Thursday, April 12, 2007 

Hostage was tortured - doesn't sell story.

Today's Grauniad cartoon by Martin Rowson couldn't have got the clamour surrounding Des Browne more right. It seems utterly grotesque that he might have to resign over a decision which was essentially made by the navy, which I can't see the Tories or anyone else would have disagreed with had they been in power, while the bodies of soldiers who died because of the unforgivable stupidity of staying in Iraq are returned home. This is, and always has been the real scandal. We joined in an illegal war, justified by deception and lies which has killed possibly 655,000 Iraqis as a result, and for some reason the government is currently being damned by the same media that not only snaffled up the stories of the two sailors, but also believed and propagated the distorted and wrong intelligence in the first place.

Here then is a story which is unlikely to be featured in the Sun tomorrow. The Iranian diplomat Jalal Sharafi, who was released shortly before the sailors were, possibly as part of some sort of deal, has gone public with the wounds he suffered during his own captivity. Unlike our own brave servicemen and woman, who had to endure the indignity of not washing for days, having to sleep on dirty blankets and being called names, Sharafi instead allegedly had the soles of his feet beaten with cables, as well as having his ankles drilled, wounds which have partially healed as they were inflicted at the beginning of his captivity. His back was also slashed, and he claims that his nose was broken. An official from the Red Cross confirmed that his injuries had been inflicted during his detention.

The United States has denied that it had anything to do with the apparent mistreatment, despite Sharafi's claims that an official connected with the US embassy was present during some of his interrogations, hilariously welcoming his release and return to Iran. One thing's for certain though: he sure won't be getting £100,000 in return for telling everyone "the story from his side, to see what he went through."

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 

Pass the sick bags.

It's hard to judge just who is the most nauseating in the continuing battle over the selling by some of the 15 hostages of their stories to the tabloids. The Grauniad leader gets it mostly right by saying that nobody comes out of it well. It was always to be expected that a few days' long civil war would break out between the newspapers that were successful in getting the "exclusives" and those that weren't; it happens every time a big story like this comes along - remember how Paul Burrell was attacked after selling his story to the Mirror? Even by the usual low standards of our press though this is an abysmal trough.

If the hostages had told us anything, absolutely anything slightly interesting or insightful about their brief imprisonment, then maybe the obscene payouts would have been at least somewhat justified. As it happens, they've told us even less than was revealed at the staged MoD press conference last Friday. The closest Turney has come to telling us something new was that she supposedly had a more charged conversation with Ahmadinejad than that which appeared on the news. The treatment which they received, while not pleasant, was certainly not anything which they shouldn't have perhaps expected if they were to have been captured. The staged photographs on the front page of the Sun this morning, mother and daughter kissing, happy to be reunited, meant to make you feel pleased at the outcome of this whole sorry affair, instead leave a sour taste in the mouth. Some of the details just make you wince - that Turney will be keeping a doll given to her in the "goody bags" they received from the Iranians, but only after it was checked for explosives, as you can never be too sure about those extremist suicide bombing plastic Islamic warriors.

The Sun has then set about attempting to defend itself. Turney makes clear that the money is not going to be spent on her - it's instead going into a trust fund for her daughter, with some going to the HMS Cornwall benevolent fund, although she predictably doesn't reveal how much. It also launches an attack on two ex-army figures who went public with their concerns whom apparently received fees themselves for doing so, enlisting Andy McNab, who obviously won't be getting any money for his own appearance to denounce them. That the fees given to them will have been next to negligible, while Turney will be receiving a quoted £100,000 through her deal with the Sun and Tonight with Trevor McDonald, doesn't affect the Sun's righteous outrage.

All this said, it's hard to not feel somewhat sorry for Turney when you read the disgusting bilious reaction of everyone's favourite blowhard, Richard Littlejohn. Almost half the front page of the Daily Hate is given over to advertising his attack on Turney and the others, liberally sprinkling in insults about Blair and Labour in general, as if the Tories would have handled things differently if they'd been in power. I mean, does Turney really deserve this revolting passage from Littlejohn?

How long before the ludicrous Faye Turney pops up on Celebrity Fat Club? I bet they didn't let her get in the dinghy first. This is a woman who is capable of capsizing the Ark Royal if she shifts her weight to the wrong cheek.

