Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 10 October, 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Oct 06, 05:43 PM

uk_soldiers_203.jpgThe Lieutenant General in charge of the MOD’s Defence Academy speaks to Newsnight; Defence Secretary Des Browne talks to us about “tax bill” bonuses for UK troops; Justin Rowlatt asks why North Korea wants a nuclear weapon; Tim Whewell tries to piece together the story of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder; and the winner of the Man Booker prize is announced.

Comment on Tuesday’s programme here.

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  • 1.
  • At 06:44 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew Smith wrote:

This MoD Defence Academy sounds like a right waste of time and effort. It is quite astounding that the MoD is still allowed to create jobs for the boys in this way and at our expense. Its behaviour unaltered, somehow isolated and protected, from the radical economic and social reforms of the 1980s. Amazing what "our" Government can do when it tries.

Exactly who is funding this laughing stock of an outfit? Is it the same mugs who are spending millions upon millions of pounds per year paying the school fees of army personnel? Is the same mugs who are spending millions upon millions of pounds per year on military junkets and uniforms and dinners? That's right you and me - muggins taxpayer.

Who assembled this Academy? Who has given it the platform to offer up propaganda, sorry, "expert" opinion? Surely the phrase "military intelligence" is a contradiction in terms by now? When is this pathetic excuse of a Government going to reform The Armed Forces? The British Military - the biggest waste of hard earned tax payers money ever.

  • 2.
  • At 07:07 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

An award to our fighting soldiers to reward them(not my description) for servicemen in our most dangerous war zones ! If it were about money... it's certainly not enough...they should all get a decent salary to represent their service ie (in theory) 24x7.......anyone who has served in the forces knows this an embracing, though impossible, expectation.
Any similar pay inducements in civvy street would have union rep's pawing over the details like a rash to calculate the real benefits before acceptance?.... Their only union is US...the populace.... represented by Parliament.
Give our Forces a decent o/all increase to reflect parity with our emergency services & the minimum wage ....
This is a very DEVISIVE cash payment Mr Browne/Brown.....albeit only conceived ex Cameron & to set out your stall & sooth political waters.!!

  • 3.
  • At 10:51 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • thom robinson wrote:

once again some fantastic journalism from the newsnight team and jeremy paxman. the powers that be ever try to pull the wool over our eyes. what a fantastic thing to see the truth, or at least those who are hiding it, sweating! please, keep up the good work!

Just watched Jeremy Paxman's interview with the director of the Defence Academy. Astonishing. Particularly the moment when Sir Jeremy Kiszely tried to claim that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan were, if I heard it right "an area of my expertise". Just what exactly is the Defence Academy focusing on right now, then?

  • 5.
  • At 10:54 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Stevens wrote:

I am yet again appalled by how low the BBC can sink.

If you get hold of a private and confidential document, you shouldn’t publish it for your own gain, at the expense of the country. The BBC should be the servant of the country, not an opponent that is only seeking its own ends.

The BBC totally misrepresented the document and used Paxman and some clever footage to build a case. Have you no conscience? You are supposed to be reporting news, not making it!

  • 6.
  • At 10:55 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Michael Andrews wrote:

The Lieutenant General in charge of the MOD’s Defence Academy spoke with logical conviction gave clear answers that made perfect sense. Paxman was digging for story that wasn't there simply wasn't there.

  • 7.
  • At 10:56 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Chris Rippon wrote:

Paxman met his match! Only the army could defeat an ego this big!

  • 8.
  • At 10:57 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

High regard for Jeremy Paxman style.

The General tonight gave very good account of himself - many valid points raised & countered - well done Sir :)

Slap on the wrists for Newsnight :(

Ref Andrew Smith #1

" The British Military - the biggest waste of hard earned tax payers money ever"

The MoD Defence Academy & whole Shrivenham set up serves a valuable if not vital purpose in modern armed services (some of the best in the world).

If you can put down your multi agendas for one moment, suggest you do some 'research & analysis' yourself :)

Rather self evident you are speaking out of your 'right on' hat rather than from experience of a organisation, culture & ethos that you attempt to undermine (failing to do so)


  • 9.
  • At 11:03 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • George Edwards wrote:

Des Brown is obfuscating the issue of secure vehicles.

One BIG reason why the troops in Iraq do not have suitable defensive vehicles is because the MOD sold their Mamba (Alvis) vehicles, which experience in Bosnia showed were quite capable of being upgraded for effective use in Iraq.

