Rendition


Real Versus Imaginary Terrorists

For the last ten years we have suffered media hysteria at the very mention of a bomb plot. The live news networks have been devoted for whole days and weeks, and the front pages monopolised, by a whole series of alleged bomb plots, even though in the large majority of cases there turned out not to be any actual bomb, just bragging emails or loose macho talk. So-called bomb plots in the US had as much power as alleged UK plots to dominate UK news.

Yet when a very real terrorist with a very real and large actual bomb tries but fails to kill very many in a large crowd, it gets a cursory mention on TV news and the only report in the UK press I can find is the Daily Mail

Who can doubt the level of hysteria that would have been whipped up if this were a Muslim and not a Nazi?

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Obama Stops Pretending

Any last pretence that Obama is substantively different from Bush was abandoned yesterday when Obama signed an executive order providing for indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo, which will not close. He has also abandoned the idea of giving detainees a reasonable process in civilian courts, and instead is resuming the kangaroo “Military tribunals”. About the only improvement on Bush is that any detainees who happen to be multi-millionaires can have their own civilian counsel before these kangaroo courts, if they pay for it themselves.

Washington Post here

While Saudi Arabia has imposed a blanket ban on political demonstrations. There has been no condemnation from the UK or US of this outrageous denial of fundamental human rights. Funny that, isn’t it?

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Terror Scare Bullshit

Contrary to the false reports disseminated by government agencies, there were no detonators in the toner bombs. They would therefore almost certainly have failed to go off, just like the self gonad immolating bomber.

As for the weird insistence by the government that the bombs were designed to go off on the plane, I just don’t believe it. What is the evidence for this? If the object was to bring down a plane, why possibly call attention to the packages by addressing them to Chicago synagogues?

The only possible reason to insist that planes, not synagogues, were the target is to tap in to the public psyche which since 9/11 has been thoroughly indoctrinated with the airline bomb threat. In other words, deliberate government fearmongering.

There is now an official insistence that the bombs were physically created by the same man who created the underpants bomb. Actually entirely possible, in that both attempts were useless, had no access to detonators, and didn’t kill anyone.

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Diplomacy, Dictatorship and the Uses of Torture

There is a major profile of me in the latest Der Spiegel.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,724471,00.html

It is slightly overdrawn in its desire to paint a contrast between Ambassador Neuen and I, but is not unfair. Where it is wrong is its easy acceptance of the false dichotomy: is it better to suck up to a dictator and gain quiet influence over him, or to take a moral high stand but have no influence?

The mistake is in believing that crawling to a dictatorial regime makes them respect you. In fact the diplomatic cringe posture only enhances the super bloated ego and confidence of power of Karimov and his minions. They perceive diplomatic circumspection as weakness, and they despise the weak.

Remember, the senior officials of the Karimov regime have not encountered a single person — except Karimov himself – who dared to speak to them roughly, for decades. Almost everyone they meet, they have the power to have killed. Let me say that again so it sinks in. Almost everyone they meet, they have the power to have killed. They do have people killed, not infrequently.

The example given in the Der Spiegel article of forcing diplomats to wait for three hours in baking 105 degree heat – quite deliberately – for a ceremony to start, is not a major thing in itself, but is a demonstration of contempt.

By taking a different, robust and forceful approach, I shocked the Karimov regime and I simultaneously gave them world exposure they really didn’t like. In consequence I had far more influence with them – they hated me, but could not ignore me. When the British government moved to remove me, every single British company in Uzbekistan wrote to Jack Straw to protest, stating in terms that I was the most effective Ambassador for British interests. You will find the letters in Murder in Samarkand.

British influence evaporated when the British government made plain to Karimov I did not have their support for a strong line. Britain has had no influence ever since. On your knees is not a position of influence.

Diplomacy is also on my mind with relation to torture. Two former British Ambassadors, Brian Barder and Charles Crawford, have both attacked my analysis of the recent speech of John Sawers, head of MI6. Sawers’ speech was a defence of torture thinly disguised as a condemnation of torture.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/10/lib_dem_ministe.html#comments

I will not waste much time on Charles Crawford, whose efforts are less of a blog and more a public exhibition of Attention Deficit Disorder. But Brian Barder is in an altogether different class, and his views merit further consideration.

http://www.barder.com/2934

Brian makes an argument that I have juxtaposed quotes from Sawers’ speech which were not actually next to each other. He claims that Sawers does not say that we receive intelligence from torture, or that Ministers have approved it.

Brian is talking total rubbish, To quash these accusations of misrepresentation, this is an unedited extract from Sawers’ speech:

“We also have a duty to do what we can to ensure that a partner service will respect human rights. That is not always straightforward.

Yet if we hold back, and don’t pass that intelligence, out of concern that a suspect terrorist may be badly treated, innocent lives may be lost that we could have saved.

These are not abstract questions for philosophy courses or searching editorials. They are real, constant, operational dilemmas.

Sometimes there is no clear way forward. The more finely-balanced judgments have to be made by Ministers themselves.”

There is no doubt that this means that we receive intelligence from torture by other security services, and that this is decided by Ministers. It can mean nothing else. Especially if you consider the background given here.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/06/proof_of_compli.html

Of course, Sawers carefully does not use the “T” word here and only uses it in a passage condemning torture, passed to and swallowed by our complacent media. That is precisely the dishonesty which so annoys me.

The curious thing is that both Brian and Charles, like Sawers, are enthusiastic supporters of the argument that we ought to get intelligence from torture by others. As Brian says:

“For the record, there is no legal, moral, ethical or practical ban on scrutinising information, and where appropriate acting on it, regardless of the way it has originally been obtained or is suspected to have been obtained.”

