major issues, and one of them was drug law reform in the State of New York. Now, mind you, 97% of the people that were subjected to the Rockefeller drug laws in the State of New York were black and Latino. And still are—they have been modified, not completely changed. But, you know, they were subjected to harsh punishment; they were getting 15 years to life. I know one kid by the name of Terence Stevens, paralysed from the neck down—from the neck down—with muscular dystrophy, and that guy was doing all of this time for possession on a bus! They ascribed it to him for possession! And he had done 10 years in prison, in the medical ward of a real dank prison—it was called Green Haven—for possession. And that was not like the exception to the rule. There were thousands of people in similar circumstances that were there that were just mules, or addicts that were doing this time—and Stone actually was very sympathetic to it. It wasn’t like it was a—you know, what would you call it—flash in the pan type of a push. He continued afterwards, he even wrote some op-ed pieces; but, like I said, he did some bad things to me over the years, but I’m a good natured guy, and I overlooked it. I let him get away with it.
CM: The astonishing thing about all this is … is that it all comes out of the Mueller inquiry, and the so-called Russiagate scandal, and yet none of these charges relate to Russia. And let’s be quite plain, to the best of your knowledge and belief—or to the best of your knowledge anyway—Roger Stone has no link to the Russian government that we’re aware of, and he certainly has no link to Wikileaks that we’re aware of. Is that your understanding?
RC: Well, actually what he had was … Look … Roger Stone … Here’s what happened. In 2015, Trump hired him. He lasted one month. Why? Because every time he did an interview it was more about him than it was about Trump; and Trump got frustrated with him and dumped him. And he may have given Trump advice here and there because, you know, he was the one who got Trump to run 30 years earlier; it was his idea, he kept pushing Trump. So he was kind of unceremoniously kicked out of the Trump camp.
Flash forward to 2016, he’s kind of hanging around the Trump campaign, he comes up with one of these super packs. And so he’s trying to ingratiate himself back into the Trump orbit there. And what he did was he, like, looks at Wikileaks and he sees what’s going on with Wikileaks, and he’s trying to get information. He’s going to guys like Jerome Corsi. You know, Jerome Corsi is a complete lunatic, you know, beyond the pale of conspiracy freaks … and he got hoodwinked by that guy. And this is my estimation, this is my analysis. He gets hoodwinked into thinking that he’s got a back channel. Right.
So he is showing, you know … First of all, the whole idea of a back channel is ridiculous. Julian Assange does not telegraph what he’s going to put out. He never has. He doesn’t compromise his sources and he always puts out that his whole M.O. is the element of surprise. So there was no reason for him to give it to Roger Stone, of the kind of preview of what he was doing. Why would he do that? When everything that he was doing, he was doing carefully, and he was selecting the time and then he’d put it out. There was no reason for him to give anything to Stone. No, Stone was playing the role of someone that had the inside information from Assange. Now, you know Assange, he’s very careful. He’s not going to … if he wanted to he would just give it directly to Trump, you know, but he didn’t. He never did. He didn’t need to go through Stone. But Stone was pretending that he had some kind of access to Wikileaks, and he was selling that to the Trump campaign—that he was able to get something in advance, he knew what it was. And so they didn’t think they were going to win, and they were looking for Hail Marys and this was one of them, and they brought him into the orbit and Stone was thinking that whatever this guy Corsi was giving him was accurate, possibly, and then … then me. All right? So, there was nothing there.
And then, the following month, in August 25th, after Stone had said a few weeks previously that he had direct contact with Assange, and he modelled at that to get a back channel. I had never met Assange, never had any conversation with Assange. In fact, I never ever even met him until the following year. So, on August 25th, through my friend, through someone then that worked with Assange got him on my radio show … on August 25th. And so, I was … it was a big fish for me. I had just gone from one day a week with my show to three days a week, and two of those days were prime time—5 o’clock drive time—and I let Stone know that I had Assange on my show. He didn’t even respond to that. I let him know. So I was kind of one-upping him. And Assange was on the show—we even talked about it: “Do you have a back channel with Roger … ?” And he laughed at it. You know, Stone was on my show on the twenty … two days previously … and I asked him about it, and he said that he had a back channel and he really couldn’t disclose what it was. And then Assange was on. So there was no back channel there, with me.
I went to London a few weeks later. I went to London to see a fellow by the name of Barry Crimmins, who is a left wing comedian, who I had known for 30 years; and we were in London together performing there back in 1986. It was the 30 year anniversary. He was working at the Leicester Square Comedy Club in London. And somebody underwrote my trip to see him. Three days. I hung out with him for three days.
I also had a letter from the General Manager from the station to give to Julian Assange, or someone that works with Julian Assange, with a proposal that he do a radio show out of the Ecuadorian Embassy, with an IFB, and do it over the Pacifica network, and it would be his show. But at that time remember in September he was preparing obviously putting stuff together, collating it, or whatever, and putting it together, for the eventual day that he was trying to put it out, which was on October 7th. Now, the date that he put it out they say it was to coincide with the Access Hollywood tape. Now, anyone, talk to Stefania Maurizi, she will tell you that they were planning to put that out a day or two earlier on the 7th. That was the day they were going to put it out. She was the one that knew, she never told anybody, but she did afterwards. And last year she said she knew they were going to put something out on the 7th, because she worked with Assange. She was one of the few journalists that he trusted, and rightly so.
But I never got in to see him. They didn’t, they didn’t see me, because Stone found out on the 27th, he knew that I was flying to London to see my friend Barry Crimmins, so … and possibly see Assange. He wanted me to find out from Assange, because he put somebody on my radio show—Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President—he put him on my show on the 9th of September, and I owed him a favour and the favour was to find out if this email from Hillary Clinton to somebody existed regarding the situation in … in Libya, and sabotaging the peace talks with Gaddafi. Well, I never did that, I never gave it to Assange. I wouldn’t dare ask him.
I’ve been in that Embassy three times since, after that year 2017 when I spent some time with you and John Pilger in London and Edinburgh. That’s when I saw him. I never once asked him about his business. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t ask him how they did things … nothing. The stuff was so general. We talked about dogs, we talked about him running for Senate, and the Green Party, we talked about food. We talked about general things. And that was it. I never once saw … There was no way I was going to ask him to confirm if this email existed. In fact, I told Stone that if it existed, it would be on the Wikileaks website.
All right, so that happens; that happens, and nothing happens. I did say, I did predict, and I put it on Facebook after standing outside that Embassy on the 29th, I dropped the letter off. There was a guy from either MI6, MI5, or a metropolitan police department outside that building with a headphone on, or an earplug, and he was listening: you could tell, these guys are so obvious. And I dropped the letter off. I was in for less than 20 seconds. I knocked on the door on the left; a hand came out; I dropped the letter off from the station, and left; I went through Harrods and I was followed. So I extrapolated from that, that something must be coming up. I put it on Facebook: “Here’s a picture of me, look at this guy behind me. I got a feeling the guy inside’s gonna drop something this week.”
Two days later I said the same thing to Stone. So now, he’s going to use me as—well, I mean, well, he has to—as the back channel. Supposedly he had a back channel for months. But the whole thing was ridiculous: I mean, there was no back channel; there never was a back channel. This was Stone just blowing himself up as, you know, as an important person to impress. As you said yesterday in your tweet, that he was looking to make money, and he did, he did ask the family for some money when he said that this was coming out, and that in fact did justify his luck that it came out on the 7th, and they thought that Stone had the inside information; he had no inside information. All right, so that’s where we were back … that’s where we are back then, up until October first or second or third. So I had no back channel. I had no information; Stone had no information—but he continued to sell himself as a person that did.
And then the, then the … I think that Correa shut down this internet for a while after he got pressure from John Kerry at that meeting in Bogota of the OAS [Organization of American States]. And so I said to Stone at a dinner, the only time I saw him in 2016 was at a dinner on October 12th or 13th, and I told him that, that was information that I got from about 20 people that there was pressure—it was even in the paper. So that was it. So now we go a year later, Stone testifies. Are you with me there, Craig?
CM: Yes, I am with you.
RC: OK. Do you want to ask a question, or should I continue?
CM: No, you carry on. Go with the flow.
RC: I shall. You go forward. The following year, Stone testifies, he testifies to confirm, not to Mueller, but the House Intel Committee—they had opened up an investigation right after this whole Russia stuff—and I was totally against it. I thought the whole thing was a ridiculous thing, chasing down you know Russians being behind it. Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign. Julian Assange did not send a map to the Clinton campaign of every school in Michigan and Wisconsin … all right. So she lost. She was a horrible campaign…
I was a big Bernie person. I was supporting … I did a four day howler marathon for Bernie to get out to vote just prior on the day before the New York primaries. So I was still pissed off at Hillary because she had taken it away from Bernie. Her and her cohorts at the DNC had taken it away from Bernie. And if Bernie had won that primary, had won that nomination, he would have beaten Trump … I believe. But Hillary …
CM. Yeah, I know. There’s a lot of polling evidence that says that, I think.
RC: Yes, I think, I think … I really do think that Bernie would have won that election. So I was really furious! I was furious that he was out of it. I’m still furious. I ended up voting for Jill Stein that day. And I went to Jill Stein’s party on November 8th 2016. I think I had you on the show with Jill Stein just prior to that. And I had her on the show that day and I went to her party and Trump won, and I was very depressed about that … not that I supported Hillary, I mean she didn’t have any chance at all so it’s fine …
Now going forth, let me get back to 2017. He voluntarily—voluntarily—goes before the House Intel Committee. They didn’t subpoena him, they didn’t ask him to show up but he voluntarily goes up and it’s behind closed doors. Simultaneously he releases a 47-page screed that he’s about to read on YouTube, he reads it on YouTube, and then his opening statement. Forty-seven pages he reads to them chiding the whole process and slamming Schiff and everybody, putting this whole Russiagate thing out there. And then at the end they ask him if he had a back channel, and he says “Yes, it’s a journalist but I’m not supposed to say who it is”.
Now, the next day, I’m trying to reach him. I’m thinking he’s going to say that I was now, because I had sent him those text messages, he’s gonna say …. And then he sends me a text message saying “Look, just go along with this, don’t worry about it. You’ll get a lot of press out of this. They’re not going to believe you, Credico; they’re going to believe me.” So, look he was covering up his attempts; he had no connection. And by the way, this is not helping Julian Assange out, having Roger Stone and Trump and all these people out there saying that they’re connected to Wikileaks. This is not helping his cause—all right—because Roger Stone is radioactive. Julian Assange knows that he’s radioactive. He doesn’t hate Stone; he finds him to be some kind of showman, you know, an exhibitionist; but he had nothing … he’s smart enough to know that you don’t go there, and he didn’t go there. But, so … now, he’s got himself in a bind here: he has said he’s got a back channel, he’s gloating about it, you know, he’s showboating … and a few days later, he lets me know that he’s gonna name me as the back channel. And that’s gonna go public! He said, “Look nobody’s gonna believe you, Credico. And better that, uh … better that I name you than go to jail.” So he doesn’t mention this guy Corsi, who was the back channel that wasn’t the back channel.
CM: OK. Can you just hang on a second, Randy? He said “better he names you than go to jail”. What was he thinking: that having claimed to have a back channel to the committee, he had to try to substantiate it or he’d be in trouble for lying? Or was there was some other risk of jail?
RC: If he says … If he says that they … He didn’t even get a subpoena! In other words, they didn’t subpoena him. Adam Schiff said, “We’d like to know who that back channel is.” And you have to get a full vote on the committee to get a subpoena. Without even getting a subpoena, he went and named me. I said “Well, why are you naming me?”. He says “Why should I go to jail for you?”. Now this is a cocked hat situation for me at that particular point. You know, here I’m being named for something I didn’t do, but he can circumstantially say that I did, because I had told him that I had a connection with Assange on my show: Margaret Ratner Kunstler. You know, but she …. And that was it. When I asked her to get him on the show, she was furious that I even asked her. So, you know, I had a show for a year prior to that and I never asked her. I did not want to get involved and bring her into this. And so I gotta get my own guests. But now I had it three days a week, and so I asked her gingerly and she did get him on the show. But by telling him that, putting that name out, now he’s got her name. Right?
And now I told him on October 1st that something’s coming out which I had already announced, extrapolating on public comments by Assange saying that something is coming out; I think Sarah Harrison may have said that something was coming out; everyone knew that something was coming out. And so since I never was able to get that thing, and never tried, on the Libyan connection with Hillary Clinton—and … what’s his name? … Gaddafi—I felt obligated to get something. And by the way, this is coming from the Heathrow Airport, where I was at the duty free bar there, and I was getting free drinks, because I got a couple of bottles there, and it’s the only duty free store I’ve ever been in where they’ve got like three or four portable bars where you could drink. Instead of spending money at the bar, you know, twelve pounds per ale, I was getting all of these different booze samples that they had and then I was buying a couple. And so when I’m waiting around at the gate, you know, I’m just texting him too along with other people “Something’s coming out”. I’m gonna go back to 2017. So he’s going to name me, he says he’s gonna name me, and just to go along with it. And he’ll go to jail … I don’t know how he could go to jail by not answering the subpoena, or not giving up the name. He could always just take the Fifth Amendment. He could, like I did later on; I took the Fifth Amendment. For a variety of reasons I took the Fifth Amendment. So now he’s put me in a jam … all right, he names me, he names me as a back channel.
And there’s a ton of papers, a ton of stories out there in the newspapers and the electronic media that Randy Credico’s the back channel. Now everybody on the centre left hates me. People connected to the Clinton people think that I helped Donald Trump win, I facilitated it, and I got myself in a big jam right there. Now what do I do? Do I go up there, when I get the letter from the House Intel Committee, and contradict Roger Stone? If I do, then he’s in trouble legally and then he could go to jail for perjury. So I had to think about that. Even though he put my reputation on the line there I feel like … Look, people lie to Congress all the time, to Congressional committees; and, you know, it leads to wars; it leads to mass surveillance; it leads to … appointments to the Supreme Court federal bench. And so those are big lies that are never investigated and they get away with it. So his was a small lie except for it was about me though; that was the only problem. I don’t mind that he lied to Congress, because everybody lies to Congress.
CM: Yeah, I must say to that point I mean he hadn’t done anything. He’d boasted a bit; he’d tried to work an angle by claiming he had a contact he didn’t have; he’d then maintained that by telling the Intelligence Committee that he had a contact he didn’t have. But then, that’s a fairly harmless lie.
RC: You … you … you know what it is? It’s a fender bender. But it turned out to be a 21 trailer tractor pile-up. It was a fender bender. It was no big thing to tell them that. I kind of laughed at his 47-page statement. It was kind of entertaining. You know, he was putting on a show there. But when he put me in there …. Look, if it was anybody else, it’s fine. And it’s not like it was a major transgression to say that he had a back channel that he didn’t have. Right? That’s not a major transgression. When you lie about weapons of mass destruction—that is something that cost millions of lives, and people got away with that. People got away with lying to Congress about that, lately. You got guys who lie about not being spied on—there’s no domestic spying—that was a lie, they got away with that. All right? That’s the kind of stuff that affects them. This doesn’t affect, you know, anything. But he did lie to Congress, he did it five or six times, he kept lying; and there are five or six times that he lied in there and said that I had been providing him information from, like, early June all the way through October third or fourth or fifth. So … which is totally ridiculous, you know! And nobody else provided him with that, because Assange does not tip his mitt. You know what I mean?
So he was building himself up, ingratiating himself with the Trump campaign, which he had been disaffected from … thrown off the campaign. So he was clawing himself back on, and this was his way … and he was fishing around. Wikileaks had rebuffed him, told him “Stop saying you’re connected to us! All right? That’s not true.” They put that out there. They sent them a direct mail that “we had nothing to do with Roger Stone”. And all that was doing was hurting them, by saying that, you know, he was one of the most despised person in the US, whether it’s true or not the reasons why, but he’s a despised person in the US by a lot of people. And traditional right-wingers don’t like him, and the left doesn’t like him, because he’s a dirty trickster and he’s been connected … remember, he was connected to … with Mobutu, he helped out Mobutu do PR work; he helped out Marcos do PR work; Savimbi … did PR work for Savimbi; he was a big fan of Pinochet. So he doesn’t have a clean past. All right? He made a lot of money, made millions of dollars working with some of the most odious dictators in the 80s. And he and Manafort, and a few others, they had a PR firm and that’s who they worked for. All right? So let’s not say Roger Stone is an angel here. You don’t make money … maybe if this is the ghost of Lumumba, the ghost of Aquino, of Victor Jara, coming back to haunt Mr Stone. You know, but we just push that aside, we push that aside.
Getting back to Wikileaks: they rebuffed, they publicly said they did not have anything to do … and you know that was true: they did not. He did not have a back channel. He invented himself in, he insinuated himself into the Wikileaks orbit, as if he was like, you know, some part of it. And that wasn’t good for them, you know, because they were going to release that stuff.
Now Assange has material there. He’s got the material. Either he can not put it out there and possibly help out Hillary, or he could put it out there and help out … whatever it was, that wasn’t his decision. His decision as a journalist is: he’s got material and so his ethics as a journalist: you put it out there. You can’t hold back material. That’s the way he looked at it. And he put it out there. Because he had it. He got a big scoop there. And he had to put that out there. If he had a similar scoop on Trump, he would’ve put that out there. He does not compromise his ethics. He is a journalist, and he operates as a journalist in the best tradition.
CM: To move the story on now, though: next, Stone does get nasty and he gets nasty towards you because you won’t play along with his story and you won’t say you were a back channel when you weren’t, so he starts to threaten you.
RC: Well, here’s what happened. I went there back to London—and I don’t think I saw you this time around, I think there in November, and I knew I put it out, and I was covering for Pacifica the case of … the case that Stefania Maurizi had against the Crown Prosecutor Services over the emails that were suppressed by them, between them and the Swedish Prosecutor. So I went to that proceeding and … {inaudible} … and spent three or four days in London. I got to see Julian a couple of times and, you know, that was the last time I saw him, by the way. But I was still … I didn’t know what to do at that particular time.
