We Are Governed By Amoral Scumbags


There I was quietly over indulging my way through the festive season when my sense of calm was shattered. Tony and pals are at it again, in other words they are behaving like the slimy, amoral, dishonest sleazy bunch of scumbags they are. Still I'm quite lucky really. I could have been raped with a broken bottle in both my vagina and anus. Or tortured to death with boiling water, but I haven't been because I'm lucky enough to live in a country where the government are opposed to the use of torture. Well, to be more accurate a country where the government don't go about torturing random members of the public but don't mind other countries like say, Uzbekistan doing so.

Not only are they happy for their Uzbek pals, who as far as I can make out appear to be a
bunch of certifiable, sadistic perverts, to torture people they're quite happy to make use of the information gained during this torture.

Fortunately there are principled individuals like Craig Murray working in the civil service to bring this to the public's attention. Or to be more accurate there were, as unfortunately our freedom and democracy loving government tried to smear him then sacked him.

Apart from being an unacceptable violation of human rights, I cannot see the point of torture.
If anyone even looked like they were thinking about torturing me I'd say anything to make them stop.

Anyway, please don't let my rather hurried little rant be the extent of your knowledge of this issue. There are far better and more detailed accounts of this story elsewhere on the internet which I will link to below. I have also reproduced the letters the government does not want us
to see below and would request that anyone with a blog or a spare bit of web space does the same. Oh and please give your MP some grief over this.

