21 January 2006

Is ultimate fantasy immoral?

This comes from the forum Infinite Directions, the thread of the same title, @ BetterHumans.com and is mirrored here as it relates to my post "Crime & Punishment" [title link] on the main page of DLA:

Here's a moral dilema. Today we see hundreds of video games where killing people is the order of the day, and although it can be frowned upon if the context is deemed unappropriate, we generally accept it.

Pretty strange then, that if someone made a "virtual reality" experience or video game that allowed us to do something such as, say, rape a child, it would be frowned upon pretty heavily.

One could argue that we shouldn't allow vile paedophiles the chance to experience their sick desires. But we let people kill in a fantasy world, so how is that any different? Even if the person playing the game has no desire to kill in real life, the game is still out there, pleasing those who want to kill.

I've long believed that if someone thinks something, no matter how horrible it is, then they aren't being immoral unless they act up that thought. That being the case, shouldn't we allow paedophiles the chance to fulfil their fantasies in a virtual world? If the experience was real enough, would it not remove their need to fulfil their desires on an innocent child? Would that not be a good thing?

The reason I thought of asking this is because there will always be peadophiles, and maybe this is a better way to stop them harming children than just banning them from doing it...

The same principal could apply to any act that we deem immoral. There are a lot of sadistic people out there. If we make it possible for people to act out these deeds in VR/AR, then maybe we can stop them doing it in real life.

Author: Cemiess

18 January 2006

06/18/01 Email to my MP.

This relates to my post, "Shit! ...SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!" and is an edited version of further correspondence with my MP, which if you sent a version of my earlier communication to yours, you might want to also send. If you didn't send the previous one, i'll urge you to edit this and send it now. You can find your MP's contact details here.

Dear [insert MP's name],

further to my email of [insert date], i've done some more research regarding UK Criminal Law and Conspiracy. It turns out that the 1977 Act was superceded by the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998, which, since it states:

"Section 5.-(1) 1A.

(6) In the application of this Part of this Act to an agreement in the case of which each of the above conditions is satisfied, a reference to an offence is to be read as a reference to what would be the offence in question but for the fact that it is not an offence triable in England and Wales."

Would clear up any question of jurisdiction regarding a Criminal Conspiracy to Torture taking place within England and Wales, even though the act of Torture was committed in Uzbekistan, taking it possibly outside the remit of a domestic Court's jurisdiction.

However, the Act also states:

"Section 5.-(1)

(14) Nothing in this section-

(b) imposes criminal liability on any person acting on behalf of, or holding office under, the Crown."

I am horrified beyond the ability of my grasp of english to express it. What we have here, enshrined in law, is licence for the government or its agents to enter into Criminal Conspiracy on behalf of The Crown.

I would like you to ask Tony Blair, at your earliest convenience, just how he expects anyone to take his "Respect Action Plan" seriously when his government have presided over legislation which gives carte blanche for it's agents to engage in any kinds of dishonesty or human degradation without fear of criminal liability whilst at the same time advocating the abolition of due process of law for UK Citizens on the grounds that it is better for some innocents to be punished than the guilty go free.

Please also tell me your view on this matter.

In addition, reading this Act, it seems from the way it is set out that some of the latter subsections were added later, possibly as ammendments. So, since, in my opinion, many of the latter subsections have clearly no other purpose than to excuse criminality by certain persons under certain circumstances, i want to know the history of the Bill including who proposed what ammendments to it, who voted for them and also who voted for the whole thing in its present form.

Yours sincerely,

[insert your name]

15 January 2006

Email to my MP.

