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Thursday, 21 August, 2008

Brian Thornton | 18:30 UK time, Thursday, 21 August 2008

Here is Kirsty's look ahead to tonight's programme:

Gordon Brown has been in Afghanistan today en route for Beijing - meeting President Karzai in Kabul, but first talking to UK troops in Helmand province where Taleban fighters have upped their attacks on NATO forces, in a determined and ruthless new strategy, fuelled by money from the poppy harvest. Today three Canadian soldiers were killed while doing reconnaissance, following the deaths two days ago of ten French soldiers in a Taleban ambush. The Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to ending the conflict in Afghanistan but seven years on, can coalition forces in the country - of which there are around eight thousand British troops - ever beat the Taleban, or is negotiation the only way forward? I'll be speaking to the Defence Secretary live.

A British resident held in Guantanamo Bay facing terrorism charges today won a court ruling that the UK government is under a duty to disclose material to Binyam Mohamed's legal team which he says supports his case that evidence against him was obtained through torture. Mohamed is facing a US military trial and possibly the death penalty if found guilty. During the recent hearing of the case Dinah Rose QC for Mr Mohamed said he was tortured following his detention in Pakistan and then "rendered" to Morocco where he alleges he was repeatedly slashed in the genitals with a razor blade. The judges found that the British security service had colluded in the unlawful detention of Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan.

Crash investigators have recovered the black box date recorder from the Spanair flight which crashed at Madrid airport yesterday on takeoff killing one hundred and fifty three people on board. We'll have the latest from the Spanish capital.

And we'll be taking a look at the impact the internet has had on the race for the White House - it can build grassroots support as never before, but is also the perfect vehicle for attack ads and smears. Plus I'll be speaking live to the author of the current New York Times bestseller "The Obama Nation". Jerome R Corsi claims that Barack Senior was an alcoholic polygamist who abandoned his pregnant wife in Africa before marrying Obama's mother in Hawaii and then leaving her behind there with their son. Corsi claims Obama's relatives are the sources for much of his information which is repeated here - apparently at second hand. So is this a thorough piece of investigative work - or a hatchet job?

Do join us at 10:30



  • Comment number 1.

    if you want to get rid of mosquitoes you can either try to swat them one by one or you drain the swamp. ie pakistan.

    vietnam was won by the communists because their supply lines never stopped and they had an endless stream of motivated fighters willing to fight 'invaders'.

    winning short term tactical battles doesn't mean you are not losing strategically. After 7 years you would know if there was an end in sight. There isn't and with this strategy there never will be.

    in a funny way the uk would be safer if the taliban did hold the country and nato could bomb at will then. the burdens of government would fracture the current taliban unity creating internal strife which as history shows is the best way to conquer.

  • Comment number 2.

    #1 bookhimdano, the quickest way to swell the numbers of angry people willing to take up arms is indiscriminate bombing which kills civilians, in Vietnam, it wasn't simply that they had good supply lines, the lines were maintained and grew because of general support of the population because of the use of carpet bombing, napalm and the like.

    When we had the troubles in Northern Ireland, should we have nuked them and solved the problem once and for all like that, or did talking finally bring peace?

  • Comment number 3.

    Glasgow has just won Unesco City of Music status. Time to Shout this from the rooftops.

    At yesterday's launch Scottish Culture Minister Linda Fabiani waxed lyrical on
    Lulu, Blue Nile, The Sensational Alex
    Harvey Band and James Macmillan as
    well as the city's fabulous orchestras
    and Celtic Connections.

  • Comment number 4.

    So why not get e.g Sharlee Spiteri on to comment - and the two RSMD students
    to play you out with the "City of Music"
    composition for violin and guitar which
    graced the launch ceremony yesterday
    in Glasgow's City Halls - attended by
    key players on the Glasgow music scene
    including James Boyle and Stephane Deneuve - who conducts the RSNO?

  • Comment number 5.

    ...or did talking finally bring peace? ...

    spain tried for 300 years to deal with jihadists. in the end they expelled them.

    the history of jihad isn't about peace. its about submission.

    the only people ever to conquer afghanistan were the mongols and they did it by killing everyone down to the animals.

    in the same way we subsidise our farmers by 4 billion a year we could have done the same to prevent the poppy crop but too many interests in keeping it going. The only people in profit are the arms manufacturers [look at their sales]

    for some reason HMG will not list the tribes and the names of their leaders who have openly declared war on the west. Why? PC correctness? these tribes are allowed open movement in and out of the uk.

    its arrogant of HMG to think it can do anything there when in the uk under labour the number of organised crime gangs has risen from 900 to 1600.

    so the best thing the uk can do is leave afghanistan.

    but the neocons own the govt so they won't.

  • Comment number 6.

