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61 thoughts on “The Joys of Being an Amateur

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  • mary

    We already knew this.

    14 July 2011 Last updated at 16:16
    Iraq inquiry: Campbell ‘like an unguided missile’
    Alastair Campbell found MI6 useful to work with, the Iraq inquiry heard
    Campbell defends Iraq evidence
    Campbell Iraq evidence disputed
    Campbell defends Iraq war dossier
    Alastair Campbell was “somewhat of an unguided missile” during talks about intelligence before the Iraq war, a senior MI6 officer has said.

    Tony Blair’s former spokesman tended to have “rushes of blood to the head”, previously secret evidence released by the Iraq inquiry suggests.

    The officer, who cannot be named, said the pre-war atmosphere had been “febrile” and MI6 had made mistakes.

    The UK invaded Iraq in March 2003. The inquiry is due to end later this year.

    Chaired by Sir John Chilcot, it is examining events between 2001 and 2009, including the decision to go to war in Iraq, post-invasion planning, what lessons were learned and whether troops were properly equipped.

    In evidence given during a closed hearing, the MI6 officer said Mr Campbell had had regular contacts with MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), as part of the government’s communications strategy in the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    The witness, referred to as “SIS2”, told the inquiry: “We found Alastair Campbell, I think, an enthusiastic individual, but also somewhat of an unguided missile.”

    He added: “We also, I think, suffered from his propensity to have rushes of blood to the head and pass various stories and information to journalists without appropriate prior consultation.

    “That’s not to say that we didn’t engage to the extent that we could, and I think that Alastair Campbell found us a useful organisation to work with, simply because SIS was actually an organisation that was very focused on delivery.”

    SIS2 admitted that the “very febrile atmosphere” before the war resulted in MI6 making mistakes, including validating some intelligence that later had to be withdrawn after it turned out the sources were not reliable.

    He said it was a “fair criticism” to say the spy agency had been “probably too eager to please” 10 Downing Street.

    The officer added: “The pressure to generate results, I fear, did lead to the cutting of corners. I think perhaps SIS was at that point guilty of flying a bit too close to the sun.”

    Controversial claim
    In testimony to the inquiry last year, former MI5 head Baroness Manningham-Buller said Mr Blair’s government had used “fragmentary” intelligence, largely from MI6, to make the case for war.

    In May, Mr Campbell hit back after a former intelligence official challenged his evidence to the Iraq inquiry.

    Major General Michael Laurie disputed his claim that a September 2002 dossier was not meant to “make the case for war”, saying that those producing it “saw it exactly as that and that was the direction we were given”.

    But Mr Campbell, who was Tony Blair’s communications chief from 1997 to 2003, said those “directly involved” in producing the dossier had backed him.

    He played a key role in creating the document, which contained the controversial claim that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction could be deployed within 45 minutes of an order to use them

  • dreoilin

    So the Murdochs *will* appear at the select committee. I’d like to be in the gallery – if there was a gallery.

  • glenn

    Hi Mary – I’m currently reading the Autobiography of Mark Twain (vol.1), which he instructed was to be published 100 years after his death. A lot of the material in there is entirely new. It’s about 650 pages of fairly small print, and is quite fascinating.

  • Richard Gadsden

    Watching golf?

    You missed the Tourmalet and Luz-Ardiden!

    Geraint Thomas rode well, and the last 3km were cracking.

  • mary

    LarryfStL Do leave off. It’s tedious.

    Ref What good to the people of the planet has this vast expenditure of money and resources been? Teflon coated frying pans.
    This is just one year
    The 2010 NASA budget was $18.7 billion. How much of that was devoted to “space exploration” is a matter of debate (approximately $5-$7 billion), since NASA’s funding was divided into aeronautics, operations, science and cross-agency support.
    The total worldwide cost was roughly equal to $35 billion dollars p.a. which included advanced programs in Europe, Russia, China, India, and Japan. This did not include satellites (many commercial) that provided services from orbit.

  • John Goss

    You can’t be a Scot and ignore golf, amateur or professional. In fact it takes a bit of skill to hack a golf-ball out of the bonny bloomin’ heather, if I recall correctly. So back to the hacking.

