Blair on torture: ‘La la la, I’m not listening’

Tony Blair has made a statement about British complicity with the US policy of ‘extraordinary rendition’ (which basically means sending people off to countries that can torture people to gain ‘evidence’). In this he states:

I, I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that anything illegal has been happening here at all, and I’m not going to start ordering inquires into this, that and the next thing when I’ve got no evidence to show whether this is right or not – and I honestly, and you know, it’s like all this stuff about camps in Europe or something – I don’t know, I’ve never heard of such a thing.
I can’t tell you whether such a thing exists – because, er – I don’t know.

Well, that’s convincing. I feel that my concerns have been addressed, don’t you? More here.

Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan who I’ve quoted from before, is also causing the UK government more grief by publishing openly what were previously confidential letters that prove that the UK government has been complicit with using information gained through torture. Here’s editted ‘highlights’:

Jack Straw: “Not to the best of my knowledge… let me make this clear… the British government does not support torture in any circumstances. Full stop. We do not support the obtaining of intelligence by torture, or its use.” – Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, election hustings, Blackburn, April 2005

In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers. – Craig Murray

I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this cover-up. I am saddened when the US constantly quote fake improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan, such as the abolition of censorship and Internet freedom, which quite simply have not happened.

1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.

2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.

3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.

As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth.

Even a hardened cynic such as myself has trouble believing that these are not real documents, and if they really are accurate recordings of what has been told to the UK government then it is clear evidence that we are being lied to. Full details here.

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