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Talking to the enemy?

Peter Barron | 12:08 UK time, Thursday, 26 October 2006

Newsnight logoThe Taleban are fighting to kill British soliders in Afghanistan, they burn schools and support al-Qaeda. So is it right to talk to them?

For Newsnight, David Loyn spent months trying to make contact with the Taleban leadership, and on Wednesday we showed his extraordinary film in which he travelled to Helmand province to interview their official spokesman for the first time (you can see it here).

The Conservative defence spokesman Liam Fox called that "obscene", and the Daily Mail reported the views of the father of one British soldier who thought the BBC has acted irreponsibly, "undermining the war effort".

David Loyn interviews Taleban spokesman Dr Mahammed AnifShould the BBC report from the other side of the lines? We believe we should as long as we act with careful thought and do nothing to put the lives of British soldiers at risk. David Loyn's report showed how the Taleban operate in southern Afghanistan, how they view the British and Americans and how they plan to take their campaign forward through suicide bombings. He challenged their spokesman on the Taleban's campaign of violence against Nato's efforts at reconstruction, their burning of schools and rejection of democracy.

Some believe it is disloyal to our armed forces to film the enemy. But if we agreed not to show them, isn't that just a small step away from censorship and pro-government propaganda?


  • 1.
  • At 12:42 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • kate wrote:

i thought it was a really interesting piece and i was very impressed by david loyn's work and the risks he must have taken to bring that item to our screens. well worth doing - thank you newsnight.

  • 2.
  • At 12:46 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Bob Holmgren wrote:

Along with disseminating Taliban thought might you also consider reporting news that reflects positively on America?

  • 3.
  • At 12:57 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

Well said! Being able to report from all sides is pretty fundamental to good quality reporting. Censorship is a very slippery slope, and I hope you will continue to stay well away from it.

  • 4.
  • At 01:12 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • penelope farmer wrote:

Of course you should talk to them. We need to know how they think to combat them - and understand them for now and for the future. Don't let the idiots put you off. (Alas where I live - the Canaries - I couldn't get the report. But wish I could. I want to know/understand too.)

  • 5.
  • At 01:15 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Lee Dowling wrote:

There's both sides to every argument, my mother always said.

The whole point of having a free press is for them to investigate all sides and present all arguments (which so often isn't done, even by such organisations as the BBC).

Say the Taleban weren't actually saying the things that they did, say they were asking for peace - how would we, the public, know unless it were for people actually going out there and providing documentary evidence?

Wartime propoganda has an overall purpose - to obscure the truth. Without a free press, how would anyone know what the truth actually was?

  • 6.
  • At 01:15 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Elliot wrote:

Blatant enemy propoganda, you can spin it any way you want but this was unsubstantiated rubbish put forward as fact. You interview terrorists who kill and kill again, giving them the most positive spin you can because it suits the BBC agenda to denigrate our armed forces. The story on the BBC new site was absolutely awful, with no evidence whatsoever to back up the unfounded accusations against British forces and no balance at all. Just which side is the BBC on? In my view, you should be on the side of the people paying your inflated wages. Do you want Afghans to have a peaceful and secure future or do you prefer the Taliban? The BBC is biased. I have made an official complaint about the web-site story to the BBC, I urge others to do the same.

  • 7.
  • At 01:21 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Diane Hain wrote:

I think that it is absolutely wrong for the BBC to distribute Taliban propaganda - in fact, it is treason. They are fighting the Taliban's psychological batttle for them against our own troups. They should be endited in the courts - is there no royalty to the country or its people - it's equivalent to them joining the other side in my view.

  • 8.
  • At 01:21 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Albert wrote:

The issue is interesting but more so because BBC is a public media company of one of the parties involved in the war.

On the other hand, one should look at this issue pragmatically. There are three options:

* the war continues forever
* the war ends because one side wins (based on some biased definition of victory)
* both sides find peace and understanding

The latter is probably the one that would serve the greater good.

In order for that to happen, public support for the war should be remplaced by support for discussion, truce, or whatever is suitable. The only way for the public to do that, is to have access to unbiased, upclose and rational information about the "other" guys.

Provided that the BBC does its job of reporting professionaly and openly, there is no reason why the general public should not at least try to understand the reason why the war is continuing in the first place.

Unless you want to live in 1984...

  • 9.
  • At 01:23 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

I disagree.
There is a fine line between Peoples right to know and Supporting the enemy.
Whether it was right or not to go into Afghanistan the soldiers have the right to know that the country supports them. If not the morale of the troops will drop, people will not volunteer to join the army and when we really need soldiers to defend us (it is possible!) there won't be enough.
Giving a voice to those who are killing our soldiers and their friends does not help the morale of the soldiers or the general public.
Censorship/ Pro Government propaganda does not come into question.

  • 10.
  • At 01:24 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • D Sanders wrote:

The BBC should be ashamed, you talk of censorship and pro-government propaganda.....What about support for our troops who are in Afghanistan doing a dangerous job, putting their lives on the line on a daily basis and yet the BBC instead of reporting on what a difficult and dangerous job our brave men and women are doing they allow the enermy prime time TV viewing to air a report on how our soldiers have killed 3 small girls and left a grandfather to bring up his two young grandsons, then the reporter go's on to say the Afghan people are asking who are their friends, that was great Taleban propaganda and I'm sure they had many young men queuing up to join them after that BBC report.It's amazing how the BBC can give so much air time to our enermies, the very people who are murdering our young men and women who are out there doing a job for their country, lets not forget the Afghanistan government asked them to go there.Where is the support for our troops, this would never of happened in WW2, would the BBC have gone to Adolf and friends and asked for their perspective on the war I don't think so! Where's all the reports showing all the good things our troops do...... hmmm doesn't make such a good news story?

  • 11.
  • At 01:25 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Barry Eaton wrote:

I fully support the BBC in talking to the Taliban - Its not just about censorship its also about interaction. We have been told continuously that

there is no negotatiating with the taliban or al quaeda and therefore there are no other options but usually the military one.

Thats what was said about the IRA at the height of that conflict.

The BBC has a vital role to play in creating a basis for dialogue and it should continue with its work.

  • 12.
  • At 01:26 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • bob wrote:

It amazes me how the media do something like find the talaban leaders when the army cannot do the same.

  • 13.
  • At 01:27 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • shaun wrote:

Lastnights program was an interesting insight into the war. I am from the UK and i am still not too sure why the US and UK soldiers are fighting over there. What failed to make sense to me was, The Taleban appear to be anti drugs, yet i have read reports that the US and UK soldiers are there to stop the drugs. The Taleban said they were stopping the drugs and it appeared to them that the US and UK want the drugs to continues to grow. It also appears the the US and UK forces are causing more death and destruction, rather than being helpful.

  • 14.
  • At 01:27 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Steve Renshaw wrote:

I think you did a great job. Anything that helps us to better understand the situation in Afghanistan has to be a good thing. I fail to see how it is undermining the war effort. How is the public expected to understand a conflict as complex as Afghanistan when all we're told is "Allies good, Taleban bad".

I sincerely hope you manage to do an interview with Kim Jong-Il soon. I think it would be fascinating.

  • 15.
  • At 01:28 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paulette Graydon wrote:

Whilst I think it is a good idea to have information on the Taliban for security uses I do not think it is good to publish and sensationalise this. If we are not careful we become a window for extremist views to be aired. This can lead to propaganda and attract some young fanatics to the cause. Also I would not want a reporter to put themselves in danger if it was just for a news story and not a security matter.

  • 16.
  • At 01:29 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Nimesh wrote:

I have to say, I agree with the view, reporting should be balanced and impartial to ensure that the public can make up there own mindds. If this means interviewing the other side so be it.

As it is the public are secptical of what is printed and what we read about politcal issue as there is no way of telling what reporting restictions are in place and would we be told in ALL cases.
I fail to see the argument "being disloyal to armed forces". What are they afraid of?

  • 17.
  • At 01:29 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Steven Miller wrote:

Completely agree! It is vital, especially during these spin and propoganda based times, that we get to see the "other side" of the tale. It really makes me mad that so many of our leaders feel a need to attack anyone who looks at both sides of a story as unpatriotic. Keep striving for the truth, not a version of the truth.

I totally concur - without objective reporting from both sides of a conflict we would find ourselves blinkered by one sided pro-government misinformation.

I like hearing from the other side in a conflict. If people feel strongly enough that they are prepared to wage war and fight for their beliefs then there has to be a reason for it. Understanding people's reasons for fighting is a good start to finding a solution between the two sides.

Branding the opposite side as heretics and ignoring what they have to say will only cause us more problems in the future - as evidenced time and time again throughout history.

  • 19.
  • At 01:36 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • mark sanders wrote:

You can wrap this report up in any amount of dressing you want but our soldiers are at war and this is not a game. The report did enough to encourage suicide bombers to join the glorious Taliban and if just one dissafected young man sees this and volunteers then I'm sorry but you are putting our soldiers lives at risk. Answer the question, in ww2 would you have thought it fair and balanced to pop over to Germany and interview the Gestapo or would that have been seen as treason. How times have changed and how you as an organisation have become arrogant and full of your own self importance.

  • 20.
  • At 01:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

I would agree that yes, the definition of free press is that the public have a rounded view of current affairs made available to them, not just the Government's choice of story. Let us not forget that the ability of the media to inform is massive, but the ability for it to mask and deceive is dangerous. The problem with the Taliban and any regime is that they force their ideals on people in an aggressive manner, but we would not be much better if we did this through the use of propaganda & covert censorship. Journalists are supposed to inform not dictate. Let us not forget the benefits of and reason for objective reporting and the free press.

  • 21.
  • At 01:39 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Charlotte Doyle wrote:

Yes, the BBC should be allowed to report from any side of the line. This is a move in the right direction. Unlike the
news of the MOD banning ITV from interviewing front line soldiers in Iraq and Afganistan. It is simply embarassing that news of this censorship is widely reported throughout the rest Europe.

  • 22.
  • At 01:40 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Lillian wrote:

I completely agree.

I am concerned that anyone should consider it wrong to talk to "the enemy". Britain is a country that has freedom of press, that means that we sometimes will hear things that we don't agree with, it should also mean that the press has a duty to be as un-biased as possible which in effect means hearing both sides of the story.

Good journalism depends on being able to set aside pre-conceived ideas and setting out to find the truth. On occassions the truth can be unsettling but sometimes that can be a good thing.

  • 23.
  • At 01:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Phil wrote:

As an ex military person I am absolutely apalled as to what has happened here. All I can hope here is that the reporter has since been debriefed by military intelligence (sic :-) ) so the good guys (err, that's us by the way) can get on with winning this conflict and getting out as soon as possible.

  • 24.
  • At 01:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jay Daley wrote:

I don't think any subject should be tabboo, but a different set of rules should apply.

In cases like this the journalist should ask themselves 'how easy is it for someone to take parts of my report out of context and use it as propaganda?'. The answer in this case is 'very easy indeed', especially if you can understand the Afghan language, not just the English commentary. When that happens then the report needs to be presented in a much more careful way.

So no it's not the subject, it's the care with which it is reported.

  • 25.
  • At 01:43 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Harris wrote:

I agree 100% with the BBC's decision to film the Taleban. It provides the public with an overall picture within Afghanistan. Many of the British public are blissfully unaware why the presence of the British Forces are so desperately required and why it is wrong to just 'pull them out'. Maybe this will serve as a reminder to us all as to why we need to carry on applying force to the Taleban and indeed al-Qaeda!

  • 26.
  • At 01:44 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • malcolm1417 wrote:

I think you have now given a damn good reason to privatise the bbc.Your so called news is now so biased its becoming untrustworty.Its place as the worlds news agency has now been forfeited.

  • 27.
  • At 01:45 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • steve holmes wrote:

when the 'troubles' were happening in ireland, the media were not allowed to broadcast the voice of the person(s) with whom we were at war. OK so they get around it by voiceover, but I for one would like to see this re-introduced. Although I like unbiased reporting, we may as well just be their mouthpiece in all reality for the amount of their propoganda we show.

  • 28.
  • At 01:47 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • paul massey wrote:

i think the BBC should be showing both sides of any story, weather its a local political story, or if its a worldwide story.

how can we pretend to be from a country that supports free speach if some people start jumping up and down when the "other side" of the story is shown. if you do not like being in a free country then please move to china or north korea where you wont ever have to listen to the "other sides" point of view.

always remember that there are 2 sides to any story. Your side, their side and the truth. you cannot know the truth without knowing both sides.

  • 29.
  • At 01:48 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

The Taliban piece seemed so similar to John Simpson's derring-do pieces from the advancing Taliban front as they took over the country initially. They allowed him to film too. Their "principles" have always been flexible when it suits them. Years on we again have a male BBC reporter allowing them to dictate that no woman appears in the piece - couldn't he have got some balancing material elsewhere? And he apparently allowed his interviewee to get away with asserting they "only" destroy schools that "teach girls to wear uniforms that reveal their figure". As if denying education to women wasn't the original "hot issue" of the whole movement, after the Russian-backed government at last pushed for equal access to education for girls. Like the main government figure promoting women's education wasn't assassinated in her own street only weeks ago. You can make almost anyone look dashing, successful, and acceptable if you ignore their faults.

Those men are armed-to-the-teeth, lying, assassinating, terrorist-backing fundamentalists who (with American help) took their own country back to the stone age and sent a million into exile. Why would anyone consider them suitable to have power over a civilian population?

The next time a BBC journalist gets an interview with the official spokeman for a group with designs to seize a country, would it be too radical an idea, too in advance of its time, to fish out copies of the essential UN human rights documents, starting with the 1948 Universal Declaration, and not forgetting CEDAW on women and CRC on children, and asking which bits, if any, they would plan to respect? Men like the Taliban should be held to human standards.

  • 30.
  • At 01:49 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • vish wrote:

I applaud the BBC for showing this kind of documentary. I am tired of government spin and lies, right wing press rubbish. The BBC's job is to provide a balanced view of the news and I for one am interested in what these religious lunatics have to say. Noone complains when the BBC interviews government advisors who are blatently lying so please ignore the right wing sheep who are happy to be lied to by the government and thier newspapers, give the rest of us who have our own minds both sides of all the stories.Thanks

  • 31.
  • At 01:49 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Kevin Houghton wrote:

Absolutely right, one of the things we are meant to be fighting for is free speech. If we censor the BBC then we are just as guilty as the Taliban.
All we hear is propaganda from our government about how bad the Taliban is and how right our government is. Yet we know the government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. How do we know where the lie ends and the truth begins without some kind of insight into the thoughts and views of the other side.

  • 32.
  • At 01:49 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Emulated wrote:

It is important to hear the other sides point of view. We do not get the truth from Blair or Bush and with another input we may fathom out what is really going on. How many of us would react any differently from the Taliban if we had the same beliefs and traditions, if in the same situation. I agree with the view we must support our soldiers but not at any cost, not if it makes us no better than those we are at war with. Bombing innocent civilians makes us no better than them.

I don't perceive the BBC's actions as Taleban propoganda. The BBC are acting as wholly impartial observers in this instance, it was an interview (as I understanded) instigated by the BBC and not by the Taleban.

To draw comparisons with WW2 is anachronistic. We no longer live in a world where state-controlled media organisations dominate, there has been a seismic shift toward a liberated press and a display of balanced reporting. I would wager that many of the troops which respondents here complain have been compromised, undermined or insulted actually would have been interested both strategically and morally by the comments made in this interview.

Let us not look at this conflict through the refraction of a sanitised jingoistic media but through the sharp focus of balanced insightful journalism that, despite being much maligned, is still evidently alive and well in London W1.

  • 34.
  • At 01:53 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • David C wrote:

Your last sentence is disingenuous, by saying 'but if we agreed not to show it' you imply that this was something that you were presented with - it wasn't, as you make clear you had to put a lot of effort into obtaining it. The question of whether you should air the piece is surely akin to whether you would air either (a) an interview with Bin Laden or (b) a video released by Bin Laden - the former hasn't happened (as far as I know) and the latter does regularly - and as far as I recall you do air clips and a summary, but not the whole lot. So why the decision to air all of this, was it because it because it was obtained by the BBC it is worth while airing?

Perhaps the piece would have sat better in a documentary about the current state of play in Afghanistan to illustrate how the western forces may be loosing the support of certain aspects of the population, thereby enabling the Taliban to regain support (don't forget frustration with corruption and war weariness enabled them grab power last time - and may do so again).

Should you seek to present views from all side in a conflict - yes you should, but it needs to be done in the correct context, not as a news piece.

  • 35.
  • At 01:55 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • paul Howard wrote:

I think that to give a platform to the Taliban which enables them to air their warped properganda is a disgrace. You seem to forget that you are the BRITISH Broadcasting Corperation and we the British people pay your wages. I agree that you have to inform us of what our brave young men and women are fighting against. However, you do not need to insult their bravery and sacrifices allowing such evil hearted people the time to boast about how they are feared. The interveiw was nothing short of a disgrace though that is what we have to put up with frm the BBC today maybe it is now time to privatise the BEEB.

  • 36.
  • At 01:59 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Bullen wrote:

I would like to think that the BBC would be applauded for showing the other side's point of view as well.

I would like to think that even Daily Mail readers can work out that the Taliban spokesman's point of view is not going to be the same as ours. I would like to think that *even DM readers* could work out that the rest of the population can see this too.

Unfortunately I read the comments here and about half of them disappoint me. So I am no longer sure this exercise is a good idea: as a nation we are apparently too dim to cope.

  • 37.
  • At 01:59 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • emma wrote:

Whatever happened to supporting our troops!! instead the bbc feel the need to give the taliban prime time tele to give there side, i've heard enough of there side over the years, these are the same people that kill and torture innocents! and yet we the british public want to hear their stories! i don't pay my tele licence to listen to this rubbish, i feel for our troops over there, they are working in dangerous situations every day putting their lives on the line and what do they get, rubbish like this! BBC YOU SHOULD BE VERY ASHAMED!

  • 38.
  • At 02:00 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Dennis wrote:

The BBC has finally gone completely off the rails. Their post Hutton loathing has finally made them lose all perspective.

I agree that we want to see a balanced view, so where are the interviews with the Kurds in Iraq, where are the interviews with the Women of Afghanistan?

They are not balanced they are biased and they are taking every opportunity they can to put the boot in.

  • 39.
  • At 02:01 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

‘isn’t that a small step away from censorship’

If you are against censorship, why do you censor yourselves? Why do you find it so hard to use the ‘T’ word (terrorism)? If you want us to believe you then start telling us as it is! Starting with using the ‘T’ word when and where it is appropriate?

Kind regards


  • 40.
  • At 02:01 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Shane wrote:

I find this whole debate rather pointless. The role of the BBC is to report the news as it comes to them, or as a result of their investigations. The whole point of a good news service is to report all sides of a story.

The journalist in question asked his questions and sure he got answers with a Taleban bias, but that is because the person answering them is a member of the Taleban! If you ask the Home Secretary about a policy you will get a Labour party bias as he is a Labour minister. So, is that unreasonable bias, too?

The fact remains is that the BBC should not take any sides. They should carry on doing what they do the way they do. Its what got the BBC their worldwide respect in the first place.

And before any of the people reading this think I am 'anti-UK' or 'anti our troops' I have served in the British Army at home and on operations for the last twelve years of my life and still do so. I don't regard the BBC as 'supporting the enemy', I just regard them as doing their job just like I do mine.

  • 41.
  • At 02:01 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jim L wrote:

Fact 1. The BBC is a funded by the British tax payer as a public service broadcast facility.
Fact 2. UK is currently at war with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Fact3. The BBC interview of the Taliban appeared to accept all Taliban statements without a balanced counter report seeking out the truth.
Fact 4. The BBC has given air time and therefore credence and both a propaganda and physcological advantage to a current enemy of British Forces.
Fact 5. The BBC are not giving the same credence or advantage etc to the British Forces on the ground in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Besides being treasonable where is your responsiblity to your funders, UK government and forces. Disgraceful performance.
From: a UK taxpayer

  • 42.
  • At 02:03 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • claire wrote:

The BBC is just doing what it claims to do - offer impartial viewing and allowing us to make up our own minds, after all - isn't that what it means to live in a free country?

I remember hearing stories from my partners grandparents who told me that when the nuclear bomb went off in Japan, they all cheered. This was because they'd had no communication/ real media coverage about the real effects and what it actually meant and in hindsight, they wished they had known the long term damages it would eventually cause.

I question the fact that the troops are even there in the first place. Is it really fighting for democracy or holding an unsuccessful occupational camp in the middle east for the US.

Plus, for all those comments about morale for the troops and it being a negative effect on people joining. I think that anyone who sees that this is whats in store for them will want to stay away. They can hardly be sitting there saying 'hurrah! Britain wants us to be sat here in a danger zone for an unwinnable war against people who have no fear of self sacrifice'.

  • 43.
  • At 02:03 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • charles kane wrote:

Makes me more convinced the bbc has lost the plot,why on earth would we want to listen to the enemy propaganda.I'm old enough to remember lord haw-haw spout the same garbage in the 1940's.Withdrawal of funds would be in order here.Why should we be paying licence money for reporting like this.

  • 44.
  • At 02:03 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Alex Swanson wrote:

" But if we agreed not to show them, isn't that just a small step away from censorship and pro-government propaganda?"

But - as I have pointed out before - the BBC blindly follows the government line on other topics, and consistently refuses to represent opposition to them. Why are the Taliban regarded as acceptable when many UK citizens aren't?

  • 45.
  • At 02:04 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Maddy wrote:

A great BBC report and totally necessary for the public to be informed this way. It is by ingnoring our enemies that we find ourselves in the state we are in with North Korea, Iran etc.

To better understand our enemies and the conditions facing our troops actually helps to support them. If we just have the troops word that these are hardened soldiers we are facing it might not be believed. To see the actions of the Taliban their level of organisation and easy movement around the area we can fully appreciate the task our forces face. Well done the BBC and Liam Fox is nothing but a tory hawk anyway good to see him exposed.

