Tom Porteous


Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch, discusses the outgoing Gadhafi regime’s many human rights violations in Libya; why the Benghazi massacre threat (used to justify the no-fly zone and “civilian protection” NATO campaign) was for real; why Libya’s NTC needs to quickly get a functional government in place before the country descends into factional violence; and why investigations are needed for crimes committed by rebel groups, as well as NATO’s exceeded mandate.

MP3 here. (20:02)

Tom Porteous is the deputy program director at Human Rights Watch and is based in Washington DC. He joined Human Rights Watch in 2006 as the London director responsible for communications and advocacy in the United Kingdom. Porteous has a background in journalism, diplomacy, and UN peacekeeping. In the 1980s and early 1990s he was a freelance correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, the BBC, and other media, first in Cairo and later in Berlin, Algeria, and Morocco. He worked in UN peacekeeping operations in Somalia and Liberia. He also served as conflict management adviser for Africa in the UK’s Foreign Office from 2001 to 2003. Porteous studied classics at Oxford University.

37 thoughts on “Tom Porteous”

  1. If this was such an exercise in 'humanitarian interventionism" as the George Soros funded lackey group would like us to believe, why didn't Sarkozy, Cameron & Obama fall over themselves to intervene in Bahrain and Yemen with a NATO operation? Why did they allow the Saudi's to come in and crush the protests? As far as the NATO "mandate" goes, has Mr. Porteous seen the pictures of a very destroyed Sirte? Humanitarian my ass. The street celebrations are always good propaganda, but for example, if Obama were to be toppled in this country, you'd probably see street celebrations in certain quarters of the country–there are people who support Obama and there are people who don't –I'm sure it's no different in Libya or any other country for that matter. The sad reality is that the Libyan arab spring WAS co-opted by the west who wanted to make sure that things went the way they wanted with their own puppets installed – who btw, have already informed us that they'll be turning back the clock. In the end, Qatari soldiers & Islamic militants backed by NATO air-power were all used to topple Ghadafi.

  2. The West has exchanged its traditional concept of 'just war' for the dangerous concept of 'humanitarian military intervention'. This concept, combined with airpower bombing technology superior to any power the targetted people have, has opened the floodgates to bombing each country that doesn't obey the Wests orders into smithereens. 'We murder hundred of thousands of your people, destroy all of your infrastructure, put anyone in power that we like, AND then we expect you to be thankful to us and pay what little you still have as compensation'. Benghazi was socalled under threat of being bombed by Gadaffi. And so Nato put up a 'no fly zone'. However, the no fly zone was only meant for Gadaffi's bombers, who never showed up. Who did show up were the NATO bombers that bombed Tripoli for months, leaving its defenseless people in complete shock. I am sick of the utter hypocrisy of todays West.

  3. If torture was so much of the part of Gaddafi's Libya as this internationalist claims why was there no witness or victim statements, absolutely none, zero, zip, submitted to the ICC as part of the justification to attack the country? Human Rights Watch, like the International Criminal Court, is a political organization, nothing more.

    1. Yes. isn't it interesting that you NEVER find Western leaders in the doc at the ICC? — some who have perpetrated crimes that make all of these middle east tyrants look like rank amateurs. Bush/Cheny illegally invaded and destroyed a country of 25 million, so why don't I see them standing trial in the ICC?

      I think we all know the answer to that one.


    Most intelligent Porteous, surely it was not by accident that his description omitted the fact that Gaddafi elevated the education, housing and standard of living for his people to the highest in all of Africa. Two million imported laborers from southern Africa to do most all the manual labor in Libya, a massive pipeline to export Libya’s vast water reserves to the arid regions of Africa — all this and Porteous the smokescreen says nothing about it?

  5. Again, Human Rights Watch had 'a network on the ground in Libya' and yet not one witness statement to justify the invation. Despicable.


    Most intelligent Porteous, surely it was not by accident that his description omitted the fact that Gaddafi elevated the education, housing and standard of living for his people to the highest in all of Africa. Two million imported laborers from southern Africa to do most all the manual labor in Libya, a massive pipeline to export Libya’s vast water reserves to the arid regions of Africa — all this and Porteous the smokescreen says nothing about it?