I got the subpoena when I got back and I really thought that they were going to ask me about my communications with Assange, the House Intel Committee. So that was one of the reasons that I said, “Well, here I can go and use my First Amendment rights”, and my lawyer said “No, you can’t; you can use your Fifth Amendment rights.” And then, you know, Stone was hanging over my head that he was going to bring in Mrs Kunstler, and drag her through this. And, you know, he and I are both come from Italian-American families and it’s chauvinistic but we don’t drag the women into it; that’s a tradition—you don’t bring the women into the mud here. But he was going to do that, he was going to bring Mrs Kunstler’s name into to it. She’s this woman with a pristine past; she’s done nothing. Her husband was the greatest civil rights attorney; he liked the fanfare, he got a lot of publicity, but he did incredible work. She did incredible work throughout her life, and she did it quietly. She does not like the trash, she does not like the beach going out there. She’s lived this humble life, and just done all of the grunt work legally, and I did not want to drag her through this, this entire quagmire. I didn’t want her name, and the fact I even broached her name to Stone, that was … I was an asshole for doing it. And for Stone to hang that over my head, that was one of the reasons why I took the Fifth Amendment when I did … and to the very end I had no idea what I was going to do. I was trying to do this—do you remember the Wallendas, you know, the tightrope specialists? I was trying to walk this line there where I could say I wasn’t the guy, wasn’t the back channel, without pissing off Stone, and to do that, say that I wasn’t the back channel, but like I said, without giving them information, without going before the Committee. But if I … the thing is once I took the Fifth Amendment, everyone assumed that I was a back channel and was helping out Stone. That’s just the way people think.
And then, the … I was working for this millionaire guy who was going to run for Governor. I was working throughout 2018; I had, like, a one year contract. He decided … he’s such a nice guy, rather than … rather than fire me, he decided to drop out of the race. OK, I worked with him for the previous year, OK, because he was a big shot with the liberal Democrats—he was like probably a billionaire—and he was a big finance guy who just couldn’t be seen at that point with me because I was now radioactive being associated with Stone, but I played it that way—I did take the Fifth Amendment but, like I said, people just assumed, and I started doing television shows, trying to explain myself; I couldn’t explain myself. And then I finally said … and he was getting upset that I was even out there, contradicting, gainsaying what he had put out there in front of the House Intel Committee. And why? Why was he upset? Because he didn’t want it to get out that he had been calling up Trump with this bogus information that he had gotten from this guy Corsi and somebody else. He had been calling up Trump, he had been calling the family, he had been calling up everybody, to get back in there, weasel his way back in there with this back channel claim that he didn’t have. And so he didn’t want to get that to be exposed. He got so furious with me that he started saying nasty ….
Now, I understand: he’s in a bad situation right now. He’s in a bad situation: he lied to Congress! Now he’s saying things about me, and he’s, like, saying nasty … now, look, going up to the … before I took the Fifth, he was sending me text messages to take the Fifth and not to talk. All right? And he’s text messaging this … in broad daylight! You know, we live in an age of mass surveillance … why would you be doing that, text messaging someone: “Don’t talk. All right? If you talk, you do this, do that!” And … but, you know that’s not the reason why. The only reason, the main reason was that I was worried that she would be dragged into this, because he could somehow circumstantially, you know, say that this is the … and I didn’t know he had these prior discussions with other people.
So now we’re going through … getting back to 2018, and what … I’m in a quandary here: what do I do? Big dilemma. Do I come out? And I finally said, “Look, I wasn’t the guy; this is all a complete lie.” And then he started sending out some of the text messages and emails—the one about … {inaudible} …, and all of that—to make it look like I was … {inaudible} …, you know, a war—a public battle between the two of us. And thing is … is that I don’t know why he did that. He’s escalating it. He’s getting stories planted about my character … he’s smearing me, and then … he’s threatening me. But the threats I never took seriously. All right? If I took them seriously, I would gone to the police department—911, and would’ve called up 911—”Somebody had threatened … “. I never took those seriously. It was a guy that was desperate now; he was acting in a desperate way. And he didn’t know what to do. Look, I’ve seen … the guy is sending these things out at two o’clock in the morning … you know, the guy, you know, he gets toasted. All right? He’s not doing it on a sober level. He’s sending out some very nasty things. And so when I … I got so sick and tired of him saying these things about me publicly, that I took the private emails, and I said when … when they got so bad … the smear job had got so bad … it was what was called a ‘brushback pitch’. I gave them to somebody in the media and said “Here, here’s what he’s saying to me in these emails.” And then that’s what … that’s what dragged in the Mueller people when they saw them. I wish I had never put them out, but he escalated it, and I put it out; and the next thing you know, they show up; they’re looking for me, and I’m kind of laying low. I did a show at the …{inaudible} …, my first public performance, and they’re there … they’re there, and they asked me to cancel it; I wouldn’t testify, and then I got a subpoena a couple of months later, and I have … Mow, when you go before them, the first thing they tell you is you can say anything you want, you just can’t lie. All right?
CM: Yep?
RC: Are you there?
CM: Yeah, I’m with you.
RC: You can’t lie to them. You just can’t lie to them. So I sat there and I told them they had all of our emails, they had subpoenas, they had the text messages, and you know, Stone was … Stone put himself into that situation. You know, when they were doing this broad investigation with the Mueller people … these are the best lawyers that exist in the US prosecutors. So like, some top level attorneys and FBI people assigned to it. And they found everything, and so now, now I have to go before the Grand Jury. And in fact I went before the Grand Jury, and I had to answer “Yes” or “No”, and I had the … I was there with my book Sikunder Burnes, by the way, which everyone was interested in … if you recall?
CM: I do. I recall the photos very well.
RC: So now I go before them. Nothing’s happened and months go by and Stone starts dripping out more text messages that were recently found. These were text messages I didn’t have: 2016 and 2017. He selectively cherry-picked some messages, dropped them out there and so they want to know. They call me back into DC, I gotta go back to DC and go over hundreds of pages of text messages with Stone. And the next thing you know, the following January 25th, Stone had lied and he had threatened … you know, I didn’t take the threats seriously. Like I said, I would have said something to the authorities, you know. But, you know, he did put it out there and he did try to get me to change my testimony. So … you know, you gotta be careful, you can’t do things like that. And so he got arrested, and now you know, he gets arrested and now the onus is on me. I know that I’m gonna be … I looked at those charges, seven … he had seven charges and five of them were related to me.
I’m in a real box right now. I felt terrible. But eventually, hopefully, the guy pleads out or he gets a pardon or whatever. He didn’t. He didn’t get a pardon. In fact, he hasn’t pardoned any of the people connected to this. And you would think that this guy would have gotten a pardon. I felt terrible, like I said, about having to testify, but if I don’t testify then I’m in contempt and can spend two years in jail on contempt charges. Plus, they already had the goods there, they had the goods, they had the text messages, and Stone was … you know, indiscreet, putting those things out there. Can you imagine Assange putting something out there like that? Would you do something like that, in the open? You know that everyone can see your Gmail. If you’re a follower of Assange, you don’t put in things in Gmail, because it’s like graffiti on a train: it’s hard to get off, you can’t wash it off, it’s there forever. And so … so he never had a back channel, though. Stone never had a back channel.
CM: Don’t you think there’s a tremendous irony here, because the Mueller inquiry set out to prove Hillary Clinton’s claims that the Russians had hacked the DNC and had then conspired with the Trump campaign and Wikileaks to take the election from her, and they couldn’t find any of that because it’s nonsense: it’s just not true, so …
RC: He wasn’t charged.
CM: So they found …
RC: He wasn’t charged. I repeat, Julian Assange was not charged here.
CM: No, precisely. And they end up … they end up doing the opposite: they end up actually trying Roger Stone because he was claiming that that original thesis was true, in fact. You know, he was claiming to be a link between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, and fact there was no link between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks; so they end up taking someone to court for the opposite reason from what they tried to prove in the first place.
RC: Obviously, he did not have a back channel. Obviously, what he did was … he disrupted an investigation and threw everybody off. All right? So you step on toes when you do something like that. If he had just been hon… Look, all he had to do, Craig, for himself … all right, very easily … was go before that House Intel Committee, if they ever were even going to call him, and say “Look, I tried. I did not have a back channel. Nothing ever happened. You know, I was bluffing the Trump campaign … if he had just said that and just been honest …. He put himself in a bad spot all because of this narcissism or this megalomania, this need for attention. You know, the guy, like I said, is not everyone’s favourite character, and … you know …. Look, there was no back channel to Wikileaks, ever! You’re right, there was no back channel … I mean, that’s my opinion. I don’t see a back channel to Wikileaks. And I said that, that I don’t think … you know … if they have something they’re going to show at the rest of this trial. Maybe there was, but I didn’t see it. I don’t … so far, I don’t see anything. And why would Assange ever, ever, ever give up … you know, he doesn’t give up the source—A; and, B—he doesn’t tip what he … you know, tip his mitt, as it were. So that is where Stone got himself into trouble, with lying to Congress five times and then they couldn’t … and so the whole time they want me, you know, all … I got three subpoenas and Congressional committees—from the Senate, the House … two from the House judiciary, the Senate Intel—and I rebuffed … I said no to all of them. I didn’t want to get involved in that circus, that political circus between the Democrats and Republicans—I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. But from the Mueller people, they have the subpoena, and I was compelled, and … like I said there was nothing there that I did; but if people think that, you know, well maybe I was BS’ing Stone, you know, I was just trying to satisfy what … you know, the guy wanted something for the Gary Johnson … all because of this whole Gary Johnson, getting him on my show, and me trying to reciprocate it and I never did try. I’d never … He wanted me to get Assange on his show; that was the first request for getting Gary Johnson. I didn’t do that. So, look, this whole thing could have been avoided. All he had to do was, when he went in front of the Intel Committee, when he volunteered, to say that he didn’t have a back channel, that it was all BS, you know, that he was just bluffing, that he was trying to get in good with … you know … with the Trump campaign. So now, he’s facing … the biggest charge against Stone right now is guess what? Jury tampering, I mean, witness tampering. So the other things carry a couple of years; but the witness tampering carries 20 years, and I’m the witness that he tampered with! Now I told …. They did such a bad job, the defence attorneys yesterday. What he said was “Mr Stone … “. One charge was that he’d steal my dog! And I never took that seriously that he was gonna steal my dog. I volunteered, I said: “Stone likes dogs. Stone likes dogs, he’s got dogs, he loves dogs, he wasn’t gonna steal my dog”. I was never worried about him taking this dog of mine. All right? It was hyperbole of the highest order, and it was out of frustration, and probably juiced up on Martinis when he said it. I didn’t take it seriously, at all.
CM: And you were able to say that in the witness stand. That’s what you said, yeah?
RC: I said it. I literally witnessed … I said in the witness stand. You know, I can’t say that he didn’t try to get me to change my … to get me to take the Fifth Amendment. That was … He was one person that had advice. Everyone … I think I even asked you about it! I asked a hundred people what should I do—I had no idea! I’d never been in that situation before! Now what do I do? I knew what the cost was going to be: if I took the Fifth Amendment, people were going to wonder; and if I had not taken the Fifth Amendment, and testified, then Stone would have been charged, and he would have been guilty and possibly do some time in prison. So I was basically saving him then, and … Look, ironically he is now facing prison time.
CM: Yep. You did ask me. I advised you not to take the Fifth, I said you should go in there and tell, tell the full truth … was my advice.
RC: That’s right. I did ask you. I may have asked you on my show; I may have asked you by phone—but I remember you were the one of the few people that said “Don’t take the Fifth Amendment!” You were one of them. And a few others said the same thing: Ben Weiser said “Do not take the Fifth Amendment!” And Glenn Greenwald told me not to take the Fifth Amendment. So there were three people who told me … wise people told me not to take the Fifth Amendment. And lo and behold I did anyway, and all it did was create some problems. But Stone could have taken … that’s the thing, Stone could have taken the Fifth Amendment…. He could have done that and it would’ve been over with…. And now it’s dragged on, he’s put himself in harm’s way. You know, I did say that I wasn’t worried about this, but they didn’t ask me. The other threats about I’m gonna die … because there was a lot of things he said, but was I worried about that? No, I wasn’t worried that he was going to kill me! You know what I mean.
CM: The thing I take away from this is that you … plainly you forgive him for his bluster against you, which you never took that seriously in the first place, and I mean, I think it goes to your nature as the very kind and caring person you are, Randy: you’re more concerned now for Roger Stone … you know, you’re worried what’s going to happen to him, about him going down to jail, being in an awful situation. So despite everything, your main worry now is for him.
RC: I worry about that! I worry about the guy. Look, he’s 67 years old. He’s got a wife, he’s got friends, he’s got kids … you know, I don’t want to be the guy that’s responsible for him doing time in a US prison. US prisons are terrible … you know, that’s why, you know, we’re vying so hard to keep Julian from coming over here, and Lauri Love from coming over here, because of conditions of US prisons. That guy wouldn’t last a minute with a Nixon tattoo on his back, so I feel terrible that he put himself in this situation. Like I said, if his lawyer had asked me—his lawyer closed up, it was like “My God, this guy should have asked me some more questions … that I did not feel threatened by Stone personally.” You know what I mean? He made this threat, but I didn’t … I didn’t … I told him I’d never felt threatened by that. The thing is, that he had not emailed, telling me to take the Fifth, to stonewall all of this—he should have never done that! You know what I mean? I didn’t ask him for his advice on that. I asked people who were … legal people, people like yourself who know the legal system, what to do—and I got a mixed bag. At the end of the day, I ended up taking the Fifth Amendment. And, like I said, as bad as he’s been to me … I don’t want to see …. Look, jail is for people like Hannibal Lecter … people like … people like Rudolf Hess … and people like, you know … that commit the heinous crimes … people that get us into wars. Tony Blair, I’d like to see in prison. Pinochet, I’d like to see in prison … you know, before he died. Those are the kind of people that should be in prison—people that cause bodily harm, torture people—whoever tortured those loyal people in Uzbekistan … those are the people that should be in prison. But I am not … I had a father that did ten years in prison, OK? It ruined the kids … we all became hard-core alcoholics. You know, it was long before I was born. So I heard the horror stories of the prison that my father spent ten years in on the … on the … he was a male nurse on the tuberculosis ward. Ninety-nine percent of the people on that ward were black. All right? So he had an Italian … first generation, second generation Italian … that’s there, and you know they’re not good on race. My father was always good. That was the … that was what I took as a takeaway. But I always worked on prison reform because of I went through as a kid, listening to my father’s horror stories. So prison is not good for anybody. Now, Stone should do something like get probation or something. I don’t want to see the guy—at 67, 68 years of age—you know, the fact that he’s a broken man now, a broken-down man right now … he spent all this money. Look, I have a grievance against him—he has done some rotten things to me over the years; but, you know, forgiveness is a cardinal virtue, and I subscribe to having … you know, to forgive. I forgive. I forgive … and let it go. You know what I mean?
CM: Yes.
RC: The stuff that he did back in the 80s, that’s … he’ll have to deal with his maker on that … with those dictators … so he’ll have to deal with his … I don’t know how bad he is, what he did, I don’t know. But as far as me, I can forgive somebody. I don’t want to have resentment, I don’t want to carry resentment around. And I will be in a very bad spiritual way … a very bad spiritual way if in fact he goes to prison. It’s going to do a number on me to see that guy actually go into a maximum security prison, or any kind of prison. It’s not something that I want to see, personally. It’s not up to me … but believe me, it’s a lot of weight on my shoulders right now. And I don’t want to see anybody go to prison. It’s just not … it’s not the answer. Putting people in prison is not the answer. There has to be alternatives to incarceration. There are so many bad things that go on the world, and we spend a hundred thousand dollars here to put Roger Stone in prison. You know, it’s going to be a heavy burden for me to carry for the rest of my life, if he does go. And I, you know … I’m sorry that I’m in this …this … you know, I … right now, Assange is in a prison … and that kills me, every day that he’s in that prison. This bright … as you say, he’s the brightest person you’ve ever met. And I say, he’s the second brightest—you’re the brightest person I’ve ever met. But Assange is right behind you. And this brilliant individual is there, suffering. The people that put him through this should be in prison. The people that have been … the people on the CPS that conspired to put him there … and the politicians and the judges that put him there. Remember, when Garibaldi liberated San Stefano prison in 1860, you see, the first thing he said to one of the inmates was “Show me the judges!” And that how I feel: show me the judges. Who are … who’s doing this to Julian Assange? Just show me who the judges are! Show me those who are conspiring in the judiciary to destroy this young man, this brilliant young man, this great journalist. Show me who those people are. Those are the ones that should be behind bars.
CM: Yep. No, you’re absolutely right: there’s much more evil done by the State and those in a position of power in the State than there is by, unfortunately, the actual criminals (as the state sees them). Anyway, Randy, we ….
RC: You get these people, they’re so … the blacks and Latinos that go through the criminal justice system. It creates a lot of jobs for the bailiffs, for the lawyers, for the bail bondsmen, the jailers … you know, for the prison guards. Everyone’s got a piece of pie. But you need low-level so-called criminals; but the big criminals—the ones that start wars, the guys like Tony Blair and people like Jack Straw—they’re walking the streets.
CM: Yep. No, I quite agree. Well, we’d better wind it up, Randy. That’s been a long ….
RC: It was a long conversation … it was a long, a long … the end is in sight … and I’m sorry it was so garrulous there, but …
CM: No, that was excellent. And it’s very good that you got that off your chest, if you like, and, you’ve got the record set absolutely straight now for people to hear, which is superb.
RC: It’s the only interview I’m doing. I told you that I needed to get this off. Believe me … I’m getting calls all day long, to be interviewed. I did the one interview. It’s over—I’m not doing another one. So thanks very much for bearing with me … it was like going to a shrink, right now, and I got this off my chest. OK?
CM: It’s a new career for me. All right. I’ve got to go now, Randy, and get that processed. All right?
RC: Thank you very much. You know it’s the first time I’ve been interviewed by you. I’ve interviewed you 45 times over the years.
CM: Yes, it’s quite fun doing it the other way round.
RC: And give my best to Cameron and to Nadira. OK?
CM: I will do. Thank you very much. Thank you.
RC: All right. Thank you. Bye bye.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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“The Palace… Threatened Us a Million Different Ways”. 298