    Today's Guardian also reported the death of former MP Leo Abse

  • Comment number 7.

    Where's Jeremy?

  • Comment number 8.

    #5 bookhimdano, I think you might find that the moorish area of influence offered protection to all creeds and races, it was not submission in the least. The Jews and Christians were not forcibly converted and were guaranteed freedom to practice their faiths. Contrast the plight of the Jews after the moors were defeated and left, the forcible conversions, exile... need I say more.

    As to getting out of Afghanistan, I think we agree that the British troops need to be out of there, probably for different reasons, but at least we agree on making sure that British soldiers don't die for a Neocon war.

  • Comment number 9.

    Was i the only person who found this evening's Newsnight overly pro-Democrat?

    Nothing would make me happier than for Obama to be successful but I would hope for a little more impartiality from the BBC.

  • Comment number 10.

    Katy Kay's piece tonight was shockingly lopsided and well below my usual expectations for a Newsnight segment. Having just spent two and a half months in America, it was quite clear to me that the 'smear' campaigns were not exclusive to conservatives, as Kay's piece strongly implied. Both sides have been thoroughly engaged in back-channel internet attacks. The obligatory mention of liberal smear tactics does not in itself create a balanced report when one spends roughly 90% of the segment obsessing over conservative e-mails and cartoons. Surely Katy Kay is cognizant of that? It was a good choice (on several levels) to place it last, but, unfortunately, a few of us do enjoy staying up for the entire programme. I adore Newsnight, but this was one of the most imbalanced reports I've seen from one of your contributors. Deeply disappointing.

  • Comment number 11.

    The BBC's socialist agenda and issue bias (eg. climate science) was once again fully on display. Disgraceful the public (who voted socialism out in the 80's) are forced to pay a license fee for this lack of integrity in reporting.

    First we started with a hostile BBC reporter against smeer campaigns against Obama, then we went to a friendly reporter enjoying the delights of an Obama smeer campaign.

    This was followed with a hostile Kirsty trying to smeer the novelist of an anti-Obama book all of which were robustly and resoundingly answered (squashed actually).

    When will someone sort this socialist bias BBC Politburo out. I've completely lost all faith in the integrity of this insiduous corporation.

  • Comment number 12.

    As Kirsty thinks it is so important to investigate people's backgrounds, as she showed tonight with Jerome Corsi, perhaps we could have a piece on how much money she has made from contracts the Labour Party have given her production company.

    As for Katy Kay's piece, both sides are happily smearing each other directly or through proxies and for her to present it otherwise is grossly misleading.

    As I'm forced to pay for the BBC can I get some balanced reporting from decent reporters please?

  • Comment number 13.

    #5 bookhimdano:

    'spain tried for 300 years to deal with jihadists. in the end they expelled them'

    The reconquistadors where far closer to modern jihadists than their opponents.

    'the only people ever to conquer afghanistan were the mongols'

    Apart from the Medes, the Achaemenid Persians, the Parthians, Sassanid Empire, the British, and Alexander the Great amongst others.

  • Comment number 14.


    Surely it is vital that the Taleban’s source of income is cut off? Their power base appears to be the poppy fields of Afghanistan, so load jets with tanks of Napalm to bomb the poppy fields out of existence. So crops and fields will be destroyed and people may be killed! This IS a war is it not?

  • Comment number 15.


    ...moorish area of influence offered protection to all creeds and races...guaranteed freedom to practice their faiths...

    t don't buy the romantic model. The reality was somewhat different. freedom meant there is not freedom in the modern sense.


    ...the British, and Alexander the Great amongst others....

    temporarily moving or holding an army in an area is not conquering. the population was never subdued.

  • Comment number 16.

    @Spanner7337 #11 Quite agree. My post about Gordon Brown seems to have disappeared. Probably broke the Common Purpose rules.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Kirsty,

    I've often enjoyed your programmes. I'm not a native English speaker, but when the language is spoken clearly, especially with a Scottish accent, I understand it perfectly.

    These last days on Newsnight however, a lot of what you said was lost to me. Are you a bit tired? Or have you chosen to address yourself to a more limited audience? I'm always interested in hearing the issues under discussion on Newsnight.

    Kindest regards,

  • Comment number 18.


    Spanner7337 (#11) I'd genuinely be interested to hear why you think NN (and the BBC in general) pushes socialism. Had you said politically correct neoconservativism (closet Trotskyism/anarcho-capitalism) I wouldn't quibble, but given the BBC's frequent reinforcement of the 'war on terror' in the past (now in remission thank goodness), the frequency of urbane pro-neocon (Trot/free-market) NGO experts invited onto the programme, the swipes at states like Uzbekistan, the less than critical coverage of Israel and its supporters, the coverage of what Georgia and the USA have been fomenting recently, and the less than critical coverage of the ongoing fragmentation of our Civil Service (and ultimately nation) by this absurd notion that it can all be run far better and cheaper by a smaller state, i.e. the Private and burgeoning Third Sector, I have been led to believe precisely the opposite. Perhaps, like many, you are confabulating Trotskyites with socialists (the Civil Service was effectively 'Stalinist' as was Old Labour, New Labour is New Left, i.e Trotskyite/Anarchistic, like Thatcher' Tories).