  • 46.
  • At 02:05 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Phil wrote:

I can't agree with this. No matter how you dress this as being even handed, circumventing government propaganda etc, it still boils down to the BBC providing a mouthpiece for those people who are killing British soldiers in Afghanistan.
The BBC can report about all aspects of the activities in Afghanistan, some of which can be against that which the current UK government wants us to think, without resorting to allowing the Taliban a portal into UK households. People who burn schools, books and limit knowledge are not worthy of this.

  • 47.
  • At 02:06 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Tony Sisi wrote:

Bravo Newsnight and its reporters,were it not for them we would be offered only the government spin version of events.We all know that in time we will have to deal on a diplomatic level with the leaders of the Taliban so it is right that we know their views - the West seems to support their aims in some decades and be against them in other times - such mixed messages are confusing .
Mr.Paxmans interview with the Armed Forces minister was excellent as both the questions and the ministers replies could be adjudged by us,having already viewed the filmed piece.

  • 48.
  • At 02:11 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Alex wrote:

I have a question. Clearly, your journalist only managed to see the Taleban leadership because they were convinced you're a neutral party. However, you're based in Britain, who've sent troops against the Taleban. Does the MOD have any legal right to call your journalist in for questioning on this? How would you react if they did have such a right, and asked for your co-operation? And if they took you to court?

I didn't see the piece, but I think it's good that the BBC reports from both sides in a conflict of this scale. However, there are lines to drawn, and I hope the editors think carefully in any similar case in the future about whether you're broadcasting something it's useful for people to see or whether you're just glorifying a terrorist group. Again, I think you were right in this case - but it would be possible to go too far.

Our Government should be talking to them too, as the Taliban belong to the majority Pashtun tribe - without whom there will be no peace deal.

Maybe there could be a compromise now - rather than our probable defeat and withdrawl in a few years time, leaving the Taliban in charge without any restraint.

  • 50.
  • At 02:14 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • bill johnson wrote:

'there is no fighting in afganistan, planes are dropping sweets and fluffy toys for the children, those are not guns they are water pistols full of fizzy cola and apple juice', if the BBC isn't going to look at both sides then we may as well save our license fee and get tariq aziz to do all our news

  • 51.
  • At 02:15 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jez Arnold wrote:

As an ex-soldier, I believe our troops are interested to learn why the enemy in Afghanistan are doing what they are doing. Media speculators can spout out both pro-government or anti-government info, but until you understand what the enemy is thinking will we ever see an end to the current problems.

There was a famous Chinese General Sun Tzu who wrote a book called "The Art of War", which is still a required reading at many military staff colleges. One quote comes to mind, "So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."

  • 52.
  • At 02:19 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

With reporting like this by the BBC, there is no need for Aljazeera to spread the news !! I wholeheartedly agree with other correspondents that it's about time we gave more support to our troops (and indeed the other allies involved in this difficult situation).

  • 53.
  • At 02:19 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • emma wrote:

To previous posts, i do have my own mind thankyou very much, if you think that just because people are not backing this biased news report that we are some how blinkered to what goes on in the world then you are deeply wrong, you applaud the bbc do you? well my little brother is in afghanistan fighting to protect and serve THIS country putting he's life on the line and the bbc show no support instead spend 7 months tracking down the very people who in this news report admitted to sending more suicide bombers to kill innocents, oh but yes lets applaud him for bringing this to our attention, i know what the talliban are like we have seen it with our own eyes have we not? their views are not views i wish to listen to, instead i prefer to support our troops.

  • 54.
  • At 02:19 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Christopher Hobe Morrison wrote:

It's your job to interview the Taleban or anybody else who may be of interest to your listeners, who may have an effect on their lives. The Taleban certainly falls into that catagory. How you go about it is another matter and this is a matter of judgement. I don't know the circumstances right now so I can't say whether this judgement was exercized properly or not.

It's probably inevitable that the government will not like this. The Daily Mail isn't really a newspaper, it simply plays one by looking for sensational stories it can play up and pretend to be indignant about where actually the people who run it don't care about anything but money. Why do English people take such rags seriously?

Christopher Hobe Morrison
chmorrison At

  • 55.
  • At 02:23 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

The Taleban could hardly have produced a better propaganda film themselves. In one brief moment when they demonstrated a unique exception to the rule that there is no honor among thieves, they allowed your reporter to live rather than execute him as a British spy. Their generousity has been repaid a thousand times over with the airing of this film. A comparable film about Nazi Germany during World War II would have got you all shot as traitors.

  • 56.
  • At 02:25 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Kevin wrote:

The BBC should be disgraced, imagine the uproar there would have been if the BBC had interviewed Hitler or Stalin.
It's about time the BBC stopped giving air time to these terrorists, the bbc is fast becoming an advert and recruitement for terrorists.

  • 57.
  • At 02:26 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen Johnson wrote:

After watching last night's Newsnight I have decided to go to Afghanistan and join the fight against the British. If only I was able to make up my own mind and not be influenced by TV. Damn the BBC for their Taleban loving rethoric!How dare they give me another opinion!
Actually I've just turned over to Strictly Come Dancing so I may go and become a ballroom dancer instead (albeit one that kills people.)

  • 58.
  • At 02:29 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Fin wrote:

Having recently left the Royal Marines, I have watched with great interest and a little envy, the members of 42 and 45 Commando deploying to the Hellmund Province. I have caught glimpses of friends and ex-colleagues on the news and I know exactly how they are feeling.

They have gone out there to do a job, one that they are very good at and one that they are enormously prepared for. They don't care if you support them or not. They just want to do their jobs to the best of their ability and go home at the end of the Op. What would be far more preferable is a government that supports them with appropriate equipment and recognition of the unimaginable training and conditioning they go through to operate in such harsh environments.

David Loyn risked life and limb, literally, to track down and interview the Taliban in this area. That would have taken tremendous amounts of resourcefulness and, if you'll excuse the expression, an enormous set of balls to do. In my opinion, he wasn't getting the story of the Taliban Central Command but that of the young men, sons, brothers and fathers that are on the ground doing the fighting. These are uneducated and easily influenced men who know only what they have been told by their own propoganda machine.

For some of you to call it 'treason' to get these young men's story is ridiculous. It was an important and insightful look at how the other side thinks from the perspective of the lowly foot soldier.

I do feel that it would be prudent of the BBC to perhaps run a similar story about our own lads. How often is their point of veiw heard? How often does our government listen to their gripes and groans and get their side of the story? Take it from me, almost never!! Give it 3 months for the guys to start hating the place and for friends bodies' to start arriving back at Brize Norton and then ask the question; 'So how do you like it here?'

For the BBC to not have run this report, would have constituted a gross negligence in their own remit. Afterall, are we not proud to have a news agency that tells all sides of a story and not just the propoganda spewed forth by the government. Had they not allowed this report to run we would be no better than the Taliban themselves.

  • 59.
  • At 02:30 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Tony Hannon wrote:

I have to say I'm pretty sick of people, usually Conservatives, accusing the BBC of bias when a news story doesn't suit them. Articulate your point on the issue rather using this infantile accusation the whole time.

Even though most people living in the UK disagree with everything the Taleban stands for, I agree that it is justifiable for the BBC to speak to them.

Those people who disagree are overlooking or neglecting two pretty important points. One, as mentioned, this is a free society and we are obligated to hear and disseminate views. Assuming that airing these views is more counterproductive than censoring them is just plain wrong.
An educated viewer has the right to hear from the Taleban, Kim Jong-Il, The IRA, Hamas - and the right to completely disagree with these organisations.
People should be grateful to the BBC for probing issues such as this, being a source of information and RAISING the level of debate. Would people rather the UK was served by a news organisation like Fox or CNN? I doubt it.

The second thing people ought to remember is that interviews like these will serve a historical purpose. When future generations look back at our times and try and understand these conflicts the media of the day will be an invaluable tool for their understanding. I don't think we should take that from them merely because people are uncomfortable hearing views and accusations we are opposed to.

  • 60.
  • At 02:31 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Tim Gregory wrote:

The BBC has done a great service by showing this video. Broadcasting both sides of the argument is never detrimental for the greater good. What are a few people here scared of? If our British troops are out fighting there, then they better be there for the right reasons. And if they've not been sent there for the right reasons, I'd like to know about it! Truly exemplary for the free press of the world.

  • 61.
  • At 02:33 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen wrote:

I put the BBC in the same category as Al Jazeera Television, both post propaganda for the enemies of civilised society. They are the Lord Haw Haw of our modern age and only support the voices of the illegitimate minority.

  • 62.
  • At 02:35 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • James Walters wrote:

Shameful and wrong. I hope the government takes note when it reviews the BBC's licence fee and sees where it is wasting out cash talking to men who have killed dozens of British troops.

Sympathetic coverage of the armed forces? The BBC wouldn't even give the idea the time of day.

They murder and kill women and children, as well as anyone else who opposes their brand of extremism. That's what the BBC spends months investigating great job.

What a total waste of space.

  • 63.
  • At 02:35 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Clive Shaw wrote:

It's a shame that it is the BBC that gets critisized for presenting the other side of the story as I thought that one of the other complaints was that the BBC was too biased !

Interestingly Sky News also had an investigative interview with a Taliban commander in Pakistan just three or four days ago, though I have not heard complaints about that.

I have always been taught to see an argument from both perspectives, so it is refreshing to have seen and heard the opinions of the Taliban in the current conflict. As for the arguments that in this the BBC is promoting the Taliban's point of view; then I think those complainers are under-estimating the publics ability to take a set of information and create their own judgements based on it.

  • 64.
  • At 02:36 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

Dealing with the enemy is disloyal and probably treasonous.
If the people at home were being shot at and bombed, as our soldiers are, the BBC would not dare to be so detached and high and mighty.
Get the war won. Count our casualties. Discuss the niceties in a journalistic talking shop.

  • 65.
  • At 02:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

Dr Liam Fox should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. How typical of a politician to see us all as impressionable kiddies who will now turn into terrorist-sympathisers having been exposed to *gasp* a point of view.

And how pathetic to hear all this bluster about treason and patriotism and who's side are we on, blah blah blah. Utterly simplistic old-school tribal rubbish that is the exact kind of mindset that creates most of these situations in the first place.

These are the same people who repeatedly seem intellectually incapable of differentiating between understanding a cause and condoning the actions carried out on its behalf. Either that, or they *are* capable of making the distinction but choose instead to impose their own propaganda.

I entirely agree with the BBC's decision to air this, and applaud their bravery.

  • 66.
  • At 02:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ayan wrote:

It is never easy to maintain a balanced view point when reporting on issues such as the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Seeing both sides of the story is fundamental to this effort and Newsnight should be commended for it's work. It is sometimes necessary to see things you don't wish to see and hear things you don't wish to hear to get a proper reality check on the situatuion you are faced with. The government needs to perform this reality check and act upon it to turn things around. The interview with Adam Ingram after the report suggestes that the government is far removed from the truths on the ground about this war on terror.

  • 67.
  • At 02:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mark Davison wrote:

I wholey concur with you comments.

I believe strongly in freedom of speech and the freedom of the press.

I think that it is the duty of the media, particuarly news media to be unbiased and report all where possible provide the public with as many practicable viewpoints.

  • 68.
  • At 02:40 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • D Sanders wrote:

The ignorance of some people that have made comments on here is just amazing, how you can even ask the question like if the media can find taleban leaders then why can't the army.....well first of all ...HELLO....the media are not their enemy so I'm sure it was relatively easy after all it was a great recruiting opportunity for the Taleban. The point I made earlier was I felt the bbc should not show reports like the one they showed because it portrayed our troops in a bad way and seemed to gloryfie the taleban, our troops make a mistake or do something wrong and it's a media frenzie that gets loads of air time, where are all the reports of the good things they do???? Oh and by the way for those that don't know why our troops are in Afghanistan...well it's because Afghanistan asked us to go!!!! Perhaps the BBC would do better to inform the good British public exactly why our troops are there instead of sleeping with the enemy! so to speak.

  • 69.
  • At 02:40 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ron wrote:

Once again the BBC misses the point, the people shown in the interview are trying to kill the people who pay for you to exist. It is our money you are using not yours. The licence fee is a tax the payers of which have no say in the way it is used and cannot change the system by way of an election.

Would the BBC in the early 1940's have interviewed the commandant of a concentration camp? In order to present both sides of the story, of course not. Your arguments that you must present boths sides of the story on this occasion are equally false.

I will be writing to my MP to ask for a motion to be raised in the House of Commons condemning your report and for action to ensure that the BBC does not use licence fee payers money in this way.

  • 70.
  • At 02:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Graham wrote:

Quick question... Have I somehow missed the footage of the BBC coverage of the interview with a high ranking German general in 1944, or perhaps the insider in the Argentinean government during the Falklands conflict?

Regardless of the right or reason for conflict, which we should all be free to debate, there is a certain logic in drawing lines where that debate will undermine the perceptions your audience may have of the men and women we ask to risk their lives in the name of our democratic process.

My best friend is currently on his way home from an extended tour in Southern Afghanistan. Considering his mental and physical state after his return from Bosnia and especially Iraq I would like to think that he could at least be spared the revulsion suffered by his contemporaries in the Vietnam era. I'm afraid your report, and to be brutally honest the tenor of your reporting of the UN mission in general, makes such reactions more likely rather than less.

I completely support, and would fight for, the rights to freedom of speech but that right has to be balanced against all the other basic human rights we enjoy because of the actions of people such as my friend.

  • 71.
  • At 02:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Colin McAuley wrote:

I simply cannot comprehend this disturbing trend to equate criticizing government policy with "not supporting troops", especially from ordinary people who possess the wit to use the internet and a keyboard. Even James Baker of the USA has recently said that he favours "talking to enemies" over simply ignoring them! I wonder how we Westerners expect to win over the "hearts and minds" of people in Afghanistan without attempting to understand how people are actually thinking? Nothing, save for the screen I am typing on, is "black or white" in this world. Bush and Blair took "their eyes off the ball" in Afghanistan with their headlong rush to war in Iraq, and now we see the results. The poppy production has leapt by leaps and bounds since the "democratic" government was elected there; this is a fact confirmed by Western governments! Certainly there is propaganda in this piece, but I do take some heart from the fact that there is a "spokesman" for the Taliban now and they are using our technology like video interviews. I still cannot see how non-violent engagement, to further an understanding of the motivations of one's enemy, can be a bad thing.

  • 72.
  • At 02:44 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Gordon Neil wrote:

The BBC has hit a new low of poor quality journalism in its reporting. They allowed themselves to be duped into providing a propaganda piece for the enemy our troops are fighting. I share Liam Fox's reaction that to air it was obscene and I would wish to join my voice to his in registering complaint. The editor's excuse that they were 'reporting' from the other side is bizarre and disingenuous. You cannot report from the 'other' side because you will not be given the freedom to do so. You simply offer yourself up to be used as a vehicle of propaganda . How I wonder would that lame excuse have gone down with the country had it been trotted out as a justification for BBC journalists offering similar air time to NAZI propaganda chiefs in WW2 ? The editors justification is neither rational nor reasonable and clearly the BBC needs to review his actions and rationale.

  • 73.
  • At 02:45 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Barney Carroll wrote:

I am utterly disgusted at those people who think this information should in any way be censored. I am incredibly suspicious of anyone who believes it is offensive, let alone dangerous, to air the views of our enemies.

The policy of not paying any heed to those you crush, and of wading into a country, turning it into a battlefield wasteland and then getting offended at the speech of the previous such group to do so... Is mad hypocrisy and emotional pseudo-fascist lack of any intelligent sense.

  • 74.
  • At 02:49 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Dave wrote:

I am an ex-serviceman, who lost a friend on the first night of the second Gulf War. I can see many people in these comments preaching about the requirement for a balanced view, and I can agree with them wholeheartedly. However, as far as I can see, this was not balanced journalism.

When a journalist interviews a UK politician, they do 2 things. Firstly, they are required by law to give both sides of the story. If they do an article on a Conservative announcement, they are required to provide a counter-view, usually a statement by the Government. Furthermore, politicians are subjected to adversarial questions designed to uncover areas where their views are untrue, difficult to justify, or just plain stupid.

In this context, the huge personal risk that the reporter had taken in locating the Taleban, and their track record in human rights, meant that there was no way could he raise any adversarial questions during the "interview". If he could have conducted the interview in the same way he conducted interviews with western politicians then it could be classes as balanced. As it stands, it is dangerous, and seeing by how so many people on this comments page have bought into what was said, clearly successful propaganda for a dangerous enemy.

  • 75.
  • At 02:53 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Steve E wrote:

When will the BBC start using pieces by independent journalists working in Afghanistan, such as Sean Langan, Bill Roggio or Michael Yon rather than their own correspondents who, I am afraid, have shown time and again a propensity to “understand” rather too readily the propaganda espoused by totalitarian theologians and their murderous accomplices?

  • 76.
  • At 02:55 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Kevin Donald wrote:

OFCOURSE! If not BBC who else? It is just being fair in reporting.

  • 77.
  • At 02:58 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

If you want impartiality, why not send one of the Beeb's "attack dogs" to interview the Taleban? Why not treat their spokesman in the way you would a British Army officer who was accused of the crimes against humanity the Taleban are accused of? Answer: because you have to protect the safety of your journalists. Fair enough. But how can the outcome possibly be impartial?

  • 78.
  • At 02:58 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • James Walters wrote:

All this talk about 'impartial' is rubbish. A news provider has to make a moral judgement about who it gives airtime to.

What kind of moral statement does it make that.

Last month the Taliban shot dead Safia Ama Jan, 65, who had served as chief of the Woman's Affairs department in Kandahar for five years and done much practical work for women's rights.

Since the fall of the Taliban, the former teacher, had spent her time working to improve women's rights and opportunities for education and vocational training.

One of Ama Jan's most successful projects was running vocational schools for women and in Kandahar alone Ama Jan had opened six schools.

Taliban verdict on her work? Send two guys on a motorbike to kill her.

BBC coverage of this story? Nothing.

Her killers? On the other hand? They are primetime.

Of course it is right for the BBC to interview the Taleban because when they do, we find out more information about them, then enemy who we are fighting. In formation shouldn't be kept from us, we as people have a right to know. As long as we don't put people's lives at risk.

  • 80.
  • At 03:02 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • mark wrote:

In response to those academics who feel that a smattering of clever words wins and arguement I still have to hear one reason as to why this interview was justified. Forget freedom of speech, forget we can and so we will, how does this interview help in any way shape or form? If you think that by 'understanding' the Taliban things will change is childishly naive, they have one agenda and one way of enforcing their views on the population. Our soldiers were asked in by the Afghan government backed by the UN this is war, these are the enemy... and you talk about Daily mail readers not being able to work it out.

  • 81.
  • At 03:03 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Angus McTear wrote:

It is as obscene now as it was when reporters interviewed IRA leaders and as obscene as it would have been had a reporter managed to interview Hitler and/or his gang. It is also a reflection on the lack of ability by MI6 and the CIA.
The BBC has a poor record of loyalty to its mother country and the law - let alone the lives of the citizens (inluding those in the armed forces) that it seeks to serve. The premature breaking of news during the Falklands War is another prime example of the level of treachery to which the BBC can stoop.
The reporters should be tried for treason: offering succour to an enemy is just that and the succour they are offering comes in the form of publicity.

  • 82.
  • At 03:03 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Matt wrote:

A very interesting report, used well to support an interesting interview with the Junior Defence Minister - the report made perfectly clear just how much spin the government was trying to put on the situation. It would be wrong for the BBC not to have aired this item. Surely most viewers have the intelligence to make up their own minds about what we saw. Personally, I thought the Taliban came across as a poorly educated, narrow-minded bunch whose stories conflicted (Eg about the burning of schools). In the modern world we need more balanced reporting such as this.

  • 83.
  • At 03:04 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • DJM wrote:

Why should a free press give voice to those who do not believe in freedom of expression? I don't accept that "it would make us as bad as them", that's a puerile argument.

I'm sick of lazy comaprisons with the IRA. Their fight was not a theological one, the Taleban's is. I wish people would stop underestimating the theological question, it's not something that can be reasoned with.

What is wrong with people that they seem so content to give voice to our enemies? Just because you dislike the war on terror, doesn't mean you have to be a cheer leader for the other side. Some arguments here are so infantile, like rebellious little Sixth Formers being anti-authoritarian just for the hell of it. Have people really forgotten what these people were like? It's like interviewing a Dachau camp guard.

  • 84.
  • At 03:05 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ross wrote:

We're killing them. They're killing us. Even to know that it's possible to talk directly with the Taleban, as this film demonstrates, is progress. Every attempt to simplify matters to just "we're the good guys, they're the bad guys", is halting progress. This film describes differences between the two cultures which currently are irreconcilable, and it's part of a process of understanding which might find compromise.

But anyone who volunteers to be a suicide bomber is both mentally disturbed and a murderer.

  • 85.
  • At 03:08 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Antonio wrote:

It is high time that the BBC is brought under closer government control. Claiming that broadcasting pure Taleban propaganda is a way to offset our propaganda is disingenuos. What you are doing is just anti-western propaganda, as it appears more 'exciting' and 'thought-provoking'. Unwanted consequences on what happens to the UK are obviously irrelevant for the current BBC editorial staff. This kind of BBC is no service to the public.

  • 86.
  • At 03:08 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Gayan wrote:

Briton & America along with Taleban should stop all violance and ensure a peaceful end to the conflict.International community must presure all sides to engage in dialouge

  • 87.
  • At 03:14 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Dawn wrote:

Isn't it amazing you claim not showing the report would be censorship and yet when someone wants to air their view on your report you refuse to print it, talk about one rule for one..............maybe they should of said they were a taleban leader?

  • 88.
  • At 03:16 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • R Jewitt wrote:

A truly liberal democratic press would welcome perspectives from all sides. Screening material such as this acts as a balance against material which proactively supports "our" troops, another form of media filter which represents only one perspective (and is just as mucha form of propaganda as this piece is supposed to be according to some of the posters here imply).

Support for troops need not be mutally exclusive from a balanced media.