This leaked off-air recording of ABC News anchor Amy Robach is much more revealing than anything the BBC is going to air about Andrew Saxe Coburg Gotha.

Buckingham Palace has been “threatening” journalists to bury the story for years – which is all very reminiscent of Jimmy Savile, who was of course, ahem, popular at the Palace. Robach also states they were scared of losing interview access to folically challenged William Saxe Coburg Gotha and his underweight wife. She does not explicitly state that was one of the “threats” Buckingham Palace employed, but it does follow directly as her next observation.

Amy Robach very probably realised this “unguarded” moment would get out to the public, and we should be grateful to her for lifting the lid on how the protection of the crimes of the powerful operates, on a global level. Alan Dershowitz, whom Robach mentions, was not only a Lolita Express passenger, he is the celebrity lawyer who defended the CIA‘s use of torture as legally and morally justified. One might speculate on the psychological parallels of torturing the defenceless and inflicting sex on the young.

There is overwhelming evidence that Virginia Roberts Giuffre was trafficked into the UK by Epstein for sex with Prince Andrew. There are flight logs. There is that compromising photo in Ghislaine Maxwell’s flat. Both are entirely consistent with, and strongly corroborate, Virginia’s own testimony. This instance occurred in the UK.

It ought to be a matter of deep national disgrace that neither Ghislaine Maxwell nor “Prince” Andrew has been questioned over by the Metropolitan Police over this sex trafficking. That Virginia was over 16 is not the issue. She was sex trafficked into the UK and not legally adult. Why is there not a massive media clamour for Scotland Yard to investigate?

Amy Robach has the answer to that question.

Hat Tip to projectveritas

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Fragile Boris Johnson 161

I find election campaigns in which the Prime Minister addresses scrubbed, smug Tory audiences, filmed by the BBC in close shot to conceal the sparsity of their numbers, deeply disturbing. I find the speeches in factories to employees even more chilling. The sullen compliance of employees, too cowed to show discontent before their bosses, should disturb any right thinking person. This may bore millennials, but back in the 1970s it was inconceivable that a politician of any stripe could address a factory floor without some robust reaction from the workforce. In those days, workers had rights, their employment was protected, and they could not be dismissed on a whim. I have no doubt that the rise of the North Korean factory style meeting in British politics relates directly to the destruction of workers’ rights. Johnson did one in a electric taxi factory a couple of days ago and it was a staple of May’s appalling campaign.

Politicians only give speeches nowadays for them to be carried on electronic media, and the camera angles are considered more thoroughly than the content by their managers. The idea of a political meeting was that a politician would hire a public hall and invite the general public to come and listen to their attempt to win their vote, and engage in discussion with people. That idea has almost died, in favour of the outright propaganda model.

To his great credit, yesterday in Dundee Jeremy Corbyn did hold a relatively open meeting at the Queens Hotel, and he was heckled by Bob Costello. As it happens I know both Jeremy and Bob and have a lot of time for both of them. Bob’s heckle was the perfectly reasonable “I’m interested in what you’re going to do about the will of the Scottish people in relation to Section 30”. Section 30 in this context is Westminster’s agreement to an Independence referendum.

Heckling is a good thing. I do not hold for a moment with the notion that politicians must be heard in a respectful silence and questions reserved to the end. I almost always start my individual talks by encouraging people to interject if they have a burning desire to disagree. This was proper democratic politics as it ought to be conducted. Half decent politicians relish hecklers – they have the microphone and the platform and ought to have no difficulty in dominating the exchange if they are any good at all.

I would add that I have fierce contempt for the “security” argument for hiding politicians from their constituents. Far too often robust disagreement is falsely portrayed as threat. Another friend of mine, Nigel Jones, was when an MP attacked in his constituency office and left with permanent injuries. Public life carries risks. I have received a number of actual death threats over the years since I quit the FCO and started campaigning (often originating in Florida, for some peculiar reason). I doubt any MP has genuinely received significantly more than I. But I still hold perfectly open public meetings. I am in the phone book and on the open electoral register. My address is in Who’s Who. I find the continued bleating by politicians about their security insufferable. I faced the same nonsense in the FCO, when I was advised at various times under the FCO “Duty of Care” not to travel around the Ferghana Valley and around Sierra Leone and Monrovia – all of which I had to do in order to do my job properly. I ignored the advice, telling the FCO that if personal safety were my goal in life, I could have been an accountant.

I am surprised that the Tories feel the need to keep Johnson almost as wrapped in cottonwool as May, because Johnson is a better campaigner. His veneer of chummy bonhommie hides his menace effectively enough to fool most people most of the time. Where he is not good is under detailed, forensic questioning and I shall be surprised if the Tories let Andrew Neil at him. The broadcaster’s decisions on participation in debates are entirely governed by the Tory agenda. The Tories calculate that a sustained campaign of vilification has damaged Jeremy Corbyn to the extent the public will not listen to him, so the Tories are happy to debate Corbyn. They are determined to stop Sturgeon from interacting with Johnson, as she is an excellent debater. The Lib Dems are a major threat to Tory seats, which is why they want to keep Swinson as marginal as possible, although she is not a threat in debate.

By standing down candidates in 300 odd Tory constituencies, Nigel Farage drastically reduced the amount of time the broadcasters will give the Brexit Party. That is so fundamental, I simply do not believe it was done without a hidden Farage/Johnson understanding. The current “spat” between them over other candidates standing down is simply window dressing.

This is a fascinating campaign. I have not undertaken any quantitative analysis, but I have never before in a UK general election felt that, once a campaign was actually under way and the broadcasting rules in force, BBC bias continued quite as blatantly as it does at this moment. It is still my prediction that Cummings’ strategy means that vote spread will heavily disadvantage the Tories under FPTP and they will not get a majority. If they do, that can only hasten Scottish Independence and I will not personally suffer it for too long. But I feel very worried for the millions who would live under boot of the 1% in the conditions of deregulation a Tory victory would unleash.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Le Mesurier Gets Cross 174

Perhaps the only fact on James Le Mesurier about which I would agree with the MSM war cheerleaders is that he was a very busy man. It is remarkable therefore that he found the time and inclination to follow “Philip Cross” on twitter. Given that “Philip Cross” has virtually never posted an original tweet, and his timeline consists almost entirely of retweets of Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch and openly pro-Israel propaganda accounts, why would Le Mesurier bother to follow him?