This is an edited and annotated version of an email i sent to my MP, about the UK Govt. complicity in Uzbek torture, and referred to in my posts "Well i'll be dipped in dogshit" [title link] and "I'm not arsing about here". I've edited it like this so that you can simply copy and paste, adding your own views or not, remove my annotation and send. You can find your MP's contact details here.
Dear [insert name],

I would like you to make representations on my behalf to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office regarding their policy of turning a blind eye to, and possible complicity in, Uzbek torture. However, I have little faith that the FCO will actually do anything other than repeat the franky shameful blandishments which have characterised their position on this matter, but I want them to know of my concerns anyway. Before I go any further, I'd like to request to know your view of the UK Govts. conduct in this affair and also of what I understand is an All Party Parliamentary Group to highlight this issue.

On the matter of "evidence," I'll ask you to take a deep breath and relax, because it's a long one:


UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984

entry into force 26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27 (1)

PART I
Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession...

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture. 2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

Article 5

1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the following cases:

(a) When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction...

3. This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law.

Article 6

1. Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present shall take him into custody...

2. Such State shall immediately make a preliminary inquiry into the facts.


So that's what I think is most relevant in the law the UK is a signatory to. If you do the deed for whatever reason: you are guilty. If you participate or are complicit in the deed, you are equally guilty. There is nothing that excuses complicity if the deed is done under another Party's jurisdiction. The sticking point seems to be article 6, but I'll get to that after excerpts from what Craig Murray told the UK Govt:


16 September 02

Terrible torture is commonplace: the EU is currently considering a demarche over the terrible case of two Muslims tortured to death in jail apparently with boiling water. Two leading dissidents, Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna, were two weeks ago committed to a lunatic asylum, where they are being drugged, for demonstrating on human rights...

18 March 2003

I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this cover-up.

I watched George Bush talk today of Iraq and "dismantling the apparatus of terror and removing the torture chambers and the rape rooms". Yet when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in international fora. Double standards? Yes.

JULY 04

We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US...

I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material...

We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.

In the period December 2002 to March 2003 I raised several times the issue of intelligence material from the Uzbek security services which was obtained under torture and passed to us via the CIA...

I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture. He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the UN Convention on Torture.

On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood.

a meeting was convened in the FCO at the level of Heads of Department and above, precisely to consider the question of the receipt of Uzbek intelligence material obtained under torture...

I understand that the meeting decided to continue to obtain the Uzbek torture material. I understand that the principal argument deployed was that the intelligence material disguises the precise source, ie it does not ordinarily reveal the name of the individual who is tortured...

I have dealt with hundreds of individual cases of political or religious prisoners in Uzbekistan, and I have met with very few where torture, as defined in the UN convention, was not employed. When my then DHM raised the question with the CIA head of station 15 months ago, he readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt as to the fact.

At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services.


And Michael C Wood's 'legal advice':


13 March 2003

Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the UN Convention on Torture to receive or possess information under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.

I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:

"Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made."

This does not create any offence. I would expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.


The UK Govt. clearly knew it was in receipt of information which had been obtained in contravention of International Law to which it is a Party, because it was told so repeatedly by it's Ambassador to the country where it was happening. The matter was so serious that the EU attempted to do something about it but were stymeed by the US and the UK Govt. took the matter seriously enough to have 'high-level' meetings about it. They also sought legal advice. Are we seriously to believe that this kind of thing goes on routinely? No. It is patently obvious that they knew.

At the very least then, since Murray reports that there was no SIS presence in Uzbekistan, the UK Govt. is guilty of not seeking to implement the provision that "any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present shall take him into custody" (Article 6) and Article 4 does not say anything about where the offence may have taken place, then for all the UK Govt. knew torturers could have been wandering in and out of it's Embassy or Aeroplanes (jurisdiction) on a daily basis, but they had no means to establish whether or not they should be taking them into custody. While we're on this point, it seems that the CIA representative Murray mentions should have been arrested and investigated, because what he is reported to have said seems tantamount to an admission of complicity in torture.

