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À partir d’avant-hierCraig Murray

The Sad Death of James Le Mesurier

Par craig

We should never forget that all human deaths are tragedies. No human is perfect and none is completely evil. Even the most wretched, snivelling excuse of a human being you can possibly imagine – say Ian Austin – has known a mother’s love. Le Mesurier leaves a wife and children who will be mourning. We should not forget that.

Unfortunately he worked in a profession where you can very quickly move from an asset to a liability. Le Mesurier’s usefulness to Western security services, Israel and their Gulf allies came to an end when the jihadist headchoppers to whom Le Mesurier had been providing logistic support and invaluable propaganda, lost their last secure footing in Syria. That the white helmets worked hand in glove with the extreme jihadists, and moved out wherever they moved out, is beyond dispute as a matter of fact, whatever the state of denial of the mainstream media. That there is now nowhere in Syria that people can go around executing Christians with impunity, and simultaneously now nowhere that the White Helmets can operate, is not the coincidence the mainstream media affect to believe. Some of them possibly do believe it. As a wise man once observed, it is amazing what people can believe when their job depends on it.

Having stopped being useful, Le Mesurier became much more of a liability after Turkey took over further control of former jihadist controlled areas in Northern Syria. The chances of Turkey obtaining both documentary and first person testamentary evidence of the relationship between the White Helmets, the jihadists, and western and allied intelligence services increased substantially. Indeed I have reason to believe Turkey may already have done so. His potential liability to his former employers ratcheted up. This resulted in his death. Whether he was killed or took his own life from the resultant stress, I have no information at present.

As regular readers know I have excellent contacts in Turkey of precisely the right kind. Leading a life a great deal more complicated than just being a blogger, I regret that I have been unable to date to tell you the full truth of what I was doing in Ankara in December 2017, and probably will not be able to tell you for a year or two yet. I will now try to get further information from my contacts on Le Mesurier, but please understand it may not be instant.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post The Sad Death of James Le Mesurier appeared first on Craig Murray.

Le Mesurier Gets Cross

Par craig

Perhaps the only fact on James Le Mesurier about which I would agree with the MSM war cheerleaders is that he was a very busy man. It is remarkable therefore that he found the time and inclination to follow “Philip Cross” on twitter. Given that “Philip Cross” has virtually never posted an original tweet, and his timeline consists almost entirely of retweets of Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch and openly pro-Israel propaganda accounts, why would Le Mesurier bother to follow him?

“Philip Cross” has never posted any news other than to retweet columnists. He has never given an insight into a story. In addition to James Le Mesurier, why then were all these MSM journailsts following “Philip Cross” from before “he” gained notoriety for his Wikipedia exploits?

Oliver Kamm, Leader Writer The Times
Nick Cohen, Columnist The Guardian/Observer
Joan Smith, Columnist The Independent
Leslie Felperin, Film Columnist The Guardian
Kate Connolly, Foreign Correspondent The Guardian/Observer
Lisa O’Carroll, Brexit Correspondent The Guardian
James Bloodworth, Columnist The Independent
Cristina Criddle, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme
Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor, The Sunday Times
Iain Watson, Political Correspondent, The BBC
Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor, the Sunday Times
Jennifer Chevalier, CBC ex-BBC
Dani Garavelli, Scotland on Sunday

Prominent Freelancers

Bonnie Greer (frequently in The Guardian)
Mason Boycott-Owen (The Guardian, New Statesman)
Marko Attilla Hoare (The Guardian)
Kirsty Hughes
Guy Walters (BBC)
Paul Canning

What attracted all of these senior MSM figures to follow an obscure account with almost no original content? No reasonable explanation of this phenomenon has ever been offered by any of the above. What a considerable number of them have done is to use the megaphone their plutocrat or state overlords have given them, to label those asking this perfectly reasonable question as crazed conspiracy theorists.

This week, on the day of Le Mesurier’s death, “Philip Cross” made 48 edits to Le Mesurier’s Wikipedia page, each one designed to expunge any criticism of the role of the White Helmets in Syria or reference to their close relationship with the jihadists.

“Philip Cross” has been an operation on a massive scale to alter the balance of Wikipedia by hundreds of thousands of edits to the entries, primarily of politically engaged figures, always to the detriment of anti-war figures and to the credit of neo-con figures. An otherwise entirely obscure but real individual named Philip Cross has been identified who fronts the operation, and reputedly suffers from Aspergers. I however do not believe that any individual can truly have edited Wikpedia articles from a right wing perspective, full time every single day for five years without one day off, not even a Christmas, for 2,987 consecutive days.

I should declare here the personal interest that “Philip Cross” has made over 120 edits to my own Wikipedia entry, including among other things calling my wife a stripper, and deleting the facts that I turned down three honours from the Crown and was eventually cleared on all disciplinary charges by the FCO.

I hazard the guess that at least several of the above journalists follow “Philip Cross” on twitter because they are a part of the massive Wikipedia skewing operation operating behind the name of “Philip Cross”. If anybody has any better explanation of why they all follow “Philip Cross” on twitter I am more than willing to hear it.

The “White Helmets” operation managed for MI6 by Le Mesurier was both a channel for logistic support to Western backed jihadists and a propaganda operation to shill for war in Syria, as in Iraq or Libya. Wars which were of course very profitable for arms manufacturers, energy interests and the security establishment. It should surprise nobody that Le Mesurier intersects with the Philip Cross propaganda operation which, with the active support of arch Blairite Jimmy Wales, has for years been slanting Wikipedia in support of the same pro-war goals as pushed by the “White Helmets”.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Le Mesurier Gets Cross appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Fragile Boris Johnson

Par craig

I find election campaigns in which the Prime Minister addresses scrubbed, smug Tory audiences, filmed by the BBC in close shot to conceal the sparsity of their numbers, deeply disturbing. I find the speeches in factories to employees even more chilling. The sullen compliance of employees, too cowed to show discontent before their bosses, should disturb any right thinking person. This may bore millennials, but back in the 1970s it was inconceivable that a politician of any stripe could address a factory floor without some robust reaction from the workforce. In those days, workers had rights, their employment was protected, and they could not be dismissed on a whim. I have no doubt that the rise of the North Korean factory style meeting in British politics relates directly to the destruction of workers’ rights. Johnson did one in a electric taxi factory a couple of days ago and it was a staple of May’s appalling campaign.

Politicians only give speeches nowadays for them to be carried on electronic media, and the camera angles are considered more thoroughly than the content by their managers. The idea of a political meeting was that a politician would hire a public hall and invite the general public to come and listen to their attempt to win their vote, and engage in discussion with people. That idea has almost died, in favour of the outright propaganda model.

To his great credit, yesterday in Dundee Jeremy Corbyn did hold a relatively open meeting at the Queens Hotel, and he was heckled by Bob Costello. As it happens I know both Jeremy and Bob and have a lot of time for both of them. Bob’s heckle was the perfectly reasonable “I’m interested in what you’re going to do about the will of the Scottish people in relation to Section 30”. Section 30 in this context is Westminster’s agreement to an Independence referendum.

Heckling is a good thing. I do not hold for a moment with the notion that politicians must be heard in a respectful silence and questions reserved to the end. I almost always start my individual talks by encouraging people to interject if they have a burning desire to disagree. This was proper democratic politics as it ought to be conducted. Half decent politicians relish hecklers – they have the microphone and the platform and ought to have no difficulty in dominating the exchange if they are any good at all.

I would add that I have fierce contempt for the “security” argument for hiding politicians from their constituents. Far too often robust disagreement is falsely portrayed as threat. Another friend of mine, Nigel Jones, was when an MP attacked in his constituency office and left with permanent injuries. Public life carries risks. I have received a number of actual death threats over the years since I quit the FCO and started campaigning (often originating in Florida, for some peculiar reason). I doubt any MP has genuinely received significantly more than I. But I still hold perfectly open public meetings. I am in the phone book and on the open electoral register. My address is in Who’s Who. I find the continued bleating by politicians about their security insufferable. I faced the same nonsense in the FCO, when I was advised at various times under the FCO “Duty of Care” not to travel around the Ferghana Valley and around Sierra Leone and Monrovia – all of which I had to do in order to do my job properly. I ignored the advice, telling the FCO that if personal safety were my goal in life, I could have been an accountant.

I am surprised that the Tories feel the need to keep Johnson almost as wrapped in cottonwool as May, because Johnson is a better campaigner. His veneer of chummy bonhommie hides his menace effectively enough to fool most people most of the time. Where he is not good is under detailed, forensic questioning and I shall be surprised if the Tories let Andrew Neil at him. The broadcaster’s decisions on participation in debates are entirely governed by the Tory agenda. The Tories calculate that a sustained campaign of vilification has damaged Jeremy Corbyn to the extent the public will not listen to him, so the Tories are happy to debate Corbyn. They are determined to stop Sturgeon from interacting with Johnson, as she is an excellent debater. The Lib Dems are a major threat to Tory seats, which is why they want to keep Swinson as marginal as possible, although she is not a threat in debate.

By standing down candidates in 300 odd Tory constituencies, Nigel Farage drastically reduced the amount of time the broadcasters will give the Brexit Party. That is so fundamental, I simply do not believe it was done without a hidden Farage/Johnson understanding. The current “spat” between them over other candidates standing down is simply window dressing.

This is a fascinating campaign. I have not undertaken any quantitative analysis, but I have never before in a UK general election felt that, once a campaign was actually under way and the broadcasting rules in force, BBC bias continued quite as blatantly as it does at this moment. It is still my prediction that Cummings’ strategy means that vote spread will heavily disadvantage the Tories under FPTP and they will not get a majority. If they do, that can only hasten Scottish Independence and I will not personally suffer it for too long. But I feel very worried for the millions who would live under boot of the 1% in the conditions of deregulation a Tory victory would unleash.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post The Fragile Boris Johnson appeared first on Craig Murray.

“The Palace… Threatened Us a Million Different Ways”.

Par craig

This leaked off-air recording of ABC News anchor Amy Robach is much more revealing than anything the BBC is going to air about Andrew Saxe Coburg Gotha.

Buckingham Palace has been “threatening” journalists to bury the story for years – which is all very reminiscent of Jimmy Savile, who was of course, ahem, popular at the Palace. Robach also states they were scared of losing interview access to folically challenged William Saxe Coburg Gotha and his underweight wife. She does not explicitly state that was one of the “threats” Buckingham Palace employed, but it does follow directly as her next observation.

Amy Robach very probably realised this “unguarded” moment would get out to the public, and we should be grateful to her for lifting the lid on how the protection of the crimes of the powerful operates, on a global level. Alan Dershowitz, whom Robach mentions, was not only a Lolita Express passenger, he is the celebrity lawyer who defended the CIA‘s use of torture as legally and morally justified. One might speculate on the psychological parallels of torturing the defenceless and inflicting sex on the young.

There is overwhelming evidence that Virginia Roberts Giuffre was trafficked into the UK by Epstein for sex with Prince Andrew. There are flight logs. There is that compromising photo in Ghislaine Maxwell’s flat. Both are entirely consistent with, and strongly corroborate, Virginia’s own testimony. This instance occurred in the UK.

It ought to be a matter of deep national disgrace that neither Ghislaine Maxwell nor “Prince” Andrew has been questioned over by the Metropolitan Police over this sex trafficking. That Virginia was over 16 is not the issue. She was sex trafficked into the UK and not legally adult. Why is there not a massive media clamour for Scotland Yard to investigate?

Amy Robach has the answer to that question.

Hat Tip to projectveritas

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post “The Palace… Threatened Us a Million Different Ways”. appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Roger Stone – Wikileaks – Russia Hoax

Par craig

As ever, the Guardian wins the prize for the most tendentious reporting of Roger Stone’s conviction. This is not quite on the scale of its massive front page lie that Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But it is a lie with precisely the same intent, to deceive the public into believing there were links between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. There were no such links.

The headline “Roger Stone: Trump Adviser Found Guilty On All Charges in Trump Hacking Case” is deliberately designed to make you believe a court has found Stone was involved in “Wikileaks hacking”. In fact this is the precise opposite of the truth. Stone was found guilty of lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee by claiming to have links to Wikileaks when in fact he had none. And of threatening Randy Credico to make Credico say there were such links, when there were not.

It is also worth noting the trial was nothing to do with “hacking” and no hacking was alleged or proven. Wikileaks does not do hacking, it does “leaks”. The clue is in the name. The DNC emails were not hacked. The Guardian is fitting this utterly extraneous element into its headline to continue the ludicrous myth that the Clinton campaign was “Hacked” by “the Russians”.

It is worth noting that not one of those convicted of charges arising from or in connection with the Mueller investigation – Manafort, Papadopolous, Stone – has been convicted of anything to do with Wikileaks, with anything to do with Russia or with the original thesis of the enquiry.

Astonishingly, in the case of Stone, he has been convicted of saying that the Mueller nonsense is true, and he was a Trump/Wikileaks go-between, when he was not. Yet despite the disastrous collapse of the Mueller Report, and despite the absolutely devastating judicial ruling that there was no evidence worthy even of consideration in court that Russiagate had ever happened, the Guardian and the neo-con media in the USA (inc. CNN, Washington Post, New York Times) continue to serve up an endless diet of lies to the public.

Randy Credico was the chief witness for the prosecution against Roger Stone. That’s for the prosecution, not the defence. This is the state’s key evidence against Stone. And Credico is absolutely plain that Stone had no link to Wikileaks. The transcript of my exclusive interview with Randy has now been prepared (thanks to Sam and Jon) and follows here.

I spoke to Randy yesterday to clarify one point. The first conversation Randy ever had with Julian Assange was on 25 August 2016 and it was on-air on Randy’s radio show. There was no private talk off-air around the show. That was Randy’s only contact of any kind with Julian Assange before the 2016 election. His next contact with him, also an on-air interview, was not until Spring 2017, well after the election. He could not have been in any sense a channel to Wikileaks.

Here is the unedited interview from 10 November:

RC: Hello.
CM: Hello there, Randy. Hello, can you hear me OK?
RC: Yes, perfectly.
CM: Yeah. I’m good, I’m very good indeed. OK, let’s do it like this, shall we, it seems …
RC: Now listen, before you start, you can ask me anything you want, and this is the only interview I’m going to do. I’ll be in town with—like, all day long—with people asking me to talk about this and I just want to get it out of the way and move on. All right?
CM: No, I quite understand. And that’s very sensible. Now, let’s start then … let’s start … before we get into the substance, let’s start then with some of the atmospherics. How did it feel to you, you know, to be you … to be Randy walking into that courtroom?
RC: Well, you know, when I, when I … first of all, for the last eight months I knew this was eventually going to happen. So I’ve been on needles and pins, a lot of anxiety that … Wait a second … Hold on, hold on … can you start and do that again?
[aside] Bye, everybody. … I’m doing an interview with somebody here.
Hi, Craig. Hi, Craig.
CM: Yep. Yep. I’m here.
RC: Hello. All right. Start going. Start … start again.
CM: OK. Before we get into the substance, Randy, let’s talk about the atmospherics. How did it feel to be you? How did it feel to be Randy Credico walking into that courtroom?
RC: Well, you know, all of my life … I got into show business when I was 18 years old and I really was pursuing fame and notoriety and, you know, I finally got it, and this is “be careful what you wish for”—because this is certainly not something that I was relishing. For the past eight months, when Mr Stone was indicted, I have been suffering from heavy anxiety, having to appear as a witness under subpoena. And then when it finally happened, eight months went by quickly, and I got to tell you something, going into that courtroom, and anticipating it the previous night in which I couldn’t sleep was not a very comforting feeling. I walked in and, you know, it wasn’t the traditional way where you walk in from the back. You had to walk through the very front of the courthouse, past the defendant, past his family, past his friends, past his supporters, and then get on that witness stand right next to the jury, and begin answering questions. So after a while I was OK with it, but I knew it was going to be a long session; I knew I was going to have to come back the next day and continue and then I was going to have to go through the cross-examination. So it was just nothing but anxiety going in, and there was some relief when it was over but it was a different kind of a feeling because I felt bad for the defendant at the end of the testimony.
CM: Yeah, no, I’m sure you did. Did you catch his eye at any slight stage while you were … while you were talking?
RC: Yeah. You know, I tried not to. I didn’t think that was fair, so I did look at him. He was very morose looking, very sullen looking … and, you know, but for the grace of God, there goes I. I could’ve been in that seat, in that situation at some point in my lifetime, and the weight of the federal government with the vast resources in a case like that, and the defendant, he had … he had a lot of attorneys, but I didn’t think they were … they were really sufficient. These were not great barristers, you know what I mean? They were not good. And I found out they weren’t really that good because I had known earlier the way they were cross-examining previous witnesses that they just weren’t up to the job.
So, you know, you go in there and you’re under a lot of stress, and you’ve got to tell the truth and at the same time the truth is going to hurt the guy who’s sitting there … you know, just 25 or 30 feet away from you, and it could put him in prison. I mean—who wants to be in that position? All of my life, I have worked to get people out of prison. I’m a prison reformer. I’ve extricated people out of prison through clemency and changes of laws in the State of New York. And other activism that I have done like in Texas, I got 46 people out of prison. So this was a very bizarre, ironic situation that I was in at that particular point.
So yes, I caught his eye; I did catch his eye. You know, it’s such loose strings—it’s someone that you’ve known. I’ve known the guy for 17 years. And people say “How were you ever friends with this guy? You know, you’re an extreme left-winger, the guy is an extreme right-winger”. Well, I have no regrets meeting him, because I met him in 2002, after I had been working 5 years, visiting prisons, organizing families of prisoners who were subjected to New York’s racist and draconian Rockefeller drug laws. They were called the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. I was working with him, organizing, visiting their loved ones in prison, and we were moving forward to getting some substantial change in 2002, but we were at loggerheads with the government. So because Roger Stone was running the campaign of a third party candidate—a billionaire, a real maverick individual, who had some great ads that I saw—I went to Mr Stone because the Democrats and the Republicans in the race were not addressing the issue. Mr Stone actually not only agreed with my position there, but he spent … had his candidate spend … millions of dollars doing ads to repeal New York’s racist Rockefeller drug laws. And that was a very key moment in the historical run of this movement. Within a year and a half, the laws had changed, and each year there was major building blocks. We got the public to support us; we were getting politicians to support us. In 2002, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer—our two Democratic Senators—were not on board. And so, this guy Tom Golisano was on board and he did rallies with these families, he put them on television, and he, like I said, spent millions of dollars on ads. And if it weren’t for Roger Stone, that wouldn’t have happened. And so because of that within a year and a half, these families that I had worked with, there was retroactivity when the laws were changed within a year and a half, and that was a key component. And Mr Golisano stayed with it for another year, he continued to work with us.
So, something like that. Even though Mr Stone had screwed me over, had done some very nasty things over the next 17 years, there was still that soft spot for him because, when I look at those families and I remember their faces when they get reunited with their loved ones—he played a role in that.
So that’s the dilemma I was facing when I was on that witness stand. I was an aggrieved person. This could’ve been done, by the way, in a civil court, you know, my grievance against Mr Stone because, for me—for me—my position was I was kind of smeared by being associated with the Trump campaign with these bogus allegations of being the back channel to Wikileaks—which we’ll get into. There was never any back channel to Wikileaks—that was all hocus pocus! So, answering your question, it was … it was a very bizarre, uncomfortable experience undergoing those {inaudible} in that highly publicized and media-covered circus that was going on. Not a circus, but whatever was going on there, it was something that I would not want to go through again. And, look, I’ve performed in front of a million different audiences; I’ve worked strip joints when I was in air force bases; I’ve done vigils, rallies; I’ve worked the worst toilets in the room over a 45 year period in show business, but I still wasn’t prepared for that kind of atmosphere.
CM: Yes, I can imagine. Is it a fair characterisation to say that you, Randy, you’re on the libertarian left of politics, whereas Roger’s on the libertarian right, and you both met because there were some issues such as drug decriminalization on which you agree and on which he then did good work in decriminalizing communities in New York. Is that the basic analysis?
RC: Yes, I would say I once ran on the Libertarian party line in 2010. A lot of their positions I don’t agree with … but I’m on the left, he’s a libertarian right. He’s not like one of these people—when I met him he was not the ideologue that he was portrayed to be in the media in 2002—a far right Jesse Helms type or a far right John Ashcroft type. He was a libertarian, he smoked pot; you know, we had the same views on music. He actually was advocating for the pardon of Marcus Garvey, who was framed, who was a leader of Black Nationalism in the 20s, on these bogus mail fraud charges. So, you know, he’s kind of a sphinx, you know, politically. He’s not, like I said, a hard-core right-winger. He was not for the war in Iraq back in 2003. So, you know, I don’t even know what the right and the left is sometimes. You know, I really don’t know what that means. I mean Tony Blair’s supposed to be a Labour guy, but he’s as bad as George Bush is, and always has been. So does he really support Labour, is he a leftist? No. So, you know, these labels are a little confusing to me. But like I said, Stone—you know—he’s a showman. He’s a showman; he’s an exhibitionist. That’s what got him in trouble here. The poor guy is … you know, he’s a megalomaniacal showman. Just like I am. I’m in show business, why? Because I’m like him—I like to get laughs, and I want to be recognised. That’s him.
I said he’d done a lot of bad things to me but politically we were, you know, we coincided on a few major issues, and one of them was drug law reform in the State of New York. Now, mind you, 97% of the people that were subjected to the Rockefeller drug laws in the State of New York were black and Latino. And still are—they have been modified, not completely changed. But, you know, they were subjected to harsh punishment; they were getting 15 years to life. I know one kid by the name of Terence Stevens, paralysed from the neck down—from the neck down—with muscular dystrophy, and that guy was doing all of this time for possession on a bus! They ascribed it to him for possession! And he had done 10 years in prison, in the medical ward of a real dank prison—it was called Green Haven—for possession. And that was not like the exception to the rule. There were thousands of people in similar circumstances that were there that were just mules, or addicts that were doing this time—and Stone actually was very sympathetic to it. It wasn’t like it was a—you know, what would you call it—flash in the pan type of a push. He continued afterwards, he even wrote some op-ed pieces; but, like I said, he did some bad things to me over the years, but I’m a good natured guy, and I overlooked it. I let him get away with it.
CM: The astonishing thing about all this is … is that it all comes out of the Mueller inquiry, and the so-called Russiagate scandal, and yet none of these charges relate to Russia. And let’s be quite plain, to the best of your knowledge and belief—or to the best of your knowledge anyway—Roger Stone has no link to the Russian government that we’re aware of, and he certainly has no link to Wikileaks that we’re aware of. Is that your understanding?
RC: Well, actually what he had was … Look … Roger Stone … Here’s what happened. In 2015, Trump hired him. He lasted one month. Why? Because every time he did an interview it was more about him than it was about Trump; and Trump got frustrated with him and dumped him. And he may have given Trump advice here and there because, you know, he was the one who got Trump to run 30 years earlier; it was his idea, he kept pushing Trump. So he was kind of unceremoniously kicked out of the Trump camp.
Flash forward to 2016, he’s kind of hanging around the Trump campaign, he comes up with one of these Super PACs. And so he’s trying to ingratiate himself back into the Trump orbit there. And what he did was he, like, looks at Wikileaks and he sees what’s going on with Wikileaks, and he’s trying to get information. He’s going to guys like Jerome Corsi. You know, Jerome Corsi is a complete lunatic, you know, beyond the pale of conspiracy freaks … and he got hoodwinked by that guy. And this is my estimation, this is my analysis. He gets hoodwinked into thinking that he’s got a back channel. Right.
So he is showing, you know … First of all, the whole idea of a back channel is ridiculous. Julian Assange does not telegraph what he’s going to put out. He never has. He doesn’t compromise his sources and he always puts out that his whole M.O. is the element of surprise. So there was no reason for him to give it to Roger Stone, of the kind of preview of what he was doing. Why would he do that? When everything that he was doing, he was doing carefully, and he was selecting the time and then he’d put it out. There was no reason for him to give anything to Stone. No, Stone was playing the role of someone that had the inside information from Assange. Now, you know Assange, he’s very careful. He’s not going to … if he wanted to he would just give it directly to Trump, you know, but he didn’t. He never did. He didn’t need to go through Stone. But Stone was pretending that he had some kind of access to Wikileaks, and he was selling that to the Trump campaign—that he was able to get something in advance, he knew what it was. And so they didn’t think they were going to win, and they were looking for Hail Marys and this was one of them, and they brought him into the orbit and Stone was thinking that whatever this guy Corsi was giving him was accurate, possibly, and then … then me. All right? So, there was nothing there.
And then, the following month, in August 25th, after Stone had said a few weeks previously that he had direct contact with Assange, and he modelled at that to get a back channel. I had never met Assange, never had any conversation with Assange. In fact, I never ever even met him until the following year. So, on August 25th, through my friend, through someone then that worked with Assange got him on my radio show … on August 25th. And so, I was … it was a big fish for me. I had just gone from one day a week with my show to three days a week, and two of those days were prime time—5 o’clock drive time—and I let Stone know that I had Assange on my show. He didn’t even respond to that. I let him know. So I was kind of one-upping him. And Assange was on the show—we even talked about it: “Do you have a back channel with Roger … ?” And he laughed at it. You know, Stone was on my show on the twenty … two days previously … and I asked him about it, and he said that he had a back channel and he really couldn’t disclose what it was. And then Assange was on. So there was no back channel there, with me.
I went to London a few weeks later. I went to London to see a fellow by the name of Barry Crimmins, who is a left wing comedian, who I had known for 30 years; and we were in London together performing there back in 1986. It was the 30 year anniversary. He was working at the Leicester Square Comedy Club in London. And somebody underwrote my trip to see him. Three days. I hung out with him for three days.
I also had a letter from the General Manager from the station to give to Julian Assange, or someone that works with Julian Assange, with a proposal that he do a radio show out of the Ecuadorian Embassy, with an IFB, and do it over the Pacifica network, and it would be his show. But at that time remember in September he was preparing obviously putting stuff together, collating it, or whatever, and putting it together, for the eventual day that he was trying to put it out, which was on October 7th. Now, the date that he put it out they say it was to coincide with the Access Hollywood tape. Now, anyone, talk to Stefania Maurizi, she will tell you that they were planning to put that out a day or two earlier on the 7th. That was the day they were going to put it out. She was the one that knew, she never told anybody, but she did afterwards. And last year she said she knew they were going to put something out on the 7th, because she worked with Assange. She was one of the few journalists that he trusted, and rightly so.
But I never got in to see him. They didn’t, they didn’t see me, because Stone found out on the 27th, he knew that I was flying to London to see my friend Barry Crimmins, so … and possibly see Assange. He wanted me to find out from Assange, because he put somebody on my radio show—Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President—he put him on my show on the 9th of September, and I owed him a favour and the favour was to find out if this email from Hillary Clinton to somebody existed regarding the situation in … in Libya, and sabotaging the peace talks with Gaddafi. Well, I never did that, I never gave it to Assange. I wouldn’t dare ask him.
I’ve been in that Embassy three times since, after that year 2017 when I spent some time with you and John Pilger in London and Edinburgh. That’s when I saw him. I never once asked him about his business. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t ask him how they did things … nothing. The stuff was so general. We talked about dogs, we talked about him running for Senate, and the Green Party, we talked about food. We talked about general things. And that was it. I never once saw … There was no way I was going to ask him to confirm if this email existed. In fact, I told Stone that if it existed, it would be on the Wikileaks website.
All right, so that happens; that happens, and nothing happens. I did say, I did predict, and I put it on Facebook after standing outside that Embassy on the 29th, I dropped the letter off. There was a guy from either MI6, MI5, or a metropolitan police department outside that building with a headphone on, or an earplug, and he was listening: you could tell, these guys are so obvious. And I dropped the letter off. I was in for less than 20 seconds. I knocked on the door on the left; a hand came out; I dropped the letter off from the station, and left; I went through Harrods and I was followed. So I extrapolated from that, that something must be coming up. I put it on Facebook: “Here’s a picture of me, look at this guy behind me. I got a feeling the guy inside’s gonna drop something this week.”
Two days later I said the same thing to Stone. So now, he’s going to use me as—well, I mean, well, he has to—as the back channel. Supposedly he had a back channel for months. But the whole thing was ridiculous: I mean, there was no back channel; there never was a back channel. This was Stone just blowing himself up as, you know, as an important person to impress. As you said yesterday in your tweet, that he was looking to make money, and he did, he did ask the family for some money when he said that this was coming out, and that in fact did justify his luck that it came out on the 7th, and they thought that Stone had the inside information; he had no inside information. All right, so that’s where we were back … that’s where we are back then, up until October first or second or third. So I had no back channel. I had no information; Stone had no information—but he continued to sell himself as a person that did.
And then the, then the … I think that Correa shut down this internet for a while after he got pressure from John Kerry at that meeting in Bogota of the OAS [Organization of American States]. And so I said to Stone at a dinner, the only time I saw him in 2016 was at a dinner on October 12th or 13th, and I told him that, that was information that I got from about 20 people that there was pressure—it was even in the paper. So that was it. So now we go a year later, Stone testifies. Are you with me there, Craig?
CM: Yes, I am with you.
RC: OK. Do you want to ask a question, or should I continue?
CM: No, you carry on. Go with the flow.
RC: I shall. You go forward. The following year, Stone testifies, he testifies to confirm, not to Mueller, but the House Intel Committee—they had opened up an investigation right after this whole Russia stuff—and I was totally against it. I thought the whole thing was a ridiculous thing, chasing down you know Russians being behind it. Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign. Julian Assange did not send a map to the Clinton campaign of every school in Michigan and Wisconsin … all right. So she lost. She was a horrible campaign….
I was a big Bernie person. I was supporting … I did a four day howler marathon for Bernie to get out to vote just prior on the day before the New York primaries. So I was still pissed off at Hillary because she had taken it away from Bernie. Her and her cohorts at the DNC had taken it away from Bernie. And if Bernie had won that primary, had won that nomination, he would have beaten Trump … I believe. But Hillary …
CM. Yeah, I know. There’s a lot of polling evidence that says that, I think.
RC: Yes, I think, I think … I really do think that Bernie would have won that election. So I was really furious! I was furious that he was out of it. I’m still furious. I ended up voting for Jill Stein that day. And I went to Jill Stein’s party on November 8th 2016. I think I had you on the show with Jill Stein just prior to that. And I had her on the show that day and I went to her party and Trump won, and I was very depressed about that … not that I supported Hillary, I mean she didn’t have any chance at all so it’s fine …
Now going forth, let me get back to 2017. He voluntarily—voluntarily—goes before the House Intel Committee. They didn’t subpoena him, they didn’t ask him to show up but he voluntarily goes up and it’s behind closed doors. Simultaneously he releases a 47-page screed that he’s about to read on YouTube, he reads it on YouTube, and then his opening statement. Forty-seven pages he reads to them chiding the whole process and slamming Schiff and everybody, putting this whole Russiagate thing out there. And then at the end they ask him if he had a back channel, and he says “Yes, it’s a journalist but I’m not supposed to say who it is”.
Now, the next day, I’m trying to reach him. I’m thinking he’s going to say that I was now, because I had sent him those text messages, he’s gonna say …. And then he sends me a text message saying “Look, just go along with this, don’t worry about it. You’ll get a lot of press out of this. They’re not going to believe you, Credico; they’re going to believe me.” So, look he was covering up his attempts; he had no connection. And by the way, this is not helping Julian Assange out, having Roger Stone and Trump and all these people out there saying that they’re connected to Wikileaks. This is not helping his cause—all right—because Roger Stone is radioactive. Julian Assange knows that he’s radioactive. He doesn’t hate Stone; he finds him to be some kind of showman, you know, an exhibitionist; but he had nothing … he’s smart enough to know that you don’t go there, and he didn’t go there. But, so … now, he’s got himself in a bind here: he has said he’s got a back channel, he’s gloating about it, you know, he’s showboating … and a few days later, he lets me know that he’s gonna name me as the back channel. And that’s gonna go public! He said, “Look nobody’s gonna believe you, Credico. And better that, uh … better that I name you than go to jail.” So he doesn’t mention this guy Corsi, who was the back channel that wasn’t the back channel.
CM: OK. Can you just hang on a second, Randy? He said “better he names you than go to jail”. What was he thinking: that having claimed to have a back channel to the committee, he had to try to substantiate it or he’d be in trouble for lying? Or was there was some other risk of jail?
RC: If he says … If he says that they … He didn’t even get a subpoena! In other words, they didn’t subpoena him. Adam Schiff said, “We’d like to know who that back channel is.” And you have to get a full vote on the committee to get a subpoena. Without even getting a subpoena, he went and named me. I said “Well, why are you naming me?”. He says “Why should I go to jail for you?”. Now this is a cocked hat situation for me at that particular point. You know, here I’m being named for something I didn’t do, but he can circumstantially say that I did, because I had told him that I had a connection with Assange on my show: Margaret Ratner Kunstler. You know, but she …. And that was it. When I asked her to get him on the show, she was furious that I even asked her. So, you know, I had a show for a year prior to that and I never asked her. I did not want to get involved and bring her into this. And so I gotta get my own guests. But now I had it three days a week, and so I asked her gingerly and she did get him on the show. But by telling him that, putting that name out, now he’s got her name. Right?
And now I told him on October 1st that something’s coming out which I had already announced, extrapolating on public comments by Assange saying that something is coming out; I think Sarah Harrison may have said that something was coming out; everyone knew that something was coming out. And so since I never was able to get that thing, and never tried, on the Libyan connection with Hillary Clinton—and … what’s his name? … Gaddafi—I felt obligated to get something. And by the way, this is coming from the Heathrow Airport, where I was at the duty free bar there, and I was getting free drinks, because I got a couple of bottles there, and it’s the only duty free store I’ve ever been in where they’ve got like three or four portable bars where you could drink. Instead of spending money at the bar, you know, twelve pounds per ale, I was getting all of these different booze samples that they had and then I was buying a couple. And so when I’m waiting around at the gate, you know, I’m just texting him too along with other people “Something’s coming out”. I’m gonna go back to 2017. So he’s going to name me, he says he’s gonna name me, and just to go along with it. And he’ll go to jail … I don’t know how he could go to jail by not answering the subpoena, or not giving up the name. He could always just take the Fifth Amendment. He could, like I did later on; I took the Fifth Amendment. For a variety of reasons I took the Fifth Amendment. So now he’s put me in a jam … all right, he names me, he names me as a back channel.
And there’s a ton of papers, a ton of stories out there in the newspapers and the electronic media that Randy Credico’s the back channel. Now everybody on the centre left hates me. People connected to the Clinton people think that I helped Donald Trump win, I facilitated it, and I got myself in a big jam right there. Now what do I do? Do I go up there, when I get the letter from the House Intel Committee, and contradict Roger Stone? If I do, then he’s in trouble legally and then he could go to jail for perjury. So I had to think about that. Even though he put my reputation on the line there I feel like … Look, people lie to Congress all the time, to Congressional committees; and, you know, it leads to wars; it leads to mass surveillance; it leads to … appointments to the Supreme Court federal bench. And so those are big lies that are never investigated and they get away with it. So his was a small lie except for it was about me though; that was the only problem. I don’t mind that he lied to Congress, because everybody lies to Congress.
CM: Yeah, I must say to that point I mean he hadn’t done anything. He’d boasted a bit; he’d tried to work an angle by claiming he had a contact he didn’t have; he’d then maintained that by telling the Intelligence Committee that he had a contact he didn’t have. But then, that’s a fairly harmless lie.
RC: You … you … you know what it is? It’s a fender bender. But it turned out to be a 21 trailer tractor pile-up. It was a fender bender. It was no big thing to tell them that. I kind of laughed at his 47-page statement. It was kind of entertaining. You know, he was putting on a show there. But when he put me in there …. Look, if it was anybody else, it’s fine. And it’s not like it was a major transgression to say that he had a back channel that he didn’t have. Right? That’s not a major transgression. When you lie about weapons of mass destruction—that is something that cost millions of lives, and people got away with that. People got away with lying to Congress about that, lately. You got guys who lie about not being spied on—there’s no domestic spying—that was a lie, they got away with that. All right? That’s the kind of stuff that affects them. This doesn’t affect, you know, anything. But he did lie to Congress, he did it five or six times, he kept lying; and there are five or six times that he lied in there and said that I had been providing him information from, like, early June all the way through October third or fourth or fifth. So … which is totally ridiculous, you know! And nobody else provided him with that, because Assange does not tip his mitt. You know what I mean?
So he was building himself up, ingratiating himself with the Trump campaign, which he had been disaffected from … thrown off the campaign. So he was clawing himself back on, and this was his way … and he was fishing around. Wikileaks had rebuffed him, told him “Stop saying you’re connected to us! All right? That’s not true.” They put that out there. They sent them a direct mail that “we had nothing to do with Roger Stone”. And all that was doing was hurting them, by saying that, you know, he was one of the most despised person in the US, whether it’s true or not the reasons why, but he’s a despised person in the US by a lot of people. And traditional right-wingers don’t like him, and the left doesn’t like him, because he’s a dirty trickster and he’s been connected … remember, he was connected to … with Mobutu, he helped out Mobutu do PR work; he helped out Marcos do PR work; Savimbi … did PR work for Savimbi; he was a big fan of Pinochet. So he doesn’t have a clean past. All right? He made a lot of money, made millions of dollars working with some of the most odious dictators in the 80s. And he and Manafort, and a few others, they had a PR firm and that’s who they worked for. All right? So let’s not say Roger Stone is an angel here. You don’t make money … maybe if this is the ghost of Lumumba, the ghost of Aquino, of Victor Jara, coming back to haunt Mr Stone. You know, but we just push that aside, we push that aside.
Getting back to Wikileaks: they rebuffed, they publicly said they did not have anything to do … and you know that was true: they did not. He did not have a back channel. He invented himself in, he insinuated himself into the Wikileaks orbit, as if he was like, you know, some part of it. And that wasn’t good for them, you know, because they were going to release that stuff.
Now Assange has material there. He’s got the material. Either he can not put it out there and possibly help out Hillary, or he could put it out there and help out … whatever it was, that wasn’t his decision. His decision as a journalist is: he’s got material and so his ethics as a journalist: you put it out there. You can’t hold back material. That’s the way he looked at it. And he put it out there. Because he had it. He got a big scoop there. And he had to put that out there. If he had a similar scoop on Trump, he would’ve put that out there. He does not compromise his ethics. He is a journalist, and he operates as a journalist in the best tradition.
CM: To move the story on now, though: next, Stone does get nasty and he gets nasty towards you because you won’t play along with his story and you won’t say you were a back channel when you weren’t, so he starts to threaten you.
RC: Well, here’s what happened. I went there back to London—and I don’t think I saw you this time around, I think there in November, and I knew I put it out, and I was covering for Pacifica the case of … the case that Stefania Maurizi had against the Crown Prosecutor Services over the emails that were suppressed by them, between them and the Swedish Prosecutor. So I went to that proceeding and … {inaudible} … and spent three or four days in London. I got to see Julian a couple of times and, you know, that was the last time I saw him, by the way. But I was still … I didn’t know what to do at that particular time.
I got the subpoena when I got back and I really thought that they were going to ask me about my communications with Assange, the House Intel Committee. So that was one of the reasons that I said, “Well, here I can go and use my First Amendment rights”, and my lawyer said “No, you can’t; you can use your Fifth Amendment rights.” And then, you know, Stone was hanging over my head that he was going to bring in Mrs Kunstler, and drag her through this. And, you know, he and I both come from Italian-American families and it’s chauvinistic but we don’t drag the women into it; that’s a tradition—you don’t bring the women into the mud here. But he was going to do that, he was going to bring Mrs Kunstler’s name into to it. She’s this woman with a pristine past; she’s done nothing. Her husband was the greatest civil rights attorney; he liked the fanfare, he got a lot of publicity, but he did incredible work. She did incredible work throughout her life, and she did it quietly. She does not like the trash …. She’s lived this humble life, and just done all of the grunt work legally, and I did not want to drag her through this, this entire quagmire. I didn’t want her name, and the fact I even broached her name to Stone, that was … I was an asshole for doing it. And for Stone to hang that over my head, that was one of the reasons why I took the Fifth Amendment when I did … and to the very end I had no idea what I was going to do. I was trying to do this—do you remember the Wallendas, you know, the tightrope specialists? I was trying to walk this line there where I could say I wasn’t the guy, wasn’t the back channel, without pissing off Stone, and to do that, say that I wasn’t the back channel, but like I said, without giving them information, without going before the Committee. But if I … the thing is once I took the Fifth Amendment, everyone assumed that I was a back channel and was helping out Stone. That’s just the way people think.
And then, the … I was working for this millionaire guy who was going to run for Governor. I was working throughout 2018; I had, like, a one year contract. He decided … he’s such a nice guy, rather than … rather than fire me, he decided to drop out of the race. OK, I worked with him for the previous year, OK, because he was a big shot with the liberal Democrats—he was like probably a billionaire—and he was a big finance guy who just couldn’t be seen at that point with me because I was now radioactive being associated with Stone, but I played it that way—I did take the Fifth Amendment but, like I said, people just assumed, and I started doing television shows, trying to explain myself; I couldn’t explain myself. And then I finally said … and he was getting upset that I was even out there, contradicting, gainsaying what he had put out there in front of the House Intel Committee. And why? Why was he upset? Because he didn’t want it to get out that he had been calling up Trump with this bogus information that he had gotten from this guy Corsi and somebody else. He had been calling up Trump, he had been calling the family, he had been calling up everybody, to get back in there, weasel his way back in there with this back channel claim that he didn’t have. And so he didn’t want to get that to be exposed. He got so furious with me that he started saying nasty ….
Now, I understand: he’s in a bad situation right now. He’s in a bad situation: he lied to Congress! Now he’s saying things about me, and he’s, like, saying nasty … now, look, going up to the … before I took the Fifth, he was sending me text messages to take the Fifth and not to talk. All right? And he’s text messaging this … in broad daylight! You know, we live in an age of mass surveillance … why would you be doing that, text messaging someone: “Don’t talk. All right? If you talk, you do this, do that!” And … but, you know that’s not the reason why. The only reason, the main reason was that I was worried that she would be dragged into this, because he could somehow circumstantially, you know, say that this is the … and I didn’t know he had these prior discussions with other people.
So now we’re going through … getting back to 2018, and what … I’m in a quandary here: what do I do? Big dilemma. Do I come out? And I finally said, “Look, I wasn’t the guy; this is all a complete lie.” And then he started sending out some of the text messages and emails—the one about … {inaudible} …, and all of that—to make it look like I was … {inaudible} …, you know, a war—a public battle between the two of us. And thing is … is that I don’t know why he did that. He’s escalating it. He’s getting stories planted about my character … he’s smearing me, and then … he’s threatening me. But the threats I never took seriously. All right? If I took them seriously, I would gone to the police department—911, and would’ve called up 911—”Somebody had threatened … “. I never took those seriously. It was a guy that was desperate now; he was acting in a desperate way. And he didn’t know what to do. Look, I’ve seen … the guy is sending these things out at two o’clock in the morning … you know, the guy, you know, he gets toasted. All right? He’s not doing it on a sober level. He’s sending out some very nasty things. And so when I … I got so sick and tired of him saying these things about me publicly, that I took the private emails, and I said when … when they got so bad … the smear job had got so bad … it was what was called a ‘brushback pitch’. I gave them to somebody in the media and said “Here, here’s what he’s saying to me in these emails.” And then that’s what … that’s what dragged in the Mueller people when they saw them. I wish I had never put them out, but he escalated it, and I put it out; and the next thing you know, they show up; they’re looking for me, and I’m kind of laying low. I did a show at the …{inaudible} …, my first public performance, and they’re there … they’re there, and they asked me to cancel it; I wouldn’t testify, and then I got a subpoena a couple of months later, and I have … Mow, when you go before them, the first thing they tell you is you can say anything you want, you just can’t lie. All right?
CM: Yep?
RC: Are you there?
CM: Yeah, I’m with you.
RC: You can’t lie to them. You just can’t lie to them. So I sat there and I told them they had all of our emails, they had subpoenas, they had the text messages, and you know, Stone was … Stone put himself into that situation. You know, when they were doing this broad investigation with the Mueller people … these are the best lawyers that exist in the US prosecutors. So like, some top level attorneys and FBI people assigned to it. And they found everything, and so now, now I have to go before the Grand Jury. And in fact I went before the Grand Jury, and I had to answer “Yes” or “No”, and I had the … I was there with my book Sikunder Burnes, by the way, which everyone was interested in … if you recall?
CM: I do. I recall the photos very well.
RC: So now I go before them. Nothing’s happened and months go by and Stone starts dripping out more text messages that were recently found. These were text messages I didn’t have: 2016 and 2017. He selectively cherry-picked some messages, dropped them out there and so they want to know. They call me back into DC, I gotta go back to DC and go over hundreds of pages of text messages with Stone. And the next thing you know, the following January 25th, Stone had lied and he had threatened … you know, I didn’t take the threats seriously. Like I said, I would have said something to the authorities, you know. But, you know, he did put it out there and he did try to get me to change my testimony. So … you know, you gotta be careful, you can’t do things like that. And so he got arrested, and now you know, he gets arrested and now the onus is on me. I know that I’m gonna be … I looked at those charges, seven … he had seven charges and five of them were related to me.
I’m in a real box right now. I felt terrible. But eventually, hopefully, the guy pleads out or he gets a pardon or whatever. He didn’t. He didn’t get a pardon. In fact, he hasn’t pardoned any of the people connected to this. And you would think that this guy would have gotten a pardon. I felt terrible, like I said, about having to testify, but if I don’t testify then I’m in contempt and can spend two years in jail on contempt charges. Plus, they already had the goods there, they had the goods, they had the text messages, and Stone was … you know, indiscreet, putting those things out there. Can you imagine Assange putting something out there like that? Would you do something like that, in the open? You know that everyone can see your Gmail. If you’re a follower of Assange, you don’t put in things in Gmail, because it’s like graffiti on a train: it’s hard to get off, you can’t wash it off, it’s there forever. And so … so he never had a back channel, though. Stone never had a back channel.
CM: Don’t you think there’s a tremendous irony here, because the Mueller inquiry set out to prove Hillary Clinton’s claims that the Russians had hacked the DNC and had then conspired with the Trump campaign and Wikileaks to take the election from her, and they couldn’t find any of that because it’s nonsense: it’s just not true, so …
RC: He wasn’t charged.
CM: So they found …
RC: He wasn’t charged. I repeat, Julian Assange was not charged here.
CM: No, precisely. And they end up … they end up doing the opposite: they end up actually trying Roger Stone because he was claiming that that original thesis was true, in fact. You know, he was claiming to be a link between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, and fact there was no link between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks; so they end up taking someone to court for the opposite reason from what they tried to prove in the first place.
RC: Obviously, he did not have a back channel. Obviously, what he did was … he disrupted an investigation and threw everybody off. All right? So you step on toes when you do something like that. If he had just been hon… Look, all he had to do, Craig, for himself … all right, very easily … was go before that House Intel Committee, if they ever were even going to call him, and say “Look, I tried. I did not have a back channel. Nothing ever happened. You know, I was bluffing the Trump campaign … if he had just said that and just been honest …. He put himself in a bad spot all because of this narcissism or this megalomania, this need for attention. You know, the guy, like I said, is not everyone’s favourite character, and … you know …. Look, there was no back channel to Wikileaks, ever! You’re right, there was no back channel … I mean, that’s my opinion. I don’t see a back channel to Wikileaks. And I said that, that I don’t think … you know … if they have something they’re going to show at the rest of this trial. Maybe there was, but I didn’t see it. I don’t … so far, I don’t see anything. And why would Assange ever, ever, ever give up … you know, he doesn’t give up the source—A; and, B—he doesn’t tip what he … you know, tip his mitt, as it were. So that is where Stone got himself into trouble, with lying to Congress five times and then they couldn’t … and so the whole time they want me, you know, all … I got three subpoenas and Congressional committees—from the Senate, the House … two from the House judiciary, the Senate Intel—and I rebuffed … I said no to all of them. I didn’t want to get involved in that circus, that political circus between the Democrats and Republicans—I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. But from the Mueller people, they have the subpoena, and I was compelled, and … like I said there was nothing there that I did; but if people think that, you know, well maybe I was BS’ing Stone, you know, I was just trying to satisfy what … you know, the guy wanted something for the Gary Johnson … all because of this whole Gary Johnson, getting him on my show, and me trying to reciprocate it and I never did try. I’d never … He wanted me to get Assange on his show; that was the first request for getting Gary Johnson. I didn’t do that. So, look, this whole thing could have been avoided. All he had to do was, when he went in front of the Intel Committee, when he volunteered, to say that he didn’t have a back channel, that it was all BS, you know, that he was just bluffing, that he was trying to get in good with … you know … with the Trump campaign. So now, he’s facing … the biggest charge against Stone right now is guess what? Jury tampering, I mean, witness tampering. So the other things carry a couple of years; but the witness tampering carries 20 years, and I’m the witness that he tampered with! Now I told …. They did such a bad job, the defence attorneys yesterday. What he said was “Mr Stone … “. One charge was that he’d steal my dog! And I never took that seriously that he was gonna steal my dog. I volunteered, I said: “Stone likes dogs. Stone likes dogs, he’s got dogs, he loves dogs, he wasn’t gonna steal my dog”. I was never worried about him taking this dog of mine. All right? It was hyperbole of the highest order, and it was out of frustration, and probably juiced up on Martinis when he said it. I didn’t take it seriously, at all.
CM: And you were able to say that in the witness stand. That’s what you said, yeah?
RC: I said it. I literally witnessed … I said in the witness stand. You know, I can’t say that he didn’t try to get me to change my … to get me to take the Fifth Amendment. That was … He was one person that had advice. Everyone … I think I even asked you about it! I asked a hundred people what should I do—I had no idea! I’d never been in that situation before! Now what do I do? I knew what the cost was going to be: if I took the Fifth Amendment, people were going to wonder; and if I had not taken the Fifth Amendment, and testified, then Stone would have been charged, and he would have been guilty and possibly do some time in prison. So I was basically saving him then, and … Look, ironically he is now facing prison time.
CM: Yep. You did ask me. I advised you not to take the Fifth, I said you should go in there and tell, tell the full truth … was my advice.
RC: That’s right. I did ask you. I may have asked you on my show; I may have asked you by phone—but I remember you were the one of the few people that said “Don’t take the Fifth Amendment!” You were one of them. And a few others said the same thing: Ben Weiser said “Do not take the Fifth Amendment!” And Glenn Greenwald told me not to take the Fifth Amendment. So there were three people who told me … wise people told me not to take the Fifth Amendment. And lo and behold I did anyway, and all it did was create some problems. But Stone could have taken … that’s the thing, Stone could have taken the Fifth Amendment…. He could have done that and it would’ve been over with…. And now it’s dragged on, he’s put himself in harm’s way. You know, I did say that I wasn’t worried about this, but they didn’t ask me. The other threats about I’m gonna die … because there was a lot of things he said, but was I worried about that? No, I wasn’t worried that he was going to kill me! You know what I mean.
CM: The thing I take away from this is that you … plainly you forgive him for his bluster against you, which you never took that seriously in the first place, and I mean, I think it goes to your nature as the very kind and caring person you are, Randy: you’re more concerned now for Roger Stone … you know, you’re worried what’s going to happen to him, about him going down to jail, being in an awful situation. So despite everything, your main worry now is for him.
RC: I worry about that! I worry about the guy. Look, he’s 67 years old. He’s got a wife, he’s got friends, he’s got kids … you know, I don’t want to be the guy that’s responsible for him doing time in a US prison. US prisons are terrible … you know, that’s why, you know, we’re vying so hard to keep Julian from coming over here, and Lauri Love from coming over here, because of conditions of US prisons. That guy wouldn’t last a minute with a Nixon tattoo on his back, so I feel terrible that he put himself in this situation. Like I said, if his lawyer had asked me—his lawyer closed up, it was like “My God, this guy should have asked me some more questions … that I did not feel threatened by Stone personally.” You know what I mean? He made this threat, but I didn’t … I didn’t … I told him I’d never felt threatened by that. The thing is, that he had not emailed, telling me to take the Fifth, to stonewall all of this—he should have never done that! You know what I mean? I didn’t ask him for his advice on that. I asked people who were … legal people, people like yourself who know the legal system, what to do—and I got a mixed bag. At the end of the day, I ended up taking the Fifth Amendment. And, like I said, as bad as he’s been to me … I don’t want to see …. Look, jail is for people like Hannibal Lecter … people like … people like Rudolf Hess … and people like, you know … that commit the heinous crimes … people that get us into wars. Tony Blair, I’d like to see in prison. Pinochet, I’d like to see in prison … you know, before he died. Those are the kind of people that should be in prison—people that cause bodily harm, torture people—whoever tortured those loyal people in Uzbekistan … those are the people that should be in prison. But I am not … I had a father that did ten years in prison, OK? It ruined the kids … we all became hard-core alcoholics. You know, it was long before I was born. So I heard the horror stories of the prison that my father spent ten years in on the … on the … he was a male nurse on the tuberculosis ward. Ninety-nine percent of the people on that ward were black. All right? So he had an Italian … first generation, second generation Italian … that’s there, and you know they’re not good on race. My father was always good. That was the … that was what I took as a takeaway. But I always worked on prison reform because of I went through as a kid, listening to my father’s horror stories. So prison is not good for anybody. Now, Stone should do something like get probation or something. I don’t want to see the guy—at 67, 68 years of age—you know, the fact that he’s a broken man now, a broken-down man right now … he spent all this money. Look, I have a grievance against him—he has done some rotten things to me over the years; but, you know, forgiveness is a cardinal virtue, and I subscribe to having … you know, to forgive. I forgive. I forgive … and let it go. You know what I mean?
CM: Yes.
RC: The stuff that he did back in the 80s, that’s … he’ll have to deal with his maker on that … with those dictators … so he’ll have to deal with his … I don’t know how bad he is, what he did, I don’t know. But as far as me, I can forgive somebody. I don’t want to have resentment, I don’t want to carry resentment around. And I will be in a very bad spiritual way … a very bad spiritual way if in fact he goes to prison. It’s going to do a number on me to see that guy actually go into a maximum security prison, or any kind of prison. It’s not something that I want to see, personally. It’s not up to me … but believe me, it’s a lot of weight on my shoulders right now. And I don’t want to see anybody go to prison. It’s just not … it’s not the answer. Putting people in prison is not the answer. There has to be alternatives to incarceration. There are so many bad things that go on the world, and we spend a hundred thousand dollars here to put Roger Stone in prison. You know, it’s going to be a heavy burden for me to carry for the rest of my life, if he does go. And I, you know … I’m sorry that I’m in this …this … you know, I … right now, Assange is in a prison … and that kills me, every day that he’s in that prison. This bright … as you say, he’s the brightest person you’ve ever met. And I say, he’s the second brightest—you’re the brightest person I’ve ever met. But Assange is right behind you. And this brilliant individual is there, suffering. The people that put him through this should be in prison. The people that have been … the people on the CPS that conspired to put him there … and the politicians and the judges that put him there. Remember, when Garibaldi liberated San Stefano prison in 1860, you see, the first thing he said to one of the inmates was “Show me the judges!” And that how I feel: show me the judges. Who are … who’s doing this to Julian Assange? Just show me who the judges are! Show me those who are conspiring in the judiciary to destroy this young man, this brilliant young man, this great journalist. Show me who those people are. Those are the ones that should be behind bars.
CM: Yep. No, you’re absolutely right: there’s much more evil done by the State and those in a position of power in the State than there is by, unfortunately, the actual criminals (as the state sees them). Anyway, Randy, we ….
RC: You get these people, they’re so … the blacks and Latinos that go through the criminal justice system. It creates a lot of jobs for the bailiffs, for the lawyers, for the bail bondsmen, the jailers … you know, for the prison guards. Everyone’s got a piece of pie. But you need low-level so-called criminals; but the big criminals—the ones that start wars, the guys like Tony Blair and people like Jack Straw—they’re walking the streets.
CM: Yep. No, I quite agree. Well, we’d better wind it up, Randy. That’s been a long ….
RC: It was a long conversation … it was a long, a long … the end is in sight … and I’m sorry it was so garrulous there, but …
CM: No, that was excellent. And it’s very good that you got that off your chest, if you like, and, you’ve got the record set absolutely straight now for people to hear, which is superb.
RC: It’s the only interview I’m doing. I told you that I needed to get this off. Believe me … I’m getting calls all day long, to be interviewed. I did the one interview. It’s over—I’m not doing another one. So thanks very much for bearing with me … it was like going to a shrink, right now, and I got this off my chest. OK?
CM: It’s a new career for me. All right. I’ve got to go now, Randy, and get that processed. All right?
RC: Thank you very much. You know it’s the first time I’ve been interviewed by you. I’ve interviewed you 45 times over the years.
CM: Yes, it’s quite fun doing it the other way round.
RC: And give my best to Cameron and to Nadira. OK?
CM: I will do. Thank you very much. Thank you.
RC: All right. Thank you. Bye bye.