“Philip Cross” has never posted any news other than to retweet columnists. He has never given an insight into a story. In addition to James Le Mesurier, why then were all these MSM journailsts following “Philip Cross” from before “he” gained notoriety for his Wikipedia exploits?

Oliver Kamm, Leader Writer The Times
Nick Cohen, Columnist The Guardian/Observer
Joan Smith, Columnist The Independent
Leslie Felperin, Film Columnist The Guardian
Kate Connolly, Foreign Correspondent The Guardian/Observer
Lisa O’Carroll, Brexit Correspondent The Guardian
James Bloodworth, Columnist The Independent
Cristina Criddle, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme
Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor, The Sunday Times
Iain Watson, Political Correspondent, The BBC
Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor, the Sunday Times
Jennifer Chevalier, CBC ex-BBC
Dani Garavelli, Scotland on Sunday

Prominent Freelancers

Bonnie Greer (frequently in The Guardian)
Mason Boycott-Owen (The Guardian, New Statesman)
Marko Attilla Hoare (The Guardian)
Kirsty Hughes
Guy Walters (BBC)
Paul Canning

What attracted all of these senior MSM figures to follow an obscure account with almost no original content? No reasonable explanation of this phenomenon has ever been offered by any of the above. What a considerable number of them have done is to use the megaphone their plutocrat or state overlords have given them, to label those asking this perfectly reasonable question as crazed conspiracy theorists.

This week, on the day of Le Mesurier’s death, “Philip Cross” made 48 edits to Le Mesurier’s Wikipedia page, each one designed to expunge any criticism of the role of the White Helmets in Syria or reference to their close relationship with the jihadists.

“Philip Cross” has been an operation on a massive scale to alter the balance of Wikipedia by hundreds of thousands of edits to the entries, primarily of politically engaged figures, always to the detriment of anti-war figures and to the credit of neo-con figures. An otherwise entirely obscure but real individual named Philip Cross has been identified who fronts the operation, and reputedly suffers from Aspergers. I however do not believe that any individual can truly have edited Wikpedia articles from a right wing perspective, full time every single day for five years without one day off, not even a Christmas, for 2,987 consecutive days.

I should declare here the personal interest that “Philip Cross” has made over 120 edits to my own Wikipedia entry, including among other things calling my wife a stripper, and deleting the facts that I turned down three honours from the Crown and was eventually cleared on all disciplinary charges by the FCO.

I hazard the guess that at least several of the above journalists follow “Philip Cross” on twitter because they are a part of the massive Wikipedia skewing operation operating behind the name of “Philip Cross”. If anybody has any better explanation of why they all follow “Philip Cross” on twitter I am more than willing to hear it.

The “White Helmets” operation managed for MI6 by Le Mesurier was both a channel for logistic support to Western backed jihadists and a propaganda operation to shill for war in Syria, as in Iraq or Libya. Wars which were of course very profitable for arms manufacturers, energy interests and the security establishment. It should surprise nobody that Le Mesurier intersects with the Philip Cross propaganda operation which, with the active support of arch Blairite Jimmy Wales, has for years been slanting Wikipedia in support of the same pro-war goals as pushed by the “White Helmets”.

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The Sad Death of James Le Mesurier 238

We should never forget that all human deaths are tragedies. No human is perfect and none is completely evil. Even the most wretched, snivelling excuse of a human being you can possibly imagine – say Ian Austin – has known a mother’s love. Le Mesurier leaves a wife and children who will be mourning. We should not forget that.

Unfortunately he worked in a profession where you can very quickly move from an asset to a liability. Le Mesurier’s usefulness to Western security services, Israel and their Gulf allies came to an end when the jihadist headchoppers to whom Le Mesurier had been providing logistic support and invaluable propaganda, lost their last secure footing in Syria. That the white helmets worked hand in glove with the extreme jihadists, and moved out wherever they moved out, is beyond dispute as a matter of fact, whatever the state of denial of the mainstream media. That there is now nowhere in Syria that people can go around executing Christians with impunity, and simultaneously now nowhere that the White Helmets can operate, is not the coincidence the mainstream media affect to believe. Some of them possibly do believe it. As a wise man once observed, it is amazing what people can believe when their job depends on it.

Having stopped being useful, Le Mesurier became much more of a liability after Turkey took over further control of former jihadist controlled areas in Northern Syria. The chances of Turkey obtaining both documentary and first person testamentary evidence of the relationship between the White Helmets, the jihadists, and western and allied intelligence services increased substantially. Indeed I have reason to believe Turkey may already have done so. His potential liability to his former employers ratcheted up. This resulted in his death. Whether he was killed or took his own life from the resultant stress, I have no information at present.

As regular readers know I have excellent contacts in Turkey of precisely the right kind. Leading a life a great deal more complicated than just being a blogger, I regret that I have been unable to date to tell you the full truth of what I was doing in Ankara in December 2017, and probably will not be able to tell you for a year or two yet. I will now try to get further information from my contacts on Le Mesurier, but please understand it may not be instant.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The UK’s Macabre Final Election 327

This is the final general election of the United Kingdom. The SNP has put Independence at the heart of its campaign, eschewing the dreadful error of the “don’t mention Independence” campaign of 2017 that led half a million potential supporters to sit on their hands on voting day. The SNP is going to win a thumping victory and eliminate the Tories from Scotland. Johnson’s hardline unionist pose, denying the sovereign right to choose of the Scottish people, would not be able to survive such a result. If the Tories were to think they would succeed in treating Scotland as Spain treats Catalonia, they would have a very rude awakening. Equally the SNP leadership will be politically unable to impose acceptance of whatever parameters Westminster attempts to impose. The divergence of politics and culture between Scotland and England is now so stark that the union is already over as a functioning political entity. It is now just a matter of arranging the obsequies.

It is essential to maximise the SNP vote at this election. Anything else is a distraction. It should be stated plainly that there is no seat in Scotland where an SNP vote risks handing the seat to the Tories. There are several where a Labour vote or a Green vote risks handing the seat to the Tories. To vote Labour or Green in Scotland in 2019 is an act of irresponsible self-indulgence. It must be SNP. After independence, which will be very soon, we can all go our own ways.

It is karma for the Lib Dems role in austerity that, just when the opportunity should arise for them to make massive gains as the major Remain party in England, they are saddled with Jo Swinson as leader. Her instincts are entirely right wing. When asked at her campaign launch why she said Jeremy Corbyn was unsuitable to be Prime Minister, by a journalist seeking more Corbyn knocking copy, her first and most immediate response was that Corbyn would not be prepared to give the order to British submarine commanders to fire nuclear weapons. Swinson combines inanity, delusion and ambition in a deeply unpleasant mix. It should not be forgotten that the Lib Dems were down to a handful of MPs after the last election and Swinson became leader from a very small field. Now some careerist Blairites have joined the sinking ship, Swinson’s right wing instincts are further reinforced. I am sure there are a few decent people still left in the Lib Dems. But they are invisible.

Nevertheless, there are many seats in England where people need to vote Lib Dem to defeat the Tory. The best practical scenario for the end of the UK is a Labour/Lib Dem/SNP alliance, that will eschew hard Brexit and agree a second Independence referendum for Scotland. Another scenario will also end in Independence but be messier and more dangerous. Even if we achieve Independence through a second referendum (and other options are available), that referendum would be a much dirtier fight even than 2014. We are already seeing in this election just how unrestrainedly pro-Tory the British media now is, and another Scottish referendum campaign would suffer not only that, but every dirty trick in the playbook of the British security services. Nevertheless, I have no doubt of the result.

Of course it is true that the media has always been biased, but it has got much worse. There has been a radical shift in the culture of the media in exactly the same way there has been a massive shift to the right in the Tory Party. While plutocrats always owned almost all of the media, in the complex relations within media institutions there were countervailing currents. Of course it was never true that editors and journalists had perfect ethics or integrity, but there were some notions of decency, balance, fairness and simple respect for the truth which did actuate, to some extent, editors and journalists. Even though these cultural factors might on the whole be outweighed by deference to the wishes of the bosses, by party allegiance or by personal ambition, these notions of proper conduct did on occasion provide some influence on behaviour and thus on media output.

Those journalistic standards have been almost entirely abandoned and you will scan the media in vain for evidence of fairness and balance. It is not a coincidence that at this time two of my good personal friends in the media, with whom I have major political differences but who are good professionals and decent people, John Sweeney and Peter Oborne, have left their posts at BBC Panorama and the Daily Mail respectively.

The state media is as bad as the plutocrat owned media. The BBC’s complicity in the Tory attack on Corbyn has been absolute, including the Tory set up interviews with Ian Austin and yesterday’s long anti-Corbyn plug by Sajid Javid on Marr. The Tory campaign is a disgrace. Johnson like May before him is being kept well away from any actual voters, and the BBC lights and frames his entirely artificial events with the careful precision of a Leni Riefenstahl. Kuenssberg and Robinson are simply Tory propagandists.

When realism does break through it is through citizen journalism, not the media. The outrageous statements of a ranting Boris Johnson in Northern Ireland, contradicting the EU withdrawal agreement, would never have been mentioned by the media if they had not gone viral from an individual’s mobile phone.

The claims that Johnson did not understand his own deal are wide of the mark. He is not stupid; he knows what is in it. If you listen very carefully to what he said then and subsequently, he is not claiming his deal does not specify any checks between Northern Ireland and the mainland. What he is stating is his assurance that there will be no checks. This confirms the fears I have been reporting within the FCO, that Boris Johnson simply has no intention of actually implementing the withdrawal agreement. He has been negotiating in bad faith with the EU, and signing up to things he has no intention of doing in order to “Get Brexit Done”. He has no moral scruples over lying, it is not his style to think beyond immediate personal advantage, and he is still enamoured of the idea that in the end the EU will always buckle because it needs the UK market.

The stars have aligned perfectly for those of us who support Scottish Independence, and I am delighted that both Irish unification and Plaid Cymru have been given a bigger boost than seemed plausible just a very few years ago. This election is sordid, tawdry, corrupt and uninspiring; a fitting end for the UK and its long history of callous exploitation. Never has a state been more adept at using its system of law to shift resources from the poor to the rich. Never has a state’s dissolution been more overdue.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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World Exclusive: Post Testimony Interview with Randy Credico 73

Following his appearance as the main witness for the prosecution against former Trump aide Roger Stone, my good friend Randy Credico has had the entire American mainstream media chasing him for an interview. He has however decided to give only this single interview to me, which is put out here and which is free for everybody to use, with acknowledgement.

Five of the seven charges against Stone relate directly to Randy, who is the witness that Stone is accused of tampering with and attempting to intimidate. There is a tremendous irony here. The Mueller investigation was set up to reveal links between the Trump campaign, Russia and Wikileaks. There are no such links, as has already been proven in another US court. Roger Stone ends up being charged with lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee, by pretending he had links to Wikileaks when he did not. He is also charged with trying to intimidate Randy into saying there was such a link and Randy was the back channel; which I myself can attest is nonsense.

The Mueller investigation has thus ultimately ended up prosecuting people for telling the same pack of lies that Mueller himself was pushing. The Clinton media, including CNN, the Washington Post and New York Times, are baffled by this. They follow the Stone trial assiduously from delight in seeing a long term Trump hanger-on brought down, and in the hope something will come out about Wikileaks or Russia. Their reporting, as that of the BBC, has been deliberately vague on why Stone is being charged, contriving to leave their audience with the impression that Stone’s trial proves Trump connections to Wikileaks and Russia, when in fact it proves the precise opposite. A fact you will never learn from the mainstream media. Which is why I am doing this at 2am on a very cold Edinburgh night, for the small but vital audience which is interested in the truth.

So here is Randy.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Mainstream Media Pro-Johnson Propaganda Gets Into Full Swing 479

We are now under election broadcasting rules.

Ian Austin left the Labour Party nine months ago. He was then appointed by the Tories as Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Israel. As of yesterday, he is neither a MP nor a candidate for election. He is a minor politician who achieved only the most junior ministerial rank, PUSS, and for only seven months. He is best known for heckling Jeremy Corbyn while Jeremy Corbyn was delivering the official Labour response to the Chilcot Report on the illegal invasion of Iraq, shouting “Sit down and shut up” and “You stupid disgrace” at Corbyn for criticising the war.

STRANGELY THE BBC FORGOT TO MENTION THIS

We are now under election broadcasting rules. How and why was Ian Austin invited onto the BBC Radio 4 Today programme today? He left the Labour Party six months ago, and has been a huge critic of Corbyn. It is hardly a surprise that the Tory’s Trade Envoy to Israel advises people to vote Tory. So who initiated Ian Austin’s appearance on the BBC Today programme, and why? It is obvious that the BBC knew he was going to urge people to vote Tory – or why invite a non-MP and non-candidate, to say exactly the same things he has been saying since Corbyn became leader?

That the Today programme at the BBC is produced by a Tory, under a Tory BBC Head of News, and hosted by a Tory is established fact and beyond dispute. The facts we need to know are these. Did Austin first contact the BBC or did the BBC first contact Austin? Who took the editorial decision to include this item in the programme? Was any organisation involved at any stage in any of the discussions, or did Austin at all times represent himself purely as an individual?

Following Austin’s vitriolic attack on Corbyn as a racist and anti-semite on BBC Today, he was given eleven full minutes unanswered on BBC Breakfast from 8.56 to 9.07. The presenter stated that they had no official response from the Labour Party.

Yet we are in an election, and under election broadcast rules. The BBC must have known what Austin was going to say – otherwise why invite him on? Why was not another guest invited at the same time Austin was invited, to give balance?

Austin’s appointment as Trade Envoy to Israel is not a Civil Service appointment, it is a political appointment. He is a Tory appointee urging people to vote Tory. Under election broadcasting rules, the massive broadcasting time he is being given must count as Tory time, and be balanced out by broadcast time given to the Labour, SNP, Brexit, Lib Dem and Green parties. I strongly suspect that the BBC is intending to avoid this and claim Austin is Independent so the barrage of “Vote for Boris Johnson” time he is being given does not, they will claim, count as Tory time.

That the state broadcaster connives actively to launch a fierce character assassination of the opposition leader as a racist, and urge everyone to vote for the Government, is a disgrace. That they have not mentioned he is Tory Trade Envoy to Israel is a disgrace. This is not how media behaves in a real democracy. It shows the ferocity with which the UK Establishment will resist the current real threats to its continuing hegemony.