This however is to engage in what Murray rightly calls "casuistry" in the full text of his July 04 telegram. It is quite clear to anyone who can read that the purpose and spirit of the UN Convention against Torture was to strengthen earlier law in an attempt to finally stamp out the disgusting practice. In the opening statement, after listing that previous legislation and the relevant parts of the UN Charter, it says:

"Desiring to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world"

What this appalling situation all boils down to is this: what is the definition of "complicity" under international law and how much more blatantly obvious does the evidence have to be before the UK Govt, a "State Party" will be "satisfied" and "immediately make a preliminary inquiry into the facts?" Are we to accept that an FCO meeting, without directly sourced data from its own intelligence service, "at the level of Heads of Department and above" constitutes such and fullfils the UK Govts. obligation to "take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences?" Who knows, but given the "grave nature" of the possible offences, these are questions which should be heard before an International Court and I therefore urge you to give Kofi Annan's office the 'heads up' on my behalf. I'd be pleased if you would go further and send it directly to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also, in the spirit of cutting out the middle man.

Now I'm sure you're getting bored, but there's more. Because whether or not anything comes of this on the international stage is, let's face it, highly unlikely. Western Governments make the rules, they don't submit to them: but I'll ask you to proceed anyway, because one never knows, there is after all a first time for everything. However, UK Criminal Law is something which recent years' events have proved that even high ranking MP's cannot avoid.


Criminal Law Act 1977

Section 1

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, if a person agrees with any other person or persons that a course of conduct shall be pursued which, if the agreement is carried out in accordance with their intentions, either . . .

(a) will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of any offence or offences by one or more of the parties to the agreement, or

(b) would do so but for the existence of facts which render the commission of the offence or any of the offences impossible,

he is guilty of conspiracy to commit the offence or offences in question.


UNCAT states, "Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law." Now I know that there are likely to have been further developements in UK legislation and case precedent regarding Conspiracy since 1977, however, I also know for a fact that the gist of it remains law: to join with another in an enterprise which breaks the law is an offence, which I believe carries a maximum life tariff. So if you wouldn't mind bringing this to the attention of The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police of The City of Westminster, I'd be obliged.
[you may want to replace this next paragraph to reflect your own views more accurately]
Sincerely, I'm not going to go away on this. I am truly disgusted that the values I've grown up believing are at the heart of what Britain stands for are being dragged into the worst kinds of ordure and for what? To kow-tow to US "Full Spectrum Dominance" policy. That's not in our interests, quite frankly it not in their interests, but the advanced state of unbridled corporate power over there is incapable of long term planning, so I hardly expect anything to alter their headlong pursuit of the last few dollars to be had out of oil. Our interests would be better served by disentangling ourselves and developing a new high technology industrial model, things that we are good at.

Yours sincerely, [insert your name]

12 January 2006

Let's play house

From Let's play house on Chicken Yoghurt, this relates to my post "He is a dick, but he's our dick." on Disreputable Lazy Aliens.

Friday, January 06, 2006

So anyway. When I waddled in from the pub last night and turned on the television I thought I was hallucinating. I had, after all, one of my drinking companions had told me, been having a pint or few in the pub where Derren Brown relaxes when he's in town.

George Galloway is on Celebrity Big Brother.

I don't usually watch Big Brother, celebrity or otherwise, after realising that spending one's life watching other people spending their lives doing nothing is probably not the best use of one's time. But bloody hell, I couldn't drag myself away from it last night. It was some of the most excruciating, morbidly fascinating, utterly compelling television I've ever seen.

The urge to change channel in squirming embarrassment while George sat glassy eyed listening to Michael Barrymore's whining self-justification was almost irresistable. And the bit where George exchanged small talk with cross-dressing basketball player, Dennis Rodman, was pure comedy gold ("Are you still playing, Dennis?" and "I'm here to get our message out"). I liked the "our".

The bit where he fumbled around trying to explain to Rodman that he was hoping to get across to people who wouldn't necessarily have heard of him was priceless: "The kind of people who watch this show" or somesuch. He didn't quite say proles or The Great Unwashed but you could see he was casting around for a non-derogatory term for people more interested in reality television than the travails of Gorgeous George.