All the vehicles in the Mamba fleet, which originally cost £4.5 million to buy, were sold abroad for just £44,000. Nine went to Estonia, four to "a US company" – Blackwater Security Consulting - and one to a company based in Singapore.

That is why they are not available for our troops. Des Brown is trying to explain away the issue as being entirely to do with the problems of replacing vehicles - vehicles that the MOD stupidly sold at an enormous loss.

  • 10.
  • At 11:11 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Bill Perry wrote:

Oh dear. Poor Jeremy picked the wrong target for his characteristic blend of rapier sarcasm and bludgeoning directness this evening. Though Jeremy tried his best, the Lt Gen wiped the floor with him.

The distinction between raw research notes and properly argued conclusions is one which Jeremy never succeeded in getting to grips with. This is basic stuff for any researcher, in any field, and it is, I'm sorry to say, an indictment of Newsnight that it made such an elementary mistake.

  • 11.
  • At 11:12 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Pete wrote:

Despite his protestations, I am sure Mr Paxman is shrewd enough to appreciate the role of the defence academy and the real purpose of this document. Equally, I'm sure he is well aware that he is just being wheeled out to bluster and conceal the inherent weakness of the story.

  • 12.
  • At 11:13 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • robot wrote:

Did Paxman and the Newsnight team ever consider their assumptions about the original paper were wrong and they were simply digging for a story that wasn't there?
As I remember, the original Newsnight piece very clearly implied this paper was MOD policy (having heard the Lt. General, it doesn't seem this is the case at all) - even if it didn't specifically say that. Paxman hid behind his direct quotes, never accepting that the tone of the Newsnight piece led viewers to a particular conclusion.
It is disgusting that the BBC takes no responsibility for this massaging of information, and I'm dismayed that this kind of editorial journalism seems to be becoming the norm.

  • 13.
  • At 11:15 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Martin Primett wrote:

I was astounded by Jeremy Paxman's interview with the Director of the Defence Academy. JP of all people should be able to appreciate the difference between an academic institution established to develop miltary officers and encourage debate about doctrine, and an authoratitive policy organisation. The military is no different to other sectors of society in that there are wide ranging individual views and interests that lead to broad spectrum of theories, discussion papers and and ideas, none of which may now or ever represent the policy of its parent organisation, in this case the MOD/Government. The Defence Academy, and its predecessors, have fulfilled this role for many years. I still cannot believe that JP could not see the difference and accept that the BBC had got it wrong. Its misrepresentation has clearly led to Mr Smith's comments above, which don't merit a detailed response, and quite rightly justified a balancing viewpoint from the Academy. I believe the BBC has over stepped the mark here and appears to to be working its own agenda, unless JP simply lost the plot.
Yours extremely disappointedly

  • 14.
  • At 11:28 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Duncan wrote:

If we accept the Defence Academy's claim that these were research notes based on opinions canvassed by a researcher and not a finished analysis, then it seems reasonable to assume that these opinions were gathered from individuals whose insights were deemed by the researcher to be significant.

  • 15.
  • At 11:35 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

Well Jeremy you certainly upset the applecart tonight ..I have never seen a 3 star General so incensed by your former report ...& when you happened to hint that his higher command had been politicised!!.. I thought you should get the hell outa there! Then you had the temerity to question dear old Des Browne... friend of our soldiers in the field,who's just an ordinary guy really, who tell him how proud they are to do battle on our behalf.?Lets hope he gives them all the equipment they need now ,to keep them as safe as is possible in such a cruel war.
The moneys welcome but rather late in the day for those who served before April.

  • 16.
  • At 11:35 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen Laughton wrote:

Why was Jeremy Paxman in such a bad mood this evening? Was it because he was stuck in "boring old White City" while his colleagues were being "wined and dined at the Booker Prize ceremony"?

Or was it because he well and truly met his match in the Director of the Defence Academy - a straighter bat you'll never see played. All credit to the British Army's training that it includes how to deal with an armed and dangerous BBC journalist. Even the biggest fans of our national broadcaster's journalism and detractors of our military must agree that this item showed the later at their best and the former at their worst.

Hope you're in a more convivial mood tomorrow Jeremy.

  • 17.
  • At 11:38 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Tom Marshall wrote:

Andrew Smith writes that the "MoD Defence Academy sounds like a right waste of time and effort" on the grounds that it represents "jobs for the boys": Mr Smith's understanding of the military and warfare in general is sorely lacking.