Calling All Bloggers: These Documents need publishing


Recipe For Freedom- Chicken Yoghurt

Craig Murray

Lenin's Tomb

Moving Target

D-Notice Specials

Letter #1ConfidentialFM Tashkent (Ambassador Craig Murray)TO FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MODUK, OSCE Posts, Security Council Posts16 September 02SUBJECT: US/Uzbekistan: Promoting TerrorismSUMMARY US plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan.A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism. Support to Karimov regime a bankrupt and cynical policy.DETAILThe Economist of 7 September states: "Uzbekistan, in particular,has jailed many thousands of moderate Islamists, an excellent way of converting their families and friends to extremism." The Economist also spoke of "the growing despotism of Mr Karimov" and judged that "the past year has seen a further deterioration of an already grim human rights record". I agree.Between 7,000 and 10,000 political and religious prisoners are currently detained, many after trials before kangaroo courts with no representation. Terrible torture is commonplace: the EU is currently considering a demarche over the terrible case of two Muslims tortured to death in jail apparently with boiling water. Two leading dissidents, Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna, were two weeks ago committed to a lunatic asylum, where they are being drugged, for demonstrating on human rights. Opposition political parties remain banned. There is no doubt that September 11 gave the pretext to crack down still harder on dissent under the guise of counter-terrorism.Yet on 8 September the US State Department certified that Uzbekistan was improving in both human rights and democracy, thus fulfilling a constitutional requirement and allowing the continuing disbursement of $140 million of US aid to Uzbekistan this year. Human Rights Watch immediately published a commendably sober and balanced rebuttal of the State Department claim.Again we are back in the area of the US accepting sham reform [a reference to my previous telegram on the economy]. In August media censorship was abolished, and theoretically there are independent media outlets, but in practice there is absolutely no criticism of President Karimov or the central government in any Uzbek media. State Department call this self-censorship: I am not sure that is a fair way to describe an unwillingness to experience the brutal methods of the security services.Similarly, following US pressure when Karimov visited Washington, a human rights NGO has been permitted to register. This is an advance, but they have little impact given that no media are prepared to cover any of their activities or carry any of their statements.The final improvement State quote is that in one case of murder of a prisoner the police involved have been prosecuted. That is an improvement, but again related to the Karimov visit and does not appear to presage a general change of policy. On the latest cases of torture deaths the Uzbeks have given the OSCE an incredible explanation, given the nature of the injuries, that the victims died in a fight between prisoners.But allowing a single NGO, a token prosecution of police officers and a fake press freedom cannot possibly outweigh the huge scale of detentions, the torture and the secret executions. President Karimov has admitted to 100 executions a year but human rights groups believe there are more. Added to this, all opposition parties remain banned (the President got a 98% vote) and the Internet is strictly controlled. All Internet providers must go through a single government server and access is barred to many sites including all dissident and opposition sites and much international media (including, ironically, waronterrorism.com). This is in essence still a totalitarian state: there is far less freedom than still prevails, for example, in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. A Movement for Democratic Change or any judicial independence would be impossible here.Karimov is a dictator who is committed to neither political nor economic reform. The purpose of his regime is not the development of his country but the diversion of economic rent to his oligarchic supporters through government controls. As a senior Uzbek academic told me privately, there is more repression here now than in Brezhnev's time. The US are trying to prop up Karimov economically and to justify this support they need to claim that a process of economic and political reform is underway. That they do so claim is either cynicism or self-delusion.This policy is doomed to failure. Karimov is driving this resource-rich country towards economic ruin like an Abacha. And the policy of increasing repression aimed indiscriminately at pious Muslims, combined with a deepening poverty, is the most certain way to ensure continuing support for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They have certainly been decimated and disorganised in Afghanistan, and Karimov's repression may keep the lid on for years – but pressure is building and could ultimately explode.I quite understand the interest of the US in strategic airbases and why they back Karimov, but I believe US policy is misconceived. In the short term it may help fight terrorism but in the medium term it will promote it, as the Economist points out. And it can never be right to lower our standards on human rights. There is a complex situation in Central Asia and it is wrong to look at it only through a prism picked up on September 12. Worst of all is what appears to be the philosophy underlying the current US view of Uzbekistan: that September 11 divided the World into two camps in the "War against Terrorism" and that Karimov is on "our" side.If Karimov is on "our" side, then this war cannot be simply between the forces of good and evil. It must be about more complex things, like securing the long-term US military presence in Uzbekistan. I silently wept at the 11 September commemoration here. The right words on New York have all been said. But last week was also another anniversary – the US-led overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. The subsequent dictatorship killed, dare I say it, rather more people than died on September 11. Should we not remember then also, and learn from that too? I fear that we are heading down the same path of US-sponsored dictatorship here. It is ironic that the beneficiary is perhaps the most unreformed of the World's old communist leaders.We need to think much more deeply about Central Asia. It is easy to place Uzbekistan in the "too difficult" tray and let the US run with it, but I think they are running in the wrong direction. We should tell them of the dangers we see. Our policy is theoretically one of engagement, but in practice this has not meant much. Engagement makes sense, but it must mean grappling with the problems, not mute collaboration. We need to start actively to state a distinctive position on democracy and human rights, and press for a realistic view to be taken in the IMF. We should continue to resist pressures to start a bilateral DFID programme, unless channelled non-governmentally, and not restore ECGD cover despite the constant lobbying. We should not invite Karimov to the UK. We should step up our public diplomacy effort, stressing democratic values, including more resources from the British Council. We should increase support to human rights activists, and strive for contact with non-official Islamic groups.Above all we need to care about the 22 million Uzbek people, suffering from poverty and lack of freedom. They are not just pawns in the new Great Game.MURRAY---------------------------------------Letter #2ConfidentialFm Tashkent (Ambassador Craig Murray)To FCO18 March 2003SUBJECT: US FOREIGN POLICYSUMMARY1.As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth.DETAIL2. Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval serfdom.3. Uzbekistan's geo-strategic position is crucial. It has half the population of the whole of Central Asia. It alone borders all the other states in a region which is important to future Western oil and gas supplies. It is the regional military power. That is why the US is here, and here to stay. Contractors at the US military bases are extending the design life of the buildings from ten to twenty five years.4. Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid – more than US aid to all of West Africa – is related to comparative developmental need as opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov's vicious regime as a bastion against fundamentalism. He – and they – are in fact creating fundamentalism. When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West?5. I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this cover-up. I am saddened when the US constantly quote fake improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan, such as the abolition of censorship and Internet freedom, which quite simply have not happened (I see these are quoted in the draft EBRD strategy for Uzbekistan, again I understand at American urging).6. From Tashkent it is difficult to agree that we and the US are activated by shared values. Here we have a brutal US sponsored dictatorship reminiscent of Central and South American policy under previous US Republican administrations. I watched George Bush talk today of Iraq and "dismantling the apparatus of terror… removing the torture chambers and the rape rooms". Yet when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in international fora. Double standards? Yes.7. I hope that once the present crisis is over we will make plain to the US, at senior level, our serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan.MURRAY----------------------------------------[Transcript of facsimile sent 25 March 2003 from the Foreign Office]From: Michael Wood, Legal AdvisorDate: 13 March 2003CC: PS/PUS; Matthew Kidd, WLDLinda DuffieldUZBEKISTAN: INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE1.Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the UN Convention on Torture to receive or possess information under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:"Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made."3. This does not create any offence. I would expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.[signed]M C WoodLegal Adviser---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Letter #3CONFIDENTIALFM TASHKENT (Ambassador Craig Murray)TO IMMEDIATE FCOTELNO 63OF 220939 JULY 04INFO IMMEDIATE DFID, ISLAMIC POSTS, MOD, OSCE POSTS UKDEL EBRD LONDON, UKMIS GENEVA, UKMIS MEW YORKSUBJECT: RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE OBTAINED UNDER TORTURESUMMARY1.We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.DETAIL4. In the period December 2002 to March 2003 I raised several times the issue of intelligence material from the Uzbek security services which was obtained under torture and passed to us via the CIA. I queried the legality, efficacy and morality of the practice.5. I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture. He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the UN Convention on Torture.6. On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood.7. Sir Michael Jay's circular of 26 May stated that there was a reporting obligation on us to report torture by allies (and I have been instructed to refer to Uzbekistan as such in the context of the war on terror). You, Sir, have made a number of striking, and I believe heartfelt, condemnations of torture in the last few weeks. I had in the light of this decided to return to this question and to highlight an apparent contradiction in our policy. I had intimated as much to the Head of Eastern Department.8. I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear that without informing me of the meeting, or since informing me of the result of the meeting, a meeting was convened in the FCO at the level of Heads of Department and above, precisely to consider the question of the receipt of Uzbek intelligence material obtained under torture. As the office knew, I was in London at the time and perfectly able to attend the meeting. I still have only gleaned that it happened.9. I understand that the meeting decided to continue to obtain the Uzbek torture material. I understand that the principal argument deployed was that the intelligence material disguises the precise source, ie it does not ordinarily reveal the name of the individual who is tortured. Indeed this is true – the material is marked with a euphemism such as "From detainee debriefing." The argument runs that if the individual is not named, we cannot prove that he was tortured.10. I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work in and organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture. I have dealt with hundreds of individual cases of political or religious prisoners in Uzbekistan, and I have met with very few where torture, as defined in the UN convention, was not employed. When my then DHM raised the question with the CIA head of station 15 months ago, he readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt as to the fact11. The torture record of the Uzbek security services could hardly be more widely known. Plainly there are, at the very least, reasonable grounds for believing the material is obtained under torture. There is helpful guidance at Article 3 of the UN Convention;"The competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights."While this article forbids extradition or deportation to Uzbekistan, it is the right test for the present question also.12. On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer:"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."13. Nonetheless, I repeat that this material is useless – we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful. It is designed to give the message the Uzbeks want the West to hear. It exaggerates the role, size, organisation and activity of the IMU and its links with Al Qaida. The aim is to convince the West that the Uzbeks are a vital cog against a common foe, that they should keep the assistance, especially military assistance, coming, and that they should mute the international criticism on human rights and economic reform.14. I was taken aback when Matthew Kydd said this stuff was valuable. Sixteen months ago it was difficult to argue with SIS in the area of intelligence assessment. But post Butler we know, not only that they can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat. That is precisely what the Uzbeks give them. Furthermore MI6 have no operative within a thousand miles of me and certainly no expertise that can come close to my own in making this assessment. 15. At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services.16. I have been considering Michael Wood's legal view, which he kindly gave in writing. I cannot understand why Michael concentrated only on Article 15 of the Convention. This certainly bans the use of material obtained under torture as evidence in proceedings, but it does not state that this is the sole exclusion of the use of such material.17. The relevant article seems to me Article 4, which talks of complicity in torture. Knowingly to receive its results appears to be at least arguable as complicity. It does not appear that being in a different country to the actual torture would preclude complicity. I talked this over in a hypothetical sense with my old friend Prof Francois Hampson, I believe an acknowledged World authority on the Convention, who said that the complicity argument and the spirit of the Convention would be likely to be winning points. I should be grateful to hear Michael's views on this.18. It seems to me that there are degrees of complicity and guilt, but being at one or two removes does not make us blameless. There are other factors. Plainly it was a breach of Article 3 of the Convention for the coalition to deport detainees back here from Baghram, but it has been done. That seems plainly complicit.19. This is a difficult and dangerous part of the World. Dire and increasing poverty and harsh repression are undoubtedly turning young people here towards radical Islam. The Uzbek government are thus creating this threat, and perceived US support for Karimov strengthens anti-Western feeling. SIS ought to establish a presence here, but not as partners of the Uzbek Security Services, whose sheer brutality puts them beyond the pale.MURRAY


