Eggs Benedict

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David Miliband’s statement
Miliband’s apology over ‘rendition’
Miliband admits US rendition flights stopped on UK soil

UK apology over rendition flights
Government admission on rendition a ‘huge embarrassment’, say critics

In full: CIA statement on renditions
Political fall-out from rendition

Extraordinary admissions
Embarrassed Miliband admits two US rendition flights refuelled on British soil
Official apology after CIA ‘torture’ jets used UK base

The British Government announced today that the United States recently provided information on rendition flights through Diego Garcia-a UK territory in the Indian Ocean-that contradicted earlier data from us.

Our government had told the British that there had been no rendition flights involving their soil or airspace since 9/11. That information, supplied in good faith, turned out to be wrong.

In fact, on two different occasions in 2002, an American plane with a detainee aboard stopped briefly in Diego Garcia for refuelling.

Neither of those individuals was ever part of CIA’s high-value terrorist interrogation program. One was ultimately transferred to Guantanamo, and the other was returned to his home country.

These were rendition operations, nothing more. There has been speculation in the press over the years that CIA had a holding facility on Diego Garcia. That is false. There have also been allegations that we transport detainees for the purpose of torture. That, too, is false.

Torture is against our laws and our values. And, given our mission, CIA could have no interest in a process destined to produce bad intelligence.

In late 2007, CIA itself took a fresh look at records on rendition flights. This time, the examination revealed the two stops in Diego Garcia.

The refuelling, conducted more than five years ago, lasted just a short time. But it happened. That we found this mistake ourselves, and that we brought it to the attention of the British Government, in no way changes or excuses the reality that we were in the wrong.

An important part of intelligence work, inherently urgent, complex, and uncertain, is to take responsibility for errors and to learn from them. In this case, the result of a flawed records search, we have done so.

The CIA employs Woody Allen to write statement on rendition. Turns out he’s got heartburn.

J.K.


Atrocious Episode

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British soldiers executed up to 20 Iraqi detainees, say witnesses
British soldiers accused of executing civilians
‘I heard the terrible sound of someone being choked’
Claim UK troops ‘executed’ Iraqis

Mr Abdelreza’s statement said: “I believed people were being killed. I have never heard anything like that sound ever before in my life.

“It shocked me and filled me with such terror.”

The lawyers say the five witnesses are labourers from Majar al-Kabir with “absolutely nothing” to do with the insurgent Mehdi army, who engaged British troops at the Battle of Danny Boy.

Showing images of corpses from the battle, Mr Day said: “The nature of a number of the injuries of the Iraqis would seem to us to be highly unusual in a battlefield.

“For example, quite how so many of the Iraqis sustained single gunshots to the head and from seemingly at close quarter, how did two of them end with their eyes gouged out, how did one have his penis cut off [and] some have torture wounds?”

“There is the clearest evidence available of systematic abuse and systematic failings at the very highest levels of politicians, the civil service and the military,” said Mr Shiner.

Mr Day was previously involved in legal action launched against the MoD over allegations by more than 200 Masai women in Kenya that they were raped by British soldiers in the 1970s.

What a wonderful world.

J.K.


Prescriptive Versus Descriptive

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‘9/11 ripped the bandage off US culture’

As a work of cultural criticism, The Terror Dream is comprehensively shocking. But didn’t the extreme disconnection between reporting and reality that it exposed present the author with a problem? If the country’s cultural narrative was driven more by fiction than fact, and failed to reflect the truth of post-9/11 America, why base a whole book upon such spurious material?

“Because we live in a culture that’s so . . . you can’t . . .” She casts a hand around the hotel bar helplessly. “I mean, this is sort of miraculous, to be sitting in a room where there’s not some massive flat-screen TV yelling at us. It’s almost a sci-fi feeling, this kind of constant bombardment of programmed thought.” Its effect is not as simple, she stresses, as “monkey see, monkey do”. “But it certainly has a warping effect on how we think about the world, and how we think about ourselves.” Journalism became not descriptive but prescriptive – “and that had an enormous effect on our political life, our policy, our nightmarish policy, our misbegotten military strategy”.

This echoes my (not very original) view of modern mass (largely American) media as prescriptive and ideologically committed; the news has evolved to be less the recounting (mirror) of events couched in narrative form, and more a tableau where the details are exaggerated at the behest of some dark aesthetic. Still a mirror, but now reflecting the prejudices of it’s creator rather than that which it claims to represent.

In one respect, she concedes, cultural criticism today is less relevant than it used to be. “The culture used to move relatively slowly, so you could take aim. Now it moves so fast, and is so fluffy and meaningless, you feel like an idiot even complaining about it.” But on the other hand, “I think a reason that a lot of people feel politically paralysed is that it used to be clear how power was organised. But those who have their hands on the levers of popular culture today have great power – and it isn’t even clear who they are.” They may be commercially accountable, in other words, but not democratically.

In my youth I would often contemplate the highly accelerated nature of mass media, and it’s effects on culture. It was it’s instantaneous nature that occupied me the most. A good analogy for me was how, in bygone days of yore, the passage of time was a function of the sunrise and sunset. These days we measure the same phenomenon (illumination) through the flick of a switch.

Analogous to this, the instantaneous nature of media and popular culture lends authenticity to the mediated as immediate, and as a consequence we are prone to mistake the mediated for the truth.

J.K.


Middle East Envoy

J.K.


Yo Blair 2, Electric Boogaloo

J.K.


By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down

Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion.

J.K.


Out of the barrel of a gun…

J.K.