Let us state the points where I agree with Brian. I accept that MI6 does not torture people. I accept that MI6 does not specifically hand over people to be tortured, request that detainees are tortured, or observe torture.

But Brian completely fails to take account of the UK/US intelligence sharing agreement. Under this. MI6 and the CIA share all intelligence. The Americans do all the things in the above list. Waterboarding and other physical tortures are just one part of the American arsenal. Under extraordinary rendition, hundreds were knowingly delivered up to torture. I have received direct eye witness evidence of CIA staff physically present at torture sessions in Uzbekistan. As Brian knows, MI6 will have received every US intelligence report received from all this activity. And there are numerous examples of MI6 staff assisting the CIA in getting suspects into the extraordinary rendition system. As Brian knows, the human intelligence reports circulating Whitehall are perhaps three to one CIA not MI6 sourced – but the CIA reports in London have been processed and issued through MI6. How does this affect the “Clean Hands” claims Brian accepts from Sawers.

But the fatal flaw in Brian’s – and Sawers’ argument is the frankly pathetic notion that, by regularly and gratefully receiving intelligence from dictatorships which they obtained by torture, we do not condone or encourage torture. Brian hides behind the “ticking bomb” argument that falsely posits that intelligence from torture is rare and relates to an instant and preventable threat. Brian has simply not answered this entire section of my article:

“It is the old man I met who had his children tortured before his eyes until he admitted false family ties with al-Qaida. It is the woman raped with the broken bottle, It is the lady who lived opposite me whose father was blinded as a political prisoner, and who was held down while a truck was run over her legs. All of that and thousands more did not stop the government, despite my profound objections as Ambassador, from accepting intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers via the CIA.

John Sawers relies on the “ticking bomb” fallacy – the idea that torture happens to real terrorists and they give precise timely information to avert an imminent threat. That is a Hollywood scenario. There has never ever been a real life example that meets the ticking bomb cliche.

We encourage torture, we create a market for it, by accepting its fruits. The regimes who pass us this intelligence know we accept it, and they feel supported and reinforced in their abuse of human rights. Why would they take Western rhetoric seriously on human rights when they know we lap up the products of their torture chamber?

Remember the torturers are not altruists but agents of very nasty regimes. The information passed to us by those regimes is not for our good, but for the good of those regimes – and normally to convince us that the opponents of those regimes are all terrorists, whether true or not. In Uzbekistan, every bit of intelligence we could verify from the Embassy, eg on terrorist training camps in named locations in the hills, turned out to be untrue. Yet the intelligence services lapped up the Uzbek information because it greatly exaggerated the strength of al-Qaida in Central Asia, thus providing a spurious justification for our support of Central Asian dictators, whose help we wanted for our Afghan policy and for access to their hydrocarbons.

Torture does not get you the truth. It gets you what the torturer wants to hear. People will say anything, as their arm is held in boiling liquid, to make the pain stop. The regimes who do this do not hold truth as a high priority.

The torture material regularly received by the UK government is from countries where the vast, overwhelming majority of the people tortured are not terrorists at all but merely dissidents from abhorrent regimes. I speak from first hand knowledge.”

PerhapsBrian would like to answer it now.

Lastly, I am genuinely very saddened to see Brian joining in the smears against me with this:

The author of this scurrilous piece is in some danger of being taken seriously, being (as he constantly reminds us all) a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who has achieved a certain fame through having insisted, I believe wrongly, that he was sacked from the Diplomatic Service for criticising the practice of torture by the Uzbek authorities and for having repeatedly denounced his own government for receiving, and sometimes acting on, information from the Americans but originating with the Uzbeks, some of which may well have been obtained by torture. He certainly did both these things, with characteristic gusto, but he was eased out of the Diplomatic Service ?” to put it politely ?” for other reasons.

Forget politeness Brian. I have no doubt you have been fed poison from some FCO related source. The best thing with poison is to spew it up.

A final point. The main object of my original post was to start some debate within the Lib Dem blogosphere. Yet no Lib Dem blogger has come forward to defend our ministers. I am not sure many activists currently see some of them as worth defending.

If after reading Brian’s harrumphing you need an antidote, there is an excellent article on Sawers’ pro-torture diatribe here:

http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2010/10/stepping-out-of-shadows-while-wanting.html

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I Decide To Join the Establishment

Somebody posted two parcel bombs. Grave threat to western civilisation. Our basic principles are at stake. They hate our freedoms. Biggest threat since World War 2. Islam incompatible with democracy. Yemen is the new Afghanistan. Eternal vigilance needed. More tanks required at airports. Fighter plane escort for passenger planes is a rational answer to parcel bombs. NATO may need to invade Somalia. Torture in Saudi Arabia vindicated by this tip off. Israel is our stoutest ally.

Will that do? Where do I get the money?

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The Courier Bomb – Curiouser and Curiouser

Hmmm. Not only did the Saudi secret service have the precise details of the bomb packages, the female alleged terrorist in Sanaa gave her phone number to the courier company. As all ultra dangerous highly trained al-Qaidah operatives are obviously taught to do.

Meanwhile David Cameron ups the 9/11 hype by saying the bombs might have been detonated on the plane. Well certainly, they might. Except that, given the parcels changed cargo planes three times, it would be difficult to know when they were on a plane and where. And why then address them to Jewish organisations in Chicago, which might arouse suspicion coming from Sanaa, rather than a fictitious uncle or a mail order curtain company?

I still think this probably was another half-arsed terrorist attempt, like the liquid bomb plot or the man who set fire to his gonads. Super dangerous and deserving all the hype it plainly was not.

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Workaday Terrorism

Let us assume for a moment that the parcel bombs sent to Jewish targets in Chicago were viable devices and this was a real attack by anti-Jewish, and probably Islamic, terrorists. There are other possible explanations, but it is not improbable this was a real attempted attack.

