Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When diplomats fall out

For some time now there has been a magnificent row going on between two ex-diplomats, Our Former Man in Poland, Charles Crawford and Our Former Man in Uzbekistan Until He Left Under Something Of A Cloud, Craig Murray. The row has now reached of virtual fisticuffs.

I take Mr Crawford’s side not just because I know and like him, not just because his analyses of the situation in Eastern Europe, Russia and the European Union are invariably accurate, wittily expressed but because Craig Murray has always appeared to me to be rather dishonourable. He was, after all, a diplomat for many years and, apparently, swallowed all sorts of unpleasant things about the countries he had been posted to. The alternative to that is not having diplomatic relations with any country but the few that we really approve of (and that approval might change from day to day). That would suit me fine but would it suit the likes of Craig Murray who needed a career?

His rather sudden indignation about rendition and Uzbekistan’s involvement sounded a little desperate but was temporarily all the rage because of the underlying anti-Americanism, so popular among our media and political establishment. (Will that now change with The New Messiah in the White House or will he mess up before the huge tanker of that establishment manages to alter its course? Sir Max Hastings seems to have changed his stance. Is that the first swallow or is he making a big mistake?)

Given all that I was delighted to read Mr Crawford’s frontal attack on Mr Murray who had been sniping at him and accusing him of a dishonest supporter of the evil Bush regime and that terrible rendition.

Mr Crawford has, rather nobly, read Mr Murray’s famous self-publicizing book and has noticed some discrepancy between the two accounts of what really happened:

Let's go back to the first posting you made on this subject (emphasis added):

I was Ambassador in Uzbekistan, and Charles Crawford was Ambassador in Poland, at the time this torture traffic was happening. In Tashkent I uncovered it meticulously, reported it and protested against it. In Poland Charles made no protest.

Which Ambassador do you want to represent you, British taxpayers? Huh? HUH?

Plucky Craig, the energetic principled uncoverer and reporter and protester of Misdeeds?

Or supine Charles, the qualm-free complicitous ignorer thereof?


Only one problem. A trifle really.

It looks to be the case that Craig learned about the CIA 'secret rendition' programme only after he finally left Tashkent in some professional dishonour yet with his payout from the taxpayer of £320,000.

How do I know that? Because this is what he himself says in his book Murder in Samarkand (Mainstream Publishing 2007 edition, p 362):

From other journalists at this time [sc when he had already left Tashkent in mid-2004 and was back in the UK, formally suspended from duty - see p 359] ... I learnt the first details of the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme ...

I now believe that in protesting about intelligence obtained by torture in Uzbekistan ... I had stumbled unwittingly across the the extraordinary rendition programme, and my objections were therefore threatening the legal and political basis of major CIA strategy in the War on Terror.

In other words, despite what he explicitly claimed on his site, as HM Ambassador in Uzbekistan Craig did not uncover, report and protest against this programme, meticulously or otherwise!

Why? Perhaps because he knew nothing whatsoever about it?

So much for his forlorn attempt to rewrite history and set himself on a higher moral unrenditioning aircraft than the rest of his FCO colleagues on this subject.

Read the whole exchange. Several of the postings are highly entertaining and very interesting in Mr Crawford’s no-holds-barred attacks on those who make apparently highly moral but, in reality, rather dubious statements.


  1. I have met Craig Murray's name way back, I think, in 2005 or 06, on a site that used to be excellent,
    Used to be, I say, until Nathan partnered with Josh and the commentariat included certain "ataman" and various other questionable characters.
    In any case, it's an interesting site to follow, if only for collection of information for one's own conclusions. I'll offer you this exchange as a sample of the source of my familiarity with C.M.'s name and character (an opinion I share with you and Mr. Crawford):

    And this guy calls himself a libertarian!

  2. I hadn't realized he called himself a libertarian. But thanks very much for that link. It does not really change my opinion of Mr Murray but you did not expect that. ;-)

  3. He does indeed; look him up in this comment thread.

  4. creakypavilion,

    The post to which you have linked contains an unsourced and unspecified allegation against me which I refute in some detail. I actually get on quite well with Nathan; I have problems with the same people at Registan as you do.

    O also have problems with people like Charles and the author of this blog, who claim to support freedom yet support torture. There is no doubt at all that I sent formal written protests about the use by the UK of intelligence got from torture, in autumn 2002 and march 2003. As I say, I has "stumbles across" extraodrdinary rendition. I did not send a protest about the US specifically sending people to face torture in Uzbekistan, until July 2004. All of which is made quite plain in my book. In a short blog post I may have made that less clear than I should, although I had previously set it out in numerous posts and articles.

    Why you think Charles quibble on that is a great point, as against the whole question of whether we use torture or not, is frankly beyond me,

  5. Craig: go file complaint against me having an opinion about you. In UN. Or EU. Your choice.

    You might say I support torture, too. I don't mind at all that Khalid S. Mohammad was "tortured" - it saved the whole city of LA from a type 9/11 event he planned. My only regret is the alleged "torture" was of such a puny nature.

    As to your shameless self-promotion: no, thanks. I have better things to waste my money on than on your book.

  6. First of all, Craig, welcome. Always good to know people read articles that mention them. Secondly, I think you are a little confused about freedom - it does not involve freedom for people to blow us up. Thirdly, I am still not sure how you managed to get through an FCO career without noticing that there are some bad guys out there.

  7. An aside:
    I was just browsing thru Wordpress daily tide of blog quotes, and came across one particularly disgusting anti-semitic exhibit (couldn't find a mention of the country of origin, but it seems he writes from UK) - and unexpectedly found Craig Murray's name mentioned by one of the commenters. The fact doesn't mean Mr. Murray is associating with Jew-haters, of course, it's just it was a very strange coincidence. And I can say of myself - if it was my blog, people like *lwtc247 will not be allowed to comment. But hey - there are libertarians and "libertarians", apparently.

  8. I think that is a little unfair. Whoever writes that blog (not sure it is British) is clearly a deeply unpleasant piece of works and hardly libertarian. Did you have a look at the anti-gary rantings (though he/she managed to work the Jewish conspiracy into that as well). Craig Murray cannot help who reads his blog and who comments on it.

  9. I didn't say the commenter or *lwtc247 is libertarian.
    Craig Murray can moderate his comments.
    I do.