——————————————

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Boris Johnson Must Waive Any Claim of Immunity for Prince Andrew

Par craig

Contrary to the Establishment line, Prince Andrew does not automatically have diplomatic immunity for statutory rape charges in the USA: and if he does, the UK Government can waive it.

Any British diplomat facing investigation for under-age sex in the USA would, beyond doubt, instantly have their immunity waived by the UK government. There is no reason why Prince Andrew should be different.

That is even if he has diplomatic immunity in the first place. The children of a Head of State do not have immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. It is generally accepted that they do often enjoy such immunity, but this is not contained in any international treaty and most experts in public international law do not even think it reaches the bar of customary international law, rather reaching the lower standard of comity – what states usually do in friendly co-operation. Comity can be argued in an international court, but it is the weakest form of international law below treaty law and customary law. Comity in this case boils down to no more than the notion that Donald Trump would not want Andrew in the dock in Florida, because he would want Ivanka to be protected from ending up in the dock in London.

A UN Commission considered this subject:

128. The doctrine reflects the various viewpoints. It is noted in Oppenheim’s International Law that a comparison of the status of members of the family of a Head of State with the position of the family of a diplomatic agent indicates that members of the family of a Head of State forming part of his household enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the host State. The fact that members of the family of a Head of State and Head of Government are protected by immunity is also acknowledged by P. Gully-Hart. In the view of A. Watts, the immediate family of a Head of State may enjoy immunity, but on the basis of comity and not of international law. This view is endorsed by S. Sucharitkul. The view that, if the members of the family of a Head of State are also granted immunity, it is on the basis only of international comity and not of international law was supported in the resolution of the Institute of International Law.

Even then, it is universally agreed that children of a Head of State would only be covered by immunity if they were part of the head of state’s household. Now it is important to note that the word “household” here, in international law, does not necessarily have the same precise application as it does in UK domestic political parlance. In the UK, Prince Andrew is part of the “Royal Household”, which is why he troughs a massive £280,000 a year for doing very little. But in international law the provision is much more likely to be interpreted in the common meaning, as in dependent family living together in a single home. Dependent children might include adult students but does not stretch to 60 year old millionaires.

The USA of course has a habit of ignoring international law when it so wishes under the doctrine of “exceptionalism”. However it would need British agreement not to claim diplomatic immunity for extradition proceedings in the UK to go ahead. It is sickening that Julian Assange is in a maximum security prison awaiting extradition for publishing the truth, while Prince Andrew is in some mansion having his feet massaged.

There is a further argument that Prince Andrew had immunity while on his visits to Epstein because of his status as “International Trade Ambassador” for the UK. That is a possible argument, although just like immunity for children of the Head of State, the situation on temporary visiting envoys is not firmly established by treaty. There is a UN Convention on Special Missions, but only about 30 countries ever ratified it, and neither the UK nor USA has ever done so. If Andrew was in the USA in that capacity, and if the State Department had received a formal Diplomatic Note indicating he was visiting on official business, customary international law would tend to support the view he had a claim to immunity. This quote from the German Federal Supreme Court is given in a very interesting paper on the subject in the European Journal of International Law:

irrespective of the [UN Special Missions Convention], there is a customary rule of international law based on State practice and opinio juris which makes it possible for an ad hoc envoy, who has been charged with a special political mission by the sending State, to be granted immunity by individual agreement with the host State for that mission and its associated status, and therefore for such envoys to be placed on a par with the members of the permanent missions of State protected by international treaty law.

However, it is not plain that on all occasions when he partied with Epstein, Andrew was in the States on an official basis, and even if he was, the UK government can still waive his immunity. The media are attempting to fix in our minds the idea that his immunity is immutable and nothing can be done. Far from it. It is conferred by the sending government and agreed by the receiving government. The sending government can simply waive or revoke it at will. This is frequently done.

All of this might be entirely academic because of the extraordinary inaction of the FBI on the case. It beggars belief that Ghislaine Maxwell has not yet been arrested or interviewed about the overwhelming evidence of her role as a procuress or pimp. It further beggars belief there has been no interview under caution of Prince Andrew in either the United States or the UK. The problem is, of course, that any number of very powerful people are going to be implicated in any serious investigation. In particular, the Clintons still have an astonishing amount of influence over senior staff of the FBI.

Only the power of public outrage is ever going to force any action, and this will be difficult to mobilise and focus; doubtless the mainstream media will shortly seek to close the matter down. But we can do a little to push things forward by insisting on a declaration from Boris Johnson that Prince Andrew’s bogus claim to diplomatic immunity will be denied or waived.

——————————————

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Do Not Despair of This Election

Par craig

I have had moments in the last few days which led me to feel pretty hopeless. Perhaps the worst was in the ITV debate when Corbyn was roundly jeered by a substantial section of the audience for stating that climate change impacted hardest on the poorest people in the poorest countries. That encapsulated for me the current far right political climate in England, dominated by boorish, selfish stupidity. I do not come from a left wing political background and I have never subscribed to the romanticisation of “the people”. Years living in the UKIP heartland of Ramsgate made me realise that “the people” en masse can be very unpleasant and racist indeed. I have always for that reason eschewed direct democracy and subscribed to a very Burkean view. That however falls down when, as now, you have a political class who are becoming even more base and vicious than the most unpleasant mob. But the growl of that studio audience, infuriated that Corbyn cared about the foreign poor, is a warning klaxon of the state of English society.

A close second despair-inducing moment was Jo Swinson’s interview following the debate when, asked if she would press the nuclear button, she replied without a millisecond of hesitation: “yes”. As I reported last week, when asked at the Lib Dem campaign launch why she would not put Corbyn into Downing St in any circumstances, she had instantly replied that he would not be prepared to instruct submarine commanders to fire nuclear weapons.

The woman is deranged.

I come from a Liberal tradition. Probably the two books which most influence my thinking are On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and Imperialism, A Study by J A Hobson. The line of British liberal thinking that comes down through writers including Hazlitt, Shelley, Byron, Carlyle, Mill, Hobson, Russell and Keynes is a tradition which looks set to disappear from British political thought. That makes me horribly sad. One thing I am sure of is that Swinson has read none of them. That the Lib Dems had moved economically so far to the right was already worrying me. Their completely illiberal opposition to Scottish Independence upset me still further. But that the party to which I belonged for 30 years and which was once led by my friend, the gentle and wise Charlie Kennedy, could now be led by an arm whirling, narcissistic, female version of Dr Strangelove, is beyond my wildest nightmares.

Let me go back to that ITV Debate. It was enormously dispiriting that of a 50 minute debate, 25 minutes were devoted to the subject of Brexit, compared to just one minute on the question of climate change. The Brexit discussion was completely unenlightening, with Johnson booming out “Get Brexit Done” at every opportunity, and even when there was no rational opportunity after the discussion had finally been moved on to other subjects.

I thought Jeremy was slightly under par. There was one point where I think he made a definite mistake. When Johnson claimed the last Labour government bankrupted the country’s finances, Corbyn failed to come back and say that it was the bankers who bankrupted the country’s finances. He could have gone on to add that banking deregulation had been the cause of a decade of global misery and Boris Johnson’s plans for Singapore on Thames would be banking deregulation on steroids.

It is not the first time this election that Labour have failed to point out it was the bankers who crashed the economy. I am not sure why. It may be a desire to seem City-friendly. Corbyn may be held back because, like me, he believes Brown was completely wrong to bail out the bankers with taxpayers’ money, and Corbyn therefore thinks it best to avoid the whole topic for the sake of party unity. Either way, to let Johnson say that Labour spending ruined the economy is to miss an open goal – the bankers are still massively unpopular.

The other point is one where Jeremy actually annoyed me. I cannot tell you how infuriating it was, as a Scot, to see Johnson repeatedly stating that Scotland would not be allowed an Independence referendum, and Corbyn making no effort at all to stand up for the Scottish right of self-determination. Given SNP exclusion from the debate, it was demeaning to see our masters discussing our future with no pretence of giving a hearing to the Scottish point of view.

Corbyn has to tackle this. The Johnson “Labour will give you two referendums” attack line is not being sufficiently countered. For Corbyn to ask Johnson whether he accepts that the Scottish people have the right of self-determination would be a killer question, and Jeremy could ask it quietly and effectively. A large majority of English people are actually perfectly happy for Scotland to have an Independence referendum.

Corbyn has tied himself in knots to accommodate the bitter cabal of Blairites and Orangemen that constitute the majority of the rump Scottish Labour Party, while its membership and voters have defected en masse to the SNP. 40% of the remaining Labour voters support Independence anyway. Rather than put himself in a false position for the sake of hopeless colleagues who have crashed Scottish Labour from domination to 12% of the vote, Corbyn should state his support for the right of the Scottish people to decide – something which I have no doubt he personally believes in, deeply.

The good news is that Johnson made an ass of himself in the debate, constantly repeating “Get Brexit Done”, and Corbyn’s insistence on discussing more important issues than Brexit cut through. You Gov’s verdict of a 51 to 49 victory for Johnson was very dubious indeed. But even that would be a major advance for Corbyn given the constant barrage of unfair media demonisation to which he has been subjected in the last five years. Almost seven million people watched the event live, a significant audience. Parity with that audience is a very good start for Labour. I suspect it really went better than that. YouGove have a long and dishonourable history as Tory push pollsters.

There are similarities here to the 2017 election. The chance for both Corbyn and Sturgeon to be seen in election coverage directly by viewers, each arguing their own case, will improve the standing of both with the electors, compared to the unmitigated vilification of normal media. (Sturgeon is being unfairly excluded from key debates but her Dundee speech today was extensively covered).

The Tory campaign of closed workplace addresses, artificial set-up encounters and a constant simple soundbite slogan is repeating the formula that failed so spectacularly in 2017. “Get Brexit Done” is going to annoy voters as much as “Strong and Stable” did, especially if Johnson continues to deploy it whatever the question asked.

I strongly expect we will see the first signs of the opinion polls starting to tighten shortly. I am half-English myself and have no desire to see Johnson inflicted on the population of Newcastle or Liverpool. But I confess I am also comfortable in the certainty that should Johnson win the election, it will precipitate Scottish Independence very soon. Nobody should despair yet. But it is certainly more comfortable to watch this from Edinburgh than from Manchester.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Interfering with Laura Kuenssberg

Par craig

Last night the BBC was reporting on the Conservative manifesto. This is a document whose most striking pledge is to fill in some of the potholes in roads that have proliferated due to massive cuts in local authority funding, and to give free hospital car parking to those visiting a terminally ill relative. Just think of the last one. How do you prove your relative is terminally ill? What if there is a chance they might get better? The administration of this system is going to require people to have some form of certificate or token that all hope is now lost. For the car park. The Tories are all heart.

As the News continued, Laura Kuenssberg told us that the battle lines between the parties are now clearly drawn, and the major division is over how much the government “should interfere in the economy”.

Interfere. Not intervene. Not regulate. Interfere. It is a very deliberate choice of word. Let me turn to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Interfere

1) Prevent from continuing or being carried out properly
2) Handle or adjust without permission
3) Become involved in something without being asked
4) Sexually molest

Words matter. Kuenssberg chose a word with powerful negative connotations and no possible positive meaning, to describe the alternative to the Tories. Kuenssberg talking of government interfering in, rather than intervening in, the economy is in itself a very strong and explicit declaration of Kuenssberg’s belief in an Ayn Rand, “Britannia unchained”, free market, ultra neo-liberal world view. To explicitly frame the choice in the election as between the Tories and “interfering” is just another example of the way the BBC slants their election coverage, permanently.

Now I started to draft an article three days ago, before that particular Kuenssberg propaganda masterclass.

Here is what I wrote as a draft three days ago:

“Maybe I am just unlucky. I have had television news bulletins transport me to hear vox-pops featuring former Labour voters in Dudley who now want to vote Conservative to GET BREXIT DONE. I have seen vox pops in fishing wharves in Peterhead and Grimsby, in dismal cafes in Hartlepool, in bingo halls in Yarmouth, in pubs back in Dudley, on high streets in Wakefield, in a shopping mall in Thurrock, in hardware stores back in bloody Dudley again. The country is full of people who want to GET BREXIT DONE, and who will NEVER VOTE LABOUR AGAIN.

The strange thing is that I have not seen a single vox pop from Richmond, featuring an educated woman who is switching from a lifetime of Tory voting because they have become a far right party and are going to crash the economy with hard Brexit. But there are many people like that in Richmond, and indeed all over London, and throughout much of southern England. They exist but are not worth vox-popping, apparently. Because they are not the broadcasters’ chosen “narrative”.

The BBC, ITN and Sky will doubtless defend the very obviously targeted demographic and destination of their “vox-pops” on the grounds that this is the “narrative” of the election. But that is a self-reinforcing prophecy. The public are relentlessly being told that what ordinary people want is to “GET BREXIT DONE” and to vote Tory. But that is actually only what about 40% of the people want. We just aren’t being shown the other 60% as the broadcasters focus relentlessly on areas with the highest leave vote, and on vox pop subjects with the least possible education.”

While that passage was atill on the stocks, last night, alongside the Kuenssberg analysis, the BBC gave us a vox pop from the Rother Valley that fitted perfectly the above description. It came from a Yorkshire Labour seat that voted Leave. It featured Labour voters who will now vote Conservative. The ladies interviewed were perfectly primed with precisely the main Tory slogans. A lady told us she wanted Boris so we could “get Brexit done and get on with domestic reforms”. Another ex-Labour voter told us she would vote for Boris because “he may not be trustworthy, but I like him”. Trust and likeability are two factors the pollsters regularly measure. It is important for the Tories that voters prioritise likeability over trust, because Johnson’s Trust numbers are appalling. How fortunate that the BBC happened to find a little old lady in the Rother Valley who could express this so succinctly!

Or maybe it is not so surprising. With the mainstream media as such a reliable echo chamber of public slogans, perhaps it is not surprising to find the public just echo them too, as they do in North Korea. The state media in the UK is of course not the only propaganda outlet. Billionaires control 87% of print news media by circulation, and are aggressively Tory for obvious reasons of self-interest.

This leads to the incredible circularity of the “Newspaper Reviews” that take up such a high proportion of broadcast news output. The broadcasters “review” the overwhelmingly right wing print media. And who do they invite to do the reviewing? Why the billionaire employed journalists of the overwhelmingly right wing print media, of course! So we have the surreal experience of watching journalists from the Times and the Spectator telling us how great an article in the Daily Mail is, about how Corbyn is a Russian spy and Scotland not really a country at all.

If that was not bad enough, we then get deluged by “commentators” from “think tanks” which are again billionaire funded, like the Institute of Economic Affairs and scores of others, sometimes with money thrown in from the security services, like the Quilliam Foundation and scores of others. It is a never-ending closed circular loop of propaganda.

The truth is that it largely works. Social media is overwhelmingly sceptical of the government narrative, but we still live in a society where the power of mass broadcasting and even print retains a remarkable amount of influence, particularly on the old and the poorly educated. It is no coincidence that it is precisely the old and the poorly educated that are the targets of Cummings’ “Brexit election” strategy. If it comes off, Kuenssberg and her fellow hacks will have proven that the power of the mainstream media is as yet unbroken.

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Free the Truth – A Short Speech

Par craig

This is the speech I came down to London to give.

I have had a fascinating few days catching up on many people. It is an interesting fact that one of the suite of rooms where the great ones gather for their sparkling wine and snacks before and after the Cenotaph ceremony on Remembrance Sunday is literally my old office, from when I was Deputy Head of the Africa Department of the FCO. It has always interested me that the grand people of British society, particularly those born to it, overlook the “little people” and forget they have agency. People like Boris Johnson do not see janitors, cleaners, cooks, drivers and waiting staff as anything but cyphers. They however see him, and I can tell you with certainty that the reason he messed up the Cenotaph ceremony, starting backwards and forward at the wrong time, laying the wreath upside down and generally stumbling around looking like an unmade bed, is that he was drunk. You could smell it off him. He arrived in that condition.

I am working on a longer and more thoughtful piece about the morality of the use of force. I hope to post that tomorrow. Am on the train back to Edinburgh.

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Violence and the State

Par craig

The state rests its power on a monopoly of violence. Indeed, in the final analysis a state is nothing but a monopoly of violence. Even when a state does good things, like tax to provide healthcare, it ultimately depends on its ability to employ violence to enforce the collection of the tax. Arrest and imprisonment is, absolutely, violence. We may not recognise it as violence, but if you try to resist arrest and imprisonment you will quickly see that it is violence. Whether or not blows are struck or arms twisted to get someone there, or they go quietly under threat, confining somebody behind concrete and steel is violence.

I use the case of tax evasion and healthcare to show that I am merely analysing that the state rests on violence deliberately. I am not claiming that the violence of the state is a bad thing in itself. I just want you to recognise that the state rests on violence. Try not paying your taxes for a few years, and try refusing to be arrested and go to court. You will, ultimately, encounter real violence on your person.

John Pilger gave a harrowing account of the everyday application of state violence at the Free the Truth meeting at which I spoke last week. Here is an extract from his speech describing his visit to Julian Assange:

I joined a queue of sad, anxious people, mostly poor women and children, and grandmothers. At the first desk, I was fingerprinted, if that is still the word for biometric testing.

“Both hands, press down!” I was told. A file on me appeared on the screen.

I could now cross to the main gate, which is set in the walls of the prison. The last time I was at Belmarsh to see Julian, it was raining hard. My umbrella wasn’t allowed beyond the visitors centre. I had the choice of getting drenched, or running like hell. Grandmothers have the same choice.

At the second desk, an official behind the wire, said, “What’s that?”

“My watch,” I replied guiltily.

“Take it back,” she said.

So I ran back through the rain, returning just in time to be biometrically tested again. This was followed by a full body scan and a full body search. Soles of feet; mouth open.

At each stop, our silent, obedient group shuffled into what is known as a sealed space, squeezed behind a yellow line. Pity the claustrophobic; one woman squeezed her eyes shut.

We were then ordered into another holding area, again with iron doors shutting loudly in front of us and behind us.

“Stand behind the yellow line!” said a disembodied voice.

Another electronic door slid partly open; we hesitated wisely. It shuddered and shut and opened again. Another holding area, another desk, another chorus of, “Show your finger!”

Then we were in a long room with squares on the floor where we were told to stand, one at a time. Two men with sniffer dogs arrived and worked us, front and back.

The dogs sniffed our arses and slobbered on my hand. Then more doors opened, with a new order to “hold out your wrist!”

A laser branding was our ticket into a large room, where the prisoners sat waiting in silence, opposite empty chairs. On the far side of the room was Julian, wearing a yellow arm band over his prison clothes.

As a remand prisoner he is entitled to wear his own clothes, but when the thugs dragged him out of the Ecuadorean embassy last April, they prevented him bringing a small bag of belongings. His clothes would follow, they said, but like his reading glasses, they were mysteriously lost.

For 22 hours a day, Julian is confined in “healthcare”. It’s not really a prison hospital, but a place where he can be isolated, medicated and spied on. They spy on him every 30 minutes: eyes through the door. They would call this “suicide watch”.

In the adjoining cells are convicted murderers, and further along is a mentally ill man who screams through the night. “This is my One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” he said.

When we greet each other, I can feel his ribs. His arm has no muscle. He has lost perhaps 10 to 15 kilos since April. When I first saw him here in May, what was most shocking was how much older he looked.

We chat with his hand over his mouth so as not to be overheard. There are cameras above us. In the Ecuadorean embassy, we used to chat by writing notes to each other and shielding them from the cameras above us. Wherever Big Brother is, he is clearly frightened.

On the walls are happy-clappy slogans exhorting the prisoners to “keep on keeping on” and “be happy, be hopeful and laugh often”.

The only exercise he has is on a small bitumen patch, overlooked by high walls with more happy-clappy advice to enjoy ‘the blades of grass beneath your feet’. There is no grass.

He is still denied a laptop and software with which to prepare his case against extradition. He still cannot call his American lawyer, or his family in Australia.

The incessant pettiness of Belmarsh sticks to you like sweat.

You can see John give the speech here:

Assange’s “crime”, of course, is to reveal the illegal use of force by the state in Iraq and Afghanistan. That the state feels the need to employ such violence against somebody who has never practised violence, is a striking illustration that violence constitutes the very fabric of the state.

Just as we are not conditioned to recognise the violence of the state as violence, we do not always recognise resistance to the state as violence. If you bodily blockade a road, a tube station or a building with the intention to prevent somebody else from physically passing through that space, that is an act of physical force, of violence. It may be a low level of violence, but violence it is. Extinction Rebellion represents a challenge to the state’s claim to monopolise violence, which is why the Metropolitan Police – a major instrument of state domestic violence – were so anxious to declare the activity illegal on a wide scale.

