Want to Earn Ten Years’ Salary? Get Captured. 19

The government is introducing a new incentive scheme for the military. If you get captured you can immediately make a quarter of a miilion pounds, maybe much more.

There is so much that can be said about this turning of the Iran captivity into an extension of the Big Brother house. The most important thing to say is that it stinks. It is, of course, a merging of the propaganda of those who want war on Iran, with the moronic celebrity culture that made a star of Jade Goody.

It is worth noting that the MOD have announced that the ex-captives will be “Advised” by MOD press officers in writing their stories, which will be subject to approval by their commanding officer, Both the MOD, the ex-captives and the tabloids will have an interest in exaggerating the horror of their captivity. It is worth remembering now that the senior officer with the party said explicitly at their press conference that they were not subject to mock execution. Despite the newspapers giving the impression they were blindfold all the time, one of them said that they had blindfolds put on when they were led to the toilet. I am sure it was all a horrible experience. Perhaps it is the confidence of having myself on several occasions had cocked weapons pointed at my head while I was in government service, including by drugged-up Sierra Leonean rebels, that lets me point out that it wasn’t that terrible.

In particular, it wasn’t that terrible compared to the horrible deaths of eight British servicemen since these others were captured. Nobody is offering hundreds of thousands of pounds for the story of the families of the dead.

Blair’s appalling Middle East policy has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. This government-led trivialisation of that stark fact into spin and tabloid entertainment is the apotheosis of New Labour.

I resigned from the Diplomatic Service and published Murder in Samarkand to blow the whistle on government complicity in torture and the use of the resulting false intelligence and false flag bombings to ramp up the “War on Terror”. I was a British Ambassador and writing from direct personal experience, as an eye witness.

The government did everything possible to stop me publishing. They stalled for ten months haggling over the text, then said it was banned. I decided to call their bluff and publish anyway. The result was a stream of threatening letters from Treasury solicitors and a series of publishers pulling out. My royalty payments do not yet exceed what I owe the eventual publisher for covering the legal bills. I am not sure they ever will. In the end, we had to publish the most sensitive material to the web, with urls given in the footnotes of the book where material has been cut out.

Thus the government tries to bury the truth. As a rule of thumb, if the government wants you to know it, it probably isn’t true.

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19 thoughts on “Want to Earn Ten Years’ Salary? Get Captured.

  • Daniel

    "if the government wants you to know it, it probably isn't true."

    Perhaps this is a bit unfair to the personnel, who may tell the truth about their captivity.

    The important thing is that members of the armed forces and diplomatic services have published their memoirs after leaving their careers or going into retirement. These are serving members of the armed forces making money from the press from their experiences. This is also far too close to the event and is likely to become part of the event. It would have been better to have waited at least a few months when the issue has died down somewhat before going for publication in the press in this way. The worst thing about these kind of stories is that journalists will tease out and exagerrate the more sensational elements and the interviewees are often stunned by the resulting story. It seems absurd to allow members of the armed forces to put themselves at risk of becoming the centre of another PR disaster.

  • writeon

    Waiting to publish their stories until the fuss has died down, isn't the way things work, I'm afraid. The story of their capture is hot now, not in a few months time. It's now they can make some real money if they strike while the iron is hot. It's not as if they actually need to say or write anything themselves, just provide themselves as "cover" for some journalist's story-line and laugh all the way to the bank. Personally, I think it's the female who stands to make the most, if she plays her cards right, and imploys Max Clifford to advise her. There's a nice car and house in it for her.

  • NightWatch

    Ive been trying to get with the program and learn to read between the lines better…but fear paranoia and other sorts of human failings creep in when I do.

    But, here goes anyway:

    The 250K pound reward for captivity might just be a nice way for soldiers to pay for their own ransome and the government can still say they don't negotiate.

    Just a thought, but it does seem consistent with this Purple Haze/Alice in Wonderland way our leaders do their stuff.

  • timbird

    "It is worth noting that the MOD have announced that the ex-captives will be "Advised" by MOD press officers in writing their stories, which will be subject to approval by their commanding officer …"

    That figures. I remember ITV's coverage of the captives' initial statements featured two sailors accounts – blinfolded, guns cocked behind them, and so on – which were identical, almost verbatim. I suspect they'd been thoroughly briefed beforehand.

  • ChoamNomsky

    The problem is, most people will never read your book in much the same way that most people will never read any Noam Chomsky. On the scale of things, it's sort of highbrow stuff, although it's very important that it's written.

    What you really need is a mass delivery system. When governments attempt to manufacture consent for wars etc, they don't publish a clever hardback book. Instead they use papers like the daily mail to peddle their propaganda. You have to make the concepts simple (and if possible fun). Comedy is a pretty good method (I'm not suggesting you start cracking jokes though 🙂 )

    In the last few weeks you've had quite a bit of exposure, but generally speaking, as someone who is very critical of the government, your access to the media is quite limited. Like John Pilger, you become "radioactive". Obviously this blogg is one way of reaching people without relying on the mainstream media. You might consider doing a video blogg on Youtube though. I think a lot more people would hear what you have to say and it would also probably generate some media interest.