  • 89.
  • At 03:17 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • c jones wrote:

Would it have been considered the proper thing to do if the BBC had interviewed the NaziS during 1939-45 war to hear their views on the extermination of their prisoners? The taliban are murdered and have killed more of their own people than has yet come to light. Women in particular are beaten and shot for the least reason. They should not be given publicity - they have no 'cause' but fanaticism and murder.

  • 90.
  • At 03:18 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • emma wrote:

to barney's post i don't believe this infomation should be censored,i believe it should not of been shown at all, but obvisiously you find it interesting listening to the taliban give their point of view, and all of us who would rather support our troops and think it is wrong giving them prime time tele obvisiously have no intelligent sense according to you, I can't beleive that so many people on here either beleive that our troops in afghan are causing more harm then good or that we should take time out and listen to the taliban , like a previous post said lets go and talk to the women in afghan, or people that have been affected by terroist attacks! that's what these people you are all saying should be heard do you know they are Terroists they kill innocents! or did you not realise this?

  • 91.
  • At 03:27 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ollie wrote:

I saw David Loyn's report and found it extremely thought provoking. I agree that we should show our support for British troops. However, we should also have access to an unbiased press, which presents the conflict from a number of perspectives. The two are not mutually exclusive. Without such reportage how would the British government and military be accountable for their decisions and actions. I notice that those who disagreed with the report, claiming it was 'Taleban propoganda', were not easily swayed by the arguments of the Taleban spokesperson or Taleban sympathisers. Do they assume other free thinking people would be so gullible as to take these words at face value? Perhaps they imagine that people believe everything that politicians say as well.

  • 92.
  • At 03:30 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • sala uddin wrote:

I do not want any kind of censorships on any news items. We the British public deserve to know what is actually going on rather than government propaganda.

If more of our troops are getting injured and killed then what we are been told by the government then we need brave journalists such as David Lyon to find out what is the actual truth.

By interviewing the Taleban spokesman
at the very least the Britsh forces can learn what is driving the Taleban to fight them.

I do not think there will ever be a democracy in Afganistan. So we should pull out as soon as possible without scarifycing any more British lives. For me and I am sure most of the British Public believes that this is an American war supported by our emabrassing poodle--Blair.

What happens if an Ant-American government such as Hamas or in this case Taleban gets elected, will the Americans accept this?

That's the reason why there will be no Democracy in the middle east because the majority of the public is Anti-American.

  • 93.
  • At 03:32 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

I find it difficult to believe that any intelligent person would object to the BBC interviewing the Taleban. I find it extremely naive of the Liam Fox to make those statements.

The Taleban have a strong view of the world that differs from the traditional Western values. That fact alone makes them interesting interview material. The fact that their values have brought them in conflict with the West, and that we are currently in an effective state of war with them makes an interview with their spokesman doubly valueable.

Yes, there is the danger of broadcast enemy propaganda. However, I am sure that everyone watching would take the statements by the Taleban with a pinch of salt.

  • 94.
  • At 03:33 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Dubourg wrote:

I am perfectly happy to support the principle of balanced reporting, and have no issue in principle with the BBC interviewing the Taleban. Unfortunately, I do not think the reporting in this particular case was balanced. The difficulty that the BBC had in securing this interview was revealed by the complete lack of critical assessment of the stated Taleban position, or a failure to challenge the interviewee on any of the very many contentious statements that were made. It was useful to hear a Taleban spokesman directly, but his claim that they are a peaceful movement is an insult to those who were executed, abused or denied their rights under the previous regime. The Taleban might well receive support in their native areas, and it is useful to understand some of the mistakes that the Allies might be making in their management of these areas, but the Taleban is largely cultural support. How can they explain the rejoicing of ordinary Afghans that greeted the Allies' intervention when the Taleban were last overthrown? The Taleban might well be more media-friendly than before, but that is because they realise that they can use their 'exclusivity' to exploit the Western media for their own propaganda purposes. The BBC, and David Loyn, fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

  • 95.
  • At 03:33 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Kay Carmichael wrote:

I think the interview is broadly in keeping with the BBC 'stop the war' agenda. I just wish I didnt have to subsidise it out of my own pocket. I think describing the timid questions that where put to the Taliban chief as "He challenged their spokesman", is laughable, he was deferential at all times - not all the way the BBC treats European or American politicians.

  • 96.
  • At 03:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Elliot wrote:

Blatant Taliban propoganda. It is nothing to do with the Daily Mail, as anyone who isn't wholly seduced by the BBC-worldview would acknowledge. Rather than patronising the readers of a particular newspaper (itself fairly typical of the self-satisfied chattering classes) you should look at the agenda and history of the reporter and the BBC itself. If you take a look around sites like and many, many others you will see that the BBC is pushing an agenda that is wholly left-liberal all of the time. It misleads, by commision and by ommision. This piece was illustrative of the whole problem with the BBC, it is siding against the people of Britain. Even those of you who blindly believe the BBC is good in all things can surely see the sense in at least reading some of the mounting evidence against your point of view?

  • 97.
  • At 03:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Morris wrote:

What the BBC has never understood about freedom of speech, is that it is a priviledge...not a god given right that is needed to be demonstrated by interviewing the most evil people in the world and then saying..."freedom of speech".

Its completely disingenuous to say that the BBC has no bias.

Just because you can do something...doesnt mean you do it every time in order to prove your right to freedom of speech.

Some sense is needed at the BBC because it is destroying itself with politically correct nonsense.

  • 98.
  • At 03:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Keith wrote:

Of course you are right to interview them. If the Daily Mail are slagging you off you must be doing your job properly.

  • 99.
  • At 03:42 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ray wrote:

The BBC should be supporting our boys, who fight for our country, wherever they are in the world.

However, the BBC is over-zealous in reporting any of our troops wrongdoings when the "victims" are Taliban, or Iraqi terrorists.

BUT the BBC reporting on the gruesome beheadings and killings of our troops and our allies, is almost dismissive of any wrongdoing of the terrorists.

The Taliban were responsible for the oppression of the Afghani women, and also responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of innocent people.

Yet, the BBC always demonstrate sympathetic reporting when it comes to terrorists and those who would like to kill us. BUT always report in a detrimental way when it comes to any of our boys or allied troops.

I suppose we can rely on the BBC, like The Guardian, to be spokespeople for the enemy.

  • 100.
  • At 03:42 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

This was an outstanding piece of reporting, given that, as was pointed out, another journalist had been kidnapped a few days beforehand in the area by the same Taleban that were then talking to Loyn.
The BBC should have no allegiance to any country, even the UK, and needs to keep looking at the arguments from both sides of the coin. We are the better for it, and those who disagree are afraid of what facts might come up if we allow the enemy to speak. Ignorance is Bliss for some.

  • 101.
  • At 03:48 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

I will try very hard to put aside my anger as I write my comment, but before I do, let me just say that it takes a great deal to offend me, and the BBC has succeeded. Congratulations.

I'm going to give the BBC the benefit of the doubt and assume that, as a group of professional journalists and war correspondents, you know a thing or two about information warfare, psychological warfare, and propaganda. If I'm wrong in this assumption, please do the world a favor, and study up.

I'm all for democracy and liberty, to include the rights to free speech and freedom of the press. However, as a member of the military, I know the cost of freedom. As such, I take these rights very seriously, and I am always conscious not to abuse or misuse them. What needs to be considered here is the balance between risk and benefit. True, a great understanding of the enemy is crucial to all parties in a war. But, that is the job of the military, not journalists. By publishing and airing interviews with the Taleban, the BBC has acted incredibly irresponsibly. You have provided them a global stage upon which to disseminate their views and their propaganda. True, they use many other venues to get their propaganda out to the world, but those venues usually come from within the Taleban's own sphere of influence. The BBC has now given the Taleban an endorsement of sorts. You may not see it that way, but believe me, the Taleban does. And now, so does al Qaeda, and Hamas, and Hezbollah, and the LTTE, etc.

As for the individual who said that the purpose of propaganda in war is to obscure truth, you are only partially correct. Western nations, because of our basic rights, don't make effective use of good propaganda and of our media...after all, that would be viewed as censorship. But, more often than ever gets reported by the media, the propaganda we use is actually used to expose the truth, not to obscure it. Furthermore, the primary purposes of propaganda are to protect our forces and to bend the enemy to our will.

Tragically, the BBC has just significantly bent the friendly world to the enemy's will.

  • 102.
  • At 03:53 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • David Parker wrote:

I do not think it right to talk to any terrorist group, admitted criminal, or any other such person. You are increasing their feelings of power over the rest of us by doing this. Starve them of what they crave and while you will not stop crimes, those advocates of terrorism etc who thrive on the power they think they have over us, will begin to dwindle.
All this rubbish about the publics right to know, needs a little addition of, whether they want to know or not.

  • 103.
  • At 03:55 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • G Mason wrote:

You seem concerned that not interviewing the Taleban amounts to pro-Govenment propaganda, yet the BBC is happy to broadcast what amounts to pro-Muslim / anti-Western propaganda in every news bulletin, all day, all week.

  • 104.
  • At 03:56 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Rebecca wrote:

I cannot believe that people are actually arguing against this broadcast. How can we make any balanced decisions if we have no idea what the 'other side' thinks? If we do not have the opinion of both sides we, as the public, are in no position to make any kind of balanced judgement. In my opinion I think the broadcast strengthens the support for British involvement in Afghanistan but without the insight into the opposing view I would never have been able to have that point of view.

As a result I believe the BBC was right to broadcast this interview as the Taliban have been shown to the public without sensationalising the whole affair.

  • 105.
  • At 03:58 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ritter wrote:

David Loyn should be fully debriefed by the security services. He will undoubtedly have information which will be vital in detecting and preventing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

The BBC has a legal obligation under the Terrorism Act 2000 to disclose to the police, as soon as reasonably practicable, any information which we know or believe might be of material assistance in preventing the commission of an act of terrorism anywhere in the world.

Also see the BBC's own guidelines on this matter:

Editorial Guidelines in Full
War, Terror & Emergencies

Cavorting with an enemy of the democratically elected British government is highly dangerous.
For example, did David Loyn meet any British muslims on his travels in Afghanistan and Packistan? In the madrassas? If so, has he informed the police?

You need to be extreemely careful in the path you are pursuing. You are losing the support of the British people, and ultimately it will mean the slow death of the BBC and the licence fee.

If you want to remain the 'British' Broadcasting Corporation, then you can't remain impartial between our democratically elected government and a group of terrorists who want to kill us.

  • 106.
  • At 03:58 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ramem wrote:

British public is living in a falsehood spread by the government to keep support for their illegal and immoral wars. It is encouraging to see that a public organization is serving the public honestly by showing them the truth behind the propaganda. Unfortunately its ugly. This does not mean it is not to be seen. Its shocking to learn that Taliban are not burning schools, but instead UK/US forces are burning afghanistani people alive with bombs and bullets.

  • 107.
  • At 03:58 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • James Elmslie wrote:

The BBC is absolutely right to have presented this perspective.

I am glad this peice of journalism was not put down by censorship or narrow-minded bigotry. It exposes some painful truths on the nature of the conflict, and sheds a new perspective.

Those responsible for its production should be proud of the effort they have gone to maintain the BBC's reputation as an unbiased source.

  • 108.
  • At 04:00 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • David wrote:

Too right the BBC talk to Talaban. And the IRA. And Al-Quaida. The BBC are news journalists. And we the readers want to see BOTH sides of the coin. We will make our own minds up after that. We've been bombarded with one sided coins for far too long. Sod Blair- Get in there and give us the truth.

  • 109.
  • At 04:00 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Catherine wrote:

Understanding the motivations and sincere beliefs of the "other side" - no matter how much we may disagree with them - is key in even beginning to comprehend how to prevent a repeat of this, or similar situations, in the future.

"The only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history" - Perhaps this is because history is (usually) reported so one sidedly.

  • 110.
  • At 04:04 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • John Grayston wrote:

I have to confess that I find all this rather depressing. Most contributors seem to prefer to fire off shots form whichever side of the barrier they are on rather than debate the issues. There is more rhetoric than reason here.

Ultimately what matters is truth. Unfortunately we are unlikely to get the full and accurate story from either our own politicians or the Taleban. Probably we will get more a more accurate from our own leaders but they are not above criticism - and at least they are beginning to acknowledge some of their mistakes at the start of the Iraq war.

Investigative journalism has a part to play in all this – where would we have been if we had just listened to Richard Nixon and there had been no Washington Post journalists to give the lie to the official statements. This does not mean that we can fully accept anything the media tell us either. They can be guilty of selective reporting or biased presentation – either knowingly or because they are human like the rest of us.

Perhaps we should acknowledge that we need to look at as much of the evidence as we can get and to do so with open minds. Sadly there is not much evidence of that in this debate so far. Sure we will not agree, but in the honest open debate we are much more likely to come to a better understanding. We should strive to avoid a ‘My country (or my party, or my army or whatever) right or wrong.’ We all get part of it right and part of it wrong and we need to examine as many points of view as we can to have the best chance of getting it right

  • 111.
  • At 04:07 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

A very informative piece of reporting, it gives the enemy a face and a valid target to our service personnel. I hope that your intrepid reporter is thougherly debriefed by the inteligence services in order to get a better picture of the movements and locations of these people, as shown during his report so that the armed services can take the nescesary actions to rid the planet of these terrorists.

  • 112.
  • At 04:09 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Curtis wrote:

The screening by the BBC of Loyn's interviewing the Taleban was grievously offensive on two counts.

1. This is another instance of the BBC failing to understand the difference between propaganda, unverified statements issued by interests with whom we are in conflict, and impartial reporting of corroborated events from behind enemy lines. Loyn's dwelling repeatedly on how friendly the Taleban were and all the good things they were doing indicated coercion, " ... don't say anything bad about us or we will hack off your head." It was the usual litany of Islamo-fascist misinformation - all the terrible things the British were doing, including deliberately killing women and children.

2. It was seditious. The UK's elected government has a foremost duty to protect this country and all its citizens from those with a declared intent to harm us. It takes the threats of Islamo-fascist terrorists seriously. The UK is at war with the Taleban because it promotes and supports Islamo-fascist terrorism against 'infidel' countries, i.e. the UK. The war is being fought in Afghanistan's Taleban base because it is a proven military tactic to take the war to the enemy. Waiting for them and more of their suicide bombers to come to us is not an option. For Loyn and the BBC to seek deliberately to undermine the resolve of our government and the morale of our military personnel in Afghanistan is an act of treachery.

I watch less and less of 'Newsnight' and other BBC news broadcasts due to the diminishing credibility of the BBC's news coverage. The BBC's apparent vendetta against the UK's present government is no excuse.

  • 113.
  • At 04:17 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Dawn wrote:

I would like to challenge everyone to tell me one GOOD thing our brave troops have may find it difficult because those storys never seem to hit the headlines, all I hear on here is ignorant, small minded people ranting and raving about freedom of speech and hearing from both sides.... well it's about time those people woke up, we are talking about the Taleban here....not the pope, they are suicide monsters, who ride round on bikes holding small children infront of them to protect them while they shoot at our soldiers....and you want to hear their side of the story...I have an 18 year old serving there at the moment so I don't need TV or news papers to tell me what it's like, it's obscene the BBC gave the Taleban this platform.They will have adverts in the local job centres next, recruiting now suicide bombers wanted....shouldn't everyone have equal opportunities

  • 114.
  • At 04:18 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Michael Ambrose wrote:

On one hand, I applaud the BBC in their efforts to be unbiased, and I see and respect the importance in getting both sides of the story.

On the other hand, the BBC needs to understand that there regretably is a level of bias in their reporting, if not intentional. While the extremists are free to discuss whatever they want, the same cannot be said for the armed forces:
While everyone knows about crimes commited by soldiers in Iraq, how many knew about the Insurgent practice of kidnapping a civilian's family, forcing the man to become a suicide bomber if there is any chance of the family not being killed (which they always are)? This is just one of a catalogue of atrocities carried out by the insurgents, but unless the BBC makes the same kind of effort to find the real side of the story, as opposed to the 'official line', there will always be bias.

  • 115.
  • At 04:18 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • David wrote:

Yes, we should defenately speak to both side of an arguement. We should support are troops howver only when they are fighting for the good of our country not when we are fighting battle forcing western views onto other cultures.

  • 116.
  • At 04:20 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Michael Ambrose wrote:

On one hand, I applaud the BBC in their efforts to be unbiased, and I see and respect the importance in getting both sides of the story.

On the other hand, the BBC needs to understand that there regretably is a level of bias in their reporting, if not intentional. While the extremists are free to discuss whatever they want, the same cannot be said for the armed forces:
While everyone knows about crimes commited by soldiers in Iraq, how many knew about the Insurgent practice of kidnapping a civilian's family, forcing the man to become a suicide bomber if there is any chance of the family not being killed (which they always are)? This is just one of a catalogue of atrocities carried out by the insurgents, but unless the BBC makes the same kind of effort to find the real side of the story, as opposed to the 'official line', there will always be bias.

How can you be filming the enemy? I thought we'd been told that we'd already won the war? THEY wouldn't lie, would they?

  • 118.
  • At 04:23 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • david forrest wrote:

I remember back in 1987 in San Francisco coming across a demonstration concerning the visit to the city by some dignitary from the then Sandinista ruled Nicaragua. The demonstration was two-fold: on the one side was an anti-Sandinista contingent (many exiles) and the on the other were supporters of the regime. Having just travelled to the region as a backpacker I was interested to hear the views. Since I was more familiar with the pro-view I decided to mingle with the anti-Sandinista's and contra supporters. What a wealth of knowledge I gained from interacting with a group of people I found to be mostly liars, wealthy, and in support of a CIA-backed group of insurgents (we would call them terrorists now). So, yes, we MUST hear the other side, however aborrent their views or past. To do otherwise is like catapulting ourselves back to the middle ages where things were 'as they were' because the priest said so, being fortunate as HE was to have a hot line to the all mighty. We need to be treated as adults, and if, as a result of listening to this programme people are stupid enough to choose a Taleban training camp over a week away in the Canaries, then so be it. I do not want someone telling me what I am able to see or hear, thank you very much.

  • 119.
  • At 04:25 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jack Maclean wrote:

Many license fee payers are no doubt happy to accept that the BBC's primary committment is to the objective and dispassionate reporting of the News even if the such a loyalty must inevitably lead to further deaths and injuries among britsh soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan,Iraq,or anywhere elsewhere in the world.

  • 120.
  • At 04:26 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Giulia wrote:

of course it is interesting and first of all fair to report from "the other side" BUT if we are speaking about several countries that are on the verge of a crisis or already involved in a conflict and so on...when it goes to terrorists who have absolutely no desire to understand the value of other people lifes it is only necessary to stop them in all possible their outlook on the world may help us to track them down?it may only irritate the mind of a morbid person...

I very much agree with Jez Arnold (comment 51) about, in essence, knowing the enemy. Where was the propaganda in this piece? I didn't spot it; what I saw was a report on what appeared to be going happening on the ground. If, as it appears, the Afghan army is too busy taking bribes properly to control the roads, isn't it as well to know this?

The only propaganda I saw was the Taliban chap solemnly explaining that it was a complete calumny to suggest his lads were burning schools since they'd never dream of doing such a thing; I wonder what'll happen to that area commander who was on next, helpfully explaining exactly which schools they do burn and why, if his superiors find out about his helpful contribution to the propaganda exercise.

Generally, how is an unbiased report on conditions on the ground on the other side propaganda? The report didn't seem to me to be suggesting that Taliban are winning hearts and minds because of their heroism and altruism; rather, that people in some areas are fed up with the constant fighting, which we probably could have guessed anyway.

As to Phil's point (comment 23), the point about how useful a debriefing would be occurred to me, too; but that's not the sort of thing you'd really want to advertise, is it?

  • 122.
  • At 04:31 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • george bremer wrote:

1940 a smiling Goebbels and William Joyce explaining to the BBC how the conquered Europeans loved them, the Dutch had willingly given them 3/4 of their food supplies because of their admiration, Jewish ladies were "entertaining" the german troops because they loved them so much, the Gestapo oh really it is just like your nice police force,Come and see our holiday camp at Auswich look the campers have an orchestra and they are all so keen to work.
Or William Joyce in Hell "crikey things have changed i was shot for collaborating with the enemy"

  • 123.
  • At 04:31 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

Firstly, anything the 'Daily Mail' reports should be taken with a pinch of salt and set on fire (which I thought was just common sense by now). How can an interview with "the enemy" undermine a war that the majority of people don't believe in and support anyway?

Nice as it is to gain another perspective and possibly a better understanding of the conflict, it would be nicer still if this kind of practice was more consistent throughout the mainstream media, as opposed to being more of a one-off.

It's also nice to see our TV licence money is not always being wasted.

  • 124.
  • At 04:34 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

The so-called "War on Terror" is an entirely bogus political construct designed to focus public awareness and fear in a manner that renders us all acquiescent. If institutions like the BBC decide to stop informing its viewers about the views and opinions of those antithetical to the ruling ideology we all become vassels. In an era when our Prime Ministers and Presidents can lie with impunity, your unbiased presentation of conflicting viewpoints is an important remnant of the Age of Enlightenment. As propaganda sloshes around our ankles and the forces of Darkness bay for your blood, hold fast; this too shall pass. One day a more mature World will honour the BBC, as it will honour all those throughout History who find the courage to speak Truth to Power.

  • 125.
  • At 04:38 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jennifer wrote:

If BBC became like there american counterparts where censorship is at the editorial level we would never get the true picture. Kudos to BBC.

  • 126.
  • At 04:40 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Brian Vickers wrote:

Interviewing people who kill and maim their own country men and women may be "even handed" in the eyes of the BBC, but we are at war with these murders and giving them a voice on primetime news programs seems strangely misguided. We would not have wanted to hear from the Nazis in Germany or the Kymer Rouge in Cambodia so why these people who clearly want to take their Country back to the stone-age and kill anyone who stands up to them.

  • 127.
  • At 05:02 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • George wrote:

Those who should be ashamed are those who wish to deny us the right to a free press and a the right to make an informed opinion.