Are the people who voted for him angry or relieved that he's decided to take himself off the streets of their constituency for an extended period again, do you think?

All the housemates were seated around the kitchen table talking as I retired. The ever visually arresting Pete Burns from Dead or Alive was waxing lyrical about how he loved cities and wanted the world paved over. George was ready for bed by this point, his navy blue pyjamas buttoned all the way to the top, tight around his neck. "Big Brother" asked over the PA system that all housemates make sure their microphones were positioned correctly. Cue much shuffling and wriggling as microphones were adjusted.

Not from George though. He remained quite still, his microphone perfectly positioned in the lapel of his pristine, powder blue dressing gown.

Oh, his voice is going to be heard all right.

7/1/06: Gorgeous' constituents are out of luck, it would seem.

Still, at least George took the time to salute Michael Barrymore's indefatigability: "You're a funny man, Michael, you'll be back, and you'll be back big." Funny how? Funny ha ha or funny peculiar?

I always though[t] what happened to Stuart Lubbock was a bit, well, funny.

From the comments there:

At 7:56 PM, January 07, 2006, Porkbeast said...

I find the assertion that GG does not get up the nose of the establishment pretty...well i apologise, but pathetic is the only word. He has obviously got up a monkey’s nose.

There is a lot of “emperor’s new clothes” about GG so called failings. The continual assertion that he is a clown without engagement of your critical faculties is –willingly or otherwise - a part of the character assassination project. It is now “common sense” in many circles that he is a clown. Gramsci would point out how this has been engineered. Let’s get real here. He is on our side and some of us are willing to do the dirty work for the forces of conservatism in this country by supporting this culture of personality. You are being duped. You do not have to like him,or agree with him on everything (my position) but I ask the question again, do you disagree with his analysis of the war in Iraq? Has he brought this analysis to a mass audience? Could anyone else have done it with such style?


Oh by the way if you are not aware of who the enemy is what you doing on a leftist blog? Let please try to stick with the issues rather than getting into bed with the Mail and Telegraph's cult of personality agenda.


At 12:31 AM, January 08, 2006, Nosemonkey said...

With your astounding insight and wonderous wordplay with my interweb pseudonym I am intellectually crushed.

The thing you are missing, old man, is a little thing called nuance. Galloway is anti-war, yes. But anti-war in the wrong way, as far as a good number of people are concerned.

How's this for an extreme example? Just because Stalin, like (old) Labour, wanted certain industries to be nationalised does not mean that supporters of the (old) Labour party also wanted to see the slaughter of 20 million innocents. To agree on one thing does not mean you have to accept the whole package. The whole package can, however, demean the one thing.

(Apologies if this makes no sense, but I am pissed up on booze)

At which point i opened with:

At 9:34 PM, January 09, 2006, edjog said...

Anti-war in the wrong way, nosemonkey old man? That seems like sophistry beyond the call of duty, what? Either that or it's masking the same kind of Sour Grapes at Harry's Place.

And nosemonkey came back:

At 10:20 AM, January 10, 2006, Nosemonkey said...

Not really, edjog. Galloway is antiwar in a manner that gives rise to accusations (founded or not it doesn't matter - the preception is also important) of supporting terrorism and totalitarianism. That is (as far as I and many others are concerned) anti-war in the wrong way. I - and others - refuse to ignore his faults just because we agree with him on one issue - is that so hard to understand?

Here, as this is the internet and it's a political discussion, let's bring Hitler into it:

Hitler was socialist, but in the wrong way.

By your Galloway logic, any lefty types should ignore Hitler's mass-slaughter merely because (aspects of) his economics were sound.

That's precisely the sort of attitude that led people like Galloway to blindly support Stalin despite all the evidence of Soviet genocide - so I can't say I'm surprised that it seems to be the common fall-back option for Galloway's supporters.