We are looking at low level, workaday terrorism. Parcel bombs were not infrequent in the UK in my youth, and the Unabomber caused extraordinary levels of alarm in the United States. Any loss of life is deplorable, but the scale of this threat appears to have been small.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE69S37420101030?pageNumber=1

It is hard to believe that a parcel bomb would have killed more than a couple of people – there have been a large number of parcel bombs used over decades, and they do not cause mass casualties. Now two or three dead or injured people is too many, but the worldwide media coverage is completely disproportionate to the threat – if they covered every two or three actually, not potentially, dead Afghans in this depth, they would never cover anything else.

It is of course possible that the media coverage was the aim rather than two or three unfortunate people in Chicago. The easy and extremely detailed tip off from the Saudi security services is very interesting. If publicity rather than death was the aim, that rather widens the field of people who might have been behind it.

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Lib Dem Ministers Complicit in Torture

Nothing has changed. Under the Lib/Con coalition, MI6 continue to receive intelligence obtained through torture abroad, and Lib Dem ministers will be seeing intelligence obtained from hellish torture chambers in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and numerous other capitals.

That was plain from yesterday’s speech by MI6 head John Sawers – despite the near unanimous complicity of the mainstream media in forwarding the smokescreen of anti-torture spin.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11642568

But it is a thin smokescreen indeed. These are Sawers’ key words:

“Suppose we received credible intelligence that might save lives, here or abroad. We have a professional and moral duty to act on it. We will normally want to share it with those who can save those lives.”

Sir John said the UK’s security service had a duty to ensure any partner service would respect human rights but admitted this was “not always straightforward”.

He said: “Yet if we hold back and don’t pass that intelligence, out of concern that a suspect terrorist may be badly treated, innocent lives may be lost that we could have saved.

“These are not abstract questions just for philosophy courses or searching editorials, they are real, constant operational dilemmas. Sometimes there is no clear way forward. The more finely-balanced judgments have to be made by ministers themselves.”

Now parse that very carefully. It says we do receive intelligence from torture, and we know we do. It says this happens all the time – “real constant

operational dilemmas” – and that the decisions to receive intelligence from torture have specifically been approved by ministers. That means Lib Dem ministers are complicit in this policy.

As a former member of the FCO senior management structure I can tell you for certain that Sawers’ speech will have been cleared with William Hague and with Jeremy Browne, the Lib Dem so-called human rights minister, who as I pointed out just yesterday made a speech on foreign policy to the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool devoid of any liberal sentiment and almost devoid of any reference to human rights.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/10/russia_and_afgh.html#comments

The policy of obtaining – constantly, as John Sawers says – intelligence from torture abroad is precisely the same as that I protested about under New Labour, which protest led to the end of my career. Everything in the documents I have published is precisely consistent with the policy Sawers enumerates now.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/06/proof_of_compli.html

The truth about torture is poor Mr Avazov, who was boiied alive (quite literally) in the Jaslyk torture chambers in Uzbekistan.

m_avazov_6.jpg

It is the old man I met who had his children tortured before his eyes until he admitted false family ties with al-Qaida. It is the woman raped with the broken bottle, It is the lady who lived opposite me whose father was blinded as a political prisoner, and who was held down while a truck was run over her legs. All of that and thousands more did not stop the government, despite my profound objections as Ambassador, from accepting intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers via the CIA.

John Sawers relies on the “ticking bomb” fallacy – the idea that torture happens to real terrorists and they give precise timely information to avert an imminent threat. That is a Hollywood scenario. There has never ever been a real life example that meets the ticking bomb cliche.

We encourage torture, we create a market for it, by accepting its fruits. The regimes who pass us this intelligence know we accept it, and they feel supported and reinforced in their abuse of human rights. Why would they take Western rhetoric seriously on human rights when they know we lap up the products of their torture chamber?

Remember the torturers are not altruists but agents of very nasty regimes. The information passed to us by those regimes is not for our good, but for the good of those regimes – and normally to convince us that the opponents of those regimes are all terrorists, whether true or not. In Uzbekistan, every bit of intelligence we could verify from the Embassy, eg on terrorist training camps in named locations in the hills, turned out to be untrue. Yet the intelligence services lapped up the Uzbek information because it greatly exaggerated the strength of al-Qaida in Central Asia, thus providing a spurious justification for our support of Central Asian dictators, whose help we wanted for our Afghan policy and for access to their hydrocarbons.

Torture does not get you the truth. It gets you what the torturer wants to hear. People will say anything, as their arm is held in boiling liquid, to make the pain stop. The regimes who do this do not hold truth as a high priority.

The torture material regularly received by the UK government is from countries where the vast, overwhelming majority of the people tortured are not terrorists at all but merely dissidents from abhorrent regimes. I speak from first hand knowledge.

Sawers sets up a number of Aunt Sallies. We do not torture ourselves or ask for people to be tortured. We do not hand people over to be tortured – but he omits to mention that the CIA, who share all intelligence with MI6, do. His speech is ridden with hypocrisy and should be deplored.

I was most happy to have had the chance to speak in the Lib Dem conference debate on UK complicity in torture. If Jeremy Browne had an honest bone in his pusillanimous body, given the policy he is following in office, he and other Lib Dem Minsters would have opposed the motion. Instead they are pursuing a directly opposite policy hidden behind precisely the same obfuscations used by New Labour.

I accuse Nick Clegg of complicity in torture. I am beginning to wonder whether the man has any connection to liberalism at all.

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At Last A Torture Inquiry

Finally David Cameron has announced that there will be an inquiry into British government complicity in torture. It will not start until a number of civil and criminal proceedings by individuals who claim they have been tortured have been resolved – which David Cameron appears to believe will be later this year, but we can’t know that.

