UK ambassador Craig Murray wants jack straw to be prosecuted at the Hague for his complicity in torture; blasts Theresa May’s whitewashing

Video and the accompanying article are from RT June 29: ‘Prosecute Blair govt officials at ICC after torture report – ex-diplomat Craig Murray’

The interviewer is quite a tool, especially his panting and gasping over ‘It was just after 9/11; intel was crucial’ or whatever.  Glad Murray set him straight, not that he’ll necessarily believe it.  In a recent 2107 PEW poll of ameriakns torture as ‘ever permissible’ or ‘sometimes permissible’, the respondents were split about 50/50.  I didn’t take time to check the internals and methodology, but they would matter, as most polls are ‘push polls’.  But most of what Craig Murray had said it in the article and on the banners in the video.

In his  29 Jun, 2018 ‘Blair and Brown Governments Gory with Torture’ at craigmurray.com, he fills in the blanks, some of which are:

“Even I was taken aback by the sheer scale of British active involvement in extraordinary rendition revealed by yesterday’s report of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. Dominic Grieve and the committee deserve congratulations for their honesty, integrity and above all persistence. It is plain from the report that 10 Downing Street did everything possible to handicap the work of the committee. Most crucially they were allowed only to interview extremely senior civil servants and not allowed to interview those actively engaged in the torture and rendition programme.

Theresa May specifically and deliberately ruled out the Committee from questioning any official who might be placed at risk of criminal proceedings – see para 11 of the report. The determination of the government to protect those who were complicit in torture tells us much more about their future intentions than any fake apology.

In fact it is impossible to read paras 9 to 14 without being astonished at the sheer audacity of Theresa May’s attempts to obstruct the inquiry. They were allowed to interview only 4 out of 23 requested witnesses, and those were not allowed “to talk about the specifics of the operations in which they were involved nor fill in any gaps in the timeline”. If the UK had a genuinely free media, this executive obstruction of the Inquiry would be the lead story. Instead it is not mentioned in any corporate or state media, despite the committee report containing a firm protest:

Despite being hamstrung by government, the Committee managed through exhaustive research of classified documents to pull together evidence of British involvement in extraordinary rendition and mistreatment of detainees on a massive scale. The Committee found 596 individual documented incidents of the security services obtaining “intelligence” from detainee interrogations involving torture or severe mistreatment, ranging from 2 incidents of direct involvement, “13 to 15” of actually being in the room, through those where the US or other authorities admitted to the torture, to those where the detainee told the officer they had been tortured. They found three instances where the UK had paid for rendition flights.” 

Craig displays which part of his testimony did make it into the report, but of course not the parts in which he’d proved that Jack Straw and Richard Dearlove had a deliberate policy approving ‘intelligence’ gathering by way of torture.

“Jack Straw to this day denies knowledge and involvement and famously told Parliament that the whole story about rendition and torture was a “conspiracy theory”.

Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea. I do not think it would be justified.”


Former British foreign minister Jack Straw speaks to a television crew as he leaves a BBC building in central London February 23, 2015. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

“The Blair and Brown governments were deeply immersed in torture, a practice that increased hatred of the UK in the Muslim world and thus increased the threat of terrorism. Their ministers repeatedly lied about it, including to parliament. The British state has since repeatedly acted to ensure impunity for those involved, from Blair and Straw down to individual security service officers, who are not to be held responsible for their criminal complicity. This impunity of agents of the state is a complete guarantee that these evil practices will continue.”

It’s quite a tell that Ambassador Murray said that no British press has requested an interview with him, isn’t it?  But one paper  has covered the report with some interesting tidbits, especially confirming the truth that torture doesn’t bring truthful confessions, just what torturers want to hear:

From the Guardian, June 30: ‘British intelligence officers linked to man waterboarded 83 times ; MI6 put questions to Abu Zubaydah despite knowing of sustained torture, report says’

“In the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, statements made by Zubaydah under torture were cited by the US government as evidence that there was a link between the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida: a connection that was said to justify the invasion of Iraq. That connection is no longer made.

