Former Brit Ambassador Craig Murray says UK and USA sent prisoners to Uzbek to be tortured
CRAIG MURRAY, FMR. UK AMBASSADOR TO UZBEKISTAN: I got called back to London and I expected there, you know, to have a sensible talk about the merits or demerits of the intelligence and how much evidence I had that it was obtained under torture. I was absolutely stunned, genuinely stunned—it changed my whole worldview in an instant—to be told that—and I knew it was coming from torture—that it was not illegal, because our legal advisers had decided that under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, it is not illegal to obtain or use intelligence gained from torture, as long as we didn’t do the torture ourselves. I just couldn’t believe the chap who was telling me this, the foreign office’s chief legal adviser, Sir Michael Wood, [who] was somebody I’d known for many, many years. He was a nice man. He is a nice man. And how somebody—you know, I thought, you’re talking about children being tortured in front of their parents, and you’re saying, “Well, I don’t think Clause 4 quite covers it, and given this particular legal meaning of the word ‘complicity’.” That brought home to me this idea of the banality of evil, if you like. If you think about Auschwitz, the truth about the Holocaust is that we like to pretend that actually only very few number of Germans knew about it. Not true at all. Hundreds of thousands of people were involved in it; guards, civilians, all kinds of people were involved in the organization of that massive-scale operation. And the truth is—and this is the sad truth—the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of people involved in it were ordinary, decent, nice people who were good neighbors and kind to their kids, who were involved in mass murder, just as the many thousands of British and American CIA members, soldiers, civil servants, diplomats who know about and were involved in things like extraordinary rendition, they aren’t devils, they don’t have horns on their heads. The truth is that when a government persuades its people it is under a terrible threat, people can easily be made to lose their moral values, to lose their moral compass. And I think by getting into torture we did that. But why did we do it and what was the motive? And this is where I hope that personal story will link in briefly with what Larry was saying to you earlier. Well, the motive was to justify the alliance with President Karimov by vastly exaggerating the Islamic threat which he was facing. Why did we want an alliance with President Karimov? Well, in 1998 the Uzbek ambassador, Mr. Sadyk Safaev, traveled to Texas to meet the governor of Texas, a Mr. George W. Bush. And they met in the governor’s mansion in Texas, in fact. And there’s an excellent book called Murder in Samarkand. It’s actually the best book I have ever written. And you’ll find a copy of the letter from Kenneth Lay to George Bush recounting the meeting in that book. And Enron acquired—as a result of that meeting held by George Bush in his capacities of governor of Texas, Enron acquired Uzbekistan’s natural gas rights. Turkmenistan, next door to Uzbekistan, has even more natural gas, incredible amounts of natural gas. The natural gas reserves of Turkmenistan are equal in worth to the oil reserves of Iraq, if not greater. But you can’t get it out. There’s no way out of Central Asia for this oil and gas, except through Russia, and the Russians won’t let it go to the West, or through Iran, which the Americans aren’t keen on. The only way to get it out would be to have a pipeline going over Afghanistan. Fortunately, George Bush Sr., who was a director, or shareholder, at least, of another company, called Unocal, which was planning a pipeline over Afghanistan—and Unocal actually held negotiations with the Taliban to protect the pipeline over Afghanistan. In 1999 and 2001, Taliban delegations also visited Texas. I’d love to find out if they called on George W. Bush. That would be tremendous. But I fear they probably didn’t. But the consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan. So there you have George Bush Sr., Karzai, and, incidentally, [Zalmay] Khalilzad, all linked in Unocal, with Enron tying up the gas reserves in Uzbekistan and the pipeline over Afghanistan to bring it out. Now, the pipeline was actually designed. There are designs of this pipeline. And if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money. It’s about oil. It’s not about democracy. All these wonderful elections. I think Karzai, they obviously took him to Florida to teach him about voting while they were at it. Karzai, I mean, one-third of his results were fraudulent, one-third of his ballots were fraudulent. Is the claim that he didn’t know, nobody told him—it’s like—. Imagine if you’re playing poker with somebody and you find they’ve got seven aces up their sleeve, and you catch them, then you say, “Oh, never mind. Let’s have another hand.” It’s absolutely ridiculous. Have they not heard of the word “disqualification”? The truth of the matter is that the Karzai administration, for five years the media parroted without dissent lies about the Karzai administration, lies about Karzai, making him out to be a wonderful democratic figure. One thing that really makes me sick is a constant linking in the media to the opium trade, the heroin trade, and the Taliban. Less than 10 percent of the heroin exported from Afghanistan is exported by Taliban-friendly people. Well over 50 percent is controlled directly by actual members of the Karzai government, including Karzai himself and his brother. The biggest heroin dealer of all is probably General Dostum, who has just been brought back and who many in the Pentagon think should be empowered because of his fighting reputation. Dostum is a terrible murderer who used to tie dissidents within his own ranks to tank tracks and run them over. Dostum is closely linked to President Karimov of Uzbekistan, and a great deal of the drug traffic goes out through Uzbekistan, up the railway line to St. Petersburg, and out into Europe through the Baltic. There’s a sense in which Afghanistan is the greatest developmental success the West has ever seen, because the GDP of Afghanistan has increased by about 150 percent since we invaded it. The trouble is all of that increase is in heroin. In 2001, the Taliban had cut the heroin harvest down to virtually nil. Last year it increased by 40 percent on top of a 60 percent increase the year before. And nowadays they don’t even export opium anymore. As I say, it’s a big developmental success. They’ve got into value-added. It’s all made into heroin before it’s exported now. And we know where it is: Dostum’s heroin factories. It’s done on an industrial scale. Petrochemical tankers carrying the chemical precursors are sharing the same road as our troops. But it’s done by the government we are protecting. There are so many lies about Afghanistan. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s about drugs, it’s about the abuse of human rights, it’s about degradation, and it’s about all of us paying, through our taxes, for wars which benefit a tiny clique. Thank you very much.
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