Ultimately civil resistance represents a denial of the state’s right to enforce its monopoly of violence. The Hong Kong protests represent a striking demonstration of the fact that rejecting the state’s monopoly of violence can entail marching without permission, occupying a space, blockading and ultimately replying to bullets with firebombs, and that these actions are a continuum. It is the initial rejection of the state’s power over your body which is the decision point.

Just as I used the example of tax evasion and healthcare to demonstrate that the state’s use of violence is not always bad, I use the example of Extinction Rebellion to demonstrate that the assertion of physical force, against the state’s claim to monopoly of it, is not always bad either.

We are moving into an era of politics where the foundations of consent which underpin western states are becoming less stable. The massive growth in wealth inequality has led to an alienation of large sections of the population from the political system. The political economy works within a framework which is entirely an artificial construct of states, and ultimately is imposed by the states’ monopoly of force. For the last four decades, that framework has been deliberately fine-tuned to enable the massive accumulation of wealth by a very small minority and to reduce the access to share of economic resource by the broad mass of the people.

The inevitable consequence is widespread economic discontent and a resultant loss of respect for the political class. The political class are tasked with the management of the state apparatus, and popular discontent is easily personalised – it concentrates on the visible people rather than the institutions. But if the extraordinary wealth imbalance of society continues to worsen, it is only a matter of time before that discontent undermines respect for political institutions. In the UK, once it becomes plain that leaving the EU has not improved the lot of those whose socio-economic standing has been radically undercut, the discontent will switch to other institutions of government.

In Scotland, we shall have an early test of the state’s right to the monopoly of force if the Westminster government insists on attempting to block a new referendum on Independence, against the will of the Scottish people. In Catalonia, the use of violence against those simply trying to vote in a referendum was truly shocking.

This has been followed up by the extreme state violence of vicious jail sentences against the leaders of the entirely nonviolent Catalan independence movement. As I stated we do not always recognise state violence. But locking you up in a small cell for years is a worse act of violence on your body even than the shocking but comparatively brief treatment of the woman voter in the photo. It is a case of chronic or acute state violence.

Where the use of violence by a state is fundamentally unjust, there is every moral right to employ violence against the state. Whether or not to do so becomes a tactical, not a moral, question. There is a great deal of evidence that non-violent protest, or protest using the real but low levels of physical force employed by Extinction Rebellion, can be in the long term the most effective. But opinions differ legitimately. Gandhi took one view, and Nelson Mandela another. The media has sanitised the image of Mandela, but it is worth remembering that he was jailed not for non-violent protest, but for taking up violent resistance to white rule, in which I would say he was entirely justified at the time.

To date, the Catalan people and their leaders appear firmly wedded to the tactic of non-violence. That is their choice and their right, and I support them in that choice. But having suffered so much violence, and with no democratic route available for their right of self-determination, the Catalans have the moral right, should they so choose, to resist, by violence, the violence of the Spanish state. I should however clarify that does not extend to indiscriminate attack on entirely innocent people, which in my view is not a moral choice.

All of which of course has obvious implications should a Westminster government seek to block the Scottish people from expressing their inalienable right of self-determination following the election. Which fascinating subject I shall return to once again in January. Be assured meantime I am not presently close to advocating a tactic of violence in Scotland. But nor will I ever say the Scottish people do not ultimately have that right if denied democratic self-expression. To say otherwise would be to renounce the Declaration of Arbroath, a founding document of European political thought.

As western states face popular discontent and are losing consent of the governed, one of the state’s reactions is to free up its use of force. Conservative election promises to give members of the UK armed forces effective immunity from prosecution for war crimes or for illegal use of force, should be seen in this light. So also, of course, should the use of agents not primarily employed by the state to impose extreme violence on behalf of the state. The enforcers of the vicious system John Pilger encountered were employed by Serco, G4S or a similar group, to remove the state one step from any control upon their actions (and of course to allow yet more private profit to the wealthy). Similar contractors regularly visit strong violence on immigrants selected for deportation. The ultimate expression of this was the disgusting employment by the British and American governments of mercenary forces, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, to deploy brutal and uncontrolled violence on the local population.

The pettiness of the election campaign, its failure to address fundamental issues due to the ability of the mainstream media to determine and manipulate the political agenda, has led me to think about the nature of the state at a much more basic level. I do not claim we are beyond the early stages of a breakdown in social consent to be ruled; and I expect the immediate response of the system will be a lurch towards right wing authoritarianism, which ultimately will make the system still less stable.

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The Truth About this Election

Par craig

UPDATE Andrew Marr seemed to have a moment of contrition, much too late. In the “paper review” agenda-setting section at the start of his programme, he actually pointed out that the large majority of the papers are Conservative supporting, the first time I have heard this noted on the BBC. He then promised that today the paper review would be “balanced” by a look at social media.

This balance turned out to be a 15 second reference to the billionaire owned Huffington Post, the rabidly neo-con internet “news” site which is NOT social media. The content of this “balance” was rabidly anti-Corbyn Brexiteer ex-Labour MP Gloria Del Piero (who was herself the BBC “balance” to the Daily Mail’s ultra-Tory Brexiteer Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove), praising Angela Rayner for saying to the Huffington Post she understood why so many Labour voters were leaving the Labour Party.

Read the rest of this article, written yesterday, to understand why this is so stunning:

This is the most vital fact to understand what has happened so far in this election. There is a striking consistency across the opinion polls that the Tories have stabilised around 42%. That is just less than they achieved at the 2017 election.

So how can the Tories be slightly below their 2017 vote, when every single news and current affairs programme on TV and radio for the last three weeks has included vox pops or audience members switching from Labour to Conservative over Brexit?

The undeniable truth is that almost precisely as many voters have deserted the Tories as have switched to them. Hence they are on the same percentage. As the media have lovingly documented, and as is the accepted narrative of the election repeated to us ad nauseam, there are a substantial number of working class Leave voters switching from Labour to Tory over Brexit. They tend (and it is a simple matter of fact) to be less educated, older, and from deprived areas that have suffered most from a finance sector led economic policy.

But an equal number of voters have deserted the Tory Party. They are mostly pro-EU, better educated, more liberal and horrified by the change of the Tories to a hardline far right populist party. Their existence is hardly a secret, and they have an extremely impressive, ultra high profile leadership in John Major, Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke, Phil Hammond, Dominic Grieve etc. Yet the liberal Tories abandoning the party in droves have been almost completely unrepresented in broadcast media coverage.

Here is the zinger. I have been keeping a tally of vox pops and audience members declaring they are abandoning their allegiance on broadcast media.
I have tallied 57 vox pop/audience members saying they are deserting Labour, because of Brexit/Corbyn. I have tallied 1 – yes ONE – audience member (and zero vox pop) saying they are abandoning the Tories over Brexit/Johnson.

Even though, with the Tory vote stable, we know in the real world both groups are the same size, and Major/Heseltine/Clarke/Hammond/Grieve are not friendless and uninfluential.

Now this is not a count of the entire coverage, but of those news and current affairs programmes I have watched during the campaign. It is weighted towards the BBC with less of Sky and ITN, and very little radio apart from the Today programme. But is is a pretty good sample, and while I would welcome a more scientific study I do not expect it would show anything significantly different. I don’t think anybody reading this can claim their own experience of the coverage is different.

How is this achieved? Mainly, of course, because the media pre-set the narrative that this election would be about Labour voters in the North switching to Brexit, having been heavily briefed to that effect by No. 10. They then concentrated almost exclusively on this narrative. Deliberately choosing vox pop locations to suit the narrative has been a key part. Dudley, Hartlepool and Grimsby; not Putney, Bath and Bristol. There is also then editorial choice of who is selected to speak.

What is undoubtedly true is that the broadcasters have colluded, by massive, repeated and deliberate acts, in pushing and reinforcing the No.10 strategy of seeking working class Leave votes, in an effort to normalise the idea that working class northern English communities can vote Tory. And it is undeniably true that they have massively under-reported the equal movement of liberal Tory voters – and former Cabinet ministers – deserting their party.

Nowhere has this been more obvious than in the comparative treatment of Ian Austin and John Major.

Austin was a Labour Parliamentary Private Secretary, the most junior of all ministerial ranks, for just eight months. When he urged people to vote Tory, it was the first headline on every BBC News broadcast all day. Austin had 15 minutes unchallenged on the Today programme to spill out bile against the Labour Party, before going on to eight minutes unchallenged on BBC Breakfast TV, and a similar appearance on Good Morning Britain, all of which from the timings and travel must have been pre-organised, especially as he left from there to a pre-prepared giant poster launch, carried by all the print media.

But Austin was a comparative nobody. Yesterday John Major, seven year Tory Prime Minister, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary, urged people not to give the dangerous Johnson a Tory majority. He was backed up by former Tory Deputy PM Michael Heseltine and former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke. On any rational measure, this is a far, far bigger story than Ian “nobody” Austin giving the opposite message.

Yet unlike Austin, Major was not the lead story on any major news channel. He did not get 10% of the total broadcast time devoted to Austin. Because the narrative of moderate Tories not voting for Johnson is comparatively suppressed; to the extent that the only possible explanation is the active connivance of broadcasters in securing a Tory government.

So who do we vote for?

The Tories are stuck around 42%. That means tactical voting is essential to knock them back. You need to look very, very carefully at who can beat them in your own constituency.

In Scotland, it makes no sense to vote anything other than SNP. There are no Labour/Tory marginals. There is nowhere that a SNP vote risks letting the Tories in. There are however plenty of constituencies where voting Labour risks letting the Tories in. In Scotland do not overthink, just vote SNP.

In England and Wales, it is complicated. Firstly you need to research who can best beat the Tories locally. Then you may have to hold your nose and support a near-Tory Lib Dem or, and there are still a good few of them as Labour candidates, an even-nearer Tory Blairite. The majority of people who need to abandon their natural choice and vote tactically against the Tories are Lib Dems. I urge you to do what needs to be done, because we have to work within the stupid electoral system we have at present. In probably 85% of English and Welsh constituencies the answer is to vote Labour. Elsewhere, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, Green or Independent. Please check carefully.

In Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, I urge people to vote for Dominic Grieve. He was chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee and treated me extremely well in enabling me to give my evidence on torture and extraordinary rendition and reflecting it in the very fair – and damning – report. In Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy vote for Neale Hanvey, who has been badly treated.

In Northern Ireland I generally support Sinn Fein, but just this time in safely Republican areas I would prefer people to vote SDLP, as having votes available at Westminster may be vital.

That Tory strategy of going for right wing populism has changed the demographic of their vote in a way that has reduced its geographic concentration. That can be a disadvantage under First Past the Post and the Tories may end up losing seats in Scotland, London and parts of Southern England, and piling up votes in northern England, without achieving enough there to actually win the seats. This election is not a foregone conclusion by any means.

But to stop Johnson people sweeping the board on 42% people have to vote smart.

I do not condemn anyone who instead votes with their conscience for their preferred party. But I believe the country faces a lurch to the genuine far right, and just this once I urge you not to. Vote to stop Johnson, whatever it takes.

Note: This post very briefly said 87 not 57 due to my inability to read my own handwriting. A transposition error in para 2 has also been corrected.

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The Invisible Tories

Par craig

UPDATED Good Morning Britain trumpeted its latest poll today showing a net increase in the Tory lead since last week of four points, to 45% to 31% over Labour.

As you know, opinion pollsters do not just take the raw figures provided by respondents, they weight those respondents to provide a representative sample by age, gender, location, past voting history etc.

But when you drill down into the headline results from the weighted samples, they make no sense at all. For example Survation in this poll have the Conservatives sweeping up Labour in London by 46.8% to 41.2%. In 2017 the Conservatives got hammered in London by 33.1% to 54.5%. Survation are showing a swing from Labour to Conservative in London of 13.5%. That is absolutely massive, and nobody believes that is happening on the ground. The Tories could well lose several more seats in London.

Similarly in Scotland, Survation show the SNP vote down nearly nine per cent compared to 2017, at 33.2%. Again, nobody believes for a moment the SNP vote is really as low as that.

Of course I understand that the sub sample for each area from which these results are calculated is very small. But expecting that a number of sub-samples, which at the regional level are self-evidently nonsense, chance to balance out into an accurate national picture when you add them all up, is ludicrous. I am only looking at one poll here, and not particularly picking on Survation for any reason. But I hope this demonstrates that opinion polls should be viewed with extreme scepticism.

Original Post:

I live in a marginal constituency, where the excellent Joanna Cherry of the SNP has a lead of just over 1,000 over the Tories. If the most recent opinion polls are correct, the parties’ standings at this moment are similar to the result last time, the momentum is with the Tories and this should be a key Tory target. Yet I have not received one single Tory leaflet (and I live on one of the main residential streets) nor have I seen one single Tory campaigner, including when I have been out delivering leaflets for Joanna Cherry myself. Nor have I seen one single Tory poster in a house.

It is not just on TV that the Tories have been skipping interviews and debates, they seem to have eschewed any semblance of a ground campaign too, in what presumably is a key target seat for them. Boris Johnson is not popular with any of the local residents I have spoken to, and there is no enthusiasm at all for Brexit in this part of Edinburgh. In short, I am absolutely unable to square the opinion polls with the evidence of my own eyes and ears.

What is your experience?

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Largest Vote Swings in British General Election History Censored Out By the BBC and Mainstream Media

Par craig

This election is seeing the largest vote swings in British political history. But that truth has been hidden by the largest media distortion in British political history.

Let me prove these claims. Certain constituencies have featured again and again in media coverage of the election, to reinforce the dominant media narrative, corresponding precisely to the government’s preferred election strategy, that working class Labour voters are deserting the party because of Brexit.

But if you look at the YouGov constituency model, conducted on a scale 100 times greater than most national opinion polls, and comparatively accurate in 2017, the bigger story is much more breathtaking.

Dudley is a case in point. As I posted a few days ago, Dudley North has been continually featured in vox pops as typical of a Labour seat being potentially lost because of Brexit. According to BBC vox pops, a large majority of the population of Dudley is deserting the Labour Party over either Brexit or allegations of anti-semitism by its ex-MP, Ian Austin.

Yet the YouGov constituency poll shows a swing from Labour to Tory in Dudley of 4.9%. Substantial, but not massive, in a seat where Labour only had a majority of 22 anyway. 41% of the population of Dudley still plans to vote Labour, which makes the balance of the BBC’s vox pops remarkably unrepresentative.

DUDLEY NORTH

Now compare that with this:

WOKINGHAM

Unlike Dudley, Wokingham has not featured in any of the BBC’s vox pops. In safe Tory Berkshire, close to Johnson’s own Uxbridge constituency, John Redwood the MP for a generation, surely there is nothing to draw the BBC to Wokingham?

Except YouGov shows a swing from Tory to LibDem in Wokingham of 20.35%. Let me say that again, 20.35% swing from Tory to Lib Dem. That is one of the biggest swings in general election history (excluding freak circumstances like brand new parties). To give a comparison, Blair’s 1997 landslide, the benchmark for modern seismic general election movement, was achieved on a Tory to Labour swing of 9.7%. What is happening today in Wokingham is on a scale with the massive swing to the SNP in Scotland in 2015 following the devolution referendum.

The Lib Dems need another 2.5% swing to take what is now a marginal seat. They may well achieve it by polling day.

Yet how many vox pops have you seen from Wokingham? What is happening there is perfectly plain. Brexit, the expulsion of moderate Conservative MPs and the hard right Tory stance on immigration and social services has caused a revulsion among liberal Tories from Johnson. In the UK as a whole, the swing against the Tories by liberal former Tory voters is every bit as large as the swing to the Tories in Brexit seats – hence the Tories are on almost exactly the same percentage overall as in 2017. For every racist dullard voting for Johnson’s dog whistle racism, there is an urbane Tory in Wokingham or similar towns refusing to vote for him for the same reason. Yet our televisions and radios have for a month been crammed with literally hundreds of selected representatives of the former group and virtually nil of the latter group.

This is not an accident nor is it unimportant. The media – and the BBC have been most guilty of all – know very well what they are doing. It is deliberate reinforcement of the government’s campaign message. Featuring stream upon stream of working class voters saying they will vote Tory normalises the idea and plays to the popular desire to join the winning team.

Just imagine for one moment that every time the broadcast media had shown a man in a high vis saying he was deserting Labour to “get Brexit done”, they had balanced it with a doctor’s wife from Cheam saying she was deserting the Tories over NHS funding. It would have challenged the entire government narrative. But the media have not done this. They have instead chosen to tell only the pro-government side of this story of electoral swings. This is probably the worst period of concerted state and billionaire controlled media propaganda in the modern history of the “democratic West”.

Ask yourself this simple question. The Tory vote has not increased since 2017. Have you heard that simple fact stated on the broadcast media and is it the impression the broadcast media have been giving?

Let us look at another pair of constituencies. Massively reported Grimsby. Here the swing measured by YouGov from Labour to Conservative is only 3.6%, yet I defy anyone to say they have not seen or heard media reports of how the Brexit supporting people of Grimsby are deserting Labour in droves, with people vox-popped to say precisely that.

GREATER GRIMSBY

PUTNEY

Putney has the same swing as Grimsby, with Labour expected by YouGov to take the seat from the Tories on a swing of 3.5%. Yet has Putney been swarming with TV cameras? Have you had enough of hearing Putney accents on the TV explaining why they are switching from Tory to Labour? Again, the counter-narrative is totally ignored.

The exception to the rule has been Esher and Walton, where there has been some brief media mention of the anti-Tory surge purely because it makes Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, a possible loser. But again I have not seen one single vox pop from there with voters explaining why they are deserting the Tories. And again the swing is absolutely massive, with YouGov measuring a 19.6% swing from Tory to Lib Dem in voting intention and only another 1% swing needed to get rid of Raab. This is much higher than any of the fabled swings against Labour in Northern England.

Compare that to Rother Valley, where the BBC had an extended vox pop feature showing only voters switching from Labour to Tory. While YouGov do predict a substantial swing from Labour to Tory in Rother Valley, of 6.3%, it is on nowhere near the scale of under-reported swings from the Tories elsewhere. And how much of that swing has been produced by the BBC reporting telling people there is a swing and vastly over-representing local anti-Labour voices? 36% of the Rother Valley voters still intend to vote Labour, but the BBC could not locate any.

Remember this. The Tory vote has not increased. It is the same level as 2017. But the media has vastly over-represented, in vox pops and in debate and panel audiences, those switching from Labour to Tory.

More importantly, the YouGov constituency poll of over 100,000 interviews was conducted from 3 to 10 December. The momentum was already against the Tories, and the large majority of its responses were from before the Boris Johnson phone snatching interview and NHS child on the floor scandal, which I suspect has put off more prospective Tory voters. So it was a snapshot of voting intent mostly several days ago, not today, let alone tomorrow when we vote. Remember also the evidence of 2017 is that after a time the highly controlled, slogan-led campaign wears on voters. People who were quite impressed the first time they saw Boris Johnson say “Get Brexit Done” are less impressed when they have seen him say that and nothing else for four weeks. They are inclined to conclude he is an empty slogan parrot, as they did with Theresa May and “strong and stable.”

The final reason to believe that the Tory lead will narrow from the YouGov constituency model poll is that they themselves reported this. Their poll was taken over seven days; at that start of that period it was showing an 11 point lead to the Tories, by the last day it was showing an eight point lead. I see every reason to expect that momentum to continue. Finally, remember that YouGove are an extremely Tory friendly pollster.

Most importantly it shows the number of ultra-marginal constituencies to be substantially more than the predicted Tory overall majority, and all of them susceptible to tactical voting. Scotland and Wales are particularly important. Ultra marginals in Scotland and Wales alone can wipe out the projected majority if the go the right way. There are no Tory/Labour marginals in Scotland, only Tory/SNP marginals and I strongly urge everybody in Scotland who wants to stop Johnson to vote SNP.

I will post some thoughts on key seats in England and Wales in which to vote tactically later. But I already feel confident Johnson will not get his majority.

——————————————

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The post The Largest Vote Swings in British General Election History Censored Out By the BBC and Mainstream Media appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Most Crucial Constituencies and How You Should Vote in Them to Block the Tories

Par craig

Below is a list only of constituencies where I think the result will be close, and the Tories will be one of the parties in contention to win it. I recommend how you should vote to keep the Tory out.

It is my judgement that Brexit will guarantee against a Tory/Lib Dem coalition. Johnson’s Tory Party is not Cameron’s Tory Party. Besides, the Lib Dems lost 90% of their MPs from their last coalition with the Tories, and are unlikely to be keen to repeat the experiment. Your vote is yours and you must vote with your conscience. But to block a far right government with media control and serious anti-democratic tendencies, this is my recommendation of which are the really key constituencies where your vote might change the future. I do implore you to consider abandoning your first choice and following my recommendation in these seats.

I expect this election to be very close. A few thousand tactical votes in key seats can really make a serious difference.

This is a much larger list than would normally be sensible. Generally not that many seats are in doubt in our grossly inadequate electoral system. But the Tory campaign to go after broadly northern working class Brexit votes at the expense of broadly southern liberal voters, has put many more seats in doubt. This is my personal selection of where you might make a real difference – it is my list and I have compiled it with great care and without consulting any other such advice out there. My list is informed not just by polls (and my own interpretation of those polls), but on data from the ground and so includes more Tory seats than other lists, as I believe the Tories will lose quite a few. Tomorrow night will be very exciting because so many individual results are uncertain.

Aberconwy – Vote Labour
Aberdeen South – Vote SNP
Ashfield – Vote Labour
Aylesbury – Vote Labour
Ayr Carrick and Cumnock – Vote SNP
Banff and Buchan – Vote SNP
Basingstoke – Vote Labour
Bassetlaw – Vote Labour
Beaconsfield – Vote Independent
Bedford – Vote Labour
Bishop Auckland – Vote Labour
Blackpool South – Vote Labour
Bolsover – Vote Labour
Bradford South – Vote Labour
Brecon and Radnorshire – Vote Lib Dem
Bridgend – Vote Labour
Broxtowe – Vote Labour
Buckingham – Vote Lib Dem
Bury North – Vote Labour
Bury South – Vote Labour
Camarthen East – Vote Plaid Cymru
Camarthen West – Vote Labour
Canterbury – Vote Labour
Carshalton and Wallington – Vote Lib Dem
Central Ayrshire – Vote SNP
Ceredigion – Vote Plaid Cymru
Cheadle – Vote Lib Dem
Chelsea and Fulham – Vote Lib Dem
Cheltenham – Vote Lib Dem
Chesham and Amersham – Vote Lib Dem
Chingford and Woodford – Vote Labour
Chipping Barnet – Vote Labour
Cities of London and Westminster – Vote Labour
Clwyd South – Vote Labour
Clwyd West – Vote Labour
Colne Valley – Vote Labour
Corby – Vote Labour
Coventry North West – Vote Labour
Crewe and Nantwich – Vote Labour
Croydon South – Vote Labour
Dagenham and Rainham – Vote Labour
Delyn – Vote Labour
Dewsbury – Vote Labour
Don Valley – Vote Labour
Dudley North – Vote Labour
Dumfries and Galloway – Vote SNP
East Renfrewshire – Vote SNP
Eastbourne – Vote Lib Dem
East Devon – Vote Independent
Eastleigh – Vote Lib Dem
Esher and Walton – Vote Lib Dem
Filton and Bradley Stoke – Vote Labour
Finchley and Golders Green – Vote Labour
Gedling – Vote Labour
Gloucester – Vote Labour
Gordon – Vote SNP
Great Grimsby – Vote Labour
Guildford – Vote Lib Dem
Hastings and Rye – Vote Labour
Harrow East – Vote Labour
Hazel Grove – Vote Lib Dem
Hendon – Vote Labour
Hitchin and Harpenden – Vote Lib Dem
Hyndburn – Vote Labour
Ipswich – Vote Labour
Keighley – Vote Labour
Kensington – Vote Labour
Lanark and Hamilton East – Vote SNP
Leigh – Vote Labour
Lewes – Vote Lib Dem
Lincoln – Vote Labour
Loughborough – Vote Labour
Maidenhead – Vote Lib Dem
Mid Dorset and North Poole – Vote Lib Dem
Milton Keynes North – Vote Labour
Milton Keynes South – Vote Labour
Monmouth – Vote Labour
Moray – Vote SNP
Morecambe and Lunesdale – Vote Labour
Newbury – Vote Lib Dem
Northampton North – Vote Labour
North Norfolk – Vote Lib Dem
North West Durham – Vote Labour
Norwich North – Vote Labour
Ochil and South Perthshire – Vote SNP
Oxford West and Abingdon- Vote Lib Dem
Penistone and Stockbridge – Vote Labour
Peterborough – Vote Labour
Perth and North Perthshire – Vote SNP
Preseli Pembrokeshire – Vote Labour
Pudsey – Vote Labour
Putney – Vote Labour
Reading West – Vote Labour
Redcar – Vote Labour
Richmond Park – Vote Lib Dem
Romsey and Southampton – Vote Lib Dem
Rother Valley – Vote Labour
Runnymede and Weybridge – Vote Labour
Scunthorpe – Vote Labour
Sedgefield – Vote Labour
Shipley – Vote Labour
Southampton Itchen – Vote Labour
South Cambridgeshire – Vote Lib Dem
South East Cambridgeshire – Vote Lib Dem
South Swindon – Vote Labour
South West Hertfordshire – Vote Independent
South West Surrey – Vote Lib Dem
St Albans – Vote Lib Dem
St Ives – Vote Lib Dem
Stevenage – Vote Labour
Stirling – Vote SNP
Stockton South – Vote Labour
Stoke on Trent North – Vote Labour
Stroud – Vote Labour
Surrey Heath – Vote Lib Dem
Sutton and Cheam – Vote Lib Dem
Taunton Deane – Vote Lib Dem
Thornbury and Yate – Vote Lib Dem
Truro and Falmouth – Vote Labour
Uxbridge and South Ruislip – Vote Labour
Vale of Clwyd – Vote Labour
Vale of Glamorgan – Vote Labour
Warrington South – Vote Labour
Watford – Vote Labour
Wells – Vote Lib Dem
West Aberdeenshire – Vote SNP
West Bromwich East – Vote Labour
West Bromwich West – Vote Labour
Westmorland and Lonsdale – Vote Lib Dem
Wimbledon – Vote Lib Dem
Winchester – Vote Lib Dem
Witney – Vote Lib Dem
Wokingham – Vote Lib Dem
Wolverhampton North East – Vote Labour
Wolverhampton South West – Vote Labour
Worcester – Vote Labour
Workington – Vote Labour
Worsley and Eccles South – Vote Labour
Wrexham – Vote Labour
Wycombe – Vote Labour
Ynys Mon – Vote Plaid Cymru

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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The post The Most Crucial Constituencies and How You Should Vote in Them to Block the Tories appeared first on Craig Murray.

A Very Difficult Night

Par craig

Quite possibly the most ungracious speech I have ever heard from Michael Gove. So much for uniting the country. Five years of vicious triumphalism and denigrating opposition loom.
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The SNP vote share in Scotland is just higher than the Tory vote share in the UK. So if Johnson has just been given a resounding mandate for Brexit, then the SNP has just been given a resounding mandate for Independence.
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Banff and Buchan was the constituency held by the Tories which means Johnson is now definitely over the line with a majority. One thing I can absolutely guarantee is that the duped fishing communities will be sold down the river completely when serious negotiations with the EU on trade get going next year.
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I normally manage to find some sympathy for MPs who have lost their job, on a purely personal level. But it is hard to believe that their Tory replacements can actually be worse than Caroline Flint and Ruth Smeeth.
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Astonishingly, after results from all kinds of Scottish constituencies, the SNP is currently at over 50% of the popular vote itself. With the news from North Belfast, it looks like Boris has got his Brexit and lost the Union. This is vital; the break up of the UK is the only way to break the weird imperialist delusion that feeds this extreme English nationalism.
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The BBC, in case anyone isn’t feeling bad enough about Boris Johnson’s triumph, now bring out war criminal Alastair Campbell to lecture us.
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Seeing the back of the inane Kirstene Hair in Angus was particularly welcome. Putney was cheerful and gave hope for Uxbridge. In Scotland the SNP getting swings of about 5% from both Unionist parties.

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It is hard to doubt the basic accuracy of that exit poll now the Conservatives have taken the Blyth Valley. If the Conservatives sweep to power in England, then we have to move very early – and I mean within weeks – on Scottish Independence.

I am extremely sorry for all my friends in England who have no such escape route from the Conservative Party. I am much more impacted by this result than I have ever been before, because it brings a still more right wing Conservative Party to untrammeled power, and because I genuinely feel the electorate which has swung are fueled by anti-immigrant racism. I am not vehemently opposed to Brexit itself, funnily enough, but the ending of freedom of movement and single market access I view as crazed xenophobia.

I am also unhappy with the campaign itself, which seemed to take media bias to new levels in ways I have documented, particularly from the BBC. We saw the same in 2014, and the entire experience has been a reminder of how difficult to fight any new independence referendum will be.

If the SNP takes 50 seats in Scotland I shall be delighted. Scotland is of course a Remain area. I am for the next glass of Lagavulin clinging to the idea that Remain leaning areas in England may cause trouble for the Tories too.

The post A Very Difficult Night appeared first on Craig Murray.

Resolution

Par craig

It is very difficult to collect my thoughts into something coherent after four hours sleep in the last 48 hours, but these are heads of key issues to be developed later.

I have no doubt that the Johnson government will very quickly become the most unpopular in UK political history. The ultra-hard Brexit he is pushing will not be the panacea which the deluded anticipate. It will have a negative economic impact felt most keenly in the remaining industry of the Midlands and North East of England. Deregulation will worsen conditions for those fortunate enough to have employment, as will further benefits squeezes. Immigration will not in practice reduce; what will reduce are the rights and conditions for the immigrants.

Decaying, left-behind towns will moulder further. The fishing industry will very quickly be sold down the river in trade negotiations with the EU – access to fishing (and most of the UK fishing grounds are Scottish) is one of the few decent offers Boris has to make to the EU in seeking market access. His Brexit deal will take years and be overwhelmingly fashioned to benefit the City of London.

There is zero chance the Conservatives will employ a sizeable number of extra nurses: they just will not be prepared to put in the money. They will employ more policemen. In a couple of years time they will need them for widespread riots. They will not build any significant portion of the hospitals or other infrastructure they promised. They most certainly will do nothing effective about climate change. These were simply dishonest promises. The NHS will continue to crumble with more and more of its service provision contracted out, and more and more of its money going into private shareholders’ pockets (including many Tory MPs).

The disillusionment will be on the same scale as Johnson’s bombastic promises. The Establishment are not stupid and realise there will be an anti-Tory reaction. Their major effort will therefore be to change Labour back into a party supporting neo-liberal economic policy and neo-conservative foreign (or rather war) policy. They will want to be quite certain that, having seen off the Labour Party’s popular European style social democratic programme with Brexit anti-immigrant fervour, the electorate have no effective non-right wing choice at the next election, just like in the Blair years.

To that end, every Blairite horror has been resurrected already by the BBC to tell us that the Labour Party must now move right – McNicol, McTernan, Campbell, Hazarayika and many more, not to mention the platforms given to Caroline Flint, Ruth Smeeth and John Mann. The most important immediate fight for radicals in England is to maintain Labour as a mainstream European social democratic party and resist its reversion to a Clinton style right wing ultra capitalist party. Whether that is possible depends how many of the Momentum generation lose heart and quit.

Northern Ireland is perhaps the most important story of this election, with a seismic shift in a net gain of two seats in Belfast from the Unionists, plus the replacement of a unionist independent by the Alliance Party. Irish reunification is now very much on the agenda. The largesse to the DUP will be cut off now Boris does not need them.

For me personally, Scotland is the most important development of all. A stunning result for the SNP. The SNP result gave them a bigger voter share in Scotland than the Tories got in the UK. So if Johnson got a “stonking mandate for Brexit”, as he just claimed in his private school idiom, the SNP got a “stonking mandate” for Independence.

I hope the SNP learnt the lesson that by being much more upfront about Independence than in the disastrous “don’t mention Independence” election of 2017, the SNP got spectacularly better results.

I refrained from criticising the SNP leadership during the campaign, even to the extent of not supporting my friend Stu Campbell when he was criticised for doing so (and I did advise him to wait until after election day). But I can say now that the election events, which are perfect for promoting Independence, are not necessarily welcome to the gradualists in the SNP. A “stonking mandate” for Independence and a brutal Johnson government treating Scotland with total disrespect leaves no room for hedge or haver. The SNP needs to strike now, within weeks not months, to organise a new Independence referendum with or without Westminster agreement.

If we truly believe Westminster has no right to block Scottish democracy, we need urgently to act to that effect and not just pretend to believe it. Now the election is over, I will state my genuine belief there is a political class in the SNP, Including a minority but significant portion of elected politicians, office holders and staff, who are very happy with their fat living from the devolution settlement and who view any striking out for Independence as a potential threat to their personal income.

You will hear from these people we should wait for EU trade negotiations, for a decision on a section 30, for lengthy and complicated court cases, or any other excuse to maintain the status quo, rather than move their well=paid arses for Independence. But the emergency of the empowered Johnson government, and the new mandate from the Scottish electorate, require immediate and resolute action. We need to organise an Independence referendum with or without Westminster permission, and if successful go straight for UDI. If the referendum is blocked, straight UDI it is, based on the four successive election victory mandates.

With this large Tory majority, there is nothing the SNP MPs can in practice achieve against Westminster. We should now withdraw our MPs from the Westminster Parliament and take all actions to paralyse the union. This is how the Irish achieved Independence. We will never get Independence by asking Boris Johnson nicely. Anyone who claims to believe otherwise is a fool or a charlatan.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Difficulty of Gender Issues

Par craig

It should go without saying that an important part of the approach to this debate should be not to hate anybody, on any side of the argument. Looking through the comments below I am very surprised that several people seem unable to do this.

I write as somebody who has spent virtually his whole life doing things other than think deeply about the rights of transgender people. The subject has however inserted itself centrally into Scottish political debate and particularly preoccupies sections of the leadership of the Independence movement. With the banning of the twitter account of Wings Over Scotland for what are judged by Twitter to be “transphobic” tweets, and the same day publication of the new Gender Recognition Reform Bill by the Scottish Government – and the coincidence of those two happenings worries me – I need to set down rather more coherent thoughts on the subject than I have previously.

To start from first principles, I believe that people should be treated as they wish to be treated. If somebody wishes to be treated as female I will treat them as female. That seems to me good manners. It seems the height of bad manners to do otherwise. If I meet someone who tells me they are a woman, I would not dream of querying them or demanding evidence. I would treat them as female. In my life so far, that is how I have always in practice dealt with people I have met whom I suspected might be transgender or what we used to call transvestite. I treat them as the gender they present themselves as. (I do not care in the slightest for the latest fashion in politically correct jargon for these things). The same also obviously applies to people who wish to be treated as male.

I therefore support the principle of self-declaration that appears to be the basis of the Scottish government’s new bill. People should be what they wish to be, not what a doctor or psychiatrist tells them they are. Please note possession of genitalia does not factor in my thinking at all, in normal social situations.

We then come to the difficult bits. It appears to me plainly daft for a man simply to be able to declare themselves a woman and then to compete in elite sport in women only events. Men have natural competitive advantages from the effects on physique of testosterone. That is simply true, although I do find it rather ironic that feminists are now so insistent upon the fact, as it is precisely to adopt the arguments of Bobby Riggs against those of Billie Jean King. In non-elite, mixed ability sport – which is 99% of all sport that actually happens – I can see no reason why people cannot participate as the gender of their choice, and indeed I do not know why non-elite sport is gender specific at all. I am yet to play the woman who cannot beat me at squash. I suspect our cat could beat me at squash.

The attitudes towards these things change over time. When I went to primary school we had a segregated playground. There are still plenty of old Victorian schools around Edinburgh where the marking for boys’ and girls’ entrances survive in the brickwork. Though while talking of schools, I would add that I think gender re- assignment of children under 16 should almost never be allowed, as they are over-susceptible to adult influence.

Having lived so much of my life abroad, I have never quite understood the British obsession with gender segregated toilets anyway.

When it comes to prison, I have no doubt that Chelsea Manning should be in a female prison and treated as a female. Equally, there was a case highlighted on Wings over Scotland some months ago of a man convicted of sexual offences who had obtained admittance to a women’s prison after claiming female gender, who proceeded to carry out sexual assaults there. Plainly a convicted male sexual assailant ought not to be put in a women’s prison, even if they now claim gender re-identity.

So I quite accept that the right of self-declaration cannot be absolute and there are situations – highly unusual situations like prisons for violent offenders – where authorities should decide on its applicability in gender segregated areas. There are two things to say here. The first is that the entire debate so far elevates dogma on both sides above commonsense. The second is that to make law from extreme examples is foolish. We don’t make building codes for the general population on the basis of specifying the banning of the methods of Fred and Rosemary West.

Personally, I quite accept the view that a woman who arrives at a beauty salon ought to be able to refuse to have her intimate parts waxed by somebody she does not feel comfortable is the same sex as her, without being accused of “hate crime”. Others might not object at all and trans people ought not to be banned from working in beauty salons. These problems seem to me best solved by societal interaction and minimal intrusion of the state.

I realise that both sides of a currently heated debate will find my folksy take on this, based on empathy and tolerance not on rigid application of first principles, to be entirely wrong. Some will object to my lack of the latest PC jargon. One side will insist that being male or female is a simple physical thing and choice does not come into it. Some argue that men are violent, dangerous creatures from whom women need loads of safe spaces into which they can securely retreat, without fear of infiltration by “pretend women”. Others argue that identity is an entirely personal matter that nobody else can decide, and that the law should compel society to accept self-declared identity in every circumstance, and to do otherwise is a hate crime.

My own view is that, irrespective of whether gender is a binary divide, the question of how we treat trans people ought not to be a binary divide. It is a question of complex social interactions at a time of changing mores, and different factors are crucial in different situations. The safety of women is a crucial factor in the case of the male sex offender declaring themselves into a women’s prison. But the safety of women is not in imminent danger in the large majority of social interactions. The large majority of people, including the large majority of trans people, are decent and kind. Let us order relations on that basis, with safeguards in place for the unusual.

For what it is worth, in general the Scottish Government’s proposals do not seem to me a bad stab at these difficult questions. Self declaration should be the basic rule, and then there should be specified rules to cover unusual situations where problems might arise from aberrant behaviour, which may be exhibited by either party.

Finally, less than one per cent of the population have prosthetic limbs. If I were writing about the subject I would not feel the need to refer to everyone who does not have a prosthetic limb as “organics” or some such antonym. The idea we have to refer to everyone who is not trans as cis deserves to be ridiculed. The truly pathetic intellectual level of what passes for academic or expert led debate on these questions is a matter of some concern. I blame deconstructionism as the root of much trivial thought.