Smith complains about the very idea of the MoD having a Defence Academy, the idea of our military recquiring or possessing the academic institutions that exist in other fields is clearly anathema to him. This view is however based on a misunderstanding: modern warfare is a highly complex, technical and professional affair; any modern military needs access to this kind of research and expertise; it is not dead weight, nor is it the "laughing stock of an outfit" that Smith alleges it is, with neither evidence, nor understanding.

Smith further complains that the taxpayer pays for continuing professional development of service personnel, failing to understand that these measures are an attempt to cut the number of servicemen who, leaving the armed forces institutionalised and unqualified, end up unable to adapt to life on civvy street and find themselves unemployed and homeless. Millions of pounds on military junkets and dinners: these sound like some parties; why aren't I invited?

Andrew Smith misunderstands the role of the Academy: it provides education; advice on the Defence Relations strategy; and research and analysis; not propaganda for public consumption. The joke about military intelligence is an old and not particularly funny one: the intelligence community are experts, despite what Mr Smith might think; and his ideas by no means jibe with the opinion of ordinary people. No one with any experience of the hard work and the professionalism of Britain's armed forces would ever describe them with the obvious contempt that Mr Smith does: and no one would begrudge them the tiny renumeration they receive for putting their lives at risk every day for people like him.

  • 18.
  • At 11:47 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

JP was on good form tonight.

I served in the Army for 25 years until mid 2004 in a fairly senior position and know the reality of what goes on! JP hit a nerve with the General because this man isn't usually exposed to debate or being talked to in this manner at all!

Indeed, when you become a very senior Officer, you have moved from one camp to another. From that of a soldier to a politician.

JP exposed the vulnerability of any arguement that the mid ranging officer who wrote the report in question was mearly 'researching' a subject he or she had spent a considerable time looking into during their careers!

The General delivered the party line.

I was also delighted to see Des Brown being put under pressure also. For a man who hasn't done a days military service to state he identify's with, and understands soldiers because, ultimately they are just like my constituents is laughable to say the least. Soldiers are well briefed to keep any contraversial views to themselves on these good will visits.

Moral is high! Well i can assure you that moral is far from high. This includes battlefield commanders and soldiers. Half of the equipment needs updating and skrimping and saving and making do is the order of the day! JP asked him '' when was the last time moral was as low'' Well, i can tell you. Round about the time soldiers were sat in a frozen, muddy trench in France in 1917!

Moral will be high tonight however because the soldiers will have just received news that they will at least be able to take the family away on a decent holiay before being warned off fro the next tour of duty in a pretty dangerous place!

Honour, integrity and loyalty are words force fed to soldiers. It is the corner stone of what makes our arny tick so well. Soldiers will always get the job done. But we usually succeed without a helping hand from a politician in a pin striped suit or a General who is more interested in his Knighthood and inflated pension rights than the predicament of the solider on the ground! Just a shame that those who play the tune the soliders dance to have no real concept of those words.

One day the lid will be well and truelly lifted on this can of worms

Well done JP

  • 19.
  • At 11:48 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Liam Coughlan wrote:

Sir John sounded more like Sir Humphrey, or even Bernard during the interview. "He works for me" he cried, "and I work for the Department of Defence". No evidence was produced to support the point blank assertion that the now discredited report was not in fact a report at all, and amount to mere research notes only. The "middle ranking" officer is being made sound like a junior inexperienced academic researcher. The BBC has a public interest duty to report stories of this nature, even if the military establishment is uncomfortable with it. Mr Paxman wiped the floor with Sir Humphrey and not the other way around. The "research notes" should be published by the Military academy, and if their assertions about the nature of the report are indeed correct, it will be obvious, and the BBC will indeed be open to criticism. This is unlikely to happen however.

  • 20.
  • At 11:49 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • George Kendall wrote:

Normally, a Jeremy Paxman interview involves some obfuscating politician, using weasel words to justify misleading the public. Tonight, Mr Paxman seemed angry, with good reason. I fear his researchers had let him down.

Newsnight and Jeremy Paxman are two of the BBC's greatest assets, but you are fallible, and this time is was you who were trying to defend the indefensible. The BBC didn't lie, but it did give a false impression about this leaked document.