    It appeared that next Tuesday, Rebekah Brooks would be taking flak again on behalf of the Murdoch family in front of the Culture and Media Select Committee. Then I saw Dreolin’s post! In 2003, as the attacks on Baghdad were in the final planning stages, on Tuesday 11 March to be precise, Rebekah (Wade as she was then) Brooks admitted that News International had been bribing the Police. She was still pretty much a cub (or at least naive) or even, it might be said, honest in her statement. The way she said it was so matter of fact (as though, well isn’t everyone in the media bribing the police?) until it dawned on her this is not quite what editors of national newspapers are supposed to be saying – mostly because it is illegal to bribe the police. Andy Hayman ‘I can’t believe you suggested that’ should also be aware that it is illegal for the police to take bribes. Wonder if Rebekah Brooks will be as honest on Tuesday? And now the Murdochs are going to be there the pantomime could well develop into a full-blown circus!

  • ingo

    Looks like Luke Mc Donald is worth a flutter, as is young Lewis.
    But can one underestimate the old fox Angel Jiminez, he can conjour a birdie out of a crisis, he’s hot alright.
    Rory could feel somewhat overwhelmed by it all, we’ll see.

    One thing’s almost sure, the next Ryder cup will be another routing, Larry can you hear this?, your boys will take one hell of a beating….

  • Jon

    Apologies for diverting O/T from golf, but I thought this was interesting. Apparently the newspapers often prepare obituaries for aging public figures in advance, and it turns out that NotW had already prepared Thatcher’s, expecting her to shed her mortal coil this year. I wonder if it will be recycled for the Sunday Sun, which presumably will want to blow a nationalist/right-wing trumpet for the occasion:
    Unlikely I know, but it would be rather nice if the whole of the UK NI operation collapses before they have need for this! British “Arab Spring” indeed.

  • Jon

    Ah, bugger – just seen that the link above has already been posted on another thread. Apols 😉

  • Paul Johnston

    Stunning round from the young Tom but the old one isn’t too bad!
    61 years young 🙂

  • craig Post author


    If he had won two years ago when he came second it would have been the greatest sporting feat of all time – in any sport. Possibly it still was.

  • John Goss

    @Jon, I hadn’t seen the Thatcher obit. Knowing she has dementia ought to conjure feelings of sympathy but somehow they’re not there, not for me.
    @Ingo, Rory wasn’t overwhelmed by his second crack at a US major. He’s holding back for bets. But don’t bet on him. I’m the worst tipster in the world.

  • Conjunction

    Agree with Mr Gadsden. Why anyone would watch golf on a day when they could cop the drama of the first mountain stages of the Tour defies belief. Got the wrong Deal I guess.

  • Jaded.

    Golf and cycling… about the only 2 sports in the world I really don’t like watching on TV.

  • wendy mann

    interesting on todays max keiser (russia today) he suggests that news corp proxies are buying up bskyb stock, and that potentially (tongue in cheek – since he suspects they will get a fine and walk free if they are ever to be convicted) news international could be charged under the digital millenium act for breach of copyright as a result of the alleged hacking.

    i’m wondering why not under the wide ranging terrorism acts ??

  • haward

    I am ignoring this Open on principle. It is being played at an all male which prohibits women from joining. It is not so long ago that the coarse (deliberate misspelling) displayed a sign saying “No dogs , no women”. Why support the vile middle aged male fuckers who run this nasty small minded club?

  • Methuselah Now


    Howard it’s not politically expedient, but are you the type of patron who also likes children to be allowed inside pubs in the evening??

    Kind regards,


  • mary

    Speaking from his 252′ $150m luxury yacht which he bought for a knockdown price of $19m from Trump who was on his second bankruptcy, this Saudi prince thinks Rebekah should go. What he says obviously goes. He has to protect his investment in this stinking swamp doesn’t he?!
    Major News Corp. investor calls for Brooks to quit
    (AFP) – 5 hours ago
    LONDON — Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s scandal-hit News Corp. organisation, on Thursday said under-fire executive Rebekah Brooks “had to go”.
    “For sure she has to go, you bet she has to go,” News Corp.’s second largest shareholder said of Brooks on BBC’s Newsnight programme.
    Brooks, who is due to face MPs next week over claims that the now defunct News of the World newspaper hacked phones while she was editor, is the chief executive of News International, the British newspaper arm of News Corp.
    The phone-hacking scandal escalated on Thursday after the FBI announced it was to launch an investigation to find out if News Corp. titles hacked into the phones of US citizens.
    Murdoch sought to calm shareholders’ fears on Thursday, telling the Wall Street Journal that the damage to News Corp. in Britain was “nothing that will not be recovered”.
    Brooks was editor of the mass-circulation tabloid in 2002 when it was claimed to have hacked the phone of missing schoolgirl Millie Dowler, who was later found murdered.

    Who he is, his toys and his lifestyle {} The yacht is said to have been worth $150m.

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