This is very dirty. It is going to get worse.

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IF YOU LIVE IN THE UK, PLEASE SIGN MY PETITION FOR OFFICIAL INTERNATIONAL OSCE OBSERVERS FOR THE NEXT SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

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Rustam Aliev 122

UPDATE Nadira has decided, with great sadness, not to travel to Uzbekistan, having received information that it is not safe to do so. Not being able to attend your own parent’s funeral is heartrending. She has however been to the mosque and discussed charitable work she might undertake in her father’s name.

I also received a reply from the FCO to my request for assistance, which is unhelpful and raises some interesting questions. Nadira’s only “crime” has been to leave Uzbekistan without permission. The Uzbek law in this regard is a hangover from the old Soviet Union exit visa regime, and it is something which the UK historically regarded as in itself a breach of fundamental human rights. Those of my generation will recall the line “we never had to lock our people in”. The FCO appears fine with this now in Uzbekistan, and it is yet another startling reminder that Western government’s interest in human rights depends entirely on who is breaching them.

The second point is very topical. The FCO writes:

The FCO would provide consular assistance to you if required when in country. However, the Uzbeks’ interpretation of your wife’s nationality may limit the level of consular support that we would be able to provide to her.

Yet the FCO takes the precise opposite position in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. As I have explained before, it is very longstanding UK policy that the government does not assist dual nationals in their country of second nationality. As explicitly stated in the case of Nadira, they accept the definition of nationality of the country that the person is in. I have personally witnessed consular help being denied to individuals on grounds of dual nationality in scores of cases during my FCO career.

Yet Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a UK/Iranian dual national, with Iranian nationality in the eyes of the government of Iran, has received consular assistance at a higher level than any living person, including sole UK citizens. That is a literal statement, nobody else living has had their consular case “adopted” as a state to state issue by the British government.

Let me be plain. I strongly urge the government of Iran to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe instantly, on humanitarian grounds. I know that the British government is illegally withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in defiance of a binding international arbitration ruling on the tank contract, but it is wrong to balance a life against cash. Iran is hurting its image even with its good friends by continuing to hold her.

But none of that answers the question of why Zaghari-Ratcliffe has, from the very start of her detention, been treated in a way that breaks all policy on consular treatment for dual nationals. If we had any decent and genuinely free journalists in this country it would be a question that had been discussed and politicians pressed for an answer. There are literally thousands of part British dual nationals in foreign jails, not receiving any assistance. Why should Nadira not be treated the same as Zaghari-Ratcliffe in a precisely analogous situation? Why has policy been ignored for just one individual?

There is a case for giving consular assistance to all British citizens abroad, whether or not they hold another nationality. That would require a very large increase in the FCO budget, and possibly not be effective because there is no legal obligation on the host country to acknowledge the second nationality and provide consular access. British government involvement has not actually helped Zaghari-Ratcliffe and probably has made matters worse. But any policy should be implemented fairly, in the same way for everyone to whom it applies. This very plainly is not happening.

ORIGINAL POST

Nadira’s father, the Uzbek playwright and theatre director Rustam Aliev, suffered a massive stroke yesterday and passed away in the early hours of this morning, age 60. Nadira is very sad at not having had the chance to see him before he died, and while awake all last night she set down her thoughts in this piece, which I find extremely powerful.

(SCREAM OF MY SOUL TONIGHT)
I wish I could turn back time
Only for a few hours, just a few hours back
Could’ve called you this morning
Could’ve said more than ‘I love you’
Would’ve said ‘The greatest gift you ever gave
Was freedom and you believed in me,
It was the best thing a woman wear
– when I was yet a teenager.’
You see because of this – I’m here today
Grateful and strong – that’s what I’d say.

I could tell you that even I’m far away
My heart & mind always loved you,
A few ups and downs, don’t matter at all
We cling to you, soul to soul.
Please clock take me to a few more hours back
Let me ask if he is proud of me
Let me ask if he ever had his own dream
Let me ask what he was like as a child…

Please hours have mercy – I was busy
I didn’t expect, I didn’t know that this day,
Today was his last.
Please let me let him know I loved him deeply,
he was the best
He often said he failed us, he never gave us anything,
that he was wasted and lost
He used to think he was the worst.
Please, restart the morning again
Let me tell him this – he was the best
And he gave the best – he gave me freedom
In my culture not all fathers
give freedom to their daughters.
He made me tough, he taught me to be strong
and sometimes neglect so I could find my way
through the fail.
He knew me, believed in me, he was never careful with me
or treated me like a princess doll.
He grew me tough, made me a warrior and said:
‘Go fly, you have wings, don’t be afraid, find your way
be your own kind’

It was weird,
but because of him I’m a free spirit.
Because of him I’m strong and live ‘my way’ in life.
Please clock take me back
Regrets are painful, they can attack
I love you, you hear me, please hear the echo of my soul
Ruthless time at least wave my sound fast, reach to his soul,
whilst its warm, tell him all:

Dad if you’re in the blue sky wondering, floating
or re-visiting your past,
Please hear me, Dad – ‘Thank you, daddy. Forgive me.
Know I loved you always, will always do,
and you’re the best, thanks for being just like YOU!’

Nadira is rightly insistent on returning immediately to Tashkent for her father’s funeral, and of course I shall go with her. However as everyone who has read “Murder in Samarkand” will understand, this is very fraught and potentially dangerous. Neither of us have ever returned to Uzbekistan after leaving in 2004. The visa requirement for British visitors was abolished earlier this year. Nadira is a British citizen since 2009. I have both spoken to and written to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to request their assistance and protection, but heard nothing back substantive yet. I hope the government of Uzbekistan will allow Nadira to mourn her father in peace.

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The Incredible Disappearing Farage, and Other Electoral Oddities

For a decade Nigel Farage has been flung into our living rooms continually by the BBC. Even when UKIP barely registered a blip in the opinion polls, he was a regular on Question Time and the other news, current affairs and politics programme. Farage’s celebrity was a BBC creation. He served an important purpose. At a time when the wealth gap was growing exponentially, and working conditions and real incomes of ordinary people were deteriorating sharply, Farage helped amplify the Establishment message that the cause of these problems was not the burgeoning class of billionaires sucking up the world’s resources, but rather the poor immigrants also scratching to make a living.

Having undermined the prospects of a left wing reaction to massively increasing inequality, Farage has now served his purpose. The exigencies of fighting an election under first past the post are such that Farage has become a potentially serious problem for the wealthy elite. The Brexit Party is a fundamental threat to Boris Johnson’s strategy of moving the Tory Party decisively to the hard right and attempting to win seats on the back of working class anti-immigrant votes in the Midlands and North of England. More liberal Scottish, London and South Western Tory voters have been deliberately abandoned, and consituencies sacrificed, in order to chase hard racist votes. Those indoctrinated to hate their fellow man if he has a Polish accent, are now required by the elite to vote Tory, not to vote for the Brexit Party.

The remarkable result of this is that, at precisely the point where Farage’s influence will be most crucial in determining the future of politics in the UK, he has been dropped by the media. I am extremely confident in my perception that he has appeared less in the last month than at any period in the preceding decade. Having been boosted into prominence by the BBC when they were insignificant, the BBC will do everything it possibly can to dampen down Farage and his Brexit Party now they legitimately deserve coverage as a critical factor.

I am happy to state with confidence that this election will backfire on the Tories. The strong evidence from both the 2017 election and the Scottish referendum campaign, is that once broadcasting rules on equal time come into play, the impact on voters is profound of hearing direct from normally derided people and their normally ridiculed arguments.

The Johnson/Cummings electoral strategy is catastrophically bad. First past the post rewards regional voter concentration. Cummings plan is to sacrifice votes in traditional Tory areas in order to pile them up in traditionally hostile areas. The result will be to even out their vote, lose regional concentration and lose the election. They can pile on two million racist votes in traditional Labour constituencies without gaining more than a dozen seats. That will merely cancel out losses in Scotland. That people en masse are going to forget the devastation of their communities by Thatcher or the generations of fight for a decent living is far from probable. The antipathy to the Tories in parts of the UK is not “tribal”, it is the result of generations of hard experience.

The Brexit Party may have more appeal than the Tories in traditional Labour consituencies, but neither they nor the Tories will win any significant number of them. It is in the marginals of the Midlands and Lancashire where the Brexit Party may damage the Tories’ chances, not in Sunderland and Hartlepool which will stay Labour. The SNP is going to sweep Scotland, the Liberal Democrats make substantive gains in London and the South West and the Labour Party will do much better in London and the North than anybody now expects. The Midlands, both East and West, are hard to predict and the key battleground, but the number of possible Tory gains is not enough to compensate for their losses elsewhere. The Tories could end up with the largest share of the vote, perhaps 36%, but less seats than the Labour Party. That is what I expect to happen.

The fly in this alluring ointment is that the Liberal Democrats have shifted so decisively to the right on economic policy. In general I advise everyone in England to vote tactically to defeat the Tories in their constituency, but obviously both Lib Dems and Labour have individual right wing horror candidates I could never ask anyone to vote for.

Here in Scotland, Independence remains the overriding priority. We must escape from Tory domination and the right wing jingoism that so infects English politics; but also it is simply normal for a nation to be Independent. So we all have to vote and campaign for the SNP in what could be a decisive moment in our history.
Incidentally, there is not a single constituency in Scotland where there is a plausible argument that to vote SNP risks letting a Tory in. I am hopeful that we will sweep the Tories out of Scotland completely this time. I am also quite keen about the SNP helping Corbyn pass the basis of a radical left wing reform agenda through Westminster, whilst briefly on a swift route to Independence.

Now that would be a good Christmas present.

*

I appreciate that it is really annoying to constantly read appeals for funds. Sadly it is something pretty well all independent media are forced to do. Since I started accepting voluntary subscriptions, a great many people have contacted me to say that they cannot contribute as they do not wish to use Paypal. I have therefore now designated a secure bank account to receive donations:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number
3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code
6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN
GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC
NWBKGB2L
Bank address
Natwest
PO Box 414
38 Strand
London
WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

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Grenfell Report Phase 1 Seeks to Blame the Firefighters

One simple fact cannot be hidden. The firefighters did not cause the fire. Phase 1 of Judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s report of the public inquiry into the Grenfell disaster has been released to relatives prior to publication tomorrow. According to the Guardian, it concentrates blame on the firefighters in charge of tackling the blaze. This is an entirely predictable Establishment ploy; blame the little people.

I do not doubt mistakes were made by the firefighters; there will always be well-intentioned errors by those trying to cope with such a terrible crisis. Moore-Bick may be correct in his identification of them. Adherence to the established “stay in your flat” doctrine was disastrously wrong in these circumstances. But the firefighters were not the reason the fire started and spread so quickly. The primary reason was inadequate regulation of the burgeoning fashion for cladding old buildings, and inadequate enforcement of such regulation as was in place.

Moore-Bick may, a couple of years from now, ultimately produce a most damning report of government failings that caused the Grenfell Disaster. But these issues will only be dealt with as Phase 2 of the report, by which time public emotion and recollection will have faded further. I question the methodology of producing an initial report on the events of the night, and a second on the “historical background”, when the “historical background” actually contains the fundamental causes of the tragedy. The second report, when it eventually arrives, will have far less media coverage. The abiding message in the eyes of the duped public will be that the fault lay with the fire brigade.

So let us recall now what really happened.

Deregulation is fundamental to Tory ideology. Speaking specifically on multi-occupation buildings, Fire Minister Bob Neill stated on 16 June 2011:

Over the years, regulations – and the inspections and bureaucracy that go
with them – have piled up and up. This has hurt business, imposing real
burdens and doing real damage to our economy. Reducing the number
of rules and regulations is therefore absolutely central to the Coalition
Government’s vision for Britain, removing barriers to economic growth and
increasing individual freedoms. We have given a clear commitment that where
regulation cannot be justified, we will remove it.

That is one of many examples of vital context given in an excellent pamphlet by the Fire Brigades Union. It is the background to the government’s continued failure over years to address the need for new regulation of developments in cladding.

After six people died due to combustible cladding in the Lakamal House fire of 2009, Tory Minister Eric Pickles’ instinct was to use this disaster to reduce regulation; “My department is committed to a programme of simplification of building regulations”. In the seven years between that statement and the Grenfell fire, the coalition government had still done precisely nothing on cladding regulation.

Meantime, Boris Johnson as Mayor of London was taking an axe to the London Fire Service, closing twelve fire stations. Firemen involved in regulation and inspection were particularly cut. Johnson effectively reduced the number of firemen involved in operational regulation enforcement by half. Total fire brigade staff were reduced by a quarter.

This is the essential background to any criticism of the operational performance of the fire brigade.

Finally, the owners of the building, Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council – arguably the UK’s wealthiest council – bear ultimate responsibility for repeated failures to address fire safety concerns and for putting flammable cladding on the building in order to improve its appearance for the benefit of wealthy neighbours in the surrounding streets. A council planning document made plain that it was clad for the neighbours’ benefit, not that of the residents, “to accord with the development plan by ensuring that the character and appearance of the area are preserved and living conditions of those living near the development suitably protected”. The aim of the cladding was to disguise the existence of accommodation perceived as for poor people.

I have not previously blogged much about Grenfell because I have a distaste for disaster journalism. But if public perception grows that the disaster was the fault of the firefighters, that would be an outrage.

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Assange in Court 851

UPDATE I have received scores of requests to republish and/or translate this article. It is absolutely free to use and reproduce and I should be delighted if everybody does; the world should know what is being done to Julian. So far, over 200,000 people have read it on this blogsite alone and it has already been reproduced on myriad other sites, some with much bigger readerships than my own. I have seen translations into German, Spanish and French and at least extracts in Catalan and Turkish. I only ask that you reproduce it complete or, if edits are made, plainly indicate them. Many thanks.

BEGINS

I was deeply shaken while witnessing yesterday’s events in Westminster Magistrates Court. Every decision was railroaded through over the scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening.

Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.

Until yesterday I had always been quietly sceptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – and sceptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness.