My reply is the subject of "He is a dick, but he's our dick." [title link]

06 January 2006

Craig Murray's documents

So yeah, they're just taking up to much room on the main page of DLA so now they'll live here:

Letter #1
Confidential
FM Tashkent
TO FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MODUK, OSCE Posts, Security Council Posts
16 September 02
SUBJECT: US/Uzbekistan: Promoting Terrorism

SUMMARY
US plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism. Support to Karimov regime a bankrupt and cynical policy.

DETAIL
The Economist of 7 September states: "Uzbekistan, in particular, has jailed many thousands of moderate Islamists, an excellent way of converting their families and friends to extremism." The Economist also spoke of "the growing despotism of Mr Karimov" and judged that "the past year has seen a further deterioration of an already grim human rights record". I agree.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 political and religious prisoners are currently detained, many after trials before kangaroo courts with no representation. Terrible torture is commonplace: the EU is currently considering a demarche over the terrible case of two Muslims tortured to death in jail apparently with boiling water. Two leading dissidents, Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna, were two weeks ago committed to a lunatic asylum, where they are being drugged, for demonstrating on human rights. Opposition political parties remain banned. There is no doubt that September 11 gave the pretext to crack down still harder on dissent under the guise of counter-terrorism.

Yet on 8 September the US State Department certified that Uzbekistan was improving in both human rights and democracy, thus fulfilling a constitutional requirement and allowing the continuing disbursement of $140 million of US aid to Uzbekistan this year. Human Rights Watch immediately published a commendably sober and balanced rebuttal of the State Department claim. Again we are back in the area of the US accepting sham reform [a reference to my previous telegram on the economy]. In August media censorship was abolished, and theoretically there are independent media outlets, but in practice there is absolutely no criticism of President Karimov or the central government in any Uzbek media. State Department call this self-censorship: I am not sure that is a fair way to describe an unwillingness to experience the brutal methods of the security services.

Similarly, following US pressure when Karimov visited Washington, a human rights NGO has been permitted to register. This is an advance, but they have little impact given that no media are prepared to cover any of their activities or carry any of their statements.

The final improvement State quote is that in one case of murder of a prisoner the police involved have been prosecuted. That is an improvement, but again related to the Karimov visit and does not appear to presage a general change of policy. On the latest cases of torture deaths the Uzbeks have given the OSCE an incredible explanation, given the nature of the injuries, that the victims died in a fight between prisoners.

But allowing a single NGO, a token prosecution of police officers and a fake press freedom cannot possibly outweigh the huge scale of detentions, the torture and the secret executions. President Karimov has admitted to 100 executions a year but human rights groups believe there are more. Added to this, all opposition parties remain banned (the President got a 98% vote) and the Internet is strictly controlled. All Internet providers must go through a single government server and access is barred to many sites including all dissident and opposition sites and much international media (including, ironically, waronterrorism.com). This is in
essence still a totalitarian state: there is far less freedom than still prevails, for example, in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. A Movement for Democratic Change or any judicial independence would be impossible here.

Karimov is a dictator who is committed to neither political nor economic reform. The purpose of his regime is not the development of his country but the diversion of economic rent to his oligarchic supporters through government controls. As a senior Uzbek academic told me privately, there is more repression here now than in Brezhnev's time. The US are trying to prop up Karimov economically and to justify this support they need to claim that a process of economic and political reform is underway. That they do so claim is either cynicism or self-delusion. This policy is doomed to failure. Karimov is driving this resource-rich country towards economic ruin like an Abacha. And the policy of increasing repression aimed indiscriminately at pious Muslims, combined with a deepening poverty, is the most certain way to ensure continuing support for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They have certainly been decimated and disorganised in Afghanistan, and Karimov's repression may keep the lid on for years – but pressure is building and could ultimately explode.

I quite understand the interest of the US in strategic airbases and why they back Karimov, but I believe US policy is misconceived. In the short term it may help fight terrorism but in the medium term it will promote it, as the Economist points out. And it can never be right to lower our standards on human rights. There is a complex situation in Central Asia and it is wrong to look at it only through a prism picked up on September 12. Worst of all is what appears to be the philosophy underlying the current US view of Uzbekistan: that September 11 divided the World into two camps in the "War against Terrorism" and that Karimov is on "our" side.