    1. What I find so dishonest and disgusting, is that the HDI, The World Health Organization & UNESCO all have these statistics readily available, but no journalist (including Robert Fisk) aside from maybe Eric Margolis mentioned our published this information. Gaddafi certainly ran a repressive regime, but he also obviously did much to elevate the standard of living for his people, unlike tyrants like Mubarak who did absolutely nothing for Egypt.

    2. I get tired of saying this, but TALK TO SOME LIBYANS! If things were so great, why would they be so happy to get rid of him? With a population of only 6 million, and oil to sell, they should have high standards of living, but they didn't.

  7. bad interview day for Scott Horton ? seems like this is a state dept sanctioned interview,
    to attack a country for 40 years and call the defenders a 'dictator' is orwellian doublespeak
    what about free education, medical care, interest free loans, independent central bank.
    you attack a country and when they defend themselves, they are called dictator, I call you a 'propagandist' I have loved your show for years but now maybe you need to move over to 'democracy now' or maybe give Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and Cynthia McKinney a chance to voice their views

    1. In fainess to Scott, he DID make it clear that were opposed to this NATO intervention. I just wish he had asked tougher questions and called out Porteous on some of his BS.

    2. The medical care was horrible, and the loans weren't interest free. Why the heck would you want to hear from Cynthia McKinney, who only heard what Qaddafi told her and saw what he showed her (and presumably, like Farrakhan and various African leaders, didn't go home empty-handed) instead of the people who lived there?

  8. Tom Porteous, must believe everything he hears on TV. That whole first two minutes was bullshit siting claims made by Clinton and others which never offered any evidence. This rebellion was led by x government employees who were fired over corruption.

  9. gaddafi needs an investigation?! are you fucking serious? I have the hole beating torture jeep dragging stripping and knife sodomizing on video. If I got hold of that how the fuck can you people's whose jobs it is to know these things are unaware. Shall I answer myself… I don't think I need to Tom Porteous is a hack.

    im going to upload a censored version of the video to rys2sense tomorrow after work. They pulled half his hair out holding him up kicking him and it looked like broke his legs. and they basically raped him while screaming allah akbar etc a bunch of thugs. there faces are on the camera so there is your "investigation" there is no doubt what happened they FILMED IT

  10. Tom, like many statists, seems to operate under the assumption that order can only be brought about by the creation of a centralized, monopolized government. Why are tribes and militias necessarily bad? Why can't the country be a vast network of various tribes and militias, which are just different words to describe a local city and it's police force essentially?

  11. quote"In the 1980s and early 1990s he was a freelance correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, the BBC, "quote"In the 1980s and early 1990s he was a freelance correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, the BBC, "
    that tells a lot about the man-a product of lair media and propaganda depatrment of the british aprasite nation.
    bbc is corrupt through and through as a media pimp for british spy agencies.

  12. As America teetered on the brink of entering World War II, Charles A. Lindbergh gave a fateful speech that did more damage to the America First movement for peace than all the propagandistic efforts of the pro-war groups he named in Des Moines that day. In his oration, the great aviator and American hero sought to define who and what had brought us to the point of no return:

  13. where ever is any trouble you will find not far behind an english man and thier spy agencies the bbc and gaurdiana nd all despicable english british media.

  14. #The Modus operandi of usa and england—
    It's true that the USAand england are rouge, outlaw natios.. The whole world knows its tricks: USA with English mafia pressures a nation into giving up its weapons – – USA and british media smears nation on a lie – – – USA gathers other bully nations and the pimp, Nato, to beat up the weaponless nation- – – -USAwith advise from england installs a puppet president – – -USAand english gangster military steals resources.
    British collaboration with the United States since WWII has been a disaster. British spies gave most of our secrets to the Russians. The British government talked us into staging a coup in Iran in 1953. This brought an extremely repressive government in Iran under the Shah and turned over the oil wells to British Petroleum until the Shah was overthrown in 1979. The British and French tried to seize the Suez Canal in 1956.

    The British government talked us into invading Libya just like we did in Iran and for the same reason – British Petroleum.
    The same bp which only last year polluted our beaches .