  • 21.
  • At 11:57 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Lesley Boatwright wrote:

How do items like the Defence Academy piece work? Does the Editor of Newsnight say, "Jeremy, go and deal with the Defence Academy today", or do the presenters say, "Today I intend to do X and Y"?
I thought JP did not have enough real ammunition to deal with Stonewall Kiszely, who played the definitions game as his defence in a masterly fashion. It was an interesting exercise in the irresistable force meeting the irremoveable object, but did it get us any further forward?

  • 22.
  • At 11:57 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Kenny wrote:

The general interviwed on tonights show to me seemed to be trying to answer all the questions put to him with a soundbite stating that the document was " raw research notes" But failed to address the point that the researcher was ultimately employed by the MoD was obviously deemed qualified and experienced enough to carry out this research and decide who's opinions on the subjects were relevant and important . I also have to say the fact that the general involved managed to avoid answering paxmans questions and commenting on relevant points put to him is not in my opinion anything to celebrate.

  • 23.
  • At 12:06 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Tom Marshall Wrote:
'..modern warfare is a highly complex, technical and professional affair; any modern military needs access to this kind of research and expertise;..'


'..The joke about military intelligence is an old and not particularly funny one.'

This is true and it would be wonderful if the powers-that-be didn't use intelligence for its gains whilst dismissing anything which doesn't.

Knowing people that work within both government and military intelligence can be the most useful weapon both as shield and sword.

(Sorry Tom. Hope I didn't quote you too badly!)

  • 24.
  • At 01:34 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Martin A wrote:

Isn't it remarkable how nervous the powers that [wanna]be become when views from the intelligence community ends up in the public domain before it's been 'filtered for appropriateness' by the spin machine??? (Long live David Kelly!!)

I mean, sure the document is likely a version that will be 'adjusted' before it goes to the top. That does not diminish the fact that things are looking pretty grim from whatever angle you look at it, and the stuff written in the paper is dynamite.

Isn't it refreshing to see this kind of information emerging from within the MoD - something most of us knew all along but the politicians are still denying...

Fact is that politicians sent our boys to Iraq/Afghanistan NOT to defend British borders or interest or for humanitarian reasons - the only good reasons why they should be deployed.

Fact is that our boys are losing their lives because TB wanted to be pals with Dubya, and now our troops are paying the price for having a despot as PM (but hey, they get 2K more to get shot for no good reason!).

BTW - Doesn't any large self-respecting organisation measures the morale of their employees? Makes you wonder if or why the MoD hasn't conducted any employee satisfaction surveys over the last few years...

Ow I know - it's because the outcome would be painfully embarrassing - and then we won't have the likes of Des Brown anymore on telly claiming that the frontline troops are all happy campers!! I would love to see the answer to 'trust in leadership' (a pretty standard measurement in these things).

Anyway, good work Newsnight and JP for setting the standard! If it weren't for your efforts, England would be a worse place ... (in Russia you get shot for being a good journalist)

  • 25.
  • At 01:38 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • John S Churchill wrote:

I've just posted a long critique about tonight's Newsnight but suspect the comment page offered was umbala! I suspect my 20 min work has got lost in cyberspace. So much for modern technology!

After doing so I went to look out for others' comments only to get July's. Nowhere could I find October or September's! I logged off and started again to get here!

Not so much in need of Sat Nav but Net Nav!

John C Concorde designer

I have been, in the main, for the war in Iraq. I think it is the best way of preventing a larger problem. But given the British way of being totally incapable of dealing with foreigners - and of winning wars, of late - I am not surprised that our Hungarian Lieutenant-General was forced onto the backest of back feet by Jerry - an excellent performance by the latter.

If we, the decent, democratic, Western powers are going to win the war against the propagandists, fanatics, nutters and murderers, we've got to tackle the problems very, very skillfully. British soldiers, whose tactics (and equipment!) are not up to the challenges, and who don't have a clue about the local culture, will continue to be blown limb from limb in roadside ambushes.

Can we trust the Pakistanis or not? Is Des Browne all spin and no substance? Very important to know if Iraq is not to spiral down the whirlpool into another Vietnam.

North Korea. At last the Newsnight bosses have realised that Rowlatt is capable of more than riding his bike and smelling reprocessed poo.

Politkovskaya. "Qui bono" said Jeremy. Good question. Merkel is almost taller than Agent Putin. Maybe politically too.

The Booker was won by an Indian, after the British book pages pundits totally ignored the large presence of India at the Frankfurt Book Fair. (Who's visiting Tone today, by the way?) Kiran Desai seems a nice lass, but her mum (also a writer, by amazing coincidence) has fled to an obscure Indian village. Doesn't she want to celebrate her daughter's victory?