Take that, you dumb overweight bitch! In fact, the whole of Littlejohn's piece sets out to belittle the whole incident. He doesn't criticise them for the contents of their interviews, except to make fun of Batchelor for being a "wimp", as if Littlejohn himself would dare to go out to Iraq in the first place, but for the whole selling of the story and their conduct while in captivity. If Turney had sold her story to the Daily Mail, then the boot would be on the other foot. As it is, Littlejohn is more than happy to oblige in attacking Turney for making the wrong choice. That the Mail was at the forefront of the why-oh-whying about Turney even being out in the disputed waters in the first place doesn't seem to have made them reflect on why she rejected them.

Littlejohn does have a point about emotion and drama being used and abused more than ever. This isn't the fault of the sailors, but the sensationalist media which Littlejohn himself works for which has created that very culture. He often makes mocking references to the cult which surrounded the death of Princess Diana, but the Mail was one of the chief culprits in elevating her from a flawed, ordinary woman who married a member of the royal family into a modern day saint purely because of her untimely death.

As a result, every news story has to be ever more hard-hitting, every death is always an avoidable tragedy, every mourning mother needs to have her anguish documented, otherwise no one will care. Turney's time in an Iranian jail is therefore an ordeal, her 13 days mental agony, or even torture. Words, as we know, are weapons. Simon Jenkins wonders, quite legitimately, how all this hate being directed towards Tehran is going to affect the chances of the only solution to their alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, a diplomatic one.

Does Turney then deserve a medal, as the Sun's discussion board rather optimistically asks? Does she deserve to be called a fat ass by a man known disparagingly for the alleged shortness of his own appendage? It's hard not to reflect that this whole outbreak of mass idiocy wouldn't have occurred if we hadn't already dealt with the equal stupidity of staying in southern Iraq for no particular reason. Until then, I think I'm going to go sit in the corner with a sick bag over my head, just in case.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Share |

Monday, April 09, 2007 

Those amazing exclusives in full.

Faye Turney:

Arthur Batchelor:

Labels: , , ,

Share |

Saturday, April 07, 2007 

Losing the moral high ground.

Sensory deprivation, as practiced on US terrorism suspect Jose Padilla.

We shouldn't play down the apparent ill-treatment suffered by the 15 captured British sailors while in Iranian custody. By any measure, a mock execution, whether authorised by those in charge of "looking after" those arrested or simply the guards themselves messing around, is a traumatic and unpleasant experience. Being blindfolded, especially for a long period of time, leaves the mind to fill the visual gap, replaying images which the brain would normally suppress. Separating Faye Turney from her comrades and telling her they had been sent home was an odious psychological trick, whether she believed it or not. Sleep deprivation quickly leads to hallucinations, lethargy and compliance.

And yet, it's difficult or even impossible to fully denounce such treatment as inhumane, degrading and illegal purely as a result of this government's very own record and our general complicity in far worse acts of torture and ill-treatment. We learned
earlier in the week of how MI5, having been rebuffed by Jamil el-Banna after attempting to recruit him to spy on Abu Qutada, then told the CIA that he and his business partner Bisher al-Rawi were carrying bomb parts. This resulted in them being swooped on in Gambia and then being rendered, first to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and then on to Guantanamo Bay. While al-Rawi has finally been freed after his help in keeping tabs on Abu Qutada for MI5 had come to light, el-Banna, despite being a British resident, is still being denied any help by the authorities here. Amnesty International additionally reported this week that if anything, conditions in Guantanamo are getting even worse. The sensory deprivation that is enforced both at Guantanamo Bay and other CIA-run black sites is designed to send the detainees mad, and in many cases it seems to have succeeded.

We have to remember that our own treatment of those arrested in Iraq has been at times less than exemplary, without even mentioning what our coalition partners get up to. For a time in the aftermath of the invasion, "conditioning", a practice banned by the army since the early 70s, was authorised as being acceptable. This involves the use of stress positions, forcing prisoners to stand with their arms outstretched and hands cuffed, as well as hooding and sleep deprivation. The most notable victim of this decision by the military hierarchy was Baha Mousa, who died after 36 hours in British custody in Basra. A post-mortem found that he had 93 separate injuries. The one person to admit to being involved in the abuse meted out to Mousa and those arrested at the same time, Corporal Payne, was accused of playing the detainees like a choir, kicking and punching them one after another, relishing their cries. Others were involved in the ill-treatment which led to his death, but a closing of ranks and an outbreak of amnesia has meant that everyone else has for now escaped justice.