    'The UK received 385 million USD of its Marshall plan aid in the form of loans.[71] Unconnected to the Marshall plan the UK also received direct loans from the US amounting to 4.6 billion USD.[72] The proportion of Marshall plan loans versus Marshall plan grants was roughly 15% to 85% for both the UK and France
    the evidence for WMD in Iraq was forged with the help of our British friends and a half decent graphic designer.-where ever is evil there is English hands there.


    Oxfam and other NGOs have nice names but their connections are not so nice. Wanting to help other countries has even morphed into a new geopolitical military strategy to override sovereign countries and ignore international law in order to "protect" people. But this is being done with the UN demanding no votes before sovereign countries are invaded based on corporate media driven "humanitarian" necessity. It is a new colonialism. Previous financial powers used saving souls from paganism as the cover. But whatever it is called, it was and still is, about plunder.

  15. "On 19 February, 1920, before the start of the Arab uprising, Churchill (then Secretary for War and Air) wrote to Sir Hugh Trenchard, the pioneer of air warfare. Would it be possible for Trenchard to take control of Iraq? This would entail "the provision of some kind of asphyxiating bombs calculated to cause disablement of some kind but not death…for use in preliminary operations against turbulent tribes."

    Churchill was in no doubt that gas could be profitably employed against the Kurds and Iraqis (as well as against other peoples in the Empire): "I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes." Henry Wilson shared Churchill's enthusiasm for gas as an instrument of colonial control but the British cabinet was reluctant to sanction the use of a weapon that had caused such misery and revulsion in the First World War. Churchill himself was keen to argue that gas, fired from ground-based guns or dropped from aircraft, would cause "only discomfort or illness, but not death" to dissident tribespeople; but his optimistic view of the effects of gas were mistaken. It was likely that the suggested gas would permanently damage eyesight and "kill children and sickly persons, more especially as the people against whom we intend to use it have no medical knowledge with which to supply antidotes."

    Churchill remained unimpressed by such considerations, arguing that the use of gas, a "scientific expedient," should not be prevented "by the prejudices of those who do not think clearly". In the event, gas was used against the Iraqi rebels with excellent moral effect "though gas shells were not dropped from aircraft because of practical difficulties" — 'British Use of Chemical Weapons in Iraq'

    So what's the difference between the Pirates of today and those of yesteryear? None as far as I can see, all that's changed is that these days, our rulers have to be more prudent and work a lot harder to sell us the idea of recolonization, disguising the entire sordid affair as 'humanitarian intervention'. And, if it wasn't for the direct collusion between the Pirates and the media, I'm certain it would be a lot more difficult to pull off such an outrageous stunt.

    To bring it up to date, Churchill's modern-day equivalent, British foreign secretary William Hague would no doubt be saying that the use of 'bunker buster' bombs on the people of Libya was a 'scientific expedient', though no doubt we'll have to wait fifty years (if at all) before we get to read Hague's private thoughts on the subject.

    And what's more, Churchill's view that "only discomfort or illness, but not death" would result parallels the current notion that 'precision targeting' and 'smart weapons' somehow know the difference between military combatant and civilian. Aside from the sheer imbecility of the idea, it is, just as with 'humanitarian intervention', designed to make the notion of blowing people to bits, more palatable to domestic audiences.

    In the meantime, we'll have to make do with the BBC's view of 'humanitarian intervention'. In a puff piece for the invasion, the BBC tells us that following a visit to Benghazi William Hague was "'inspired' by Libyan rebels". The piece goes on:

    ""But we are also encouraging the National Transitional Council to put more flesh on their proposed transition, to lay out in more detail this coming week what would happen on the day that Gaddafi went. Who would be running what, how a new government would be formed.""– 'William Hague 'inspired' by Libyan rebels', BBC Website, 5 June 2011.

    Hague's statement that he needs to know "Who would be running what, [and] how [would] a new government be formed"? reveals the real nature of the invasion and especially of the Empire's view of its so-called allies in Benghazi.

    The bottom line is that in the ninety years that has passed since Churchill ranted on about gassing "uncivilized tribes" not a damn thing has changed except the language used to describe and justify such barbarism. The BBC is quite at home glorifying the use of such gruesome weapons as the following 'news' items illustrate:

  16. __Kaiser Wilhelm II avowed that he was fighting for “Right, Freedom, Honor, Morality” (and in those days, they were capitalized) and against a British victory which would enthrone “the worship of gold.