This whole issue is one of those subjects where I am aware that I need to duck for cover after writing.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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The post The Difficulty of Gender Issues appeared first on Craig Murray.

Indigenous Eurasian Islamic Populations

Par craig

This blog was defending the human rights of the Uighurs a decade before the neo-conservatives for whom they are now a fashionable cause even knew of their existence. The Uighurs are the closest linguistic and cultural cousins of the Uzbeks, and the populations are contiguous. (China is not contiguous with Uzbekistan but Osh and the eastern Ferghana Valley in Kirghizstan are Uzbek majority areas).

The dynamic spread of Islam northwards and eastwards under the Abbasids, (much less commented that the expansion of its early centuries) and the temporary patronage of Islam by the Mongol Yuan conquerors of China, left very substantial Islamic populations throughout Eurasia, which later became subsumed into non-Muslim polities, including by the expansion of the Chinese and Russian empires. The persecution of the Uighurs is a historic continuation. For decades from the mid eighteenth century they were subjected to one of history’s most sustained and organised campaigns of mass rape of the female population by Chinese occupiers. In a historical perspective, it was the period of comparative tolerance that preceded the current massive attempt at cultural genocide which was the aberration.

I do despair of those on the left who excuse the mass imprisonment of hundreds of thousands and the extrajudicial killing of thousands, because it is China doing it and not a CIA aligned power.

The Uighurs are a people with the right of self-determination. They are not Chinese; their language, culture and religion are completely different. They have a clearly defined territory they have occupied continuously for many centuries. One of the problems with the British is that as an island, we tend to only think of colonies as places you sail to. Colonies you walk to is a concept we have not grasped. That is one of the reasons the left in the UK have such difficulty recognising that China is an Empire and Kashgar is a colony. The other reason is that whole “West Bad, Opponents Good” thing.

It is excellent to recognise that the Western powers have done a huge amount of evil in the world. It is a completely illogical step to assume from this revelation that they have a monopoly on evil. All major governments do evil.

Kashmir is the other pressing issue of a Hindu minority population under pressure. Six years ago I annoyed rather a lot of people when I warned that my personal experience of living among them for some months in India was that it was changing into an an “increasingly oppressive and rabidly conservative Hindu society”. I have viewed the rise of Modi and his Hindu nationalists with great concern, while Western governments have been much more concerned with seeking to benefit from India’s economic boom.

The revocation of the autonomous status of Kashmir and Jammu was a reckless and aggressive act of centralisation that was grossly insensitive to both the population and the history of the region – and I write in full awareness that there have been not only Muslim but also many Sikh victims of intercommunal violence over the years. The incorporation of Kashmir into India was a dreadful British error, semi-apologetically enshrined in its special constitutional position, now destroyed by Modi. It is only the statesmanship of Imran Khan which has averted a hideous war.

The Supreme Court of India’s firmly anti-Muslim ruling in the Ayodhya dispute, and the new immigrant citizenship law excluding Muslims (which has outraged the remnants of liberal India), are evidence of intercommunal policy which is all pushing in an anti-Muslim direction. Modi has been portrayed in the West as a moderniser. This is a fundamental error – he is just a populist in the Trump and Johnson mode who succeeds by stirring up feelings against the “other” in the population. The situation in India is destabilising and I fear more violence against the Muslim population is bound to ensue.

The Muslim populations of Central Asia now live in autonomous republics, none of which has transitioned to effective democracy, all of which have been more or less looted by oligarchs, all have continuing serious human rights problems, and all are increasingly under the economic sway of China (which is not, in itself, a bad thing). China remains something of an enigma. Its economic success continues to be staggering, if severely pollution creating. As I frequently assert, there has never been a power in the world of such economic dominance which has shown such a comparatively tiny appetite for military dominance. If you compare China to the USA in this regard the difference is striking. China has very few military bases outside China, the USA has eight hundred.

But the Central Asian “stans” only contain a minority of the Muslim colonies in Eurasia which Russia acquired in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, simultaneous with the expansion of the British Empire. Many of these colonies, with their overwhelmingly Muslim populations, remain part of the Russian Federation which – make no mistake about it – is still an Empire.

The Tatar are the most widespread of the colonial peoples within Russia. Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Cherkessa, Kabardino Balkaria and Karachai are all areas of Russia where I believe the original Muslim population, absorbed into the Russian Empire by conquest, will in the fulness of time achieve independence, in addition to the better-known Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. The astonishing brutality of the Russian repression of the perfectly justified Independence movements of the latter countries cannot hold back the tide of decolonisation forever. Crimea, of course, should belong to the Tatars who were deported from their land by Stalin. Not Russia, not Ukraine, but Krim Tatar.

As I said earlier, even though Russia’s colonies were colonised contemporaneously with the British ones, and even though the indigenous populations are Muslim, we in the UK have difficulty perceiving them as colonies because they are contiguous with Russia by land and have been institutionally absorbed into the metropolitan. It is also worth noting that, largely but not entirely as a result of the Soviet period of running its Empire, Russia did a much better job of providing education, health and other public services to its colonies than the British ever did.

It is important to state that these colonised peoples are not Russians but separate peoples in the sense of the UN Charter, with very distinct cultures, histories, languages and religion, and thus they do have the right of self-determination. I do not deny that at present, outside the colonies of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, there is little evidence of separatist desire. But I expect that to change over historic time.

It is of course a personal irony that I am very often accused of being a Russian agent because I debunk ludicrous anti-Russian scares like the fake Skripal narrative, or the totally unfounded narrative that Russia has any desire to attack Western Europe. These scare stories about Russia are of course essential to the profits of the western military-industrial-security complex, and I debunk them because they are nonsense, and because of their propaganda power in controlling western populations. But while I have a deep-seated love for Russia, its culture and people, I know of no other commentator who calls for the Russian Federation to be divorced of its internalised colonies, an opinion the Kremlin would find outrageous.

The Eurasian Muslim populations were overtaken by history from around the seventeenth century and, Islam having expanded itself in Eurasia by conquest, the Muslims were generally themselves absorbed into larger Empires by conquest. In Central Asia they have in the last thirty years regained a kind of independence, but are still dominated by foreign imposed institutions and the colonial subordinate administrative and political class. In China and India the conditions of Muslims are worsening markedly. In Russia the brutal crushing of Independence attempts in some areas has led to the current position where the colonial status of the Muslim sub-polities within the Russian Federation is shunned by the entire world as a Pandora’s Box.

This is of course not in any sense a comprehensive survey. But sometimes it is useful to step back and try to see current events in a broader perspective, both historically and geographically. I do hope this gives some food for your own thoughts. I do hope that some of those thoughts are more profound than the notion that Russia and China, as diplomatic opponents of the West, are beyond criticism.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post Indigenous Eurasian Islamic Populations appeared first on Craig Murray.

London Will Never Give Independence – We Must Take It

Par craig

Yesterday the Scottish Government published “Scotland’s Right to Choose“, its long heralded paper on the path to a new Independence referendum. It is a document riven by a basic intellectual flaw. It sets out in detail, and with helpful annexes, that Scotland is a historic nation with the absolute and inalienable right of self-determination, and that sovereignty lies not in the Westminster parliament but with the Scottish people.

It then contradicts all of this truth by affirming, at length, in detail, and entirely without reservation, that Scotland can only hold a legitimate Independence referendum if the Westminster Parliament devolves the power to do so under Section 30.

Both propositions cannot be true. Scotland cannot be a nation with the right of self-determination, and at the same time require the permission of somebody else to exercise that self-determination.

I was trying to find the right words to discuss the document. One possibility was “schizophrenic”. The first half appears to be written by somebody with a fundamental belief in Scottish Independence, and contains this passage:

The United Kingdom is best understood as a voluntary association of nations, in keeping with the principles of democracy and self‑determination.

For the place of Scotland in the United Kingdom to be based on the people of Scotland’s consent, Scotland must be able to choose whether and when it should make a decision about its future.

The decision whether the time is right for the people who live in Scotland again to make a choice about their constitutional future is for the Scottish Parliament, as the democratic voice of Scotland, to make.

Yet the rest of the paper completely negates this proposition and instead argues that the necessary powers must be granted by the Westminster Parliament:

The Scottish Government is committed to agreeing a process for giving effect to its mandate for a further independence referendum. When they make a decision about their future, the people of Scotland must do so in the knowledge that their decision will be heard and respected and given effect to: not just by the government in Scotland, but also by the UK Government, by the European Union and by the international community.

For a referendum to have this legitimacy, it must have the confidence of all of those that it would effect. This means not just the UK Government acknowledging and respecting the Scottish Government’s mandate, but the Scottish Government and UK Government seeking to agree the proper lawful basis for the referendum to take place.

We call on the UK Government to enter discussions about the Scottish Government’s mandate for giving the people of Scotland a choice, and to agree legislation with the Scottish Government that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.

I am frequently told that this paper is all just a cunning ploy, and that when the Tory Government rejects – as it will reject – this servile request to grant Scotland the powers to hold a referendum, the Scottish Government will go to court to say it has the right to a referendum.

If that really is the cunning plan, it is the most stupid cunning plan since Baldrick and his turnip. In what way does publishing an official Scottish Government paper which states explicitly that a referendum “must have” the agreement of the UK government to be legitimate, prepare the ground to go to court and argue the precise opposite? Plainly that is not the intent here.

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech presenting the paper made the acceptance of a veto from “the rest of the UK” on the holding of a second referendum even more explicit:

It is based on the solemn right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.

The Scottish Government believes that right should be exercised free from the threat of legal challenge.

In line with our values, we acknowledge that a referendum must be legal and that it must be accepted as legitimate, here in Scotland and the rest of the UK as well as in the EU and the wider international community.

We are therefore today calling for the UK Government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.

And what does Ms Sturgeon plan to do when Boris Johnson just says no, as he assuredly will? To be fair to Nicola, she could not have been clearer about what she intends to do. Absolutely nothing different.

Of course, I anticipate that in the short term we will simply hear a restatement of the UK government’s opposition.

But they should be under no illusion that this will be an end of the matter.

We will continue to pursue the democratic case for Scotland’s right to choose.

We will do so in a reasonable and considered manner.

So this is the Sturgeon plan: in the short term, we accept Johnson can block Independence. Beyond the short term (how many years is that?) we do nothing except continue in democratic politics as the SNP already is, operating at Holyrood and putting before Scottish voters “the democratic case for Scotland’s right to choose”, while accepting Westminster’s veto. This will have the pleasant side effect of keeping Ms Sturgeon living very nicely indeed in Bute House, with her husband picking up a massive salary as CEO of the Party, and the SNP just like the last five years doing nothing whatsoever about Independence other than occasionally blether about it, “pursuing the democratic case”, while very explicitly accepting Westminster’s veto.

The truth is there is no route to a referendum by legal challenge in the UK courts. The UK Supreme Court has already ruled that Westminster, the “Crown in Parliament” is sovereign, that the Sewell Convention has no legal force and that any powers that the Scottish parliament has, and indeed the very existence of the Scottish Parliament, is entirely at the gift of Westminster. The clue is on the tin. It is the UK Supreme Court. To be fair the Scottish Government paper plainly does not anticipate any such pointless legal challenge, though it is not inconceivable that one may be futilely undertaken at some stage to keep the SNP’s pro-Independence activists happy, by pretending to do something and kicking Indy yet a few months further down the road.

Because the truth is, that is the purpose of the current Scottish Government paper. The reason it is schizophrenic is that it is a deeply dishonest document. All the stuff at the beginning, about Scotland’s ancient right as a nation and the sovereignty residing in the Scottish people, is no more and no less than window dressing to keep Scottish Independence activists happy. The actual meat of the paper, that Indyref2 “must have” Westminster agreement or it is not legitimate, sits there like a great steaming turd whose stink cannot be disguised no matter how much the SNP leadership has tried to conceal it under flowers.

I have to say, I am astonished how many very decent people in the SNP have fallen for the trick.

The Scottish Government position is fundamentally incorrect. The Independence of a nation is a matter of international law, not of domestic legislation. The UN Charter enshrines the right of self-determination of peoples, and nobody has argued that the Scots are not a people in the encapsulated sense.

It is perfectly normal for States to become Independent without the permission of the state from which they are seceding. The UK Government itself argued precisely this position before the International Court of Justice over Kosovo. I here repeat a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago setting out the legal position:

BEGINS

The London Supreme Court last week not only confirmed that the Westminster Parliament could overrule at will any Scottish Government legislation, irrespective of the Scotland Act and the Sewell Convention, but it also ruled that Westminster had already successfully done so, by retrospectively passing provisions in the EU (Withdrawal) Act that overruled the Bill on the same subject, within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, that had already been passed by Holyrood.

Not content with that, the London Supreme Court confirmed that London ministers may, by secondary legislation, under the Scotland Act decree laws for Scotland that are not even passed through the Westminster parliament.

Which leaves Scotland in this extraordinary situation. English MPs or English ministers in their London Parliament can, at any time, impose any legislation they choose on Scotland, overriding Scotland’s parliament and Scotland’s representation in the London parliament. Yet, under the English Votes for English Laws rules of the London Parliament introduced by the Tories in 2015, Scottish MPs cannot vote at all on matters solely affecting England.

That is plainly a situation of colonial subservience.

I am firmly of the view that the Scottish government should now move to withdraw from the Treaty of Union. Scotland’s right to self determination is inalienable. It cannot be signed away forever or restricted by past decisions.

The Independence of a country is not a matter of domestic law it is a matter of international law. The right of the Scottish Parliament to declare Independence may not be restricted by UK domestic law or by purported limitations on the powers of the Scottish Parliament. The legal position is set out very clearly here:

5.5 Consistent with this general approach, international law has not treated the legality of
the act of secession under the internal law of the predecessor State as determining the effect
of that act on the international plane. In most cases of secession, of course, the predecessor
State‟s law will not have been complied with: that is true almost as a matter of definition.

5.6 Nor is compliance with the law of the predecessor State a condition for the declaration
of independence to be recognised by third States, if other conditions for recognition are
fulfilled. The conditions do not include compliance with the internal legal requirements of
the predecessor State. Otherwise the international legality of a secession would be
predetermined by the very system of internal law called in question by the circumstances in
which the secession is occurring.

5.7 For the same reason, the constitutional authority of the seceding entity to proclaim
independence within the predecessor State is not determinative as a matter of international
law. In most if not all cases, provincial or regional authorities will lack the constitutional
authority to secede. The act of secession is not thereby excluded. Moreover, representative
institutions may legitimately act, and seek to reflect the views of their constituents, beyond
the scope of already conferred power.

That is a commendably concise and accurate description of the legal position. Of major relevance, it is the legal opinion of the Government of the United Kingdom, as submitted to the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case. The International Court of Justice endorsed this view, so it is both established law and the opinion of the British Government that the Scottish Government has the right to declare Independence without the agreement or permission of London and completely irrespective of the London Supreme Court.

I have continually explained on this site that the legality of a Declaration of Independence is in no sense determined by the law of the metropolitan state, but is purely a matter of recognition by other countries and thus acceptance into the United Nations. The UK Government set this out plainly in response to a question from a judge in the Kosovo case:

2. As the United Kingdom stated in oral argument, international law contains no
prohibition against declarations of independence as such. 1 Whether a declaration of
independence leads to the creation of a new State by separation or secession depends
not on the fact of the declaration but on subsequent developments, notably recognition
by other States. As a general matter, an act not prohibited by international law needs
no authorization. This position holds with respect to States. It holds also with respect
to acts of individuals or groups, for international law prohibits conduct of non-State
entities only exceptionally and where expressly indicated.

As I have stressed, the SNP should now be making a massive effort to prepare other countries, especially in the EU and in the developing world, to recognise Scotland when the moment comes. There is no task more important. There is a worrying lack of activity in this area. It may currently not be possible to spend government money on sending out envoys for this task, but if personal envoys were endorsed by the First Minister they would get access and could easily be crowd funded by the Independence Movement. I am one of a number of former senior British diplomats who would happily undertake this work without pay. We should be lobbying not just the EU but every country in Africa, Asia and South America.

My preferred route to Independence is this. The Scottish Parliament should immediately legislate for a new Independence referendum. The London Government will attempt to block it. The Scottish Parliament should then convene a National Assembly of all nationally elected Scottish representatives – MSPs, MPs and MEPs. That National Assembly should declare Independence, appeal to other countries for recognition, reach agreements with the rump UK and organise a confirmatory plebiscite. That is legal, democratic and consistent with normal international practice.

There will never be a better time than now for Scotland to become an Independent, normal, nation once again. It is no time for faint hearts or haverers; we must seize the moment.

ENDS

Events since I wrote that have made the case still stronger. With the UK now leaving the European Union, EU states will be extremely eager to recognise Scottish Independence and get Scotland and its resources back inside the EU, while sending out a strong message that leaving the EU can have severe consequences. At the UN, the UK’s repudiation of the International Court of Justice ruling and overwhelming General Assembly mandate over the Chagos Islands has made the UK even more of a pariah state, while senior statesmen in the developing world see Scottish Independence as a wedge issue to open the question of the UK’s ridiculous permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

The claim that to proceed to Independence without Westminster consent is illegal and illegitimate lies at the heart of this truly disgraceful Scottish Government paper. That claim is wrong at every level.

You cannot both believe that the Scots are a people with the right of self-determination, and believe that Westminster has a right to veto that self-determination.

This paper by the Scottish Government is nothing more and nothing less than proof that the gradualists who sadly head the SNP are perfectly happy operating within the devolution system and have no intention of ever paying any more than lip service to Independence.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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The post London Will Never Give Independence – We Must Take It appeared first on Craig Murray.

45 Years of Rebellion

Par craig

Generally I manage to dig up some recent lecture or published work to post while I am on holiday, on a mission or indisposed. I have a video somewhere of a really stunning symposium on whistleblowing at the University of Newcastle, to which I made a minor contribution, which I intended to use for that purpose today. But out of the blue I received an email this morning which changed my plan.

So here is one I did earlier – 45 years ago.

Dear Craig

Many years ago, as a fellow schoolboy at Paston, I witnessed your remarkable stand against militarism when Gen Sir Ian Freedland (I think it was) came to inspect the CCF. I have vivid memories of you appearing on the top floor of the School House and shouting what seemed to us lesser mortals very daring anti-military views (“Troops Out of Ireland” was one) before your sudden and rapid transit backwards from our sight – due to unknown assailants – and the window being slammed shut. It’s only with the intervening years that I realised what an extraordinary event this was, years ahead of its time, and I have often wondered what became of you. A friend recommended your blog to me very recently and it was then I realised it was the same Craig Murray. I heartily agree with what I have read of your work since, and am very pleased to become a subscriber.

With kind regards, and every good wish for the success of your work in the New Year.

It is very hard to explain to a modern audience how very militarist our school was. The headmaster was referred to everywhere, in school and by wider society, as Colonel Marshall, even though I believe it was a rank he only held in the Cadet Force. My peculiar education was designed to teach you to strip down and reassemble a .303 rifle, whilst explaining the process in Latin.

Funnily enough, after I spoke at the recent St Pancras meeting for Julian Assange, a gentleman introduced himself to me who I did not at first recognise but was Merlin, my co-conspirator in that old school protest, who I was seeing for the second time in 45 years. That made me weep and I fear I looked rather silly.

But receiving that recollection of an event I had almost forgotten, is a reminder of how important it is to be true to your beliefs. Policy views may change with circumstance or experience, but I am delighted that my underlying principles remain constant after getting on for half a century of political activity.

It also made me realise how lucky I am. I have been a career diplomat, a British Ambassador, the Rector of Dundee University, a bestselling author and Chairman of a successful energy company. All that was possible on an entirely state education, including full maintenance grants. And it was possible without ever having dissembled or hidden my personal radical beliefs – including turning down three separate honours from the Queen on grounds of republicanism and Scottish nationalism.

I am not sure that would be possible now. In fact I am pretty sure it would not be possible now. The tolerance of dissent has radically decreased. It is worth saying that in 13 years of working as a civil servant for Tory governments I never had any problems, despite ministers like Malcolm Rifkind and Lynda Chalker knowing very well my personal opinions were very different from the official policy. I might give an example of Nicholas Soames, who when a junior defence minister attended a NATO exercise in Drawsko in Poland which I help to organise. I remember a very interesting conversation when I told him I believed that NATO had served its purpose, that there had never been any Russian intention to invade Western Europe anyway, and that the entire narrative was a device to bolster the profits of the arms industry and budget of the army.

Soames of course did not agree with me, but we had an extremely good and good natured discussion (alcohol was involved) and he did concede that the fall of the Iron Curtain had proven western intelligence estimates of Soviet military capability to have been vastly exaggerated, greatly boosting the interests of the western arms industry, the military and of course the institutional interests of the security services themselves.

But the important point is that while Soames did not agree at all with my broad points, he did not suggest – because he did not think – that it was wrong for anyone holding my personal views to be in an important position in the FCO, and he did not make any stupid jibes about me working for the Kremlin. I fear that kind of tolerance has disappeared from public life now – as indeed has the Tory party’s tolerance of the more broad-minded kind of Tory.

It was New Labour that was responsible for much of the change of culture. If you have read Murder in Samarkand, you will know that while Ambassador my dissent at the policy of obtaining intelligence through torture was entirely internal. I was trying to stop it through the correct Whitehall mechanisms, and all my communications on the subject were classified Top Secret. It was Blair and Straw who decided this internal dissent was unacceptable. I had neither leaked nor blown the whistle when they decided pre-emptively to fit me up with 18 major disciplinary charges.

By 2003 the Foreign and Commonwealth had transformed to a degree where it would not tolerate internal dissent. There is no serious civil service career open to a young radical today. The free education was destroyed long ago, also initiated by New Labour. Meantime, the last general election showed the horrifying unanimity of state and billionaire mainstream media in demonising even moderate social democratic thought.

I would be unlikely to become Rector of a University now either, as UK universities have moved from being centres of free speech to the precise opposite. I very seldom get to speak in universities at all nowadays. Student groups label me a “rape apologist” due to my support of Julian Assange, and University authorities label me an “anti-semite” due to my support of the Palestinians. I am excluded from the places I would most like to discuss my ideas.

I hope you will forgive the rather rambling thoughts that email inspired. It was not easy to dissent then. It is still harder now.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post 45 Years of Rebellion appeared first on Craig Murray.

My New Year Wishes

Par craig

1) Scottish Independence
2) Freedom for Julian Assange
3) A genuine, public inquest into the murder of Dawn Sturgess
4) Recognition of the State of Palestine
5) Genuine moves towards a paradigm shift in wealth distribution here and across the globe
6) Radical action on climate change
7) The decolonisation of the Chagos Islands

I obviously do not claim that as a comprehensive analysis of the ills of the world; it contains both individual cases and aspects of the widest scale public policy. It is however an indication of the areas where I expect to be expending my own small budget of energy and activism in 2020. What are yours?

I do hope you are all enjoying family and friends in a refreshing festive season. I know it can be a stressful time; mine has not been. I think the implications of an unbridled right wing populist government in Westminster took us all a little time to process. I feel fully refreshed now, and ready for the fight.

The post My New Year Wishes appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie State Narrative

Par craig

The ruling Establishment has learnt a profound lesson from the debacle over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. The lesson they have learnt is not that it is wrong to attack and destroy an entire country on the basis of lies. They have not learnt that lesson despite the fact the western powers are now busily attacking the Iraqi Shia majority government they themselves installed, for the crime of being a Shia majority government.

No, the lesson they have learnt is never to admit they lied, never to admit they were wrong. They see the ghost-like waxen visage of Tony Blair wandering around, stinking rich but less popular than an Epstein birthday party, and realise that being widely recognised as a lying mass murderer is not a good career choice. They have learnt that the mistake is for the Establishment ever to admit the lies.

The Establishment had to do a certain amount of collective self-flagellation over the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, over which they precipitated the death and maiming of millions of people. Only a very few outliers, like the strange Melanie Phillips, still claimed the WMD really did exist, and her motive was so obviously that she supported any excuse to kill Muslims that nobody paid any attention. Her permanent pass to appear on the BBC was upgraded. But by and large everyone accepted the Iraqi WMD had been a fiction. The mainstream media Blair/Bush acolytes like Cohen, Kamm and Aaronovitch switched to arguing that even if WMD did not exist, Iraq was in any case better off for having so many people killed and its infrastructure destroyed.

These situations are now avoided by the realisation of the security services that in future they just have to brazen it out. The simple truth of the matter – and it is a truth – is this. If the Iraq WMD situation occurred today, and the security services decided to brazen it out and claim that WMD had indeed been found, there is not a mainstream media outlet that would contradict them.

The security services outlet Bellingcat would publish some photos of big missiles planted in the sand. The Washington Post, Guardian, New York Times, BBC and CNN would republish and amplify these pictures and copy and paste the official statements from government spokesmen. Robert Fisk would get to the scene and interview a few eye witnesses who saw the missiles being planted, and he would be derided as a senile old has-been. Seymour Hersh and Peter Hitchens would interview whistleblowers and be shunned by their colleagues and left off the airwaves. Bloggers like myself would be derided as mad conspiracy theorists or paid Russian agents if we cast any doubt on the Bellingcat “evidence”. Wikipedia would ruthlessly expunge any alternative narrative as being from unreliable sources. The Integrity Initiative, 77th Brigade, GCHQ and their US equivalents would be pumping out the “Iraqi WMD found” narrative all over social media. Mad Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council would be banning dissenting accounts all over the place in his role as Facebook Witchfinder-General.

Does anybody seriously wish to dispute this is how the absence of Iraqi WMD would be handled today, 16 years on?

If you do wish to doubt this could happen, look at the obviously fake narrative of the Syrian government chemical weapons attacks on Douma. The pictures published on Bellingcat of improvised chlorine gas missiles were always obviously fake. Remember this missile was supposed to have smashed through ten inches of solid, steel rebar reinforced concrete.

As I reported back in May last year, that the expert engineers sent to investigate by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not buy into this is hardly surprising.

That their findings were deliberately omitted from the OPCW report is very worrying indeed. What became still more worrying was the undeniable evidence that started to emerge from whistleblowers in the OPCW that the toxicology experts had unanimously agreed that those killed had not died from chlorine gas attack. The minutes of the OPCW toxicology meeting really do need to be read in full.

actual_toxicology_meeting_redacted

The highlights are:

“No nerve agents had been detected in environmental or bio samples”
“The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”

I really do urge you to click on the above link and read the entire minute. In particular, it is impossible to read that minute and not understand that the toxicology experts believed that the corpses had been brought and placed in position.

“The experts were also of the opinion that the victims were highly unlikely to have gathered in piles at the centre of the respective apartments, at such a short distance from an escape from any toxic chlorine gas to much cleaner air”.

So the toxicology experts plainly believed the corpse piles had been staged, and the engineering experts plainly believed the cylinder bombs had been staged. Yet, against the direct evidence of its own experts, the OPCW published a report managing to convey the opposite impression – or at least capable of being portrayed by the media as giving the opposite impression.

How then did the OPCW come to do this? Rather unusually for an international organisation, the OPCW Secretariat is firmly captured by the Western states, largely because it covers an area of activity which is not of enormous interest to the political elites of developing world states, and many positions require a high level of technical qualification. It was also undergoing a change of Director General at the time of the Douma investigation, with the firmly Francoist Spanish diplomat Fernando Arias taking over as Director General and the French diplomat Sebastian Braha effectively running the operation as the Director-General’s chef de cabinet, working in close conjunction with the US security services. Braha simply ordered the excision of the expert opinions on engineering and toxicology, and his high-handedness worked, at least until whistleblowers started to reveal the truth about Braha as a slimy, corrupt, lying war hawk.

FFM here stands for Fact Finding Mission and ODG for Office of the Director General. After a great deal of personal experience dealing with French diplomats, I would say that the obnoxious arrogance revealed in Braha’s instructions here is precisely what you would expect. French diplomats as a class are a remarkably horrible and entitled bunch. Braha has no compunction about simply throwing around the weight of the Office of the Director General and attempting to browbeat Henderson.

We see now how the OPCW managed to produce a report which was the opposite of the truth. Ian Henderson, the OPCW engineer who had visited the site and concluded that the “cylinder bombs” were fakes, had suddenly become excluded from the “fact finding mission” when it had been whittled down to a “core group” – excluding any engineers (and presumably toxicologists) who would seek to insert inconvenient facts into the report.

France of course participated, alongside the US and UK, in missile strikes against Syrian government positions in response to the non-existent chlorine gas attacks on Douma. I was amongst those who had argued from day one that the western Douma narrative was inherently improbable. The Douma enclave held by extreme jihadist, western and Saudi backed forces allied to ISIL, was about to fall anyway. The Syrian government had no possible military advantage to gain by attacking it with two small improvised chemical weapons, and a great deal to lose in terms of provoking international retaliation.

That the consequences of the fake Douma incident were much less far-reaching than they might have been, is entirely due (and I am sorry if you dislike this but it is true) to the good sense of Donald Trump. Trump is inclined to isolationism and the fake “Russiagate” narrative promoted by senior echelons of his security services had led him to be heavily sceptical of them. He therefore refused, against the united persuasion of the hawks, to respond to the Douma “attack” by more than quick and limited missile strikes. I have no doubt that the object of the false flag was to push the US into a full regime change operation, by falsifying a demonstration that a declared red line on chemical weapon use had been crossed.

There is no doubt that Douma was a false flag. The documentary and whistleblower evidence from the OPCW is overwhelming and irrefutable. In addition to the two whistleblowers reported extensively by Wikileaks and the Courage Foundation, the redoubtable Peter Hitchens has his own whistleblowers inside OPCW who may well be different persons. It is also great entertainment as well as enlightening to read Hitchens’ takedown of Bellingcat on the issue.

But there are much deeper questions about the Douma false flag. Did the jihadists themselves kill the “chlorine victims” for display or were these just bodies from the general fighting? The White Helmets were co-located with the jihadist headquarters in Douma, and involved in producing and spreading the fake evidence. How far were the UK and US governments, instrumental in preparing the false flag? That western governments, including through the White Helmets and their men at the OPCW, were plainly seeking to propagate this false flag, to massively publicise and to and make war capital out of it, is beyond dispute. But were they involved in the actual creation of the fake scene? Did MI6 or the CIA initiate this false flag through the White Helmets or the Saudi backed jihadists? That is unproven but seems to me very probable. It is also worth noting the coincidence in time of the revelation of the proof of the Douma false flag and the death of James Le Mesurier.

Now let me return to where I started. None of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the Guardian nor CNN – all of which reported the Douma chemical attack very extensively as a real Syrian government atrocity, and used it to editorialise for western military intervention in Syria – none of them has admitted they were wrong. None has issued any substantive retraction or correction. None has reported in detail and without bias on the overwhelming evidence of foul play within the OPCW.

Those sources who do publish the truth – including the few outliers in mainstream media such as Peter Hitchens and Robert Fisk – continue to be further marginalised, attacked as at best eccentric and at worse Russian agents. Others like Wikileaks and myself are pariahs excluded from any mainstream exposure. The official UK, US, French and Spanish government line, and the line of the billionaire and state owned media, continues to be that Douma was a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on civilians. They intend, aided and abetted by their vast online propaganda operations, to brazen out the lie.

What we are seeing is the terrifying rise of the zombie state narrative in Western culture. It does not matter how definitively we can prove that something is a lie, the full spectrum dominance of the Establishment in media resources is such that the lie is impossible to kill off, and the state manages to implant that lie as the truth in the minds of a sufficient majority of the populace to ride roughshod over objective truth with great success. It follows in the state narrative that anybody who challenges the state’s version of truth is themselves dishonest or mad, and the state manages also to implant that notion into a sufficient majority of the populace.

These are truly chilling times.

In the next instalment I shall consider how the Establishment is brazening out similar lies on the Russophobe agenda, and sticking to factually debunked narratives on the DNC and Podesta emails, on the Steele Dossier and on the Skripals.

——————————————

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The USA Doubles Down on its Saudi Allegiance

Par craig

For the United States to abandon proxy warfare and directly kill one of Iran’s most senior political figures has changed international politics in a fundamental way. It is a massive error. Its ramifications are profound and complex.

There is also a lesson to be learned here in that this morning there will be excitement and satisfaction in the palaces of Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran. All of the political elites will see prospects for gain from the new fluidity. While for ordinary people in all those countries there is only the certainty of more conflict, death and economic loss, for the political elite, the arms manufacturers, the military and security services and allied interests, the hedge funds, speculators and oil companies, there are the sweet smells of cash and power.

Tehran will be pleased because the USA has just definitively lost Iraq. Iraq has a Shia majority and so naturally tends to ally with Iran. The only thing preventing that was the Arab nationalism of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Socialist Party. Bush and Blair were certainly fully informed that by destroying the Ba’ath system they were creating an Iranian/Iraqi nexus, but they decided that was containable. The “containment” consisted of a deliberate and profound push across the Middle East to oppose Shia influence in proxy wars everywhere.

This is the root cause of the disastrous war in Yemen, where the Zaidi-Shia would have been victorious long ago but for the sustained brutal aerial warfare on civilians carried out by the Western powers through Saudi Arabia. This anti-Shia western policy included the unwavering support for the Sunni Bahraini autocracy in the brutal suppression of its overwhelmingly Shia population. And of course it included the sustained and disastrous attempt to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and replace it with pro-Saudi Sunni jihadists.

This switch in US foreign policy was known in the White House of 2007 as “the redirection”. It meant that Sunni jihadists like Al-Qaida and later al-Nusra were able to switch back to being valued allies of the United States. It redoubled the slavish tying of US foreign policy to Saudi interests. The axis was completed once Mohammad Bin Salman took control of Saudi Arabia. His predecessors had been coy about their de facto alliance with Israel. MBS felt no shyness about openly promoting Israeli interests, under the cloak of mutual alliance against Iran, calculating quite correctly that Arab street hatred of the Shia outweighed any solidarity with the Palestinians. Common enemies were easy for the USA/Saudi/Israeli alliance to identify; Iran, the Houthi, Assad and of course the Shia Hezbollah, the only military force to have given the Israelis a bloody nose. The Palestinians themselves are predominantly Sunni and their own Hamas was left friendless and isolated.

The principal difficulty of this policy for the USA of course is Iraq. Having imposed a rough democracy on Iraq, the governments were always likely to be Shia dominated and highly susceptible to Iranian influence. The USA had a continuing handle through dwindling occupying forces and through control of the process which produced the government. They also provided financial resources to partially restore the physical infrastructure the US and its allies had themselves destroyed, and of course to fund a near infinite pool of corruption.

That US influence was balanced by strong Iranian aligned militia forces who were an alternative source of strength to the government of Baghdad, and of course by the fact that the centre of Sunni tribal strength, the city of Falluja, had itself been obliterated by the United States, three times, in an act of genocide of Iraqi Sunni population.

Through all this the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi had until now tiptoed with great care. Pro-Iranian yet a long term American client, his government maintained a form of impartiality based on an open hand to accept massive bribes from anybody. That is now over. He is pro-Iranian now.

Such precarious balance as there ever was in Iraq was upset this last two months when the US and Israelis transported more of their ISIL Sunni jihadists into Iraq, to escape the pincer of the Turkish, Russian and Syrian government forces. The Iranians were naturally not going to stand for this and Iranian militias were successfully destroying the ISIL remnants, which is why General Qassem Suleimani was in Iraq, why a US mercenary assisting ISIL was killed in an Iranian militia rocket attack, and why Syrian military representatives were being welcomed at Baghdad airport.

It is five years since I was last in the Green Zone in Baghdad, but it is extraordinarily heavily fortified with military barriers and checks every hundred yards, and there is no way the crowd could have been allowed to attack the US Embassy without active Iraqi government collusion. That profound political movement will have been set in stone by the US assassination of Suleimani. Tehran will now have a grip on Iraq that could prove to be unshakable.

Nevertheless, Tel Aviv and Riyadh will also be celebrating today at the idea that their dream of the USA destroying their regional rival Iran, as Iraq and Libya were destroyed, is coming closer. The USA could do this. The impact of technology on modern warfare should not be underestimated. There is a great deal of wishful thinking that fantasises about US military defeat, but it is simply unrealistic if the USA actually opted for full scale invasion. Technology is a far greater factor in warfare than it was in the 1960s. The USA could destroy Iran, but the cost and the ramifications would be enormous, and not only the entire Middle East but much of South Asia would be destabilised, including of course Pakistan. My reading of Trump remains that he is not a crazed Clinton type war hawk and it will not happen. We all have to pray it does not.

There will also today be rejoicing in Washington. There is nothing like an apparently successful military attack in a US re-election campaign. The Benghazi Embassy disaster left a deep scar upon the psyche of Trump’s support base in particular, and the message that Trump knows how to show the foreigners not to attack America is going down extremely well where it counts, whatever wise people on CNN may say.

So what happens now? Consolidating power in Iraq and finishing the destruction of ISIL in Iraq will be the wise advance that Iranian statesman can practically gain from these events. But that is, of course, not enough to redeem national honour. Something quick and spectacular is required for that. It is hard not to believe there must be a very real chance of action being taken against shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, which Iran can do with little prior preparation. Missile attacks on Saudi Arabia or Israel are also well within Iran’s capability, but it seems more probable that Iran will wish to strike a US target rather than a proxy. An Ambassador may be assassinated. Further missile strikes against US outposts in Iraq are also possible. All of these scenarios could very quickly lead to disastrous escalation.

In the short term, Trump in this situation needs either to pull out troops from Iraq or massively to reinforce them. The UK does not have the latter option, having neither men nor money, and should remove its 1400 troops now. Whether the “triumph” of killing Suleimani gives Trump enough political cover for an early pullout – the wise move – I am unsure. 2020 is going to be a very dangerous year indeed.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani

Par craig

In one of the series of blatant lies the USA has told to justify the assassination of Soleimani, Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was killed because he was planning “Imminent attacks” on US citizens. It is a careful choice of word. Pompeo is specifically referring to the Bethlehem Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self Defence.

Developed by Daniel Bethlehem when Legal Adviser to first Netanyahu’s government and then Blair’s, the Bethlehem Doctrine is that states have a right of “pre-emptive self-defence” against “imminent” attack. That is something most people, and most international law experts and judges, would accept. Including me.

What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

I am not inventing the Bethlehem Doctrine. It has been the formal legal justification for drone strikes and targeted assassinations by the Israeli, US and UK governments for a decade. Here it is in academic paper form, published by Bethlehem after he left government service (the form in which it is adopted by the US, UK and Israeli Governments is classified information).

So when Pompeo says attacks by Soleimani were “imminent” he is not using the word in the normal sense in the English language. It is no use asking him what, where or when these “imminent” attacks were planned to be. He is referencing the Bethlehem Doctrine under which you can kill people on the basis of a feeling that they may have been about to do something.