  • 27.
  • At 02:19 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • james wrote:

Is there a reason Newsnight use the name North Korea to refer to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPR Korea for short)?

The UN use the common name, why is the media keen to emphasize the separation of the Korean peninsular by using a different name to what the world and the people call themselves in English?

Newsnight doesn't use incorrect names for other countries, so it seems odd it follows the US trend of renaming DPR Korea.

I'm interested to know your thoughts.


  • 28.
  • At 03:44 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew Smith wrote:

Well done Jeremy. You certainly wiped the floor with the "director". This wriggling state funded parasite should now publish the research papers. Why not? After all, he serves us and has nothing to hide - or does he?

The MoD Defence Academy and the whole Shrivenham set should now be radically reformed. It serves no real purpose in the modern armed services. As recent developments have shown at best it is ignored. We would all be better served by a much more intellectual and representative institution which genuinely reaches out to the best in the field. An institution that is therefore both "intellectual" but also far more realistic about its role and its abilities. Possessing true academic ability, not just a belief in its own ability. Let's be honest here - the current crop in the intelligence community are nothing more than intellectual pygamies just talking to themselves about their own ideas and analysis.

Vikingar (#8) and Martin Primett (#13) - to begin with the two of you should have declared your interests. What exactly are your connections, if any, to the MoD or other military operations in this country? For you might all be interested to learn that I have plenty of experience both within the military and within Government - at a very high level too. I therefore do not need to do "research and analysis" or to gain "experience" as one of you rather patronisingly put it. You do not know me so you are not in position to comment on me personally. So please don't and thereby avoid displaying your ignorance so publicly.

Marshall (*17) - I have no need to undermine the British military. It is doing a great job of that all by itself. As for the taxpayer paying for continuing professional development of service personnel, please, don't make me laugh. Since when has this involved the paying of private school fees for the children of officers? This outrageous little wheeze costs taxpayers millions upon millions of pounds every year. As a consequence I can fully understand why you are so keen to focus solely on the humble servicemen who try to return to civvy street. They have my sympathy. Yet you do not mention the officers. Why? I hardly think they leave service "unqualified", "homeless" and "unemployed".

I'm surprised Marshall has never experienced junkets or dinners. Obviously Marshall is from the lower ranks. He is therefore talking "out of his hat" rather than talking "right on". I know which I personally prefer.

Thankfully Marshall, and the others who have sought to personally attack me, will see in their lifetimes the new reality. The reality in which my factual statements above finally dawn on the great mass which is the British people. After all, the British military establishment has never been so unpopular. Never have so few been held in contempt by so many. For they have never put THEIR lives on the line for me or for any of us. They merely issue the orders to the mindless slaves in the lower ranks.

What I said above (*1) remains. The modern armed services in Britain are not the best in the world - they are one of the worst. It is now a cancer within the modern British state and in the wider world - just ask the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The British military is incompetent, arrogant and, sadly, overburdened with nobodies who think they are somebodies. Pygamies the lot of them. People who only think they are intelligent, but ain't. As I stated to begin with the military, along with its Defence Academy, is the biggest waste of hard earned taxpayers money ever. Oh, need evidence, just examine their financial accounts and their procedures very closely. They speak for themselves and speak volumes.

  • 29.
  • At 04:12 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Jane Lorell wrote:

Very very well done to the good general who, if I might add, has recieved his military cross in the Falklands War and most recently came back from Iraq.

In regards to Andrew Smith, the Defence Academy is the think tank that drives the UK's Armed Forces who are there to protect the security of British citizens. You might undermine their role at the moment because the UK is NOT in fact under attack but if, heaven forbid, the time comes, then who would you expect on the front line to keep people like you safe?

I think the general did very well and was extremely tactful and careful not to say more than he should say. Jeremy blew this one.

  • 30.
  • At 06:26 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Andre Smith #28

"Vikingar (#8) and Martin Primett (#13) - to begin with the two of you should have declared your interests. What exactly are your connections, if any, to the MoD or other military operations in this country? For you might all be interested to learn that I have plenty of experience both within the military and within Government - at a very high level too. I therefore do not need to do "research and analysis" or to gain "experience" as one of you rather patronisingly put it."

Ah herm ….. not only 'interested' but highly surprised.