Unlike the Chilcott Inquiry, the personnel of this inquiry are not obviously packed with supporters of the government view. I am somewhat concerned that Sir Peter Gibson, who has been Intelligence Services Commissioner for some years, can be viewed as parti pris. If the intelligence services were seriously misbehaving throughout his time as Commissioner, is he not being asked to judge whether he himself has been negligent?

But Dame Janet Paraskeva, head of the civil service commissioners, and Peter Riddell are genuinely independent minded people. Let us hope Sir Peter Gibson can be too.

But what we don’t have is the terms of reference of the inquiry. These are absolutely crucial. Nothing in David Cameron’s statement precluded the possibility that it will, as the intelligence services wish, simply look at individual cases of victims and assess compensation for them, without considering the existence of an overarching ministerially approved policy to use intelligence from torture.

I remain deeply concerned that individual junior MI5 and MI6 officers will be punished, while Tony Blair and Jack Straw plus the very senior officials like Lord Jay and Sir Richard Dearlove, who were responsible for setting the policy, will get off scot free.

It is still by no means sure that the inquiry will even be permitted to consider this aspect. I remain doubtful that I will be able to give my own evidence of ministerial policy of complicity with torture.

You can see the documents supporting that evidence here:

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/06/proof_of_compli.html#comments

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Westminster Foundation For Torture

duffield.jpg

This is Linda Duffield’s take on the vexed moral question on whether or not it can be justifiable to boil somebody alive to obtain information from them:

There were difficult ethical and moral issues involved and at times difficult judgements had to be made weighing one clutch of “moral issues” against another. It was not always easy for people in post (embassies) to see and appreciate the broader picture, eg piecing together intelligence material from different sources in the global fight against terrorism.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/06/proof_of_compli.html#comments

Linda is now the chief executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, an all-party supported organisation, funded by the FCO, to spread democracy abroad. This is their blurb:

Established in 1992, WFD is an independent public body sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, from which it receives an annual grant. Over the years we have grown in strength and diversity, working to achieve sustainable political change in emerging democracies. Working with and through partner organisations, we seek to strengthen the institutions of democracy, principally political parties (through the work of the UK political parties), parliaments and the range of institutions that make up civil society. We believe that, for a democracy to flourish, all of these institutions must be strong and sustainable.

I don’t imagine this includes training in the reasons why it can be OK for a democracy to condone boiling people alive, but who knows? I have worked with WFD in Poland and it used to do very good work, but it was distorted by Blair to focus its work in support of places we were invading, occupying, bombing or selling arms to. See how many of the current case studies on its website fall into that category?

http://www.wfd.org/pages/standard.aspx?i_PageID=144

And what an interesting gathering this was in Prague of the proponents of “democracy” by invasion, organised by “democracyandsecurity.org”.

http://www.democracyandsecurity.org/doc/List_of_Participants.pdf

The conference brought together Richard Perle, Aznar, the American Enterprise Institute, the exiled Cuban opposition, numerous Israeli representatives and the neo-con funded Amir Abbas Fakhravr of the “Iranian Freedom Institute of the USA”. From Wikipedia about Fakhravr:

In late April 2006, he arrived in the United States from Dubai where he had been greeted by Richard Perle [5] who interrupted his trip to central Asia in order to meet Fakhravar in a hotel. [23] They had been in touch through a contact since 2003. [23] Their meeting in Dubai was recorded and some of it is included in a documentary titled “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom”. [24][25]

Since his arrival he has called for a unified Iranian opposition to the Islamic government, in order to bring regime change in Iran. [23] He has had several meetings with American officials from the Pentagon to the State Department, as well as with Vice President Dick Cheney.[26]

Some very interesting other delegates included the Las Vegas Sands Corp.. From Wikipedia:

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) is a casino resort company based in Paradise, Nevada. It is the world’s leading Casino based company with a market capitalization of $17.3 billion as of April 2010. At one point in 2007, it had a market capitalization of $43.7 billion, making its majority shareholder, Sheldon Adelson, one of the world’s richest men.

Any idea what they were doing there? Oh yes, and Linda Duffield was there too. Doubtless it was relaxing to be in the company of so many who might share her views on the efficacy of torture.

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Torture Inquiry: My Letter to William Hague

This is the letter I wrote to William Hague, via my local MP Angela Bray, on 24 May. I was not going to publish it until I received Hague’s reply, but as he has not replied after six weeks…

I did receive almost immediately from Angela Bray a copy of the very fair letter with which she forwarded mine to William Hague.

24 May 2010

Dear Ms Bray,

UK Ministers’ Complicity in Torture

May I congratulate you upon your election? I should confess I was campaigning hard for your

Lib Dem opponent Jon Ball, but I offer you my sincere good wishes for your career in parliament.

I should be most grateful if you could forward this letter and attachments to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, for his comments. The attachments are FCO documents but I rather suspect are not amongst those which his officials would select to show to him.

The documents arise from my time as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. I have obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act. Those not written by me were carefully drafted to lessen the disclosure of culpability, and have further been carefully redacted. However I believe you will agree with me that it is impossible to read this short series of documents without drawing the conclusion that they reveal a policy of knowing complicity in torture. The Secretary of State referred to in the documents is, of course, Jack Straw.

I should also be most grateful if Mr Hague would personally consider again the substantial redactions which have been made from the documents. I of course saw the originals and I would argue that these redactions are not genuinely made in the interest of national security, but rather to avoid embarrassment to ministers. In the real world, it is not a secret that we receive intelligence reports from the CIA, nor that ministers read them. No specific intelligence is disclosed under the redactions.

