Ex-ambassador Murray exposed terror in Uzbekistan, now battles U.K.’s war of error
Thursday’s British election will cap a delightfully raucous campaign—delightful even if you forget about the underlying issues of the Bush-Blair war of terror.
No one puts this in clearer focus than Craig Murray, who was hounded out of his post as U.K. ambassador to Uzbekistan after he publicly rebuked that dictatorship for torture, including boiling people to death. Now Murray is running for Parliament in Thursday’s election against his former boss, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Murray’s a key figure in exposing the evil practice of “rendition,” in which the U.S. and Great Britain send detainees to Uzbekistan and other countries to be literally squeezed for information. The CIA, in fact, has done this.
Since the Bush regime’s deadly combination of neocons and profiteers decided to use 9/11 as an excuse to launch a “war on terror,” Uzbekistan’s dictator, Islam Karimov, has become a big buddy of ours.
And for all the God talk by the Bush regime, it’s supporting a dictator who tortures people for practicing their religion—in Karimov’s case, the main religion he persecutes is Islam, so I guess it’s OK. Here’s how Guardian (U.K.) columnist George Monbiot wrote about it in ’03:
His crime, like that of many of the country’s prisoners, was practising his religion.
Strictly by coincidence, Halliburton “won” a $22.1 million contract to build something called Camp Stronghold Freedom in Uzbekistan.
Karimov is a harsh, repressive schmuck, like Saddam Hussein, who, as you may recall, was once our pal. In the ’80s, Don Rumsfeld traveled to Iraq to pal around with Saddam. Now he does the same thing with Karimov (see photo below).
Don Van Natta of the New York Times wrote a lengthy piece about the U.S.’s “rough ally” a couple of days ago, including this passage:
Big surprise. Murray has been talking about this for a couple of years, making headlines everywhere in the world except the U.S.
Not until the jump did Van Natta’s May 1 story mention Murray:
Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said he learned during his posting to Tashkent that the C.I.A. used Uzbekistan as a place to hold foreign terrorism suspects. During 2003 and early 2004, Mr. Murray said in an interview, “C.I.A. flights flew to Tashkent often, usually twice a week.”
In July 2004, Mr. Murray wrote a confidential memo to the British Foreign Office accusing the C.I.A. of violating the United Nations’ Prohibition Against Torture. He urged his colleagues to stop using intelligence gleaned in Uzbekistan from terrorism suspects because it had been elicited through torture and other coercive means. Mr. Murray said he knew about the practice through his own investigation and interviews with scores of people who claimed to have been brutally treated inside Uzbekistan’s jails.
“We should cease all cooperation with the Uzbek security services—they are beyond the pale,” Mr. Murray wrote in the memo, which was obtained by the Times.
Well, they didn’t. In fact, Murray got into trouble with his bosses. Van Natta glossed over it, writing:
A Foreign Office spokesman declined to address Mr. Murray’s allegations. Last year, Mr. Murray resigned from the Foreign Office, which had investigated accusations that he mismanaged the embassy in Tashkent. An inquiry into those allegations was closed without any disciplinary action being taken against him.
Actually, the Foreign Office went to war on Murray. They fired his staff and then Murray was accused of sexual hijinks—selling visas for sex. He was chewed out a few times by his bosses, collapsed of a nervous breakdown, suffered a near-fatal pulmonary embolism, and finally was cleared of all allegations.
After he rested up, he traveled from his home in Scotland to Blackburn, where he’s challenging Jack Straw’s seat in Parliament. Could he upset Straw? Murray thinks it’s possible.
He’s been charting his campaign progress in a column in the Guardian (U.K.). Murray refuses to let the Blair government “move on” from its disastrous decision to tag along with the Bush regime and invade Iraq. Here’s a snatch from Murray’s April 21 column:
(Am I the only one to find this mantra insulting? I think I’ll rob a bank to get some campaign funds. When the police come to take me away, I’ll say, “Hey, let’s move on. OK, so I robbed a bank. Whatever the rights and wrongs, that phase is over. What is important is that we all come together now and get behind the really great things I’m going to do with the money.”)
Sorry, Craig, but Paul Wolfowitz got to the bank ahead of you.