Bravo to the BBC; the last thing the world needs is another Fox News.

I though that NATO troops were fighting FOR Democratic institutions? It seems to be that those who 'shame' the BBC are fighting AGAINST these same institutions... so just who is supporting whom?

  • 128.
  • At 05:14 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Michael McNish wrote:

As an inveterate Newsnight and BBC News viewer (and listener) I would just like to add my voice to those who have expressed deep concern about your correspondent's recent reports from his travels with the Taleban in Helmand. I see no possibility of your reporter being able to produce a balanced report from such an adventure, as there is of course no way that the Taleban, who appear to be ancient sworn enemies of the UK and the West generally and fully public about this, of giving him a truthful picture of their activities - any more than the German, Italian or Japanese governments would have given a UK reporter during WWII - or the IRA in Northern Ireland. Clearly I like others would not object to balanced analysis of the causes and actual events of conflicts in which the UK is involved with the benefit of the facts that come with research and hindsight, but to try to do this on a snapshot basis while hostilities are active is just highly simplistic - apart from being very dangerous - journalism.

So can you please think very carefully again before you broadcast any more of what is bound to be seen by those who have chosen to be our enemies as great propoganda for them - they must be laughing all the way back to the cave where the RPG's are stored!

Additionally the BBC must accept that since the Today programme furore over Iraq a few years ago, the BCC is itself part of the Islam v the West story - which is not the stance we licence fee payers expect or want of the BBC.

  • 129.
  • At 05:14 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

A new low for the BBC.

I felt sick listening to the soft questioning of those murderous zealots.

The creeping moral equivalency of the BBC will not stop until the TV Tax is boycotted by patriotic Britons.

  • 130.
  • At 05:17 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Suhel wrote:

It is imperative we do not go overboard with censorship of what was a great piece of journalism. We, as a nation need to look into the minds of such regimes to understand what makes them 'tick'.
Until we understand them, we will never win over their hearts and minds. In order to win a war, one must win over the hearts and minds of the masses, with a vision of freedom and democracy.
Indeed winning a war is not just about using true 'weopons of mass destruction' like cluster bombs!
Again, well done the BBC!

  • 131.
  • At 05:20 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jon Elson wrote:

It won't be of course, but the BBC should be ashamed of itself. This is yet another new low. Perhaps we should cease to be surprised as this, after all, is the organisation that paid a convicted criminal for an interview to give his version of robbing Tony Martin's house.

What makes it worse is that WE KNOW that the BBC harbours an anti-war, anti UK-USA coalition bias. Do they deliver balanced reporting? Far from it as also seen in the recent Arab-Israeli conflict.

What about some support for our troops for a change?

Had technology been different during WW2 would we have been treated to an exclusive with Himmler and his views of Belsen? Probably.

Hang your right-on heads in shame.

  • 132.
  • At 05:26 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • James Davey wrote:

In the end, we will negotiate with the Taleban. Whatever anyone says about victory, we cannot win in Afghanistan without engaging them. Call them 'terrorists' if you want, but they have the support of enough of the population fight us forever.

So clearly an interview with them is a useful peice of information.

How, exactly, is this going to lead to the deaths of UK troops?

I started to watch this report but felt so sick at what I was viewing that I turned it off. I object to the license fee being spent in this way. Have you ever thought why terrorists like this are happy to give interviews to the BBC? Could it be that they recognise that they will be allowed some free propaganda?

  • 134.
  • At 05:30 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Yogan Sinnarajah wrote:

I totally support BBC's decision. I don't want spoon fed calculated propoganda news from governments. I am smart enough to make my own opinions based on the information provided!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 135.
  • At 05:30 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • John Miles wrote:

From within the very highest echelons of the BBC in the past week we've learned --from its own executives- that the Corporation is dominated by ethnic minorities, is endemically anti-American, is completely out of touch with mainstream thinking and within the context of a comedy show, would prepare to see the Bible dumped in a rubbish-bin...but not the Koran. Your bias has been exposed by the very people who pull the strings. It must have been so hard to get a sit-down with the Taleban -and interesting to see that they chose your network to air their views.

  • 136.
  • At 05:33 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

This was an arrogant report by the BBC. You should try getting shot at by them - then you may not be so eager to show them in the heroic light you did with this piece.

Why not do commercials for maligned characters like Myra Hindley and Ian Huntley while you're at it?

David Loyn is most likely very pleased with his scoop. He should be ashamed of himself.

  • 137.
  • At 05:46 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • malcolm jack wrote:

Excellent piece by David Loyn last night. Utterly inspired journalism. Perhaps only the BBC is capable of providing intelligence relating to the enemy which is of value to the MOD. How on earth will be defeat the Taliban if we don't understand their personalities, motives and thoughts. Liam Fox and the Daily Mail have shown a predictable and typically ignorant view which gives no ground to thoughtful analysis of a deteriorating situation.

  • 138.
  • At 05:49 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Luke Davies wrote:

I thought David Loyn's film was one of the best things I have ever seen on television for many years. It revealed a completely different world and was news reporting from a fresh perspective. Also his personal courage in bringing us this film was astonishing. He should win the highest award for news reporting at the BAFTA's.

  • 139.
  • At 05:51 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Terri Robson wrote:

This is an intrepid reporter that took a huge chance,if more were done to tell the other sides story more citizens would be more knowledgable.All conflicts must have non-partisan reporting. Otherwise we have dis-information and information only supplied by whatever governments to put a good face on maybe a bad situation.For myself living here in Canada I find the BBC has the best reporting of what is going on in the world.I wish them to keep up the good work of keeping us citizens informed.

  • 140.
  • At 06:20 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Tony G wrote:

Just another report in the BBC's long history of supporting the enemies of Britain. They didn't manage to report the Wehrmacht's side of the argument in 1940, but surely some of the current staffers at the Beeb would have tried.

As ever, the BBC reporter is uncritical of information supplied to him, reports propaganda as fact and does not dwell on the evils perpetrated by the Taliban before their power was dismantled by NATO, principally the Americans. I look forward, without much hope, to an unbiased report by the BBC about anything American.

  • 141.
  • At 06:24 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Craig wrote:

The BBC just don't know when to quit their Taliban propaganda do they?

So even now they highlight a comment on their site made by one of the Taliban interviewed

"Democracy set up under the shadow of B52 bombers and elections held under the shadow of F16s is not acceptable for the Afghan nation." which the BBC obviously agree with this statement otherwise they would not highlight it.

So BBC I ask, do you agree with the Taliban that beheading and beating women, and shooting people for displaying pictures of anything, animals, vehicals etc is a basis for setting up a democratic government that the Taliban incidently do not want is? I agree in seeing two sides of a story, but that's when there are two sides. What I saw was a hack at gun point taking statements then Paxman later accepting it as gosple (that's if I am allowed to say that nowadays) and then using them against a minister in his arguments on Newsnight.

How rediculous! Paxman has lost all credit from me.

  • 142.
  • At 06:36 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Rick B wrote:

Good for Newsnight. We supposedly live in a democracy with a free press not a "V for Vendetta" type world (not yet anyway).

It wasn't propaganda - anyone with half a brain can see what kind of people the Taliban are. The issue for me isn't whether the Taliban are a primitive and backwards people - they obviously are - it's whether it's our job to go around civilizing people using the barrel of a gun.

  • 143.
  • At 06:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Craig wrote:

The BBC is on Jack Straws side now I see. Get a room!

  • 144.
  • At 06:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

Anyone who complains about 'BBC bias' has no idea how lucky we have it. In my experience of Fox News or pretty much any other non-UK news channel, there is always a very obvious editorial slant. This is sometimes expressed in leading questions (one that stuck in my memory was from Sky News when they asked a studio 'expert' something along the lines of 'aren't you sending our brave Police men and women to the slaughter if you don't arm them with guns immediately?'.

The BBC sets the standard still and keeps the others honest, well done BBC you were absolutely right to show the Taliban piece, bias my a**e!

  • 145.
  • At 06:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Andrews wrote:

I suppose it demonstrates how modern warfare and volunteer-based armed forces can sit comfortably with our lives; conveniently slipping in and out of an editorial or a short piece on a news programme. I grew up thinking of wars as total and a justified struggle against an evil that had to be defeated (i.e. the Nazis). Sacrifices were to be made by the many; the whole population was expected to pitch in or offer support. Now we're allowed to be selective, war as a brand, something to be marketed, something that comes with a health and safety certificate to stop it getting too distasteful.

Given a time machine and an interview with Hitler or Himmler, would the journalist have tried to kill them, or would that have been unethical? Soldiers are in theory laying down their lives to protect us, yet a journalist can interview an enemy while we philosophise over it.

The further back in time we go, the more brutal was war. With time it is in danger of becoming more palatable. We are desentisized, voyeuristic consumers.

  • 146.
  • At 07:07 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Tom wrote:

Understanding the other side of the argument is vital if we are to understand why these people are driven to 'increase suicide attacks' against our troops. Without this knowledge we will never be in a position to comprehend why these people do what they do, and surely this is essential if we are to stop it! Having the maturity to listen to the other side of the argument does not mean that we end support for our troops, nor does it mean that by listening to one news report that we will switch our allegiance. This is pure ignorance and anyone who is worried that people will switch sides to the Taliban after watching this report is incredibly niave

Why should we be surprised at David Loyn speaking to the Taliban. Is this not another example of the BBC giving whole hearted support to the appeasers and enemies of our democratic way of life?
Let's give the Taliban their due, they aim to kill us by any means. They really do not need any help from the BBC when it comes to propaganda.
I wonder who has paid this journalist for his story? Was it both the BBC and the Taliban?
Has the BBC no pity for our hard pressed soldiers struggling against a ruthless enemy.
I believe the BBC is helping the enemy to bury our dead but of course I may be wrong!

  • 148.
  • At 07:08 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Adam, Wraxall wrote:

You should not do it. I suspect that this is driven more by "scoop" and "because we (technically) can" than "because we should". In WW2, the BBC had a proud and honourable record of reporting from the skies over Germany during bombing raids, at Arnhem and countless other places at great personal risk to the reporters. We sought no place at Goebbels' table. Your forbears would, I suspect, be spinning in their graves at the "John Simpson - International Reporter and above Nationality" grandstanding approach. Brave man your reporter, though. I saw it and he has guts.

  • 149.
  • At 07:15 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Danny Jackson wrote:

If the freedom of speech and expression of the views is only applicable if you are western counrty spokesperson then I guess we are like Hitler and we have rascist regimes and neocons and western liberal/democratic fundamentalist taken over minds and have brain wshed it. BBC portrays a balanced and independent view and hence commands the respect and audience which it does. If they have to toe Blairs or governments view all the time then whats is the difference between North Korean and us. For "DEMOCRACY" sake stop Blair and Bush killing spree. We are Million people down and still counting....

  • 150.
  • At 07:32 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Graham wrote:

I do not think that you should but the obvious bias of the BBC towards terrorists suggests that you would not find it possible not to interview your proteges.
In tonights news another glaring example when you discuss Nato bombing civilians. I have read in numerous far less biased newspapers that the Taliban were in the village and that some 47 of them were killed - a fact that was not mentioned at all!
So I suppose that despite your moral duty to report fully and accurately you will persist with your biased reporting in favour of those you favour.

by all means if you are sympathetic with their cause you should publicise their thoughts, but do not pretend to the world that your comrades are your enemy they may be an enemy of the country you call home but not your enemy.

  • 152.
  • At 07:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • john wrote:

It was the right thing to do. In all these conflicts, we mostly get only one side of the story, which leaves us open to demonization of the current "enemy" and an inability to comprehend the issues at stake. We are in a democracy and we need free access to information, which is one of our guaranteed rights. Those who wish to censor information are simply expressing their frustration that they are not free to indoctrinate us according to their particular point of view - it is a dangerous totalitarian trend. Well done BBC !

  • 153.
  • At 07:45 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Kamal Pirzada wrote:

Bravo to BBC for covering the story. Just because one reports on the views of the other side in a conflict it does not mean that one supports those views. Since when did information & knowldge become a bad thing. Whats next? back to burning books?

  • 154.
  • At 07:49 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ken Foran wrote:

As one of your old press barons once observed, there is a difference between public relations and news. If they want it published it is public relations. If they do not want it published it is news. I believe the Taliban would be grateful for the coverage. I do, though, admire the courage and motive of your reporter.

  • 155.
  • At 07:50 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Bernardo Gutiérrez wrote:

Of course the BBC did the right thing reporting on the Taliban from inside. Comments who counter this are obviously very interested comments, or very simpleton ones...

  • 156.
  • At 07:50 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Vico wrote:

Isn't it wonderful to live in a country where one can show such documentary and divide the masses with very opposing views... and look, nobody died, no riots, just people expressing their views...

This is why we have such freedoms, and we fight around the world to ensure that others have them as well...

Good Job BBC....


  • 157.
  • At 07:50 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Joe Stephen McNair wrote:

If the job of the media is to support the government, then no this kind of reporting should not be allowed. But if the job of the media is to keep the public informed then it behooves the media to cover fairly all sides of any conflict. What the government wants is propaganda and what the people need is information, especially in a democracy. Bravo BBC, I have given up on the American media since 9-11 and the BBC has become my favorite source of information. If your reporting makes the government nervous, it only means you are doing your job.

  • 158.
  • At 07:53 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • pete wrote:

i enjoyed this report!
it gives an insight of who and what the Taliban are!

  • 159.
  • At 08:09 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike W wrote:

What a stupid question: "Is it right to talk to them (The taliban)?"

So, I'll give you a stupid answer. Yes, absolutely, go talk to them. Find out how they feel about the West, and help us understand how misunderstood these people are, and how wrong we are to be over there. The BBC has every right to air this story, where the troops can see one of our own riding around and cavorting with those who are trying to kill them.

We really should be putting a face on our enemy, don't you see. All the neanderthals in the Military want to do is dehumanize the enemy, and make it easier for the troops to attack and exploit the enemy. It truly is the core responsibility of the BBC to balance this, and give the enemy a voice, a face and convey their thoughts, fears and aspirations to the world.

Thank you, BBC, for your corageous and novel approach to reporting on this war. You're an credit to your industry, and I'm sure the Taliban are greatful for your efforts.

  • 160.
  • At 08:12 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ged Mitchell wrote:

Of course the BBC should have the right to interview the Taleban. The BBC is there to report the news and should be free to report all sides of the news; not just what other people would like us to think.

  • 161.
  • At 08:18 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Al Stevens wrote:

Getting the view of both sides is of-course very important.

Could you clarify your use of words in last nights news article though.

The newsreader stated:
"The taleban, who have been fighting with the British..."

Now I would have thought it important to distinguish between the fact whether a certain group were fighting with
or against the British.

Have I missed some fundamental of reporting here? Is there something I am unaware of?

If this is purposeful it needs to be explained - as such small details when repeated over and over again could have a large effect on peoples understanding of the reality of the situation in Afganistan (and Iraq).
I have to say that I find it quite confusing.

I was impressed to see an amazing documentary on This World
on Monday. And this was truly a refreshing change.

Why are these films so rare. And why isn't this kind of report given more prominence, rather than stuck quietly into a late BBC2 schedule without any publicity.

If you do listen to your message boards you will show it again.

Reporting with the Taleban however raise some serious questions.

If you are being escorted by the Taleban - are they controlling where you go and what you film? Do they let you get out and film what you like?

And as such if the taleban are in control of what you are filming - and therefore what we are seeing - is that really worth seeing at all?

And if this is all we are seeing then is it impartial?

If you are to report impartially then
where are the views of the people of Kabul and Baghdad?

The only views I seem to hear are opinion polls. No one has ever asked my opinion?

  • 162.
  • At 08:19 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Matt Cutugno wrote:

This report was a love-fest with the Taliban, who are evil. I half expected to read the reporter noting he has fallen in love with one particularly fetching desert fighter. Really a turn off to read, five minutes of my life I can't get back. Sad.

  • 163.
  • At 08:23 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Matthew wrote:

Picture if you will a BBC journalist "embedded" with Waffen SS soldiers during WWII, or with Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge forces in the 1970s. Sheer asininity on the part of your news organization. How can you explain such activity to the families of British soldiers killed by the Taliban? Very poor judgement in my book.

  • 164.
  • At 08:24 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike W wrote:

One more thought - I'm all for giving David Loyn as much "freedom of the press" to report on the enemy as he would have had under Taliban rule in Afghanistan just a few short years ago.

  • 165.
  • At 08:31 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ian Yates wrote:

It's pretty darn good reporting if you ask me. If some one wants to blow me up then I'm curious as to why that is. I'm much too old and too wise now to fall for the misrepresentations our respective governments choose to give us & whose sole purpose in life is to accrue wealth & still more power.

We've all become too sophisticated in these times to fall for the "Evil Hun" description of our enemies.

In the final analysis, how do we know that the fellow interviewed isn't another "George Washington"? Eh? History repeating itself and all that.

  • 166.
  • At 08:45 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Blatant taliban propaganda. As for the claim that it was about giving balance to both sides in a conflict, well, if the taleban were white neo-nazi`s engaged in some kind of war situation, would they get a fawning BBC write-up like the taleban. No, and quite right too. So why are the taliban different? Is it because they represent a threat to the west, and nasty liberals who work at the BBC like that because they are generally anti-western and british too? Perhaps.

Still, i`m sure all the dim leftists would have loved the article.

  • 167.
  • At 08:46 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Al wrote:

Very true 164. He would have probably been dragged around a football pitch naked - in front of a jeering crowd - and then executed - before being buried in a shallow grave.

  • 168.
  • At 08:46 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Paul Beckitt wrote:

Of course the BBC should seek to interview both sides. Educated viewers wished to be informed of each argument and then they can make up their own mind as to what they believe.

Showing just the British argument gives us a distorted view, and is often just as much 'propaganda' as the views of the Taliban. Those who are involved in offensives against British troops (a diverse array of individuals) often have legitimate complaints that, if voiced, may lead to improvements in the security situation and less harm for British troops.

Only those who enjoy blissful ignorance want the BBC to judge who is wrong and who is right, and who we hear from and who we do not. It is precisely because we do not understand or appreciate the views of others that we find ourselves with so many problems.

  • 169.
  • At 08:51 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • GORDON wrote:

Remember Vietnam? Are we going to be supporting a corrupt regime like the Americans who supported South Vietnam. Just looking at Afghani troops taking cash from truckers makes me wonder whether there is more corruption elsewhere. . .

  • 170.
  • At 08:51 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • rezza wrote:

Its funny that the British public to accuse BBC of propagating enemy propaganda. You invaded Afghanistan while the Taleban or Afghan people never attacked you. And you are hell bent on shoving democracy down their throats and are proud to impose democracy and prefer it over the local tradition of government. A third defeat for British is near. remember my words.

  • 171.
  • At 08:52 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • rick wrote:

I am AMAZED that there are so many loyal subjects of the Queen that seem ignorant of their own history. Sir Winston must be rolling in his grave at the mere thought of the BBC interviewing folks who are CURRENTLY trying to kill soldiers of the British Army, not to mention repeating their comments verbatim without corroberation.

A hint to all the stupid liberal journalists out there... the taliban also practices propaganda and disinformation. They COULD be blowing smoke up your arse.

Whether you support George and Tony or not, let's use our heads while our boys are in harms way.

It's a freakin' WAR, kiddies, and our fellow Brits are DYING! Get your heads out of your collective arse before you have no head left.

  • 172.
  • At 08:53 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mumtaz wrote:

Only a moron can believe that there is just one side to a story. Grow up friends !

  • 173.
  • At 08:57 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Kanwer Adeel Waheed wrote:

Freedom of expression is am important fundamental to a free society. I hope our leaders in UK and US also learn something from this, and are more forthright in thier propoganda. It is indeed a shame that Blair and Bush lied through thier teeth to start the Iraq war, yet we wish that our society is free and fair.

A need arises that the same spirit of freedom and fairness is applied across the socity. However, well done BBC!

  • 174.
  • At 09:00 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Fahim Wardak wrote:

Dear readers I am a British Afghan and this is my opinion;
This interview along with the report by Elizabeth Rubin at New York Times news and Documentary by Carmela Baranowska the Australian reporter show that the US and UK along with their international partners have made gross mistakes by bringing the criminal warlords to power. The crimes and corruption of criminal warlords and the mistakes of individual US and UK and international soldiers are the main source of anger. And then those victims or the relatives of victims take arms and join the Taliban. They join the Taliban because they can not get justice at this moment. You must have heard on the cassettes played on the Taliban's players remembering those thousands killed at the hands of General Dostum and the mistakes of Allied forces. We have called from the outset that by bringing the warlords to the power would only exacerbate the situation. We have sent hundreds of letters to Mr Bush and Blair calling then to disarm the warlords and support the Afghan Government to prosecute these criminals. But have never listened to the honest and experienced Afghans. Afghans now feel that it is deliberate to subdue Afghans to the warlords. The only way out for them is to join the ranks of whoever can cause damage to the warlords. And whoever supports the warlords are their enemies as well.
1: Disarming the Warlords.
2: Prosecuting them either in Afghanistan or in the Hague.
3: Calling on Tribal elders to provide volunteers for security and peace.
4: Initiating a TV channel in the local language to send these messages.
5: Promoting Afghan civil traditions to decelerate the process of extremism.
6: Putting pressure on Pakistan to close down the training camps and those schools that teach terrorism.
7: Inviting professional Afghans to take part in the reconstruction.
8: Provide more community contribution based projects that would involve local people and resources.

Fahim Wardak

Did the BBC interview Hitler while he was bombing London?

Did the BBC seek common ground and understanding with Der Fuhrer?

We don't need to understand them. We need to kill them.

What we need is better intelligence so that we can "understand" how to kill them better.

  • 176.
  • At 09:07 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • praveen wrote:

Why not? BBC is a news channel. They have the responsibility to show both sides of the situation happening in the world. BBC has viewers in all over the world. They may be the enemies of Britian. But in pure journalism there should not be any bias in the news towards Britian or other benifits. A journalist should be neutral. People have the rights to know whats the real picture/ incidents happening in the world. News channels like BBC has to do that. If everyone started biasing their news, then how can we trust the news. how do we know the truth.

both biasing a news and suppressing a news is the same.