I had been even more sceptical of those who claimed, as a senior member of his legal team did to me on Sunday night, that they were worried that Julian might not live to the end of the extradition process. I now find myself not only believing it, but haunted by the thought. Everybody in that court yesterday saw that one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes. To see my friend, the most articulate man, the fastest thinker, I have ever known, reduced to that shambling and incoherent wreck, was unbearable. Yet the agents of the state, particularly the callous magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, were not just prepared but eager to be a part of this bloodsport. She actually told him that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later. The question of why a man who, by the very charges against him, was acknowledged to be highly intelligent and competent, had been reduced by the state to somebody incapable of following court proceedings, gave her not a millisecond of concern.

The charge against Julian is very specific; conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publish the Iraq War logs, the Afghanistan war logs and the State Department cables. The charges are nothing to do with Sweden, nothing to do with sex, and nothing to do with the 2016 US election; a simple clarification the mainstream media appears incapable of understanding.

The purpose of yesterday’s hearing was case management; to determine the timetable for the extradition proceedings. The key points at issue were that Julian’s defence was requesting more time to prepare their evidence; and arguing that political offences were specifically excluded from the extradition treaty. There should, they argued, therefore be a preliminary hearing to determine whether the extradition treaty applied at all.

The reasons given by Assange’s defence team for more time to prepare were both compelling and startling. They had very limited access to their client in jail and had not been permitted to hand him any documents about the case until one week ago. He had also only just been given limited computer access, and all his relevant records and materials had been seized from the Ecuadorean Embassy by the US Government; he had no access to his own materials for the purpose of preparing his defence.

Furthermore, the defence argued, they were in touch with the Spanish courts about a very important and relevant legal case in Madrid which would provide vital evidence. It showed that the CIA had been directly ordering spying on Julian in the Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide security there. Crucially this included spying on privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers discussing his defence against these extradition proceedings, which had been in train in the USA since 2010. In any normal process, that fact would in itself be sufficient to have the extradition proceedings dismissed. Incidentally I learnt on Sunday that the Spanish material produced in court, which had been commissioned by the CIA, specifically includes high resolution video coverage of Julian and I discussing various matters.

The evidence to the Spanish court also included a CIA plot to kidnap Assange, which went to the US authorities’ attitude to lawfulness in his case and the treatment he might expect in the United States. Julian’s team explained that the Spanish legal process was happening now and the evidence from it would be extremely important, but it might not be finished and thus the evidence not fully validated and available in time for the current proposed timetable for the Assange extradition hearings.

For the prosecution, James Lewis QC stated that the government strongly opposed any delay being given for the defence to prepare, and strongly opposed any separate consideration of the question of whether the charge was a political offence excluded by the extradition treaty. Baraitser took her cue from Lewis and stated categorically that the date for the extradition hearing, 25 February, could not be changed. She was open to changes in dates for submission of evidence and responses before this, and called a ten minute recess for the prosecution and defence to agree these steps.

What happened next was very instructive. There were five representatives of the US government present (initially three, and two more arrived in the course of the hearing), seated at desks behind the lawyers in court. The prosecution lawyers immediately went into huddle with the US representatives, then went outside the courtroom with them, to decide how to respond on the dates.

After the recess the defence team stated they could not, in their professional opinion, adequately prepare if the hearing date were kept to February, but within Baraitser’s instruction to do so they nevertheless outlined a proposed timetable on delivery of evidence. In responding to this, Lewis’ junior counsel scurried to the back of the court to consult the Americans again while Lewis actually told the judge he was “taking instructions from those behind”. It is important to note that as he said this, it was not the UK Attorney-General’s office who were being consulted but the US Embassy. Lewis received his American instructions and agreed that the defence might have two months to prepare their evidence (they had said they needed an absolute minimum of three) but the February hearing date may not be moved. Baraitser gave a ruling agreeing everything Lewis had said.

At this stage it was unclear why we were sitting through this farce. The US government was dictating its instructions to Lewis, who was relaying those instructions to Baraitser, who was ruling them as her legal decision. The charade might as well have been cut and the US government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process. Nobody could sit there and believe they were in any part of a genuine legal process or that Baraitser was giving a moment’s consideration to the arguments of the defence. Her facial expressions on the few occasions she looked at the defence ranged from contempt through boredom to sarcasm. When she looked at Lewis she was attentive, open and warm.

The extradition is plainly being rushed through in accordance with a Washington dictated timetable. Apart from a desire to pre-empt the Spanish court providing evidence on CIA activity in sabotaging the defence, what makes the February date so important to the USA? I would welcome any thoughts.

Baraitser dismissed the defence’s request for a separate prior hearing to consider whether the extradition treaty applied at all, without bothering to give any reason why (possibly she had not properly memorised what Lewis had been instructing her to agree with). Yet this is Article 4 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty 2007 in full:

On the face of it, what Assange is accused of is the very definition of a political offence – if this is not, then what is? It is not covered by any of the exceptions from that listed. There is every reason to consider whether this charge is excluded by the extradition treaty, and to do so before the long and very costly process of considering all the evidence should the treaty apply. But Baraitser simply dismissed the argument out of hand.

Just in case anybody was left in any doubt as to what was happening here, Lewis then stood up and suggested that the defence should not be allowed to waste the court’s time with a lot of arguments. All arguments for the substantive hearing should be given in writing in advance and a “guillotine should be applied” (his exact words) to arguments and witnesses in court, perhaps of five hours for the defence. The defence had suggested they would need more than the scheduled five days to present their case. Lewis countered that the entire hearing should be over in two days. Baraitser said this was not procedurally the correct moment to agree this but she will consider it once she had received the evidence bundles.

(SPOILER: Baraitser is going to do as Lewis instructs and cut the substantive hearing short).

Baraitser then capped it all by saying the February hearing will be held, not at the comparatively open and accessible Westminster Magistrates Court where we were, but at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, the grim high security facility used for preliminary legal processing of terrorists, attached to the maximum security prison where Assange is being held. There are only six seats for the public in even the largest court at Belmarsh, and the object is plainly to evade public scrutiny and make sure that Baraitser is not exposed in public again to a genuine account of her proceedings, like this one you are reading. I will probably be unable to get in to the substantive hearing at Belmarsh.

Plainly the authorities were disconcerted by the hundreds of good people who had turned up to support Julian. They hope that far fewer will get to the much less accessible Belmarsh. I am fairly certain (and recall I had a long career as a diplomat) that the two extra American government officials who arrived halfway through proceedings were armed security personnel, brought in because of alarm at the number of protestors around a hearing in which were present senior US officials. The move to Belmarsh may be an American initiative.

Assange’s defence team objected strenuously to the move to Belmarsh, in particular on the grounds that there are no conference rooms available there to consult their client and they have very inadequate access to him in the jail. Baraitser dismissed their objection offhand and with a very definite smirk.

Finally, Baraitser turned to Julian and ordered him to stand, and asked him if he had understood the proceedings. He replied in the negative, said that he could not think, and gave every appearance of disorientation. Then he seemed to find an inner strength, drew himself up a little, and said:

I do not understand how this process is equitable. This superpower had 10 years to prepare for this case and I can’t even access my writings. It is very difficult, where I am, to do anything. These people have unlimited resources.

The effort then seemed to become too much, his voice dropped and he became increasingly confused and incoherent. He spoke of whistleblowers and publishers being labeled enemies of the people, then spoke about his children’s DNA being stolen and of being spied on in his meetings with his psychologist. I am not suggesting at all that Julian was wrong about these points, but he could not properly frame nor articulate them. He was plainly not himself, very ill and it was just horribly painful to watch. Baraitser showed neither sympathy nor the least concern. She tartly observed that if he could not understand what had happened, his lawyers could explain it to him, and she swept out of court.

The whole experience was profoundly upsetting. It was very plain that there was no genuine process of legal consideration happening here. What we had was a naked demonstration of the power of the state, and a naked dictation of proceedings by the Americans. Julian was in a box behind bulletproof glass, and I and the thirty odd other members of the public who had squeezed in were in a different box behind more bulletproof glass. I do not know if he could see me or his other friends in the court, or if he was capable of recognising anybody. He gave no indication that he did.

In Belmarsh he is kept in complete isolation for 23 hours a day. He is permitted 45 minutes exercise. If he has to be moved, they clear the corridors before he walks down them and they lock all cell doors to ensure he has no contact with any other prisoner outside the short and strictly supervised exercise period. There is no possible justification for this inhuman regime, used on major terrorists, being imposed on a publisher who is a remand prisoner.

I have been both cataloguing and protesting for years the increasingly authoritarian powers of the UK state, but that the most gross abuse could be so open and undisguised is still a shock. The campaign of demonisation and dehumanisation against Julian, based on government and media lie after government and media lie, has led to a situation where he can be slowly killed in public sight, and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing, while receiving no assistance from “liberal” society.

Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?

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No Inquest for Dawn Sturgess

The killing of poor Dawn Sturgess was much the most serious of the events in Salisbury and Amesbury that attracted international attention. Yet nobody has been charged, no arrest warrant issued and no inquest held.

The inquest for Dawn Sturgess has today been yet again postponed, for the fourth time, and for the first time no new prospective date has been given for it to open. Alarmingly, the coroner’s office are referring press enquiries to Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command – which ought to have no role in an inquest process supposed to be independent of the police.

Congratulations to Rob Slane and to John Helmer for their excellent work in following this.

It appears very probable that the independent coroner’s inquiry process is going to be cancelled and, as in the case of David Kelly, replaced by a politically controlled “public inquiry” with a trusty or malleable judge in charge, like Lord Hutton of Kincora. This is because the truth of Dawn Sturgess’ death in itself destroys key elements of the government’s narrative on what happened in Salisbury.

Simply put, the chemical that killed Dawn Sturgess could not have been the same that allegedly poisoned the Skripals. Charlie Rowley is adamant that he found it in a packaged and fully sealed perfume bottle, in a charity bin. Furthermore he states that it was a charity bin he combed through regularly and it had not been there earlier, in the three months between the alleged attack on the Skripals and his taking it from the bin.

The government narrative that “Boshirov and Petrov” used that perfume bottle to attack the Skripals, then somehow resealed the cellophane, and disposed of it in the bin, depends on the Russians having a tiny plastic resealing technology concealed on them (and why bother?), on their taking a long detour to dispose of the “perfume” in a charity bin – the one method that guaranteed it being found and reused – and the “perfume” then achieving a lengthy period of invisibility in the bin before appearing again three months later.

Those are only some of a number of inconvenient facts. Perfume does not come as a gel; it cannot both have been applied as a gel to the Skripals’ doorknob and sprayed on to Dawn Sturgess’ wrists. Gels do not spray. Neither Porton Down nor the OPCW was able to state it was from the same batch as the chemical allegedly used on the Skripals’ house.

Then there is the fascinating fact that it took eleven days of intensive searching for a vial of liquid in a small modern home, for the police to find the perfume bottle sitting on the kitchen counter.

Nobody has been charged with the manslaughter or murder of Dawn Sturgess. There is still an international arrest warrant out for Boshirov and Petrov for the attack on the Skripals. Very interestingly indeed, this warrant has never been changed into the names of Chepiga and Mishkin.

From the moment I heard of the attack on Dawn Sturgess I worried that she – a person down on her luck and living in a hostel – was exactly the kind of person the powerful and wealthy would view as a disposable human being if her death fitted their narrative. The denial of an inquest for her, and the complete lack of interest by the mainstream media in the obvious nonsense of the official story that ties her to the Skripal poisoning, tends to confirm these fears. What Dawn Sturgess’ death tells us, beyond doubt, is that the government narrative is fake and the Skripal and Sturgess cases are two separate incidents. Which makes a local origin of the chemical very much more likely. No wonder the government is determined to avoid the inquest.

I was struck today that the tame neo-con warmongering “Chemical weapons expert” Hamish De Bretton Gordon, former head of the British Army’s chemical weapons unit, appeared on Sky News. He was being interviewed on use of white phosphorous by Turkey in Syria and repeatedly tried to deflect the narrative on to alleged chemical weapons use by Syrian government forces, arguing that the present crisis was the moral responsibility of those who opposed western military action against Assad. But what particularly struck me was that he appeared by Skype – from Salisbury. When you look at the British government’s own chemical weapons expertise, you are continually led back to Salisbury, perhaps not surprisingly given the location of Porton Down.

I am aiming to make a full documentary film on the Salisbury events entitled “Truth and the Skripals”, based around the questions raised on this blog. I shall be looking to launch crowdfunding for the documentary shortly, probably within the week.

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Bad Faith Negotiation

I seldom comment on Brexit, largely because I neither see leaving the EU as a panacea nor the EU itself as a Utopia, and am alienated by the over-extravagant passions and claims on both sides. In addition to that, the FCO is largely excluded from Brexit negotiations, being perceived by the Tories as a nest of remainers, so I seldom get any interesting information fed to me by ex-colleagues.

I should admit at this point that my apparently effortless expertise on myriad subjects is something of a fake, because often posts are prompted and informed (and very rarely, even written) by someone on the inside, and sometimes it is not possible to tell you that. But sometimes I can tell you, and today this knowledge comes from the inside.

The Legal Advisers of the FCO remain the UK government’s source of expertise on public international law. When the Attorney General publishes his view on such a matter, it has been drafted by FCO Legal Advisers or at the least is based on a minute from them. The sole exception to this of which I know was when Blair’s Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, received formal advice from FCO Legal Advisers that to invade Iraq would be an illegal war of aggression. Goldsmith then flew to Washington on instruction from Blair and Goldsmith’s final advice that the war was legal was based on drafting, not from FCO Legal Advisers, but from George Bush’s Legal Advisors. That is one of those incredible facts that I often find hard to understand do not lead to active public outrage. I wish I was a more religious man and could be sure that Hell awaits Goldsmith. I comfort myself with the thought that Goldsmith might himself be religious and cowering.

There is currently considerable alarm in the FCO that Legal Advisers have been asked about the circumstances constituting force majeure which would justify the UK in breaking a EU Withdrawal Agreement in the future. The EU did not fall for Johnson’s idea that a form of Northern Irish “backstop” would only come into effect with the future sanction of Stormont, as this effectively gives a hardline unionist veto, and Barnier was not born yesterday. The situation that Johnson and Raab appear now to contemplate is agreeing a “backstop” now to get Brexit done, but then not implementing the agreed backstop when the time comes due to “force majeure”.