  • Comment number 19.

    15: 'temporarily moving or holding an army in an area is not conquering. the population was never subdued'

    The successor state of Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Empire, did just that.

    I know that it has become a habit to portray Afghanistan as ungovernable, mainly to political reasons, but that is simply untrue.

  • Comment number 20.

    ...the Seleucid Empire...

    going back bc and before islam? seems a bit desperate if those examples 'prove' afghanistan can be conquered in the modern age? the Seleucid Empire was racked by civil wars. looking at the modern post islam history of afghanistan there are no succesful examples except the mongols and even they converted to islam in the end.

    the uk has been there for 7 years. is that classed as conquering? did the russian conquer. no.

    afghanistan has proved it is ungovernable by non tribal forces.

  • Comment number 21.


    "When I use a word', Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less."

    Still, at least you didn't decend to 'nefarious rhetoric'. You'd *never* do that...

  • Comment number 22.


    As an English indigene, I too (#17) find Kirsty anathema to my three-score-ten ears. Indeed, the post above could have been dictated by me! I sent a message direct to Newsnight, to the same effect, a couple of days ago - not my first. Would it be perverse to note that Kirsty, in a quiet studio, is approximately equal, in terms of the degraded message, to some poor schmuck reporter parked in a frantic road* to deliver their piece?

    *So beloved of today's media.

  • Comment number 23.

    20: 'going back bc and before islam? seems a bit desperate if those examples 'prove' afghanistan can be conquered in the modern age?'

    I gave a number of examples, you concentrated on the Hellenistic period.

    'looking at the modern post islam history of afghanistan there are no succesful examples except the mongols and even they converted to islam in the end.'

    Apart from the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Seljukids, the Ghurids, the Timurids, and the Persians.

    'the uk has been there for 7 years. is that classed as conquering?'

    It took us 100 plus years to conquer India, and that was when massacring people and burning down villages wasn't seen as naughty.

    'afghanistan has proved it is ungovernable by non tribal forces'

    No it has just had a long interregnum period which has allowed the tribal militias to build up their strength.

    The Afghans are as capable of forming a stable nation as anyone, and suggesting otherwise is offensive.

  • Comment number 24.


    DrKF77 (#21) Stick to the facts, not ad hominems.. Leaving Humpty-Dumpty (Tony Blair and Team NewSpeak) aside, when the Labour Party dispensed with Clause Four (ostensibly to make itself more electable), in practice it became indistinguiishable from Thatcher's Hayekian/Friedmanite Anarchism/Conservatism did it not? From the early 1980s onwards, the UK's nationalised means of production, paid for by the taxpayer, were sold off, much as they later were in Russia in the 1990. Who benefited? At the same time, the UK Civil Service was systematically undermined ('market-tested' and filled with people who pretty much guaranteed that over time, it would become 'dysfunctional') whilst the public were sold the utopian dream that the 'de-regulated' market was the answer to everything, that the 'nanny-state' was oppressive, that personal choice (even if you were ignorant about what you were choosing) was all, that anti-elitism was admirable and that deference was deplorable. They were led to believe that everyone was born equal and that 'education, education, education' would ensure that they were throughout life, any failure being (paradoxically) attributable to poor environment (i.e. schools/teaching/teachers mainly) - somethig which gave investors the opportunity to buy school buildings (BSF) and mortgage them back, whilst shortcutting the normal career structure of teachers with politically correct 'Future Leaders'.

    As I see it, this has been happening everywhere across the Public Sector for some ime, but perhaps you'd like to refute this or say why more is NOT said about what appears, prima facie, to be the systematic destruction of the UK in favour of NUTS, 'grass-roots (worker's) democracy, i.e. the EU Lisbon Treaty's free-market. It all appears very non-Socialist to me, in fact, it appears to be classic Trotskyism which undermines 'socialism' just as Militant undermined Old Labour until Humpty Dumpty rebranded it...

  • Comment number 25.

    Or, to paraphrase Brezhnev, every 'socialist' is free to apply the basic principles of Leninism, but cannot depart from these principles (assuming, naturally, that they remain a socialist).

    That all worked out super, as I recall...

    False dichotomies, machinaean thinking and rhetoric do not the one true socialist make...

  • Comment number 26.


