The U.S. and U.K made extensive use of Uzbekistan’s the torture regime in its extraordinary rendition program, Craig Murray says, exporting interrogations to a country that “left the Soviet Union in order to maintain the Soviet system” of Gulag oppression.
Craig Murray, former U.K. ambassador to Uzbekistan, details some of the most brutal torture in the world faces all political prisoners in the former Soviet republic and the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of it led to many false confessions.
Uzbekistan is an “awful totalitarian dictatorship”, Mr. Murray says, that “locks its population in”.
“When you think of Uzbekistan, you have to think of a country that hasn’t moved on since it left the Soviet Union,” he adds. “In fact, it left the Soviet Union in order to maintain the Soviet system.”
Muslims and Baptists are arrested because the religions are illegal. Having a beard too long can have you arrested as a political prisoner, according to Mr. Murray. This was the West’s “most important ally in Central Asia” during the so-called ‘War on Terror’
“If you enter an Uzbek prison, your chances of coming out alive are actually quite slim,” Mr. Murray continued. “They still have and operate the Soviet Gulags…. Torture in Uzbekistan isn’t unusual…. I’m talking about people being raped with broken bottles. I’m talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they signed confessions. I’m talking of people being boiled alive.”
He adds that about 90% of the C.I.A. planes through its secret prison in Poland were to or from Uzbekistan, renditioning those detained by the U.S. From letters smuggled out of the “Gulags” to the U.K. embassy, Mr. Murray learned: “They were told to confess to membership of al-Qa’ida. They were told to confess they were in training camps in Afghanistan. They were told to confess they had met Osama bin Laden in person.”
“It’s illegal. It’s immoral and it’s unreliable,” Mr. Murray said of torture, citing the methods used were those left over from “Stalin’s K.G.B.” were used to make a detainee confess to a Russian professor being a jihadist—though, Mr. Murray had first hand knowledge the professor was Jehovah’s Witness.
The C.I.A. repeated these confessions as intelligence to Mr. Murray explaining why “thousands of Uzbeks” were meeting Osama bin Laden every year. When he returned to the U.K., he had someone report to the C.I.A. he was “worried that some of their intelligence was coming from torture”, to which the Agency replied—according to the ambassador—“Yes, of course it’s coming from torture. We don’t see that as a problem in the context of the War on Terror.”
Mr. Murray said he saw that as a problem because the Agency was handing prisoners over to Uzbekistan in its extraordinary rendition program. “It was not illegal because our legal advisers had decided that: under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, it is not illegal to obtain or use intelligence gained from torture as long as we didn’t do the torture, ourselves,” he was told by officials.
“The truth is that when a government persuades its people it is under a terrible threat, people can easily be made to lose their moral values, to lose their moral compass,” he added.
The U.S. and U.K. presence in Central Asia is largely due to its natural gas resources and Afghanistan is necessary for a pipeline, Mr. Murray says as the motive for such atrocities.
“Enron acquired Uzbekistan’s natural gas rights. Turkmenistan, next door to Uzbekistan, has even more natural gas, incredible amounts of natural gas,” he says. “The natural gas reserves of Turkmenistan are equal in worth to the oil reserves of Iraq, if not greater. But you can’t get it out. There’s no way out of Central Asia for this oil and gas, except through Russia, and the Russians won’t let it go to the West, or through Iran, which the Americans aren’t keen on. The only way to get it out would be to have a pipeline going over Afghanistan.
“Fortunately, George Bush Sr., who was a director, or shareholder, at least, of another company, called Unocal, which was planning a pipeline over Afghanistan—and Unocal actually held negotiations with the Taliban to protect the pipeline over Afghanistan.”
An Uzbek ambassador met with Unocal in 1999 and 2001 in Texas, while George W. Bush was still the state’s governor. The consultant who organized the trip was Hamid Karzai, now president of Afghanistan, Mr. Murray says. “There are designs of this pipeline. And if you look at the deployment of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the U.S. forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money. It’s about oil. It’s not about democracy.”
The former ambassador concluded his lecture: “There are so many lies about Afghanistan. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s about drugs, it’s about the abuse of human rights, it’s about degradation, and it’s about all of us paying, through our taxes, for wars which benefit a tiny clique.”
Part One (13:53):
Part Two (10:32):