  • Nas

    After isolating the 15 once they were released by the Iranies, first by throwing everyone out of the Business class of the BA flight home and then taking them straight from Heathrow without any chance of giving an interview, are they now being rewarded for giving out the MOD version of what happened to them in Iran? It makes you wonder.

  • Daniel

    "The problem is, most people will never read your book in much the same way that most people will never read any Noam Chomsky."

    I'm not so sure that greater publicity for what Craig has written will necessarily have more impact than it has had already. You have to ask yourself:

    1. Do most people care?

    2. If most people cared, would they act?

    3. If most people took action, would it result in anything?

    But I'd like to know what Craig thinks his impact has been on the FCO and on the level of scutiny it is put under from policy-makers.

  • kala'e

    'If you get captured you can immediately make a quarter of a million pounds, or maybe much more.'

    Iran may need to build a detention center pronto. Afghan warlords and Iraq insurgents might also catch on quick and launch a lucrative kick back operation.

    For rank and file military personnel, it may be a risk worth taking with mortgage and all.

  • Craig


    I don't think I have had any discernible impact on the FCO. Their formal response was to initiate a review into how to prevent potential "Problem" people becoming Ambassadors.


    but unlike the great NC, my writing is entirely accessible even to the uneducated or not politically interested. I receiv3ed an email from someone recently who said, convincingly, it was the only book they ahd ever read. Or hear is another email received 2 days ago:

    "Since you confess to enjoying a positive reaction to Murder in S. here's another one – it's the most exciting and gripping account this 62 year-old has ever had the good fortune to read – and that's a lot of books."

    The frustrating thing is I think it really does have the appeal of a mass market book if I could only get it "out there",

  • writeon

    I'll admit that I'm tiring of all the pumped-up, glorification and hypocracy surrounding our attitude to the military.

    Supposedly we regard them all as paragons of virtue and heroes, at least when we need them for war, but what about afterwards? In truth once they've fulfilled their role we drop them like rubbish in a skip.

    Politicians, journalists and others in the media, love to pontificate and gush false sentitiment about our wonderful soldiers, but it just words, and we all know how cheap they are.

    So why shouldn't these soldiers squeeze as much cash out of the system as they can while they can? Christ, they'ed be dropped like hot stone if one of them lost a leg or an arm. Suddenly they stop being heroes and turn overnight into a burden on the taxpayer.

    Our own great leader, Tony Blair, is simply unparalelled among hypocrites. A true shining light of liars. Thinking the invasion of Iraq was going to be his version of the Falklands triumph, garanteeing his place in history and popularity, he blithely followed Bush on his imperial crusade to rid the world of evil. The result was undisputed, after all, Iraq was weak and on its knees militarilly. It was a safe and simple route to a kind of immortality for Blair. A legacy that would last for decades. He could end up more famous than Thatcher and richer than John Major!

    All it required was that other people paid with their blood and guts for his triumph. Other people's sons and daughters would pay the ultimate price for his legend.

    But if the military is so glorious a profession, and its members so fantastic and brave, where is Blair's son in all this? Blair loves to prattle on about the great war for civilization against the forces of darkness and evil and that nothing is a greater threat to our values and way of life, yet how come his son hasn't joined the army? Surely if the war on terror is of such enormous importance any young man from his class and background would jump at the chance to serve his country in the life and death struggle against barbarism?

    But no, Blair's son isn't in Afghanistan or Iraq, he isn't in the heat and dust. He's in the USA networking for the coming Blair dynasty. Like Cheney who didn't go to Vietnam, Blair the younger, has other priorities.

    And most ordinary soldiers know how hypocritical and corrupt the system really is, so when everyone else is making so much cash out of the rape of Iraq, why shouldn't they get a share of the pie?

  • ChoamNomsky

    "but unlike the great NC, my writing is entirely accessible even to the uneducated or not politically interested. "

    Chomsky really isn't difficult to read either. It's not like some philosophy text where they deliberately use as many obscure words as they can. He speaks quite plainly.

    I'm amused at the concept of routing out potential problem ambassadors though. Perhaps they have some form of questionnaire planned.


    "You are assigned to be the ambassador of Random-akistan. The leader is slaughtering people for fun, but he is a close ally of the US and UK.

    Do you:

    A. Say nothing.

    B. Kick up a fuss.


    That would at least catch out potential trouble makers who also happen to be stupid.

  • Boss

    Hi Craig,

    here is the latest low-down on the media debacle under way

    Boss Broadcasting Corporation

    BBC Bringing you the latest truthiness

    Editor at very largely Boss

    For immediate release.

    09-04-07 | 18:06 Rev. 2

    Puncture Kit is what done it!

    Our sources close to the pooh-bahs can reveal exclusively, on this site, that the last minute agreements between Tex Gilliford media advisor to the 'mother of the three year old', and representing her, and 'Master Wienie' and pooh-bah, was arrived at, after last minute assurances that some of the skinny fortune coming his clients way, would be allocated to buy puncture kits for Mother-ship's Rigid inflatable Boats, along with some mooring tackle, and gear, as well as some decent batteries for the hand held GPS units.

