Given that New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell was warned about the dangers of trying to contact the Taliban in Kunduz to gather information about the recent bomb attack on two oil tankers and the subsequent deaths of Taliban terrorists was it wise to rescue him? There appears to be various journalists on TV news reports this morning who appear instead of being grateful for the rescue of one of their colleague instead have become hostile to rescues.
One British soldier died during Stephen Farrell’s rescue – was he worth it – no! No journalist is worth the life of a British soldier. Perhaps the next time an idiotic journalist wants to dance with the Taliban terrorists he or she should not be rescued.
The Prime Minister has presented a speeech at the Institute for Strategic Studies in London. It is a clarification of the government’s position.
Labour MP Eric Joyce, a parliamentary aide to the defence secretary, resigned saying a time limit should be set on troop deployment.
The prime minister said he would not walk away, adding: “A safer Afghanistan means a safer Britain.”
He also said British military spending in Afghanistan was increasing.
Downing Street has been keen to stress that the speech was not a response to Eric Joyce’s resignation and had been planned for some time..”
Channel 4 News has released a copy of a resignation letter issued by the parliamentary private secretary to the defence secretary Eric Joyce. Clearly this will be a blow to Brown’s conduct of the war in Afghanistan. Eric Joyce rightly criticises government policy for failing to do its duty towards our military personnel.
As you may know, I told Bob Ainsworth some weeks ago that I intended to step down as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Defence Secretary before the start of the new parliamentary term. This seems to me the least disruptive time to do that. I have been privileged to work as PPS to four senior Labour ministers in four government departments and now feel that I can make my best contribution to the Labour effort in parliament by concentrating on helping, as a regular back-bencher, to show that Labour remains sound on matters of Defence.
Labour was returned to power in 1997 on the back of your great success in turning the Economy from a weakness into a strength for Labour. Our continuing success in helping people from all parts of society become more prosperous, while helping the least well-off most, is built upon that. More quietly, during the 90′s, Labour’s then shadow defence team showed how Labour had become, after the disaster of the early 1980s, ‘sound’ on Defence. It seems to me that your personal success on the economy won the deal in 1997, while colleagues at Defence sealed it.
We are now, I think, once again at a critical time for Labour and Defence. The Conservatives, of course opportunistically, think they can convince the public that we have lost our empathy with the Defence community. We must not allow this to happen. I know that you have great commitment to our armed forces and this was clear when you visited Afghanistan this week, yet there seem to me to be some problems which need fixing with the greatest urgency.
As you know, two Black Watch soldiers gave their lives during your visit. I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets. Nor do I think we can continue with the present level of uncertainty about the future of our deployment in Afghanistan.
I think we must be much more direct about the reality that we do punch a long way above our weight, that many of our allies do far too little, and that leaving the field to the United States would mean the end of NATO as a meaningful proposition. The British people have a proud history of facing such realities. They understand the importance of the allied effort in Afghanistan/Pakistan and I think they would appreciate more direct approach by politicians. We also need to make it clear that our commitment in Afghanistan is high but time limited. It should be possible now to say that we will move off our present war-footing and reduce our forces there substantially during our next term in government.
We also need a greater geopolitical return from the United States for our efforts. For many, Britain fights; Germany pays, France calculates; Italy avoids. If the United States values each of these approaches equally, they will end up shouldering the burden by themselves. The first place to start is an acceptance this week by them, and by the Afghanistan electoral authorities, that there must be a second round in the elections there. I do not think the British people will support the physical risk to our servicemen and women unless they can be given confidence that Afghanistan’s government has been properly elected and has a clear intent to deal with the corruption there which has continued unabated in recent years.
Most important of all, we must make it clear to every serviceman and woman, their families and the British public that we give their well-being the highest political priority. Behind the hand attacks by any Labour figure on senior service personnel are now, to the public, indistinguishable from attacks on the services themselves. Conversely, in my view we should allow our service personnel greater latitude to voice their views on matters which make distinctions between defence and politics pointless.
I believe the next election is ours to win, thanks greatly to your personal great economic success. But we cannot win unless we grip defence. Above all, Labour must remember that service folk and their families are our people. We say that we honour them for their risk, bravery and sacrifice and we must at literally all costs continue to show by our actions that we mean it.
I intend to do what modest amount I can to help from the back-benches.
Eric Joyce MP”
Why on earth was the NHS allowed to hire a bunch of costly consultants to produce a review of the NHS promoting job cuts? How come the ministry could not intervene then to halt this project?
THE GUARDIAN: “The NHS will have to shed around 137,000 jobs – almost a tenth of its workforce – if it is to meet planned efficiency savings of £20bn, the Department of Health has been warned.The severity of cutbacks needed by 2014 was contained in advice presented by management consultants McKinsey to the government this spring.The content of the document, obtained by the Health Service Journal, was not disputed today but the health minister Mike OBrien insisted the government had already rejected the proposal.He said: “In core frontline services, like maternity, nursing and primary care, we need more staff rather than fewer.”Attempting to distance themselves from the report, ministerial sources suggested the review had been commissioned without full ministerial authority…”
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and championed a liberal ideology during almost a half century in the Senate, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died Tuesday night at his home in Hyannis Port. He was 77 and had been battling brain cancer.
