US and UK – is there any movement on the use of torture?

Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan and a human rights activist, has written on his blog that the British Foreign Office has admitted using intelligence obtained via torture: “This is the most important blog post I have ever made. I would be grateful if you could do everything in your power to disseminate a link to anyone you know who has the remotest interest in human rights – or should have. This blog will be silent for a few days now. Tucked away at Page 15 of its annual Human Rights report, the FCO has finally made a public admission of its use of intelligence from torture. Despite the Orwellian doublespeak about ‘unreserved condemnation of torture’, this is the clearest statement the government has ever made that it, as a policy, employs intelligence from torture…

Craig Murray then quoted from the Foreign And Commonwealth Office report:
One example is the question of the use of intelligence provided to the UK by other countries. The provenance of such intelligence is often unclear – partners rarely share details of their sources. All intelligence received, whatever its source, is carefully evaluated, particularly where it is clear that it has been obtained from individuals in detention. The use of intelligence possibly derived through torture presents a very real dilemma, given our unreserved condemnation of torture and our efforts to eradicate it. Where there is intelligence that bears on threats to life, we cannot reject it out of hand. What is quite clear, however, is that information obtained as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence in any criminal or civil proceedings in the UK. It does not matter whether the evidence was obtained here or abroad‘ — from the document posted here http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/pdf15/human-rights-2008 “.

However, this link appears not to be working — so you can find a link on another page here that you can click on yourself to find the full report.

This post continues: “The fact that the government accepts that it cannot use such intelligence as evidence in court, is not of great comfort when instead it is used to have people kidnapped and sent on extraordinary rendition, or severely beaten and detained without charge, or deported to home countries where they will be murdered. The ticking bomb scenario is a Hollywood myth. 99 per cent of the tens of thousands of cases of torture in the War on Terror have been ‘Fishing expedition’. Torture does not work. The tortured individual will not tell you the truth, but will tell whatever he or she thinks will satisfy the torturer and stop the pain. We know this from history. People confessed under torture that their cat was the Devil and they flew on broomsticks. In my time in Uzbekistan children were tortured in front of their parents and dissidents were boiled alive. Yet by accepting torture material for ‘Careful evaluation’ we create a market for it. We increase the amount of torture in the World by putting a value on its result. And we are breaking international law by complicity in torture, which is plainly against Article 4 of the UN Convention Against Torture…

Earlier, he wrote this post about the new American policy under the Obama administration: “On human rights, Obama’s government lawyers have continued seamlessly the positions adopted by the Bush administration in seeking to deny any rights before US courts for detainees in Guantanamo Bay, arguing that they are not legal persons in the US. The US detention centre at Baghram airbase in Afghanistan, where prisoners have been subject to terrible deprivation and torture, and many have died, is being expanded to take another 244 prisoners. That appears to be the plan for closing Guantanamo Bay, and is one of the few things that could actually make life worse for the prisoners there. Extraordinary rendition has not been stopped. And to quote just one of myriad cases, Obama continued the Bush administration’s efforts to have the details of the torture suffered by Binyam Mohammed kept secret by the puppet UK government, which complied, and the British courts – the latter thankfully having resisted. There are to be no prosecutions of Bush administration officals or security service personnel for instituting or implementing the policy of torture worldwide. Which policy, as far as records of the law are concerned, was entirely dreamt up by Ms Lyndie England. Obama ought to have encouraged prosecutions to deter from it happening again – except it appears not to have stopped. But there are not just to be no prosecutions – the truth is to be buried forever. It was under Obama that Binyan Mohammed was still held, with the complicity of Miliband, while he was pressured to sign a condition of release that he would not tell anyone about his torture … Those rendered to the unspeakable torture of Uzbekistan came on CIA flights from Baghram and from the secret prison at Szymano-Szczytny in Poland. Most if not all now lie in graves in the Kizyl Kum desert. The Americans must have lists of who they transported. We – and their relatives all over the World – don’t know their names. In January, one of Obama’s first foreign policy initiatives was to send General Petraeus to Tashkent for talks with President Karimov, with a view to reopening the US airbase in Uzbekistan. Diplomatic talks continue. Interestingly, I hear from my Uzbek government moles that they have stalled over Karimov’s demand for a photoshoot with President Obama. That sounds crazy if you don’t know Karimov’s megalomania, and his desire to revive a faltering personality cult. Hillary Clinton is resisting this strongly. She has nothing against an alliance with Karimov, opening the airbase, paying him a large subsidy and resuming the Bush policy of denying Karimov’s massive human rights abuses at the UN, OSCE and elsewhere. But she has made plain that she will not under any circumstances be pictured with Karimov, who boils opponents alive (literally). She doesn’t think Obama should do it either. But there is now a split over this issue in Washington between White House and State Department, with White House senior staff seeing no harm in a photocall with a man that 99.9% of Americans have never heard of, and who (this is a telling factor) is strongly allied with Israel. The Uzbek policy particularly interests me, and is a subset of Obama’s disastrous Central Asian policy. In Afghanistan we have presided over massive increases in opium production, to exceed all previous levels by over 50%. The Karzai family and the majority of the Ministers and Governors of the government we installed, are deeply implicated in the industrial scale refining of opium into heroin and its export – much of it through neighbouring Uzbekistan and in collaboration with the Karimov family and their bagman Gafur Rakhimov. What Obama expects to gain by a massive surge of Western troops into this mess is beyond me. Meantime he has actually increased the rate of air strikes into Pakistan, killing many scores of innocent civilians and contributing to the destabilisaton and growth of radical insurgency in that country”…

2 thoughts on “US and UK – is there any movement on the use of torture?”

  1. Slowly the world will have to turn away from the U.S.A. and Israel. In fifty years or less, the U.S.A. wold war empire will be on its way out of power completely That fifty year limit is perhaps wishful thinking, but the empire set-up we are watching is a matched set of zero sum games. A deadly, bloody, poisonous collection of inhuman controls. Pakistan is the canary in the mine shaft! After Gaza, we are all Palestinians.

  2. Slowly the world will have to turn away from the U.S.A. and Israel. In fifty years or less, the U.S.A. wold war empire will be on its way out of power completely That fifty year limit is perhaps wishful thinking, but the empire set-up we are watching is a matched set of zero sum games. A deadly, bloody, poisonous collection of inhuman controls. Pakistan is the canary in the mine shaft! After Gaza, we are all Palestinians.

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