The Guardian has reported that Mr Hague is considering the initiation of a public inquiry into allegations of UK complicity in torture. I would applaud this. I would however urge that it is essential that any evidence to such an inquiry be given under oath and at risk of perjury proceedings. I believe that otherwise the truth may be hard to discover. I should most certainly be prepared to give evidence to any such inquiry.

Finally, and with both shame and reluctance, I feel compelled to ask something for myself. I should state that this request is of nowhere near the same order of importance as the matters above, and I do pray that in dismissing it you do not dismiss the rest.

I believe I was the only senior official to minute his opposition to our complicity with torture, and very shortly after the events outlined in these documents, I was suspended and faced with 18 disciplinary allegations which branded me a sexual blackmailer, an alcoholic and a thief.

I am not, and have never been, any of those things and, after a four month investigation, was cleared on all those charges. But in the meantime my physical and mental health and, more dear to me, my public reputation had been destroyed. I came extremely close to sharing the fate of poor David Kelly, and I believe for very similar reasons.

The only disciplinary charge on which I was convicted was that of telling people about the false charges which I had been told to keep secret ?” but without telling people, how could I clear my name? The FCO line has always been that, when faced with such serious allegations, it had no choice but to investigate them. But that is completely at odds with the fact that the formal investigation found there was “No evidence” to support 16 of 18 allegations.

I genuinely believe that the allegations were concocted within the FCO, with malicious intent, because my internal opposition to torture was seen as endangering our secret policy of collusion with torture In fact I can think of no other explanation.

As you may be aware, a great many other people believe the same and the case has become justly notorious.

My request for myself is that the Secretary of State initiate an inquiry, by somebody external to the FCO, into what was done to me and why. Failing that, a simple apology that I was faced in such a public way with such heinous charges, of which I was innocent. To this day, the FCO has always avoided acknowledging my innocence of these dreadful accusations. It would mean the world to me.

Yours faithfully,

Craig J Murray

I have censored part of the final sentence, relating to impact on my family, for personal reasons.

If the government’s inquiry does go ahead, and is a formal inquiry under the Inquiries Act, I shall be applying to be a core participant. As the only civil servant who attempted to stop the policy which the inquiry is investigating, and having been sacked for my pains, I feel I have a strong case. As a core participant I would have the right to counsel who could submit questions to all witnesses. Frankly, few are in as good a position as I to know the right questions to ask.

Senior civil servants are pushing very hard to ensure the inquiry does not consider the general policy of torture, but only looks at individual cases of those who were tortured. A few MI5 and MI6 junior officers would be scapegoated, and compensation paid to a few victims of torture. Ministerial and senior civil service direction would be ignored. They also want most of the proceedings to be secret and – amazingly – at one stage MI6 have even been pushing for disgraced 79 year old Lord Hutton to head the inquiry.

It is by no means certain that there will be a meaningful inquiry at all.

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Who Cares About Torture in the UK?

This is perhaps the best of eleven analyses I have found so far on major US blogs of the new material I recently posted proving a UK ministerial policy of torture.

http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/07/01/torture-and-truth/

I have done numerous foreign press interviews in the last two days, including Liberation, Boston Globe and Der Spiegel. But I got the brush off from the Guardian and Telegraph, no response from sending the documents to Channel 4 and the BBC, in fact precisely zilch from the UK media. What is wrong with this country?

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Proof of Complicity in Torture 40

An FCO source warns me this morning that a vicious rearguard action is being fought within the FCO, to ensure that any government inquiry excludes my evidence and does not consider whether there was a policy of complicity with torture. Rather the security services wish it only to look at individual cases like Binyam Mohammed and assess compensation for them. The cover-up that these individual cases were accidents would be maintained.

I have now obtained under the Freedom of Information Act the final documents in the Tashkent series. These show beyond doubt that there was an official policy of obtaining intelligence through torture. I was, to the best of my knowledge, the only senior civil servant to enter a written objection to the policy of complicity with torture.

The picture built up by these documents is overwhelming and undeniable evidence of a policy of complicity in torture, even despite the censorship by government. The censorship has removed all mentions of the role of the CIA in procuring the torture intelligence from the Uzbek security services, and passing it on to MI6. Protection of the CIA appears to be the primary aim of the censor.

I set out below transcripts of the documents with a link to each document beneath.

CENSORED

CENSORED

FM TASHKENT

TO IMMEDIATE FCO

TELNO 147

OF 170345Z DECEMBER 02

INFO IMMEDIATE UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA, UKDEL VIENNA

FOR PUS AND MICHAEL WOOD

FOR HEADS OF MISSION UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA AND UKDEL VIENNA

SUBJECT: RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE PROBABLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. CENSORED

This is useless, immoral and I believe illegal.

2. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture van Boven recently visited Uzbekistan. As a result of his investigation he described the use of torture by the Uzbek authorities as “widespread” and “systemic”. This accords with our own description of it as “endemic”. Suspected Islamic radicals are particularly often tortured – with increasing frequency to death.

3. I doubt the situation is much better in other Central Asian states. CENSORED

What safeguards are in place to ensure that we are not receiving, and potentially exposing Ministers to, intelligence obtained under torture?

4. CENSORED

5. Two thoughts occur. CENSORED

6. I would be grateful for the opinion of Sir Michael Wood on the legality in both international and UK domestic law of receiving material there are reasonable grounds to suspect was obtained under torture, and the position of both Ministers and civil servants in this regard.

MURRAY

CENSORED

View Document

CENSORED

CENSORED

DEYOU

FM FCO

TO IMMEDIATE TASHKENT

TELNO 323

OF 241445Z DECEMBER 02

INFO IMMEDIATE UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA, UKDEL VIENNA

YOUR TELNO 147

FROM WILLIAM EHRMANN (IN PUS’S ABSENCE)

SUBJECT: DEYOU: INTELLIGENCE PROBABLY RECEIVED UNDER TORTURE

1. CENSORED

I have consulted Michael Wood.