The non nonsensical multi agenda tripe you have conjured up is hardly coherent to the reality of that exchange & your alleged 'insights' to the competency of British Armed Forces.

Your analysis of the segment between Jeremy Paxman & the Lt General was as wrong as could be, plainly your agenda is blurring any notion of impartial judgement.

In the exchange, the Lt General proved attack is the best form of defence.

Whilst Old Paxman (who I have a fond regard for his tenancy & style ref #11) was clearly wrong footed on this one (the beeb having hampered his position in the first place).

If Paxman had bettered the officer, I would happily acknowledge such - but Paxman did not.

To argue otherwise about that exchange is like try to promote the argument that Frank Bruno bettered Mike Tyson in '89, even though the latter wiped the floor with him.

fyi - have happily served 'God, Queen & Country' - I know what I speak of - unlike some :)


  • 31.
  • At 08:07 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Mr I Barry wrote:

Jeremy Paxman met his match with Sir John Keszely it was rather like that scene from Monty Python's The Holy Grail where the knight who's lost both his legs and arms still thinks he's "tough". Paxo might think the constant aggressive tone is the only way but a lot of the time it only goes to prove he doesn't listen to the answers which is why he asks the same questions and also quite possibly - he doesn't understand the answers either - which is why he asks the same question. All in all not a pretty sight for the listener watching
Paxo, during and at the end - though Sir John managed to look as cool as a cucumber - he gets full marks!

  • 32.
  • At 09:55 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Mr C Burge wrote:

A missed chance to nail the lie of the "all you need to finish the job" sound bite. Des Browne gets away with talking rubbish about the lack of protective vehicles for our troops. It's a sickening scandal that's cost the lives of many service personnel while travelling in, or patrolling in, hopelessly inadequate "Snatch" Land Rovers. Why does it go virtually unreported?

Haven't patrols in Southern Iraq had to be curtailed because of it? Our troops have died needlessly and now cannot even do the job they are there for.

Newsnight should get their teeth into the real story of the bungled and hugely wasteful MOD procurement programme for protective vehicles.

  • 33.
  • At 10:19 AM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Tally wrote:

I disagree that this interview "let the BBC down". I understand that the BBC should have been clearer that the leak was a speculative one but basically this document was produced by someone who had plenty of experience working in this field and indeed had been working in Washington as a close aide to someone who was well versed in this area. The fact that it wasn't the official line is valid but it does say that these "research notes" would have been well watered down and "sexed up" like the dodgy dossier by our government so that we wouldn't be hearing the truth about what is going on out there. History shows us that whatever we are doing in Afganistan wont work and is a total waste of Britain's time, money, reputation and lives.

  • 34.
  • At 02:08 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew Smith wrote:

Come off it the general used nothing more than bluster in his quite vain attempt to see off our Jeremy. Even a soldier from the lowest ranks, Vikingar, could see that. The general is like many of his type for he forgets who is the boss and who pays his inflated wages - muggins taxpayer. In this regard he is more cabbage, than cucumber. To be honest I couldn't give a fig if the general has won a military cross or has recently contributed to the disaster that is Iraq. I'm afraid attempts to close down debate on this grounds will fail. This is 2006, not 1956.

Jane Lorell (*29) - the reason why the general "was extremely tactful and careful not to say more than he should say" was because he was refusing to answer quite reasonable questions. Yet we pay his wages. He should therefore answer the questions fully. As a result Jeremy "won this one" for that reason. Anyway, what planet are you living on when you say "the UK is NOT in fact under attack". Tell that to those who died on 7/7. Yes, the soldiers on the front line do protect us in this regard (I've never sais otherwise), but the many cabbages who attempt to "lead" from the back rows do not. As for the Academy being a "think tank" - that says it all. Think tanks are the new industry but in the main they do not do anyhing of any benefit. After all, "intellectuals" rarely die for anyone.

Vikingar (*30) - I'm sorry if open and frank discussion, based on knowledge and experience, leaves you "highly surprised." Perhaps you should visit the BBC3 web page where you will feel more at home. You keep talking of "multi agenda tripe" as if this is an answer to the serious points I've raised. The only agenda I have is to educate the public. Something which I have done very successfully here - thanks to Newsnight and no thanks to the cabbages at the MoD. For the general merely proved that not answering questions fully is the best form of defence. Sadly it isn't. The general clearly lost his cool and became quite irate when challenged. He should therefore be stipped of his position for this lack of accountability. For the only tripe I've heard recently is from the general. Like many he has served his county but has he done it well enough to take the haughty position that he has. I think not.