The BBC have published a letter to the Scottish Minister Kenny MacAskill in regard to his release of the Libyan terrorist Megrahi.
Dear Mr. Secretary:
Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision.
Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991.
And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of “compassion.”
Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law.
Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man’s exercise of “compassion.”
Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and roles of others who were responsible.
Your action makes a mockery of the emotions, passions and pathos of all those affected by the Lockerbie tragedy: the medical personnel who first faced the horror of 270 bodies strewn in the fields around Lockerbie, and in the town of Lockerbie itself; the hundreds of volunteers who walked the fields of Lockerbie to retrieve any piece of debris related to the breakup of the plane; the hundreds of FBI agents and Scottish police who undertook an unprecedented global investigation to identify those responsible; the prosecutors who worked for years – in some cases a full career – to see justice done.
But most importantly, your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988.
You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution.
You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification – the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.
You apparently made this decision without regard to the views of your partners in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Lockerbie tragedy.
Although the FBI and Scottish police, and prosecutors in both countries, worked exceptionally closely to hold those responsible accountable, you never once sought our opinion, preferring to keep your own counsel and hiding behind opaque references to “the need for compassion.”
You have given the family members of those who died continued grief and frustration. You have given those who sought to assure that the persons responsible would be held accountable the back of your hand.
You have given Megrahi a “jubilant welcome” in Tripoli, according to the reporting. Where, I ask, is the justice?
Robert S. Mueller, III
In the US there is rather extreme battle of the future of health insurance as a result of President Barak Obama’s plans. There is no doubt that extreme right wing nutters and fruit cakes have been making a lot of noise attacking the Obama’s plans. These right wing fanatics have tried to drag our National Health Service into the dirt and have been assisted by whinging British people, most of us here in the UK value highly our NHS which is streets ahead of the US model of health insurance and privatized medicine. Gordon and Sarah Brown brown have joined the Twitter campaign “welovetheNHS”.
BBCNEWS: “Gordon and Sarah Brown have joined a Twitter campaign to defend the NHS, which is under fire in the US.
The prime minister posted a message on the welovetheNHS page after critics of Barack Obama’s health reforms dubbed it “Orwellian” and “evil”.
Tory leader David Cameron has also backed the NHS after one of his MEPs said he “wouldn’t wish it on anyone”…”
I totally agree with Martin Fletcher’s article in The Times this morning by allowing our senior diplomats to attend the inauguration of Ahmadinejad‘s illegitimate seizure of the Iranian presidency the UK government betrayed those fighting for democracy in Iran. no doubt there are those in the Foreign Office willing to do a deal but our image will be damaged.
Martin Fletcher in THE TIMES: “For two months tens of thousands of courageous protesters have taken to the streets of Iran, defying the savagery of the security forces and risking limbs, lives and liberty to resist a coup d’état by a hardline regime that had almost certainly been voted out of office…”
So now we learn more about the sneaky Tory policy of brutal public service cuts. Phillip Hammond is even now boasting about his proposed actions. This country cannot afford such an extremist Tory government;
“I’ll be nation’s hate figure, says top Tory Philip Hammond. Prepare for rapid post-election budget and deep spending cuts” – Hammond
Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt in THE GUARDIAN: “David Cameron may be forced to stage a rapid post-election budget to calm the markets and prevent a drop in Britain’s credit rating in the first days of a Tory government, Philip Hammond, the shadow Treasury chief secretary, warns in a Guardian interview today.
Anticipating an era of deep short-term cuts in public spending, Hammond urges voters to give the Conservatives a big majority so a new government can act boldly to cut the public debt, warning that the public finances are in such a state “the worst outcome for Britain would be an unclear political result at the election”…”
Yet more criticism of the way things are done at the Ministry of Defence. Air Vice Marshall Martin Routledge raises serious concerns. These issue should be given serious investigation and put right:
Former member of RAF top brass says MoD should embrace benefits of unmanned drones and remote systems
Steven Morris in The Guardian: “The Ministry of Defence is not “agile” enough in investing in military technology that could save the lives of personnel in battle zones such as Afghanistan, a senior RAF officer said today.
Air Vice-Marshal Martin Routledge said processes were “too bureaucratic and unwieldy” to capitalise on fast-developing technology. His comments came after a government minister was forced to withdraw an admission that British troops lacked helicopters in Afghanistan.
Routledge, who has just stepped down as chief of staff for strategy, policy and plans at RAF HQ Air Command, was speaking at a conference showing the latest developments in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones.
He said drones could play a vital role in Afghanistan, in preparation for troops’ routes, though their detection of improvised explosive devices – weaponry planted by the Taliban that has killed many British troops in Afghanistan in recent months, including the bomb disposal expert Captain Daniel Shepherd, who died on Monday…”