If Karimov is on "our" side, then this war cannot be simply between the forces of good and evil. It must be about more complex things, like securing the long-term US military presence in Uzbekistan. I silently wept at the 11 September commemoration here. The right words on New York have all been said. But last week was also another anniversary – the US-led overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. The subsequent dictatorship killed, dare I say it, rather more people than died on September 11. Should we not remember then also, and learn from that too? I fear that we are heading down the same path of US-sponsored dictatorship here. It is ironic that the beneficiary is perhaps the most unreformed of the World's old communist leaders.

We need to think much more deeply about Central Asia. It is easy to place Uzbekistan in the "too difficult" tray and let the US run with it, but I think they are running in the wrong direction. We should tell them of the dangers we see. Our policy is theoretically one of engagement, but in practice this has not meant much. Engagement makes sense, but it must mean grappling with the problems, not mute collaboration. We need to start actively to state a distinctive position on democracy and human rights, and press for a realistic view to be taken in the IMF. We should continue to resist pressures to start a bilateral DFID programme, unless channelled non-governmentally, and not restore ECGD cover despite the constant lobbying. We should not invite Karimov to the UK. We should step up our public diplomacy effort, stressing democratic values, including more resources from the British Council. We should increase support to human rights activists, and strive for contact with non-official Islamic groups. Above all we need to care about the 22 million Uzbek people, suffering from poverty and lack of freedom. They are not just pawns in the new Great Game.
MURRAY
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Letter #2
Confidential
Fm Tashkent
To FCO
18 March 2003
SUBJECT: US FOREIGN POLICY

SUMMARY
1. As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth.

DETAIL
2. Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval serfdom.

3. Uzbekistan's geo-strategic position is crucial. It has half the population of the whole of Central Asia. It alone borders all the other states in a region which is important to future Western oil and gas supplies. It is the regional military power. That is why the US is here, and here to stay. Contractors at the US military bases are extending the design life of the buildings from ten to twenty five years.

4. Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid – more than US aid to all of West Africa – is related to comparative developmental need as opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov's vicious regime as a bastion against fundamentalism. He – and they – are in fact creating fundamentalism. When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West?

5. I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this cover-up. I am saddened when the US constantly quote fake improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan, such as the abolition of censorship and Internet freedom, which quite simply have not happened (I see these are quoted in the draft EBRD strategy for Uzbekistan, again I understand at American urging).

6. From Tashkent it is difficult to agree that we and the US are activated by shared values. Here we have a brutal US sponsored dictatorship reminiscent of Central and South American policy under previous US Republican administrations. I watched George Bush talk today of Iraq and "dismantling the apparatus of terror� removing the torture chambers and the rape rooms". Yet when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in international fora. Double standards? Yes.

7. I hope that once the present crisis is over we will make plain to the US, at senior level, our serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan.
MURRAY
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Letter #3
CONFIDENTIAL
FM TASHKENT
TO IMMEDIATE FCO
TELNO 63
OF 220939 JULY 04
INFO IMMEDIATE DFID, ISLAMIC POSTS, MOD, OSCE POSTS UKDEL EBRD
LONDON, UKMIS GENEVA, UKMIS MEW YORK
SUBJECT: RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

SUMMARY
1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.

2. 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. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.

3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.

DETAIL
4. In the period December 2002 to March 2003 I raised several times the issue of intelligence material from the Uzbek security services which was obtained under torture and passed to us via the CIA. I queried the legality, efficacy and morality of the practice.

5. I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture. He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the UN Convention on Torture.

6. On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood.

7. Sir Michael Jay's circular of 26 May stated that there was a reporting obligation on us to report torture by allies (and I have been instructed to refer to Uzbekistan as such in the context of the war on terror). You, Sir, have made a number of striking, and I believe heartfelt, condemnations of torture in the last few weeks. I had in the light of this decided to return to this question and to highlight an apparent contradiction in our policy. I had intimated as much to the Head of Eastern Department.