  • 35.
  • At 02:24 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Bonnar wrote:

Contrary to some viewpoints above, I thought Jeremy Paxman's interview with the Director of the Defence Academy, Sir Jeremy Kiszely, dealt a knockout blow to the sweaty palmed MOD goons that refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room (the totally self-inflicted, gaping wound that is Britain's Vietnam - Iraq and Afghanistan). The fact that Sir Jeremy Kiszely could only keep repeating the same hollow mantra about 'raw research notes' said it all. I could hardly see him for the elephant. Brilliant stuff, rarely do we see Generals with their pants around their ankles. Good on you Mr. Paxman.

  • 36.
  • At 03:17 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • R Warren wrote:

Jeremy Paxman, the only man I know who can make George Galloway look good, was back at it again last night. The director of the Defense Academy answered the relevant question at once viz. that the document in question formed nothing more than piece in an ongoing process and ought not to have been seized on as being any more than that.

Jeremy is becoming more of a bore every day. The public would have been better served by having someone who actually knew what constituted a question. Is the entertainment value of Jeremy Paxman really worth the salary he's getting?

  • 37.
  • At 03:48 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Mork Anthony wrote:

vikingar sails in his longship, trawling from newsnight forum to newsnight forum, calling everyone "multi agenda believer, anarchist, corrosive tripe peddler, fringe element, radical, communist, fifth columnist and leftist", basically anyone who isn't a fascist gets this treatment

Anyone with values such as truth, accountability, peace and justice, is a leftist spy who in his own words, might have to go to prison

vikingar, your horns are looking pompous and silly

How ironic

  • 38.
  • At 04:19 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Steve Fuller wrote:

I was delighted to hear Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely's spirited and logical rebuttal of Jeremy Paxman's increasingly desperate attempts to rattle him. The document that was supposed to be at the heart of Newsnight's great expose, turned out to nothing of the sort. When Richard Watson interviewed President Musharraf on 27th September he definately reffered to the leaked document as an "MOD document" giving it a creedance that it clearly did not have. Certainly President Musharraf responded to Wilson as though the document was an official MOD production. During last night's programme Paxman denied to Sir John that Newsnight had made this claim. This was either a barefaced lie or Paxman had not watched the tape of the show. Whichever was the case, Paxman is clearly not worth his ego boosting £800,000 per annum BBC salary for Newsnight.

  • 39.
  • At 04:57 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Mork Anthony wrote:

Steve Fuller, did you also find Musharraf on the bbc payroll?

I doubt it, Newsnight is not guilty of what you suggest, Newsnight did not make the allegation simply by interviewing someone who did

  • 40.
  • At 05:17 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Mork Anthony wrote:

Perhaps I misread your post, Steve, were you in fact saying that Richard Watson used those words? Even in that case, the memo originated from the army, whose soldiers are having a hell of a time fighting this illegal war, and whom are probably left with precious few avenues to let us know how bad they are having it

  • 41.
  • At 07:41 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

I do feel that Jeremy Paxman's style will be the undoing of him.

He kept trying to make the link that because the officer doing the research is in the military and therefore part of MoD, that the research reflects MoD views.

And when the General wouldn't let that go unchallenged, Paxman began to rubbish the officer.

If the research had come from another Instiyution would the BBC be happier? Or does critical analysis conflict with the idea that those in the military are only capable of dragging their knuckles across the tarmac?

I am wondering now if a BBC researcher were to start trawling through any University for theses and doctoral submissions on International Relations whether any of said Institutions woud survive?

  • 42.
  • At 08:38 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Andrew Smith #34

"The only agenda I have is to educate the public"

Surely not another 'enlightened' activist who yet again arrogantly presumes only they & their fringe minority ilk have the answers for the world.

'answers' pulled fresh from their ever ready list of burgeoning multi agendas :)


  • 43.
  • At 09:02 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Frank Hudson wrote:

Perhaps Paxman should have worn a burqa! Then again it would still have been no contest because the Lt. General would have seen right through him.

It hardly needs saying that the body language, particularly facial expressions (both on and off camera) of many TV Presenters speaks volumes to viewers, let alone the interviewees and Paxman's performance last night was distinctly brusque.

Arrogance; feigned respect; inferred/portrayed intellectual superiority; built into an inquisitorial format so beloved of Newsnight Presenters was there for all to see.

