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Bloggers Strikeout On UK Torture Memos

[Note: Check the updates for links to prior publication of these "exclusives," and follow the listed trackbacks and this followup piece for more backstory.]

Lefty UK bloggers, Blair watchers, and now Daily Kos are trumpeting their coordinated release (or rather mirroring) of two documents from a forthcoming book by UK. Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray about British and US use of information obtained via torture.

Here's how Murray puts it:

The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.
With nary a peep of questioning they accept Murray's assertion that the Foreign Office is blocking release or reference to these documents. And the errors on Murray's website only add to their suspicion.

It raised my suspicion too - who would block and entire website save for the only page anyone really wants to access [At the time this story was published that page was the only page at craigmurray.co.uk that worked - the entire site is now available. ]. The self promoting author perhaps?

Pity it appears that Markos, the UK bloggers, and the rest of the pack have been played by a book hustler. From a BBC report October 17, 2004 report.

In the leaked telegram, printed in the Financial Times, he wrote that the use of information gained by torture was "morally, practically and legally wrong".
And from their super exclusive document dump:
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.
Yep, Tony Blair and Jack Straw must be trembling over the release of documents that were published in an English newspaper over a year ago...

It's all so very Downing Street Memo-ish, don't you think?

Update: Well at least Murray didn't come back from Uzbekistan empty handed...

Update 2: Murray joins with Cindy Sheehan and George Galloway to complete the moonbat triumvirate at a conference 2 weeks ago...

Update 3: The BBC link was mistakenly omitted in the initial publication.

The essence of the story is that anyone with a modicum of interest in searching Google can see that the information Murray "released" is the same information that he's been talking about for years. The memo from Michal Wood appeared in The Sunday Times March 27, 2005, as of last evening there were only those were the only two documents available on Murray's site.

There is some confusion about whether we are talking about two or four documents. This confusion is due to the layout of Murray's evidence. The first 3 letters are part of "document #1" while the Wood memo is "document #2." I've now shown by links that each of the two document sets has been previously published in whole or in part.

Nice scoop...


TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bloggers Strikeout On UK Torture Memos:

» Outside The Beltway linked with Craig Murray’s British Torture Memos

» Michelle Malkin linked with THE NEW MOONBAT CRAZE IN BRITAIN

» Conservative Outpost linked with Daily Summary

» Registan.net :: Central Asia News linked with My Thoughts on Murray

Comments (19)

It seems you've not looked ... (Below threshold)

It seems you've not looked closely enough at the four documents being circulated. One of the telegrams has leaked before, that's true; but perhaps the most important evidence - the Foreign Office's legal advice on torture in Uzbekistan - is, as far as I'm aware, previously unseen in the public domain.

Where were they published b... (Below threshold)
LenaDavid:

Where were they published before. You need to source your statements.

From Empire Burlesque - mem... (Below threshold)

From Empire Burlesque - members of the "I'll Publish the al Jazeera Memo" group who had it up soon after the email came through from Blair Watch - the coordinators - who have assembled hundreds of bloggers to publish the the al Jazeera memo but gave us a trial run late last night.

The link for the article and RSS viral watch

Track this project virally in real time (well... almost) with an RSS scraper and comprehensive links to the blogs initially involved on both sides of the pond . It automatically searches for keywords related to the Murray Torture Telegrams (as opposed to the Downing Street Memos) on Technorati, Google News and Yahoo News UK, to give the latest updates on where the story is going and how it is being disseminated. This is an experiment of sorts as we are in a unique position to see the 'internet blog effect' of a leaking story which the MSM could not touch in the UK due to the draconian Secrets Act. It's essentially information warfare. Keeping people quiet is not as easy anymore when a former United Kingdom Ambassador for Uzbekistan can make a decision in a fraction in time - and six hours later tens of thousands of people have seen the evidence... it's unstoppable at that point.

Lefty bloggers are still se... (Below threshold)

Lefty bloggers are still searching for their Rathergate, or Eason Jordan, or something to compare with the right side of the blogosphere. Jeff Gannon's scalpj ust isn't quite as big as Dan Rather's. Must be because he's bald...

The newspaper article you l... (Below threshold)

The newspaper article you link catalogs the British governments awkward attempts to silence and marginalise him. It is a good piece. Thank you for linking it.

As he watches the rain sweeping up the Thames, Mr Murray might perhaps take comfort in the memory of Sir Henry Wotton, the British diplomat and poet who died in 1639 and who ruined his own career as James I's envoy to Venice by suggesting that an ambassador "is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country".