The idea that killing an individual who you have received information is going to attack you, but you do not know when, where or how, can be justified as self-defence, has not gained widespread acceptance – or indeed virtually any acceptance – in legal circles outside the ranks of the most extreme devoted neo-conservatives and zionists. Daniel Bethlehem became the FCO’s Chief Legal Adviser, brought in by Jack Straw, precisely because every single one of the FCO’s existing Legal Advisers believed the Iraq War to be illegal. In 2004, when the House of Commons was considering the legality of the war on Iraq, Bethlehem produced a remarkable paper for consideration which said that it was legal because the courts and existing law were wrong, a defence which has seldom succeeded in court.

(b)
following this line, I am also of the view that the wider principles of the law on self-defence also require closer scrutiny. I am not persuaded that the approach of doctrinal purity reflected in the Judgments of the International Court of Justice in this area provide a helpful edifice on which a coherent legal regime, able to address the exigencies of contemporary international life and discourage resort to unilateral action, is easily crafted;

The key was that the concept of “imminent” was to change:

The concept of what constitutes an “imminent” armed attack will develop to meet new circumstances and new threats

In the absence of a respectable international lawyer willing to argue this kind of tosh, Blair brought in Bethlehem as Chief Legal Adviser, the man who advised Netanyahu on Israel’s security wall and who was willing to say that attacking Iraq was legal on the basis of Saddam’s “imminent threat” to the UK, which proved to be non-existent. It says everything about Bethlehem’s eagerness for killing that the formulation of the Bethlehem Doctrine on extrajudicial execution by drone came after the Iraq War, and he still gave not one second’s thought to the fact that the intelligence on the “imminent threat” can be wrong. Assassinating people on the basis of faulty intelligence is not addressed by Bethlehem in setting out his doctrine. The bloodlust is strong in this one.

There are literally scores of academic articles, in every respected journal of international law, taking down the Bethlehem Doctrine for its obvious absurdities and revolting special pleading. My favourite is this one by Bethlehem’s predecessor as the FCO Chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood and his ex-Deputy Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

I addressed the Bethlehem Doctrine as part of my contribution to a book reflecting on Chomsky‘s essay “On the Responsibility of Intellectuals”

In the UK recently, the Attorney
General gave a speech in defence of the UK’s drone policy, the assassination
of people – including British nationals – abroad. This execution
without a hearing is based on several criteria, he reassured us. His
speech was repeated slavishly in the British media. In fact, the Guardian
newspaper simply republished the government press release absolutely
verbatim, and stuck a reporter’s byline at the top.
The media have no interest in a critical appraisal of the process
by which the British government regularly executes without trial. Yet
in fact it is extremely interesting. The genesis of the policy lay in the
appointment of Daniel Bethlehem as the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office’s Chief Legal Adviser. Jack Straw made the appointment, and for
the first time ever it was external, and not from the Foreign Office’s own
large team of world-renowned international lawyers. The reason for that
is not in dispute. Every single one of the FCO’s legal advisers had advised
that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, and Straw wished to find a new head
of the department more in tune with the neo-conservative world view.
Straw went to extremes. He appointed Daniel Bethlehem, the legal
‘expert’ who provided the legal advice to Benjamin Netanyahu on the
‘legality’ of building the great wall hemming in the Palestinians away
from their land and water resources. Bethlehem was an enthusiastic
proponent of the invasion of Iraq. He was also the most enthusiastic
proponent in the world of drone strikes.
Bethlehem provided an opinion on the legality of drone strikes
which is, to say the least, controversial. To give one example, Bethlehem
accepts that established principles of international law dictate that
lethal force may be used only to prevent an attack which is ‘imminent’.
Bethlehem argues that for an attack to be ‘imminent’ does not require it
to be ‘soon’. Indeed you can kill to avert an ‘imminent attack’ even if you
have no information on when and where it will be. You can instead rely
on your target’s ‘pattern of behaviour’; that is, if he has attacked before,
it is reasonable to assume he will attack again and that such an attack is
‘imminent’.
There is a much deeper problem: that the evidence against the
target is often extremely dubious. Yet even allowing the evidence to
be perfect, it is beyond me that the state can kill in such circumstances
without it being considered a death penalty imposed without trial for
past crimes, rather than to frustrate another ‘imminent’ one.
You would think that background would make an interesting
story. Yet the entire ‘serious’ British media published the government
line, without a single journalist, not one, writing about the fact that
Bethlehem’s proposed definition of ‘imminent’ has been widely rejected
by the international law community. The public knows none of this. They
just ‘know’ that drone strikes are keeping us safe from deadly attack by
terrorists, because the government says so, and nobody has attempted to
give them other information

Remember, this is not just academic argument, the Bethlehem Doctrine is the formal policy position on assassination of Israel, the US and UK governments. So that is lie one. When Pompeo says Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks, he is using the Bethlehem definition under which “imminent” is a “concept” which means neither “soon” nor “definitely going to happen”. To twist a word that far from its normal English usage is to lie. To do so to justify killing people is obscene. That is why, if I finish up in the bottom-most pit of hell, the worst thing about the experience will be the company of Daniel Bethlehem.

Let us now move on to the next lie, which is being widely repeated, this time originated by Donald Trump, that Soleimani was responsible for the “deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans”. This lie has been parroted by everybody, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Really? Who were they? When and where? While the Bethlehem Doctrine allows you to kill somebody because they might be going to attack someone, sometime, but you don’t know who or when, there is a reasonable expectation that if you are claiming people have already been killed you should be able to say who and when.

The truth of the matter is that if you take every American killed including and since 9/11, in the resultant Middle East related wars, conflicts and terrorist acts, well over 90% of them have been killed by Sunni Muslims financed and supported out of Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, and less than 10% of those Americans have been killed by Shia Muslims tied to Iran.

This is a horribly inconvenient fact for US administrations which, regardless of party, are beholden to Saudi Arabia and its money. It is, the USA affirms, the Sunnis who are the allies and the Shias who are the enemy. Yet every journalist or aid worker hostage who has been horribly beheaded or otherwise executed has been murdered by a Sunni, every jihadist terrorist attack in the USA itself, including 9/11, has been exclusively Sunni, the Benghazi attack was by Sunnis, Isil are Sunni, Al Nusra are Sunni, the Taliban are Sunni and the vast majority of US troops killed in the region are killed by Sunnis.

Precisely which are these hundreds of deaths for which the Shia forces of Soleimani were responsible? Is there a list? It is of course a simple lie. Its tenuous connection with truth relates to the Pentagon’s estimate – suspiciously upped repeatedly since Iran became the designated enemy – that back during the invasion of Iraq itself, 83% of US troop deaths were at the hands of Sunni resistance and 17% of of US troop deaths were at the hands of Shia resistance, that is 603 troops. All the latter are now lain at the door of Soleimani, remarkably.

Those were US troops killed in combat during an invasion. The Iraqi Shia militias – whether Iran backed or not – had every legal right to fight the US invasion. The idea that the killing of invading American troops was somehow illegal or illegitimate is risible. Plainly the US propaganda that Soleimani was “responsible for hundreds of American deaths” is intended, as part of the justification for his murder, to give the impression he was involved in terrorism, not legitimate combat against invading forces. The idea that the US has the right to execute those who fight it when it invades is an absolutely stinking abnegation of the laws of war.

As I understand it, there is very little evidence that Soleimani had active operational command of Shia militias during the invasion, and in any case to credit him personally with every American soldier killed is plainly a nonsense. But even if Soleimani had personally supervised every combat success, these were legitimate acts of war. You cannot simply assassinate opposing generals who fought you, years after you invade.

The final, and perhaps silliest lie, is Vice President Mike Pence’s attempt to link Soleimani to 9/11. There is absolutely no link between Soleimani and 9/11, and the most strenuous efforts by the Bush regime to find evidence that would link either Iran or Iraq to 9/11 (and thus take the heat off their pals the al-Saud who were actually responsible) failed. Yes, it is true that some of the hijackers at one point transited Iran to Afghanistan. But there is zero evidence, as the 9/11 report specifically stated, that the Iranians knew what they were planning, or that Soleimani personally was involved. This is total bullshit. 9/11 was Sunni and Saudi led, nothing to do with Iran.

Soleimani actually was involved in intelligence and logistical cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan post 9/11 (the Taliban were his enemies too, the shia Tajiks being a key part of the US aligned Northern Alliance). He was in Iraq to fight ISIL.

The final aggravating factor in the Soleimani murder is that he was an accredited combatant general of a foreign state which the world – including the USA – recognises. The Bethlehem Doctrine specifically applies to “non-state actors”. Unlike all of the foregoing, this next is speculation, but I suspect that the legal argument in the Pentagon ran that Soleimani is a non-state actor when in Iraq, where the Shia militias have a semi-official status.

But that does not wash. Soleimani is a high official in Iran who was present in Iraq as a guest of the Iraqi government, to which the US government is allied. This greatly exacerbates the illegality of his assassination still further.

The political world in the UK is so cowed by the power of the neo-conservative Establishment and media, that the assassination of Soleimani is not being called out for the act of blatant illegality that it is. It was an act of state terrorism by the USA, pure and simple.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani appeared first on Craig Murray.

A Window for Peace

Par craig

There is this morning a chink of light to avoid yet more devastation in the Middle East. Iran’s missile strikes last night were calibrated to satisfy honour while avoiding damage that would trigger automatically the next round. The missiles appear to have been fitted out with very light warhead payloads indeed – their purpose was to look good in the dark going up into the night sky. There is every reason to believe the apparent lack of US casualties was deliberate.

Even more important was the Iraqi statement that “proportionate measures” had been “taken and concluded” and they did not seek “further escalation”.

I agree their response was proportionate and I would say that I regard the Iranian action so far, unlike the assassination of Soleimani by the US, legal in international law.

The entire world should congratulate Iran for its maturity in handling the illegal assassination of its General, who was on a peace mission, travelling as a civilian on a commercial flight, carrying a mediation message the US had been instrumental in instigating. If as seems possible the US actively manipulated the diplomatic process to assassinate someone on a diplomatic mission and traveling on a diplomatic passport, that is a dreadful outrage which will come back to haunt them. Life insurance rates for US diplomats no doubt just went up.

It is also worth noting the 2.8% rise in the Lockheed share price in the 24 hours immediately before the Soleimani assassination, outperforming the Dow about three times. That would bear investigation. Arms manufacturers and oil stocks have soared this last few days – and remember that nowadays the vast bulk of financial transactions are bets on the margins of movement, so vast fortunes will have been made out of all this.

The UK has been, as ever, complicit in US crimes. Our laughingly so-called “defence” industry – when were its products last used in self-defence and not colonial adventure? – is tied in to and dependent on the US military machine. The current build-up of US troops and hardware in the Gulf has Mildenhall as a major staging post. We do not have to do this. Whether officially or on a pretext, French airspace was closed to the US military build-up and the Americans have had to fly from the UK, skirting France, around the Atlantic.

In a huge Boris Johnson slap in the face to international law, extra US bombers to attack Iran have been flown into Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands. You will recall that is where the UK committed genocide against the population in the 1970s to clear the way for the US military base. Last year, the UK lost a hearing before the International Court of Justice and was subsequently instructed by the UN to decolonise the islands and give them back to Mauritius by last November. The UK simply persisted in its illegal occupation and now is threatening the use of the islands as the base for yet another illegal and destabilising war.

That the UK is a permanent member of the UN security council is a disgrace which surely cannot endure much longer. What the current crisis has shown us is that under Johnson the UK has no future except as a still more compliant servant of whoever occupies the White House.

Wars are easy to start but hard to stop. Trump appears to have calmed, but we cannot rule out a stupid “last word” attack by the USA. It is to be hoped that Iran now concentrates on using the immense political leverage it has gained to get western troops out of Iraq, which would be a tremendous result for all of us after 17 years. But we cannot rule out hotter heads in the Iranian government insisting on further attacks, or attacks from regional forces whose Tehran authorisation is uncertain. On either side this could yet blow up badly.

I am a sucker for hope, and the best outcome would be for the US and Iran to start talking directly again, and a deal to be made from this break in the logjam that is wider than, and Trump can portray as better than, “Obama’s” nuclear deal and would enable the lifting of sanctions. I am sure Trump will be tempted by the chance to go for this kind of diplomatic coup under the political cover provided him by Soleimani’s assassination. But the US is now so tied in to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and thus tied in to irrational hostility to Iran, that this must be extremely unlikely.

For those of us in Scotland, this is still more reason why Independence must be early. We cannot be tied in to a rogue state. As we march for Independence on Saturday, the potential for war in Iran gives the sharpest reminder why we must leave the UK and form our own, peaceful, law-abiding state.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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been

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Westminster Cannot Block Scottish Independence

Par craig

Boris Johnson’s facetious, point-scoring reply to the formal request from the Scottish government for agreement to a second Independence referendum is an act of extreme arrogance. An off-the-cuff campaign remark from a single politician has no weight in weighing the will of a nation, and I presume Johnson is not arguing that every political statement Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond has ever made has the force of law.

The “once in a generation” remark has no more force than “die in a ditch”. It is not contained in any official document, and appears in neither the Edinburgh Agreement nor the Smith Commission report. For Johnson to base his refusal of a vital democratic step on such a flimsy pretext is extremely arrogant. It is born of colossal self-confidence. He is perfectly confident the highly centralised Westminster system will allow him simply to ride roughshod over Scotland.

Johnson is of course right. You may be surprised to hear that I agree with the analysis of McHarg and McCorkindale published today that a legal challenge arguing the Scottish Government’s right to hold a referendum is a waste of time, not least because if such legal challenge looked like succeeding the Tories would simply pass Westminster legislation outlawing the referendum explicitly. There is no doubt whatsoever that such legislation would be upheld by the UK Supreme Court under the doctrine of the Sovereignty of (Westminster) Parliament.

I also have no doubt that a futile and time-wasting court action is going to be a key part of the Scottish Government’s approach in response to Johnson, of pretending to do something about Independence a few more years.

McHarg and McCorkindale are quite right on UK Constitutional Law, which is where their expertise lies. They know very little about public international law and still less about international politics.

The truth is that UK Constitutional Law is as irrelevant to Scottish Independence as Soviet Constitutional Law was to the question of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Independence. The UK is disintegrating and not the smirk of Johnson, the frippery of the UK Supreme Court nor the witterings of lawyers can hold it together.

Independence is not a matter of domestic law. It is a matter of international law alone. Independence is the existence of a state in relation to other states. It is gained not by any internal process- internal process is utterly irrelevant, and in 95% of cases does not involve a referendum – but by recognition of other states, formalised through the General Assembly of the United Nations.

I touched on these points in my brief statement at the AUOB press conference after the march on Saturday.

In its judgement on Kosovo, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) specifically confirmed that the agreement of the state being seceded from was not necessary for Independence. That is the position in law, whatever any UK court may say. Indeed it was the UK government itself that put this argument most clearly to the ICJ in the Kosovo case.

5.5 Consistent with this general approach, international law has not treated the legality of
the act of secession under the internal law of the predecessor State as determining the effect
of that act on the international plane. In most cases of secession, of course, the predecessor
State’s law will not have been complied with: that is true almost as a matter of definition.

5.6 Nor is compliance with the law of the predecessor State a condition for the declaration
of independence to be recognised by third States, if other conditions for recognition are
fulfilled. The conditions do not include compliance with the internal legal requirements of
the predecessor State. Otherwise the international legality of a secession would be
predetermined by the very system of internal law called in question by the circumstances in
which the secession is occurring.

5.7 For the same reason, the constitutional authority of the seceding entity to proclaim
independence within the predecessor State is not determinative as a matter of international
law. In most if not all cases, provincial or regional authorities will lack the constitutional
authority to secede. The act of secession is not thereby excluded. Moreover, representative
institutions may legitimately act, and seek to reflect the views of their constituents, beyond
the scope of already conferred power.

That is a commendably concise and accurate description of the legal position. It is the legal opinion of the Government of the United Kingdom, as submitted to the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case. The International Court of Justice endorsed this view, so it is both established law and the opinion of the British Government that a state has the right to declare Independence without the agreement or permission of the original state and its political or legal authorities.

I have continually explained on this site that the legality of a Declaration of Independence is in no sense determined by the law of the metropolitan state, but is purely a matter of recognition by other countries and thus acceptance into the United Nations. The UK Government set this out plainly in response to a question from a judge in the Kosovo case:

2. As the United Kingdom stated in oral argument, international law contains no
prohibition against declarations of independence as such. Whether a declaration of
independence leads to the creation of a new State by separation or secession depends
not on the fact of the declaration but on subsequent developments, notably recognition
by other States. As a general matter, an act not prohibited by international law needs
no authorization. This position holds with respect to States. It holds also with respect
to acts of individuals or groups, for international law prohibits conduct of non-State
entities only exceptionally and where expressly indicated.

So the key question is, could Scotland get recognition from other states for a Declaration of Independence? The attitude of the EU will be crucial and here Catalonia is obviously a key precedent. But it is one that has been totally misunderstood.

The vast majority of the politicians and functionaries of the EU institutions viewed the actions of the Francoist government of Spain in assaulting the people of Catalonia who were trying to vote, with extreme distaste. But they held their noses and supported Spain. Because over 20 years experience as a diplomat taught me that the EU functions as a club of member states, who will support each other in almost any circumstance. So Spain was supported.

But the UK is shortly going to stop being a member. It is Scotland, as a potential member with a long history of valued membership and a firm intention to join, which will have the natural support of the EU, the more so as there will be a strong desire to get Scotland’s fishing, energy and mineral resources back within the bloc. The disintegration of the UK will also be encouraged as a salutary lesson to any other states that consider leaving the EU. The political forces within the EU are very, very strongly behind recognition of Scottish Independence.

Once the EU decides to recognise Scotland (and crucially it is not a decision that needs unanimity in the EU vote, an extremely important and overlooked fact) the rest will be easy. The UK is detested in much of the developing world for its continued refusal to decolonise Diego Garcia, for the Iraq War, and for the whole history of colonialism.

So how should Scotland proceed? My advice would be to declare Independence at the earliest possible opportunity. We should recall all Scottish MPs from Westminster immediately. We should assemble all of Scotland’s MEP’s, MP’s and MSP’s in a National Assembly and declare Independence on the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, thus emphasising the historical continuity of the Scottish state. The views and laws of London now being irrelevant, we should organise, as an Independent state, our referendum to confirm Independence, to be held in September 2020.

The key criterion which governments have traditionally used to recognise another state is control of the state’s internal territory. (They do not have to use that criterion, each state can recognise on whatever basis it wishes, but that is the usual one cited). This is where the Catalonian Declaration of Independence failed, the Catalan Government never managed to enforce it on its own ground.

There is going to be no process of Independence agreed with the British government. We have to take Independence, not beg for it. At some stage, there is always the danger that the British government may try to react by sending in the British Army to enforce Westminster’s will. If we believe we are an independent nation, we have to be prepared to defend ourselves as an independent state should the worst happen. Calling a confirmatory referendum as the first act of the Independent state would make it difficult for Johnson to justify sending in the British Army to try to prevent it, but we cannot rule it out. Hopefully that will not involve anyone getting killed, but we must be plain that Westminster will never voluntarily allow us to leave and may physically attack us if we try.

I appreciate this may all sound very unpleasant and confrontational.

We have two alternatives now – we stand up for ourselves and our inalienable right of self-determination in international law as defined in the UN Charter, or we grovel before Johnson’s smirk and try various “legal” and “constitutional” avenues in terms of the UK’s utterly irrelevant domestic legislation. Which will get us nowhere, slowly.

The time has come for Scottish Independence. With a referendum denied by no fault of ours, we must seize the moment and take the Independence for which they will not let us vote.

——————————————

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Yes Minister Fan Fiction

Par craig

I have been rather unwell this last week with atrial fibrillation, and at 5am last Sunday morning had the paramedics out and puzzling over the ECG results. This particularly severe episode was a result of being out in the cold and storm for hours on the AUOB march, and I felt so guilty at being a self-inflicted drain on the NHS that I declined their offer to take me into hospital and decided to recover at home.

I did however get to thinking about whether, had I indeed toddled off on my next great adventure, I would regret holding information which I had not imparted to you. Well, I couldn’t in those circumstances regret not having imparted it as I would be deid, but you know what I mean. As it happened the thing I found I was most worried about not being able to impart was not, at least on its surface, a case of world sweeping importance, but rather of individual injustice. Though the surface often hides a great deal.

Anyway, having recovered I was saddened by the death of Derek Fowlds, who to me was always Mr Derek of Basil Brush. In fact I remember my confusion when Mr Derek replaced Mr Rodney, who I only learnt this week was in fact Rodney Bewes, another great comic actor of whose wider work I was at primary school unaware. Derek Fowlds of course became most famous in his brilliant role as Bernard in Yes Minister. Lying in bed getting better, I decided to while away the time by writing some Yes Minister fan fiction in tribute.

As with the original series, although based on a realistic civil service scenario dealing with similar events to those the civil service actually deals with, this conversation between a Minister and Permanent Secretary is purely fictional. No real situation is alluded to and any resemblance between the people and situations portrayed here and anything that is happening in real life is entirely accidental. Please do not attempt in the comments section to relate this entirely fictional hommage to Yes Minister to any actual events involving any actual court cases. Because you might wander into contempt of court.

This is of course my first Yes Minister effort.

FIRST YES MINISTER

Perm Sec. You see Minister, all you have to do is destroy your predecessor’s reputation. In the modern “Me Too” atmosphere, you accuse someone of sexual offences and politically they are finished. In fact you can do what you like to him.
Minister Like Julian Assange?
Perm Sec Exactly, Minister. Like Julian Assange. We yelled “rape” at him and then had to do nothing else. The left themselves destroyed him, led by the feminists of course. You see Minister, we feminists can be useful sometimes. (Canned Laughter)
Minister Yes, by the time they had finished with him, the government could torture him to death in plain sight and nobody cared.
Perm Sec Precisely Minister, and the hilarious thing was that there never was any rape and we never had to produce any evidence in court.
Minister Yes, brilliant. But it’s not an exact parallel with Orpheus though, is it Permanent Secretary? We don’t have any extradition request for Orpheus once any sexual charges fall.
Perm Sec The charges won’t fall, Minister, they won’t fall. We will get him found guilty.
Minister But he isn’t actually a rapist, you know. Not one of these incidents looks anything like rape. In fact they are all very flimsy. There isn’t one single independent witness and I don’t think any of them could be proven in court.
Perm Sec Please don’t worry yourself. It doesn’t matter, Minister. All we need is the word “rape” in the newspaper headlines. “Attempted rape” will do. You just tell the prosecutor to get the word out there, spread it in the media and Orpheus is finished.
Minister Even if he is not guilty?
Perm Sec He will be guilty. Whether he is guilty is irrelevant, he will be found guilty. This is where we use “more of”.
Minister “More of”?
Perm Sec Yes, “More of”. It’s not an official legal term, but all the lawyers know it as the oldest trick in the prosecutor’s book.
Minister What do you mean, Permanent Secretary?
Perm Sec Well look, we have the canoodling episode, the kiss in the office and a couple of suggestive remarks about sexy clothes.
Minister The sexy remarks are hardly illegal, are they?
Perm Sec Good God, Minister, what century are you in? (Canned Laughter). Sexual harassment, Minister. Kiss someone at the office party and tell someone else their figure looks good in that blouse, and you have established a pattern of behaviour. “More of” you see, Minister. The “more of” this stuff you throw, the better chance some of it will stick.
Minister But we don’t have that many instances. We went through absolutely everything. We had a team of 24 policemen working on it for 10 months and this was all we can find.
Perm Sec It is time to get creative then, Minister. We need more women to make allegations. In these circumstances it is always best to keep things close. Activate the women you know, Minister, activate the women you know.
Minister I don’t have that many friends, Permanent Secretary. I spend all my time reading books. (Canned Laughter).
Perm Sec Oh really, Minister, think. You must have some women very close to you.
Minister Well, there is Miss Barclay, my own Private Secretary.
Perm Sec Perfect, Minister perfect! Miss Barclay should be good for at least four allegations! Get her to say he tried to kiss her. Often.
Minister But surely nobody will believe my own Private Secretary – and she was involved in putting the dossier together and in discussions on handling the case. Nobody is going to believe her. And (gasps in horror) it really leads straight back to me being behind it, doesn’t it?
Perm Sec It can’t be traced back to you, Minister.
Minister Phew, that’s a relief. It can’t be traced back to me you say. How does that work?
Perm Sec Accuser anonymity, Minister.
Minister Accuser anon… oh yes! Oh yes! I am beginning to see!! They are sexual allegations so…
Perm Sec The identities of the accusers can be kept hidden by the court under penalty of severe jail sentences for anybody who reveals them so…
Minister …the accusers can just be my closest political cronies and the public will never be aware of that! That’s brilliant, Perm Sec!
Perm Sec Thank you, Minister (Canned Laughter)
Minister And thank God for that, because if the party faithful thought that I was trying to stitch up my predecessor they would have my guts for garters (Canned Laughter).
Perm Sec Heaven forfend, Minister!
Minister What? Oh too right. I was just thinking, Permanent Secretary, you know I am starting to get the hang of this. What about old Marmalade? He is very keen to get back into parliament and sees himself as a potential successor.
Perm Sec Marmalade? Well I suppose if we start adding in gay allegations, it does give a slightly more exotic tinge for the tabloids.
Minister I was thinking more of his wife, Permanent Secretary. If the old Marmalade family want a nice safe seat in the capital, let them do something to earn it.
Perm Sec Indeed, Minister. And is the wife not a former Special Adviser?
Minister Yes, is that a problem?
Perm Sec On the contrary, Minister. You see it is very useful. A SPAD is of course only a particularly spotty political hack whom politicians have conned the taxpayer into paying, but technically a SPAD is still a form of civil servant.
Minister Yes, and what of it?
Perm Sec Well, the words “civil servant” convey integrity, honesty and trustworthiness. (Canned laughter). We can leak to the tabloids that one of the accusers is a civil servant, and people will believe it must be genuine and independent. Very cunning idea if I may say so, Minister.
Minister Was it? Oh yes, I am cunning, aren’t I. (Canned laughter). But I still worry that none of the accusations is going to be individually convincing.
Perm Sec Doesn’t matter, Minister, doesn’t matter. Remember “More of”. Quantity not quality, Minister, quantity not quality. They don’t have to be individually convincing, just to give the impression of no smoke without fire.
Minister Oh well, I understand that now. In that case I can think of three or four more women very close to us indeed who can make allegations, if independence or credibility are not important and nobody will ever know who they were.
Perm Sec Volume is important, Minister, volume. It does not have to be heavy stuff. Just get them to allege an attempted kiss here, a brush of the hand on the bum as they were going out the door there.
Minister To build a pattern of behaviour.
Perm Sec Precisely, Minister, precisely. To build a pattern of behaviour. I see you have got it.
Minister But isn’t there a problem here, Permanent Secretary? If this man was a sexual predator on a large scale, there would be whispers for years and people in political circles would surely know. But he doesn’t have that reputation at all.
Perm Sec Don’t worry, Minister, he soon will have that reputation. (Canned Laughter). The media will believe it because we will tell them to believe it. And once the media believe something, the population will believe it too. Every politician has enemies, Minister, Orpheus more than most.
Minister But isn’t there a potential danger here, Permanent Secretary? I mean all of this is nonsense, so won’t he be acquitted and emerge possibly stronger than before?
Perm Sec Don’t worry, Minister, he won’t be acquitted. We have a legally invincible alliance on our side. “More of” is powerful, but “more of” combined with “home” becomes an irresistible force.
Minister (puzzled) “More of” and “home”.
Perm Sec Yes Minister. Answer me this. What does a jury want more than anything?
Minister To do justice?
Perm Sec Wrong, Minister, wrong. Home. A jury wants to go home. (Canned Laughter) Jurors are ripped away from their homes, jobs and families for weeks. At the end of it they are locked in a stuffy room with other jurors they don’t like, and not allowed to go home until they have all reached a verdict. So what do they do to reach agreement?
Minister Aaah, I see now. They compromise.
Perm Sec Exactly, Minister. They will compromise. It’s a natural human instinct to avoid conflict. There will be some people who think him totally innocent as nothing was individually proven, but there will be others who will think he must have done something wrong or there could not possibly be so many accusations. The power of “more of”. Of course they will chuck out the “attempted rape” very quickly as obvious nonsense. In the end they will find him not guilty on nearly all counts, but as a compromise will convict him of stroking someone’s hair, patting their bum or saying they look sexy.
Minister But surely he will hardly be jailed for that?
Perm Sec Doesn’t matter, Minister. “Rapist” will already be firmly printed on the public mind, and so long as we have the magic word “guilty” it does not matter what he is guilty of. And it can’t fail. With so many charges, the jury is simply bound to find him guilty of something so they can compromise and all go home.
Minister Brilliant, Permanent Secretary, brilliant.
Perm Sec Thank you.
Minister So that’s finally going to put a stake through his heart. No more Frank Sinatra comebacks and no more Quixotic campaigns chasing unicorns.
Perm Sec Yes, Minister.

The post Yes Minister Fan Fiction appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Troubling Decline of International Law

Par craig

While it is true that rogue states – most notably the USA – have always posed a threat to the rule of international law, I see no serious room to dispute that the development of the corpus of international law, and of the institutions to implement it, was one of the great achievements of the twentieth century, and did a huge amount to reduce global conflict.

The International Court of Justice, the Law of the Sea Tribunal, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organisation, these are just some of the institutions which have played an extremely positive role, helping resolve hundreds of disputes during their existence and, still more importantly, helping establish rules that prevented thousands more disputes from arising. Regional Organisations, dozens of them including the EU, the African Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, have also flourished.

The judgement of the ICJ in the 160 cases it has heard has almost always been respected by the parties to the case. That has applied even when the dispute is radical, inflammatory and had already led to fighting and deaths, such as the settlement of the Nigeria/Cameroon border. The ICJ has been a massive success story.

The foundation of the International Criminal Court in 2002 was the high water mark in establishing the rule of law as the guiding principle of international affairs. As with all the major worldwide institutions of international law, the UK had played a leading role in the establishment of the ICC. I was in the FCO at the time, and I remember the quiet confidence that eventually the USA would join up, just as they had with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea after decades of havering. In fact, the ICC has been a major disappointment, of which more later. I refer to 2002 as the high water mark for the rule of international law, because subsequently the tide has turned decisively against it.

When Blair and Bush invaded Iraq, not only without the sanction of the UN Security Council but in the certain knowledge the Security Council was against it, and in Blair’s case against the unanimous opinion of the FCO’s entire cadre of Legal Advisers who stated that the war was illegal, they not only precipitated a crisis that has resulted in millions of deaths, they dealt a killing blow to the entire fabric of international law.

The results are now becoming every day more visible. We have just survived for now, thanks to Iran’s remarkable sense and restraint, a dangerous crisis in the Middle East following the illegal assassination of General Soleimani, who was travelling on a diplomatic mission at the time. The use on a massive scale of execution by drone – including execution of UK and US nationals – by the British and American governments, often without the permission of the government in whose territory the execution takes place, is an appalling breach of international law for which there appears to be no effective remedy.

The FCO Legal Advisers refused to advise that the killing of Soleimani was legal in international law. However the UK government no longer cares if something is legal in international law or not. The government line was originally that there was an “arguable case” that the assassination was legal, then after objections from legal advisers the line changed to “it is not for the UK to determine whether the drone strike is legal”.

The United Kingdom used to be a pillar, arguably the most important pillar, of international law. Thanks to a series of neo-con politicians, including Blair, Straw, Cameron, May and Johnson, the UK scarcely makes a pretence any more abut giving a fig about international law. It simply ignores the instruction of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to decolonise the Chagos Islands. It refuses to implement the binding international arbitration on debt owed to Iran. It mocks the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. It refuses to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women into asylum detention centres. I could go on. A direct consequence of this is sharply diminished UK influence in the world, and in particular for the first time in 71 years it does not have a seat on the International Court of Justice. As the UK has effectively spurned the authority of the ICJ, this is scarcely surprising.

It was the UK’s reputation as an upholder of international law that moderated outrage at the UN at the UK’s anachronistic permanent membership of the UN Security Council. That international respect no longer exists, and the British Government are deluded if they think that the UK’s privileged UN status will last forever, especially as it can no longer be represented as a proxy for EU foreign policy.

The UN itself is of course suffering a sustained threat to its authority. It is simply ignored on the dreadful Saudi led disaster in Yemen. By refusing the Iranian foreign minister a visa to attend a Security Council meeting on Soleimani, the USA struck at the very purpose of the UN. If the institution is to be held the hostage of its geographical host, what is its purpose? Ultimately, to regain relevance the UN would have both democratically to reform and to relocate, perhaps to South Africa. I do not see that happening in the near future.

As for the International Criminal Court, that has been a severe disappointment which in many ways symbolises the collapse of international law. Its failure to prosecute Bush and Blair for the war on Iraq set its direction from the beginning. Waging aggressive war is in itself a war crime and was indelibly established as such by the Nuremburg Tribunal. That it was not specifically mentioned in the Rome Statute was a flimsy pretext from judges not willing to take on power. The same judges have bottled out of investigation of US crimes in Afghanistan and appear to be in the same process over war crimes in Gaza, where astonishingly there has been no backing from states for the ICC against Netanyahu’s threat to institute sanctions against ICC staff if investigations continue. I used to defend the ICC robustly over accusations that it was simply a tool of neo-con policy. I now find it very hard to do so.

The UK is not the only country ignoring international law. Spain’s repudiation of the European Court of Justice decision that Junqueras must be released to take his seat in the European Parliament is a huge blow to the prestige and authority of that organisation. Spain’s vicious persecution of Catalonia is itself the most comprehensive challenge that “western values” have faced for decades in the European heartland, by a large measure worse than anything which Orban has done. Spain completely ignores its Council of Europe obligations.

The structure of international law is looking very shoogly indeed. It does matter, a very great deal. The world is becoming a significantly more dangerous place as a result.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Of Coronavirus and Chartism

Par craig

I am cheerfully optimistic that this Coronavirus, like asian swine flu and SARS before it, will prove not to be as deadly as may be prognosticated by journalists wanting to fill column inches. One day the human race will become extinct; but it is unlikely to be a virus that does it, as wiping out your host is not a clever survival policy for a virus. Even a disease as vicious as ebola proved not to be so potent against subjects who were not malnourished nor struggling with other health issues. So far this coronavirus seems to have a mortality rate of about 3%, which is probably an over high estimate as it is only a percentage of those who died after testing, whereas it appears there are large numbers with milder symptoms who are unlikely to have been tested in the first place. So coronavirus is not looking vastly different to ordinary influenza, which has a mortality rate of about 1%.

When you or I get flu we don’t normally panic as though we have a 1% chance of dying from it. That is again because we are well nourished, live in good conditions and have not been much weakened by other disease. Like this coronavirus, influenza generally carries off the old and frail. Whether the infamous Spanish flu after the First World War that killed so many was a particularly potent strain is open to doubt. A more powerful factor is probably that the population it wracked was suffering greatly from malnourishment, stress and disease already as a result of the war. But unlike this coronavirus, that one did attack children badly.

Which is not to say the current coronavirus might not yet mutate into something much more lethal, but as yet there is no sign of that happening.

I was educated both at school and university very much in the liberal tradition of history. At both levels, the curriculum featured a view of historic political development very much as “progress”. The “years of revolution”, 1830 and 1848, were landmarks in this, where liberal and national movements made some progress against monarchist autocracy across the whole of Europe. These political waves of convulsion on a continent wide basis undoubtedly happened, and in the UK resulted in the Great Reform Act and the Chartist Movement. They were taught in the Macaulay/Trevelyan historical tradition as very much the product of development in thought, as a product of political philosophy, as though the masses were moved by the elegantly turned phrases of a Benthamite pamphlet.

At university, I did add to this the knowledge that poor harvests had helped precipitate events, and indeed those had featured in my A level lists of “Causes of the French Revolution”. But it was only really a few years ago, when I was researching Sikunder Burnes, that I came to focus properly on the role of epidemiology in these human convulsions. Both the 1830 and 1848 European wave of revolutions coincided with the first and second ever cholera pandemics sweeping across Europe. The reason I came across this while studying Burnes is precisely that it was the opening up of Central Asia to trade in this period, largely through Russian exploration and expansion, that brought the disease into Europe. Burnes was in 1832 in a Bokhara ravaged for years by cholera. Its great canals – which are still there – were only being opened to fresh water once a month, and they served as both water supply and sewer, as Burnes documented in detail.

Without the misery inflicted by cholera, both directly and in economic impact, the desperate urban mobs may not have existed which enabled middle class liberals – and their own auto-didactic leadership – to start the establishment of western European democracy. It seems a very strange thing to suggest that cholera pandemics forwarded social progress. But there you are. I am now proceeding to an audacious discussion as to whether a lack of effective pandemics may retard social progress. Hang on to your hats.

[As a complete aside, I also discovered while researching Alexander Burnes that the great British liberal historical tradition was founded on a truly remarkable incestuous household menage a trois between Macaulay, his sister and Charles Trevelyan, father of the historian George who may well have been Macaulay’s son and nephew, rather than the official version of just nephew, and that Macaulay had also been having sex with his other sister. So much for Victorian respectability. Sikunder Burnes is a difficult book to describe because it presents an extremely detailed and painstaking account of the life of a 19th century British imperial functionary, and then from that framework sprout all kinds of exegeses on my wider intellectual interests. I hope it reads better than that sounds].

I do hope that I am right that coronavirus will prove, like SARS, not a great threat to us. The ability of modern nutrition, living conditions and medicine to ward off serious risk of epidemic and other illness has of course resulted in a very significant increase in human longevity. The relentless increase in longevity has slowed slightly as a result of the post 2008 economic crash, but I expect it to pick up again as it is a centuries old trend. In the UK, much has been written about the economic effects of this. In the UK, the concentration of wealth in the hands of old people who are not dying and passing it down, coincides with economic changes which have made it very difficult for young people to have good secure employment and to accumulate wealth, particularly property.

At the same time, the old people may own wealth but do not much generate it. With the increasingly aged demographic profile boosted by both people living longer and by historic falling birth rates, the percentage of the population in employment is in decline. The Office of National Statistics projects that while in 2007 there were 244 pensioners for every 1000 adults of working age, by 2041 there will be 419 per 1,000. This is a well understood economic problem to which, within the UK, the answer has lain in immigration.

It is not my purpose here to touch on these economic questions. I wish rather to look at the political effects. The UK has become a gerontocracy. The proportion of British adults eligible to vote who were aged over 55 in 2007 was approximately 37%. By 2041, that will be a majority of voters aged over 55. It is quite possible that a majority of those who do cast their vote in the UK are already over 55, as voter turnout is much higher among the elderly. So by 2040 it is perfectly possible that 60% or more of all votes actually cast will be cast by people aged 55 or over.