8. I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear that without informing me of the meeting, or since informing me of the result of the meeting, a meeting was convened in the FCO at the level of Heads of Department and above, precisely to consider the question of the receipt of Uzbek intelligence material obtained under torture. As the office knew, I was in London at the time and perfectly able to attend the meeting. I still have only gleaned that it happened.

9. I understand that the meeting decided to continue to obtain the Uzbek torture material. I understand that the principal argument deployed was that the intelligence material disguises the precise source, ie it does not ordinarily reveal the name of the individual who is tortured. Indeed this is true – the material is marked with a euphemism such as "From detainee debriefing." The argument runs that if the individual is not named, we cannot prove that he was tortured.

10. I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work in and organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture. I have dealt with hundreds of individual cases of political or religious prisoners in Uzbekistan, and I have met with very few where torture, as defined in the UN convention, was not employed. When my then DHM raised the question with the CIA head of station 15 months ago, he readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt as to the fact.

11. The torture record of the Uzbek security services could hardly be more widely known. Plainly there are, at the very least, reasonable grounds for believing the material is obtained under torture. There is helpful guidance at Article 3 of the UN Convention;

"The competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights."

While this article forbids extradition or deportation to Uzbekistan, it is the right test for the present question also.

12. On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer:

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

13. Nonetheless, I repeat that this material is useless – we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful. It is designed to give the message the Uzbeks want the West to hear. It exaggerates the role, size, organisation and activity of the IMU and its links with Al Qaida. The aim is to convince the West that the Uzbeks are a vital cog against a common foe, that they should keep the assistance, especially military assistance, coming, and that they should mute the international criticism on human rights and economic reform.

14. I was taken aback when Matthew Kydd said this stuff was valuable. Sixteen months ago it was difficult to argue with SIS in the area of intelligence assessment. But post Butler we know, not only that they can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat. That is precisely what the Uzbeks give them. Furthermore MI6 have no operative within a thousand miles of me and certainly no expertise that can come close to my own in making this assessment.

15. At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services.

16. I have been considering Michael Wood's legal view, which he kindly gave in writing. I cannot understand why Michael concentrated only on Article 15 of the Convention. This certainly bans the use of material obtained under torture as evidence in proceedings, but it does not state that this is the sole exclusion of the use of such material.

17. The relevant article seems to me Article 4, which talks of complicity in torture. Knowingly to receive its results appears to be at least arguable as complicity. It does not appear that being in a different country to the actual torture would preclude complicity. I talked this over in a hypothetical sense with my old friend Prof Francois Hampson, I believe an acknowledged World authority on the Convention, who said that the complicity argument and the spirit of the Convention would be likely to be winning points. I should be grateful to hear Michael's views on this.

18. It seems to me that there are degrees of complicity and guilt, but being at one or two removes does not make us blameless. There are other factors. Plainly it was a breach of Article 3 of the Convention for the coalition to deport detainees back here from Baghram, but it has been done. That seems plainly complicit.

19. This is a difficult and dangerous part of the World. Dire and increasing poverty and harsh repression are undoubtedly turning young people here towards radical Islam. The Uzbek government are thus creating this threat, and perceived US support for Karimov strengthens anti-Western feeling. SIS ought to establish a presence here, but not as partners of the Uzbek Security Services, whose sheer brutality puts them beyond the pale.
MURRAY
__________________________________________________________________

From: Michael Wood, Legal Advisor

Date: 13 March 2003

CC: PS/PUS; Matthew Kidd, WLD

Linda Duffield

UZBEKISTAN: INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the UN Convention on Torture to receive or possess information under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.

2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:

"Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made."

3. This does not create any offence. I would expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.

[signed]

M C Wood
Legal Adviser

Craig Murray's website.