The girl is a real cutie btw and I am sure she is just as sweet. I can neither blame him nor do I see what she has to do with anything of this.

Uzbekistan is a Stalinist r... (Below threshold)

Uzbekistan is a Stalinist regime with a command economy which produces cotton, gold and oil. The cottonpickers are paid 7 cents US per day, and can't leave the state owned farms. It is illegal to pray. There is no freedom of speech. There are thousands of political prisoners. If, as an Uzbek, you don't like this situation and express dissent, they may boil you, or your children, to get a confession out of you for a crime that twenty others have previously been convicted of.

Why is the Bush Administration cozying up to this tyrant, rather than demanding a war to instill Freedom there? Could it be Oil, Torture, and the Khanabad Airbase?

OK Kevin, it looks like the... (Below threshold)

OK Kevin, it looks like they are self-publicising but I would like to know if you have a problem in people flagging up human rights violations in post-Soviet dictatorships?

The site did go down, and i... (Below threshold)
Florinda Donner-Grau:

The site did go down, and its back up. Apart from a mention on Radio4 PM, this has gone un-noticed by BBC News24/Sky. Are they out on the piss? Slow news day?
Subtle enough to acquiesce.

<a href="http://rummysdiari... (Below threshold)

Torture incidents are turning your crusade for Freedom into a sick joke, and the best you can do is quibble about who Murray is shagging? Priorities!

So, exactly what is the poi... (Below threshold)
Pete:

So, exactly what is the point of your post? Are you trying to discredit Craig Murray, or are you trying to point out that this information has been available before? In either case, why are you bothering?

Are you not disturbed that UK government are blocking publication of memos that show that the US and the UK support a country that boil their citizens to death, then happily make use of whatever 'confession' this might produce? Isn't that the big question, rather then who is publishing a book or shagging someone else?

I don't know who's bankrolling you to produce the crap you post, but you must be being paid by someone - no human with a brain or any sense of morals could write this kind of crap without some serious 'motivation', if you know what you mean. Are you astroturfing for someone?

Heterosexually yours, Pete

Pete: So, exact... (Below threshold)
Krusty Krab:

Pete:

So, exactly what is the point of your post? Are you trying to discredit Craig Murray, or are you trying to point out that this information has been available before? In either case, why are you bothering?

It's like this, Pete. The lefty bloggers had a scoop before they didn't. Very Kerry-isque wouldn't you think?

Are you not disturbed that UK government are blocking publication of memos...
after the "memos" had already been published. Right...

You'd have to be disturbed to think this makes any sense. Thanks for the hoots.

Pete. What leads you to be... (Below threshold)
Kevin Aylward:

Pete. What leads you to believe that the British government is blocking publication of memos?

You have exactly one person's word on this, and I've already proven that this information was already in the news last year.

They may well be blocking something for reasons unrelated to the content, but since no one has bothered to ask we only have Murray's word that there is actually any "controversy."

It's actually quite amusing... (Below threshold)

It's actually quite amusing to watch Americans blogging an essentially British story, if only to gauge the level of ignorance on display.

FYI and for future reference, things tend to play out rather differently over here to what you're used to on your side of the pond.

For one thing, there really isn't the kind of left/right divide on things like torture that you appear to have in the US. It may be mainly left-wing bloggers leading on the release of this information but its also being picked up and commented on supportively by bloggers from the right as well.

It may surprise you, but over in our little portion of the blogosphere the whole issue of torture and possible British complicity in it has been extensively debated by bloggers across the whole political spectrum - you'll note I said 'debated' as in discussed using reasoned and logical argument, which seems to be a bit of an alien concept over your way.

It may surprise you even more to find there is a widespread concensus across left and right over here that torture is just plain wrong in any circumstances and cannot be justified, and that we - meaning Britain - should have nothing to do with it at all. It's what we consider 'being civilised' and 'having moral standards' - again rather alien concepts to some in the US, not least of which is your own Vice-President.

As for your rather pathetic attempts at counter argument.

1. No one who's actually publishing these memos over here appears to be claiming that they are either a 'scoop' or an exclusive. Yes it does appear that these documents have been reported before by the UK press, but 'reported' is rather different from publishing their contents verbatim.

2. I hate to be picky here, but the mere fact that Craig Murray has a book coming out is not generally considered sufficient grounds over here to discredit his actions in releasing these memos. We have these funny notions of actually reading the contents of the memos - and his book when its released - before making up our own minds about any case he might have to put forward. It's called thinking for yourself - you might try it sometime, it's a most enlightening activity if done properly.

3. If you'd bothered to research the British Civil Service Code you'd know that all memoirs by former civil servants have to be submitted to the relevant Government Department for approval before publication - it something that goes with our Official Secrets Act amongst other things - and certain can censor such books before publication. This is another one of those little cultural differences that seems to escape many Americans - we don't have the First Amendment over here to cover our asses the way you do.

4. You seem to be at a loss to understand what the fuss is all about over here - let me help you out here.

You see, over here, we've had senior politicians making all sorts of statements to the effect that Britian does not engage in torture, knows nothing about any renditions and whole set of other denials, including denials given in response to specific questions in the House of Commons.

What these memos clearly suggest is that some of the statements have been and continue to be less that accurate and that there have been certain economies made with the truth.

This places the politicians in question, particularly the Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, in a bit of predicament as, under the Ministerial Code of Conduct and by longstanding Parliamentary tradition, if he become aware that he has given misleading information to the House of Commons then he under a duty to, at the very least, make a formal statement correcting any errors and offering the House and apology - that's if he made the misleading statements inadvertantly having, say, been incorrectly brief by his Civil Service advisors.

On the other hand, if say, he knew a statement was misleading before he gave it to the House then that wouls require not only a correction and apology but his resignation from office as well - its one of our more endearing constitutional traditions that Minister caught deliberately lying in Parliament are expected to resign (or be sacked) having shown themselves to be unfit for high office.

If you guys want to turn the whole thing into the usual left v right pissing contest which passes, vaguely, for political discourse over your way, well then knock yourself out on your own turf. I would suggest, however, you spend a little more time and effort trying to understand that us Brits do quite a few things differently to you guys, not least things like blogging and political debate, so you can't really judge things over here by your standards...

...which I have to say, seem waaaaay too low to be applicable to blogging over this side of the pond.

Kevin, I've written <a href... (Below threshold)

Kevin, I've written many a post on this man in the past, as my blog heavily covers Uzbekistan. IMO, the release of the documents (which I've not had a chance to read in great detail yet, I will admit) really adds nothing to his statements in the past. He sometimes got fairly specific in his allegations.

I've had a few private exchanges with him, and on a personal, individual level, he's a nice guy. I strongly disagree with his politics. When he doesn't say there was a vendetta against him, he tries way too hard to make this all about oil--an argument that even some of his supporters who have experience in the region find absolutely ludicrous. It's interesting to note that all the predictions one might have made about US policy in the region based on his arguments have turned out to be false.

Kevin, maybe the UK governm... (Below threshold)
Pete:

Kevin, maybe the UK government isn't trying to block this, maybe they are - after all, as you point out, we only have one man's word on this. If they did intend to, it's a bit late now, given the amount of mirroring the documents have. All in all, the exercise has been a success.

As for the "controversy", yes there should be discussion on why the UK government condones torture while publicly decrying. If we are to remain a democracy it is vital to question the politicians who act in our name. If we are using information obtained by torturing people, I want someone to answer for it, be it Blair, Straw of some civil service minion.

How much do you get paid to apologise for boiling people to death?

Unity blathers: <blockquote... (Below threshold)

Unity blathers:

We have these funny notions of actually reading the contents of the memos

We have a funny notion called "questioning the authenticity of the Murray memos". I haven't seen a single thing in the "memos" that couldn't have been written two weeks ago. The Murray memos contains no new facts, but a rehash of old news. Sounds like fake but accurate to me.

Questioning the motives of somebody who has financial gain is perfectly a reasonable thing to do.

Questioning the motives of somebody who is clearly highly partisan is perfectly reasonable.

Questioning whether the British government even gives a shit is perfectly reasonable.

The reference to Chili and in general the sentimentalized language was all I needed as personal proof that the memos were written for public consumption.

The rest of the content of Murray's memos simply demonstrates what a complete nit he his. Apparently you've found your own "Cindy Sheehan". Antiwar people need idiots for leaders, apparently.

In fact, are you sure the memos weren't written by Cindy Sheehan? It certainly appears to be the case.

This is just another antiwar publicity stunt coupled with a book launch. Anybody who can parse facts knows that.

What have you nuts got agai... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

What have you nuts got against Cindy Sheehan? She isn't a Brit! Have any of you lost a son in Iraq?

BTW Krusty, the memos were ... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

BTW Krusty, the memos were written between 2002 - 2004... so how could they contain anything "new"?

Next time READ stuff before you do the the usual wingnut "ignore the message and shoot the messenger" stuff.

Craig Murray gave the detai... (Below threshold)
David:

Craig Murray gave the details of these and other documents to the UK parliament's foreign affairs committee, so they could request the original documents from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The request has been made. The documents are real.




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