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.