Quick UK/Uzbek torture roundup
There was a good rundown article in yesterday's Sunday Herald which makes for a top-notch intro to this little spat, which I'll paste in a comment in case it falls offline, as well as a letter in today's Herald from this chap. Oh, and this is also well worth a look for those who missed it.
Oh, and also worth a look is a critique of Murray's actions from a fellow former Ambassador, Brian Barder - an intelligent man (as is his son, who has another interesting critique), but when Barder Snr asks "Are we really bold and purist enough to say that even if we have grounds for believing that specific information was got by torture, we should primly draw back our skirts and ignore it?" he, like quite a few in blogland, is missing the point. This is not about whether the government used information obtained by torture, or even about whether they should - it is about whether they lied about it. Thusly, my comment at Barder Jnr's place:
Jack Straw has told the House that "The British Government, including the intelligence and security agencies, never use torture in order to obtain information. Nor would we instigate others to commit torture for that purpose."
Assuming you take the documents Murray has released to be evidence that the government was aware that some of the information they were obtaining had come from torture as early as March 2003, this would tend to suggest some kind of complicity in any torture which took place for the benefit of British intelligence after that time.
Straw’s comments above were made 18 months after the memo Murray has leaked, so this would suggest that the government was happy to continue using torture-produced info and to mislead the House and public. It is this (always very carefully-worded) deception which is the major issue as far as I’m concerned, not the ethics involved. The “what, you’re saying we shouldn’t pay any attention to any information obtained by torture?” line which seems to be cropping up in various places is a red herring - the point is not whether the government used information gained by torture, but whether they lied about it.