  • 44.
  • At 09:41 PM on 11 Oct 2006,
  • Hank Frudson wrote:

Frank Hudson: So in which part of the Newsnight studio do you work, to give you acces to this 'off camera' knowhow?

Or are you stalking Paxo?

  • 45.
  • At 12:56 AM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • Frank Hudson wrote:

Hank 44

I'll tell you after I've had my stitches out.

  • 46.
  • At 05:18 PM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

Andrew Smith

Do you not think that soldiers come under your "tax paying mugs" category to?
As for the General being sacked for not answering questions fully - where does that leave our polititons??

  • 47.
  • At 05:28 PM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • Steve Fuller wrote:

I am saying that Richard Watson , on the Newnight team , deliberately portrayed the leaked document as an official MOD document when he interviewed president Musharraf of Pakistan. I watched the interview again on re-run to make sure. Musharraf reacted very strongly as the document was very critical of his own Security Service. Tony Blair then had to try to smooth things over when he later met Musharraf. My point is that BBC journalists like Paxman and Richard Watson , who take home hundreds of thousands of the public's pounds as salary each year have a duty to try to tell us the truth. I think in this case , in order to create another cheap headline, they made out that the leaked document was an official MOD document when they knew that it wasn't , and I don't accept that as proper behaviour.

  • 48.
  • At 06:00 PM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • Mork Anthony wrote:

It hailed from the military, Steve, and...

The issue of the news being truthful, is severely hampered by strict government controls, biased releasing of information, the use of 'embedded journalists' (those reporters not embedded often end up as military targets), the use of intimidatory tactics such as airstrikes on hotels used by the press, and various murders, "suicides" and "accidents" suffered by those who are 'off message'

So the issue is perhaps that the leaked document was in reality a desperate effort to clue us into the horrible reality in the parallel universe that is the 'real war', as opposed to the 'media war'

Some soures report that the 'insurgence' and 'sectarian terrorism' are allied 'concoctions' (fuelled in part by certain elite forces who may have been found with large hoards of explosives on their landrovers), and the reality is the Iraqi resistance is fighting the occupation out of the same principles as any other historical resistancce organisation

  • 49.
  • At 12:56 PM on 13 Oct 2006,
  • Mork Anthony wrote:

Thanks for putting me right there, Steve, I think there could be other reasons for the trouble in reporting...

Reporting is subject to tight restrictions and often only embedded reporters are protected - in order to tightly control the media output, add in the intimidatory tactic of bombing hotels and other buildings known to be used by press, and various 'friendly fire' incidents, coupled with various "murders" and "suicides" of those attempting to get the truth out, and you have a litany of evidence for an oppressive psy-op against the press...

"report this nonense miracle passport and be safe"

"attempt to report the failing adventurism in the Middle East and 'commit suicide' just before your tour ends"

Put it all together and you have circumstantial evidence for this leak being one of the only ways in which the hard pressed military forces can clue us in to their desperate situation, where the real action on the ground, is mostly a resistance fight

  • 50.
  • At 01:24 PM on 13 Oct 2006,
  • Mork Anthony wrote:

Apologies for the repeat posting, but mysteriously, post 48 disappeared unseen down the memory hole - who's running this show - MI5 ?

  • 51.
  • At 01:00 PM on 07 Dec 2006,
  • Rob Waugh wrote:

Quoting Chris #18

"Soldiers will always get the job done. But we usually succeed without a helping hand from a politician in a pin striped suit or a General who is more interested in his Knighthood and inflated pension rights than the predicament of the solider on the ground! Just a shame that those who play the tune the soliders dance to have no real concept of those words."

This comment shows nothing other than a blatant ignorance of the General he purports to be criticising. John Kiszely knows more than most men alive about the job of soldiering, not to mention the task of "getting the job done". I suggest that everyone expressing interest in the General should research the accounts of the Battle for Tumbledown. This is where the then Major Kiszely personally led a company bayonet charge to secure the summit, before holding the top with only 6 other men whle the rest of the battalion regrouped. Seeing as how Kiszely holds an MC, it would seem that the only people who have any right to question his soldiering abilities are those holding VCs, which I doubt the author of the quoted comment holds. Kiszely is one of our finest soldiers, can his critics claim the same thing?

I just don't have much to say recently. Such is life. I've basically been doing nothing. Basically nothing seems worth bothering with. Oh well.

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