David Duff said...

Quite so, all very distressing and that sort of thing, but given that there are people in this world who wish to inflict on us injuries of the terminal type, should 'our MI6 man in Gangsterland' ram his fingers in his ears and shout loudly, "RAH RAH RAH RAH", when the chief Honcho offers him a useful titbit of information on the subject? Or perhaps our MI6 chaps should be acompanied at all times by a member of Amnesty International who would decide what information was, so to speak, moral and what was immoral?

Oh, and please don't make the mistake of thinking that information gained under torture is always useless. Should you doubt this, try reading up on the history of the German successes against British resistance groups in Europe during WWII.

Ian said...

David, how nice to see that questions about your ubiquity seem to have magically prompted your actual, or at least virtual, presence here.

"given that there are people in this world who wish to inflict on us injuries of the terminal type..." May I refer you to the UN Convention Against Torture, specifically Article Two, Point Two: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

"Oh, and please don't make the mistake of thinking that information gained under torture is always useless." Oh, and please don't make the mistake of thinking that this statement actually proves that information gained under torture is always or, indeed, often, useful. One of the points Murray was making to "our MI6 man ['operative', surely?] in Gangsterland" is that the information thus obtained by Karimov's henchmen was, in fact, "dross".

In fact, please don't make the mistake of thinking that the primary aim of torture is to extract information at all. Have you ever encountered the idea that, in fact, torture is mainly deployed as a political weapon? The penultimate paragraph in this review - Bufkin, Jana."Book Review of State of Crime: Governments, Violence and Corruption" Western Criminology Review 6 (1) http://wcr.sonoma.edu/v6n1/bufkin.htm - touches on this concept: Green and Ward "delineat[e] the primary perpetrators and victims of torture (police officers and marginalized populations, respectively) and explain[...] the ultimate goal of torture, to evoke the fear necessary to suppress opposition".

Happy New Year.

David Duff said...

Thanks, Ian, for your kind welcome to these foreign shores.

Alas, your legalistic point concerning the United Nations is just that - legalistic. The UN is an organisation, the majority of whose members are gangsters, and therefor, whose pronouncements on *any* subject need to be taken with a salt mine - down which many of their citizens have perished - and should *never* be permitted to stop us acting in what we believe to be our self interest.

I apologise if my words were unclear but I did not think that I had ever suggested that "titbits" (my description) of information had any intrinsic value. That is why you have collectors in the field, and collators and analysts back at base, to sort out the wheat from the chaff - but first, you need the wheat and the chaff!

I have absolutely no interest in what motivates the governments and their henchmen in 'Gangsterland' except in so far as it is likely to have any bearing on British national self interest. I deplore such behaviour much as the neo-'Kammservatives' do, but unlike them, I would not lift a finger to interfere. Sorry, I know it's an old chestnut but Bismarck's remark to the effect that interfering in some God-forsaken part of the world was not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier were exceedingly wise. Oliver Kamm might study Bismarck's life with advantage.

I am no expert but I assume there are some British interests in Uzbekistan, oil, intelligence on Islamic militants, potential bases and the like, and it is the business of the British government to pursue those interests even if they have to hold a hankie over their noses.

Murray is, alas, a typical example of the forlorn and feeble middle-classes of 'PoMo' Britain, or in less polite language, a total tosser who has forgotten that diplomats are people sent abroad to lie for their country. It's no wonder our foreign office is generally known as the office for foreigners!

ian said...

David, there are a great many things that can be said against the UN, but don't forget that it was created after WWII in an attempt to prevent similar conflicts in future, and it's the most inclusive international organisation that we have. Of course it isn't perfect, but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water: UN conventions on human rights, torture, and other matters do at least function as ideals to aim at, and do exert pressure for change, however flawed other aspects of the organisation might be.

If I have understood you correctly, you are entirely preoccupied by British national interests. Leaving aside morality for a second, then, does it not occur to you that these interests might be better served by, for example, denouncing torture unreservedly? You may be aware of a school of thought that holds the West is engaged in a campaign to destroy Islam, whether in Iraq, Chechnya, Palestine, or Uzbekistan. By conniving in Karimov's torture of potential opponents (I'm being charitable and assuming that he is at least somewhat selective), many of whom just happen to be Muslims, the US and - specifically of interest to you - the UK do nothing to dispel this mindset. Partly as a result, young British Muslims go and blow themselves and many others up in London. Never mind Great Game playing, what more fundamental British interest could there be than not having our cities and citizens targeted?