    And the British cabinet set up the Territorial Desiderata Committee, charged with choosing the most lucrative of the other side’s possessions to acquire in the postwar division of spoils. Near the top of the list of desiderata: the oil-rich provinces of Ottoman Turkey that, after the war, would be fatefully cobbled together into the British protectorate of Iraq.

  17. Frederick Ogilvie, who succeeded the BBC’s founder, Lord Reith, as director general, wrote that his goal was to turn the BBC into a “fully effective instrument of war”. Ogilvie would have been delighted with his 21st-century managers. In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, the BBC’s coverage overwhelmingly echoed the government’s mendacious position, as studies by the University of Wales and Media Tenor show.

    Indicting the Messanger
    BBC Joins Smear Campaign Against Assange and Wikileaks
    The campaign by the establishment press against Julian Assange is intensifying. CBS’s 60 Minutes tried to trash him last Sunday, but Assange left CBS’ interviewer, Steve Kroft, floundering. Last Sunday also saw New York Times editor Bill Keller consume several thousand words in the NYT’s Magazine abusing Assange with disgraceful lack of scruple, Assange being a man who gave the New York Times some actual news scoops, instead of its regular staple of gastroporn from Sam Sifton. Here Israel Shamir reports, with some personal involvement, on the impending slurring of Assange on the BBC, and the attacks on him in The Guardian. AC/JSC
    I picked up the phone on the third ring, and a melodious British voice informed me that the BBC wanted to include me in its Panorama program. The BBC wanted to hear my views on the world, and was especially interested in Wikileaks. Oh what a glorious moment! I felt myself puff with pride. There is something about “the Beeb” that makes my heart flutter! I have always been partial to their style, and I considered it an honour to have the BBC listed on my CV, even though it was over thirty years ago. When I worked in Bush House on the Strand, the BBC’s Panorama was one of the best investigative programs anywhere – and suddenly here they are, soliciting my comments! Eager to build a relationship of trust, I answered all their preparatory questions with an unvarnished honesty. I thought I had done well; they offered to fly me to London, or if that were inconvenient they would fly out and speak to me in Moscow – civil chaps, aren’t they?
    Looking back, the signs of danger were easy to see. They were producing a program about Wikileaks, but they had no plans to interview Julian Assange. Perhaps he is too busy? Furthermore, the questions began to take on a sinister tone.

  18. January 11, 2011
    Redacting Corruption
    The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks


    Although we are treated to daily accounts of how the net tightens around Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the contents of the US embassy cables have been doled out to us in spoonfuls. To add insult to injury, it is now clear that The Guardian edits and distorts the cables in order to protect their readers from unflattering remarks about how their corporations behave overseas. The Guardian has deliberately excised portions of published cables to hide evidence of corruption.

    A year ago, on January 25, 2010, the US Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan sent out the secret cable ASTANA 000072, entitled KAZAKHSTAN: MONEY AND POWER. The cable chronicled the US Ambassador’s private dinner with a senior Kazakh government official named Maksat Idenov. At the time, Idenov headed the Kazakh state oil and gas company and represented the state in its dealings with foreign oil companies, including British Gas and ENI. A redacted version of the cable has been published, and so we have been given the rare privilege of viewing The Guardian’s editing process in action. It looks like nothing so much as political self-censorship.

    Here is the relevant portion of the Astana cable; the words removed by The Guardian are printed in bold:

    “… market economy means capitalism, which means big money, which means large bribes for the best connected.”

    Why does The Guardian wish to conceal evidence of corruption in Kazakhstan? Are there Blairites ensconced in The Guardian’s editing room? It does seem like someone at The Guardian wants to save us from becoming disillusioned about free markets. Is the free market incompatible with free speech? The Guardian is not shy about revealing to their readers that capitalism means “big money”, but a discussion of what big money can do to a foreign government is strictly verboten. Idenov is not some discontented outsider; he is a power player in the heart of the machine. He knows of which he speaks. The readers of The Guardian may never get to hear it, but the “big money” of capitalism does in reality result in “large bribes for the best connected”.

  19. Wow… I had more respect for readers and listeners, but most f the people commenting here are not only uninterested in hearing any facts, but actively opposed to it. Sad…

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