There are two major problems with this line of thinking. The first is that it will give unionists an incentive to foment disorder in order to justify breaking the backstop agreement – indeed there is a concern that might be the tacit understanding Johnson is reaching with the DUP. Remember the British state conspired with the same people to murder the lawyer Pat Finucane and destroyed the evidence as recently as 2002.

The second problem is one of bad faith negotiation, and this is what is troubling the diplomats of the FCO. To negotiate an agreement with the secret intention of breaking it in future is a grossly immoral proceeding, and undermines the whole principle of good international relations. I should like to be able to say that I am sure this cannot be the intention. But when I look at Johnson, Raab and Cummings, I am really not so sure at all. It is possible that Johnson will succeed in the apparently insurmountable challenge of securing a deal all parties can agree, by the simple strategy of promising some parties he has no intention of honouring it.

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Weep for Catalonia, Weep for Liberalism in Europe

The vicious jail sentences handed down today by the fascists (I used the word with care and correctly) of the Spanish Supreme Court to the Catalan political prisoners represent a stark symbol of the nadir of liberalism within the EU. That an attempt to organise a democratic vote for the Catalan people in pursuit of the right of self determination guaranteed in the UN Charter, can lead to such lengthy imprisonment, is a plain abuse of the most basic of human rights.

I was forced to withdraw my lifelong personal support for the EU when, in response to the vicious crushing of the Catalan referendum by Francoist paramilitary forces, when the whole world saw grandmothers hit on the head and thrown down stairs as they attempted to vote, all the institutions of the EU – Council, Commission and Parliament – lined up one after the other to stress their strong support for the Madrid paramilitary action in maintaining “law and order”.

Today we see the same thing. As the Catalans are imprisoned for efforts at democracy, the EU Commission stated that it “respects the position of the Spanish judiciary” and “this is, and remains, an internal matter for Spain, which has to be dealt with in line with its constitutional order.” The Commission here is simply ignoring what is very obviously a fundamental breach of basic human rights. This is far worse than anything Poland or Hungary have done in recent years, and the Commission is also showing a quite blatant hypocrisy in its relative treatment of its Western and Eastern members.

There was a time when the EU was a shining example of economic and environmental regulation and of regional wealth redistribution. My fondness for the institution dates from it being one of our few defences from economic Thatcherism. But it has evolved into something very different, a mutual support club for neoliberal political leaders.

I do not much blog about Brexit because I am less concerned about it than the majority of the population. I neither think remaining inside is essential nor that leaving it is a political panacea. I do desperately wish to retain freedom of movement, and believe leaving the customs union would be economic self-harm on a large scale. A Norway style relationship would suit me fine, but by and large I prefer to stay out of the argument. I do believe that, as a matter of democratic legitimacy, having had the 2016 referendum the result should be respected; England should leave and Scotland and Northern Ireland remain.

But I also say this. A million people are expected to march on Saturday in support of the EU. That is the EU which has just expressed its active support for the jailing of Catalans for holding a vote. They join Julian Assange as political prisoners in the EU held for non-violent thought crime.

I say this to anyone thinking of marching on Saturday. It is morally wrong, at this time, to show public support for the EU, unless you balance it by showing your disgust at the fascist repression of the Catalans and the EU’s support for that repression. Every single person going on Saturday’s march has a moral obligation to balance it by sending a message to the EU Commission that their support for this repression is utterly out of order, and carrying a flag or sign on the march indicating support for the Catalan political prisoners. Otherwise you are just a smug person marching for personal self interest. Alongside the progenitors of the Iraq War, who doubtless will again dominate the platform speeches.

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The Foreign Office Must Be Challenged Over Sacoolas’ Immunity

The government has stepped up its lies about immunity in the Sacoolas case to a breathtaking degree. I genuinely am astounded by the sheer audacity of the lies now being told, including a staggeringly mendacious FCO-briefed BBC article yesterday stating that “23,000 individuals in the UK have diplomatic immunity” and that it extends to “drivers and cooks”. This follows up the breathtaking FCO statement to Sky News that RAF Croughton “is regarded as an annex to the US Embassy in London” – a total falsehood.

What I cannot understand is why. The entire incident is extremely strange. On the face of it, Harry Dunn’s death was a tragic accident caused by somebody who had not long been in the UK driving on the wrong side of the road. This dreadful mistake is forgivable, as Harry’s very sensible parents have said; there seems little reason to believe the justice system would have been more harsh. There was no conceivable need to run away. That is what they cannot forgive.

Make no mistake; the spiriting of the Sacoolas family out of the UK was a considered act by the US Government and, in the case of a manslaughter in an allied state, the decision not to waive immunity would have been taken right at the top of the State Department. Make no mistake about it either, the FCO would have been informed and complicit in the decision and has only pretended to protest after massive public pressure, got up by Harry’s admirable family a full three weeks after the incident had been, the government would have hoped, successfully buried.

But why? It should be stated that it is the norm to waive diplomatic immunity in serious cases between allied or friendly developed states, where each has confidence in the other’s justice system. Unless the accident did not happen as stated, or there is a Chris Huhne type blame switch involved (Trump yesterday very carefully made the point that cameras had confirmed the identity of the driver – I was not sure why he brought this up when nobody had questioned it), it is very hard to understand why diplomatic immunity has been insisted on in this case. Assuming that Anne Sacoolas was the driver and the incident was as described, the only explanation I can think of is that it was hoped by getting them out the country to avoid all publicity and scrutiny of Jonathon Sacoolas’ real job, which is to spy on British citizens communications’ for GCHQ, who face legal impediments in doing so.

I would like to be able to say that if that cover-up is the plan, it has backfired, except that the media has unanimously censored all reporting of what Sacoolas actually does in the UK. Which is quite extraordinary given the massive but (deliberately) wildly misleading coverage of this case. I wish there were many more places than here you could come to learn the truth, but there are not. In which context, it is worth noting that both Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post have joined the DSMA Notice Committee and become willing tools of the UK security services.

After I pointed out that Sacoolas does not appear on the Diplomatic List, does not hold diplomatic rank and is not accredited to a diplomatic mission, and therefore cannot be a “diplomatic agent” under the Vienna Convention, the FCO first admitted this and claimed his immunity stemmed from a separate bilateral agreement, as reported by Sky News.

Having negotiated many international agreements in my time in the FCO, I know that they need to be given effect in UK domestic law, usually by Order in Council. I therefore searched for legislation giving the Secretary of State authority to grant immunity from criminal prosecution under bilateral agreements for spy bases, and I could find nothing. The legal basis for granting immunities under the Vienna Convention is the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, which enacted it into UK legislation. The legal basis for granting military immunity under Status of Forces Agreements, or for NATO personnel, is clear and set out in the Visiting Forces Act of 1952.

I could find nothing that would give legal powers to a Secretary of State to grant immunity to US spies on military bases working on communications interception of UK citizens. No legislation was passed to give legal effect in the UK to the reputed bilateral agreements which cover this.

I therefore wrote to the FCO asking for a copy of the bilateral agreement under which Sacoolas has immunity, and a copy of the UK legislation giving the authority to grant the immunity to the Secretary of State. I have not received any reply, but apparently it concentrated minds because the FCO has now switched to make an aggressive – and nonsensical – assertion that Sacoolas is a diplomat in terms of the Vienna Convention.

Not only that, the FCO’s admission to Mark Stephens, reported in that original article by Sky News, that Sacoolas was not a diplomat under the Vienna Convention has been expunged from history. The Sky News defence correspondent Alistair Bunkall had tweeted a reply to me copying this report, as evidence there was no DSMA notice controlling the reporting of the Sacoolas case.

Yet this article, held up by Bunkall as evidence of a free media, was within 24 hours totally rewritten to remove the FCO’s admission that Sacoolas was not on the diplomatic list, and replace it with the new FCO attack line of strong assertion that Sacoolas is covered by the Vienna Convention, and to highlight Dominic Raab’s entirely insincere and pretend effort to request Sacoolas’ return. The story has in effect been completely rewritten by the FCO. This is what the same page, the same url, Bunkall tweeted out looks like now:

Pretty well all that remains of the original – accurate – story is the url, now totally at odds with the content https://news.sky.com/story/husband-of-us-woman-granted-diplomatic-immunity-not-registered-diplomat-11830734. There is no acknowledgement that the story has been changed, and the original is strangely not available even on the wayback machine. If Bunkall has not tweeted it, it would be difficult to prove this brief moment of reporting the truth had never existed. The irony of Bunkall’s tweeting a now completely censored report as evidence of press freedom is stunning.

Forgive me but I here must insert my original post on Sacoolas to make plain the actual legal position:

There is no Jonathan Sacoolas on the official Diplomatic list. Neither Sacoolas nor his wife has any right to claim diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

Article 31 of the Vienna Convention states that:

A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state

Article 37 extends this privilege to family members living in his household. A “diplomatic agent” is defined in article 2(d).

The “members of the diplomatic staff” are the members of the staff of the mission having diplomatic rank;

Jonathan Sacoolas does not hold, and has never held, a diplomatic rank. He has never been a member of staff of a diplomatic mission. (All those with diplomatic rank appear in the diplomatic list, see above link. That list also includes some attaches who do not have diplomatic rank (depending on the type of attache), but there is nobody with diplomatic rank not in the list).

Jonathan Sacoolas does not have, and has never had, any entitlement to diplomatic immunity in international law. Sacoolas works as an NSA technical officer at the communications interceptions post at “RAF Croughton”. His role is support to the interception of communications from British citizens. As I explained in Murder in Samarkand, the NSA and GCHQ share all intelligence reports, but each faces legal constraints on mass spying on its own citizens. So the NSA has staff here fronting the spying on British citizens, while GCHQ has staff in the US fronting the spying on US citizens, and the polite fiction is that the results are transmitted back over the Atlantic to the US or UK respectively, before being “shared” with the partner intelligence agency.

None of which has anything to do with diplomacy, and Sacoolas must be the subject of a DSMA notice given that all mainstream media are referring to him constantly as a “diplomat”, when they all know that is not true. The irony is of course that if Sacoolas actually was a real diplomat, the US would very probably have waived the diplomatic immunity of his wife, as the issues around his presence and function would be much less sensitive.

The UK has no Vienna Convention obligation to acknowledge the “immunity” of Sacoolas’ wife, contrary to all reporting to date. What does apparently exist between the UK and US is a secret, bilateral agreement to treat GCHQ and NSA staff as if they had diplomatic immunity. That is not at all the same thing as Vienna Convention protection under international law. I cannot conceive the grief of Harry Dunn’s parents, but I do hope that they are not deceived by the pretence at intervention in this case by Johnson and Raab.

I am not at all convinced, as a matter of law, that the government has the power to grant, by bilateral treaty or otherwise, immunity from criminal prosecution to foreign nationals, plainly outside the provisions of the Vienna Convention. This should be tested by the courts.

ENDS

With this in mind, let us examine the claims made by the FCO to the media in response. From that Sky News report we have:

This is utter nonsense. It is simply untrue. RAF Croughton is not an annex to the US Embassy. The FCO has invented this lie to counter the fact that, to qualify for diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, Sacoolas must be attached to a diplomatic mission. RAF Croughton is not a diplomatic mission. A RAF base cannot be a US Embassy.

That RAF Croughton is an annex of the US Embassy can be immediately disproved. An Embassy is the sovereign territory of the nation which owns it. Within Embassy premises, the law which applies is the law of the Embassy’s state, not the host state. That is not the case in RAF Croughton. That RAF Croughton is not an Annex of the US Embassy can be instantly proven beyond any doubt or argument by the fact that the bye-laws applicable within it are promulgated by the UK Secretary of State for Defence.

If the base were an annex to the US Embassy, the UK Secretary of State could not make bye-laws for it. There is no mention within the bye-laws covering security and management of and access to RAF Croughton of any area within it being part of the US Embassy. The claim is a simple and straightforward lie, and a rather desperate one.

Finally, if RAF Croughton were an annex to the US Embassy and if Mr Sacoolas were a diplomat, the cars of both he and his wife would have diplomatic CD plates. Mrs Sacoolas was not driving a diplomatic car – an obviously vital fact in this case, again omitted from all mainstream media reporting.

There are further lies in the Sky News report.

On the contrary, the Diplomatic List is a comprehensive record of every diplomat notified to the FCO as having diplomatic status by Diplomatic Note – and as specified in Article 10 of the Vienna Convention, a person must be so notified to become a “diplomatic agent”. There are no “diplomatic agents” not on the Diplomatic List.

I was in the Foreign Office for 20 years and a member of its Senior Management Structure for 6 years. It would be nice if you took my word for this, but you don’t have to – it is very neatly explained at the very start of the Diplomatic List:

The entire purpose of the list is to record those with diplomatic immunity and the legislation under which they get it. From page 127 to 137 it lists those who have diplomatic immunity not under the Diplomatic Privileges Act – which only covers national Embassies and High Commissions – but under other legislation as they work not for nations but for international agencies: and in every individual case the Diplomatic List names the specific legislation which confers the immunity.

The major purpose of the London Diplomatic List is to be a compendium of diplomatic status with a precise attribution of immunity and its source. As Sacoolas is not listed as a diplomat of the US Embassy in the Diplomatic List or the Consular List, he is not a “diplomatic agent” entitled to full diplomatic immunity. Full stop. As explained below, Sacoolas’ wife would only have diplomatic immunity while driving privately if he held a full diplomatic rank (in which case her car would have diplomatic CD plates, which it does not).

The FCO claim that the Diplomatic List only covers London is also ludicrous. The same government webpage gives you the full list of consulates, with their consuls, and even of honorary consuls, outside of London. It does not list Embassy annexes outside London because there are none and the concept does not exist in international law. Embassy outposts from the capital are consulates or consular offices.

The FCO is trying to convince you that their entire section of staff who work on diplomatic accreditations and constantly update the Diplomatic List, are wasting their time on an entirely pointless exercise producing futile and incomplete lists. I wonder how those employees’ morale is today.

But Raab’s FCO did not stop there with the lies. They then briefed the BBC to produce an article on diplomatic immunity so full of lies as to be truly astonishing. I am prepared to confess that I could not complete this blog entry for three days because I was genuinely emotionally upset by the realisation that the UK now has a government whose noted penchant for “aggressive” media and opinion management means it is prepared to employ the big lie on any occasion and subject.