David Duff said...

My modem is playing up so I will have to be, uncharacteristically brief.

The history and the motivation behind the creation of the UN is too complicated to go into now, siffice to say that in my opinion it is *now* a total dead loss and worse, it is a positive danger to this country now that it is in the hands of the gangsters.

As to your second paragraph, young fanatical Muslims blow us up because of what we *are*, not what we *do*. None of them ever mention, for example, that we went to the aid of Kosovan Muslims. You may be happy to surrender but I am not.

Sorry if this was a bit short, but on the other hand I do tend to witter on a bit!

Clairwil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Clairwil said...

Hello All,
It will I'm sure surprise no-one that I tend to agree with Ian on this one.

I can't help feel that torture might be a counterproductive means of combating Islamic terrorism given that the people that carry out these attacks seem to revel in the 'glory' of their forthcoming martyrdom.

Given the long history of the use of torture I'd be very surprised if it had never worked. However in view the arbitrary nature of the arrests in Uzbekistan, I'm at a loss as to what information the many apparently innocent people caught up in this could actually provide. As far as I can make out much of what goes on in Uzbekistan seems to be the work of uniformed perverts, which is then passed off as legitimate intelligence gathering by the Uzbek government and then lapped up by the Uk and US governments. I accept that intelligence gathering involves sorting the wheat from the chaff, however when the same source keeps giving you 'chaff' obtained in pretty disgusting circumstances, it might be an idea to look elsewhere.

In the event there are good security reasons for supporting torture, then I'd be delighted if someone in government would stand and say so rather than continually making public statements that are totally at odds with their actions.

Anyway Happy New Year to both of you.



David Duff said...

At the risk of 'Boring for Britain', I must repeat the main thrust of my thoughts on this subject. It is the *duty* of our intelligence services to gain information from any source possible. We, meaning MI6 acting on our behalf, may have extreme moral objections as to how that information is obtained, for example, we might bribe or blackmail a foreign government official, or indeed, we might know that it was obtained under torture. However, that is not a reason to refuse to accept it. To do so would totally hamstring our intelligence services to the point that you might as well disband them, an argument that is often put forward, although I doubt if it would find much favour amongst London commuters!

In intelligence work, information is always graded according to two criteria, the reliability (or not) of the information itself, and the reliability (or not) of the source. A source might have been hopelessly unreliable in the past but stumble, sometimes unknowingly, on a fact that is very important. This is the 'hit and miss' nature of intelligence work. You rarely get the whole picture and one is forced to rely on the skill of the analyst.

I have taken a considerable amount of flak recently for my view that morality has no place in international relations. This particular aspect is a case in point. If we insist on a sort of moral code being applied to the gathering of intelligence we might as well give up. Some of the people who are most vociferous on this subject would, of course, like nothing more than for us to 'give up'.

David Duff said...

I forgot to reciprocate your good wishes. Happy 2006 to you and yours.

ian said...

Clairwil -a very happy 2006 to you, and thanks for hosting this discussion.

David, I am intrigued by your remark that young fanatical Muslims blow us up because of what we *are*, not what we *do*. Surely, to a great extent what we are, or at least what we are perceived to be, is to a great extent driven by what we do (incidentally, I would personally be happier to have put the word 'we' in inverted commas in this sentence). Could you go into a little more detail how you reach this conclusion?

I take issue with your comments about surrender: I certainly have no intention of surrendering to some shadowy notion of a well-organised group of international terrorists seeking to create some debased form of a worldwide caliphate. I'm assuming that you are familiar with the thesis that the idea of Al-Qaeda as such a network is of equal utility to both the many localised terrorist groups (who, it seems to me, have adopted one of the many available Islamic identities to greater distinguish themselves from the groups they are fighting) and to the states they are opposing. It is just as important to me not accept the increasingly draconian restrictions on our liberty in this country unless and until a watertight case can be made for their necessity.

To do so would totally hamstring our intelligence services to the point that you might as well disband them, an argument that is often put forward, although I doubt if it would find much favour amongst London commuters! Perhaps I don't get out enough, but I haven't come across this argument before. I do hope it isn't a straw man. I would hesitate to speak for all London commuters, who I assume have diverse opinions about this and all other matters. One London commuter whose opinions are always worth reading is Rachel.

You'll note that once again I am not touching on the morality of all this, as I fear we are destined never to agree on this point.

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