This is significant because it is a matter of indisputable fact that voting patterns are different between the old and the young. It was, to a truly remarkable degree, only the votes of the over 55s that stopped Scottish Independence, voted for Brexit, and elected Boris Johnson. Now any time I write on this subject I get offended older people saying “well I am old but I am not a Tory”. I know. I am not claiming every old person is a Tory. But Unionism, Brexitism and Toryism all are much more predominant among older voters. And while the issues may differ by 2040, I very much doubt there will cease to be differentials between the views of the old and the young.

The long term effects of western political systems which become increasingly dominated by geriatric voters are very unlikely to include a greater willingness to adopt progressive or innovative political approaches. I do not see how there can fail to be a stultifying effect on social progress. Again, I am 61 myself. Of course there are many radical older people. But there is overwhelming evidence that is not the norm.

Gaia has ways of restoring balance. It seems to me a fascinating speculation that, as the planet’s apex predator, mankind has succeeded in increasing individual longevity by increased nutrition and an ability to stave off pandemics which nature would use to keep down the numbers, and which normally would particularly kill older people. But the result of this may be a profound reduction in the adaptability and flexibility of mankind’s political hive mind as it becomes encrusted with geriatric thought, leading to seriously bad political decisions which ultimately will impact population anyway. Climate change is the most obvious example, but the process could have long term subtle effects in many ways.

Thomas Malthus was pilloried for centuries, but his critique of the dangers of human over-population now chimes with envronmentalist concerns. I have no desire to underestimate the suffering of those unfortunate enough to be affected by coronavirus. I do not actually wish to see elderly Tories and unionists carried off by flu. But I suspect you, like me, may very seldom get to read an article referencing the interrelationship of epidemiology, longevity and political systems. As the avowed purpose of this blog is to make people think, I thought readers and commenters may care to stretch their brains on this one.

Finally, as a restorative affirmation of the fact that older people can have very positive contributions to make to political thought, here is last week’s debate between George Galloway and myself on the subject of Scottish Independence. It has become unusual in British politics to see two people with fundamentally different views on a major political issue, discuss the matter with mutual respect and absolutely no rancour. It is a practice that appears to have deserted most professional politicians, as the last disintegrating days of the UK state become increasingly acrimonious.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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The FBI Has Been Lying About Seth Rich

Par craig

A persistent American lawyer has uncovered the undeniable fact that the FBI has been continuously lying, including giving false testimony in court, in response to Freedom of Information requests for its records on Seth Rich. The FBI has previously given affidavits that it has no records regarding Seth Rich.

A Freedom of Information request to the FBI which did not mention Seth Rich, but asked for all email correspondence between FBI Head of Counterterrorism Peter Strzok, who headed the investigation into the DNC leaks and Wikileaks, and FBI attorney Lisa Page, has revealed two pages of emails which do not merely mention Seth Rich but have “Seth Rich” as their heading. The emails were provided in, to say the least, heavily redacted form.

Before I analyse these particular emails, I should make plain that they are not the major point. The major point is that the FBI claimed it had no records mentioning Seth Rich, and these have come to light in response to a different FOIA request that was not about him. What other falsely denied documents does the FBI hold about Rich, that were not fortuitously picked up by a search for correspondence between two named individuals?

To look at the documents themselves, they have to be read from the bottom up, and they consist of a series of emails between members of the Washington Field Office of the FBI (WF in the telegrams) into which Strzok was copied in, and which he ultimately forwarded on to the lawyer Lisa Page.

The opening email, at the bottom, dated 10 August 2016 at 10.32am, precisely just one month after the murder of Seth Rich, is from the media handling department of the Washington Field Office. It references Wikileaks’ offer of a reward for information on the murder of Seth Rich, and that Assange seemed to imply Rich was the source of the DNC leaks. The media handlers are asking the operations side of the FBI field office for any information on the case. The unredacted part of the reply fits with the official narrative. The redacted individual officer is “not aware of any specific involvement” by the FBI in the Seth Rich case. But his next sentence is completely redacted. Why?

It appears that “adding” references a new person added in to the list. This appears to have not worked, and probably the same person (precisely same length of deleted name) then tries again, with “adding … for real” and blames the technology – “stupid Samsung”. The interesting point here is that the person added appears not to be in the FBI – a new redacted addressee does indeed appear, and unlike all the others does not have an FBI suffix after their deleted email address. So who are they?

(This section on “adding” was updated after commenters offered a better explanation than my original one. See first comments below).

The fourth email, at 1pm on Wednesday August 10, 2016, is much the most interesting. It is ostensibly also from the Washington Field Office, but it is from somebody using a different classified email system with a very different time and date format than the others. It is apparently from somebody more senior, as the reply to it is “will do”. And every single word of this instruction has been blanked. The final email, saying that “I squashed this with …..”, is from a new person again, with the shortest name. That phrase may only have meant I denied this to a journalist, or it may have been reporting an operational command given.

As the final act in this drama, Strzok then sent the whole thread on to the lawyer, which is why we now have it. Why?

It is perfectly possible to fill in the blanks with a conversation that completely fits the official narrative. The deletions could say this was a waste of time and the FBI was not looking at the Rich case. But in that case, the FBI would have been delighted to publish it unredacted. (The small numbers in the right hand margins supposedly detail the exception to the FOIA under which deletion was made. In almost every case they are one or other category of invasion of privacy).

And if it just all said “Assange is talking nonsense. Seth Rich is nothing to do with the FBI” then why would that have to be sent on by Strzok to the FBI lawyer?

It is of course fortunate that Strzok did forward this one email thread on to the lawyer, because that is the only reason we have seen it, as a result of an FOI(A) request for the correspondence between those two.

Finally, and perhaps this is the most important point, the FBI was at this time supposed to be in the early stages of an investigation into how the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. The FBI here believed Wikileaks to be indicating the material had been leaked by Seth Rich who had then been murdered. Surely in any legitimate investigation, the investigators would have been absolutely compelled to check out the truth of this possibility, rather than treat it as a media issue?

We are asked to believe that not one of these emails says “well if the publisher of the emails says Seth Rich was the source, we had better check that out, especially as he was murdered with no sign of a suspect”. If the FBI really did not look at that, why on earth not? If the FBI genuinely, as they claim, did not even look at the murder of Seth Rich, that would surely be the most damning fact of all and reveal their “investigation” was entirely agenda driven from the start.

In June 2016 a vast cache of the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. On 10 July 2016 an employee from the location of the leak was murdered without obvious motive, in an alleged street robbery in which nothing at all was stolen. Not to investigate the possibility of a link between the two incidents would be grossly negligent. It is worth adding that, contrary to a propaganda barrage, Bloomingdale where Rich was murdered is a very pleasant area of Washington DC and by no means a murder hotspot. It is also worth noting that not only is there no suspect in Seth Rich’s murder, there has never been any semblance of a serious effort to find the killer. Washington police appear perfectly happy simply to write this case off.

I anticipate two responses to this article in terms of irrelevant and illogical whataboutery:

Firstly, it is very often the case that family members are extremely resistant to the notion that the murder of a relative may have wider political implications. This is perfectly natural. The appalling grief of losing a loved one to murder is extraordinary; to reject the cognitive dissonance of having your political worldview shattered at the same time is very natural. In the case of David Kelly, of Seth Rich, and of Wille Macrae, we see families reacting with emotional hostility to the notion that the death raises wider questions. Occasionally the motive may be still more mixed, with the prior relationship between the family and the deceased subject to other strains (I am not referencing the Rich case here).

You do occasionally get particularly stout hearted family who take the opposite tack and are prepared to take on the authorities in the search for justice, of which Commander Robert Green, son of Hilda Murrell, is a worthy example.

(As an interesting aside, I just checked his name in the Wikipedia article on Hilda, which I discovered describes Tam Dalyell “hounding” Margaret Thatcher over the Belgrano and the fact that ship was steaming away from the Falklands when destroyed with massive loss of life as a “second conspiracy theory”, the first of course being the murder of Hilda Murrell. Wikipedia really has become a cesspool.)

We have powerful cultural taboos that reinforce the notion that if the family do not want the question of the death of their loved one disturbed, nobody else should bring it up. Seth Rich’s parents, David Kelly’s wife, Willie Macrae’s brother have all been deployed by the media and the powers behind them to this effect, among many other examples. This is an emotionally powerful but logically weak method of restricting enquiry.

Secondly, I do not know and I deliberately have not inquired what are the views on other subjects of either Mr Ty Clevenger, who brought his evidence and blog to my attention, or Judicial Watch, who made the FOIA request that revealed these documents. I am interested in the evidence presented both that the FBI lied, and in the documents themselves. Those who obtained the documents may, for all I know, be dedicated otter baiters or believe in stealing ice cream from children. I am referencing the evidence they have obtained in this particular case, not endorsing – or condemning – anything else in their lives or work. I really have had enough of illogical detraction by association as a way of avoiding logical argument by an absurd extension of ad hominem argument to third parties.

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Non-Condemnatory International Reaction to Trump’s Bantustan Lite Palestine Plan Shows the “Two State” Solution Was Always a Lie

Par craig

I have read through the entire 181 pages of Trump’s “peace deal” for Israel, and it is breathtaking. It is not just that the “solution” it proposes is ludicrously one-sided, it is the entire analysis of the problem to be solved which reads as pure, unadulterated zionist propaganda.

For example, the word “violence” is used repeatedly. But it only ever refers to violence by Arabs. There is not one single mention of violence by Israel against the Palestinians, even though the ratio of killing between Israelis and Palestinians over the last ten years is approximately 80:1 . The only mention of violence against Palestinians at all relates to Kuwaiti expulsion of Palestinian refugees after the first Gulf war.

The analysis of the refugee issue is the same. Nowhere can the paper bring itself to note the key historic fact, that the Palestinian refugees were expelled from Israel. The paper treats Palestinian refugees as if they had simply materialised as an inconvenient phenomenon, like a plague of locusts. This “othering” of Palestinian refugees permeates the entire paper:

It must be stressed that many Palestinian refugees in the Middle East come from war torn countries, such as Syria and Lebanon that are extremely hostile toward the State of Israel

No. Palestinian refugees were driven by violence from the land that is now Israel. Families who lived there two generations ago have been displaced in favour of families who claim the land because their ancestors lived there eighty generations ago. That is a matter of indisputable fact.

You can claim that displacement of the Palestinians from Israel was justifiable because of the urgent need for a state for Jewish people after the Holocaust. You can claim that the displacement of Palestinians from Israel is justifiable because it is divinely ordained. You can claim the displacement of Palestinians from Israel is regrettable but irreversible. Make what argument you wish, but to refuse to acknowledge the basic fact that the Palestinian refugees were driven from Israel is a pathetic act of cowardice that underlines the sheer intellectual shoddiness of the paper.

The “deal” makes a direct equivalence between Palestinian refugees and “the Jewish refugees who were forced to flee from Arab and Muslim countries”. The language here is extremely revealing. The Jewish refugees “were forced to flee”. There is no hesitation about this claim of victimhood. Whereas there is no acknowledgement at all that the Palestinian refugees “were forced to flee” by the Israelis.

It is undoubtedly a valid point that many Jews were disgracefully and involuntarily driven out by Arab nations, and their suffering is too often overlooked. However to claim the numbers are equivalent is to ignore the fact that a significant portion of the Jewish population of Arab states moved voluntarily to the new homeland, whereas none of the Palestinians expelled from Israel left voluntarily. But the more glaring fact ignored in the paper is that the majority of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands were given the property of Palestinian refugees in Israel. The claim that both sides are in equal need of compensation is therefore a nonsense.

The failure to admit the Palestinian refugees were driven out of Israel panders disgracefully to the most extreme zionist propaganda, which claims that the land was empty before the Israelis settled it in 1948. This is a classic colonist origin myth, used repeatedly by the British Empire, by white settlers in the USA, and of course by apartheid South Africa. When the Trump deal was first published, I was genuinely astonished to find twitter awash with thousands of tweets claiming the Palestinians do not exist as a people. This is an extraordinarily prevalent racist trope among zionists and appears to be not policed on the internet at all. I have read hundreds of articles about the hateful phenomenon of anti-semitism in the mainstream media. I don’t think I have ever seen this extreme zionist racism of “there is no such thing as Palestinians” ever mentioned in the MSM as a problem. But zionist racism is a huge problem, and it underlies the fundamental analysis of the Trump paper.

If you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge, even once in 181 pages, that the Palestinian inhabitants were driven out of Israel, there is no chance the proposals built on these fundamentally dishonest foundations will be solid.

The Trump paper has three fundamental “solutions” to the Palestinian refugee issue.

1) Only those originally displaced to be deemed refugees, not their families.
2) Not one single refugee to be allowed to return to Israel (yes, it does actually say that)
3) No compensation to be paid to refugees by Israel

I have often pointed out that the proposed “two state solution” for Palestine has always been no more and no less than the old apartheid policy of “Bantustans” in South Africa, where the indigenous population were herded into six self-governing and four supposedly “independent states”.

It is worth pointing out that the apotheosis of the apartheid system, the Bantu Self-Governing Act of 1959, was given Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II, a point now rather skated over by a false narrative that apartheid was a solely Afrikaaner project post-Independence.

The major similarity that I had been pointing out with Bantustans was revealed by the map: fractured lands, not forming any kind of economically viable unit. Trump proposes Israeli annexation of the whole of the Jordan Valley, of North Jerusalem and large areas of the West Bank, the remnant of which is to be shattered by 15 Israeli sovereign settlements connected by Israeli only roads. Trump’s “Palestine” is very plainly not viable.

But the Trump proposals for how “Palestine” will run, make the Bantustan comparison still more stark. Indeed, the restrictions on the so-called “state” of Palestine under the Trump plan from having its own military or security forces are even greater than those imposed on the Bantustans by apartheid South Africa. Trump also proposes that Israel should have the right to stop Palestinian refugees from the wider diaspora entering the new “state” of Palestine.

A “state” not permitted to define its own citizens is not a state.

It does not stop there. The “state” is to have no right to a territorial sea or exclusive economic zone, with its sea to be given to Israel in contravention of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is not to be allowed to conclude treaties without Israeli consent. It is not even to be allowed to open a port but to be forced to import and export goods through Israeli ports – in other words, the Israeli economic blockade is to continue on the new “state”. Plainly, even apart from the unviable fracturing and the shrunk territory, the administrative arrangements proposed make no attempt to reach the level of statehood.

Surely, then, the proponents of the “two state solution” must have reacted strongly to this betrayal of their proposal?

Well, no.

In many ways the most incredible thing about the Trump proposals is how welcoming the western powers were. The general reaction from all European governments was that these are serious proposals with which the Palestinians must engage. While the ridiculous assessment from Dominic Raab that “this is clearly a serious proposal” is perhaps what you would expect from a state looking to the US for economic crumbs, the Palestinians might legitimately have expected better from the EU than the official response, which welcomed Trump’s “commitment to a two state solution”, of France which “welcomes Donald Trump’s efforts”, and of Germany which “appreciates that the president is sticking to the two state solution”.

The Palestinians were probably less disappointed by the support of the traitorous dictatorships of the Saudi and other Gulf States for their close Israeli ally, which is par for the course. But the fact that the international community recognises as a proposed “two state solution” a paper which in no sense whatsoever establishes a Palestinian state within any normal definition of the word, should tell us something important.

As I have repeatedly stated, those who trumpeted the “two state solution” have always been con-artists who do not believe in a viable Palestinian state at all. The fact that Blair and Bush, two dedicated ultra-zionists, stood in the Rose Garden and promised a “two state solution” as part of their propaganda for the Iraq War and other Middle East invasions, really should have shown people of goodwill this was a blind alley. The Trump proposals are a betrayal of the Palestinians, of course. But they are not unique to Trump and they are exactly what Blair, Bush and all the zionist apologists intended all along.

The “two state solution” was always a con.

There is no viable two state solution. To create a viable Palestinian state alongside a viable Israeli state would now involve highly undesirable further forced movements of population. The only long term solution for Palestine/Israel is, as with South Africa, a single state in which everybody has a vote and everybody is treated equally, irrespective of ethnicity, creed or gender.

Trump may, peculiarly, have done one good thing with these ludicrously unfair proposals. He has exposed the hollowness of the “two state solution”, and the pretence that it offers any justice to the Palestinians of way forward towards peace.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Scottish Independence is Within our Grasp if We Heed the Lesson of Toom Tabard

Par craig

There will never again be a route to Scottish Independence deemed legal by Westminster. 2014 will never be repeated. The UK will never willingly give up a third of its land, most of its fisheries, most of its mineral resources, its most marketable beef, soft fruit and whisky, most of its renewable energy potential, a vital part of its military including its primary nuclear base, its best universities in a number of key fields including life sciences, its ready pool of intellectual and professional talent. Johnson is for once honest when he says keeping the Union together is his top priority. It is the top priority of the entire British establishment.

David Cameron only agreed to the 2014 referendum because he thought the result would humiliate and kill off Scottish nationalism. Support for Independence was at 28% in the polls at the time he agreed. Westminster had the most enormous and horrible shock when support for Independence grew to 45% during the campaign as many people for the first time in their lives heard the real arguments. The Whitehall panic of the last week of the 2014 referendum campaign is not something the British Establishment ever intend to repeat.

There is a charmingly naive argument put forward by some that, if support for Independence can be grown to 60% in the opinion polls, Johnson and Westminster will have to “grant” a referendum. This is the opposite of the truth. If support for Independence is at 60%, the very last thing that the Tories will do is agree a referendum they will lose. Their resistance will be massively hardened. Remember, the Tories could have zero Tory MPs in Scotland and still have a majority of 73 in Westminster. There is no political damage for Johnson in unpopularity in Scotland. In England, his anti-Scots stance is very popular with their Cummings core support base of knuckle-dragging, ill-educated racists.

The “intellectual justification” for this stance was trailed by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the Marr programme this morning. Irrespective of the wishes of the majority in Scotland, the UK has a duty to stop Scottish Independence, to prevent anarchic secessionist forces being unleashed across Europe; he named Italy, France and Spain.

Westminster will never agree another referendum, and the more we look like winning it, the less they will agree to it.

Nor is there a route to a “legal” referendum through the courts. If a court rules that a consultative referendum is legal under the current Scotland Act (which it might well be), then the Tories will simply pass new legislation at Westminster to make it illegal. They have already done this at Westminster to overturn Scottish parliament decisions, and the UK Supreme Court have already made clear that the Sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament cannot be challenged.

Scotland can become independent, but becoming independent is, without doubt, going to be illegal in terms of UK law – which is to say Westminster law. There will not be a route to Independence agreed with Westminster.

If you believe in Scottish Independence, you believe that the Scottish nation are a “people” within the meaning of the UN Charter, and thus have an inalienable right of self-determination. That means that Westminster has no right, by legislation or by any other means, to prevent the Scottish people from exercising their self-determination.

I am sorry, but this is the fact: If you believe Scotland should only move to Independence in a Westminster-approved process, you do not really believe in Scottish Independence at all.

Which brings us to Nicola Sturgeon. Her much-trumpeted speech on the way forward following Brexit was disgraceful in explicitly stating that any referendum must be held with Westminster agreement, and that any referendum held without Westminster agreement could be “illegal”. She used the words “illegal” and “wildcat” to denigrate the idea of Scotland acting without Westminster permission.

Even the most loyal to Sturgeon of all major Independence bloggers, like James Kelly and Paul Kavanagh, could not support Sturgeon on this point.

What Sturgeon said amounts to an explicit acknowledgement of UK sovereignty over the Scottish people as both legitimate and immutable. She is accepting that the Act of Union did permanently alienate the right of self-determination. Sturgeon should heed the tale of Toom Tabard as to what respect English rulers show to Scottish leaders who accept their authority. Her speech reinforced my view that she really is much too comfortable in her role of colonial governor.

And yet…

When Sturgeon started talking about calling a Constitutional Convention I first scoffed thinking she was merely fulfilling my prediction that her “plan” would be to start yet another talking shop. But then I was astonished when she outlined the potential membership – the elected representatives of Scotland sitting together, constituting MSPs, MPs, (former) MEPs and council leaders.

I have explained at length over the last two years my proposal for a route to Independence that would lead to recognition by the international community. Donald Tusk today confirmed all I have been saying about the enormous sympathy there will be in the EU towards welcoming Scotland back, now the UK has switched status to third country state. [I knew Donald Tusk reasonably well when I was First Secretary of the British Embassy in Warsaw in the 1990s and he was an out of office politician the same age as me. I should like to think I had an effect!]

But the heart of what I was proposing is this, as I put it in December 2018

The Scottish Parliament should then convene a National Assembly of all nationally elected Scottish representatives – MSPs, MPs and MEPs. That National Assembly should declare Independence, appeal to other countries for recognition, reach agreements with the rump UK and organise a confirmatory plebiscite. That is legal, democratic and consistent with normal international practice.

Or as I put it again two weeks ago:

We should assemble all of Scotland’s MEP’s, MP’s and MSP’s in a National Assembly and declare Independence on the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, thus emphasising the historical continuity of the Scottish state. The views and laws of London now being irrelevant, we should organise, as an Independent state, our referendum to confirm Independence, to be held in September 2020.

Please do read the articles linked if you have not already done so. They explain how Scotland can legitimately become an Independent nation without regard to UK domestic law.

Now, until Sturgeon’s speech, I had never seen anybody else but me put forward the proposal that the way forward is via an assembly of all MPs, MSPs and MEPs, giving the triple legitimacy of democratic election. Sturgeon has enhanced this by adding council leaders.

There is a huge difference between an assembly – or convention – of elected representatives, and an appointed one of the great and the good. This new assembly proposed by Sturgeon is very different indeed in that respect from the Convention of the same name that helped formulate devolution.

Now I do not think for one moment that Sturgeon has convened this Convention to declare Independence. But an assembly of Scotland’s MPs, MSPs, MEPs and council leaders will have a clear Independence majority numerically and a massive Independence majority intellectually. It will have an extremely strong claim to be a properly representative assembly whose members each have a democratic mandate. The French Revolution was of course similarly precipitated by constitutional innovation convening a National Assembly combining the different Estates, and that Assembly was swept along by fervour to take proto-revolutionary measures which went far beyond the initial positions of any of its members.

The dynamic of a new constitutional body whose members feel they command legitimacy, should not be underestimated. The convening of this body will be a real constitutional innovation. We need to make sure, that like that French National Assembly, they can clearly hear a huge mob outside their windows, demanding radical and speedy change.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Quick Thoughts from the Cesspool of London

Par craig

I have been in London all week and very busy, largely on the Julian Assange campaign/Wikileaks but also researching a couple of other things. Back to Edinburgh tonight I hope.

Against the background of the appalling behaviour revealed in the Wikileaks DNC leaks, I find it impossible to look at the Iowa caucus fiasco without entertaining the suspicion that the Democratic Party machine is trying to cheat Bernie out of the nomination yet again.

A similar straw in the wind on party “management”; I was told yesterday the SNP is cancelling its Spring Conference to avoid a membership revolt over the acceptance of the Westminster veto on Indyref2. Has anyone else picked this up?

Back home and hopefully posting something substantial tomorrow.

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Get Out and Vote Sinn Fein

Par craig

A quick exhortation to my readers in Ireland to get out to the polling station and vote for Sinn Fein. Irish government has too long consisted of two centre right parties taking turns at the trough of public finance, and Varadkar’s slick disguise of his essential Thatcherism through social liberalism and identity politics is particularly nauseating. Martin’s platform of being a little bit less Thatcherite than Varadkar is scarcely appealing. In a country that is now significantly wealthier per capita than the UK, the levels of poverty and the growth of inequality are inexcusable.

But even more important than any of that is Irish unification. As Northern Ireland elects a majority of Nationalist MPs for the first time since partition, and as Brexit leads to support for reunification that reaches across communities, the traditional parties in Ireland are lukewarm and at best pay lip service to Irish unity, with no sign of any real intention to reach for it.

Those who oppose Irish unity lest it be expensive are a disgrace to their nation. People who will not take what their forbears were willing to die for, because it might cost them a little bit, are despicable. They are also missing the point entirely. Before Independence, Ireland was very impoverished compared to England. The free part of Ireland is now much richer than England. Once Northern Ireland escapes from the dead hand of UK economic centralism, it too will flourish and become much wealthier. Ireland will be a larger and more confident economic unit. Of course there will be initial dislocation effects, but Ireland is well placed to weather any short term pain – provided the rich take their fair share of the burden.

For all those reasons, do get out and vote Sinn Fein.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Mourning A Terrorist

Par craig

The aim of this blog is to put forward reasonable points of view not easily found elsewhere, and it is important not to shy away from saying things because they run directly contrary to the popular mood. The stabbing of three people in Streatham was a tragedy, and while all are recovering, the mental and perhaps physical damage will be life-changing. But the death of the terrorist, Sudesh Amman, is also a human tragedy. The government’s populist response – to lock up those convicted of terrorist offences for ever longer and to seek to ban early release, even retrospectively – is crass and will make the situation worse, not better.

Sudesh Amman died aged only twenty. He had been jailed at eighteen for crimes committed when he was just seventeen. It is vital to state that those crimes were thought crimes – before he went to jail, Sudesh Amman had never been accused of attacking anyone. He was jailed for the terrorist fantasies he harboured as a child. Whether he would ever actually have attacked anybody had he never been sent to jail is a question it is impossible to answer. That he attacked people after being sent to jail is a simple fact.

That is not to downplay the idea he was a dangerous child. He had expressed the ambition to be a terrorist, posted violent fantasy online, downloaded posts on bomb-making and had acquired a combat knife and an air pistol. He may have gone on to carry out an attack. Or it may all have been just the bluster and rage of a frustrated child in a single parent family of five kids living in unpleasant circumstances.

It seems to me that intervention by the state was entirely reasonable in view of the seventeen year old’s state of mind. It is not at all obvious to me that branding a child, who had never attacked anybody, as a “terrorist”, thus destroying his prospects in life, convicting him of terrorist thought crime as soon as he turned eighteen, and sending him to prison to mix with hardened criminals and actual terrorists, was a sensible way for the state to intervene. By fueling his sense of alienation and injustice, that seems to me a course of action almost guaranteed to ensure that this child would emerge from prison as a twenty year old determined to commit an actual terrorist attack. Which is of course exactly what happened, and the death of young Sudesh Amman himself was the inevitable end of the tragedy.

SUDESH AMMAN

A seventeen year old harbouring fantasies of gross violence, but who has not carried those fantasies into action, should be a mental health issue not a criminal law issue. The state intervention should have been aimed at making Sudesh well and with future prospects in life. That may have involved a period of involuntary in-patient treatment, and we should have facilities that can provide that without branding young people terrorists before they have done anything violent.

It is of course worth noting also that with Sudesh as with so many others, if the UK had not invaded or attacked Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, his sense of injustice towards Muslims, which he fantasised about fighting to correct, would never have arisen in the first instance.

The idea that in future the answer is to lock away youngsters for life for thinking wrong, is at the moment extremely popular and helping the Tories surf still higher on their wave of xenophobic acclaim. That will simply stoke more grievance and create more terrorism. No matter how unpopular, those of us who try to think calmly and sensibly have a duty to oppose the baying of the mob.

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Time Warp UK

Par craig

The resignation of Savid Javid yesterday as Chancellor without even presenting a budget mirrors the resignation of Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father – and in so doing says something extraordinary about lack of social progress in the UK in the intervening 130 years.

Chancellor Randolph Churchill disagreed with then Prime Minister Lord Salisbury over his first budget, and resigned. The whole spat was carried out in a splenetic and emotional fashion which was almost certainly influenced by Churchill’s mental deterioration from syphilis – which the Eton and Oxford educated Randolph had caught as a result of a Bullingdon Club jaunt.

(There is no evidence a pig was involved. There is also no evidence Winston had congenital syphilis, or that Jennie Churchill caught it from Randolph, the latter being slightly surprising).

It is to me quite incredible that the UK is still at the mercy of the whims and foibles of degenerates from not only the same class, but from within the same tiny social institutions which still confer a hereditary ability to govern a state of 60 million people now, in 2020. It makes a mockery of the UK’s claim to be a functional social polity and it makes a mockery of the very notion that “democracy” has any real existence in British society.

Johnson’s drive to centralise power is not especially different to that of Thatcher or Blair; there is a slight qualitative difference in the degree of Cummings’ policy influence, but to date I regard the claims that there is a real discontinuity in the form of UK government as overblown. Westminster has always been the seat of a massive, centralised abuse of power; perhaps it is a little bit more visible at the moment. What has enabled the continuation of oligarchic hegemony in the UK has been the destruction of the power to resist of organised labour. Thatcher quite deliberately undertook that as a massive project of social engineering, involving the deliberate destruction of all the UK’s major productive industries and replacement by a service based economy.

Blair continued the Thatcher revolution, in particular in removing government services to private providers where organised labour was weak or non-existent. The massive concentration of wealth into the hands of the rich and removal of wealth from ordinary people that ensued from the Thatcher/New Labour right wing revolution led to the reaction of Corbynism, but the roots of organised labour having been ruthlessly cut away, Corbyn found there was no longer a sufficient well of social solidarity which could support a counter narrative to the massively concentrated media propaganda.

Wealth inequality is fast heading back to levels Randolph Churchill would have recognised as he and his Bullingdon boys went whoring working class girls in Oxford. The gap between the top 1% and the 99% is shifting apart radically and is the key measure- not the gap between the 10% and 90% which the government points to disingenuously as not changing much.

Notions of social solidarity which made so much progress from 1800-1980 have gone backwards and their survival in isolated areas as a majority view is primarily as expression of national or cultural identity, notably of course in Scotland but also among immigrant groups and in cities with a strong sense of identity and civic pride. Outwith that, the UK has been engineered by unscrupulous politicians to revert to a society which delights in licking the shoes of the man from the Bullingdon Club.

Remind me, which century is this?

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Seeing Through the Lies – US Edition

Par craig

The Guardian newspaper has taken the art of obfuscation, false implication and the subtler forms of journalistic lying to new heights in its very extensive coverage of the Roger Stone sentencing saga. It has now devoted fourteen articles in the last fortnight to this rather obscure episode of American political history. Yet in not one of those articles – nor in more than a dozen articles about the Stone case that preceded it over the last few months – has the Guardian informed its readers what Stone was actually convicted of doing.

Stone was convicted of giving false testimony and misleading the FBI, because he claimed to be a conduit between Wikileaks and Trump when he was not. There was no conduit between Wikileaks and Trump. Stone was also convicted of witness intimidation, because once his fantasies got him into trouble he tried to browbeat my friend Randy Credico into backing up his tale.

The Guardian has, in a feat of some skill, contrived to give its readers the impression that Stone has been convicted for Trump/Wikileaks links, when that is in fact the precise opposite of the truth.

Stone has been convicted for fabricating the existence of Trump/Wikileaks links, of which there were none.

The Guardian has hung its entire corporate personality on Clinton identity politics and its entire financial survival on building a new online customer base among the Clinton electorate in the USA. When even the New York Times had to admit the Mueller report utterly failed to substantiate Clinton’s inane claims that the Russians had caused Clinton’s election defeat, even when a judge dismissed the DNC’s lawsuit against said Russians as being supported by no viable evidence whatsoever, even when the entire world derided the Guardian’s massive front page lie about Paul Manafort visiting Assange in the Embassy, the Guardian has persisted in reporting as fact the preposterous conspiracy theory that its heroine was thwarted from attaining supreme power by the evil machinations of Vladimir Putin.

To maintain this stance in the face of all factual evidence requires great skill and dexterity from Guardian journalists. Fortunately for the Guardian it does not lack for fantasist Russophobe fabricators like Luke Harding or for more subtly corrupt spinners like David Smith, who last week wrote of Stone that “He was the sixth former Trump aide to be convicted in cases arising from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

The oleaginous David Smith omitted to note what any half honest human being would consider a very pertinent fact – that not one of those convictions had anything at all to do with Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, being either entirely unrelated tax and corruption matters turned up while trawling, or as with Stone being questions of process. Stone’s case is unique in that not only did his conviction not relate to any Russian interference, it was for promoting precisely the same ludicrous fantasy that the Guardian is promoting. It was illegal for Stone to persist in telling his lies on oath; there is no legal bar to the Guardian promoting the same Trump/Wikileaks/Russia fantasy ad nauseam.

Yet we have the spectacle of Julian Assange standing before a judge facing extradition to the United States and up to 175 years in jail for “espionage”, when everything Wikileaks has ever published has a 100% record for truth and accuracy.

To finish with Stone, the ludicrous vindictiveness of the prosecutors in pushing for a seven to nine year jail sentence for an offence that was really no more than wasting investigators’ time with his fanatasies, was rightly called out by Donald Trump. The notion that Roger Stone threatened witnesses is problematical. Randy Credico, the only person Stone was convicted of threatening, has written to the judge asking for Stone not to be jailed and making plain he did not feel threatened. He had known Stone for years and was used to his blustering talk, which Randy never took as intended to be a serious threat.

To consider those DNC leaks published by Wikileaks in which Roger Stone claimed falsely to have a part. What the leaks did reveal was the foul play and machinations of the DNC machinery in cheating Bernie Sanders out of the nomination – including jiggling the ordering of primaries specifically to give Hillary “momentum”, and giving Hillary debate questions in advance. Nobody should be surprised to see the same tactics being deployed against Bernie Sanders – whom I should be clear I support strongly – yet again.

The “muddle” that led to CIA-linked Pete Buttigieg being able to claim victory in Iowa, for a crucial five days before the official tallies showed Bernie had in fact won was, I strongly suspect, merely a portent of what is to come. The fact the app that “misfired” was designed by four ex-Clinton staffers working for a company chaired by a Buttigieg team member is indicative of what we can expect over the next few months. The right have yet to decide on their champion to thwart Bernie. Buttigieg and Klobuchar are enjoying moments in the sun of media approval, and the DNC have now changed the rules to allow Bloomberg into future debates. That the Clintonites who have been deriding Sanders as not a Democrat, will actually switch to support Republican billionaire Bloomberg against Sanders, is something I expect to see play out over the next month as it becomes clear that neither Buttigieg nor Klobuchar can stop Bernie.

Here in the UK, I predict Bloomberg supporting Guardian editorials by April.

Still more sinister, the zionist propaganda machine has started to ramp up its attacks on Bernie. In Iowa the AIPAC linked Democrats pressure group Democratic Majority for Israel sprayed money on TV ads attacking Bernie. It is a sign of the times that Bernie Sanders, bidding to become the first Jewish President of the United States, is attacked and undermined by extreme zionists because of his entirely reasonable views on Israel/Palestine.

Despite all of which, opinion polls show Bernie with a clear lead heading towards the Nevada primary. I remain cautiously hopeful that the degree of cheating required to stop Bernie gaining the nomination would simply be too much to hide, and that the Wikileaks DNC revelations may ultimately, by showing up the dirty tricks last time, help Bernie to power this time. We should, however, never underestimate the resources of the financiers and the security state which will be deployed against Bernie in the next few months. It is going to be a fascinating year in US politics. Either the Democrats will pick a right wing standard bearer and lose to Trump, or Bernie will become President. I do not share the general fatalism on the left which deems the latter impossible.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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The post Seeing Through the Lies – US Edition appeared first on Craig Murray.

Immigration, and How People Are Valued

Par craig

In the last recorded full year, to March 2019, net migration into the UK from the EU was 59,000 while from outwith the EU it was 219,000.

That table is from racist playground the Migration Watch website. It is a poisonous organisation, but their figures seem to be correctly extrapolated from the Office of National Statistics. There is one matter on which Migration Watch are actually correct, which I will come to anon.

Non-EU net immigration has risen substantially in each of the last eight years. The second most interesting point about the Home Office’s policy statement on the new “points-based immigration system” is that none of the existing routes by which 219,000 non-EU migrants per year enter the UK is to be abolished (paras 12-13, 20-24). So that 219,000 non-EU net migrant figure will not be reduced as a result of these changes. Indeed, as several references in the paper make clear, immigration opportunities for non-EU citizens are increased as a result of this paper.

Those immigration routes for non-EU citizens are increased quite substantially. I anticipate a major surge in immigration from the Commonwealth as a result of this change. The problem the Government will find is that a points based system results in a level of automaticity of qualification. Those from English speaking countries – let’s say Ghana or India, but it is true of scores – already have the language qualification and benefit from good educational systems. Crucially, there are large very established communities from those countries already in the UK which own a vast plethora of companies, which makes securing a job offer much easier. I have no doubt whatsoever that many companies will discover an urgent need for one new accountant and two new systems administrators, and that cousins and brothers with genuine, appropriate qualifications, who previously the family was finding it difficult to bring in to the UK, will now breeze through to work for the family firm.

Speaks English? Yes, 10 points. Job offer? Yes, 20 points. Salary over £25,600? Yes, 20 points. Appropriate skill level? Accountant or IT systems administrator, yes, 20 points. For the avoidance of doubt, I have spoken to people in Ghana today already working on how to make money out of helping people get in through the scheme once it starts on 1 January.

I have written before about the tragic deprofessionalisation of the former UK Immigration Service. The system has been privatised and largely decoupled from Embassies, with visa processing handled by private companies in separate buildings. The vast majority of applications are never seen at all by an immigration professional from the Home Office or FCO. They are handled by very poorly paid employees, often locals of the country, completely as a tick box computer exercise.

In the days when the UK had a real Immigration Service, and I line managed a visa section in Accra which had 22 British professional Entry Clearance Officers in it, the very wise Chief Immigration Officer Myron Reid used to tell his staff always to remember it was not the documents they were admitting to the UK, it was the person. The key test was; did you believe the individual and should they be admitted, not how much paperwork they could produce, verification of which was always very difficult. Nowadays the much lower paid, private sector employed drones taking the vast majority of decisions seldom see the individual. The paperwork is all that counts. This will be still more the case as they tick the boxes to add up the 70 points.

I make this forecast with confidence. The net result of these changes will be increased net immigration into the UK, with a substantial spike in non-EU immigration visible in the March 2021 annual return. This is the other point on which Migration Watch are actually correct. The difference is, of course, that I very much welcome the increased immigration opportunities which will arise and believe the increased immigration is essential to our economy and society. I also find it irresistibly hilarious that the large majority of those who voted Brexit and voted Tory, who were primarily motivated by racism, will as a consequence face a substantive surge in non-white immigration. You would need a heart of stone not to laugh at that.

It is also worth noting that, while the freedom of movement with the EU was reciprocal, it is being exchanged for a new policy that will not be. It is going to be far easier for an Indian citizen to qualify to work in the UK, than for a UK citizen to go and work in India.

Do I believe that the government is deliberately seeking to increase non-EU migration? No, I don’t. I think they are just massively incompetent, have misread the effect of the points-based system which was only a vote-winning slogan, and have not understood the lack of control of implementation resulting from their austerity destruction of the professional Immigration Service.

