23 June 2005 Edition
The Fifth Column
The Sun goes down a bomb
THE SUN has been noticeably coy about calling for the jailing of the perpetrator of a bomb hoax not only against a bastion of the British Army but against an heir to the throne. Maybe it's because, to paraphrase a famous Sun headline, "It's The Sun wot done it."
A Sun reporter posed as a serious researcher (no mean feat for a Sun hack) and bluffed his way into the library at Sandhurst Military Academy, in Surrey, where Prince Harry is a cadet. Tucking his library card away, the fake intellectual then sloped off back to his car when no one was looking and made up a fake bomb with electrical wire, plasticine (to resemble actual explosives) and a timer. The would-be bomber took film footage of what the red-top tabloid claimed was the piss artist known as Prince, and claimed in a splash headline that it "could have blown Harry to bits".
War Minister John Reid, formerly of this political parish, has ordered an immediate investigation. "I have instructed Sandhurst to change their procedures to prevent a recurrence."
The Sun's managing editor, Graham Dudman, defended the hoax bomb scare as "a fantastic piece of journalism" in the public interest which exposed flaws in security around the pampered prince — not the sort of defence The Sun would accept from a newshound from An Phoblacht carrying out a similar stunt.
UFF Adair ally Gary 'Smickers' Smith was jailed for a bomb hoax at Holy Cross School. And Catherine Kidd, another Adair UFF camp follower and 'Bolton Wanderer' exile, was jailed last month for her own bomb hoax outside her own home in a botched bid to get re-housed by Bolton Council.
Surely a zero tolerance policy dictates a jail term for someone at The Sun?
Brits trained massacre army
SANDHURST TRAINING has helped improve the killing power of the army of Uzbekistan, which last month slaughtered hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators.
The government of the central Asian republic has admitted that its troops killed 173 civilian demonstrators on 12 and 13 May in the city of Andizhan — and the true toll is believed to have been much higher. Human rights groups have condemned the massacre.
Last year, about 150 British Army veterans of the Iraq war travelled to Uzbekistan to train the army responsible for the killings. According to one independent witness interviewed by The Scotsman newspaper, the British soldiers, from the Royal Regiment of Wales, "shared tactics" with the Uzbek military at the Farish training camp, 200 miles south-west of the capital, Tashkent.
One observer of the training exercise told The Scotsman: "The soldiers were able to use their experience gained in Iraq AND OTHER OPERATIONS (our emphasis) to train the Uzbeks using British tactics."
Craig Murray, Britain's former ambassador to Uzbekistan who has been critical of the Blair government's policy towards the Uzbek regime, was outraged that British troops had worked so closely with Uzbek forces.
"One of the most chilling things about the massacre was that it was not a spur-of-the-moment thing, The morning after, the soldiers searched the square, methodically killing the wounded with bullets to the head.
"The idea that British Army soldiers were training alongside people who do that is simply appaling."
John Reid's Ministry of Defence said in response to the scandal that the training exchange was "an annual peace-keeping exercise".
"Our limited activities in Uzbekistan are designed to sow the seeds of democratic management and accountability of the military. The Uzbek defence minister is very forward-leaning in his desire to modernise and increase professionalism in the armed forces."
And don't the pro-democracy demonstrators know it!
Brits on way out
IN BETWEEN chasing Sun reporters in black hats and cloaks with smoking bombs around Sandhurst, John Reid has announced this week that 550 British soldiers in County Tyrone will not be replaced at the end of their tour of occupation.
The 1st Battalion of the hated King's Own Scottish Borderers (a mercenary regiment with a lengthy dishonourable record in Ireland stretching from Dublin in 1913 to the Six Counties today) will leave Lisanelly Barracks in Omagh, in August of NEXT YEAR.
There are currently around 11,000 British military personnel stationed in the Six Counties; there are 7,500 in Iraq.
British Army criminals
MILITARY POLICE are stepping up patrols in Royston, Hertfordshire, in response to growing anti-social behaviour by British troops.
The Royal Military Police have had to react to media reports of military accompaniment of civilian police and newspaper stories about possible "martial law". Army bosses have re-assured people that the Military Police have no jurisdiction over the civilian population in England but are merely making a bigger presence felt to deter criminality among military personnel.
Going 2 G8
LIKE 'Sir' Bob Geldof, we thought we'd encourage people to attend some of the events around the G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland from July 6 to 8 for creative, lively but peaceful protests. Here's some dates for your diary.
July 2nd: Make Poverty History March. March around Edinburgh to encircle the City Centre. www.makepovertyhistory.org Also to include a Make Capitalism History block, "cos, after all, capitalism makes poverty".
July 3rd: Make Borders History. Visits to organisations involved in locking up and deporting asylum seekers around Glasgow. www.makebordershistory.org
July 3rd: G8 Alternatives Summit, Edinburgh. Counter-conference - "Ideas to Change the World" aims to present a serious ideological challenge to the corrupt policies and ideology of the G8. www.g8alternatives.org.uk
July 4th: (Here's one for Sun reporters with made-up bombs) 'Big Blockade' at Faslane nuclear submarine base. "Help snub the subs..." www.faslaneg8.com
July 4th: Carnival for Full Enjoyment Street Party, Edinburgh. Meet around the West End, 12 noon. E-mail dissentagainstwork@ yahoo.co.uk
July 4th: Close Dungavel. 'No Borders' demonstration to be held at Dungavel Immigration Detention Centre.
July 6th: Global Day of Action at the opening day of the G8 Summit. Follow Bob to Gleneagles or do something locally on this day. In Scotland, check out www.dissent.org.uk