    (No expletive strong enough) JJ!
    I managed to understand most of your post 24 - added to my store of more intuitive stuff, I think it might be time to get really negative. (And this is before I read your link.) It's a very bad world isn't it. I think I begin to link your postings together - in my fuzzy-logic way. I follow Greg Palast; he gives me the same sinking feeling.

    You gotta plan? Or have I asked that before. Hmmmmm

    Oh blimey. I have just remembered my post suggesting offering the world to a bright minority to run. You can tell I scraped five O-levels . . . Must try harder.

  • Comment number 27.

    I read that Scotland is launching a lethal onslaught on its aggressive birds. Here in England we call them drunken chavs! Actually I'd prefer to see them put down rather than the poor gulls who are attracted by the filth left by filth eating take-aways.

  • Comment number 28.

    DrKF77 (#25) It isn't clear to me that you're saying anything of substance. The USSR started to unwind after the death of Stalin, up to which time it became a superpower in record time (and given its armed forces and nuclear arsenal today, it still is a superpower, regrdless of what glib ex-NATO Americans say about it being 'like Saudi Arabia with trees'. The fact that China nearly went to war with the USSR over the latter's post-Stalinist revisionism and has made National Socialism (with an NEP) work, should make more of us ask why we've been so eager to allow it to be taken apart in the UK given the demographic decline and loss of credibility in the world which has accompanied it.

  • Comment number 29.


    Barrie (#26) "You can tell I scraped five O-levels . . . Must try harder."

    Actually........I don't think many will believe that you just scraped five O-levels - but then, a lot have gone 'down-hill' since then according to all the evidence. Immigration accounts for a lot, but so does differential fertility.

    Whilst I confess to having regularly missed out the odd letter (and even word) in some of my posts to this blog, for a plan (for what it's worth, as plans need people, and infrastructure, for effective implementation), I predict that it won't be long before more see the sense of following the lead of South-East Asians, and that those in South-East Asia who still slavishly embrace Western Liberal-Democracy, will, sooner or later, turn to the PRC for enlightenment instead. We dropped the ball in the 1970s. Do you see anyone here who's likely to pick it up?

  • Comment number 30.

    #18 Jaded Jan

    The BBC have lost both their integrity and sense of balance since Labour got away with it - being accountable - for the fraud in the Iraq/WMD dossier. It opened the door for the corrupt (socialist Labour) to run riot through our democracy and never be held to account.

    The rot set in when Greg Dyke was dismissed affectively by Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, a BBC governor, who had vested intersts in the 'war machine' and chaired a company providing military equipment for US Humvees and Black Hawk helicopters, both of which are used in Iraq.

    Neville-Jones was a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), the body that produced the WMD dossier. Remember this document was fabricated by the JIC, using cut-and-paste techniques from a students thesis found online and other documents.

    When this fraudulent deceipt was discovered the entire JIC committee should have resigned enbloc and been sacked from public service. Instead Blair promoted the Chairman!

    In addition to the fabrication Blair, Campbell and Straw sent drafts back and forward with the JIC 'changing words' and asking for the altering of their meanings. Iraq having "little capability" for example would be changed to "could possibly" which allowed Blair et al to fabricate a story to Parliament and led to the totally dishonest 45 minute claim.

    Blair, Campbell and Straw have never been held to account for fabricating a case and effectively lying to the country. The Attorney General remember advised Blair it was not illegal for Britain to break international law based on the WMD dossiers apparent potential threat.

    When Greg Dyke was pushed out of the BBC, staff were aghast and deeply demoralised and I believe have still not recovered. The rot that set in, as it has done in the scientific community with Labours constant appointment of cronies to propagandise the climate fraud, and the BBC have never been the same since.

    The BBC is showing constant bias towards socialist agendas, in particular their worldwide peddling of climate (anti) science. The US Democrats are socialists and if they win Americans will be impoverished with green taxes. Some put it as high as $12,000 per family per annum will be raised by climate taxes and knock-on costs from climate legislation on household and everyday products (inc levies on imported goods).

    I've always been a Democrat. But Obama represents socialism (not free markets) and climate change - McCain and the Republicans, for once, are the lesser of two evils IMHO despute my disgust at Bush for Iraq.

    And if America falls then Europe, which is out on a limb internationally and has few supporters for climate change amongst major super-powers, will be unhindered in their plans to sticth up all our free markets and the British/EEC plans to control and micro-manage our life. Everything from household products, food, lifestyle, air travel, everything will be taxed and rules applied.

    This is not paranoia on my part. Patio heaters are already being banned under climate junk science justifications. There's even plans to reduce meat consumption by 60% by 2030 that's how far the socialists using health and climate will interfere with every facet of our lives. The Communists and Socialists didn't die. They just found a new job hidden behind the enviro and health movements.


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