The other open sore is our role in extraordinary rendition. Our elected representatives continue to either deny all knowledge or play down the fact that over 100 CIA flights landed at airports in the UK, whether to refuel or otherwise. Those unlucky enough to be on those planes, under the same sensory deprivation techniques used at Guantanamo so that they have no idea where they are or where they're being taken, would soon be welcomed either at CIA-run black site prison or by the security services in friendly (and sometimes unfriendly, as some have been rendered to Syria) countries who would then carry out torture, such as that performed on Benyam Mohammed, who had his penis slashed multiple times. He may well have been one of the lucky ones, as he doesn't seem to have undergone such other notorious methods as waterboarding.

This is why such predictably angry responses to yesterday's press conference, exemplified by Iain Dale, seem out of place. Our servicemen did indeed suffer, and they are now likely to be reimbursed for it as the MoD has lifted the ban on the selling of their stories. For those with British residence/leave to remain still languishing in Guantanamo Bay, there will be no such compensation.

Labels: , , , ,

Share |

Thursday, April 05, 2007 

Carry on regardless.

The bizarre futility of the continued British presence is southern Iraq could not have been more obvious when the release of the 15 sailors held by Iran is compared with the pointless death of 4 more soldiers. After close to two weeks of posturing, including taking the matter to the UN Security Council, it was quiet diplomacy rather than threats or sanctions that freed the soldiers.

Whether a deal was in someone done we may never know, but it seems more than a coincidence that the "Irbil 5" have apparently been given access to an envoy from the Iranian embassay, as well as howa an Iranian diplomat mysteriously kidnapped by gunmen in Iraqi government uniforms (which would suggest either it was at the request of the US or by insurgents in disguise, with the release of the diplomat making the latter unlikely) was released a day earlier. This makes Blair's talk of "no negotiations" look silly, as it does Bush's suggestion that there would be "no quid pro quo", as movement on the "Irbil 5" would have been impossible without express US approval.

The whole capture of the soldiers has turned out to be nothing more than an extended game, one which Iran has more than convincingly won. When a quick climb-down, however humiliating it may have been in the short term could have freed them shortly after the beginning of their "mandatory vacation", we instead had to sit back and endure two weeks of inept pointlessness, the soldiers themselves patiently playing along with what they were told to do by the Iranians. Only Faye Turney during the experience looked uncomfortable, and she was undoubtedly the one who was used and abused the most, but little more than the UK press themselves did, their mock concern as vomit-inducing as the letters that had been dictated to her. She'll also be glad to read now she's home a pathetic little rant in the Sunday Moron from Carole Malone who chastised her like a true feminist for daring to leave her 3-year-old daughter with her partner while she went off to war.

Ahmadinejad was the one who was left looking magnanimous. Meeting the soldiers themselves was a masterstroke, their joy at being let go apparent, again playing along with the narrative that the Iranians had been weaving from the beginning, joking along with him, whatever was really going through their heads.

It was only to be expected that once the troops were safely home that we could get back into the usual routine of blaming them for everything and anything, whether there's any evidence or not. It doesn't seem to matter that it's just as likely that the insurgents are using US or Israeli made weapons: that, after all, shows that the free market's working. Instead we're left with the images of tyrants, the uncivilised world and the biggest threat to world peace letting their booty go, while the free, democratic Iraq spirals ever more into the mire.

Labels: ,

Share |

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 

Scum-watch: Reverse ferret over the evil Ayatollahs.

There's a fascinating about face in today's Sun editorial. From previously fulminating about "Sick Mullahs" and "evil Ayatollahs" who had "insulted the whole world" and demanding an apology, as well as saying that satellites showed their boats were in Iraqi waters, the Sun toned the rhetoric right down:

THE disputed waterways of the Arabian Gulf flow across constantly shifting sands.

Frontiers are hotly contested and impossible to verify.

Much like the diplomatic wrangling over the 15 British hostages grabbed by Tehran’s Republican Guard.

Both sides could be right — or wrong — by just half a nautical mile.

But Iran is not keen to raise the international temperature by staging a show trial. And we can’t even consider military action to free our personnel.

So let’s accept these are muddied waters where mistakes can be made.