We need to know whats happening in Iraq or Afganistan from Journalists rather than from the biased news of Bush or Blair. They won't say the exact truth.

Journalism should be free from political pressures.

  • 177.
  • At 09:09 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • John Dobbs wrote:

Without an informed public, a democracy is a sham: for it is based on uniformed consent. So yes, as the public broadcaster in the UK, it is entirely right to report on both sides of a war, especially one the UK is involved in.

To those who feel that the BBC is aiding and abetting the enemy, indulging in treason, not supporting the troops or being biased towards the Taleban:
Are the reasons for the war in Afghanistan so flimsy that a report showing the other side of the story can weaken the case and aid the enemy? If so, surely the UK should reconsider their participation in the war anyway.

  • 178.
  • At 09:11 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • deep wrote:

The propaganda is already working. Even in this comments section I can see people actually believing the Taleban, when they say that it's the Brits who are bombing schools rather than those nut cases. I mean, does BBC have any idea how dangerous these people are - the Taleban, how they would try to manipulate propaganda to suit their own evil designs. The beheadings, the canings, the stonings, don't you know all of that. For the sake of freedom of speech do you need to interview these fanatics ? Consider the effect when these men say they are fighting for their religion and look at how many youths can be radicalized. Seriously BBC you need to be more responsible, at least for the sake of your own troops.

  • 179.
  • At 09:16 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • erik wrote:

Sure, it's fine, as long as there is a Taliban reporter embedded at the BBC, doing an expose so that his people can better understand the enemy. Oh there isn't? They don't want to understand us, only kill us.

Not to mention that any Taliban reporter would be illiterate. You see, they have no use for learning, liberalism and all those vaunted Western ideals.

  • 180.
  • At 09:19 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Luke wrote:

Re: 163. Fine. Let us indeed picture a BBC journalist embedded with Hitler's SS. Had there been some, we would have learned about Nazi death camps and slave labour several years before we actually did. We would also have understood the enemy better than we sometimes did. All this seems like a good thing, no?

So long as we are really fighting for democratic freedoms and human rights, we have nothing to fear from the free flow of accurate information. Well done BBC! I only wish we had equally credible and reliable news sources here in the USA.

  • 181.
  • At 09:20 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Maureen K wrote:

The BBC brass by self-report is biased against Christianity and conservatives in general and American conservatives in particular, so I am not surprised that you would embed with the Buddha-destroying women-hating Taliban.
Signed - a former Brit who is now (Thanks, God) not paying taxes for this drivel.

  • 182.
  • At 09:22 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • bbc in world war two wrote:

The Nazis are fighting to kill British soliders in Europe, they burn villages and support the Japanese. So is it right to talk to them?

For Newsnight, David Loyn spent months trying to make contact with the Nazi leadership, and on Wednesday we showed his extraordinary film in which he travelled to East Prussia province to interview their official spokesman for the first time (you can see it here).

The PM and Defence Minister Winston Churchill called that "obscene", and the Daily Mail reported the views of the father of one British soldier who thought the BBC has acted irreponsibly, "undermining the war effort".

Should the BBC report from the other side of the lines? We believe we should as long as we act with careful thought and do nothing to put the lives of British soldiers at risk. David Loyn's report showed how the Nazis operate in southern Germany, how they view the British and Americans and how they plan to take their campaign forward through suicide bombings. He challenged their spokesman on the Nazis' campaign of violence against the Allies' efforts at liberating Europe, their burning of dead Jews and rejection of democracy.

Some believe it is disloyal to our armed forces to film the enemy. But if we agreed not to show them, isn't that just a small step away from censorship and pro-government propaganda?

  • 183.
  • At 09:25 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • miika wrote:

The more interesting points the feedback here has raised to date are:

a) The men and women fighting in Afghanistan are so pathetic that they'll actually have their morale dented and destroyed by an interview with the enemy, because obviously that means the whole world is against them, they're wrong, and they're teetering on the edge of oblivion.

b) There are no rational people in the UK that can tell the difference between "facts" and "propaganda".

The comments posted around here prove point b on a regular basis, but I think people need to revisit point a and ask themselves just why they have such an inaccurate impression of the fortitude of the troops over there that they think something like this will dent morale.

It's a lot more likely the failings of armour, equipment, logistical support, and the like has a far more damaging effect on morale, but I don't see those claiming the interview damages morale getting on their high horses on those more mundane subjects.

Try to pick something constructive to complain about, instead of picking the "easy" targets - like why the troops aren't getting the support they -really- need - not platitudes, words, and armchair censors, but practical effective means to do their job. Enemy munitions do a lot more damage than enemy propaganda.

Some people have really screwed up priorities.

  • 184.
  • At 09:26 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Glanville-Brown wrote:

Why not? It is always a good thing to talk to people, something that Bush and his cronies are woefully bad at. If our supposed leaders were to talk to the Taleban they just might start to understand what a massive mess they have got us into, both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • 185.
  • At 09:30 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Lucy wrote:

Unlike the Taliban, the UK is still thankfully a society that allows freedom of speech and promotes understanding not violence as a way to solve our problems. It is a pity some of those criticising the BBC's attempt to show all sides to the issue do not seem to uphold these values.

Thank you to the BBC, and the reporter involved, for taking the risk to bring us more information directly to help understand why the situation in Afghanistan is evolving as it is.

The report showed negative facets of the Taliban as well as allowing some understanding of their motivation. It was hardly propaganda. NATO and US-led coalition forces have killed civilians during the fighting, as have the Taliban in larger numbers. And the Taliban are widely believed to be partly financing their fighters through the opium trade, while the NATO and Afghan govt forces have been involved in poppy eradication without providing the promised replacement for extremely poor farmers livelihoods. And as the reporter pointed out the Taliban have been implicated in the burning of schools.

Afghanistan is a mess right now and the more we can understand about why the better for a resolution to the situation. Thank goodness for a free press and lack of censorship. Well done BBC.

  • 186.
  • At 09:32 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • ChrisR wrote:

One-sided, biased reporting is just propaganda and I'd rather listen to both sides of any story. While I support our troops wherever they are in the world, our government doesn't have a monopoly on the truth. Listening to the Taleban won't turn me into a radical muslim but it might help me understand the background to the war better and let me make a reasoned judgement on government policy next time I am called on to vote.

  • 187.
  • At 09:33 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Thomas Lydon wrote:

I have a question that I think of everytime I see a report or article in the news.

Why do people feel the need to say that their side is the only one telling the truth?

Do you think that the US government (I am an american) and the British government tell nothing but the truth to the media?

Why are civilian death tolls (estimates of course) not given when there is a military strike?
Why are we not told how many wounded soldiers have died due to there wounds?
Why are we not told about the objective facts of the article instead of sensationalized veiws of a few individuals?

Because the American and British forces have the same agenda as the Taliban when it comes to news. Make us look good and make our enemies look bad.

War is not only fought with bullets. It is also fought with words and news stories.

I am an american soldier. I fight because my commander (the President) tells me to. I am pround of our fellow comrades fighting around the world. They are doing the best they can. I would never put their lives at risk. I would give my own life to defend theirs.

My country is founded on the basis of every persons right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness. I believe that applies to everyone, even my countries enemies.

I respect everyones views even the Talibans. I expect news reporters to give them the right to express it.

One day, when the fear of other peoples views and ways of life has died, we will all live in peace.

Thomas Lydon

  • 188.
  • At 09:37 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • hugo wrote:

Why do you still charge to wacth the BBC? Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Written in
Latin, its English translation reveals to Americans the struggle that
is not new 2 us peoples. In 1215, the struggle against government's tyranny and oppression was no different than today.
The main policy of extortionate taxation and financial
plunder of the citizens "USURY!"

  • 189.
  • At 09:38 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ryan Muckerheide wrote:

I see nothing at all wrong with this interview. The first rule in any war is "know thine enemy." What's wrong with learning what they believe in and why they're fighting? If anything, that will help us fight them more effectively, both on the battlefield and in the ideological arena. Refusing to allow reporters to talk to them or to try to understand them is not only censorship, but an implicit argument for believing one's own government's propaganda and lies. Every government has lied about the enemy--now, with the internet and global communication, we can expose those lies so we know who and why we're fighting. And if the cause is just, it will not be harmed by that information. Only if the cause is unjust do we have cause for concern.

  • 190.
  • At 09:39 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ehsan Azami wrote:

As BBC has been reporting about the world events for many years and in the process a lot of different personalities have been interviewed. And I think any news source or organization should mark themselves with political affiliations. We all need to know why are Taliban doing what they are doing and it creates awareness and gives us another tool to fight terrorism of any sort, and plus we should know what are their thoughts.

  • 191.
  • At 09:39 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Josh wrote:

We live in the 21st century; it’s bad enough we are still fighting wars (Yes killing each other, with guns , mines and bombs!) Can we really call ourselves a civilised society?

Aren’t we mature and responsible enough to have our own views and hear what people have to say? Or do we want to be told what to think by our governments?

Keep up the good work BBC and it’s nice for you to be showing a different angle for a change. (That doesn’t make me unpatriotic because I said that does it? – Mr Fox seams to think so?)

  • 192.
  • At 09:43 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • rob wrote:

xenophobic poppycock! awareness of differences, grievances and concerns is an inroad to understanding. 164 (et al) is a poorly thought out visceral reaction. i want to hear all sides so that i may better formulate my opinions. as a resident of the u.s. i am thankful to have access to the bbc. it's reporting is always less affected by political "spin." kudos to your news agency.

  • 193.
  • At 09:44 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

One cannot dismiss reporting both sides of the story as undermining the war effort. Just as one cannot dismiss an opinion as propaganda, after all who is to judge propaganda? Do we hear anyone saying that the BBC should not have reported on the "alleged" weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as they are purely propaganda? Either you should report everything, or nothing.

It is absolutely necessary to the continued freedom of the press that we not only are able to interview and report on not even those persons who are found contemptible by society, but especially those persons. This is the very kind of situation in which the freedom of speech must be most carefully protected, because there is no need to protect popular speech, only that which is unpopular. There is no freedom without dissent. Besides the very current and human demands of freedom, those of us who are interested in seeing the truth preserved for posterity must demand that such reporting be done if only so that we can have a clear picture of events today, when we look back at this moment from a point many years in the future.

  • 195.
  • At 09:46 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Alex wrote:

Congratulations BBC. Although your grovelling attempts at shielding yourself from criticism are pathetic. I have never been a fan of the Taliban -- not now, not in 2001, not in 2000 when my US government was courting them in the hope of oil deals, nor in the 1980´s when my US government was arming and training them to fight "the enemy" of the day, the Soviets. But I don´t consider them "my enemy". Despite the West´s (including the BBC) best propoganda efforts to conflate them with Al-Queda, by all accounts prior to the illegal "coalition" attack on Afghanistan, they tolerated Bin Laden´s presence at best, and had no interest in spreading their bizarre religious philosophy beyond their own borders. As far as I am concerned, we have no more business occupying Afghanistan than we do Iraq, and however unpleasant the Taleban may be, they are involved in an arguably legitimate guerilla war that was not of their own choosing. If this makes me a "traitor" I can live with that -- at least I am still alive, while hundreds of thousands of Afghan civillians no longer are, due to our "heroic" armed forces.

  • 196.
  • At 09:47 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Tim Keenan wrote:

I think it's important for all sides to understand where the enemy is coming from and how they think. This includes reporting about civillians killed by our soldiers and things of that sort. This is far from Taliban propaganda.

  • 197.
  • At 09:54 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

As a former member of the British armed services i am disgusted with the pro taliban propagander article.
Our country is at war, to put these terrorists on the same moral level as our forces is plain wrong. We do not purposefully blow up innocent children to further our cause and all we would like to do is provide the people of Afganistan with the same freedoms and security we enjoy then leave. The bbc might not wish our forces to lose but reporting of this nature will only encourage the enemy possibly leading to more British deaths, thankyou very much David Loyn!

  • 198.
  • At 10:29 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

Isn't it obvious that objective journalism should report ALL news to inform the public? The public can decide for themselves what they want to do with the information. If only one view is allowed, as has been the case in the US earlier during the "war on terrorism", that is self-propoganda. We see this kind of censorship filtering news, internet, speech, etc. in "less open" societies and then turn around and criticize it.

  • 199.
  • At 10:53 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Radford S. Bunker wrote:

One wonders if the BBC would have gone to Berlin and interviewed Herr Docktor Gobbels in 1942 or 1943. Maybe a small luncheon with the "Leader of the German People" in his study, well at least as long as no British lives were put at risk.

Churchill would have sacked the lot, and Blair should do so now.

Radford S. Bunker
Atlanta, GA

  • 200.
  • At 10:55 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mumtaz wrote:

I came up with a definition while reading your blog. It goes something like:

"A BIASED reporting is one thats considered biased by about half of its viewers. An UNBIASED reporting is one thats considered biased by about all of its viewers"

I know its good!
You can quote me free of charge ;)

  • 201.
  • At 10:55 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • jedediah wrote:

of course talking to the taliban is a good, right thing to do. only in the united states is this even a question.

  • 202.
  • At 10:58 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Stuart Mack wrote:

As a consumer of the news reports of the BBC (and I pay my licence fee) It is absolutely the responsibility of the BBC to report all sides of every story. The arguement only becomes grey when they stop simply reporting the News but taking sides and showing Bias in the reporting. The reason there is little positive reporting about the Americans is there is little to report, but if we don't understand the enemy how can we ever hope to live in peace with them. This is not a war of Genocide, we don't want to wipe them out we want them to allow the peoples of their respective countries to live in Democratic harmony. (Or so I'd like to believe)

by all means if you are sympathetic with their cause you should publicise their thoughts, but do not pretend to the world that your comrades are your enemy they may be an enemy of the country you call home but not your enemy.

  • 204.
  • At 11:11 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • david mead wrote:

5th Colomn, simple as that.
Still the BBC are almost defunct as far as I'm concerned.

  • 205.
  • At 11:12 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • David C wrote:

Did the BBC interview the Nazi's during WWII?

  • 206.
  • At 11:13 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Christian Petersen wrote:

As a lecturer in a small college in the western United States I have been increasingly worried by our (western) view that the arguments, thoughts, etc of the enemy, whomever they may be, are dangerous for us to hear. This idea worries me on several levels. First, you must understand the enemy in order to beat them. Information is the most important tool we have. All of the blunders we have made in the War Against Terror have been made because our information was erronious or lacking. In my opinion, those that feel otherwise are the ones helping terrorists. Second, we are supposed to be living in Democracies. Hearinng the other side, no matter who the other side is, is an essential aspect or our system. Sometimes I feel as if we are slowly slipping into an Orwellian nightmare. I see my own governmental spin doctors trying their hardest to create a Ministry of Truth in the US. I am sorry to see that things are the same on the other side of the pond.

  • 207.
  • At 11:26 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Jason wrote:

All those people bemoaning the BBC and wailing that its report will do us harm needs to sit up and listen.
Would you prefer us to censor media, ban them from doing interviews with any person/group deemed evil - or anti-freedom?
Would you prefer the BBC to be more like American media? Controlled by its government, and cowered into obeying its master?

The BBC should be thanked - for being brave and strong willed enough to do this report. For being bold enough to show us a tiny glimpse (however skewed or limited) of the other side. If we never see this side, how do we know we're on the right one?

The moment reports like this stop - and the news with filled with 'cat stuck in tree' type stories is the moment we know we've lost.

  • 208.
  • At 11:31 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Simon Dicker wrote:

Fantastic reporting - the sort that deserves an award, it realy shows who we are up against. There is no use trying to pretend the contents of this report is not happening - it is and we need to know about it and face up to it. As for the moral of our troops - our troops see this every day they are there. What does this report change?

  • 209.
  • At 11:38 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

Of course it is right to interview all sides. I cannot think of a single rational reason why the BBC should not interview the Taliban, or anyone else.

  • 210.
  • At 11:41 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • hal wrote:

This interview seems to portray the Taliban as inocent people invaded by western forces. Why should the BBC go to all the effort to create such an interview? why not show the people at home a detailed description of how our own boys and girls are coping in the harsh environment, and i don't mean interviewing commanding officers telling them what you want them to say, speak to the personnel actually doing their job, let the public see what we have to do. They are only there because our government sent them. I think this interview is very one sided.

  • 211.
  • At 11:49 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Arindam wrote:

I think BBC should continue to try to reach "the other side", so as to present the other side of the arguement. If we call ourselves to be educated and informed, we should have the tolerance and patience to listen to the other side as well.

If we as a society do not listen to the other side of an arguement, we would be creating further division even within our very own society. Our young generations would grow up to become adults with very baised opinions, and without the ability to comprehend the "true" state of affairs.

  • 212.
  • At 12:00 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Scott Forbus wrote:

I'd be fully behind the Beeb's efforts to meet and provide a platform for the Taleban, if only they'd've left a GPS beacon behind and phoned in the frequency to the MOD.
Otherwise, they're no better than Lord HawHaw - wait, they're WORSE, since their paymaster is the British taxpayer!

  • 213.
  • At 12:12 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • gerry wrote:

so what has david loyn achieved? he has given voice to the most abhorrent thuggish low lifes that have ever walked the planet and potrayed them as freedom fighters,tell that to the women of afghanistan and that suspected collabrator that they intended to pursue.

It is my understanding that the job of a reporter is TO REPORT THE NEWS, from left or right, from friends or enemies, News must be reported. Further, "To defeat one's enemy, first we must know him!" To know him, we had better talk to him. Else all we do know are our assessments and opinions, not the factual reality of his thinking, his plans and intentions -- which could well be one reason we're failing in Iraq. Security demands the enemy's thinking be known as factually, intimately and directly as possible. One function of News reporters is to facilitate that task and that knowledge. Thank you, Mr. Barrow, for a job well done.

David Loyn and Newsnight must be congratulated for their bravery and efforts to bring the views of the other side - though it is clear that some people would like the public to hear only the UK governments viewpoint.

But that is what has got us in this mess in the first place - the governments view that Blairs opinion held greater credence than the facts e.g. regarding UN1441.

Goldsmith and Scarlett helped him - putting forward the governments case for invasion - falsifying legal advice on UN Resolutions and altering intelligence to leave out caveats.

Some specifics: it is a FACT Goldsmith failed to explain what exactly is unclear in UN1441 that would give countries permission for unilateral action - further it is a FACT that UN1441 requires a further resolution (item 12); it is FACT UN1441 recalls all prior resolutions - it is a FACT US/UK legally signed up to UN1441.

Regarding Scarlett: some of the amendments to intelligence report asked for by Campbell have been documented - like Campbell knows intelligence situation better than Security Services.

I believe government spin is the greatest danger to democracy. How can people make informed opinion, when given distorted view and salient facts are hid or demeaned?

Reading some of the comments on 'Talking to the Enemy,' I get the impression that some readers assume that 'talking to the enemy' means approval of him/her. None such! Whether the 'enemy' is an opponent at poker or politics, a field marshal and his army, a whole nation or the commander of rebels and death squads, the old and time-proven technique is 'know' one's enemy.' One way is a face-to-face interview by a competent reporter!

  • 217.
  • At 12:41 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Lee Bryant wrote:

Thank you and the team for the effort required to give us some original reporting in Afghanistan.

Whatever your viewpoint, an insight into the feelings and motivation of Afghans resisting the US-led invasion has got to be useful.

Impartiality is not the issue. It is about hearing points of view.

For some to argue the BBC somehow "supports terrorists" simply shows their arguments do not survive contact with reality.

  • 218.
  • At 12:44 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Sebastian Gomez wrote:

It is important to listen to all points of view and than be able to develope intelligent views. Rmember it is much better to know the enemy. It certainly can be said, those interviews given by the them may helping their enemy.

  • 219.
  • At 12:54 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Em Lin' wrote:

I agree that it is essential, at all times, in ALL circumstances in life, to try to know the 'other'.

I think it is Ian McKuen who spoke of cruelty being an impoverishment of the imagination.

  • 220.
  • At 01:26 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Shawn wrote:

Awesome reporting, and great video footage. It is as close as experiencing the country as most people will ever get. We may not agree with Taliban policy, but I'd rather hear a Taliban expressing his opinions so I can disagree/agree, rather than the lies and deceit from government. They dumb-down the war to 'terrorism' whereas the BBC allow us to realise how much more subtle it is. And regarding the poppy fields.. I seem to remember that Britain fought a war with the Chinese only 100 years ago so that England could sell opium to the chinaman.

  • 221.
  • At 01:39 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Hicham Safieddine wrote:

British soldiers, as occupiers, are also killing civilians and by most accounts of the local population in Afghanistan have brought a lot of misery to that war-ravaged country, but the BBC never seems to ponder whether it is ethical or right to speak to British soldiers. It is quite a sad day for journalism when a venerable instituion such as yours so bluntly takes sides and feels the need to justify what is a moral and social duty of every journslist, namely to cover all sides of the story without prejudice or favour to one side. No wonder the reconquest of much of the Middle East by Wesetern powers continues to be partly described as a failed exercise in democratization.

  • 222.
  • At 01:44 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

Those who say the BBC "... should be ashamed..." (10, 37, 131, 136) - the simple response to that is "Why?".

If you have true loyalty to your country, then as a people we have a right to hold our government to account, and so do our soldiers. And to do that, damn right we need reporting on the ground and interviews with the Taliban are spot on. DM readers can switch to the cartoon channels or Fox news.
How is it biased if this is the first interview with the Taliban that I can remember??? The bias is the other way if anything.

  • 223.
  • At 02:41 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Dennis wrote:

I remember seeing interviews with leaders of the former Taliban government. Wholly unconvincing denials of their inhumane policies and practices, exposed previously by courageous journalists, only confirmed what happens when criminals are incapable of justifying their actions to rational people. They simply lie. Successful propaganda requires good liars and I didn't think the Taliban statements in this film were remotely credible.

