Saturday, December 31, 2005


Papers pick up UK torture memos as site goes dead
UK and US bloggers continue to aid in defying the Official Secrets Act by publishing former Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray's memos alleging human rights abuses were known to--and tolerated, if not sanctioned by--the US and UK governments, which were using information gleaned from torture for intelligence purposes.

Uzbekistan has long been an ally of the United States, in spite of its well-known record of abuse. Aid to the nation was cut in 2004 over human rights concerns.

The first document released by Murray consists of three telegrams that he sent to London from Uzbekistan, warning that the information gained there was derived from torture, and perhaps not as "useful" as MI6 believed. The second document is a legal analysis which argues that the use of information extracted through torture is not itself technically a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

RAW STORY featured links to coverage of the documents by Murray and Blair Watch earlier this week. Since that time, even more bloggers have joined in re-printing the text of the documents. RAW STORY does not have original copies, and therefore cannot confirm the documents' authenticity beyond the fact that the source is a former UK ambassador.

A mainstream breakthrough comes today, as the December 30 edition of The Independent featured a story on the documents. The Register has since followed. Murray's site was offline briefly due to what was initially thought to be an overwhelmingly high volume of traffic. Some supporters have since implied that it was actually hacked. Detractors, in response, have charged that Murray hacked his own site for publicity. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote, "He's trying to sell a new book by whipping moonbat bloggers into a frenzy with claims of British-outsourced torture in Uzbekistan."

Murray was a vocal critic of what he and others have termed "torture by proxy," the practice of using foreign governments to extract information from detainees through methods that would be deemed illegal or unethical in one's own. He was disciplined in August of 2003 for, among other charges, "hiring dolly birds for above the usual rate." Murray contends that his staff was actually entirely male. He was then removed from his post entirely after quotes attributed to him, critical of MI6 on the subject of Uzbekistan torture, appeared in the press. His run for Parliament resulted in an embarrassing 5% showing.

The documents, as circulated, follow:

#Letter #1 Confidential FM Tashkent TO FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MODUK, OSCE Posts, Security Council Posts 16 September 02

SUBJECT: US/Uzbekistan: Promoting Terrorism
US plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism. Support to Karimov regime a bankrupt and
cynical policy.
The Economist of 7 September states: "Uzbekistan, in particular, has jailed many thousands of moderate Islamists, an excellent way of converting their families and friends to extremism." The Economist also spoke of "the growing despotism of Mr Karimov" and judged that "the past year has seen a further deterioration of an already grim human rights record". I agree.


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