Note: This is an explainer for Kevin’s earlier piece on the UK “torture memos.”
Remember back during the campaign every time the liberals got bad news they offered the same tired rebuttal, “We question the timing of….”
I wonder if they’ve asked themselves that same question over the UK “torture memos.” As Kevin noted below, liberal bloggers across the globe are apparently teaming up in a corrordinated effort to sell books. He drew that conclusion – and I agree with it – because there is little other explaination of the timing.
I’ll take a minute to explain.
Craig Murray was the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He has accused UK of rendition and he says that they fired him for speaking out about it.
Rendition or as Wikipedia calls it in this case, Extraordinary Rendition is the practice of sending terrorist suspects to a third country to be interrogated where they have less laws about torture than we do in western countries.
This is nothing new. If the liberal bloggers had read the wikipedia link (or any of dozens of others) they would have found it was started by Bill Clinton. So we have another convenient case of liberal outrage ala the NSA spying. When Clinton does it -before 9/11- it is OK but when Bush does it after 9/11 it is unconscionable. Whatever.
The debate over the practice of rendition is a fair one.
Almost a year ago, Imperial Hubris author Michael Scheuer had an op-ed piece in the NYT defending the practice during the Clinton administration.
He started the Qaeda detainee/rendition program and it was spearheaded by National Security Director Samuel Berger and his counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke.
Blogging the above op-ed piece James Joyner said that if we are going to do this, “we should have the moral courage to do it openly and within the scope of the checks and balances of our political process” a point that is hard to disagree with.
Personally, I appreciate the cleverness of getting around existing laws and I more than appreciate that in limited cases it might be extraordinarily useful but still I believe in the rule of law and skirting it in such a manner just doesn’t sit right with me.
But back to today’s issue.
The liberal blogosphere got used. Big time.
The story goes that the British government is trying to block the sales Craig Murray’s new book because it contains 2 documents they don’t want published. Cries of censorship and cover-up are so sexy in the blogospehre. Murray skillfully lend the liberal bloggers down the garden path that they would be releasing these 2 documents that the British government did not want anyone to see.
As Kevin noted (but forgot to link) in October of 2004, well over a year ago, the BBC ran a story on his supposed firing and at the time they said the primary document the bloggers released today was printed in the Financial Times. (back in Oct 2004)
The second document was simply a legal opinion from a lawyer on whether the practice violated UN law. The lawyer quoted the relevant law and gave a legal opinion. Hardly a smoking gun.
So much for the liberal blogospehre “releasing” the documents.
For someone who claims he’s being censored, Murray sure managed to get his story out. And thru some interesting channels.
In October 2004, The Telegraph ran a story about his getting canned as ambassador and even then they mentioned, “his friendly press relations.”
In Nov of 2004, the BBC ran a glowing piece about him drawing attention to human rights abuses in Uzbekistan.
In April of 2005, he did an interview with Indymedia.
In November of 2004, The World Crisis Web ran a pice with the dramatic title, Craig Murray Speaks Out While He Can
In April of 2005 the Socialist Worker ran a piece with the same allegations.
MuslimUzbekistan.com has the text of a July 2005 speech where he makes the same charges at length.
Even Wikipedia has a piece on him that mentioned the term “extraordinary rendition” in June of 2005.
That’s why I say the liberal blogosphere got had. Why the coordinated effort to run this story today?
He’s been making these charges for over 2 years and they’ve gotten plenty of media play. (both mainstream and fringe lefty) The only thing “new” he offers is a document that was published by the Financial Times in October of 2004. They are only running this story because Mr. Murray manipulated them for his own interests. (sorry guys, next time you’re offered such ground breaking scoop, use google first.)
The argument about rendition is a fair one. And one I stand behind Murray in wanting to have. Ironically, if that is what Murray is truly concerned about, that debate will get lost in the clamor to sell his upcoming book.
Update: Kevin updated his post below with even more times this information has been published in the past. As he ends his latest update “Nice Scoop…”