I think the bottom line is that this latest exposure to Taliban individuals serves as a clear reminder to us all why the troops have to remain in Afghanistan until the Taliban cease to exist.

  • 224.
  • At 02:42 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • dave wrote:

Since many people seem to be using the "paid from my taxes so don't show anything I disagree with", I'll just note that as a taxpayer I would like to note that I want to see the actual views people express so I can figure out who's lying. In this case I think it's clear it's the Taleban who're most deceptive, but the key thing is that I was able to judge for myself rather than have to take the word of government ministers and media barons. I thought the piece could have been edited to give a more comprehensive view and highlight the reporting restrictions,but given that within three years there will be an election where I'm supposed to decide whether a politician has been using MY power in a way according to my wishes,I reject becoming a passive sheep rather than a questioning observer.And if we're getting justification from taxes,I don't want mine paying for something to turn an electorate into either left-wing-sheep or right-wing-sheep (depending on the perspective the indignant tax-payer is coming from).

  • 225.
  • At 03:40 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

Find it ironic how the anti-BBC posts accuse the beeb of bias because they should automatically be biased towards the UK politicians?

  • 226.
  • At 06:17 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Horsley wrote:

iI would be interested to know how much money was paid to the Taliban to get this interview and guarantee Loyn's safety. The BBC should certainly not be using the license fee to sponsor terrorism.

Whilst I am certainly in favour of unbiased reporting, usually an alien concept at the BBC, I don't think the viewers should be force fed Taliban propaganda on prime time television.

Most of the people commenting here that support the interview are already aware of the nature of the Taliban and believe that what they saw and heard simply reinforced that view. The interview certainly didn't reveal anything unexpected and Loyn was hardly likely to ask critical questions. Perhaps a detailed look at the Taliban and what they are about would have provided a fair backdrop for the interview.

Unfortunately there are millions of people in Britain who are not so well informed who will take this interview at face value and wiill begin to question our reasons for fighting "with" them. This is the real reason that the interview was shown, to support the BBC's self-admitted liberal left anti-war agenda. you should be ashamed of yourselves, but you won't be.

One thing is absolutely crystal clear though, while Loyn is "embedded" with the enemy you can guarantee that the BBC will be extra biased when reporting about his would be executioners.

  • 227.
  • At 06:36 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Nitin wrote:

This is totally absurd.I'm a sufferer at the hands of terrorists,my State was afflicted with terrorism for around 10 years.And I feel these terrorists don't have a heart and soul.The young people are just fed ultra-fanatic views of a religion and are then asked to kill people who go against their ultra fanatic views.Atleast we don't expect such things from a responsible news network like you.This should not be regarding censorship or other issues but this should be about who is right and who is wrong or rather who is more humane.

  • 228.
  • At 07:32 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • SpaceElevator wrote:

Is it clear who the enemy are at all times? According to my information the Taliban movement was originally supported by the U.S. and possibly others (though maybe only officially recognized by UAE, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia).

Very little can be described in black-and-white terms. Part of trying to understand the complex world situation is gathering information to become better-informed. (Good) journalists do a service by providing a detailed snapshot of what is really happening out there.

As someone who has served in Afghanistan, I find 90% of what is consumed for "news" in my own country to be pathetic. If anything, we need more reporting like this and less tabloid journalism.

  • 229.
  • At 07:43 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • mark sanders wrote:

Let me give you my one final thought on this piece of biased reporting. My Son joined the Royal Marines at 16, although it was always what he wanted to do as parents we knew the implications. We could have stopped him, but for what purpose to join again at 18, surely. He is now 18 and deployed in Afghanistan at the request of their government and at the asking of ours. As parents we are proud and respect what he has achieved but nothing prepares you for the feeling of knowing your child is at war and there is a chance you may never see them again. I have not slept a full night's sleep since he left as I dream constantly that there is a knock at the door with the news that would destroy my life. There is not a minute of the day goes by when I don't think of him, remember his first day at school and the goal he scored in the u11's cup final. I am not alone, thousands of parents are like me, here, waiting and frankly terrified of what is going to happen. So when I see friendly chats with the terrorists who are trying to kill him I question not only your judgement but your humanity.

  • 230.
  • At 08:54 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Elliot wrote:

I can't believe there are people on here defending this BBC report? Exactly what sort of exposure do we need to the Taliban's mindset and credo? If you feel you want a balanced view of what the Taliban are about then perhaps you should visit them to find out. I suggest you wouldn't enjoy the experience because unlike David Loyn, they won't believe you are a useful propoganda vehicle - except in the sense that they could torture and kill you on camera for yet another of those "internet video experiences" the region has become famous for. The Taliban are a hateful, murderous, brutal, intolerant and misogynistic cult - what is it that I need to understand about their position on anything? Why should the BBC present their views on anything as either important or worthwhile? There is nothing the Taliban have to say that is worth listening to - the BBC's remit in this case is that of a news organisation, not a propoganda vehicle for Britain's enemies. The smug guardianista world-view that the BBC is some sort of supra-national agency that must bow the knee before every lefty-liberal icon is absolute rubbish of the first order. It is about time the British people got the BBC back from the snobby internationalists who believe they own it.

  • 231.
  • At 08:55 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • D Sanders wrote:

I'm glad post 165 thought it DARN good reporting, he talks about them wanting to blow him up,and he would like to know why? well hello reality check ....he is not there, however our brave men and women serving this country are there, putting their lives on the line, where's their support? where are all the reports showing the GOOD work they do? Like helping to build schools etc... of course you poor misguided people wouldn't know about that because the BBC are too busy giving you their BIASED reports on behalf of the enermy. I have a 18 year old son serving there at the moment, so I don't rely on newspapers or Biased TV reports, no-one seems to stop and think how the families who have lost loved one's to these suicide monsters must feel when they see their murderers parading around on Prime time tv spreading their Propaganda, our troops are there because Afghanistan asked them for help.I realize these men and women join up of their own free will, but isn't it a good job some of us are brave enough to do the job, god forbid if WW3 ever broke out we wouldn't have any one to defend us. I feel sad when I read a lot of the comments on here, it makes me realize what a selfish society we really are's not my family so I don't care seems to be the attitude!

Simple difference. You talk to our side. It is easy to see whether they lie or tell the truth from facial expression, gestures, vocabulary. We have a rough idea at least how a British (or American) soldier would react.

When the likes of Loyn interviews a Taleban man, through an interpreter, with little in-depth knowledge of the culture, tribal differences, etc., all they get is their propaganda statement. Can we trust the interpreter or translator? Are they telling the truth? There is no guarantee. The BBC was naïve to screen this. They will get no thanks.

This seems like a desperate attempt to get Newsnight itself in the news. By that logic, bad news is better than no news at all.

I don't want Newsnight to die under the burden of politically correct bigheads lurking anonymously in the management, full of good ideas and no sense of proportion and responsibility.

As people have suggested above, we didn't send out our British reporters to give an even-handed report on the Nazi German side of things during World War Two. They would simply have seen Potemkin façades and been told a bunch of lies about the concentration camps. But now reporters have to be so even-handed that all sense of wrong and right is lost.

  • 233.
  • At 09:18 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mohammad Alam wrote:

Nice job. We need to know the story of both side to find out the truth. Thats the rule of judgement. We have to be more open to hear the other side. Respect to everybody.

  • 234.
  • At 10:11 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

Whilst I think it is important for an informed population in a free nation to be exposed to both sides of a story, what David Loyn did was stupid, dangerous and fool-hardy.

If he'd ended up being flayed and dragged around by a jeep through a cheering village, he would have only had himself to blame.

It is a bad precedent on the part of the BBC or any responsible news broadcaster to glorify such mind-blowingly suicidal journalism, even if it amounted to a puff piece.

When a BBC reporter gets himself or herself killed 'in the line of duty' trying to do something on the suicidal, glory-hunting level of Loyn's work - and they will - I have no doubt that the BBC will be busy milking the public's emotions with 'In Memoriams' and photo stories of the reporter's life in a bid to hide the callous irresponsibility of allowing - and even funding - reporters with more balls than sense to go to such dangerous places for the sake of 'balanced reporting'.

  • 235.
  • At 10:43 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen Shephard wrote:

I thought this was a no-brainer. I'm with Jack Straw when he defended the interview saying it's, "important to see the nature of these people". For example, the Taleban quote, "We see the English as our enemy since the time of the Prophet Mohammed. They are our enemies now and they were then" shows just how ignorant they are.

I'm amazed by the people who think we should fight the Taleban with media censorship at home - especially those who seem to want David Loyn arrested for treason. I wonder what views these people had about censorship during the Danish cartoons controversy?

  • 236.
  • At 10:50 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Aziz wrote:

Well done for the BBC and David Loyn. I am afghan who was in afghanistan when taliban came into power. at the time i run away for my own safety and i was pleased to see america invading this regime and throwing it out.Now i know the truth. what was report does not have a single word as propaganda the words the taliban uses are exactly the same when they invaded the village i was living in. it is the truth. the American as we have come to know does not provide what they are boosting about in the face of TV. America will never win the war by using force. if america is or was soo keen to help the people of afghanistan, then here is a solution to provide a secuirity where everyone will be happy:

Get muslims countries to provide troops and that shall shut up any group claiming to be islamic cos if they kill anyone it would a muslim.
this does not mean america does that rather leave the country for muslim countries to deal with, if there is any dirty handsin it from the american side thats it, it will not work.

from this documentary and many others i have learnt that you should never jugde someone by what the enemy of that person utters about them. and this makes sense.

many many thanks to David Loyn and the BBC once again.

  • 237.
  • At 11:01 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

Sounds like a good idea - totally unbiased reporting.

If only you put it into practice with everything you do!

  • 238.
  • At 11:12 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Will wrote:

The interview in question was interesting and helped increase the scope in which I interpret the war in Afghanistan.

People’s reaction to the report raises several points about the media in general.

Media help construct our reality of the world. Media do not reflect what is happening in the world, but portrays a certain interpretation. We the audience are not mere passive zombies that automatically take on what we hear. While watching the clip each of us were aware of the circumstances in which it was filmed, we can cross reference it with other sources available like past history and experience.

Talk of ‘War on Terror’, I find very disconcerting. Traditionally in times of war there is a rise in nationalism and the added concern of keeping troops moral up. Even in these so called times of ‘free’ press there is a feeling of pressure to self-censorship. This can subdue debate on vital topics, and make the public easier to manipulate.

How the media and its audience interact is an important question. Media power and where it is distributed and exercised is important point to consider, and merits further investigation.

  • 239.
  • At 11:51 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Anne wrote:

The media is supposed to report on the situation as they see it, not to manipulate information, produce propoganda, or support the troops. This is what I think David Loyn was doing, at some personal risk. I do want to know what the other side is doing and thinking, I do want to know what is happening to our troops and how and whether it is likely to stop any time soon. Sadly, if we insist on refusing to know anything about what is actually happening today in Afghanistan, and why, history seems doomed to repeat itself....

  • 240.
  • At 12:04 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Alishan wrote:

I can not believe how some people are so afraid of one BBC interview of Taliban on Newsnight. Surely we are fighting for freedom, free speech and democracy. If this is the case why do we fear what Taliban have to say? Mr Blair and his cronies would love us to lap up the lies and deceit in order to justify these wars. As for Liam Fox and his Conservatives well they should stick to Fox TV and Telegraph if they don't like what they hear. If our justification for war is so weak that we can not defend our ideas then we have already lost. I support UK armed forces but let this be battle for ideas and values as much as anything else. Well done to BBC for such brave and honest reporting. Let the public judge and NO to news. censorship

  • 241.
  • At 12:08 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Ismail Patel wrote:

The piece was an excellent bit of reporting and made the beeb really look impartial (i question the partiallity of certain segments of the beeb).

In a true democracy which values freedom of speech (not the sham which is American Democracy)both sides of the story MUST be presented from which the people watching should make up their minds. There are truths in my opinion which may be unpalletable to people on this side of the fence.

But at least it has been given the chance to air and should be debated like a mature democracy.

  • 242.
  • At 12:08 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Duminda wrote:

Infact BBC has a big responsibilty to identify and report what is best for people who want peace not support terrorist outfits. I have seen many articles in BBC which demoralize democratically elected governments and their forces by supporting terrorist propoganda. Everywhere in the world we see lots of brave soldiers sacrificing their lives to make this world a better place so as peace loving human kind we all need to support them.

  • 243.
  • At 12:11 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Michael Jarvis wrote:

I am simply amazed by some of the views expressed here. Journalism should aspire to be a means of reportage, not the taking of a partisan line. For my part I have both sympathy and admiration for our troops, but that does not stop me from applauding David Loyn for both his skill and bravery in putting the piece together. And newsnight should be thanked, not castigated, for showing it.

  • 244.
  • At 12:12 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • TerenceW wrote:

I am so tired of hearing this idea that it is wrong to talk to the 'enemy'. Remember it was us who invaded their country, and they are fighting against a foreign force. It doesn't matter how you spin that, they are the facts. To call a person fighting in his own country against a foreign force a terrorist is just stupid. Also remember that is how we made peace with the PIRA eventually!

I think there is a lot of confusion about who is Taliban and who is Al Queda and who is fighting in Iraq. None of these people are nice people in our eyes so a lot of people find it very easy to call them all terrorists and not worry that the UK and the US are killing thousands of them (and civilians) and destroying their countries. This behaviour is a great recruiting poster for more young people to sign up and pick up a weapon to fight against us.

It is a duty of the BBC to get this story and tell it to everyone so that we can make up our own minds. People who disagree with the report, that is your prerogative, but at least you can make that decision for yourself. As for comparisons with Nazi Germany, remember they invaded Europe before we went to war with them. And it was supposedly Al Queda who was behind the Twin Towers, not the Taliban.

As a former member of the armed forces involved in Op Granby (first Gulf war 1991) I understand the need for parents of dead servicemen to feel the war is a just one; they need to feel their sons died for a reason, otherwise in their eyes they died for nothing, it's natural. So I am not surprised that they are upset when they see an interview with the people who were fighting against their sons on the BBC.

I now work in the US and the situation out here is much, much worse than the UK. If you ran a report like that, you would be lynched I think. The news out here is at best biased and at worse (Fox news) wanting to start wars with everyone (North Korea, Iran, Syria) even anyone who disagrees with Bush (Venezuela!) If you mention talking to anyone you are viewed as weak. And their rhetoric is always the same. The politician you had on the show the night you showed this article, his name escapes me but he sounded like another puppet spouting the same party line as the Bush administration. All these people are worried about articles like the one you showed because they only want these people to be shown in the light of terrorists that want to kill westerners. Show them like you did and they start to look like victims, and we cant have that can we?

  • 245.
  • At 12:15 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Rick wrote:

Having watched this report several times I do not see how this is anything but even handed, to think that the British government, the American or anyone speaking on behalf of the armed forces is any more honest, reliable or even handed than the BBC is simply untrue. How can this film possibly be considered as Taliban propaganda?

It would appear we are on the cusp of a very serious conflict erupting in Afghanistan, do we not have a right to understand why that should be so, why is it we are considered so reprehensible? Let's not kid ourselves we are truly civilised or wholly noble in our behaviour and hide behind twee arguments about loyalty to troops, they are not conscripts.

This kind of journalism gives the public an opportunity to consider what is being done in their name and to try to reach their own conclusions.

This is a brave and insightful piece of journalism. There was no coverage of Nazi Germany, the propaganda produced by the Allies ensured the German people were regarded as beastial, so there was no demand for 'even handed' journalism. Furthermore, the Afghan conflict is not analagous to WW2. Warfare and journalism have changed beyond recognition and there is an expectation today that Newsnight and other 'heavyweight' broadcasts should be independent and bold in their reporting.

  • 246.
  • At 12:16 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Raun Ghary wrote:

There is nothing disturbing for UK or World due to this report...BBC has done his duty honestly...

On the other hand do any body thinks that publishing your enemies view point make their claims on TRUTH is not right...Moreover one's own motives and direction should not be so weak for himself or for others (Peoples) that suffers so..

  • 247.
  • At 12:17 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Sam wrote:

Maybe whilst alllowing the Talibans spoke person to spout his anti British rhetoric about how we are not 'rebuilding' etc you should of reminded him that the only reason we are there in the first place is the Talibans support for Al Qaeda and attacks on OUR children.

In short everything the Afghans are experiencing is the fault of the Taliban.

  • 248.
  • At 12:28 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Michael Marchant wrote:

Well done Newsnight.

This was a brave and well reported piece, which to my mind is an essential part of the overall debate.

I understand that a lot of people are uneasy about this kind of reporting, and are concerned that talking to 'the enemy' might undermine the morale of our troops in Afghanistan or give 'the enemy' too much of a voice.

But please consider this: If we are to be a democracy, then we must know what is being done in our name. We must know who, and why we are fighting, and we must listen to those we believe are our enemies. If we don't do those things we are not civilised, and if we are kept in ignorance about these things we can not make decisions about what we want done in our name.

If you just want to trust what your politicians are telling you, then you don't need to watch programmes like Newsnight at all. But if you want to participate in our democracy, and have some influence on how our nation behaves, then you can not do this in ignorance. You have to know as much as possible, and this means also having to get to know the other side of the story.

Thank you Newsnight. Spot on as always.

  • 249.
  • At 12:41 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • J White wrote:

I thought the documentary was very interesting , and informative especially having read "Taliban" by Ahmed Rashid. I'm assuming Liam Fox, as shadow foreign secretary , has read it thoroughly and is well informed of the background and versed on events leading up to the war pre 9/11. Dialogue instead of killing ,is the way forward to stability, saving civilian and military lives. I support David Loyn and the BBC.

  • 250.
  • At 12:53 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

What a disgrace the BBC has become, you only highlight issues which fit your left-wing bias (your own internal assesment admitted to this), as a British national living in Holland I listen to the BBC world service every night, however, it becomes more and more obvious that you will only take a left-wing view on any topic, as for some of your journalists they are a disgrace.
Shame on the BBC and shame on the Political correct brigade who need to grow up and understand that the majority of British people do not agree with their idiotic views.

  • 251.
  • At 01:16 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Dzenghis Khan wrote:

There can be no doubt about your right to publish whatever you wish, including an interview with the Devil himself.

There can also be no doubt about anyone else's right to flame and bash you if they disagree.

IMO there can also be no doubt that you have a moral obligation to assess the reliability of whatever you publish on behalf of BBC, and express your evaluation of this - or you might as well convert to tabloid.

  • 252.
  • At 01:23 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Hughes wrote:

Well done Newsnight for this piece of investigative reporting, although the reporter must have been in considerable danger. I rushed home after work to catch the report, and was well rewarded. More of this, please.

On the other hand, I should also prefer less sneering and mock-incredulity from Jeremy Paxman. Maybe government ministers do speak the truth with economy, and I am happy they should be held to account with inconvenient questions. However, I should rather determine my own thoughts, feelings and beliefs about responses to those questions. All too frequently I end up siding with the government minister simply because of the rude manner in which they have been treated

  • 253.
  • At 01:28 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • D Sanders wrote:

You ask the question WHY? should the BBC be ashamed (222)
Well have you ever had your father murdered, your son or daughter or brother or sister? I ask you to imagine for one moment that you had, and then while you are sitting trying to come to terms with the fact you will never see your loved one again the BBC allow the very people who took them away from you a platform on prime time TV so they can put fear into the rest of the families who still have troops in Afghanistan, the Taleban saying how they will be increasing the numbers of suicide bombers. So well done the BBC on behalf of all the worried parents and family's of men and women out in Afghanistan who can no longer sleep at night because of nightmares! Also can I once again point out to those ignorant, selfish few, WE DID NOT INVADE AFGHANISTAN WE WERE ASKED BY their Government to go! So please get your facts right!

  • 254.
  • At 01:48 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Paula Varley wrote:

It was a good report, and certainly we should be allowed to view it, just as the BBC should be allowed to screen it.

No-one gains by seeking to remain ignorant. And I definitely do not subscribe to the argument that the BBC should do nothing with the potential to question the narrative the government is giving us.

It's palpable nonsense, indicating a distorted perspective which borders the delusional, to describe David Loyn's report as "obscene". Slaughtering defenceless families - now that's obscene.

  • 255.
  • At 02:07 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Hearing the other side is better, in the long run, than turning a blind eye. Well done, a brave man.

I can't help but be somewhat amused by the rabid cries of treason coming from several commentators. The duty of any journalist is to present his or her audience with as much information as possible, and from all sides in a conflict. I myself have in the past found the BBC wanting in this regard, often by not showing all sides of a particular situation - but on this occasion the BBC performed a service to the viewing public by airing the interview in question: It gave us information.

The very war that is being fought on our behalf is over freedom and liberty - what greater example of why it is so important than the ability of a BBC correspondent to interview a "terrorist" and present their views?

  • 257.
  • At 02:16 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Eddie-George wrote:

I hope all those criticising this piece have actually seen it. Because it was made abundantly clear that the reporter, David Loyn, was in the control of the Taliban and what was broadcast was self-evidently done so from the Taliban perspective. So really, I can only adduce that those who find this perspective problematic must believe that the viewing public is too damned stupid to understand that Taliban spokesmen will put forward Taliban propaganda.

For those who have made the tiresome complaints of bias and lack of balance, you obviously aibrushed out the numerous excellent reports filed by Alastair Leithead whilst the Paras were in Helmand. The BBC reporters, from first to last, have shown ingenuity and courage in providing coverage of the battle in Afghanistan, and long may this continue. I would also suggest that the BBC, through all its reporting on Afghanistan, has provided an impeccable critique of the Blair government who put forward the most absurd happy-talk prognosis before our troops were deployed in Helmand. That is the kind of balance I want to see - government spin balanced by cold reality.

Ps. Liam Fox is a total muppet. The BBC report illustrated the ineffectiveness of our attempts to clear out the Taliban the last 5 years. So whilst a person with an IQ above room temperature would see this as an opportunity to lay into Blair, you have a bizarre decision by the Tories to attack the person who has evidenced Blair's hollow commitment to Afghanistan.

Pps. SpaceElevator - great post.