I appreciate this is not the analysis that has been given from pretty well all other left wing thinkers. They have chosen to fight this as a radical restriction of immigration. Of course, what is lost is freedom of movement. It will be harder for EU nationals to come and work here and particularly in jobs the government deems as low-skilled. I utterly deplore the loss of free movement, which was one of the great societal advances of my lifetime. However, I suspect that many EU citizens who wish to live in the UK will still manage to gain employment that fits with the government’s rules. I want for a moment to consider the question of labour shortages in certain industries, which has dominated media debate on the points based system to date.

Firstly it is worth noting that, if not deterred by the ludicrously costly bureaucracy – and that is a real bar to genuine applicants – the paper has sufficient loopholes to allow immigrants, including EU immigrants, to come for work in many of the areas where shortages are feared. Nurses, for example, will not have to meet the minimum salary threshold, because in the NHS and other institutions national pay scales will take precedence over the minimum salary of £25,600 (para 4). In the building trade, plasterers and electricians will count as skilled. What constitutes skilled work is peculiarly arbitrary – anyone who thinks filleting fish is unskilled work should try it. Still more arbitrary is the notion that salary defines the value or the skill of work done. Care work doesn’t seem to me exactly easy.

The fundamental takeaway from this policy is that people who earn under £25,600 are viewed as inferior beings. It is remarkable that a government that claims its aim is to end discrimination between EU citizens and others, views discrimination on grounds of earnings as more laudable.

There will indeed be labour shortages arising from the imposition of this policy, in hospitality, agriculture, social care and other sectors. This will cause some economic pain. The Brexit myth that there are millions of hard working Brits waiting to re-enter the Labour market once no longer undercut by rampaging Romanians, will be exposed for the nonsense that it is. So is the idea that care homes will start paying £18 an hour to attract staff as a result of Brexit.

The paper states that there will be a power to add further “shortage occupations”, a job offer in which will give qualifying points, and I strongly suspect that will be quickly and quietly used rather than permit sectors to collapse. The power of adding shortage occupations is left by the paper with the Migration Advisory Committee, rather than with mad Priti Patel, which I am told she is not too pleased about but gives some hope the economy will not be ruined for the sake of xenophobia. But the extraordinarily high cost of immigration applications is also going to be a severe barrier to finding alternative staffing flows to EU free movement for low paid work. Upfront Home Office application charges – most of which goes to those private agencies doing the call centre type visa processing – of some £1500 will of course be an entirely new obstacle to those from the EU, and a substantial problem. So is the probable new requirement for medical insurance for EU citizens working here.

So the new policy will create at least temporary staffing shortages in some key economic sectors, will substantially diminish the rights of EU citizens, and will in my firm estimation lead overall to an increase in net immigration. I earlier referred to the second most interesting point being that the new policy did nothing to block pre-existing routes to non-EU immigration. The most interesting point of all is that it is a disaster for the rights of British citizens. British citizens lose the right to move freely around Europe, to work, settle and lead their lives over the vast majority of that great continent. It is an appalling restriction on the opportunities of all of us, especially of the young.

This great freedom has been thrown away to promote the views of racists. Those racists are so incompetent that at the same time as shredding British citizens’ right to migrate freely to the EU, they are inadvertently opening the doors to a new net increase in immigration into the UK largely from outwith the EU. This level of hapless blundering is a further marker in the extraordinary deterioration of the UK state as functioning entity.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Assange Hearing: A Reticent Request

Par craig

Julian Assange will stand next week in the armoured dock, accused of the “crime” of publishing. It is worth recalling that Wikileaks has a 100% record of accuracy. Nothing it has published has ever been shown to be inauthentic. Julian stands accused of the crime of telling the truth – more than that, of telling freely to the ordinary people of the world about the crimes which the powerful seek to conceal.

It is a sad and damning fact that nobody in the United States has ever been jailed for the war crimes Wikileaks has revealed, for the massacre of journalists and of children, for the torture or for the corruption. Instead, the publisher who helped whistleblowers to get the truth out to the people has suffered enormously, and is threatened with incarceration for the rest of his life.

We might also consider that none of Julian’s publishing ever took place inside the United States. The USA is trying to extradite him for publishing American secrets outside the USA, in a startling claim of worldwide jurisdiction. It is a prosecution that would if successful have a massive chilling effect on investigative journalists all over the globe. The fact that the mainstream media editors who gleefully republished Wikileaks’ revelations are not also in the dock reflects the fact that the security services are now very confident they have those outlets under control.

For these and many other reasons, Julian’s hearing next week is extremely important and I am going down to London today for ten days to cover it and to take part in associated events. I do hope everybody will make a real effort to join the protests.

With great reluctance, I am obliged to ask for donations to help this blog cover the Assange court case. We have rented a house close to the court and I will be trying to queue in the early hours of the morning to get one of the tiny number of seats available to the public at the hearing. The last year has seen constant travels down to London to support Julian in one way and another, and funds for the blog are running very low at the moment – very substantially less than 1% of readers subscribe (I am grateful to and humbled by those who do subscribe). I generally do not seek one off donations, as long term income is required to keep things on the road, but for the Assange – and Salmond – cases to be covered properly an exception is needed. With humility and reticence, I therefore ask if a few people could put some small donations forward using the standard payment details below.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
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Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post The Assange Hearing: A Reticent Request appeared first on Craig Murray.

Roger Waters on Julian Assange

Par craig

Roger Waters has become one of the most eloquent and persistent supporters of Julian Assange. He is prepared to challenge the propagandists of the mainstream media head-on in a way that many more people should do.

For yesterday’s rally for Assange Roger had prepared a talk putting Julian’s persecution in a global context. He did not have time to give the whole speech, and so I asked him if I could publish it:

WE ARE HERE TODAY FOR JULIAN ASSANGE.

But I have four names on this piece of paper.

The First and last of course is Julian Assange, A Journalist, a courageous shiner of light into the dark places from which the powers that be would dearly like to have us turn away.

Julian Assange. A name to be carved with pride intoany monument to human progress.

Julian is why we are here today, but this is no parochial protest. We are today part of a global movement, a global movement that might be the beginning of the global enlightenment that this fragile planet so desperately needs.

Ok. Second Name. Sent to me by my friend VJ Prashad.

Second name is Aamir Aziz, Aamir is a young poet and activist in Delhi involved in the fight against Modi and his rascist Citizenship law.

Everything Will Be Remembered

Kill us, we will become ghosts and write
of your killings, with all the evidence.
You write jokes in court;
We will write ‘justice’ on the walls.
We will speak so loudly that even the deaf will hear.
We will write so clearly that even the blind will read.
You write ‘injustice’ on the earth;
We will write ‘revolution’ in the sky.
Everything will be remembered;
Everything recorded

This out pouring of the human spirit from India is taking place in a time of revolt, when the fetters of propriety are set aside.

As we meet here in London, across the Atlantic in Argentina thousands of women are taking to the streets to demand the legalization of abortion from President Fernandez.

It’s not just Argentina. This last year we have seen major protests erupt across the whole world against neoliberal/fascist regimes. In Chile, The Lebanon, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti,France and now, of course also in Bolivia fighting the new US imposed military dictatorship there.

When will we see the name of England appended to that noble list? I sense the scratching of heads in drawing rooms across the home counties, “What’s he talking about, the man’s a bloody pinkopervert, bloody anti semite, what’s he talking about? We don’t live in a dictatorship, this is a free country, a democracy, with all the finest traditions of fair play, pah!”

Well, I’ve got news for you Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells. We’d like to think this is a free country, but are we really free? Why, when Julian Assange is brought to the dock in the tiny magistrates court inside Belmarsh prison are so many seats occupied by anonymous American suits, whispering instructions into the attentive ear of the prosecution’s lead barrister, James Lewis QC?

Why?

Because we don’t live in a free country, we live in a glorified dog kennel and we bark and/or wag our tails at the bidding of our lords and masters across the pond.

I stand here today, in front of the Mother of Parliaments, and there she stands blushing in all her embarrassment. And just upstream from here is Runnemede, where in 1215, we, the English, laid out the rudiments of common law. Magna Carta, ratified in 1297 article 29 of whichgave us Habeus Corpus. Or did it? It stated:

“The body of a free man is not to be arrested, or imprisoned, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way ruined, nor is the king to go against him or send forcibly against him, except by judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Sadly, Article 29 is not enforceable in modern law. Magna Carta is only an idea, and in this propaganda driven modern world, it provides no check in principle to Parliament legislating against the rights of citizens.

We do however have an extradition treaty with the USA and in the first paragraph of article 4 of that treaty it states. “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.” Julian Assange has committed no crime but he has committed a political act. He has spoken truth to power. He has angered some of our masters in Washington by telling the truth and in retribution for the act of telling the truth they want his blood.

Yesterday in front of Battersea Power Station I did a TV interview for SKY news to promote this event, there was no visual link, so my only contact with the lady asking me questions was via an ear bud on a curly wire. I learned something about telling truth in the phrasing of her questions to me. She came at me like some crazed Don Quixote every question laced, thick with the smears and innuendo and the false accusations with which the powers that be have been trying to blacken Julian Assange’s name. She rattled off the tired, but well prepared narrative, and then interrupted constantly when I made reply. I don’t know who she is, she may mean well. If she does, my advice would be to stop drinking the Kool-aid, and if she actually gives a fig for her chosen profession get her sorry ass down here and join us.

So England. I call upon our prime minister,Boris Johnson, to declare his colours, does he support the spirit of Magna Carta? Does he believe in, democracy, freedom, fair play, free speech, and especially the freedom of the press? If the answer to those questions is yes, then come on Prime Minister be the British Bulldog you would have us all believe you are? Stand up to the bluster of American hegemony, call off this show trial, this charade, this kangaroo court. “The evidence before the court is incontrovertible.” Julian Assange is an innocent man. A journalist doing very important work for “we the people” by exposing the crimes of powerful sociopaths in the corridors of power.

I call on you to free him today.

I cannot leave this stage without mention of Chelsea Manning, who provided some of the material that Julian published.

Chelsea has been in a federal prison for a year incarcerated by the Americans for refusing, on principle, to give evidence to a grand jury specifically convened to make an example of Julian Assange. What courage. They are also fining her $1,000 a day. Chelsea yours is another name to be carved in pride, I’ve been reading the latest on your case, it looks as if your legal team are finding light at the end of the tunnel, please god, you get out soon back to your loved ones, you are a true hero.You exemplify the bulldog spirit that I was talking about a few moments ago.

Also Daniel Hale

Daniel is a whistle-blower you may not know yet. He was in a great documentary movie National Bird, made by my good friend Sonia Kennebeck. He was part of the US drone program targeting Afghans in their own country from some mobile command center in Navada. When his stint in the USAF was over. Daniel’s good heart refused to edit out the burden of remorse he carried and he very bravely decided to tell his story. The FBI/CIA have pursued Daniel remorselessly ever since and he is now in prison awaiting trial. Daniel’s is another name to be carved in pride. Those of us who have never compromised our liberty in the cause of freedom, who have never picked up the burning torch and held it trembling over the crimes of their superior officers, can only wonder at the extraordinary courage of those who have.

There are other speakers here, so I will make way, I could stand here all day railing against the dying of the light should we not stand Bulldog like, with arms linked, ranks closed in front of our brother and comrade Julian Assange. And when the lackies of the American Empire come to take him, to destroy him and hang him in the hedge as a warning to frighten future journalists, we will look them in the eye and steadfast with one voice we will intone.

“Over our dead fucking bodies.”

Roger Waters Feb 22nd 2020

You can see Roger delivering the truncated version, with force but still self-deprecation, on this video of yesterday’s event. You can also see great speeches including by Yanis Varoufakis and Brian Eno. I hope you will forgive me for setting the video to start at my own speech, which was the final one. It was only by the generosity of readers of this blog that I have been able to be here campaigning this week at all.

Today I move from the centre of London down to Woolwich and have to get to Belmarsh Magistrate’s Court (which is entered through Woolwich Crown Court) before dawn to try to queue for one of the 14 public seats in the courtroom. Holding the hearing in such a tiny court is a deliberate act of censorship by the British government. If any readers can offer practical advice on where to queue precisely in terms of access to the building it would be extremely welcome. There is of course no guarantee that the authorities will respect any queue, or have not reserved some of the public seats for the US Embassy etc.

I promise this is the last time I shall repeat this appeal:

With great reluctance, I am obliged to ask for donations to help this blog cover the Assange court case. We have rented a house close to the court and I will be trying to queue in the early hours of the morning to get one of the tiny number of seats available to the public at the hearing. The last year has seen constant travels down to London to support Julian in one way and another, and funds for the blog are running very low at the moment – very substantially less than 1% of readers subscribe (I am grateful to and humbled by those who do subscribe – and was very touched to meet so many subscribers at yesterday’s rally. Please don’t feel reticent to introduce yourselves, it gives me heart). I generally do not seek one off donations, as long term income is required to keep things on the road, but for the Assange – and Salmond – cases to be covered properly an exception is needed. With humility and reticence, I therefore ask if a few people could put some small donations forward using the standard payment details below.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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The post Roger Waters on Julian Assange appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

Par craig

Woolwich Crown Court is designed to impose the power of the state. Normal courts in this country are public buildings, deliberately placed by our ancestors right in the centre of towns, almost always just up a few steps from a main street. The major purpose of their positioning and of their architecture was to facilitate public access in the belief that it is vital that justice can be seen by the public.

Woolwich Crown Court, which hosts Belmarsh Magistrates Court, is built on totally the opposite principle. It is designed with no other purpose than to exclude the public. Attached to a prison on a windswept marsh far from any normal social centre, an island accessible only through navigating a maze of dual carriageways, the entire location and architecture of the building is predicated on preventing public access. It is surrounded by a continuation of the same extremely heavy duty steel paling barrier that surrounds the prison. It is the most extraordinary thing, a courthouse which is a part of the prison system itself, a place where you are already considered guilty and in jail on arrival. Woolwich Crown Court is nothing but the physical negation of the presumption of innocence, the very incarnation of injustice in unyielding steel, concrete and armoured glass. It has precisely the same relationship to the administration of justice as Guantanamo Bay or the Lubyanka. It is in truth just the sentencing wing of Belmarsh prison.

When enquiring about facilities for the public to attend the hearing, an Assange activist was told by a member of court staff that we should realise that Woolwich is a “counter-terrorism court”. That is true de facto, but in truth a “counter-terrorism court” is an institution unknown to the UK constitution. Indeed, if a single day at Woolwich Crown Court does not convince you the existence of liberal democracy is now a lie, then your mind must be very closed indeed.

Extradition hearings are not held at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. They are always held at Westminster Magistrates Court as the application is deemed to be delivered to the government at Westminster. Now get your head around this. This hearing is at Westminster Magistrates Court. It is being held by the Westminster magistrates and Westminster court staff, but located at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. All of which weird convolution is precisely so they can use the “counter-terrorist court” to limit public access and to impose the fear of the power of the state.

One consequence is that, in the courtroom itself, Julian Assange is confined at the back of the court behind a bulletproof glass screen. He made the point several times during proceedings that this makes it very difficult for him to see and hear the proceedings. The magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser, chose to interpret this with studied dishonesty as a problem caused by the very faint noise of demonstrators outside, as opposed to a problem caused by Assange being locked away from the court in a massive bulletproof glass box.

Now there is no reason at all for Assange to be in that box, designed to restrain extremely physically violent terrorists. He could sit, as a defendant at a hearing normally would, in the body of the court with his lawyers. But the cowardly and vicious Baraitser has refused repeated and persistent requests from the defence for Assange to be allowed to sit with his lawyers. Baraitser of course is but a puppet, being supervised by Chief Magistrate Lady Arbuthnot, a woman so enmeshed in the defence and security service establishment I can conceive of no way in which her involvement in this case could be more corrupt.

It does not matter to Baraitser or Arbuthnot if there is any genuine need for Assange to be incarcerated in a bulletproof box, or whether it stops him from following proceedings in court. Baraitser’s intention is to humiliate Assange, and to instill in the rest of us horror at the vast crushing power of the state. The inexorable strength of the sentencing wing of the nightmarish Belmarsh Prison must be maintained. If you are here, you are guilty.

It’s the Lubyanka. You may only be a remand prisoner. This may only be a hearing not a trial. You may have no history of violence and not be accused of any violence. You may have three of the country’s most eminent psychiatrists submitting reports of your history of severe clinical depression and warning of suicide. But I, Vanessa Baraitser, am still going to lock you up in a box designed for the most violent of terrorists. To show what we can do to dissidents. And if you can’t then follow court proceedings, all the better.

You will perhaps better accept what I say about the Court when I tell you that, for a hearing being followed all round the world, they have brought it to a courtroom which had a total number of sixteen seats available to members of the public. 16. To make sure I got one of those 16 and could be your man in the gallery, I was outside that great locked iron fence queuing in the cold, wet and wind from 6am. At 8am the gate was unlocked, and I was able to walk inside the fence to another queue before the doors of the courtroom, where despite the fact notices clearly state the court opens to the public at 8am, I had to queue outside the building again for another hour and forty minutes. Then I was processed through armoured airlock doors, through airport type security, and had to queue behind two further locked doors, before finally getting to my seat just as the court started at 10am. By which stage the intention was we should have been thoroughly cowed and intimidated, not to mention drenched and potentially hypothermic.

There was a separate media entrance and a media room with live transmission from the courtroom, and there were so many scores of media I thought I could relax and not worry as the basic facts would be widely reported. In fact, I could not have been more wrong. I followed the arguments very clearly every minute of the day, and not a single one of the most important facts and arguments today has been reported anywhere in the mainstream media. That is a bold claim, but I fear it is perfectly true. So I have much work to do to let the world know what actually happened. The mere act of being an honest witness is suddenly extremely important, when the entire media has abandoned that role.

James Lewis QC made the opening statement for the prosecution. It consisted of two parts, both equally extraordinary. The first and longest part was truly remarkable for containing no legal argument, and for being addressed not to the magistrate but to the media. It is not just that it was obvious that is where his remarks were aimed, he actually stated on two occasions during his opening statement that he was addressing the media, once repeating a sentence and saying specifically that he was repeating it again because it was important that the media got it.

I am frankly astonished that Baraitser allowed this. It is completely out of order for a counsel to address remarks not to the court but to the media, and there simply could not be any clearer evidence that this is a political show trial and that Baraitser is complicit in that. I have not the slightest doubt that the defence would have been pulled up extremely quickly had they started addressing remarks to the media. Baraitser makes zero pretence of being anything other than in thrall to the Crown, and by extension to the US Government.

The points which Lewis wished the media to know were these: it is not true that mainstream outlets like the Guardian and New York Times are also threatened by the charges against Assange, because Assange was not charged with publishing the cables but only with publishing the names of informants, and with cultivating Manning and assisting him to attempt computer hacking. Only Assange had done these things, not mainstream outlets.

Lewis then proceeded to read out a series of articles from the mainstream media attacking Assange, as evidence that the media and Assange were not in the same boat. The entire opening hour consisted of the prosecution addressing the media, attempting to drive a clear wedge between the media and Wikileaks and thus aimed at reducing media support for Assange. It was a political address, not remotely a legal submission. At the same time, the prosecution had prepared reams of copies of this section of Lewis’ address, which were handed out to the media and given them electronically so they could cut and paste.

Following an adjournment, magistrate Baraitser questioned the prosecution on the veracity of some of these claims. In particular, the claim that newspapers were not in the same position because Assange was charged not with publication, but with “aiding and abetting” Chelsea Manning in getting the material, did not seem consistent with Lewis’ reading of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which said that merely obtaining and publishing any government secret was an offence. Surely, Baraitser suggested, that meant that newspapers just publishing the Manning leaks would be guilty of an offence?

This appeared to catch Lewis entirely off guard. The last thing he had expected was any perspicacity from Baraitser, whose job was just to do what he said. Lewis hummed and hawed, put his glasses on and off several times, adjusted his microphone repeatedly and picked up a succession of pieces of paper from his brief, each of which appeared to surprise him by its contents, as he waved them haplessly in the air and said he really should have cited the Shayler case but couldn’t find it. It was liking watching Columbo with none of the charm and without the killer question at the end of the process.

Suddenly Lewis appeared to come to a decision. Yes, he said much more firmly. The 1989 Official Secrets Act had been introduced by the Thatcher Government after the Ponting Case, specifically to remove the public interest defence and to make unauthorised possession of an official secret a crime of strict liability – meaning no matter how you got it, publishing and even possessing made you guilty. Therefore, under the principle of dual criminality, Assange was liable for extradition whether or not he had aided and abetted Manning. Lewis then went on to add that any journalist and any publication that printed the official secret would therefore also be committing an offence, no matter how they had obtained it, and no matter if it did or did not name informants.

Lewis had thus just flat out contradicted his entire opening statement to the media stating that they need not worry as the Assange charges could never be applied to them. And he did so straight after the adjournment, immediately after his team had handed out copies of the argument he had now just completely contradicted. I cannot think it has often happened in court that a senior lawyer has proven himself so absolutely and so immediately to be an unmitigated and ill-motivated liar. This was undoubtedly the most breathtaking moment in today’s court hearing.

Yet remarkably I cannot find any mention anywhere in the mainstream media that this happened at all. What I can find, everywhere, is the mainstream media reporting, via cut and paste, Lewis’s first part of his statement on why the prosecution of Assange is not a threat to press freedom; but nobody seems to have reported that he totally abandoned his own argument five minutes later. Were the journalists too stupid to understand the exchanges?

The explanation is very simple. The clarification coming from a question Baraitser asked Lewis, there is no printed or electronic record of Lewis’ reply. His original statement was provided in cut and paste format to the media. His contradiction of it would require a journalist to listen to what was said in court, understand it and write it down. There is no significant percentage of mainstream media journalists who command that elementary ability nowadays. “Journalism” consists of cut and paste of approved sources only. Lewis could have stabbed Assange to death in the courtroom, and it would not be reported unless contained in a government press release.

I was left uncertain of Baraitser’s purpose in this. Plainly she discomfited Lewis very badly on this point, and appeared rather to enjoy doing so. On the other hand the point she made is not necessarily helpful to the defence. What she was saying was essentially that Julian could be extradited under dual criminality, from the UK point of view, just for publishing, whether or not he conspired with Chelsea Manning, and that all the journalists who published could be charged too. But surely this is a point so extreme that it would be bound to be invalid under the Human Rights Act? Was she pushing Lewis to articulate a position so extreme as to be untenable – giving him enough rope to hang himself – or was she slavering at the prospect of not just extraditing Assange, but of mass prosecutions of journalists?

The reaction of one group was very interesting. The four US government lawyers seated immediately behind Lewis had the grace to look very uncomfortable indeed as Lewis baldly declared that any journalist and any newspaper or broadcast media publishing or even possessing any government secret was committing a serious offence. Their entire strategy had been to pretend not to be saying that.

Lewis then moved on to conclude the prosecution’s arguments. The court had no decision to make, he stated. Assange must be extradited. The offence met the test of dual criminality as it was an offence both in the USA and UK. UK extradition law specifically barred the court from testing whether there was any evidence to back up the charges. If there had been, as the defence argued, abuse of process, the court must still extradite and then the court must pursue the abuse of process as a separate matter against the abusers. (This is a particularly specious argument as it is not possible for the court to take action against the US government due to sovereign immunity, as Lewis well knows). Finally, Lewis stated that the Human Rights Act and freedom of speech were completely irrelevant in extradition proceedings.

Edward Fitzgerald then arose to make the opening statement for the defence. He started by stating that the motive for the prosecution was entirely political, and that political offences were specifically excluded under article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty. He pointed out that at the time of the Chelsea Manning Trial and again in 2013 the Obama administration had taken specific decisions not to prosecute Assange for the Manning leaks. This had been reversed by the Trump administration for reasons that were entirely political.

On abuse of process, Fitzgerald referred to evidence presented to the Spanish criminal courts that the CIA had commissioned a Spanish security company to spy on Julian Assange in the Embassy, and that this spying specifically included surveillance of Assange’s privileged meetings with his lawyers to discuss extradition. For the state trying to extradite to spy on the defendant’s client-lawyer consultations is in itself grounds to dismiss the case. (This point is undoubtedly true. Any decent judge would throw the case out summarily for the outrageous spying on the defence lawyers).

Fitzgerald went on to say the defence would produce evidence the CIA not only spied on Assange and his lawyers, but actively considered kidnapping or poisoning him, and that this showed there was no commitment to proper rule of law in this case.

Fitzgerald said that the prosecution’s framing of the case contained deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that also amounted to abuse of process. It was not true that there was any evidence of harm to informants, and the US government had confirmed this in other fora, eg in Chelsea Manning’s trial. There had been no conspiracy to hack computers, and Chelsea Manning had been acquitted on that charge at court martial. Lastly it was untrue that Wikileaks had initiated publication of unredacted names of informants, as other media organisations had been responsible for this first.

Again, so far as I can see, while the US allegation of harm to informants is widely reported, the defence’s total refutation on the facts and claim that the fabrication of facts amounts to abuse of process is not much reported at all. Fitzgerald finally referred to US prison conditions, the impossibility of a fair trial in the US, and the fact the Trump Administration has stated foreign nationals will not receive First Amendment protections, as reasons that extradition must be barred. You can read the whole defence statement, but in my view the strongest passage was on why this is a political prosecution, and thus precluded from extradition.

For the purposes of section 81(a), I next have to deal with the question of how
this politically motivated prosecution satisfies the test of being directed against
Julian Assange because of his political opinions. The essence of his political
opinions which have provoked this prosecution are summarised in the reports
of Professor Feldstein [tab 18], Professor Rogers [tab 40], Professor Noam
Chomsky [tab 39] and Professor Kopelman:-
i. He is a leading proponent of an open society and of freedom of expression.
ii. He is anti-war and anti-imperialism.
iii. He is a world-renowned champion of political transparency and of the
public’s right to access information on issues of importance – issues such
as political corruption, war crimes, torture and the mistreatment of
Guantanamo detainees.
5.4.Those beliefs and those actions inevitably bring him into conflict with powerful
states including the current US administration, for political reasons. Which
explains why he has been denounced as a terrorist and why President Trump
has in the past called for the death penalty.
5.5.But I should add his revelations are far from confined to the wrongdoings of
the US. He has exposed surveillance by Russia; and published exposes of Mr
Assad in Syria; and it is said that WikiLeaks revelations about corruption in
Tunisia and torture in Egypt were the catalyst for the Arab Spring itself.
5.6.The US say he is no journalist. But you will see a full record of his work in
Bundle M. He has been a member of the Australian journalists union since
2009, he is a member of the NUJ and the European Federation of Journalists.
He has won numerous media awards including being honoured with the
highest award for Australian journalists. His work has been recognised by the
Economist, Amnesty International and the Council of Europe. He is the winner
of the Martha Gelhorn prize and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize, including both last year and this year. You can see from the
materials that he has written books, articles and documentaries. He has had
articles published in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post
and the New Statesman, just to name a few. Some of the very publications for
which his extradition is being sought have been refereed to and relied upon in
Courts throughout the world, including the UK Supreme Court and the
European Court of Human Rights. In short, he has championed the cause of
transparency and freedom of information throughout the world.
5.7.Professor Noam Chomsky puts it like this: – ‘in courageously upholding
political beliefs that most of profess to share he has performed an
enormous service to all those in the world who treasure the values of
freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know
what their elected representatives are doing’ [see tab 39, paragraph 14].
So Julian Assange’s positive impact on the world is undeniable. The hostility
it has provoked from the Trump administration is equally undeniable.
The legal test for ‘political opinions’
5.8.I am sure you are aware of the legal authorities on this issue: namely whether
a request is made because of the defendant’s political opinions. A broad
approach has to be adopted when applying the test. In support of this we rely
on the case of Re Asliturk [2002] EWHC 2326 (abuse authorities, tab 11, at
paras 25 – 26) which clearly establishes that such a wide approach should be
adopted to the concept of political opinions. And that will clearly cover Julian
Assange’s ideological positions. Moreover, we also rely on cases such as
Emilia Gomez v SSHD [2000] INLR 549 at tab 43 of the political offence
authorities bundle. These show that the concept of “political opinions” extends
to the political opinions imputed to the individual citizen by the state which
prosecutes him. For that reason the characterisation of Julian Assange and
WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence agency” by Mr Pompeo makes
clear that he has been targeted for his imputed political opinions. All the
experts whose reports you have show that Julian Assange has been targeted
because of the political position imputed to him by the Trump administration –
as an enemy of America who must be brought down.

Tomorrow the defence continue. I am genuinely uncertain what will happen as I feel at the moment far too exhausted to be there at 6am to queue to get in. But I hope somehow I will contrive another report tomorrow evening.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2

Par craig

This afternoon Julian’s Spanish lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, left court to return to Madrid. On the way out he naturally stopped to shake hands with his client, proffering his fingers through the narrow slit in the bulletproof glass cage. Assange half stood to take his lawyer’s hand. The two security guards in the cage with Assange immediately sprang up, putting hands on Julian and forcing him to sit down, preventing the handshake.

That was not by any means the worst thing today, but it is a striking image of the senseless brute force continually used against a man accused of publishing documents. That a man cannot even shake his lawyer’s hand goodbye is against the entire spirit in which the members of the legal system like to pretend the law is practised. I offer that startling moment as encapsulating yesterday’s events in court.

Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings.

Magistrate Baraitser looked at Fitzgerald and stated, in a voice laced with disdain, that he had raised such matters before and she had always replied that she had no jurisdiction over the prison estate. He should take it up with the prison authorities. Fitzgerald remained on his feet, which drew a very definite scowl from Baraitser, and replied that of course they would do that again, but this repeated behaviour by the prison authorities threatened the ability of the defence to prepare. He added that regardless of jurisdiction, in his experience it was common practice for magistrates and judges to pass on comments and requests to the prison service where the conduct of the trial was affected, and that jails normally listened to magistrates sympathetically.

Baraitser flat-out denied any knowledge of such a practice, and stated that Fitzgerald should present her with written arguments setting out the case law on jurisdiction over prison conditions. This was too much even for prosecution counsel James Lewis, who stood up to say the prosecution would also want Assange to have a fair hearing, and that he could confirm that what the defence were suggesting was normal practice. Even then, Baraitser still refused to intervene with the prison. She stated that if the prison conditions were so bad as to reach the very high bar of making a fair hearing impossible, the defence should bring a motion to dismiss the charges on those grounds. Otherwise they should drop it.

Both prosecution and defence seemed surprised by Baraitser’s claim that she had not heard of what they both referred to as common practice. Lewis may have been genuinely concerned at the shocking description of Assange’s prison treatment yesterday; or he may have just had warning klaxons going off in his head screaming “mistrial”. But the net result is Baraitser will attempt to do nothing to prevent Julian’s physical and mental abuse in jail nor to try to give him the ability to participate in his defence. The only realistic explanation that occurs to me is that Baraitser has been warned off, because this continual mistreatment and confiscation of documents is on senior government authority.

A last small incident for me to recount: having queued again from the early hours, I was at the final queue before the entrance to the public gallery, when the name was called out of Kristin Hrnafsson, editor of Wikileaks, with whom I was talking at the time. Kristin identified himself, and was told by the court official he was barred from the public gallery.

Now I was with Kristin throughout the entire proceedings the previous day, and he had done absolutely nothing amiss – he is rather a quiet gentleman. When he was called for, it was by name and by job description – they were specifically banning the editor of Wikileaks from the trial. Kristin asked why and was told it was a decision of the Court.

At this stage John Shipton, Julian’s father, announced that in this case the family members would all leave too, and they did so, walking out of the building. They and others then started tweeting the news of the family walkout. This appeared to cause some consternation among court officials, and fifteen minutes later Kristin was re-admitted. We still have no idea what lay behind this. Later in the day journalists were being briefed by officials it was simply over queue-jumping, but that seems improbable as he was removed by staff who called him by name and title, rather than had spotted him as a queue-jumper.

None of the above goes to the official matter of the case. All of the above tells you more about the draconian nature of the political show-trial which is taking place than does the charade being enacted in the body of the court. There were moments today when I got drawn in to the court process and achieved the suspension of disbelief you might do in theatre, and began thinking “Wow, this case is going well for Assange”. Then an event such as those recounted above kicks in, a coldness grips your heart, and you recall there is no jury here to be convinced. I simply do not believe that anything said or proved in the courtroom can have an impact on the final verdict of this court.

So to the actual proceedings in the case.

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.

Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:

a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs

Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.

Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.

Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…

Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.

After a brief break, Baraitser came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. Summers replied that agreed evidence or prosecution evidence at the US court martial clearly was agreed by the US government as fact, and what was at issue at the moment was whether the US government was charging contrary to the facts it knew. Baraitser said she would return to her point once witnesses were heard.

Baraitser was now making no attempt to conceal a hostility to the defence argument, and seemed irritated they had the temerity to make it. This burst out when discussing c), the Iraq war rules of engagement. Summers argued that these had not been solicited from Manning, but had rather been provided by Manning in an accompanying file along with the Collateral Murder video that showed the murder of Reuters journalists and children. Manning’s purpose, as she stated at her court martial, was to show that the Collateral Murder actions breached the rules of engagement, even though the Department of Defense claimed otherwise. Summers stated that by not including this context, the US extradition request was deliberately misleading as it did not even mention the Collateral Murder video at all.

At this point Baraitser could not conceal her contempt. Try to imagine Lady Bracknell saying “A Handbag” or “the Brighton line”, or if your education didn’t run that way try to imagine Pritti Patel spotting a disabled immigrant. This is a literal quote:

“Are you suggesting, Mr Summers, that the authorities, the Government, should have to provide context for its charges?”

An unfazed Summers replied in the affirmative and then went on to show where the Supreme Court had said so in other extradition cases. Baraitser was showing utter confusion that anybody could claim a significant distinction between the Government and God.

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. This was only claimed in relation to materials a) and d). Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book Wikileaks, published in February 2011.

Nobody had put 2 and 2 together on this password until the German publication Der Freitag had done so and announced it had the unredacted cables in August 2011. Summers then gave the most powerful arguments of the day.

The US government had been actively participating in the redaction exercise on the cables. They therefore knew the allegations of reckless publication to be untrue.

Once Der Freitag announced they had the unredacted materials, Julian Assange and Sara Harrison instantly telephoned the White House, State Department and US Embassy to warn them named sources may be put at risk. Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

With relation to the same behaviour 3) on materials d), Summers showed that the Manning court martial had accepted these materials contained no endangered source names, but showed that Wikileaks had activated a redaction exercise anyway as a “belt and braces” approach.

There was much more from the defence. For the prosecution, James Lewis indicated he would reply in depth later in proceedings, but wished to state that the prosecution does not accept the court martial evidence as fact, and particularly does not accept any of the “self-serving” testimony of Chelsea Manning, whom he portrayed as a convicted criminal falsely claiming noble motives. The prosecution generally rejected any notion that this court should consider the truth or otherwise of any of the facts; those could only be decided at trial in the USA.

Then, to wrap up proceedings, Baraitser dropped a massive bombshell. She stated that although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbade political extraditions, this was only in the Treaty. That exemption does not appear in the UK Extradition Act. On the face of it therefore political extradition is not illegal in the UK, as the Treaty has no legal force on the Court. She invited the defence to address this argument in the morning.

It is now 06.35am and I am late to start queuing…

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3

Par craig

In yesterday’s proceedings in court, the prosecution adopted arguments so stark and apparently unreasonable I have been fretting on how to write them up in a way that does not seem like caricature or unfair exaggeration on my part. What has been happening in this court has long moved beyond caricature. All I can do is give you my personal assurance that what I recount actually is what happened.

As usual, I shall deal with procedural matters and Julian’s treatment first, before getting in to a clear account of the legal arguments made.

Vanessa Baraitser is under a clear instruction to mimic concern by asking, near the end of every session just before we break anyway, if Julian is feeling well and whether he would like a break. She then routinely ignores his response. Yesterday he replied at some length he could not hear properly in his glass box and could not communicate with his lawyers (at some point yesterday they had started preventing him passing notes to his counsel, which I learn was the background to the aggressive prevention of his shaking Garzon’s hand goodbye).

Baraitser insisted he might only be heard through his counsel, which given he was prevented from instructing them was a bit rich. This being pointed out, we had a ten minute adjournment while Julian and his counsel were allowed to talk down in the cells – presumably where they could be more conveniently bugged yet again.

On return, Edward Fitzgerald made a formal application for Julian to be allowed to sit beside his lawyers in the court. Julian was “a gentle, intellectual man” and not a terrorist. Baraitser replied that releasing Assange from the dock into the body of the court would mean he was released from custody. To achieve that would require an application for bail.

Again, the prosecution counsel James Lewis intervened on the side of the defence to try to make Julian’s treatment less extreme. He was not, he suggested diffidently, quite sure that it was correct that it required bail for Julian to be in the body of the court, or that being in the body of the court accompanied by security officers meant that a prisoner was no longer in custody. Prisoners, even the most dangerous of terrorists, gave evidence from the witness box in the body of the court nest to the lawyers and magistrate. In the High Court prisoners frequently sat with their lawyers in extradition hearings, in extreme cases of violent criminals handcuffed to a security officer.

Baraitser replied that Assange might pose a danger to the public. It was a question of health and safety. How did Fitzgerald and Lewis think that she had the ability to carry out the necessary risk assessment? It would have to be up to Group 4 to decide if this was possible.

Yes, she really did say that. Group 4 would have to decide.

Baraitser started to throw out jargon like a Dalek when it spins out of control. “Risk assessment” and “health and safety” featured a lot. She started to resemble something worse than a Dalek, a particularly stupid local government officer of a very low grade. “No jurisdiction” – “Up to Group 4”. Recovering slightly, she stated firmly that delivery to custody can only mean delivery to the dock of the court, nowhere else in the room. If the defence wanted him in the courtroom where he could hear proceedings better, they could only apply for bail and his release from custody in general. She then peered at both barristers in the hope this would have sat them down, but both were still on their feet.

In his diffident manner (which I confess is growing on me) Lewis said “the prosecution is neutral on this request, of course but, err, I really don’t think that’s right”. He looked at her like a kindly uncle whose favourite niece has just started drinking tequila from the bottle at a family party.

Baraitser concluded the matter by stating that the Defence should submit written arguments by 10am tomorrow on this point, and she would then hold a separate hearing into the question of Julian’s position in the court.

The day had begun with a very angry Magistrate Baraitser addressing the public gallery. Yesterday, she said, a photo had been taken inside the courtroom. It was a criminal offence to take or attempt to take photographs inside the courtroom. Vanessa Baraitser looked at this point very keen to lock someone up. She also seemed in her anger to be making the unfounded assumption that whoever took the photo from the public gallery on Tuesday was still there on Wednesday; I suspect not. Being angry at the public at random must be very stressful for her. I suspect she shouts a lot on trains.

