CRAIG MURRAY: I think it’s just what any decent person would do, I mean, when you come across people being boiled and their fingernails pulled out or having their children raped in front of them, you just can't go along with it and sleep at night.The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan was so disturbed by the brutality of the regime there and the United States used that in the "War on Terror" that he made public secret memos of protest he sent to his government and the replies he got back.
He spoke to DemocracyNow the other day.
Among his revelations:
As previously reported, the Stalinist dictator of the country BOILS ALIVE dissidents. The mother of one smuggled photos of his body out of the country:
Additionally, torture is used in the same way it was in the Spanish Inquisition: members of the secular democratic opposition are tortured until the admit they are members of al Qaeda and trained in Afghanistan with bin Laden, a charge the ambassador found ludicrous.
The Bush administration cozied up to this thug because they wanted their natural gas reserves for an Enron pipeline and so they could send detainees there to be tortured.
The ambassador matter-of-factly said that the War on Terror is a cover for seizing other nations' gas and oil. Tony Blair's former environmental minister said the same.
I've just excerpted some of this, leaving out how it ties in with our torture policy, and more on the broader nature of the regime. The whole thing is worth a read though.
TORTURE HYPOCRISY IN INVADING IRAQ
CRAIG MURRAY: Well, I should say that one thing, which completely astonished me, was, as we went into the Iraq war, I saw George Bush on CNN, making a speech the day the real fighting started, where he said we are going in basically to dismantle the torture chambers and the rape rooms. And yet, the United States was subsidizing the torture chambers and the rape rooms in Uzbekistan. The sheer hypocrisy of that led me to write another one of the telegrams, which we've published on the web.
GAS & ENRON IN UZBEKIZTAN
CRAIG MURRAY: Well, it goes back to before George Bush became President. In 1997 or 1998, George Bush, as Governor of Texas, had a meeting with the Uzbek ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Safayev, which was actually organized and set up by Kenneth Lay of Enron. And if you go to my website, you can find a facsimile of Kenneth Lay's letter to George Bush, telling him to meet Ambassador Safayev in order to conclude a billion-dollar gas deal between Uzbekistan and Enron. And that was the start of the Bush relationship with the Karimov regime.
Karimov is one of the most vicious dictators in the world, a man who is responsible for the death of thousands of people. Prisoners are boiled to death in Uzbek jails. And he was a guest in the White House in 2002. It's very easy to find photos of George Bush shaking Karimov's hand. Rumsfeld is particularly chummy with Karimov, so –
***BOILED ALIVE STORY***
AMY GOODMAN: Boiled to death?
CRAIG MURRAY: Yeah, it was one of the first cases I came across, back in August or September of 2002. Two Muslim prisoners in Jaslyk gulag, which is an old Soviet gulag in the middle of the Karakum Desert, a sort of forced-labor camp, a terrible place where people are sent to die, effectively, two Islamic prisoners were boiled to death. They died of immersion in boiling water. The mother of one of the prisoners received her son's body back in a sealed casket, was ordered not to open the casket, and just to bury it the next morning. Despite being in her sixties, she managed to get the casket open in the middle of the night, even though police were guarding the house outside.
She got the body onto the kitchen table and took a series of detailed photos, which she got to the British embassy. I sent them back to London -- or, in fact, to Scotland, to the University of Glasgow, the pathology department. On the basis of these detailed photos, they did an autopsy report, in which they said that he had had his fingernails extracted, he had been severely beaten, particularly about the face, and he died of immersion in boiling liquid. And it was immersion, rather than splashing, because there is a clear tide mark around the upper torso and arms, which gives you some idea of the level of brutality of this regime.
TORTURE DISSIDENTS TO CONFESS FALSE AL QAEDA TIES
I had been there for two or three months, which was long enough to know that, effectively, any Uzbek political or religious detainee is going to be tortured. There's no question of definition here. You know, we're not talking about ‘Is that or is that not torture?’ We're talking about people having their fingernails pulled, having their teeth smashed with hammers, having their limbs broken, and being raped with objects, including broken bottles; both male and female rape, extremely common in Uzbek prisons. And from the security service, which was operating right alongside the C.I.A., we were getting this intelligence.
I mean, the intelligence itself was nonsense. The purpose of the intelligence was to say that all the Uzbek opposition were related to al-Qaeda, that the democratic Uzbek opposition were all Islamic terrorists, that they'd traveled to Afghanistan, held meetings with Osama bin Laden. It was designed to promote the myth that Uzbekistan was, in total, part of the war on terror, and that by aligning himself with Karimov, Bush and the Bush Administration were backing or improving United States security, which wasn't true at all. I mean, the intelligence was false. If you torture people, they will say anything. I couldn't believe that the C.I.A. was working so closely with these dreadful security services and then were accepting intelligence which was obviously untrue...
US FAILURE IN UZBEKISTAN: NO GAS, NO BASES
AMY GOODMAN: Now, you say that this president, President Bush's relationship with Karimov in the Uzbek regime goes way back, and one of the links is Enron. Can you elaborate more on this?
CRAIG MURRAY: Yes. Enron cut a deal with Uzbekistan to exploit Uzbekistan's natural gas reserves. Central Asia has the largest untapped reserves of oil and gas in the world. Uzbekistan doesn’t have much oil; it has a terrific amount of natural gas. And Uzbekistan dominates Central Asia. It has half the population of the whole region. It has, by far, the biggest army and the most muscle. So Uzbekistan was key to the energy policy, and that's why Enron and Halliburton and all of the companies you very much associate with the Bush administration were in there plugging this policy of staying close to Karimov. And that’s why he was such a welcome guest in the White House.
The war on terror, if you like, was a cover for these activities. And that's why they needed this false intelligence, saying that the Uzbek opposition was all Islamic terrorists. I mean, it’s quite astonishing. Again, the White House spokesman in that clip was saying that the prison break in Andijan would have released terrorists. The majority of people in Andijan jail -- and I’ve been to Andijan; I knew two people who were killed in the massacre -- the majority of people in Andijan jail were perfectly peaceful political and religious prisoners. There were also some petty criminals who released, too. But the wellspring of the whole policy of the United States was the ruthless pursuit of sectional oil and gas interests, and that originated with Enron. Obviously, once Enron collapsed, those interests passed on to other U.S. companies.
AMY GOODMAN: Like?
CRAIG MURRAY: Basically other major oil companies. But the sad thing, or the ironic thing, I suppose is the way to put it, is that ultimately the policy didn't work, because having given probably about $1 billion over a three-year period and having even supported the Uzbek government at the time of the Andijan massacre, when the rest of the world was expressing outrage. The Uzbeks eventually cut a deal with Gazprom of Russia, and the United States then got kicked out of Uzbekistan very unceremoniously. They didn't leave....
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