  • 258.
  • At 02:25 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Maria G. wrote:

Great job reporting the facts - rather than determining which facts ougth to be reported. Thanks, please keep it up.

  • 259.
  • At 02:33 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • john hoyles wrote:

An excellent report into dangerous territory. At least here we are shown the human face of the so-called terror Bush and Blair have concocted for their own nefarious purposes.

  • 260.
  • At 02:33 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Sophie Grillet wrote:

The people who wish to put their fingers in their ears and shout "La-la-la, I'M NOT LISTENING!" when information is broadcast about the opinions of their opponents are the enemy of a different future.

Believing that terrorist groups are inexplicably wicked, allows no means of ending terrorism than a completely unrealistic reliance on a military defeat.

Attempts at military solutions have increased the level of terrorism dramatically, to everyone's disadvantage, apart from the arms industry.

  • 261.
  • At 03:05 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • emma wrote:

First to answer post 222, How you can even say that the taliban interview was Spot on is beyond me! now let me ask you a question how would you feel if you had a son,father or girlf out in afghan at the moment, and the bbc have done a interview with the very people who are aiming to kill your loved one, you'd be happy with this would you? but of course as you say how can an interview with people who aim to kill, torture and celebrate the death of the brave troops who are sent there to do there jobs how could that possibly be biased?? All the people who sit there saying how intersting the interview was with these monsters, you need to take a look at things from a different perspective, as long as it doesn't affect you, you sit there and tell yourself the interview was such a fantastic bit of reporting, why don't you tell the families of those who have been killied by the taliban, i'm sure they would appreciate your pathetic views!!!
Also to post 221 can i just say what a sad pathetic view you have on this conflict, the troops where asked in by the afghan goverment, that's all i will say to you, i can't begin to say how upset i am as to discover what a sad, pathetic, and selfish country we live in.You all sit there with your big words and clever sentences, you just keep sitting there convincing yourself that the taliban should be given prime time tv.

  • 262.
  • At 03:06 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • ATK wrote:

Absolutely nice job!! Now we have at least the opinion of the Taleban forces who have been strongly resisting the US and, to some extent, UK campaign in Afghanistan for the last five years.

It's 2006 and they are still not defeated. So why shouldn't the BBC talk to them?

As we know now from the purported spokesman of the Taleban, they are fighting because of the blatantly wrong US occupation, blind bombardments and flagrant crimes. These are legitimate reasons for their resistance.

Also, it's become clear now what the Taleban's purported official spokesman thinks about school burning: The Taleban don't burn schools, he said and has accused the US-backed Karzai puppet regime! Again an alternative view... Anyway wouldn't it be plausible if elements of Karzai's puppet government burn schools in the name of the Taleban in order to defame the Taleban? It could be!!

Why does the West not talk to the Taleban and pull out their troops?

It's an option! Maybe the best!

  • 263.
  • At 03:13 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Nicholson wrote:

I saw the program here in Toronto.
One thing crossed my mind was that BBC were not 'interviewing' anyone. More like the Taliban were saying anything they wanted to say. In their own language too. Nobody would convince me that the interpreter is going to say anything at all that would upset the Taliban. The whole thing was a farce.
Taliban are not an official government are they. Who is supplying them with the sophisticated heavy weapons they were flashing around? Did BBC ask that question? I doubt it.
All that whole exercise did was to give Taliban a platform to spread their 'gospel' Meanwhile, our boys are dying. It is NOT necessary to give these people a platform, because that's all that the 'interview' succeeeded in doing.

  • 264.
  • At 03:35 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Themos Tsikas wrote:

It is clear that for some people ANY deviation from the exclusive dissemination of their propaganda amounts to treason. It's worth remembering that the "British" policy of not giving a platform to Nazis during WW2 was precisely the same as the Nazi policy of not giving a platform to Allies. So what exactly makes it good and British?

But I am puzzled by this: You say "as long as we do nothing to put the lives of British soldiers at risk"

But you have done everything to put those lives at risk. If you had questioned the intentions to go to war and exposed the horrendous double standards that pass for ethical foreign policy and shown the British people the astonishing injustice of the British state's behaviour abroad, the politicians would not have found it so easy to send those troops to risk.

Today, we hear of scores of civilians massacred by NATO troops in Afghanistan. Isn't it ironic that the man put up by NATO to defend this was the man employed earlier by the BBC to report from NATO why NATO felt obliged to attack Yugoslavia because that military had massacred scores of civilians in Racak? Nobody made the connection at the BBC.

  • 265.
  • At 03:48 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Anne wrote:

The media is supposed to report on the situation as they see it, not to manipulate information, produce propoganda, or support the troops. This is what I think David Loyn was doing, at some personal risk. I do want to know what the other side is doing and thinking, I do want to know what is happening to our troops and how and whether it is likely to stop any time soon. Sadly, if we insist on refusing to know anything about what is actually happening today in Afghanistan, and why, history seems doomed to repeat itself....

  • 266.
  • At 03:50 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Steven Booth wrote:

Excuse the pun, but newsflash people, news isn't about reporting what you agree with. It's about reporting truth. Newsnight reported the truth about what the taleban thought and were saying.

People should be allowed to receive the truth so they can make up their own minds. I'm not endorsing their actions at all, but would you be more sure of something if you made up your own mind or if someone told you what to think?

To those complaining about the reports biased for the enemy: Do you really think people over the UK are thinking "Hey, we're not hearing anything good about our troops... and they're devoting all this time to the enemy. That means our troops must all be evil!'. The BBC might seem biased for the enemy because it acknowledges that the people are biased for us.

Of course, this is all ignoring the only principle I remember from history: It is impossible to avoid bias, use several different sources. I for one feel much safer the BBC is erring on the side of caution when it comes to pro-government propaganda.

  • 267.
  • At 04:08 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Chris Forrester, Cumbria wrote:

Whilst I agree whole heartedly with your final comment and believe there should be no censorship of the free media. However there needs to be sensitivity of subject content. And I feel that that's what David Loyns interview lacked it showed no investigation of the claims made by the Taleban nor did it seem to take any consideration of the marketing power the interview gave the Taleban. I feel that this could have been a fantastic piece had such sensitivities been handled differently.

I personally was eager, as a member of the reserve forces, to see the interview as I wanted to understand why we are out there and what the "enemy" are fighting for.

However I could not help feeling let down by the BBC for the above reasons. Topic wise you hit the nail on the head... it was just the way it was delivered that caused me offence and in my view was disloyal.

A comparison to consider is say if you where reporting on a child abuse case you would not show images of a child being abused as this is illegal hence the BBC would never consider it.

Why then is this a different case as the insensitivity shown when presenting your interview on the Taleban (and effectively allowing it to become enemy propaganda.) could also fall into this illegal category (i.e. treason or lesser form if such exists.).

  • 268.
  • At 04:53 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Jeffrey Mushens wrote:

On the Editor's argument, BBC reporters would and should have reported and interviewed the Nazis in WWII while they were killing our troops and civilians.

This is arrant nonsense and, frankly, treasonous. The British Government is there at the invitation of the lawful Government under a UN mandate and the BBC is giving airtime to people who are trying to kill our troops and justify terror attacks on UK civilians.

The BBC is perfectly justified in questioning our government's policies . It has no right to become a propagandist for our enemies.

  • 269.
  • At 05:40 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • AZAR wrote:

I praise and fully support your decision to report the Taliban's side of the story since there aren't many that care or should I say dare to do so...

  • 270.
  • At 05:58 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

Sure, go ahead and interview the enemy. But use the proper words to describe them.

If they strap bonmbs onto their bodies and walk into pizza parlors and blow themselves up, and kill civilian women and children, DON'T call them "insurgents" or "militants" or "fighters".

Call them what they are. Call them TERRORISTS.

You can talk to them, but don't buy into their twisted world view.

  • 271.
  • At 06:11 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Justin S. wrote:

We can all gain from more stories like this from the perspective of the groups fighting our soldiers. Would the people against this piece suggest that you should learn nothing of the people that you are up against and hope that ignorance will guide you to victory? As far as the news is concerned it should be pursued with the goal of understanding ALL aspects of the item being reported. Thank you for risking your well-being to bring this to us. I feel as though I have gained insight into the conflict that would not be offered by watching a million Donald Rumsfeld news conferences. Yet strangely enough I don't have the sudden urge to back the Taliban either...

  • 272.
  • At 06:26 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Rana Sulaiman wrote:

I appreciate the BBC attempt to come up as impartial channel giving views of both parties & let people decide.

If BBC is for promoting British agenda of war, it was wrong. But if BBC is for FREE & IMPARTIAL reporting of events, then it was first right step forward in direction.

BBC must show both sides of any conflict. May be they can show so called terrorists are themselves victim. I hope BBC must continue their brave work to prove themselves as trustful name for impartial reporting.

  • 273.
  • At 06:29 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Comment 58 is a good one. Thank you Fin!
I have only read the comments and not seen the programme. Looks to me as if the BBC have hit a good topic. Well done.

The war in Afganistan & Iraq can only be won by winning the hearts and minds of the non radicalised people which are the vast majority. This is a step in understanding that enemy which to date is doing a better job. They are native and hence have the advantage. Lets get our top brains on this into the hands of our Generals and get started on the real war of minds.

We should be fighting for the hearts and minds of the majority and we can win as for some unexplicable reason most people in this world including Arabs are good people. We will never get all the bad guys...kill one and 5 more take their place.
Win over the hearts & minds of the people and then the enemy has nothing....I repeat nothing with which they can fight.
It will be a hard battle as these peoples have had thousands of years of different thinking and culture some of which is as good if not better than ours. Identify only those aspects that we truly have in common-love,freedom, education, happiness, honesty,food on the table, a hard days work etc. Leave the harder stuff for later. People talk so much re how they treat their women. To us it is scary (our leaders use this as propaganda on us) but you must look at the other side they have NEVER seen anything else. This entire conflict is somewhat caused as these indiginous people in the last 70 years travel & seek education in the West come back and tell the ordinary person on the streets that there is another way. Lets help them ASAP.
Arabs talking to Arabs with our help will work better than us touting our Western values directly at them. Lets face it we have our fair share of deadly sins greed & glutony among them, the Taliban use that every day.
Fight terrorism the way they fight us.
Win the minds & hearts of the majority, slit the enemies throats in their sleep and keep bloody quiet about it. We have to many martyrs and that is the enemies game...that is something the BBC can be doing to better help our troops.

  • 274.
  • At 07:59 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • jamshed wrote:

we have a right, to know both side of the story, to know the real truth.

  • 275.
  • At 08:32 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • John Smith wrote:
  • The purpose of a documentary or a news report is not to shape history but to record it objectively. Note the requirement is objectivity, not balance.
  • The reason we don't do the whole pro patria mori ourselves is that we stopped listening to just one side - even when that was our own. It is also the ONLY reason.
  • If people think it is OK for the Pentagon to set aside money and troops to create disinformation and psy-ops propoganda designed to misinform and deceive. why are they the ones upset that the other side does the same thing? Don't do what you don't want done to you. It's very simple.
  • The troops are paid to represent and serve the people of the country, they are NOT paid to run the country or anything else. I dislike servitude, even if it is voluntary, but regardless, the military cannot both be servents and masters.
  • Nobody - absoltely nobody - today can tell you what will be of uttermost value to the historians in a hundred, two hundred or a thousand years time. We don't know what will matter. History is littered with the successes that came from things of no consequence (or even percieved harm) from generations earlier. It's also littered with things that had far less impact than ever imagined. Don't tell me what "will happen" or "could happen" if the truth is far beyond your ability to know.

The BBC should produce more such documentaries, not just with the enemy of the moment but with other factions, tribes and warbands in the area. The extremist tribes along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border have been there a very long time, but how did they get to be there? How did they become as they are? The Silk Road brought many cultures through the same areas, so these people have always been exposed to a truly massive range of cultures. People in such areas have typically become more liberal and more open, so hat happened to make this so different?

This area has, equally, been the home to many other peoples over time. As the Gnostics in Iraq and the Falasha in Ethiopia have proved, such peoples can survive even under terrible persecution, even if only just. Who, of the ancient societies, still survives in hiding in those mountains? Are there echos of the long-forgotten past still living there? If such people are to be found, how are they affected and what is their view? If such survivors exist, they will know far more than we about what has been happening and why.

There is much that is cloudy and uncertain. Even more is utterly unknown. This is because the media - as a whole - is not taking risks and is keeping with the safe and the ignorant. Exploration is dangerous. Very. But if you are to learn and not just trust in the blind leading the blind, the only solution is to accept the dangers.

Reporting ends and journalism begins when you're in the spot where the map says "here be dragons". Journalism ends and the real news begins when there is no map. If you've more to go on than that, it's just gossip.

  • 276.
  • At 08:47 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Vonnie wrote:

Good Evening.

I've watched the news with great sadness over the last few years, feeling more and more contempt for the "Taliban men" who show nothing more than complete " pin vision " as to the wonderful family world they "could" enjoy around them.

I can also see though, that the fear of change with ignorance, is their shallow and deadly driving force.

Theses " men " still choose to use male pride and ego's leading to anothers death, to hang on tightly to past values, daring not even a " glint of light " to shine, which might enrich the lives of themselves and their loved ones.

Eventually for " The taliban ", as history has shown , there is always a way through these injust/ignorant and bloody devides.

I JUST soooooo wish, that in the 21st C, it could be without death, mutilation and the destruction of land, homes and much loved families world wide.

Thank you " Big Time " David Loyn for your courage and streangth of character to be able to send your report.

From Vonnie in Suffolk UK who only watched your report this evening by chance and was absolutely bowled over.

PS, Religeion is a lottery of birth. Where will we all go from here??????????

  • 277.
  • At 09:06 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Brian wrote:

I’d like to make two observations.
The first is that we should dispel this myth of impartiality. We as a country are rightly or wrongly engaged in a war against the Taliban. Therefore every citizen in this country will to a greater or lesser extent be either for or against this war. This includes journalists, producers and editors. Any perfectly balance, totally impartial piece of news or analysis would be both wholly inconclusive and “dull as dish water”.
The second is that Peter Barron’s last phrase “censorship and pro-government propaganda” is very deliberately emotive. Deliberately or accidentally he has nudged the debate on this topic into the emotional and away from the rational. His choice of words are also very interesting considering present day media enjoys almost unhindered freedom and access which could only have been dreamed about a generation ago.
My congratulations to the BBC for sparking an entertaining debate which also happens to allow them to bag the drum for freedom for the media. Truely impartial. ;)

  • 278.
  • At 09:09 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

I'm afraid I have to agree that broadcasting the Taleban report was a dreadful error in judgement and yet again the BBC has let the nation down. Everyone is well aware of the Taleban's desire to kill anyone who tries to reconstruct their country or bring democracy to the people of Afghanistan, so why give them a platform to try and justify their behaviour. The Editor suggests that the BBC gave careful thought to report before airing it, from my perspective they thought nothing of the feelings of the servicemen and women engaged in a dangerous operation, nor of the propaganda opportunity they handed to the Taleban. As for censorship,remind me again why the Taleban burn schools and books?! Sorry but this report was all about grabbing an exclusive - gutter press is not what I expect of the BBC.

  • 279.
  • At 11:39 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Mark Tellion wrote:

When we invade other country we encourage our soldiers that is a Saviour operation

When you're wonder what is that invaded country say Just watch BBC Newsnight!

Do not filter the Media, everyone should know both side story

  • 280.
  • At 01:56 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Ruth wrote:

I think it is not only important but necessary that you report as many sides of a story as possible. In fact, there probably has been too much of an Anglo-American perspective on most stories.

So good on you BBC and Newsnight for doing this report.

  • 281.
  • At 02:35 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Benedict Aloysius wrote:

In any given situation 'talk', 'discuss', 'negotiate' .... that's civilized man's approach to a problem .... Afghanistan is a problem ... if govt cannot open a window, the bbc has done it ... and done it well.
More strength to you bbc !!!

  • 282.
  • At 09:53 AM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Dave Parker wrote:

I'm constantly amazed that some people would rather live in ignorance of what the other party to a conflict is saying. Some of us prefer information to ignorance. And information is the BBC's job. Well done, Beeb.

  • 283.
  • At 12:06 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • J.G. wrote:

Here is a letter from Mr Hester which was printed in a newspaper, I would be interested in the bbc's response to the very important points he raises

"Taliban on air

Sir - Tom Leonard (Comment, October 27) is right about the BBC's institutionalised bias. Our son is serving with the British forces in Afghanistan. His e-mails to us are cheerful and uplifting, and full of praise for the high quality of the men with whom he is serving.

Yet last Wednesday, the BBC, on radio and television, broadcast an interview with a leader of those who are trying to kill British forces. The Taliban interview was not critical, but most sympathetic. As the BBC website admitted: "David Loyn has had exclusive access to the Taliban, and reports from Afghanistan on their view of the conflict." Your correspondent John Williams (Letters, October 27) rightly wonders whether the present BBC crowd would have interviewed the Nazis in 1940. Whose side are the BBC on?

Can anyone tell me why my wife and I should be forced to pay, under threat of imprisonment, for a service that is giving propaganda to those who are trying to kill our son?

Eric Hester, Bolton, Lancs"

  • 284.
  • At 04:31 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Buraq Khan wrote:

The british and american invaders are killing innocent taleban who are only defending their country and their faith. This is what the west must recognise first. they have gone into afghanistan and not the other way round. US/brits are invaders and aggressors, they are fighting an illegal war and THEY are the ones who have allowed poppy cultavation in afg. the taleban are right from their point of view on these issues, although they are not angels on others.

  • 285.
  • At 08:40 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • M. Fernandez wrote:

I can't be the only one tired of the BBC doing exactly what it wants and then trying to look responsible with ex post fact justifications on The Editor's Blog. Why not ask questions prior to airing these interviews?

  • 286.
  • At 09:23 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • mke friend wrote:

This is why the BBC should be dismantled.

I can only hope for a coincidental airstrike the next time you are interviewing people who plan to kill our troops.

My son is serving overseas and daily puts his life at risk. Go out and explain to his platoon why you are doing these kind of interviews.

  • 287.
  • At 11:36 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:


Ref Charlotte Doyle #21

"Yes, the BBC should be allowed to report from any side of the line. This is a move in the right direction."

Think you are wrong.

If the BBC was an extension of the UN then perhaps you would be right, but this institution is not. It’s a British public organisation, somewhat European in nature & exists by consensus from & delivery of content & services too a primary audience of a progressive democratic society.

David Loyn's & crews interview, broadcast on Wednesday 25Oct06 was a brave & interesting media experiment.

But should we experiment with the impact of such initiatives, with national interest & the lives of fellow British civilians & military personnel, out there doing a job of work on behalf of this country.

The BBC is a publicly funded body by this nation, whose output & content has a global reach, unlike virtually any other NCA broadcaster.

Whilst I do not expect the Beeb to be an extended toadying mouthpiece & organ of a political party i.e. government, it is there to ensure it does not undermine national interests & society.

That takes brave & professional editorial judgement, to balance the rights & interests … its all about some form of compromise at the end of the day, without surrendering basic tenets & articles.

But the BBC is not there either to pursue the vest interested of 'intellectual' cliques either or media hungry 'professionals' regardless of their justifying rationale for 'knowing best' & a 'good story' (in its possible manifestations).

The right of a NCA broadcaster to operate in ANY circumstance to broadcast ANY opinion from ANY source - cannot come without impact & cost.

Whether such is to its economic/funding/revenue base, public support/loyalty/consensus and/or to its reputation.

In maintaining Beebs base of support & rep, it cannot be seen as simultaneously operating against the vested interests of The United Kingdom & providing a 'good story' regardless.

Ultimately public faith & consensus from British Society gives the BBC its strength.

When the Beeb goes to interview the enemy (people responsible for intentional terrorist atrocities on civilians & murdering our own service & civilian personnel) what 'hidden' / 'unwritten' price is being paid.

In effect, in order to have a pipeline to such people, the BBC must be deciding to allow which things to intentionally slip past & not challenge in the usual direct manner i.e. would the terrorists participate in a process which would openly undermine their 'cause' .

I would argue that a minority of the audience can read between the lines & infer & draws conclusions .. nudge nudge, wink wink.

However, given the BBC content is consumed worldwide (& given social networking phenomena like youtube) those nuances can be either lost on a unsophisticated audience or just edited out by others.

In that context, the price paid by such experiments by the BBC is one shared with the United Kingdom & other progressive societies .. if we inform … we also potentially arm & aid an enemy cause (a real enemy in this case, making real efforts towards propaganda to influence the vulnerable to its cause, the litany of its net publications are testament to that).

For those whose intellectual beliefs drives them towards openness & free speech in all instance & at all costs, surely even they acknowledge the differences between audiences able to do this evaluation constructively in relation to an exchange of differing views between opponents in peacetime & propaganda from an enemy in war time.

Its been said before, but in WWII the BBC would have not been justified in interviewing the Gestapo, SS & Nazi hierarchy for their insights & opinions. The same applies to the Taliban & Alqaeda (what happens if Iran becomes militarily engaged with UN, NATO, Allies, is the BBC going to run a counter parallel propaganda service in the interests of 'news').

We all have far too much to lose & far too little to gain by interviewing the enemy in this way & presenting their case for them, delivering it to BBC global audiences (which includes the same tax payers who fund our armed forces & the BBC).

(aware the Governments/Agencies may have back door conservations with those it battles, out of sight & earshot, that is different than holding such exchanges in the public gaze, classed as 'news' & vulnerable to the pressures of such).


Banning such reports is like, you are using only one eye and keeping the other one close and said, "Hey, its very clear on my side".

I was surprised from the Conservative comments which is a part of a democratic system.

Going deep into Taliban areas and brining facts is a brave person job. Plus showing it to the world, ("the other side story") is another bravo action. Well done David Loyn.

This report was not only "talking to the enemy" but was an attempt to pick the curtain from the facts that "Americans and British forces are actually pushing people there to support Taliban and other enemies". The B & B (Bush & Blair) are actually trying to save their own governments and posing their public that they are trying to save them from Enemies.

