Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Airstrip One, Uzbekistan and Schillings - "the rich man's libel"

Craig Murray, our man from Uzbekistan, is in the news again, although it's a scant amount of coverage. Murray was the UK diplomat for the FCO in Uzbekistan, harassed and forced out of his job for highlighting the fact that the Uzbeks were gaining "intelligence" for the "war on terror" through using torture and doing such delightful things as boiling the families of their political opponents alive. Murray considered this rank hypocrisy on behalf of Her Majesty's Government - especially given the official line on supporting democracy, opposing terrorism and corrupt regimes and "officially" not accepting evidence from terrorism.

Murray was right.

The government tried hard to destroy him, and almost succeeded. But he persevered and effectively won his case against the FCO in 2004. Since then he has been an outspoken critic of UK policy and has gradually been revealing more about his experiences in UK "diplomacy" and espionage.

One of the characteristics that makes Murray such an appealing, and credible, dissenter is his ability to reveal his own faults and foibles. You'll find this in his personal accounts of experiences with the FCO and in Uzbekistan. It's a shrewd move too. Whistleblowers get precious little attention as it is from our biased and corporatist media, so the most innocuous ad hominem can be used to write them off. None of us are super-angels, regardless of how earnestly we may desire to be. This is crucial to consider in any "official" or media responses to people like Murray, especially if they are ex-"insiders", for they are certainly feared most by the establishment.

One of Murray's weaknesses, as he himself puts it in his memoirs, is that he has always had an eye for the ladies. I have to confess to having exactly the same fault - and Murray noticed this in me himself in August this year. While in Edinburgh I had the opportunity to see his ex-bellydancer wife, Nadira, tell her story of life in Uzbekistan at the Gilded Balloon. I was sat right at the front, in a vest top, lounging back against the chair with my legs spread out in front of me. A quick look around revealed a very middle-class, middle-aged looking audience. There was also a lot of uncomfortable guffawing, coughing and shifting in response to Nadira's story - it included plenty that was of an explicitly sexual, and sometimes violent, nature. This audience clearly wasn't used to having such things presented to them so graphically and personally.

And there was me, sat there looking pretty if I do say so myself. I already found Nadira attractive. And I was very moved by her story. She interspersed some of it however with some belly dancing. I felt my mouth go dry and my loins stir. I also felt someone's gaze on me. Not Nadira's. She was too expert at dealing with a crowd, although when her eyes did rest on me several times for a few seconds I felt my pulse quicken. No it wasn't her. It was out of my immediate line of sight. I looked up and to my right to see Craig Murray on the balcony watching me watching his wife. If there was anyone in that audience capable of charming his wife from him it was me. He knew it. I knew it.

A moment of recognition passed.

We held eachother's gaze for a few seconds and I looked away. I wanted to put him at ease; and it had to be in true primate fashion - I had to communicate that I was not after his dinner or his woman. I rubbed my head and looked pained, then looked back up at him, mustering the most friendly smile I could. He returned it. We both relaxed and both got on with both watching Nadira perform.

This was very important. And I hope at least some of you reading this will be able to understand why. A man who's weakness is women is a man I can understand and relate to very well. And it's a very particular kind of weakness too. After this experience, and following hearing Nadira's story from her own lips, I found I understood Murray very well.

Not only understood him, but related to him also as a kindred spirit. A man who can be moved by money or bullshit is not a man I trust. A man moved by women however is someone I can trust very quickly and deeply; it is as I said though a very particular kind of influence I'm referring to here; and it works on me like it works on Murray:

It's not about sex or sexual desire per se, though that is surely a component (nature's and evolution's course compels us to f**k). It's about the connection and about being rooted to the earth. Nadira's and Craig Murray's experiences in Uzbekistan, and their treatment by the establishment of Old Blighty would leave anyone weeping and with emotional scars for life. It's about the fact that in amongst all of that emotion, amongst the terror, amongst the violence, amongst the ideals that you know will compromise you and the government that will sell you out in a second, amongst all of that you find home in the eyes of another.

Solace. Peace. Earthy reunion. Connection. Trust. Home.

I now regret not having had the opportunity to meet him properly in person when he gave a one off talk at Edinburgh's book festival. In amongst all of the politics, this is something I'd like to verbalise with him. I'm quite sure the communication we had through body language was enough, and we both understood at a pre-conscious level. He might not even remember. Still. It's important because this kind of thing is used to try breaking us - those misshapers of man don't understand though. See this character assassination hit piece on Murray in the (Murdoch owned) Times - "antiquated views of women and an old-fashioned sense of honour". Damn that old fashioned sense of honour! It's such testament to the Newspeak of our time that the Times can say such things without irony. Because not getting behind torture is antiquated, apparently.

Dubya invades and occupies two countries, condemning hundreds of thousands of people to death and misery, yet remains in office, sitting pretty.

Clinton is almost taken out by a blow job.

A substantial part of the trumped up charges made by the FCO against Murray concerned carousing and womanising. Prudish pedantry is an afflication also of both "left" and "right". We're all familiar with the "moral conservatives" of the "right" I'm sure. What of the "left" though? Oh they make a fine show of being open minded and liberated, yes. F**k who you want, in (almost) whatever way you wish - as long as it's just consenting adults it's all good. Or is it? God forbid you join a radical left wing group and have an eye for the ladies......oh gods, anything but that.