And bring those servicemen home in time for Easter.

Now, this could simply be down to the encouraging signs which emerged late last night following contact with Iran's chief negotiator, Dr Ali Larijani. Craig Murray, who almost singlehandedly challenged the spin from Blair and co that the arrests most definitely took place in Iraqi waters, noted yesterday that the FCO was coming round to this view, probably as an attempt to bring the crisis to an end through compromise.

Even so, the tone of the Sun leader seems remarkably different, almost confident that there definitely was going to be movement today. Could it be possible that Downing Street knew last night that their release today was almost certain -- and briefed the Sun but told them not to go, err, overboard? Stranger things have happened.

Labels: , ,

Share |

Thursday, March 29, 2007 

The world was a mess but at least her hair was covered.

If there is one thing the British media can't be accused of, it's being predictable. You'd think that the fact that the 15 sailors being paraded on television is a potential breach of the Geneva convention would be enough, along with the fact that Faye Turney, who was predictably picked on, was given an obviously false statement to read, while a letter containing strange turns of phrase was presented that was intended to further cause humiliation and worry to her family. No, apparently the biggest insult is that she was "forced" to wear a headscarf:

There's this reactionary, ridiculous pile of crap from the Sun as well:

Then there is the personal degradation of making Faye wear a headscarf. As a woman excelling in a man’s world, she will be furious to have been belittled.

Oh, the inhumanity!

All of which only underlines the complete ignorance of Iran in general. All post-pubescent women, including foreigners in Iran are required, or if you prefer, forced, to wear the hijab, hence why female journalists wear headscarves in their reports. It was unlikely those holding Turney were going to make an exception for her, especially when the footage was broadcast on one of the most conservative satellite stations. If anything Turney actually got off lightly - her head-covering was loose, something that Ahmadinejad has tried to crackdown on.

The Scum's Tom Newton Dunn continues:

But worst of all, they have exploited the terror of Faye’s daughter Molly and her mum’s deep feelings for her.

Which the Sun clearly cannot be accused of doing themselves. For the simple reason that she's a woman, Turney has been the one sailor who's been focused on. The Sun has printed details about her family and her nickname, emphasising that she's a mother with a young daughter. Her family had asked the media to kindly stick their mock concern where the sun doesn't shine, which only encouraged them to dig even deeper. Anne Perkins develops this further. Who can blame the Iranians for doing the exact same thing when the tabloid media in this country is only too happy to play with emotions in such a way?

Parading captured troops in public is a war crime. Britain would never do it.

No, our brave boys would never do something so dastardly. They'd close ranks and suffer collective amnesia instead.

We could additionally argue all day and all night about whether the sailors were in Iraqi or Iranian waters. It doesn't matter. Even if a breach had taken place, the issue could have been easily resolved without the Iranians taking the sailors captive. The manner of their capture suggests that this was planned in advance, either as a response to the looming tightening of sanctions over Iran's nuclear program or to try to use them as a bargaining chip to free the five Iranians seized by the Americans in Irbil.

The criticism on the Daily Mail's front page is similarly disingenuous. Just what else do they suggest should be done? The diplomatic avenue is the only avenue, even when everyone's favourite gung-ho writer of shitty espionage fiction suggests that the appearance of the sailors helps because it gives "our troops clues where they are", as if we're going to storm a raid without the Iranians noticing the infringing of their airspace. As the Guardian leader argues, this whole incident has only helped to show how difficult it is to trust Tehran. They now have to find a way to free the soldiers without losing further face, and at the moment seem to be floundering, making excuses for not releasing Turney as promised. Tehran is of course not only playing for the international community, but for its own population, who for the moment due to the extended Iranian new year holiday are reported to be largely ignorant of the current situation. The liberal opposition in Iran can only be strengthened by the eventual release of the hostages, showing the revolutionary guard, closely aligned to the hard-line taken by Ahmadinejad, as weak. This might be one of the few pluses to come out of a regrettable and thoroughly avoidable crisis.

P.S. The Sun continues to reprint the lies of Ian Huntley today, without bothering to mention that Carr's evidence at the trial makes clear that she did not know that Huntley was responsible for the murders until he himself gave his side of the story. His entire "confession" tape is tainted by the fact that he still refuses to own up to how he murdered the two girls in cold blood -- he repeats his wholly unbelievable and laughable story that he gave in court, that one of the girls died after falling in the bath, while he unintentionally smothered the other by accident, trying to keep her quiet. The Sun's behaviour in bringing all this back up purely in an attempt to smear Carr is indefensible - it would rather believe and print the lies of a murderer than accept that Carr's acquittal was sound.