CENSORED

2. No-one is in any doubt that torture is endemic in Uzbekistan, as van Boven’s report testifies. Your suggestion that intelligence is extracted under torture is disturbing.

CENSORED

3. CENSORED

4. I do hope that this reassures you. If not, perhaps we can have a discreet conversation in the margins of the FCO Leadership Conference.

STRAW

Main

DG DefInt

CENSORED

View Document

CENSORED

CENSORED

Manuscript Note: Matthew Kidd, CENSORED

Grateful for views from both CENSORED and Legal Advisers.

Wm Ehrman

Fm Tashkent

To Routine FCO

TELNO Misc 01

Of 220903 January 03

INFO ROUTINE UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA, UKDEL VIENNA

FOR WILLIAM EHRMAN

Your relno 323

RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE PROBABLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Thank you for TUR. I apologise for not findng you at the Leadership Conference, but I had decided to drop this. What seemed to be a major concern seemed not a problem to others, and this caused me some self-doubt.

2. However I see that the Economist of 11 to 17 January devoted its front cover, a full page editorial and four whole pages of article to precisely the question I had raised. Reading a newspaper on the flight back here 12 January, I was astonished to find two pages of the Sunday Mail devoted to exactly the same concerns. Back in Tashkent, I find Human Rights Watch urging the US government not to extradite Uzbek detainees from Afghanistan back to Uzbekistan on the same grounds. All of which emboldens me to think I am in good company in my concern. These stories all quote US sources as indicating that the CIA is accepting intelligence obtained under torture by “allied” governments. As I already explained, I too believe that to be most probably true here.

3. CENSORED

You accept that torture of detainees in Uzbekistan is widespread. Redacted.

4. CENSORED.

I can give you mounds of evidence on torture by the Uzbek security services, and I have et victims and their families. I have seen with my own eyes a respected elder break down in court as he recounted how his sons were tortured in front of him as he was urged to confess to links – I have no doubt entirely spurious – with Bin Laden. Redacted.

5. CENSORED.

6. I am worried about the legal position. I am not sure that a wilful blindness to how material is obtained would be found a valid defence in law to the accusation of having received material obtained under torture. My understanding is that receiving such material would be both a crime in UK domestic law and contrary to international law. Is this true? I would like a direct answer on this.

7. CENSORED.

8. The methods of the Uzbek intelligence services are completely beyond the pale. Torture including pulling out of fingernails, electrocution through genitals, rape of dependants, immersion in boiling liquid – is becoming common, and I weigh those words very carefully. CENSORED.

MURRAY

YYYY

Single Copies

DG DEFINT 1

CENSORED

View Document

CENSORED

From: Linda Duffield

Date: 10 March 2003

Reference: 1

To PUS

cc: Michael Wood, Legal Adviser

Matthew Kidd CENSORED

SUBJECT: UZBEKISTAN; INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Michael Wood, Matthew Kidd and I had a meeting with Craig Murray (Me, British Ambassador to Tashkent) to discuss his telegram (Tashkent Telno Misc 01).

CENSORED

I said you had asked me to discuss this with Craig personally in view of the sensitive nature of the issues involved.

2. Craig said his concerns had been prompted by a presentation to the Uzbek authorities by Professor Korff (OSCE Adviser) on the UN Convention on Torture. Craig said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the Convention to receive or to possess information obtained under torture. He asked for clarification on this. Michael Wood replied that he did not believe that possession of information was in itself an offence, but undertook to re-read the Convention and to ensure that Craig had a reply on this particular point.

3. I gave Craig a copy of your revised draft telegram (attached) and took him through this. I said that he was right to raise with you and Ministers (Jack Straw) his concerns about important legal and moral issues. We took these very seriously and gave a great deal of thought to such issues ourselves. There were difficult ethical and moral issues involved and at times difficult judgements had to be made weighing one clutch of “moral issues” against another. It was not always easy for people in post (embassies) to see and appreciate the broader picture, eg piecing together intelligence material from different sources in the global fight against terrorism. But that did not mean we took their concerns any less lightly.

4. CENSORED

5. After Michael Wood and Matthew Kidd had left, Craig and I had a general discussion about the human rights situation in Uzbekistan and the difficulties of pushing for a Resolution in Geneva, which we both agreed was important.

CENSORED

CONCLUSION

6. In conclusion, Craig said that he was grateful for the decision to discuss these issues with me personally. At the end of the day he accepted, as a public servant, that these were decisions for Ministers to take, whether he agreed with them or not. If it ever reached the stage where he could not accept such a decision, then the right thing to do would be to request a move. But he was certainly not there yet. He had fed in his views. You and Ministers had decided how to handle this question. He accepted that and would now go back to Tashkent and “Get on with the job”.

7. I think it was right to see him. I am not sure this is the end of the issue (or correspondence), but it was a frank and amicable discussion and Craig appears to be making efforts to balance his work on human rights with other FCO objectives. We shall, of course, be reviewing these again once he has produced his post objectives for the upcoming year.

Signed

Linda Duffield

Director Wider Europe

View Document

Linda Duffield

UZBEKISTAN

Last night the Foreign Secretary (Jack Straw) read a copy of your minute of 10 March reporting your conversation (in the company of Michael Wood and Matthew Kidd) with Craig Murray.

The Foreign Secretary agrees with the PUS that you handled this very well. He has asked me to thank you.