Zubaydah, a Saudi-born Palestinian national who is still being held in Guantánamo Bay, was also said to have confessed that al-Qaida planned to use an improvised nuclear device to attack Washington DC. This too is now accepted to be a false claim.

The ISC report found evidence that UK intelligence officers had been involved in almost 600 cases in which a prisoner was mistreated in the years after 9/11, and that the British government had planned, agreed or financed 31 rendition operations.

Scotland Yard has said it is studying the report, amid warnings that if the UK does not investigate, the international criminal court may do so.”

“And when one MI6 officer raised concerns that prisoners at a detention facility were being kept in cells approximately 2 metres long, 1.8 metres high and 1.2 metres wide, he felt he was regarded as having “let the side down” by pointing to an “inconvenient” truth. An MI6 lawyer who visited this facility described it as “a torture centre” in which prisoners were held in wooden crates, could neither stand nor lie and subjected to white noise. The location of this US facility is not identified in the report, but it is thought to have been at Balad airbase, north of Baghdad in Iraq.

MI6 lawyers eventually formulated a policy under which nobody captured by UK forces was sent to this facility and officers would not interrogate anyone sent there. In practice, the report said, they would interrogate prisoners in a Portakabin next door to the prison, to which they would be returned once the questioning was complete.”

From a separate piece at the Guardian:

“Theresa May issued a statement saying the lessons of what happened in the aftermath of 9/11 “are to be found in improved operational policy and practice, better guidance and training, and an enhanced oversight and legal framework”.

She added: “We should be proud of the work done by our intelligence and service personnel, often in the most difficult circumstances, but it is only right that they should be held to the highest possible standards in protecting our national security.”

May’s statement did not address the committee’s conclusion that the UK had been in breach of the international prohibition on torture. Nor did she say anything about the recommendation that a fresh police investigation be considered.”

And last, from the Daily Mail rag June 26, but it’s ubiquitous and quotes the Times: ‘Fury as US demands changes to a report on British spies involvement in rendition and torture’

“Dan Dolan, head of policy at Reprieve, the human rights charity, told The Times: ‘It would destroy what remains of this inquiry’s credibility if its findings were influenced by the same US agencies who oversaw the abuses being investigated, and we must urgently find out what changes the Trump administration requested and whether they were accepted.

‘If the government had delivered the full public inquiry it originally promised it would be unthinkable that the Trump administration would be permitted to review this report before members of the UK parliament.

‘To convince anyone she takes these issues seriously, the prime minister must immediately order an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in torture and rendition.’

The only answer I’d found was at sky.com, FWIW:

“Dominic Grieve, chair of the intelligence and security committee (ISC), dismissed claims there were any significant last-minute changes granted to the document.  Only one word had been redacted from 300 pages “to meet a US security concern”, the MP for Beaconsfield revealed.

“The committee does not agree to redact material in its reports on grounds of embarrassment to anyone. So I can assure you that the US has not made wholesale redactions to the reports, as suggested.”

Mr Grieve also attacked the government, accusing it of acting “unacceptably” by leaking the report to the media.”

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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wendy davis's picture

this i’d forgotten to include in the OP:

and if any of you communicate off the boards with zoebear, i'd really appreciate it if you'd DM me and i could give you my e-address to send to her. she hasn't commented here since 6/12, and i've grown increasing concerned about her, and hope that she's just busy doing more important things than participate online. i did ask at the 'members contact project', but she hadn't registered.

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ggersh's picture

ever be brought to justice maybe wars would
stop, I highly doubt the either the former or latter
ever happen unless......

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Yes the DHS’s Ministry of Truth is headed by a weird ridiculous person. Please don’t let that distract from the vastly more significant fact that the DHS has a Ministry of Truth.

Caitlin

wendy davis's picture

@ggersh

and as i remember it, few war criminals of the white sort have ever been tried at the ICC, save for milosevic, and he was exonerated in the end. oddly enough, i missed that entire period of history, so i'm fuzzy on the 'whys' of his exoneration, not to mention charges. i'm most embarrassed to say that i learned that fact on...twitter.

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dance you monster's picture

The ISC report found evidence that UK intelligence officers had been involved in almost 600 cases in which a prisoner was mistreated in the years after 9/11, and that the British government had planned, agreed or financed 31 rendition operations.

