20 January, 06:22

The Iraq invasion fatally damaged the UNSC – Craig Murray

The Iraq invasion fatally damaged the UNSC – Craig Murray
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The speech on intelligence reform and NSA spying by US president Barack Obama was one in which nothing was said but which was designed to create a strong psychological impact with its visuals. Former United Kingdom Ambassador and rendition death whistleblower Craig Murray stated: “it was like Hitler at a Nuremberg Rally. I have never seen so many national flags of one country behind a single speaker. It was a kind of an exercise in extreme nationalism, rather than an intellectual speech.” Mr. Murray stated that Obama merely continued the US insistence that they have the right to spy on everybody.

With regard to the US expansion of the Magnitsky List Mr. Murray said the creation of the list reveals the mindset in the United States that still regards Russia as an enemy. The US continues to demonize Russia but does nothing against countries like Bahrain which shoots people dead for demonstrating, tortures women and children, gasses people and imprisons doctors and nurses. The Magnitsky List is a peculiar piece of exceptionalism which reveals a scary Cold War mentality from a country that does nothing to address far worse human rights abuses taking place around the world.

Hello! This is John Robles, I’m speaking with Mr. Craig Murray he is the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan an author and a former whistleblower. This is part one of an interview in progress.

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Robles: Hello Sir good evening! I understand right now you’re in Ghana. Would you like to tell us what you are doing there for our listeners? It might be interesting.

Murray: Yes! I do some development consultancy work out here and provide some advice to the Government of Ghana.

Robles: I see. What is the situation like in Ghana? Is it pretty stable now or… ?

Murray: Yes, Ghana is really leading the way in Africa in many ways in terms of economic development. It is a democracy. The political party in charge changes occasionally at elections and it has a very good human rights record. It has a better human rights record than the UK.

Robles: Wow! Which means it is much better than the US’ even. I’d like to get your reaction to a speech by US President Barack Obama regarding surveillance and the intelligence services – the NSA. His speech is being blasted left and right. You saw the speech. I was wondering if you could give us your reaction to it, as a former whistleblower and someone involved pretty closely with all these matters?

Murray: Yes! It was quite remarkable, really, that any speech should be given so much publicity and so much dominance, and so little should be said really.

He didn’t announce anything that makes any substantial change at all to the way the NSA operates or to the scope of their activities, or to how they are regulated and overseen, which of course is not very much at all. So, really, it was an almost empty speech.

I thought the most interesting thing about the entire speech was, if you saw it, the rather scary visuals. It was like Hitler at a Nuremberg Rally.

I have never seen so many national flags of one country behind a single speaker. It was a kind of an exercise in extreme nationalism, rather than an intellectual speech.

Robles: What was the purpose of the speech then? To strike fear into the public or..? What was going on with that?

Murray: I think it was an assertion of American power and authority, a reminder of the scope of their intelligence services and their amassed ability in electronic surveillance and a continued insistence that they have the right to do this, and have the right to spy on everybody abroad and on their own citizens.

And it was like the mollifying, the velvet glove on the iron fist, it was really a very small part of the speech and not very convincing.

Most of it was a strong assertion of American national security and their rights to spy on other people since the 9-11 events.

Robles: I see. There is a sign in front of the NSA’s new data collection center in Utah. It says: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

I take great issue with sign myself. It implies they have the right, as you just mentioned a minute ago, to spy on anyone for any reason they want, anywhere in the world.

Murray: I find that phrase extremely chilling: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, it is a phrase which politicians use frequently to justify spying on everybody. And the implication is that they have a right to see absolutely everything you do and if you are not doing wrong, then you shouldn’t object.

Of course, that’s absolute nonsense. I mean, to take it to the extreme – I have nothing to hide when I go to the toilet, but I don’t want people watching me.

Robles: Sure!

Murray: It is not that I’m doing anything wrong, it’s that there are legitimate areas of privacy in life. Politicians are not allowed to see everything.

I mean, if I’m exchanging the emails of intimate nature with my wife or my family, I don’t want politicians reading that or spies reading that. It is not as if only if I have criminal activity, am I entitled to object to people seeing what I write. It is absolute nonsense. And it is quite extraordinary the way that this simple phrase is taken as a defense of their ability to spy on absolutely everything you do.

Robles: Right! Thank for bringing that up, because the argument is so disingenuous, in my opinion, but they use it all the time. Why can’t we spy on you? You must be doing something wrong! And you gave some very good examples. Where is the respect for… (I think it is a human right isn’t it?) privacy?

Murray: It is quite extraordinary. And it is like the idea of the presumption that you are doing wrong unless you can prove otherwise, which is creeping in, as opposed to the idea that until you actually commit a crime, you are free to do anything you want.

I recently went to withdraw some money from my bank account in the UK which I wanted to take out in cash. And the banker asked me why I wanted it. I said: “I want it because it is my money.”

Which wasn’t taken as suitable answer. And had to fill in a form, because if you withdraw more than a certain amount, I guess it is about $6,000 or $7,000 USD, you have to fill in a form to prove you are not money laundering and to say what you want it for.

But why should you have to prove you’re not money laundering? There is no evidence whatsoever you are a money launderer and you have no relation with narcotics or criminal gangs, or anything. But why should you have to prove that you are not doing wrong?

The state should intervene only in cases when wrongdoing is going on. You don’t assume all citizens are doing wrong unless they can prove otherwise, but that seems to have become the default that we are seeing….