Signed

Simon McDonald

(Assistant Private Secretary to Jack Straw)

14 March 2003

cc PUS

PS/PUS

Michael Wood

Matthew Kidd

Alan Charlton

View Document

FROM: Michael Wood,

Legal Adviser

cc: PS/PUS

Matthew Kidd, WLD

Linda Duffield

UZBEKISTAN: INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the Convention to receive or possess information obtained under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.

2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:

“Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made”.

3. This does not create any offence. I woud expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.

Signed M C Wood

Legal Adviser

View Document

Nobody can, on a critical reading through the above documents, doubt that there was a deliberate and considered UK government policy of receiving intelligence from torture, and that it had the support of Jack Straw.

The large scale censorship of the documents does not succeed in obscuring this. My favourite bit of censorship is from para 5 of my first telegram above:

“Two thoughts occur. CENSORED

Quite right, of course. There is nothing so dangerous as one of my thoughts, but two? Thank God the government have censored and protected the public from me.

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Government Torture Inquiry

Another breathless day without a moment to blog, but I am delighted at the prospect of an inquiry into British government complicity with torture. I had already written to William Hague offering to give evidence to any such inquiry, and suggesting to him that it is essential that all evidence is taken under oath and at risk of perjury proceedings.

I understand from FCO sources that tomorrow’s official announcement has now been postponed while desperate last minute efforts are being made by the security services and by the US Embassy to tighten the terms of reference. The answer to the question “Did the British government specifically request that anybody be tortured” is quite probably no, and there is a battle going on to ensure that this is the only real question asked.

There is also of course the crucial question of who conducts the inquiry.

I shall be posting tomorrow at 11.30 am new official documents from 2002, never public before, which make completely plain New Labour’s policy of complicity in torture.

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Western Collusion in Assassination

Robert Fisk’s impeccable Arab sources strongly suspect, with good evidence, that Britain colluded in the murder in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. I have been working my own British sources since seeing Fisk’s article in February.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-britains-explanation-is-riddled-with-inconsistencies-its-time-to-come-clean-1902994.html

This morning I can say that information has reached me that confirms that Fisk is right and these were not forged British passports, but real British passports given to Mossad by MI6. But my source cautions that you cannot conclude from that, that they were given for the purposes of this particular operation, or of assassination in general. The provision or exchange of blank passports between “friendly” intelligence agancies is not an uncommon practice.

Let us not be naive about this. Our most closely allied intelligence agency, the CIA, regularly assassinates people – and is even openly authorised to assassinate US citizens.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/06/AR2010040604121.html?hpid=topnews

Anwar al-Alauqi denies any connection to terrorism. But he is most unlikely ever to be tried, as the US government plans just to execute him. Assassination squads are also a fundamental part of the plan for the “Surge” in Afghanistan, aimed to disrupt alleged Taliban networks, and operating on precisely the same plans the CIA death squads used in South and Central America. Drone attacks in Pakistan attempt assassinations on a regular basis, killing a great many women and children in the process, and British special forces are engaged in providing targeting information.

It seems most probable that Miliband’s synthetic anger at the Israeli use of British passports was really a reaction to the Israelis acting in a manner that was cavalier about our collusion being exposed.

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New Labour’s Complicity in Torture – Truly Evil

I have now obtained under the Freedom of Information Act a heavily censored copy of one of my telegrams from Tashkent protesting at the use by the UK government of intelligence obtained under torture.

Every British person should read this telegram and hang their head in the deepest of shame. This is the pitch blackness of New Labour’s embrace of authoritarianism. Read it, and remember I was both smeared and sacked for this attempt to apply simply the most basic of humane standards.

Download file

Page 2

Download file

The censored passages detail British ministers’ receipt of the torture intelligence from the CIA, and point out that the purpose of the CIA intelligence is consistently to paint a false picture, exaggerating the strength of al-Qaida in Central Asia. Miliband approved the redactions from the telegrams “On grounds of national security”. Those are precisely the grounds on which he unsuccesfully sought to suppress the evidence of UK collusion with torture in the Binyam Mohammed court cases.

Here is the text of the telegram Miliband did not redact. It is incredibly damning – you can imagine just how damning the redacted parts are!

Redacted.

Redacted.

Manuscript Note: Matthew Kidd, Redacted

Grateful for views from both Redacted and Legal Advisers.

Wm Ehrman

Fm Tashkent

To Routine FCO

TELNO Misc 01

Of 220903 January 03

INFO ROUTINE UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA, UKDEL VIENNA

FOR WILLIAM EHRMAN

Your relno 323

RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE PROBABLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Thank you for TUR. I apologise for not findng you at the Leadership Conference, but I had decided to drop this. What seemed to be a major concern seemed not a problem to others, and this caused me some self-doubt.

2. However I see that the Economist of 11 to 17 January devoted its front cover, a full page editorial and four whole pages of article to precisely the question I had raised. Reading a newspaper on the flight back here 12 January, I was astonished to find two pages of the Sunday Mail devoted to exactly the same concerns. Back in Tashkent, I find Human Rights Watch urging the US government not to extradite Uzbek detainees from Afghanistan back to Uzbekistan on the same grounds. All of which emboldens me to think I am in good company in my concern. These stories all quote US sources as indicating that the CIA is accepting intelligence obtained under torture by “allied” governments. As I already explained, I too believe that to be most probably true here.

3. Redacted. You accept that torture of detainees in Uzbekistan is widespread. Redacted.

4. Redacted. I can give you mounds of evidence on torture by the Uzbek security services, and I have et victims and their families. I have seen with my own eyes a respected elder break down in court as he recounted how his sons were tortured in front of him as he was urged to confess to links – I have no doubt entirely spurious – with Bin Laden. Redacted.

5. Redacted.

6. I am worried about the legal position. I am not sure that a wilful blindness to how material is obtained would be found a valid defence in law to the accusation of having received material obtained under torture. My understanding is that receiving such material would be both a crime in UK domestic law and contrary to international law. Is this true? I would like a direct answer on this.

7. Redacted.

8. The methods of the Uzbek intelligence services are completely beyond the pale. Torture including pulling out of fingernails, electrocution through genitals, rape of dependants, immersion in boiling liquid – is becoming common, and I weigh those words very carefully. Redacted.

MURRAY

YYYY

Single Copies

DG DEFINT 1

NNNN

The final codes are significant. it means that this was considered so hot that only a single copy was made in the FCO – very unusual indeed – and given to the Director General Defence and Intelligence.

It is both pathetic and evil that Miliband is still attempting to hide the UK’s complicity in torture by redacting those parts which state in terms that the CIA torture material was being given to me and to ministers in the UK. I am willing to testify on oath anywhere that this was stated clearly in the redacted material.

Miliband’s redactions are not in the interests of national security, but rather are intended solely to hide New Labour complicity in torture – just as the judge ruled in the Binyam Mohammed case.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/04/government-secret-evidence-guantanamo-torture

It is also very significant that Miliband has redacted my observation that the torture intelligence painted an entirely false picture which exagerrated the strength of Al-Qaida.

All of which explains why the security services are desperately working to keep the LibDems out of office.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1271739/Election-2010-Clegg-attacks-security-chiefs-criticise-Lib-Dem-policy.html

That is why it is essential that Miliband’s enthusiastic espousal of Jack Straw’s torture policy should debar either of them from any potential coalition involving the Lib Dems after the election. It also explains why I view those thinking of voting New Labour as endorsing the most vile practices know to mankind.

It is now beyond argument that, taken together, the documents I have obtained under FOI prove that there was a positive UK policy of complicity in torture. They also prove beyond doubt that, contrary to the lies of Jack Straw and Michael Jay, my account of events in Murder in Samarkand is true, not only in general but in the finest detail.

Download file

Download file

Download file

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Newsnight Spoiler: Islam Channel Islamic Propagandists Shock Horror!!

With support for the ludicrous occupation of Afghanistan flagging, government efforts to ramp up Islamophobia become ncreasingly febrile. Now we have the deeply unlovely taxpayer funded Quilliam Foundation

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/11/quilliam_founda.html

being paid by Newsnight to produce a piece exposing the Islam Channel as a biased and unbalanced source of Islamic propaganda. It will be hitting our screens sometime in the next week.

I am really glad the government funds the Quilliam Foundation. Without their sterling work, we might all have been taken in – I am sure that I for one thought the Islam Channel was Movies for Men plus one hour.

Just as with Andrew Gilligan’s execrable piece on the East London Mosque,

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/03/muslims_found_i.html#comments

I have no doubt that we will learn that the Islam Channel contains people who are homophobic, have regressive views about women, want to impose sharia law on the UK, etc.

Nobody deplores theocratic government more than I do. Faith may motivate individuals but religious dogma should not be imposed on society. But many good Muslims believe that, for the proper order of society, the laws established by Mohammed to govern Medina 1500 years ago should be imposed universally now.

They are quite entitled to believe that, just as I am quite entitled to disagree. Probably a majority of British Muslims would agree with Quilliam that precise laws need to be updated for modern times and maybe it is unrealistic anyway to want to impose Islamic law in a country with 3% Muslims. But some deeply religious Muslims want to proselytise and impose, just as Livingstone wanted to impart Christianity and Christian values on an Africa where Christians were at the time a tiny minority. We are more than entitled to think they are wrong, but the proponents of sharia law are in their own eyes trying to save us from our sins.

What we have seen in the “War on Terror” is a growing intolerance of this Islamic proselytising, and increasing efforts to ban groups or outlaw activity which seeks to campaign for fundamentalist Islam. Yet at the same time we are urging young Muslims to eschew political violence and engage in the political process. If we forbid the outlet of political organisation and activity such as campaigning and broadcasting to the tiny groups of extreme Muslims, we grant them more publicity than they merit (as Newsnight is about to) and appear to justify those among them who argue that there is no freedom in the West and the way forward is violence.

Still there’s good money in it for the Quilliam Foundation and hacks like Gilligan. And it all feeds in to the ridiculous line that killing Afghan civilians keeps us safe in the UK.

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Guardian on Manningham Buller

There is a good article in the Guardian by Vikram Dodd on Eliza Manningham Buller’s professed ignorance. Some kind people in the comments thread have pointed out that my testimony and documentary evidence directly contradicts Manningham Buller.

Some commenters then bemoaned the fact that the Guardian no longer invites me to write on these issues, which provoked a response from Matt Seaton of the Guardian that it is I who refuses to write for them. That is untrue and I have posted this comment, which I repeat here as the dreaded moderators will probably get it.

It is certainly true that I formally warned in a diplomatic telegram as early as November 2002 that we were receiving intelligence from torture from the CIA, and this was illegal. I was called back to a meeting in March 2003 to be told it was legal and policy, as decided by Jack Straw. Documents on my webiste.

Matt, for the record I should be delighted to write for Guardian cif. Sadly the Michael White Jack Straw fan club at the Guardian have blackballed me – as I am sure you know.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/10/manningham-buller-torture-mi5-terror?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments

I remain attracted to the idea – which I believe genuinely ought to work – of taking the trustees of the C P Scott trust to court for acting ultra vires. The trust stipulates that the Guardian must support liberal values. But New Labour have been the most illiberal government since Castlereagh, and the Guardian has cheerled for them. It would be a wonderful opportunity for a discussion in a court of law of New Labour’s attacks on civil liberties and the legality of New Labour’s wars.

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