. . . would this mean the other 570 or so instances they can document of torture were carried out or sanctioned by the US? I mean, that's not surprising in the least, just from what already has been revealed, but damn, it makes you wonder why the world created laws against torture if we don't intend to hold anyone accountable.

On a slightly different tack, Theresa May's statement should be elaborated:

. . . the lessons of what happened in the aftermath of 9/11 “are to be found in improved operational policy and practice, better guidance and training, and an enhanced oversight and legal framework to facilitate and exonerate Britons in the pursuit of torture, an international war crime.”

There, that's more accurate.

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ggersh's picture

@dance you monster but never ever by our fearless leaders

we only do enhanced interrogations.

but damn, it makes you wonder why the world created laws against torture if we don't intend to hold anyone accountable.

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Yes the DHS’s Ministry of Truth is headed by a weird ridiculous person. Please don’t let that distract from the vastly more significant fact that the DHS has a Ministry of Truth.

Caitlin

wendy davis's picture

@dance you monster

and i'm not sure i can answer it. but perhaps MI6 spooks simply didn't submit bills for traveling to black sites. or you may be right that the CIA paid for their flights, or that this is the only number that dominic grieve and the rest of the committee could find in the classified docs.

i was a bit taken aback by jack straw's 'conspiracy theory' mini rant above, but this part knocked me off my pins:

"and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea. I do not think it would be justified.”

now i lost track of the CIA torture timeline, evidence, release of not (brain more interstices than neurons by now), but i'd thought obomba had embargoed it (classified it) for ten or twelve years once in office, but upon a bit of a search, i found this mike ludwig piece at truthdig dec. 2014: 'A Brutal “Torture Report,” but No Accountability'

but talk about a whitewash within a whitewash, ludwig writes:

"President Obama, who banned the program in 2009, is taking a more even-handed approach to the fallout from the report. In a statement released today, the president called the interrogation program “troubling” and said it “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners.”

Still, his administration has made it clear that no one from the intelligence community will be held responsible, at least not in public.

“While we recognize that there are strong emotions raised by the release of this report, the one thing that we want to also be clear is that the men and woman who continue to protect this country have the respect of this government and the American people,” said one senior administration official, referring to the US intelligence community. He spoke to reporters on background and asked not to be named."

'banned the program', arrrgh. 'amerika does not torture', which words were reported in the new york times, including the fact that he'd said when john rizzo, maybe brennan said: yikes, yer gonna put us out of the rendition bidness'... they all huddled, and decided to whistle-stop detainees. short stays at one black site, shipped to the next. so it was a matter if time spent, ya see. if ya want i can did it out, but it was the piece that described the 'moral dilemma' the prez faced on terror tuesday drone assassinations from his deck of cards.

'look forward, not backward', said he, as he knew he'd continue the program, as well as commit other massive war crimes.

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wendy davis's picture

@wendy davis

fellow war criminals quote in the new yawk times piece:

"“The day before the executive orders were issued, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, had called the White House in a panic. The order prohibited the agency from operating detention facilities, closing once and for all the secret overseas “black sites” where interrogators had brutalized terrorist suspects.

“The way this is written, you are going to take us out of the rendition business,” Mr. Rizzo told Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s White House counsel, referring to the much-criticized practice of grabbing a terrorist suspect abroad and delivering him to another country for interrogation or trial [as if]. The problem, Mr. Rizzo explained, was that the C.I.A. sometimes held such suspects for a day or two while awaiting a flight. The order appeared to outlaw that.

Mr. Craig assured him that the new president had no intention of ending rendition — only its abuse, which could lead to American complicity in torture abroad. So a new definition of “detention facility” was inserted, excluding places used to hold people “on a short-term, transitory basis.” Problem solved — and no messy public explanation damped Mr. Obama’s celebration.

Pragmatism over ideology,” his campaign national security team had advised in a memo in March 2008. It was counsel that only reinforced the president’s instincts.
Even before he was sworn in, Mr. Obama’s advisers had warned him against taking a categorical position on what would be done with Guantánamo detainees. The deft insertion of some wiggle words in the president’s order showed that the advice was followed."

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