Ambassador Craig Murray Spills Beans on Torture

Someone has decided to call a thumbscrew a thumbscrew:

A British diplomat has accused Britain’s intelligence service of using information obtained by foreign governments through the use of torture, according to a leaked document published today.

Craig Murray, the ambassador to Uzbekistan, said that information extracted from prisoners tortured in the central Asian republic’s jails was being passed on via the American CIA to MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service.

As well as denouncing the use of such material as morally and legally wrong, Mr Murray warned that information gathered in this way was unlikely to be reliable, as victims would say whatever they thought their tormentors wanted to hear.

“We are selling our souls for dross,” he wrote in the confidential Foreign Office report seen by the Financial Times.…

Mr Murray caused a stir by speaking out publicly in about “brutality” in Uzbek jails, highlighting the case of two men who were boiled to death.…

“This is morally, legally and practically wrong.”

Intelligence officers had argued that, as they did not know the precise source of the information they received, they could not establish whether the individual involved had been tortured or not, Mr Murray wrote.

“I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work for an organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture,” he said.

Of the hundreds of cases of political and religious prisoners he had looked into in Uzbekistan, very few had not involved the use of torture, he said.…

What a wonderful day it will be when a straight-shooting report like this gets leaked out of the U.S. government. Some days it seems like “such casuistry” is all that’s left over on this side of the pond.

It amazes me how much we’re willing to tolerate and excuse. Should the United States be held to the same standards as other countries? Not if that means we can’t invade anyone we’d like any time we’d like for any reasons we can invent after-the-fact. Can the most powerful military on Earth pummel civilian homes with guided missiles in total disregard for civilian casualties? If that’s what it takes. Is a “zero tolerance” attitude toward torture justified? It’s not even worth discussing.

How is it that in America, after the shame of Abu Ghraib and the many legal memos that set the stage for it, the person challenging the Dungeonmaster-in-Chief doesn’t feel like it’s worthwhile to say “I don’t need a team of lawyers to tell me whether or not torture is wrong — in my administration, America will have a zero tolerance policy toward torture, no ifs, ands or buts”?

Kerry’d say it even if he didn’t mean it, if he thought it was a position he could use to distinguish himself from Bush and that would get him votes. Clearly, his team has determined that as an issue, it’s a loser. To distinguish himself from Bush as the one less likely to countenance torture just isn’t going to help him at the polls. Which tells me that there’s a frighteningly large chunk of the electorate that’s told themselves “so, the United States is having people tortured, eh? I guess I can live with that.”