Labels: , , , , ,

Share |

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 

Scum-watch: Privacy? Us?

"Now, my dears," said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, "you may go into the marshes of Iraq or down by Umm Qasr, but don't go into Mr Ahmadinejad's waters."

5 days after being captured, and with no sign that they're going to be released quickly, the media has started to run out of things to say about the 15 seized British sailors who were most definitely in Iraqi waters at the time. Into this void, the inevitability of looking deeper into the background of those who've been "kidnapped" has edged ever closer.

It was probably with this in mind that the family of the only woman to be seized, Faye Turney,
politely asked the media to respect their privacy. Hence the breathless, vomit-inducing twee rubbish which appeared in the Sun this morning, in a display of revolting mock concern:

Iran kidnaps: Let mummy go

THE brave Royal Navy woman sailor being held hostage by Iran has a three-year-old daughter.

And I would suppose that some of the men captured have children as well. What's your point caller?

Leading Seaman Faye Turney, 26, was one of the drivers of the two boats swooped on by Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards on Friday.

Her little daughter Molly and husband Adam were at home last night desperately waiting for news of her plight.

Wonderful! Now we know their names. Got any more dirt or rather background on this woman currently being held in trying circumstances?

A friend of NCO Faye, called Topsy by pals, revealed: “She is a great girl, with a warm sense of humour. Everyone knows her because there are not many Wrens who do what she does — it is quite an achievement.

“Topsy loves being a mum and her greatest concern right now will be for her little girl and how badly she is being affected by this.

“But like the rest of the boarding party, she is tough and used to confrontation.”

The so-called friend emerges, pocketing a nice little cheque from everyone's favourite tabloid newspaper. The little girl might well not know that anything is going on at all -- until of course the media start focusing on her for no other reason than the fact she's a woman in uniform. I'm sure she'll also love finding out once she's released that "a friend" has informed a national newspaper that her nickname is "Topsy"; now all we need to know is whether Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter were with her when she was captured.

Faye is one of only a dozen women who carry out the tough driving role — her husband is also qualified to do the same job.

Petty Officer Adam has been given special leave to stay at home in Plymouth to look after Molly.

He currently works as an instructor at nearby HMS Raleigh, the Navy’s main training base.

Excellent, now we even know where they live. Next thing to do is to show that you really honestly do respect their privacy by reproducing the MoD's statement on their behalf:

A statement issued by the Ministry of Defence on behalf of the family said: “While we understand the media interest in the ongoing incident involving Faye, this remains a very distressing time for us and our family. We are grateful for the support shown to us by all personnel involved and appreciate it, but would request that our privacy is respected.”

On then to the Sun's leader:

Not that Britain alone can take military action, despite our Trident nukes. The real risk for Tehran is that others, like Israel, will see this as another act of provocation.

And justification for attacking Iran’s nuclear plants.

With huge consequences for the Middle East and the entire world.

A load of utter rot. Israel couldn't care less about 15 British soldiers. The only thing Israel has ever cared about and ever will care about is herself. It won't be Israel that might see this as further justification for an attack on Iran, but rather the propagandists for war like Melanie Philips who'll be more than happy to use it as an excuse. Philips' has surprisingly not yet commented on the snatching of the 15, but she did however write this recent rant piece against Iran:

Meanwhile, Iran speeds towards genocide, with people still scoffing that it’s ‘only rhetoric’.


We have been under attack by Iran since 1979, when Khomeini came to power and declared war upon the west and his intention to wipe out Israel and Islamise the world. Throughout three subsequent decades of Iranian attacks on western interests, we did virtually nothing. Now, with the clock at five minutes to nuclear midnight, we are still in disarray. Washington is mired in vicious internal in-fighting. Our elites continue to demonise America and Israel, thus paralysing our politicians and paving the way for a second holocaust.

Iran is preparing a second holocaust. Climate change is a either a con-trick, a witch-hunt or a fraud. Dr David Kelly was murdered. And somehow we're the ones that are crazy.

Labels: , , ,

Share |


  • This is septicisle


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates