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Craig Murray: I will accuse Jack Straw on Torture

20 Mar

From Craig’s blog ::

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to hear my evidence on torture on Tuesday 28 April at 1.45pm. Many thanks to everyone who helped lobby for this.

I am delighted, as I have been trying for over four years to lay the truth about British torture policy before Parliament. I will testify that as British Ambassador I was told there is a very definite policy to accept intelligence from torture abroad, and that the policy was instituted and approved by Jack Straw when Foreign Secretary. I will tell them that as Ambassador I protested formally three times in writing to Jack Straw, and that the Foreign Office told me in reply to my protests that this was perfectly legal.

I will prove my evidence with documentation….

Read more…

Hat-tip Jennie (email), who wonders whether the MSM will run with this significant story? We’ll see. If the blogosphere makes a big deal, then I would imagine The Guardian will pick it up.

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Craig Murray must be allowed to address the JCHR

4 Mar

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, is need of your assistance ::

On Tuesday 10 March the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights will discuss whether or not to hear my evidence on the UK government’s policy of using intelligence from torture. They discussed whether to hear my evidence on 3 March but failed to reach a conclusion.

The government is lobbying hard for my exclusion. I need everybody to send an email to jchr@parliament.uk to urge that I should be allowed to give evidence. Just a one-liner would be fine. If you are able to add some comment on the import of my evidence, or indicate that you have heard me speak or read my work, that may help. Please copy your email to craigjmurray@tiscali.co.uk.

Please also pass on this plea to anyone you can and urge them to act. Help from other bloggers in posting this appeal would be much appreciated.

The evidence I am trying to give the parliamentary committee is this:

I wish to offer myself as a witness before the Joint Commission on Human Rights on the subject of the UK government’s policy on intelligence cooperation with torture abroad.

I appeared as a witness in person before both the European Parliament and European Council’s enquiries into extraordinary rendition. My evidence was described by the European Council’s Rapporteur, Senator Dick Marty, as “Compelling and valuable”.

Murray goes on to outline the key points he wishes to make to the JCHR.

Craig Murray has a history of fighting for universal human rights. As a result of his outspoken criticisms of Islam Karimov’s brutal regime in Uzbekistan, Murray was withdrawn as an ambassador. Since leaving this post, Murray has continued to campaign for the rights of those suffering at the hands of “friendly” governments, and to question the UK government’s complicity in torture.

Now is the time for you to do your part.

Please send an email and let’s get Craig’s voice heard.

A British Constitution?

3 Mar

Sunny has posted an extract of Chris Huhne’s speech at the CoML. One paragraph caught my eye (in what is an excellent speech) ::

And let me make one final point, which is that if we want to achieve that consensus that I very much want to see, we have certainly to build a popular campaign a that is absolutely crucial but the end of that copopular campaign to my mind should be an entrenchment of our civil liberties in a way that cannot be challenged in the fewer to you in the way that it has been challenged in the last ten years in particular. I am thinking here of a written constitution. … That is the sort of entrenchment of civil liberties which we’ll never have in this country unless we too have a written constitution to guarantee that judges can oversee laws and can make sure that they do not contravene fundamental civil liberties.

I’d also like to see a British constitution.

But the American constitution was reached after a bloody war of independence. It was forged in the fires of suffering and struggle. It was drafted by the lionised fathers of a nascent republic. It is protected by its own pillar of government – The Supreme Court of the United States.

Yes the U.S. constitution has been amended at times, but recent history tells us that a British constitution would be treated by our self-important political classes as a nebulous hindrance that can be ignored, or worse, reshaped for every new “political reality” that will be constructed to terrify us into obedience.

We don’t need a document. We need a new way of running this country. For once, let’s be as radical as our forefathers and shake this shit up.

Time to raise our voices?

27 Feb

(via. email)

Jack Straw vetoes minutes from cabinet meeting on Iraq

24 Feb

From The Guardian ::

Jack Straw today said he would take the unprecedented step of vetoing the release of cabinet minutes relating to the decision to invade Iraq.

The justice secretary made his announcement in response to a decision from the information tribunal, which last month ordered the publication of the minutes of two cabinet meetings, held on 13 and 17 March 2003.

[…]

He added that the public interest in disclosure of the minutes could not “supplant the public interest in maintaining the integrity of our system of government”.

“It is a necessary decision to protect the public interest in effective cabinet government,” he said.

Straw’s decision was supported by the Tories…

Supported by the Tories? Which, at the end of the day, is all you need to know.

As Charlie Brooker observes… “So: *we* can scarcely take a shit without 100 CCTV cameras recording our arsehole’s every splutter, while *they*…”

Quite.

Recommended reading: Coroners and Justice Bill – destroying data protection

23 Jan

Lee has penned a piece of essential reading over at LC regarding the newly announced Coroners and Justice Bill, which promises to have devastating consequences for our civil liberties and make a joke of the Data Protection Act.

It’s time for a change, people. These guys just can’t be trusted any longer. Power corrupts.

If you read one last thing in 2008…

31 Dec

…make it Willem Buiter’s Boxing Day post on the FT’s maverecon blog. Probably the most damning piece ever written about this – or any other – government. Spectacular.

It’s foolish to “pick” a single section for your inspection, when indeed you should really read the text in its entirety, however I’m nothing if not foolish ::

The fact that we grant the state (and the government in charge of the instruments of the state) a normative raison d’être and acknowledge the universality of its presence in every historical organised human society, does not mean we should respect, let alone trust the state. The state is a necessary evil. It is necessary for the reasons outlined by Hobbes, Locke and many other worldly philosophers. It is evil because I know of no example of a state that has not abused its power over its citizens. Nor do I know of a society where the state does not try to extend its control over the lives of the citizens to domains that are none of its business and that are not material to the performance of the key tasks of the state. Every action, legislative initiative, executive order, legal ruling or administrative decision must therefore be scrutinised with the eyes of a hawk and with a deep and abiding mistrust of both the motivations and the likely consequences of any state action or initiative. The simple rule of thumb as regards both new and existing laws, rules and regulations should be: when in doubt, throw it out.

[…]

I have become convinced that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance against the encroachment by the powers of the state on the private domain. The better-intentioned a government professes to be, and the better-intentioned it truly is when it first gains office, the more it is to be distrusted.

[…]

I have watched this process at work in the UK since I returned here in 1994. It was breath-taking and depressing to observe the transformation of New Labour after 1997, from the party of open government, human rights and civil liberties into an increasingly paranoid group of power-hogging and repressive political control freaks, who have done more damage to fundamental human rights in the past 11 years than any other (sequence of) government(s) in any comparable-length stretch of time since the Glorious Revolution. Fortunately, despite their worst intentions, they have not been very competent – a more competent government could have done much more damage to our freedom and civil liberties.

Continue reading…

via Tim Worstall, c/o Mike Power