The women in my life keep me sane. They bring me back to earth. In amongst the constant torrent of BS and pain and insecurity heaped upon us by the convention of genetic defectives, also known as the government and the corporatist elites. I sometimes despair that I don't meet more women obsessed with politics and philosophy in the way I am. I sometimes become easily aggravated when all I seem to hear women wittering about when they pass me by in the street, at the nightclubs, in the gym, seems so fickle and pointless. Yet this is to miss the point - it's not so much what they say to one another that is important; it's the fact that they are talking at all. It's constant bonding. And as Carol Gilligan notes so well in A Different Voice, it's something most of us men lack, most of the time. Remember those adverts with Stephen Hawking, for British Thief (BT)? It's all going to be ok if we just keep talking.....(about how we feel).

This is why someone like Tania Derveaux is able to come from Leftfield and outflank the enemy. The new wave of activism she, and her friends, represent is such a beautiful breath of fresh air. They're assaulting the fort on so many subtle levels I have to take my hat off to them and hope they keep on keeping on. Never mind strangling the last king with the guts of the last priest. It's when the last corrupt legislator is killed by apoplexy at the sight of the last hypocritical puritan's hairybobbing man-arse that we might have a fucking chance of growing up as a species. We might even end schizophrenia.

So, back to Murray. He's back in the news because his old pals, Schillings, those purveyors of the rich man's libel case, are at his throat again. This time it's about experiences he wishes to relate in his forthcoming book, The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Other Conflicts I Have Known. One of the subjects of the book is the activities of a British mercenary, one Tim Spicer (yep, the one of Mark Thatcher (Maggie's son) fame). According to the Evening Standard, Spicer "would be caused "profound distress and anxiety" by excerpts about him in the book".


The Guardian article above refers to Spicer as "Britain's most notorious mercenary". And it puts me in mind of something Bill Hicks said once - "Ain't y'all nothing but a bunch of hired f**kin' killers!?". It's bad enough what our own soldiers are asked to do by government. What do you think the mercenary companies might be able to get away with? Compared to the British soldiers, they are grossly overpaid and fundamentally unaccountable. "But wait", you might say, "you have right-libertarian leanings, doesn't this mean you're in support of mercenary armies?". Indeed, my political ideology commits me to this route, with one very important proviso: Right-libertarian philosophy is pretty f**king clear about where and how and when the initiation of force is acceptable. I can guarantee that almost all of the activities that Spicer and co take part in fundamentally violate these maxims. If you want a more thorough and academic treatment of this subject, try Rothbard's War, Peace and the State.

Note also, how the Standard refers to Murray's claims as "off-message remarks". It makes the most serious allegations against government sound like a minor gaffe at a tea party ("oh ever so sorry old chap, I just broke wind"). Glad I never pursued the possibility of entering the FCO myself. I would have had plenty of choice "off-message remarks" to make, preceded by the word "f**k" and followed by a few punches into the fat faces of those corrupt bureaucrats / warlords / terrorists / handmaidens. Never mind "don't shoot the messenger", it would have been " careful you're not beaten silly by the messenger".

Unfortunately, English Libel law, and Schillings, is very good at shutting down legitimate accusations. Murray says it best himself:

"...under this country's crazy libel laws you cannot even retell things you did yourself unless you have other objective evidence that you did it. And you may not express opinions that are not mainstream, or which may upset the government or the rich and powerful."

The long and short of which is that Murray is being forced to edit out sections of his book.

"The problem is fear of the cost of defending a threatened legal action by Tim Spicer, who has made many millions from taxpayers for running mercenary operations in Iraq and can afford the rich man's suppression of free speech through libel law."

Murray was previously threatened by Schillings last year by Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov. This resulted in the server hosting Murray's website being taken down. It just so happened that, now London Mayor, Boris Johnson's website was also on the same
server, resulting in an almost comical backlash from the SchoolBoy ("It's bloody ridiculous!") politician as he was unwittingly drawn into the fray.

So what can we do?

With regard to the current round of censorship, Murray is defiant. He has published the edited sections on his website and has asked specifically that "other bloggers will mirror or re-publish to help get the truth out there." So there you have it. Here's one situation where you can help. I've copied the relevant passages to my hard drive and am repeating them here, here, here and here. Shove it you censoring fucks.

Here are the nuggets that Murray picked out from the edits:

- I must refer to Sandline as a "Private Military Company" and portray their activities in Africa as supporting legitimate government against rebels
- I must portray Western action in Iraq as "peace-keeping"
- I must say Shell were involved in corruption in Nigeria "inadvertently"

I have uploaded word copies of the passages that you can download here and here (or - while his site is still up you can find them on Murray's site here (Murray's essential summation of the "libel" content that he has just posted today) and here (complete list of edits)).

Please help. Pass on Murray's passages. Save them to your hard drive. Write them on the wall. Repeat them on your websites, in your emails, on the phone.

They can't shut all of us up.