Monday, December 05, 2005
BBC's Stephen Sackur Backs CIA Torture
By Ian Henshall
Many listeners to Radio 4’s Today Programme will have been shocked this morning to hear their new presenter Stephen Sackur apparently supporting the use of torture.
After giving prime time to the views of an unknown Washington functionary who supported the use of “rough interrogations”, Sackur then confronted Human Rights campaigner Mary Robinson. If Sackur had wished to comply with the BBC’s legal obligation to exercise impartiality he might have said “Is he right?”. Instead Sackur said: “He’s right, isn’t he?”. The tone left no doubt that Sackur believed he was right. A shocked Mary Robinson stumbled as she tried to explain basic elements of the rule of law to a hostile and sceptical interviewer.
Nobody mentioned during the interview that according to evidence released by the American Civil Liberties Union at least fifty of the CIA’s “rough interrogations” have resulted in the ugly painful deaths of the victims. If this is not torture, what is? In giving a platform to an apologist for torture and making it clear they though he was right Sackur and the BBC arguably committed a criminal offence against universal human rights law this morning.
Since the purges at the BBC following the pro-Blair Hutton report, Today has been dominated by presenter James Naughtie. Privately a member of pro-US lobby groups, Naughtie vehemently promoted the myth of Iraq’s WMD before the war. Recently, Naughtie memorably agreed with the preposterous statement of a pro-occupation Iraqi politician who claimed that the US has NOT been killing civilians in Iraq. Now the presence of Sackur, whose wife is an Iraqi exile and who was another vehement supporter of the illegal invasion, threatens the cement the demise of a once respected programme.
Despite the increasing revulsion worldwide against the Iraq war and the use of torture and chemical weapons by the US and its allies, the slide into barbarism justified by the 911 attacks is continuing. The US/UK broadcast media have been captured by the warmongers who are censoring US/UK atrocities in Iraq, condoning torture and the use of chemical weapons and setting up a series of pretexts for further attacks on Iran and Syria.
I appeal to everyone, particularly in the media, to challenge people like Sackur, Naughtie and their bosses in BBC News. Condoning universal war crimes is in itself a criminal offence. In addition, before they justify Washington’s barbarism by recource to Washington’s 911 “War on Terror” legend, perhaps they should ask whether, like the Reichstag Fire, the story is even true.
Rowland Morgan and I wrote the investigative book 911 Revealed, published in August 2005. With its thesis that the official story of the 911 attacks has huge gaps and may even be fundamentally false, 911 Revealed got enthusiastic reviews in the Daily Mail and the Sunday Times, but national broadcasters have brazenly ignored the questions it raises, just as people like James Naughtie and Stephen Sackur ignored or pilloried those who said Iraq had no WMD in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.
Given that the sole justification for the use of torture, and the main justification for the illegal invasion of Iraq is Washington’s legend of the 911 attacks, why do broadcasters refuse to examine the truth of the legend? It concerns three FBI field offices being ordered to stop investigations that might have stopped the attacks, extraordinary failures by the Pentagon even to get fighters airborne, Bush left for forty miniutes by the Secret Service when he should have been a target, three Tower blocks falling at gravity defying speed, and follow-up anthrax attacks that we now know were carried out by elements from the US military. The people who were so sure that Iraq had WMDs now say that to raise these issues is to be a conspiracy theorist. One conspiracy is undeniable: a conspiracy of silence by cowardly editors in the US/UK broadcast news media.
Ian Henshall is co-author of 911 Revealed and publisher of Crisis Newsletter and http://www.911dossier.co.uk. He is also proprietor of Coffee Plant (http://www.coffee.uk.com) and chair of INK, the trade organisation for the UK alternative print media (http://www.ink.uk.com).Share