    Our close sources, over a pint (receipts submitted are indicative of a good session) with the pooh-bah from the ministry of spin, and aggression was told exclusively that such innovative fund raising methods are designed to drive the taxes down, and keeping these taxes low, while ensuring the safety of our personnel, by affording them the latest puncture kits, batteries, and mooring tackles, adding our boys and girls deserve the best, money can buy.

    Also from other sources it is apparent that due to the need for sea king helicopter starter motors, there are plans to send some aviators Iran way, and hopefully when these are released, and back they can sell their stories at a high enough prices to buy at least two starter motors, so that the embarrassing episode at Heathrow can be avoided, and the engines are not left running for half an hour, for fear of malfunction of the relevant starter motors.

    End item

  • NightWatch

    "In Reversal, Britain Says Ex-Captives Can't Sell Stories".

    "LONDON, April 9 ? After howls of protest from former military commanders, opposition politicians and relatives of slain military service members, Britain's defense secretary, Des Browne, today abruptly reversed a decision to allow some of the sailors and marines captured by Iran to sell their stories to the media."

    Interesting that permission is shut down after two who are presumably critical of the Iranians tell their story.

  • Boss

    Blindfolding, and cuffing any military detainees, is a standard procedure the world over. In fact cuffing of any detainee is a standard procedure the world over. Also stripping the detainees from their clothing, and belonging is yet another standard procedure, be it for the purposes of forensics, and or taking away dangerous clothing items that could be used in suicide attempt by the detainee. Anyone who, has had any dealings with cops will be all too familiar with these standard procedures.

    So to find the bleatings of the British media about the cuffed, and blindfolded detained personnel, it is laughable, if not side-splittingly laughable, then at least giggleable. Their hypocrisy knowing no bounds, they have transliterated the fears of what might have been, based on the wild imagination of a generation fed on 'Nightmare on Elm Street', 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', and 'Halloween.

    All the while condemning those dastardly Iranians, whom have so badly mistreated our boys, and girls. The inhuman treatment of letting a carpenter go on about his job, or coking their weapons, and or worst still, keeping the detainees separately and in solitary, without any legal council.

    These bunch of banshees suffering from temporary amnesia, have forgotten that under the prevention of terrorism act, the detainees in this very democratic country, that is civil detainees are left in the solitary, at times without any clothing, and air-conditioning set to a low temperature, without access to any legal council, legally for twenty eight days. But, hey as we all know these detainees are all Muslims, and as well know they deserve every bit of their treatment.

    The charges brought against the Iranians, are in the much vaunted article by the Sun are as follows;

    A- failing to let the detainees purvey their surrounds, and take good notes of where they were at.

    B- failing to provide the detainees with small digital cameras, with video capability.

    C- failing to provide comfortable sitting, while processing them, and worst still kept them standing blindfolded.

    D- failing to inform the group, when one of the lilly livered lot was sick, leaving another lilly livered detainee to think to himself;' the mean bastards are not shooting us, they are cutting our throats'.

    E- failing to provide spacious rooms with five star standards, and a view to Caspian Sea.

    F- failing to provide king-size beds, and fifteen tug swandown duvets, and silk linen.

    G- failing to tell the 'mother of the three year old', and the youngest of the group, that they are in an Islamic country, and anyone contemplating rape would most probably have signed his own death warrant. leaving the 'mother of three year old' to fear rape, and also the youngest of the group to think the same. (those unisex Iranians)

    H- failing to stop a carpenter going about his business, letting the furtive imagination of the 'mother of three year old' to run a riot by thinking that the said carpenter is busy making coffins.

    I- causing alarm and distress with measuring the detainees for their hand made suits.

    J- asking an impertinent question; 'do you want to see your daughter again?'

    K- dinging the boat, and jolting the occupants, causing whiplash etc.

    L- frothing at the mouth and being angry.

    M- being Iranian at all times, whilst going about their business.

    Patently all grave charges, and against Geneva Convention, especially when the detention took place with guns, and stuff, instead of cream puffs, pies, and assortment of Belgium cakes.

    Hence the reason for vilification of all things Iranian, starting with calling their hand made suits (champion suits in the words of 'mother of the three year old) as dodgy suits, and at all times haranguing at anyone whom displays slight grateful attitudes, regardless of rank, standing and profession, as in the case of Rt Rev Bishop Tom Burns, who is subject to fury of all and sundry for showing such weakness.

    However, there is a little problem that the stories of the heroes of the hour are not tallying up, further, watching the soft ball question session of Sir Trevor McDonald, and reading the article 'mother of the three year old' seems to tell an inconsistent story. Further, the article in the Sun tells of the helicopter in the distance looking for them (heroes), which gives rise to the little question of which helicopter, and why at the distance (ie what bout the coordinates)? But, hey who gives a damn about a good 'two minutes hate' story, trouble is to what end?

  • Craig

    Agree with all of that. And to be plain, mt reference to the great NC was not meant to be sarcastic. Nor was I suggesting his use of words is obtuse. But those with limited education are not going to find him accessible as a "Good story".

  • Daniel

    What do you think was the impact of your book and revelations regarding Uzbekistan?

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