Robles: Yes! And that seems where it’s gone since 9-11. Many people I’ve talked to and interviewed speak about the introduction of American fascism and world fascism, and everything else. You, as an Ambassador, someone very close to the workings of governments and geopolitical machinations, and everything, what can you tell us about that; about the coming of the global security surveillance fascist state?

Murray: Well, I think the greatest problem in international relations at the moment is American exceptionalism.

The most promising development since the end of the WW II had been the creation of the system of international law, where I think it was possible up till maybe even 80s or the early 1990s to argue the world had advanced.

The International Court of Justice, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the whole fabric of international law, later to be reinforced by the International Criminal Court, for example – it was expanding and there was reason to believe that in the future the relations between the states might be regulated more by law, than by war.

But then, unfortunately, the American ultra-nationalism, exceptionalism nearly vetoed that. We’ve had the invasion of Iraq, which fatally damaged the UN Security Council, because what’s happened was that America, the UK and the others showed that they could openly attack a weak country and invade it without sanction.

It was obviously illegal, but there was nothing anybody could do to stop it. And we’ve not only had the example of America refusing to be subject to the International Criminal Court, but countries which are subject to the ICC, like the UK, we’ve seen a complete refusal by the ICC to act against the UK.

Clearly there were war crimes committed in Iraq, with the introduction of false intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in order to start the illegal war of aggression, which was itself a war crime – this is all very much under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. But the ICC has simply refused to look at it and refused to do anything about it. And instead, it does nothing but concentrates on prosecuting Africans.

So, the lack of general commitment to international law is the most worrying problem on the global level of the last couple of decades.

Robles: I see. I wanted to ask you in detail about this expansion of the Magnitsky list. They are proposing Ukraine, which, up until it said “no” to the EU, was the shining example of democracy in eastern Europe. Now it is the evil human rights violator of the world.

Murray: Yes, the Magnitsky list, I think the extraordinary thing is the specificity of it.

There are, unfortunately, a huge number of human rights violations carried out around the world, many of them in countries closely associated with or allied to the United States and many of them by the United States itself.

The Magnitsky affair and the death of Mr. Magnitsky does seem on first glance (I don’t claim to be an expert on it) but it does seem to indicate some complicity by local Russian authorities. But it is not by a long way the worst human rights problem in the world. It is quite extraordinary there are countries with far-far worse human rights records than Russia, like Bahrain would be a good example.

Robles: I would say theUnited States is probably the prime example. I mean, what other countries have their own illegal, extrajudicial torture prison where they are openly holding people without trial or charge for over a decade? I don’t know. I think the US would take the prize now. I’m sorry go ahead.

Murray: I think that the systematic use and abuse of people abroad and the illegal invasions and wars, I have no doubt that the United States has perpetrated, if you like, more evil in the world than Russia in the last decade. But frankly, governmental elites and people of every country in the world tend to abuse power, and have done it throughout history. And it would be wrong to exempt Russia completely from that charge…

Robles: Yes, but you don’t have a problem with the hypocrisy. I mean, we just spent almost an hour talking about aggressive wars, about war crimes, about torture and everything else.

Now, Mr. Magnitsky, I’ve seen the documentation and it was an accident, in my opinion. I mean, of course, you are going to question my impartiality, since I work for the Russian Government state media.

But honestly, he asked for medical assistance… (and if you knew Russia, I think it is more of a damnation on medical response times). He requested medical assistance, the doctor took very long to get to him and by the time the doctor got there he’d passed away. But the police had made requests, they had called our emergency service’s number… it is not something most people in the West even know about or talk about, but he passed away because of response time, he didn’t pass away because they whacked him in prison. He had a bad heart, he was under a lot of stress, of course.

But comparing that, which I find ludicrous and insane, with… for example, I proposed and some governmental officials here in Russia proposed (I wrote many articles on this topic): something like a “War on Terror List” where Condoleezza Rice and Wolfowitz, and Bush, and Blair, and Cheney couldn’t travel. But comparing the two I think is insane.

You’re saying sure, Russia has a bad human rights record, but other countries have much worse records. Why aren’t they making Magnitsky lists for other countries like Japan or China, or the Czech Republic. I think this is a political tool that is used just against enemy countries or independent countries. I’m sorry go ahead!

Murray: I think the mindset in the United States that still regards Russia as an enemy is revealed by the existence of Magnitsky List. It is undoubtedly very strange that you have the Magnitsky list used against Russia, but there is nothing against Bahrain.

Bahrain is a country which has shot dead people for demonstrating, which has tortured women and children, which has gassed people, which has imprisoned doctors and nurses…

Robles: They kill the opposition there, right? I mean, in Bahrain. They just kill them, they blind them, they cut off limbs. I’ve heard some of the stuff they do, it is horrible.

Murray: And there is no equivalent list for Bahrain. There’s never ever been a mention of human rights abuses in Bahrain, because Bahrain is viewed as an ally. And the difficulty with the Magnitsky List doesn’t really come to the principle of it or the existence of such a list, it comes to the Cold War mentality which is revealed. And that is very scary.

Again, it is a peculiar piece of exceptionalism, that there are worse human rights abuses taking place around the world and they don’t result in any similar action.

That was the end of part one of an interview with Mr. Craig Murray. He is the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan an author and a former whistleblower. This is part one of an interview in progress. You can find the rest of this interview on our website at voiceofrussia.com

PART 2      PART 3

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