The BBC article is plainly based entirely on an FCO briefing and written with the express and sole intention of obscuring the fact that Sacoolas is not a diplomat. It contains so many outrageous lies that I am afraid this article is going to get still longer. If you have had the patience to stick with me so far, please bear with me a bit further.

This is another quite extraordinary lie, as anybody can easily confirm simply by reading the Vienna Convention. As explained above, full diplomatic immunity is enjoyed only by “diplomatic agents” who must be persons “Having diplomatic rank”.

As very plainly set out in articles 37 of the Vienna Convention:

Article 37
1.The members of the family of a diplomatic agent forming part of his household shall, if they are
not nationals of the receiving State, enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in articles 29 to 36.

2.Members of the administrative and technical staff of the mission, together with members of
their families forming part of their respective households, shall, if they are not nationals of or
permanently resident in the receiving State, enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in articles 29
to 35, except that the immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State specified
in paragraph 1 of article 31 shall not extend to acts performed outside the course of their duties. They
shall also enjoy the privileges specified in article 36, paragraph 1, in respect of articles imported at the
time of first installation.

3.Members of the service staff of the mission who are not nationals of or permanently resident in
the receiving State shall enjoy immunity in respect of acts performed in the course of their duties,
exemption from dues and taxes on the emoluments they receive by reason of their employment and the
exemption contained in article 33.

So “diplomatic agents” “having diplomatic rank” – which, remember, Sacoolas does not have – hold full immunity as do their families.

“Administrative and technical staff” have immunity from prosecution only while performing acts “in the course of their duties”. That is while actually engaged in work for their governments, not outwith their working time. Their families also have exactly the same immunity, and as the families do not have any official duties to be engaged in, in practice their immunity is only civil ie from taxation.

In the case of another spy, Shai Masot, not on the diplomatic list, when challenged as to his diplomatic status the FCO claimed he was not a “diplomatic agent” but only “technical and administrative staff”. As an NSA communications interception expert Sacoolas could arguably be “technical and administrative staff” if it were true that RAF Croughton were an annex of the US Embassy – but that plainly is not true.

However even were Sacoolas covered by immunity as “technical and administrative work” he and his family would only be covered for events that happened in the direct course of his work, and very, very plainly Anne Sacoolas would not have had diplomatic immunity when she hit Harry Dunn. She only had immunity if Sacoolas is a full blown “diplomatic agent” – which he isn’t. We are yet to be told what “diplomatic rank” he allegedly holds. So for the BBC to try to obscure the case with cooks and gardeners – who as “service staff” have even less immunity and their families none at all – is deliberate obfuscation.

This is an utterly tendentious claim. As explained above, the only people with practical diplomatic immunity outside their actual work are full blown diplomats, and there are just over 3,000 of them, all captured in the Diplomatic List. The BBC report attempts to make out that categories such as “international organisations” account for significant parts of this alleged horde of diplomats, but as noted above those from international organisations entitled to diplomatic immunity are all in the London Diplomatic List pp 127 to 137 and amount to just 220 people. It is also worth remembering that the majority of family members who have immunity are children.

There is a much larger number of military personnel who enjoy immunity under the Visiting Forces Act – a total disgrace, in my view – but this is not diplomatic immunity and it is not claimed Sacoolas has it. I have no idea where the ridiculous 23,000 figure for diplomatic immunity originates. Dominic Raab’s arse seems the best bet.

The Johnson/Raab PR strategy here is plain – to drown investigation of Sacoolas’ extremely dodgy claim to political asylum in a sea of tens of thousands of fictitious holders of dodgy political asylum. The government has decided to make us overlook Sacoolas by pretending that there are 23,000 obscure foreigners roaming our country as “diplomats”, each of whom has the license to burgle your home, piss on your floor, kill your daughter and rape your son without facing any possible criminal prosecution or comeback. If this were true, it would be a catastrophic and alarming state of affairs. Thankfully it is a great morass of fiction the government has created within which to try and bury Sacoolas.

This fake “diplomatic immunity” needs to be challenged in court, but I am not sure anyone except Harry Dunn’s family has the locus to do this. Their son was killed by the wife of a spy and to avoid political embarrassment about his activities, the government has falsely connived at a status of diplomatic immunity and then pretended to be trying to get Mrs Sacoolas back. That is an awful lot to take in for people in a terrible state of grief. After losing a son, the cognitive dissonance involved in uncovering state secrets, and learning that the state is malevolent and senior ministerial office holders are liars, is a huge hurdle to surmount. The Dunn family have first to summon the will to fight it, and then to avoid the attempts to hug them in the suffocating embrace of an establishment lawyer – believe me the powers that be will be covertly thrusting one at them – who will advise them they are most likely to make progress if they rock no boats.

The only people I know of who effectively enjoy secret diplomatic immunity are spies from CIA/NSA like Jonathon Sacoolas or from Mossad like Shai Masot. There are not any other categories of pretend diplomats having immunity, and the elaborate charade to pretend that there are is a nonsense. It must not distract from the fact that the claim that the government can grant US and Israeli intelligence agencies diplomatic immunity at will is a lie. The government is acting illegally here. There is no legislation that covers Raab in allowing Mrs Sacoolas to kill – albeit accidentally – with impunity.

I pray both the government and Mrs Sacoolas will be brought to account. I hope Mr and Mrs Dunn find what peace they can with their loss, and are able to remember with due warmth the eighteen wonderful years that I am sure they had with their son.

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Jonathan Sacoolas Is Not, and Has Never Been, a Diplomat

UPDATE: Since I published this article the mainstream media, including at least Sky News and the Guardian, have started to report that Sacoolas does not have diplomatic immunity. This is a massive reversal in the MSM line, though to date none have published that he works for NSA or explained the NSA/GCHQ relationship. The MSM are all quoting the lawyer Mark Stephens, rather than this blog, as the source of the information. I would gently note that I can so far find no evidence of Stephens pointing out Sacoolas is not on the Diplomatic List until some hours after I broke the story, and that when he gave radio interviews yesterday Stephens was unaware of the fact.

Ultimately however it does not matter that I am not credited; what matters is my lead has in practice been followed and there is now a much stronger point of pressure available to get justice for Harry Dunn.
END OF UPDATE

There is no Jonathan Sacoolas on the official Diplomatic list. Neither Sacoolas nor his wife has any right to claim diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

Article 31 of the Vienna Convention states that:

A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state

Article 37 extends this privilege to family members living in his household. A “diplomatic agent” is defined in article 2(d).

The “members of the diplomatic staff” are the members of the staff of the mission having diplomatic rank;

Jonathan Sacoolas does not hold, and has never held, a diplomatic rank. He has never been a member of staff of a diplomatic mission. (All those with diplomatic rank appear in the diplomatic list, see above link. That list also includes some attaches who do not have diplomatic rank (depending on the type of attache), but there is nobody with diplomatic rank not in the list).

Jonathan Sacoolas does not have, and has never had, any entitlement to diplomatic immunity in international law. Sacoolas works as an NSA technical officer at the communications interceptions post at “RAF Croughton”. His role is support to the interception of communications from British citizens. As I explained in Murder in Samarkand, the NSA and GCHQ share all intelligence reports, but each faces legal constraints on mass spying on its own citizens. So the NSA has staff here fronting the spying on British citizens, while GCHQ has staff in the US fronting the spying on US citizens, and the polite fiction is that the results are transmitted back over the Atlantic to the US or UK respectively, before being “shared” with the partner intelligence agency.

None of which has anything to do with diplomacy, and Sacoolas must be the subject of a DSMA notice given that all mainstream media are referring to him constantly as a “diplomat”, when they all know that is not true. The irony is of course that if Sacoolas actually was a real diplomat, the US would very probably have waived the diplomatic immunity of his wife, as the issues around his presence and function would be much less sensitive.

The UK has no Vienna Convention obligation to acknowledge the “immunity” of Sacoolas’ wife, contrary to all reporting to date. What does apparently exist between the UK and US is a secret, bilateral agreement to treat GCHQ and NSA staff as if they had diplomatic immunity. That is not at all the same thing as Vienna Convention protection under international law. I cannot conceive the grief of Harry Dunn’s parents, but I do hope that they are not deceived by the pretence at intervention in this case by Johnson and Raab.

I am not at all convinced, as a matter of law, that the government has the power to grant, by bilateral treaty or otherwise, immunity from criminal prosecution to foreign nationals, plainly outside the provisions of the Vienna Convention. This should be tested by the courts.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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An Unpopular Article

This article is probably unpopular. The point of this blog is not to make you agree, but to make you think; if I did not express views which are not the view of the majority, there would be no point in writing at all. This is not an applause seeking echo chamber of popular sentiment.

Boris Johnson has no more ardent political opponent than I. But some of the hysteria about him is overblown.

As a teenage delegate to a Liberal Party conference in 1976 (I think in Llandudno), I had to fend off the amorous advances of a politician who persisted even after I plainly told him I was not gay, and I ended up stabbing his wandering hand with the pin of my delegate’s badge, after which he went away. I regarded his behaviour as over drunken and over randy, but took the attitude then and now that humans are not perfect and inclined occasionally to fall prey to their basic instincts, especially when drinking. If we expected everyone to be perfect, we would live our entire lives in a state of disappointment. I expect a majority of sexually active adults have similar experiences at some time. I do not believe it healthy or sensible to elevate them to serious crimes.

(For the sake of clarity, I should add that I have never personally been accused of an unwanted physical advance).

I really do not care whether Boris Johnson squeezed Charlotte Edwards’ leg 20 years ago. I firmly believe women are every bit the equal of men, and I do not understand why it is somehow reckoned that Ms Edwards, and others in the same position, were unable to stab his hand with a fork, throw a drink in his face, or embarrass him by telling him clearly to stop. I do not accept the notion that difference of age and status between full adults makes firm rejection impossible – that thought did not cross my mind with the politician in Llandudno, who was a good deal older, more famous and wealthy than I, and in a position to further my political ambitions. Ms Edwards saying nothing at the time, saving it up for twenty years and then attempting to use the claim to cause major damage, appears to me behaviour as bad as the original.

I do realise that in this I have outlived the mores of the times. But no matter how fiercely I oppose a no deal Brexit – and I think it would be disastrous for every one but a few nasty financial speculators – I do not think the approach of throwing the kitchen sink of accusations against Boris Johnson is good for the long term health of politics. It also obscures with chaff the allegations of real wrongdoing, like directing public funds and assistance to the company of a woman with whom he was in a sexual relationship. That should be investigated. That is real wrongdoing.

Johnson’s arrogance before the Commons in refusing to apologise for the prorogation of parliament was deeply unpleasant, but I do not approve of the effort to delegitimise his use of language. Words like “surrender”, “betrayal” and “traitor” have centuries of political use behind them. Boris Johnson is as entitled to free speech as anyone else. It is perfectly legitimate for opponents to argue that his language is deliberately divisive and thus people ought to vote against him in the interests of harmony. The electorate can pay heed or not to such argument, as they see fit. But it is quite another thing to argue that such language should be excised from public life. Robust debate is an important aspect of free speech. Controlling the language of your opponents is the antithesis of democracy. I am firmly with John Stuart Mill on this one.

People were offended by Galileo and Darwin, by Gandhi, by Jesus and Mohammed. Causing offence is important to human development. Everyone is entitled to do it, even Boris Johnson.

Finally I had the misfortune to see Jess Phillips on BBC Breakfast TV yesterday morning and she gave, as an example of abuse of MPs the fact that every time she speaks about anti-semitism in the Labour Party she receives emails stating that she is exaggerating, or is a puppet of Israel. A great deal of what MPs plainly see as abusive online activity looks to me simply like people expressing their disagreement. People can be entirely right or entirely wrong in their views, but they still have a right to express them to Members of Parliament. I found Ms Phillips objection to people expressing disagreement deeply worrying.

I have no doubt MPs do receive death threats – I do myself sometimes, generally originating in Florida for some strange reason. But I do wonder how much exaggeration there is of this.

The Laura Kuenssberg case is seminal here. You may recall that 35,000 people signed a 38 Degrees petition calling for her removal for pro-Tory bias and after a major headline news campaign headed by the Guardian and BBC, claiming that the petition was full of abusive and misogynistic comments, 38 Degrees deleted the petition. However I went through all the comments personally and could only find one comment and a single related tweet which was in any way abusive or misogynistic. When I challenge 38 Degrees to produce the evidence of abuse, there was none. That was a very worrying example of the limiting of perfectly legitimate protest against Kuenssberg, on an excuse of “abusive social media” which was a lie.

There is insufficient plain speaking already in politics and the attempt to further contain and constrain, and limit political thought to acceptable channels and vocabulary, is worrying. Let Johnson say what he wills, and let the electorate judge that.

As for behaviour, I do not wish to see any further correspondence of the Overton window with sex negative feminism. I can personally think of one mutually fulfilling physical relationship in my own history, where the crossing of that difficult line from friendship to physical intimacy did indeed start with the squeeze of a leg under the table. The initiation of more intimate physical contact is the most critical point in the complex courtship rituals of developed human societies. To insist that verbal agreement must always be sought before a move to kiss or an exploratory caress of a leg or a shoulder, is a fundamental change in culture which I am not at all sure is desirable. The essential qualifier is of course that, if the other person either verbally or by action does not welcome the tentative first move, then the initiator must desist immediately. It is my own belief that sex-negative feminism seeks quite deliberately to invalidate perfectly normal heterosexual courtship and that the chattering classes have far too readily adopted this, in the interests of identity politics.

I am perfectly aware that what I have written will offend some pleasant people and is against current fashionable thinking. I am also well aware that less pleasant people will utterly misrepresent what I have written as a justification of sexual assault. I deplore entirely any non-consensual sexual activity forced on anyone, and I believe that the slightest indication of disapproval should lead to an instant stop. But to deny the existence of non-verbal communication, and make an issue of non-violent initiation of contact outside an erogenous zone, is to me not legitimate. I would also refer you to my last post, and the extraordinary difference in the treatment in these matters by the media and political classes purveying identity politics of those within the neo-liberal “centrist” consensus, like Bill Clinton and Brendan Cox, and those outside it, like Boris Johnson, Alex Salmond or Julian Assange. This is a misguided and an extraordinarily selective outrage.

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