Ms Baraitser is not fond of photography – she appears to be the only public figure in Western Europe with no photo on the internet. Indeed the average proprietor of a rural car wash has left more evidence of their existence and life history on the internet than Vanessa Baraitser. Which is no crime on her part, but I suspect the expunging is not achieved without considerable effort. Somebody suggested to me she might be a hologram, but I think not. Holograms have more empathy.

I was amused by the criminal offence of attempting to take photos in the courtroom. How incompetent would you need to be to attempt to take a photo and fail to do so? And if no photo was taken, how do they prove you were attempting to take one, as opposed to texting your mum? I suppose “attempting to take a photo” is a crime that could catch somebody arriving with a large SLR, tripod and several mounted lighting boxes, but none of those appeared to have made it into the public gallery.

Baraitser did not state whether it was a criminal offence to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom (or indeed to attempt to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom). I suspect it is. Anyway Le Grand Soir has published a translation of my report yesterday, and there you can see a photo of Julian in his bulletproof glass anti-terrorist cage. Not, I hasten to add, taken by me.

We now come to the consideration of yesterday’s legal arguments on the extradition request itself. Fortunately, these are basically fairly simple to summarise, because although we had five hours of legal disquisition, it largely consisted of both sides competing in citing scores of “authorities”, e.g. dead judges, to endorse their point of view, and thus repeating the same points continually with little value from exegesis of the innumerable quotes.

As prefigured yesterday by magistrate Baraitser, the prosecution is arguing that Article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty has no force in law.

The UK and US Governments say that the court enforces domestic law, not international law, and therefore the treaty has no standing. This argument has been made to the court in written form to which I do not have access. But from discussion in court it was plain that the prosecution argue that the Extradition Act of 2003, under which the court is operating, makes no exception for political offences. All previous Extradition Acts had excluded extradition for political offences, so it must be the intention of the sovereign parliament that political offenders can now be extradited.

Opening his argument, Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that the Extradition Act of 2003 alone is not enough to make an actual extradition. The extradition requires two things in place; the general Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty with the country or countries concerned. “No Treaty, No Extradition” was an unbreakable rule. The Treaty was the very basis of the request. So to say that the extradition was not governed by the terms of the very treaty under which it was made, was to create a legal absurdity and thus an abuse of process. He cited examples of judgements made by the House of Lords and Privy Council where treaty rights were deemed enforceable despite the lack of incorporation into domestic legislation, particularly in order to stop people being extradited to potential execution from British colonies.

Fitzgerald pointed out that while the Extradition Act of 2003 did not contain a bar on extraditions for political offences, it did not state there could not be such a bar in extradition treaties. And the extradition treaty of 2007 was ratified after the 2003 extradition act.

At this stage Baraitser interrupted that it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences. Otherwise they would not have removed the bar in previous legislation. Fitzgerald declined to agree, saying the Act did not say extradition for political offences could not be banned by the treaty enabling extradition.

Fitzgerald then continued to say that international jurisprudence had accepted for a century or more that you did not extradite political offenders. No political extradition was in the European Convention on Extradition, the Model United Nations Extradition Treaty and the Interpol Convention on Extradition. It was in every single one of the United States’ extradition treaties with other countries, and had been for over a century, at the insistence of the United States. For both the UK and US Governments to say it did not apply was astonishing and would set a terrible precedent that would endanger dissidents and potential political prisoners from China, Russia and regimes all over the world who had escaped to third countries.

Fitzgerald stated that all major authorities agreed there were two types of political offence. The pure political offence and the relative political offence. A “pure” political offence was defined as treason, espionage or sedition. A “relative” political offence was an act which was normally criminal, like assault or vandalism, conducted with a political motive. Every one of the charges against Assange was a “pure” political offence. All but one were espionage charges, and the computer misuse charge had been compared by the prosecution to breach of the official secrets act to meet the dual criminality test. The overriding accusation that Assange was seeking to harm the political and military interests of the United States was in the very definition of a political offence in all the authorities.

In reply Lewis stated that a treaty could not be binding in English law unless specifically incorporated in English law by Parliament. This was a necessary democratic defence. Treaties were made by the executive which could not make law. This went to the sovereignty of Parliament. Lewis quoted many judgements stating that international treaties signed and ratified by the UK could not be enforced in British courts. “It may come as a surprise to other countries that their treaties with the British government can have no legal force” he joked.

Lewis said there was no abuse of process here and thus no rights were invoked under the European Convention. It was just the normal operation of the law that the treaty provision on no extradition for political offences had no legal standing.

Lewis said that the US government disputes that Assange’s offences are political. In the UK/Australia/US there was a different definition of political offence to the rest of the world. We viewed the “pure” political offences of treason, espionage and sedition as not political offences. Only “relative” political offences – ordinary crimes committed with a political motive – were viewed as political offences in our tradition. In this tradition, the definition of “political” was also limited to supporting a contending political party in a state. Lewis will continue with this argument tomorrow.

That concludes my account of proceedings. I have some important commentary to make on this and will try to do another posting later today. Now rushing to court.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four

Par craig

Please try this experiment for me.
Try asking this question out loud, in a tone of intellectual interest and engagement: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Now try asking this question out loud, in a tone of hostility and incredulity bordering on sarcasm: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Firstly, congratulations on your acting skills; you take direction very well. Secondly, is it not fascinating how precisely the same words can convey the opposite meaning dependent on modulation of stress, pitch, and volume?

Yesterday the prosecution continued its argument that the provision in the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty that bars extradition for political offences is a dead letter, and that Julian Assange’s objectives are not political in any event. James Lewis QC for the prosecution spoke for about an hour, and Edward Fitzgerald QC replied for the defence for about the same time. During Lewis’s presentation, he was interrupted by Judge Baraitser precisely once. During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjected seventeen times.

In the transcript, those interruptions will not look unreasonable:
“Could you clarify that for me Mr Fitzgerald…”
“So how do you cope with Mr Lewis’s point that…”
“But surely that’s a circular argument…”
“But it’s not incorporated, is it?…”

All these and the other dozen interruptions were designed to appear to show the judge attempting to clarify the defence’s argument in a spirit of intellectual testing. But if you heard the tone of Baraitser’s voice, saw her body language and facial expressions, it was anything but.

The false picture a transcript might give is exacerbated by the courtly Fitzgerald’s continually replying to each obvious harassment with “Thank you Madam, that is very helpful”, which again if you were there, plainly meant the opposite. But what a transcript will helpfully nevertheless show was the bully pulpit of Baraitser’s tactic in interrupting Fitzgerald again and again and again, belittling his points and very deliberately indeed preventing him from getting into the flow of his argument. The contrast in every way with her treatment of Lewis could not be more pronounced.

So now to report the legal arguments themselves.

James Lewis for the prosecution, continuing his arguments from the day before, said that Parliament had not included a bar on extradition for political offences in the 2003 Act. It could therefore not be reintroduced into law by a treaty. “To introduce a Political Offences bar by the back door would be to subvert the intention of Parliament.”

Lewis also argued that these were not political offences. The definition of a political offence was in the UK limited to behaviour intended “to overturn or change a government or induce it to change its policy.” Furthermore the aim must be to change government or policy in the short term, not the indeterminate future.

Lewis stated that further the term “political offence” could only be applied to offences committed within the territory where it was attempted to make the change. So to be classified as political offences, Assange would have had to commit them within the territory of the USA, but he did not.

If Baraitser did decide the bar on political offences applied, the court would have to determine the meaning of “political offence” in the UK/US Extradition Treaty and construe the meaning of paragraphs 4.1 and 4.2 of the Treaty. To construe the terms of an international treaty was beyond the powers of the court.

Lewis perorated that the conduct of Julian Assange cannot possibly be classified as a political offence. “It is impossible to place Julian Assange in the position of a political refugee”. The activity in which Wikileaks was engaged was not in its proper meaning political opposition to the US Administration or an attempt to overthrow that administration. Therefore the offence was not political.

For the defence Edward Fitzgerald replied that the 2003 Extradition Act was an enabling act under which treaties could operate. Parliament had been concerned to remove any threat of abuse of the political offence bar to cover terrorist acts of violence against innocent civilians. But there remained a clear protection, accepted worldwide, for peaceful political dissent. This was reflected in the Extradition Treaty on the basis of which the court was acting.

Baraitser interrupted that the UK/US Extradition Treaty was not incorporated into English Law.

Fitzgerald replied that the entire extradition request is on the basis of the treaty. It is an abuse of process for the authorities to rely on the treaty for the application but then to claim that its provisions do not apply.

“On the face of it, it is a very bizarre argument that a treaty which gives rise to the extradition, on which the extradition is founded, can be disregarded in its provisions. It is on the face of it absurd.” Edward Fitzgerald QC for the Defence

Fitzgerald added that English Courts construe treaties all the time. He gave examples.

Fitzgerald went on that the defence did not accept that treason, espionage and sedition were not regarded as political offences in England. But even if one did accept Lewis’s too narrow definition of political offence, Assange’s behaviour still met the test. What on earth could be the motive of publishing evidence of government war crimes and corruption, other than to change the policy of the government? Indeed, the evidence would prove that Wikileaks had effectively changed the policy of the US government, particularly on Iraq.

Baraitser interjected that to expose government wrongdoing was not the same thing as to try to change government policy. Fitzgerald asked her, finally in some exasperation after umpteen interruptions, what other point could there be in exposing government wrongdoing other than to induce a change in government policy?

That concluded opening arguments for the prosecution and defence.

MY PERSONAL COMMENTARY

Let me put this as neutrally as possible. If you could fairly state that Lewis’s argument was much more logical, rational and intuitive than Fitzgerald’s, you could understand why Lewis did not need an interruption while Fitzgerald had to be continually interrupted for “clarification”. But in fact it was Lewis who was making out the case that the provisions of the very treaty under which the extradition is being made, do not in fact apply, a logical step which I suggest the man on the Clapham omnibus might reason to need rather more testing than Fitzgerald’s assertion to the contrary. Baraitser’s comparative harassment of Fitzgerald when he had the prosecution on the ropes was straight out of the Stalin show trial playbook.

The defence did not mention it, and I do not know if it features in their written arguments, but I thought Lewis’s point that these could not be political offences, because Julian Assange was not in the USA when he committed them, was breathtakingly dishonest. The USA claims universal jurisdiction. Assange is being charged with crimes of publishing committed while he was outside the USA. The USA claims the right to charge anyone of any nationality, anywhere in the world, who harms US interests. They also in addition here claim that as the materials could be seen on the internet in the USA, there was an offence in the USA. At the same time to claim this could not be a political offence as the crime was committed outside the USA is, as Edward Fitzgerald might say, on the face of it absurd. Which curiously Baraitser did not pick up on.

Lewis’s argument that the Treaty does not have any standing in English law is not something he just made up. Nigel Farage did not materialise from nowhere. There is in truth a long tradition in English law that even a treaty signed and ratified with some bloody Johnny Foreigner country, can in no way bind an English court. Lewis could and did spout reams and reams of judgements from old beetroot faced judges holding forth to say exactly that in the House of Lords, before going off to shoot grouse and spank the footman’s son. Lewis was especially fond of the Tin Council case.

There is of course a contrary and more enlightened tradition, and a number of judgements that say the exact opposite, mostly more recent. This is why there was so much repetitive argument as each side piled up more and more volumes of “authorities” on their side of the case.

The difficulty for Lewis – and for Baraitser – is that this case is not analogous to me buying a Mars bar and then going to court because an International Treaty on Mars Bars says mine is too small.

Rather the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties then depend. You can’t thus extradite under the 2003 Act without the Treaty. So the Extradition Treaty of 2007 in a very real sense becomes an executive instrument legally required to authorise the extradition. For the executing authorities to breach the terms of the necessary executive instrument under which they are acting, simply has to be an abuse of process. So the Extradition Treaty owing to its type and its necessity for legal action, is in fact incorporated in English Law by the Extradition Act of 2003 on which it depends.

The Extradition Treaty is a necessary precondition of the extradition, whereas a Mars Bar Treaty is not a necessary precondition to buying the Mars Bar.

That is as plain as I can put it. I do hope that is comprehensible.

It is of course difficult for Lewis that on the same day the Court of Appeal was ruling against the construction of the Heathrow Third Runway, partly because of its incompatibility with the Paris Agreement of 2016, despite the latter not being fully incorporated into English law by the Climate Change Act of 2008.

VITAL PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

It is intensely embarrassing for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when an English court repudiates the application of a treaty the UK has ratified with one or more foreign states. For that reason, in the modern world, very serious procedures and precautions have been put into place to make certain that this cannot happen. Therefore the prosecution’s argument that all the provisions of the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 are not able to be implemented under the Extradition Act of 2003, ought to be impossible.

I need to explain I have myself negotiated and overseen the entry into force of treaties within the FCO. The last one in which I personally tied the ribbon and applied the sealing wax (literally) was the Anglo-Belgian Continental Shelf Treaty of 1991, but I was involved in negotiating others and the system I am going to describe was still in place when I left the FCO as an Ambassador in 2005, and I believe is unchanged today (and remember the Extradition Act was 2003 and the US/UK Extradition Treaty ratified 2007, so my knowledge is not outdated). Departmental nomenclatures change from time to time and so does structural organisation. But the offices and functions I will describe remain, even if names may be different.

All international treaties have a two stage process. First they are signed to show the government agrees to the treaty. Then, after a delay, they are ratified. This second stage takes place when the government has enabled the legislation and other required agency to implement the treaty. This is the answer to Lewis’s observation about the roles of the executive and legislature. The ratification stage only takes place after any required legislative action. That is the whole point.

This is how it happens in the FCO. Officials negotiate the extradition treaty. It is signed for the UK. The signed treaty then gets returned to FCO Legal Advisers, Nationality and Treaty Department, Consular Department, North American Department and others and is sent on to Treasury/Cabinet Office Solicitors and to Home Office, Parliament and to any other Government Department whose area is impacted by the individual treaty.

The Treaty is extensively vetted to check that it can be fully implemented in all the jurisdictions of the UK. If it cannot, then amendments to the law have to be made so that it can. These amendments can be made by Act of Parliament or more generally by secondary legislation using powers conferred on the Secretary of State by an act. If there is already an Act of Parliament under which the Treaty can be implemented, then no enabling legislation needs to be passed. International Agreements are not all individually incorporated into English or Scottish laws by specific new legislation.

This is a very careful step by step process, carried out by lawyers and officials in the FCO, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office, Parliament and elsewhere. Each will in parallel look at every clause of the Treaty and check that it can be applied. All changes needed to give effect to the treaty then have to be made – amending legislation, and necessary administrative steps. Only when all hurdles have been cleared, including legislation, and Parliamentary officials, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office and FCO all certify that the Treaty is capable of having effect in the UK, will the FCO Legal Advisers give the go ahead for the Treaty to be ratified. You absolutely cannot ratify the treaty before FCO Legal Advisers have given this clearance.

This is a serious process. That is why the US/UK Extradition Treaty was signed in 2003 and ratified in 2007. That is not an abnormal delay.

So I know for certain that ALL the relevant British Government legal departments MUST have agreed that Article 4.1 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty was capable of being given effect under the 2003 Extradition Act. That certification has to have happened or the Treaty could never have been ratified.

It follows of necessity that the UK Government, in seeking to argue now that Article 4.1 is incompatible with the 2003 Act, is knowingly lying. There could not be a more gross abuse of process.

I have been keen for the hearing on this particular point to conclude so that I could give you the benefit of my experience. I shall rest there for now, but later today hope to post further on yesterday’s row in court over releasing Julian from the anti-terrorist armoured dock.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Armoured Glass Box is an Instrument of Torture

Par craig

In Thursday’s separate hearing on allowing Assange out of the armoured box to sit with his legal team, I witnessed directly that Baraitser’s ruling against Assange was brought by her into court BEFORE she heard defence counsel put the arguments, and delivered by her entirely unchanged.

I might start by explaining to you my position in the public gallery vis a vis the judge. All week I deliberately sat in the front, right hand seat. The gallery looks out through an armoured glass window at a height of about seven feet above the courtroom. It runs down one side of the court, and the extreme right hand end of the public gallery is above the judge’s bench, which sits below perpendicular to it. Remarkably therefore from the right hand seats of the public gallery you have an uninterrupted view of the top of the whole of the judge’s bench, and can see all the judge’s papers and computer screen.

Mark Summers QC outlined that in the case of Belousov vs Russia the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg ruled against the state of Russia because Belousov had been tried in a glass cage practically identical in construction and in position in court to that in which Assange now was. It hindered his participation in the trial and his free access to counsel, and deprived him of human dignity as a defendant.

Summers continued that it was normal practice for certain categories of unconvicted prisoners to be released from the dock to sit with their lawyers. The court had psychiatric reports on Assange’s extreme clinical depression, and in fact the UK Department of Justice’s best practice guide for courts stated that vulnerable people should be released to sit alongside their lawyers. Special treatment was not being requested for Assange – he was asking to be treated as any other vulnerable person.

The defence was impeded by their inability to communicate confidentially with their client during proceedings. In the next stage of trial, where witnesses were being examined, timely communication was essential. Furthermore they could only talk with him through the slit in the glass within the hearing of the private company security officers who were guarding him (it was clarified they were Serco, not Group 4 as Baraitser had said the previous day), and in the presence of microphones.

Baraitser became ill-tempered at this point and spoke with a real edge to her voice. “Who are those people behind you in the back row?” she asked Summers sarcastically – a question to which she very well knew the answer. Summers replied that they were part of the defence legal team. Baraitser said that Assange could contact them if he had a point to pass on. Summers replied that there was an aisle and a low wall between the glass box and their position, and all Assange could see over the wall was the top of the back of their heads. Baraitser said she had seen Assange call out. Summers said yelling across the courtroom was neither confidential nor satisfactory.

I have now been advised it is definitely an offence to publish the picture of Julian in his glass box, even though I didn’t take it and it is absolutely all over the internet. Also worth noting that I am back home in my own country, Scotland, where my blog is based, and neither is within the jurisdiction of the English court. But I am anxious not to give them any excuse to ban me from the court hearing, so I have removed it but you can see it here.

This is the photo taken illegally (not by me) of Assange in the court. If you look carefully, you can see there is a passageway and a low wooden wall between him and the back row of lawyers. You can see one of the two Serco prison officers guarding him inside the box.

Baraitser said Assange could pass notes, and she had witnessed notes being passed by him. Summers replied that the court officers had now banned the passing of notes. Baraitser said they could take this up with Serco, it was a matter for the prison authorities.

Summers asserted that, contrary to Baraitser’s statement the previous day, she did indeed have jurisdiction on the matter of releasing Assange from the dock. Baraitser intervened to say that she now accepted that. Summers then said that he had produced a number of authorities to show that Baraitser had also been wrong to say that to be in custody could only mean to be in the dock. You could be in custody anywhere within the precincts of the court, or indeed outside. Baraitser became very annoyed by this and stated she had only said that delivery to the custody of the court must equal delivery to the dock.

To which Summers replied memorably, now very cross “Well, that’s wrong too, and has been wrong these last eight years.”

Drawing argument to a close, Baraitser gave her judgement on this issue. Now the interesting thing is this, and I am a direct eyewitness. She read out her judgement, which was several pages long and handwritten. She had brought it with her into court in a bundle, and she made no amendments to it. She had written out her judgement before she heard Mark Summers speak at all.

Her key points were that Assange was able to communicate to his lawyers by shouting out from the box. She had seen him pass notes. She was willing to adjourn the court at any time for Assange to go down with his lawyers for discussions in the cells, and if that extended the length of the hearing from three to six weeks, it could take as long as required.

Baraitser stated that none of the psychiatric reports she had before her stated that it was necessary for Assange to leave the armoured dock. As none of the psychiarists had been asked that question – and very probably none knew anything about courtroom layout – that is scarcely surprising

I have been wondering why it is so essential to the British government to keep Assange in that box, unable to hear proceedings or instruct his lawyers in reaction to evidence, even when counsel for the US Government stated they had no objection to Assange sitting in the well of the court.

The answer lies in the psychiatric assessment of Assange given to the court by the extremely distinguished Professor Michael Kopelman (who is familiar to everyone who has read Murder in Samarkand):

“Mr Assange shows virtually all the risk factors which researchers from Oxford
have described in prisoners who either suicide or make lethal attempts. … I
am as confident as a psychiatrist can ever be that, if extradition to the United
States were to become imminent, Mr Assange would find a way of suiciding.”

The fact that Kopelman does not, as Baraitser said, specifically state that the armoured glass box is bad for Assange reflects nothing other than the fact he was not asked that question. Any human being with the slightest decency would be able to draw the inference. Baraitser’s narrow point that no psychiatrist had specifically stated he should be released from the armoured box is breathtakingly callous, dishonest and inhumane. Almost certainly no psychiatrist had conceived she would determine on enforcing such torture.

So why is Baraitser doing it?

I believe that the Hannibal Lecter style confinement of Assange, this intellectual computer geek, which has no rational basis at all, is a deliberate attempt to drive Julian to suicide. The maximum security anti-terrorist court is physically within the fortress compound that houses the maximum security prison. He is brought handcuffed and under heavy escort to and from his solitary cell to the armoured dock via an underground tunnel. In these circumstances, what possible need is there for him to be strip and cavity searched continually? Why is he not permitted to have his court papers? Most telling for me was the fact he is not permitted to shake hands or touch his lawyers through the slit in the armoured box.

They are relentlessly enforcing the systematic denial of any basic human comfort, like the touch of a friend’s fingertips or the blocking of the relief that he might get just from being alongside somebody friendly. They are ensuring the continuation of the extreme psychological effects from isolation of a year of virtual solitary confinement. A tiny bit of human comfort could do an enormous amount of good to his mental health and resilience. They are determined to stop this at all costs. They are attempting to make him kill himself – or create in him the condition where his throttling death might be explained away as suicide.

This is also the only explanation that I can think of for why they are risking the creation of such obvious mistrial conditions. Dead people cannot appeal.

I would remind you that Julian is a remand prisoner who has served his unprecedentedly long sentence for bail-jumping. His status is supposedly at present that of an innocent man facing charges. Those charges are for nothing except for publishing Chelsea Manning’s revelations of war crimes.

That Baraitser is acting under instructions seems to me certain. She has been desperate throughout the trial to seize any chance to deny any responsibility for what is happening to Julian. She has stated that she has no jurisdiction over his treatment in prison, and even when both defence and prosecution combined to state it was normal practice for magistrates to pass directions or requests to the prison service, she refused to accept it was so.

Baraitser is plainly attempting psychologically to distance herself from any agency in what is being done. To this end she has made a stream of denials of jurisdiction or ability to influence events. She has said that she has no jurisdiction to interfere with the strip searching, handcuffing and removal of Assange’s papers or with his being kept in solitary. She has said she has no jurisdiction to request that his defence lawyers have more access to their client in jail to prepare his defence. She has said she has no jurisdiction over his position in the courtroom. Se has suggested at various times it is up to Serco to decide if he may pass notes to his lawyers and up to Group4 to decide if he can be released from the armoured dock. The moments when she looks most content listening to the evidence, are those when prosecution counsel James Lewis argues that she has no decision to make but to sign the extradition because it is in good form and that Article 4 of the Treaty has no legal standing.

A member of the Assange family remarked to me at the end of week one that she seems very lazy, and thus delighted to accept any arguments that reduce the amount she needs to do. I think it is different to that. I think there is a corner of the mind of this daughter of dissidents from apartheid that rejects her own role in the torture of Assange, and is continually urging “I had no choice, I had no agency”. Those who succumb to do evil must find what internal comfort they may.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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The post The Armoured Glass Box is an Instrument of Torture appeared first on Craig Murray.

It’s Super Bernie Day

Par craig

I retain the belief that the motivations of Bernie Sanders’ voters – a fair society with decent pay, healthcare, working conditions, immigration justice and the ultra wealthy paying their share – will not be affected today by the massive media hype of the right wingers coalescing around the corrupt and inept Joe Biden. I therefore expect that in 24 hours Bernie will be well down the path to becoming the Democratic nominee.

I should like to believe that the leaked DNC emails of four years ago will yet have a vital effect. By exposing the way Hillary and the DNC rigged the primaries and cheated Bernie out of the nomination last time, they have already made people far more alert for procedural cheating this time. That background will also make it far tougher for the right to mobilise unelected superdelegates to undemocratically prevent Bernie from getting the nomination. It is not a good look to cheat him again. If people did not know about the hidden cheating last time, fixing the Convention would be a simpler sell.

I maintain the hope that the novel coronavirus will prove less virulent and less potent than generally feared. If I am wrong, the USA will shortly experience the massive difference in ability to control an epidemic when ordinary people are not covered by an adequate public health service. Similarly, we in the UK will understand that the Tory policy of running the NHS at 99% capacity as a norm is ridiculously improvident; the expense of carrying a substantial spare capacity for emergencies ought to be part of any decent planning, a principle which has been scandalously neglected.

Here is an interesting irony for you. Almost everybody on the left in the UK, and certainly anybody who has expressed the slightest concern at the appalling repression of the Palestinian people, has been slurred and falsely abused as an anti-semite these past four years. Yet every friend of mine who has been falsely slurred as an anti-semite is, like me, rooting strongly for Bernie Sanders to become the first Jewish President of the United States. Meanwhile the Guardian, which in the UK has led the charge against the left with an average of over 8 articles a week in 2019 accusing left wing figures or the left in general of anti-semitism, is pulling out all the stops to prevent Bernie becoming the first Jewish President of the United States.

The Guardian has rebranded as Joe Biden News. When Kath Viner became Editor it targeted the Clintonite identity politics right for its much needed online revenue increase. Last night its US Politics livestream ran 16 straight items gushing about Joe Biden, his rallies and his endorsements from Buttigeig, Klobuchar and a stream of other irrelevant right wing figures.

Today’s Guardian Online Front Page: The Guardian is Rebranding as Joe Biden News

I am personally pleased that the right has finally settled on the hopeless Biden as its standard bearer. I wonder if we will now be allowed to ask why Burisma paid Hunter Biden $850,000 to be non-executive director of a Ukrainian gas company which he never even visited? It is a fine example of the complete departure of rationality from political life that, even when appalling corruption is laced with geopolitical implications touching on issues of war and peace, you are not allowed to point out the stinking mess without being labeled as a supporter of Trump.

Finally, after the Russiagate 2 “Bernie is a Russian Puppet” effort fell rather flat, those united US intelligence agencies are still attacking with a message which scarcely pretends to be anything other than an attempt to damage Sanders by gross libel and insinuation. The curious involvement of Pompeo and Barr in this tells us one thing fairly plainly. Trump would much prefer to face Biden than face Sanders. He is of course right. If the Democrat establishment block Sanders in favour of another bought and paid for Wall Street puppet, they will end up with Trump until 2024 – and then Ivanka.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post It’s Super Bernie Day appeared first on Craig Murray.

Doune the Rabbit Hole 2020

Par craig

Long term readers know that the Doune the Rabbit Hole Music Festival is run by my family and myself and is a major part of my life. It is in a sense my “day job”. The full line-up for 2020 is now here.

The artistic direction of the festival is very much the province of my son Jamie, though when you see something entirely unexpected like the Morriston Orpheus Choir you know there is some input from me!

I have written before about why we do the festival. It is about lifestyle and community, about creating a nicer, kinder world for a short time in the fields on the edge of the Highland Line. Doune the Rabbit Hole is a conscious attempt to maintain the communal values of the earliest music festivals, and the experience is very different from that of the large commercial ones. It is a family festival not just in the sense of being family owned and run. Under 12s come free and there is a huge amount of time and other resource devoted to providing facilities and entertainment for them. The very presence of so many children is important to the sense of being a community, not an audience, as is the extraordinary age range of those who come. There is no dominant age group. Pets are welcome and lots of people bring them.

The finances of the festival are a huge challenge. The fixed costs of the required infrastructure – fencing, temporary roads, water, stages, lighting, sound systems, toilets, tentage, signage, security, first aid and more – are colossal, amounting to over £400,000. This is why many of Scotland’s camping festivals, including Wicker Man and Electric Fields, have closed down in recent years. In the modern age, much of that is mandated by the authorities, for example we would be much happier without six miles of fencing. That is before you pay the musicians. Live performance rather than selling recorded music is nowadays a much higher percentage of a musicians’ income, and the cost of leading bands has increased exponentially in real terms over the last couple of decades. Plus, as a matter of principle, we pay all the musicians, including those looking to break through, of which we have masses.

Ten years of trying has proven to us that the only way a camping festival can survive financially is to reach a size of about 8,000 people, due to the fixed costs. You can imagine the challenges of attempting to grow the festival to the size needed, with all the infrastructure required to keep that many people entertained, safe, fed, watered and with clean toilets (and having the cleanest toilets of any festival is very high on our priorities), yet at the same time retain the community, family, non-commercial and above all friendly atmosphere. I hope that this link might take you to the public reviews on Google. My feeling was last year that we achieved this atmosphere for the visitors but not for the crew, who were over-stressed. I am spending a lot of time on how to make the community work for everybody and keep the finances together, while avoiding commercialisation. We are always very keen on keeping bar and food prices down to ordinary, non-festival levels and making sure that people never feel ripped off on site.

Let me be perfectly open with you and say that this is the year we finally hope we will reach a size where the festival stops losing money. The reason that it has been able to survive and develop to this stage, is that I have over the years put in a six figure sum of my own money to keep it going (which is also the reason I do not now have any!)

The Douniversity proved a very popular innovation last year, with a legion of talks including by Kristin Hrafnsson (editor in chief Wikileaks), Robin McAlpine and myself. This year Common Weal are curating the Douniversity, which I am sure will be great.

The festival has become to me an essential annual spiritual refreshment, and a vital part of what keeps me going.

Finally, I would as every year very much welcome volunteers from our readers who would be prepared to come and help out at the festival, particularly behind the bars, but if you have other particular skills or preferences I am sure they can be accommodated. In the first instance, please send me a message via the contact button top right of the blog to introduce yourself. Please do let me know if you have done it before or if you have otherwise met me, as I have a terrible memory for names. We do, however, need to sell a great many tickets, and if you fancy coming just to enjoy the event you will be very welcome indeed. You can buy tickets here.

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The Alex Salmond Trial and Censorship

Par craig

I am just off to the High Court to check out physical arrangements for access on Monday, and was inspired to send the above email, which I add as an update.

On Monday morning at 6am I shall again be queuing up outside a courtroom. I never had any intention this blog would become so concentrated on court reporting, but then I never expected the state to be trying to put so many of my friends in prison.

Nor had I expected at this stage in my life to be threatened with prison myself. The Procurator Fiscal’s office in Scotland wrote to me to say that they are considering prosecuting me for contempt of court – which when it is related to a major criminal trial, carries a maximum sentence in Scotland of up to two years in prison.

20200121 LRM letter to C Murray[353039]

I have still not heard where their consideration of whether to prosecute me has led them. But the job of the Crown Office is to prosecute criminals, not to write them letters. My interpretation of the letter, which I believe would be the interpretation of any reasonable person, is that it is an attempt at censorship by terrifying me into removing the article of which they complain.

The Crown should not be doing that. If the Crown is ordering the suppression of satire without the decision of a judge, then we have set Scottish society and Scottish liberties back several hundred years. The Crown is not in the position of somebody who feels themselves libeled and might send a “cease and desist”. For the Crown to attempt direct censorship without judicial authority is a very serious breach of human rights.

The article complained of, clearly labeled as fiction, does not mention Alex Salmond nor any of his accusers and is largely a satire on the Moorov Doctrine. If the Crown is saying that it is illegal to satirise the Moorov Doctrine lest you reduce its efficacy, that again appears to me to have serious human rights implications. A senior QC told me shortly before Christmas that, entirely unrelated to the Salmond Case, they had been briefed by the Procurator Fiscal Service that it was their policy to push and extend the use of Moorov Doctrine. There is a very wide public interest in discussing that.

All of which naturally constrains my reporting next week. It is of course important both to give the fairest hearing to the accusers and not to prejudice jury members on the facts with which they are faced. But I cannot even tell you what happened in court at the last case management hearing, although it is very important. When combined with the anonymity of the accusers, it does make it very difficult indeed to report the background to the case, which given its profound political implications that engage a legitimate wider public interest, is deeply disturbing to me. I shall however do my best, in full compliance with both the law of contempt and the rulings of the court, but operating hard up against that boundary in the interests of free speech and public knowledge, to the extent that is permissible and legitimate, to report as much of the truth as I can.

Hopefully without going to prison. Wish me luck.

The post The Alex Salmond Trial and Censorship appeared first on Craig Murray.

Julian Assange Hearing – Your Help Wanted

Par craig

Here is a list of things you can do to help. Everyone can do at least one of these.

1) Put 18 May firmly in your diary. The hearing stands adjourned until 18 May. Turn up on 18 May and join the protests there all day – show the world this is a political trial, and we know it. Woolwich Crown Court is walking distance from Plumstead Railway Station in South East London. If you feel able to do so, bring your tent and join the Free Assange Village that sets up on the grass banks around the court – there is loads of available space. But if you can just turn up for the day, that is just as valuable. Protests will roll on every day throughout the hearing which will continue for a minimum of three weeks.

Make all the noise you can at the protests. The prosecution is anxious to portray this as an “ordinary criminal case”. Make sure the world, and the judge, know it is not. There was an attempt by the judge to deflect the communication problems caused by Julian being locked inside a bulletproof glass cage, and blame the distant noise of protestors for that instead. Do not be deflected by this arrant nonsense. Make all the noise you can.

2) Write to your elected representatives. This really does have an impact if done en masse. You can do this whichever country you are in. The key points are these:

– Publishing the truth should not be a crime. Wikileaks exposed war crimes and worldwide corruption by governments.
– The prosecution case rests entirely on the argument that the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 is legally enforceable, but that specifically Clause 4.i of the Treaty forbidding extradition for political offences has no standing in law. This is an absurd argument.
– Ask specifically your elected representative whether they personally believe political offences should be extraditable, and what they believe the impact might be worldwide on political dissidents in exile
– Demand they act on the disgraceful conditions in which Julian is held, including entirely unnecessary strip searches and manacling, lack of access to his legal papers and lack of access to his lawyers. Point out he has not been convicted and that these are incompatible with his status as an innocent remand prisoner. Point out he is being treated as the most violent convicted terrorists are treated, but he is unconvicted and accused of a peaceful political offence.

3) Put in a freedom of information request. I explained at great length why it is impossible that the UK could have ratified the US/UK Extradition Treaty in 2007 if it is indeed, as the prosecution claim, incompatible with the UK Extradition Act of 2003. Please read that again.

If you are in the UK
There must be documentary evidence of all the clearance work around Whitehall that was done to ensure the 2007 Treaty is fully compatible with UK law. I therefore need people to submit Freedom of Information Requests to:
a)Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Specifying Consular Dept, Legal Advisers, North American Dept, Nationality & Treaty Dept, Counter Terrorism Dept or their successors if renamed and any other relevant departments)
b)Home Office
c)Treasury Solicitors
d)Cabinet Office
e)UK Parliament

Requesting “All materials relating to the ratification and entry into force of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003 ratified 2007), and particularly all discussion of the ability of the 2003 Extradition Act to apply all of its provisions, of the need or lack of need for any further statutory provision to incorporate it into English law, including but not exclusively any reference to extradition for political offences or to clause 4 of the UK US Extradition Treaty.” Materials should be requested from 2002 to 2007.

If you are in the USA, please similarly put in a FOIA request to the Department of Justice and State Department for all material relating to the implementation of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003, ratified 2007), and particularly any discussion of the political offences exclusion at Clause 4, in particular but not exclusively with relation to the desirability of the UK implementing that clause and/or the UK’s ability to do so.

I realise I am asking for a bit of work here from you to work out how to do and phrase this. I have never been let down when drawing on the tenacity and perspicacity of our readers before!

4) Research the passing of the 2003 Extradition Act.

In Court the prosecution argued that the 2003 Extradition Act was the first such UK Act not to include an exclusion for political offences. Parliament must therefore deliberately have removed the political offences exclusion and the 2007 Treaty could not put it back in. The defence argued to the contrary that the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties depend. Both the Act and the Treaty are required for extradition, and the Act did nothing to limit Treaties from including a ban on extradition for political offences.

As always, Judge Baraitser ignored the defence argument. She three times asserted as a simple matter of fact that Parliament had intended to allow extradition for political offences when passing the 2003 Extradition Act. Twice she did this in interruption of the defence argument to the contrary.

Normally neither arguments about the intention of parliament, nor quotes from Hansard debates, are taken into consideration by English courts. With few exceptions, rulings have been that the legislation must be read on its face. But here, Baraitser has herself quoted the intention of parliament – using that very word – to justify dismissing the defence argument. It must therefore be legitimate to introduce evidence on the intention of parliament, if the judge is going to rely on the concept.

I therefore need people to read through all the Hansards of debates on the 2003 Extradition Act, both in the Commons and the Lords, to see what was said about extradition for political offences, and particular if any distinction was made between terrorists and peaceful political offenders, and whether ministers gave any reassurances. Apart from the debates, there may be parliamentary questions in Hansard on the same topic.

It is of course true that the 2003 Extradition Act was a product of the so-called “War on Terror” and the Iraq and Afghan invasions, passed by Blair, Straw and Blunkett, undoubtedly the most hostile to civil liberty, authoritarian government in modern British history. But even so, I feel fairly confident that to get the Act through the Commons and especially the Lords, ministers will have been obliged to give some reassurance it was not intended to use it against peaceful political dissidents.

I have received quite a clamour from people wanting to know how they can help. Off you go!

This blog will resume its daily coverage of the hearings when proceedings restart on 18 May. On a personal note, my sincere thanks to all those who supported financially. I am happy to report that from the afternoon of Day 3, an accommodation was made by the Court whereby Julian was given six seats in the public gallery for family and close friends, and he kindly listed me for one of those, so I no longer had to queue at 6am, and I hope that will continue.

Finally may I say that I am always delighted when readers, and subscribers, introduce themselves personally. I find it really heartwarming and it certainly helped keep my morale up at a very tiring and emotionally draining time. So please do not feel in the least reticent to say hello if you come along from 18 May.

There was a tremendous camaraderie at the hearing among Julian’s supporters, and I believe I met people from well nigh every country in Europe and the Americas. We kept each other going, and Julian lit up every time he saw friendly faces. It was a very intense week, and even with a wonderful and loving family to go home to, I felt a bit down after we all split up, and everyone who has been back in contact since has said the same thing. I am haunted by the thought of how much more dreadful Julian must feel, back into the bowels of that high tech dungeon and virtual solitary confinement, with very little contact with his legal team or his papers and months to go before anything else happens. Do think of him and pray for him if you have a faith.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Julian Assange Hearing – Your Help Wanted appeared first on Craig Murray.

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