Yes, Taliban are fighting in their own country, (like HizBullah) against a foreign attack on their country. The foreign attacker are after all enemies for them and so for Taliban, they are the Terrorist. If someone attack your country declaring you a terrorist (especially against the resolutions of UN - Big Puppet ) How would you treat such forces? By having Christmas with them?

Its just like that US supports the enemies of its enemy, Taliban are also supporting enemies of its enemy.
Doesn't matter what picture USA and Britian shows the world.

But I know one great fact that before such invasions (Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestines, Lebanon etc) Americans and Britians were treated as some honorable people among most of the Muslims, but its reversed now.

Is there any freedom of speech for the non-Westerns?

BBC is trying to balance the story to fulfil its duty as a media organization.

  • 290.
  • At 02:47 PM on 29 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew Manson wrote:

Thank you BBC!

I fail to see in what was this is 'enemy propaganda'. The Great British public obviously need a big sign along the bottom of the screen warning them that people might not always be telling the truth. If people expect the taleban to say "actually, you're right, we're not really very nice people, we've got it all wrong", then there are maybe problems with society that even the BBC can't do anything about.

Has anyone noticed a difference in the spelling/grammar of posts supporting BBC and its values of democracy and freedom of speech, and those supporting the views of right-wing 'newspapers' (to use the word broadly) and censorship and everything that goes with it(beeb shudn't be talking with the enermy, for example)? Could there be a difference in intelligence levels?

  • 291.
  • At 04:13 PM on 29 Oct 2006,
  • Anthony wrote:

Top job! Simply by airing the 'other' side's views you have demonstrated your unbiased nature - more than I can say for Sky news! More of this real sort and less of the tabloid journalism please! Keep up the good work BBC!

  • 292.
  • At 02:27 AM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • J Simpson (Canada) wrote:

If everyone could see through the eyes of a child in Afganistan...I guess it wouldnt really matter who spoke to who. Would it now?
Everything is a double-edged sword. There will be good and bad from the interview with the Taliban spokesperson.
The lesser of two evils was the invasion of Afganistan...for us.
Prime Minister Blair,nor President Bush did not orcherstrate 9/11 and the London subway events. Britian nor the US invaded Kuwait in 1991. It was Iraq. Iraq shot at NATO pilots in the no-fly zone afterwards. Even though "the world" had endorsed the UN resolution of the no-fly zone over Iraq. These were British and US pilots getting shot regardless whether or not Iraq supported terrorisim they got what they were asking for...
The big picture is that there are a small minority of bad people who unfortunatly use a religion as a crutch to justify their own means.
The flip side is that there are some awfully large rocks floating in space that could destroy all life as we know it on this planet, and we need to be able to deflect them or blow them up so they do not kill us all...
Westeren Millitary powers in all their shortcomings not only keep reletive peace but could also save our planet. Something to think about eh?
Guess Britian and the US would'nt be such bad apples after all if you thought of it like that.
I'm sure Osama could try and crash a plane into a meteorite with a few of his cronies, but somehow I dont think it would work.
What we interperet through our perception of "the enemy" has a lot to do with how we defend and fight them amongst our general population. "Our reasons" if you will...
Our reasons are that we do not want to be like Isreal. Which is a lovley little situation left to us from World War II. Well.., perhaps back to the 10th century; but who is counting?
Nothing better than throwing in a 1000 year old rift into a moderen battle I always say...
So here we are pondering our ethics.
Russia for all its shortcomings, controlled our current situation with insurgents by having an iron fist and iron curtain. Now that the west is having to pull up the slack left with the end of the cold finds itself dealing with the freedoms it fought so hard for, and finding them to be their Achillies heel. We have a concience, and we are by no means not as good dealing with it as the Russians were... that is for sure.
I did not see the documentary,don't care to. What's the point? The predjuduices ingrained in the Taliban are obvious from the time they blew up the 2000 year old statues despite pleas from the world. What vexed me was how could they contend that a 2000 year old statue could insult their 1362 yr old religion? How could something 638 yrs younger insult them? It was there before they were. Were they born of an insult then?
The reason the international forces are there is because the "world" decided it to be so. If the Taliban does not like it ....tough bananas.
Reporters who speak with the enemy....not very loyal...bad judgement even for a reporter. To belittle our forces by endorsing their cause by interviewing the Taliban is conduct unbecoming a British subject. I just hope the reporter knew how many sons and daughters had died at the hands of the persons he spoke with. Could he bear to speak with the relitaves of those they killed? I think not. That reporter probably thinks about all this now though...if he has a heart. He's probably not such a bad guy and did not realize the impact this may have at the time, and perhaps he can learn from it.Perhaps the BBC can too.

  • 293.
  • At 09:35 AM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • David Crouch wrote:

Congratulations on broadcasting David Loyn's brave reporting from behind Taliban lines.

Loyn is one of the first journalists to give us some insight into just who the British army is slaughtering in such numbers in Afghanistan -- taking the lives of hundreds of civilians at the same time. Loyn therefore humanises the resistance and shows them to be largely poor people angered by the corruption in the Karzai government and by the failure of the occupation to improve their lives.

NATO should solve these problems before continuing its disastrous military campaign.

Loyn's report comes at a time when the news that NATO massacred up to 85 civilians in a single bombing incident last week was completely buried in the papers -- and largely on TV, altough the BBC's evening bulletin on Saturday carried the NATO commander's apology.

We have occupied a foreign country and therefore the media has a responsibility to reveal what that occupation is doing to its people -- not merely embedding with the army. All we've had up to now is our own military propaganda. Accusing Newsnight of broadcasting Taliban propaganda is facile. The Taliban were on "our" side fighting the Soviets, lest we forget.

  • 294.
  • At 01:38 PM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref David Crouch #293

"Loyn is one of the first journalists to give us some insight into just who the British army is slaughtering in such numbers in Afghanistan -- taking the lives of hundreds of civilians at the same time. Loyn therefore humanises the resistance and shows them to be largely poor people angered by the corruption in the Karzai government and by the failure of the occupation to improve their lives"

Q. did he, did they? ... 85?

More like your reading into a report prejudices & inferences which your agendas wishes to address rather than which were covered in that report.

I refer you to my #287 - your post could have been written for such.


Not sure if you’re a signed up member of liberal / left or a radical group or a radical Islamic extremist playing games - touting wholly inappropriate arguments to support your multi agendas.

Surely not another attempt at moral equivalency & intentional blurring of distinction between Islamofascism & the decisions of elected governments from progressive societies *

* regardless of whether you agree with such policies or not, who are accountable (elections coming up) & people can campaign to hold them to further account.

This intellectual 'grand standing' of language & comparison for the sake of IMPACT may work well in certain 'intellectual' clique'/quarters.

However, it confuses the vulnerable & enables the language & arguments of radicals, extremists & terrorists, who will exploit the vulnerable with this.

You have to wonder how many vulnerable people in our society have been so triggered by such argument, language & inappropriate comparisons.

Why act as the unpaid PR Commissar role for the enemies of progressive societies, unless you have capital to make of it and/or support their extremist mantra & excuse their extremist behaviours & atrocities.


1. The UN, NATO & international community presence in Afghanistan is on wholly a different basis than similar in Iraq. If you judge the latter to be wrong by the same criteria the former is wholly legitimate & above board.

2. the British are not intentionally targeting & slaughtering hundreds of innocent civilians (regretful mistakes are made though - its war [1a])

3. corruption exists, drugs exists ... Brits & NATO need to tackle this & infrastructure challenge.

4. your efforts at Taliban respun? - no thanks.

Perhaps you need a history brush up / reminder ref Afghanistan & Taliban repressive rule & terrorist activities [2a] [2b] [2c] [2d]

The reality is international community had every right to take action in Afghanistan given their terror state status as a Sunni extremist sect & they proactively aided terror groups such as Alqaeda Sunni extremist sect & their murderous acts *

* unless you buy into the 911 Conspiracy Theories?




  • 295.
  • At 02:18 PM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Andrew Manson #290

"Has anyone noticed a difference in the spelling/grammar of posts supporting BBC and its values of democracy and freedom of speech, and those supporting the views of right-wing 'newspapers' (to use the word broadly) and censorship and everything that goes with it(beeb shudn't be talking with the enermy, for example)? Could there be a difference in intelligence levels?"

Probably because those of the liberal left / left 'self appointed guardians of society' have the time, online access, lifestyles & backgrounds & motivations/passions (in-between jobs, academic, ngo/social agencies & media etc) whose pen man ship is a by product of their employment versus what you call supporters of 'right wing 'newspapers & censorship etc' - who typically have to earn a specific living in the same way as the vast majority of the population (whose politics are centre to centre right, in the UK anyway).

fyi - some enjoy a cigarette break, but I prefer to do some social networking when I get the chance, between the labours of working for a global capitalist organisation - like most have not got the luxury of proof reading & overly drafting contributions.

The centre & centre right largely happy with status quo (i.e. just get on with normal existence) its your liberal left / left types & radicals/extremist, who want to alter society so get out their & protest & look to change things according to their multi agendas (self appointed 'societal engineers').

In that context, the internet & social networking is just another means of mobilisation for some .. the virtual equivalent of holding a placard & protest marching or more radically … criminal damage, hate mail, stalking & un-burying the dead.

Since vast majority of online users are hardly likely to willing wade through the content of 'right on' websites, such serial protesters have to come into mainstream social networking sites & tout their wares.


  • 296.
  • At 03:11 PM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • P. Gunn wrote:

Depressingly, readers' comments show that for many people 'unbiased' means hearing something that they agree with. Which is rubbish.

To a certain degree, everyone and every news story is biased. By dint of showing one story at the top of the news program in favour of another, you are showing bias.

But the kind of bias that 'prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation' ( - the kind we have control over - is exactly the bias that news stories such as this prevent. It is all too easy to dismiss extremist movements when you know nothing about them (perhaps that is why so many ideologues want to censor the bbc?) but it is important to judge all conflicts (be they intellectual or physical) using all possible information.

This does not mean you must suspend your reason - I would trust the army over the taliban any day (and so believe that there were Taliban fighters when the village was attacked) - but at the same time, subscribing wholeheartedly to a narrow viewpoint out of 'honour' or 'duty' is equally misguided.

Let the BBC show stories like this, and show the taliban for the extremist fools that they are. But we should all be mature and intelligent enough to make our own judgements about them. As long as they present the facts, we don't need the BBC to tell us how evil their cause is.

  • 297.
  • At 10:15 PM on 30 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Re: 58 posted by Fin.

If this gentleman is typical of attitudes in the armed forces, my already considerable admiration has been greatly increased. Would that some of their political masters and many of the civilian population had such open minds. I am greatly heartened by this posting.

  • 298.
  • At 05:47 AM on 31 Oct 2006,
  • Martin Haynes wrote:

I have watched this report a few times and totally disagree with Liam Fox's accusation.

The report was not propaganda. It was an excellent and informative piece from a very brave and dedicated journalist. David Loyn should be commended for his dedication to his profession.

The BBC has a duty to inform and educate. It's listed in the BBC charter. This means the BBC should present a balance of all facts from each side of the story. The viewer is then armed to make up their own mind.

The BBC is not there to worry about morale in the armed forces or worry about exposing dishonest versions of events from Politicians.

The real issue MPs have is that the BBC has exposed their dishonest presentation of events. They want to hide the real truth that shows what a total mess Afghanistan is in.

  • 299.
  • At 10:19 AM on 31 Oct 2006,
  • Louis Massano wrote:

I saw Mr. Loyne's interview with the Taleban spokesman here in New Jersey via a video-podcast and thought it was the most engrossing segment in the program. I even made up a DVD of the download to share with friends who were also startled - considering what passes for television journalism here in the States -- that a western reporter could be so intrepid and resourceful - risking his life, really- in order to get this interview.

During the Korean War, an Australian journalist with communist sympathies, Wilfred Burchett, managed to get to Korea after getting press credentials from the Chinese. There, some say, he participated in the interrogations of UN soldiers held prisoner of war by the Korean communists. If that story was true, then Burchett's actions might undertandably have been labelled "obscene."

But in 2006, it must have been obvious to the Taleban that David Loyn was not on an espionage mission - or that he was a "turncoat" either. Perhaps even the Taleban representative realized in agreeing to this interview that getting at the facts is at least one cause which both sides in a conflict can bear to support together.

  • 300.
  • At 03:34 PM on 31 Oct 2006,
  • Farooq Malik wrote:

Ofcourse, you should talk to them. The media must portray this phoney "war on terror" for what is really is. These Taliban are normal human beings like us and deserved to get air time as much as coalition troops as they have genuine grievances.

Censorship is being pressed at the moment in the UK and US - the decision to curtailing embedded journalists with coalition soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan being a case in point. Such moves show that the governments in US and UK are fearful of their soldier's anger and plight making it on national tv screens. Deja vu Vietnam!

Keep up such good work, and please can the BBC employ more fulltime reporters from Middle Eastern (Arab)backgrounds!

  • 301.
  • At 10:22 PM on 31 Oct 2006,
  • Esra Karatash Alpay wrote:

Good for the BBC and their policy to try to maintain an objective portrayal to all sides of the story. Why else is the BBC respected everywhere around the world and in the international media?

  • 302.
  • At 03:16 PM on 01 Nov 2006,
  • Mother wrote:

How many of you bright, aren't we so intelligent people, who are just trying to be ‘objective’ actually have a child serving in the forces in Afghanistan? See how objective you can be then........

  • 303.
  • At 08:16 PM on 01 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Farooq Malik #300

"…….These Taliban are normal human beings like us and deserved to get air time as much as coalition troops as they have genuine grievances"

By that declaration ....

.... I would hate to run into anyone you would class as 'abnormal'

.... 'grievances? … what are these …

- They are not getting full market rate for their dope?

- They have run out of other faith symbols & statues to blow up?

- They demand more cloth & copious amounts of blue dye, to re-veil Afghan women ASAP?

- They do not have enough explosives to blow up both Afghan schools & civilians via suicide bombers?

- That Old Ohma wants a glass eye on the National Health (& a spare)?

- That OBL wants compensation for the destruction of his cave complexes

- That Alqaeda demand repayment for the unused return fair on 19 airline tickets?

If these Islamic Extremists want air time, they can pay for it & embrace the very technology (& the education & institutions behind such) they are been steadily rejecting & destroying like luddites gone mad & do the job for themselves.

They do not need British Taxpayers help via the BBC ( ref my # 287)

By & large, given the amount known & written about Taliban/Taleban, ref what they 'believe' & what they get up to, not only do they deserve their reputation, this is one taxpayer more than happy to invest our resources tackling 7th century mindsets, ignorance, prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, racism, persecution … the illiterate backwater fools.

Any such religious pratts (high on hash) who thinks blowing themselves up too murder innocent women, children & men regardless, will endear themselves to their god … is rightly off their rocker.

It is a sign of desperation, not strength, when these Islamic Extremists fail to tackle the military head on & have to resort to these murderous cowardly tactics & hide behind women & children ... but not really surprised given their track record.

btw - how many Taliban have actually received sanctuary within the shores of The United Kingdom & do we still have any here? [1]



  • 304.
  • At 04:22 AM on 02 Nov 2006,
  • GUY FOX wrote:

Talking to the enemy does more than create a dialogue (and also an opportunity) for possible resolution of conflicts. It also helps you understand the nature of the enemy, and this can be very useful... just in case you're forced to fight him to the death. The more you understand the enemy, the easier it is to defeat him.

Indeed! Old Coyote Knose!

  • 305.
  • At 05:46 PM on 02 Nov 2006,
  • Bill Sims wrote:

I complained about the programme to the BBC, I found it offensive.It was not unbiased as obviously any criticism of the Taleban would have closed any future reporting deals and Now after trudging my way through most of the letters, not all as I was fast losing the will to live,I came to this conclusion.The majority of the letters supported the programme claiming that hearing both sides of an argument is a good thing. I agree with that thought.So my question is when will we hear the BBC give a fair and unbiased report from our side.Fat chance from a bunch of Guardian readers!

  • 306.
  • At 10:36 PM on 02 Nov 2006,
  • David wrote:

Who are the enemy?

Can not the enemy be the British and American invaders of Afganistan and Iraq?

If so, then any county so invaded has a right to fight and defeat the invaders. Would we not do the same if we were invaded by Germany in the Second World War?

As far as I am concerned the defeat of British and American Imperialism should be supported by every person in the UK. The British and US states are the real enemy of all the working peoples of the world including the working people within the UK borders.

  • 307.
  • At 01:32 AM on 03 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref 'Esra Karatash Alpay' #301

Ref 'policy' - suggest you read The BBC's Royal Charter [1] & for context of this post my #287

Highlight the bit in the Charter about being duty bound to do the propaganda for our enemies.


"Hello, this is the BBC, we are broadcasting an interview with Adolf Hitter in the Berlin Chancellery, this day 1st April 1942"

Did not happen - why?

"Hello, this is the BBC, we are broadcasting an interview with Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, this day 1st April 1951"

Did not happen - why?

"Hello, this is the BBC, we are broadcasting an interview with General Leopoldo Galtieri in Buenos Aires , this day 1st April 1982"

Did not happen - why?

"Hello, this is the BBC, we are broadcasting an interview with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, this day 1st February 1991"

Did not happen - why? *

* anything to do with the fact that our British Public Broadcaster has tended up to this point not to do the propaganda pieces for the enemies of this country we are actually at war with?




  • 308.
  • At 09:44 PM on 03 Nov 2006,
  • AKBER A. KASSAM. wrote:

Dear BBC,

Although, I am an American, live in New-York City, but I love immensily
BBC BLOGS, because BBC is one the most trusted net work in the world, they are fair and balanced, much more better then our American news media.

Keep up the good work. !!!!!!

New-York City,
New York.

  • 309.
  • At 09:13 PM on 04 Nov 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref 'David' #306

"As far as I am concerned the defeat of British and American Imperialism should be supported by every person in the UK. The British and US states are the real enemy of all the working peoples of the world including the working people within the UK borders"

So to hold & promote an opinion like that ... pray tell where do you hail from & what have been your influences?


  • 310.
  • At 09:33 AM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Jane wrote:

Trust in both the British and US governments' decisions over Afghanistan and Iraq has long since evaporated. We need to hear what's actually going on, to know the truth from both sides of the fence.

The only way conflict can possibly be resolved is to understand the feelings of injustice from both sides, no matter how misguided they seem to some parties.

We're in Afghanistan now to rebuild and keep the peace. So let's listen to what they have to say. Thanks BBC.

  • 311.
  • At 05:36 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • cairo wrote:

I got a better idea. Get the heck out of Iraqi and Afghan soil. Leave and take away all rebuilding and help programs. They don't need the people who slaughtered millions to help them. They were a nation before we came and they will rebuild it on their own. Stop thinking they need help. The only help they need is removal of western influence. Try it. I'm sure you will be suprised how much prgoress they can achieve without the west.

  • 312.
  • At 08:43 AM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • Lee wrote:


I'm an American who regularly reads and keeps track of views and events around the world. Here, I find a media in which there are dissenting opinions, discussions, and beleifs that allow me to make up my own mind. In America, however, many people remain clueless as to the conflict in Afganistan, as well as the fact that American media is biased and focused on getting the viewer to agree to a specific point. Even worse is the lack of different views presented.

Here, I can continue some of the points made earlier. To those who think a move toward objectivity is treason; a key point I want to make is that individuality comes before nationalism. If a son or friend or person in general goes to a war to die for the country, that shows personal strength, not the 'goodness' opf the country they serve under. That applies for US/British forces as well as the Taliban. Wars are always ideals vs. ideals, but the people fighting them, the soldiers, are always good people vs. good people, as shown in the film. Unlike the media portrayal of good vs. evil in a war, the people are always human-- if their ideologies or beleifs were different, many of these 'extremists' or taliban might actually be 'good' people. Sure. They hate Americans, for example. But imagine if we were Muslims. The taliban would care for us. The same if the Taliban were peaceful British or American citizens. We would see them as having strong spirit. It must be clarified that the Taliban are not evilo people, nor is this a war of good vs. evil. Simply that this is a war between ideals and the media for both the Taliban and the US/UK are twisting it into the mess it is today. We should respect the 'enemy' still being the enemy of our ideals but also as people of strength, physically but also mentally. This report makes a movement into this grey area and that is why I would like more news like such, at least as much as our own media may support the war with. Let the people decide with all of the views, not just one side--it is a democracy after all, isn't it?

  • 313.
  • At 09:48 PM on 13 Nov 2006,
  • Philip wrote:

I didn't see the film unfortunately, so I am uncertain what all the fuss is about ? Filming 'the enemy' in a war is hardly a new thing.

This is what John Simpson tried to do as a non-embedded reporter.

Jon Snow's great book 'Shooting History' talks about the time he went to report on both sides of a conflict in Latin America.

Sorry to advertise for the competition, but if it is good enough for Jon Snow...

  • 314.
  • At 12:29 AM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • Mr Bean wrote:

Excellent balanced journalism.

What is the world coming to?

Ego seems to take number one among most of this world's leaders, (at least until they reach the end of their term in office when they realise they could have performed better and try to put things right)

Very sad.

  • 315.
  • At 01:29 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

Well done David Loyn and the team, well done BBC
Well delivered piece, Journalism at its best,
The piece should win award in best journalism category along with bravery medallion from Her Majesty.
All the best

  • 316.
  • At 03:14 AM on 15 Jan 2007,
  • Patrick, Georgia, USA wrote:

I don't think anyone should be mad that you try to show what the Taliban are like. But I understand how it hurts morale for lies of the Taliban to be repeated on the home front. Some will believe and repeat these charges, useful fools Stalin used to call them. The Taliban has nothing to lose in interviews because they could care less what anyone thinks about them. Their support is commanded by the threat of immense brutality. The message at the conclusion of piece was that the Afghan government is corrupt, reconstruction is a failure and efforts are hopeless. That is very defeatist about a battle we can't afford to lose. Allow these fanatics to control one nation and then another and another and it will not be long before they have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. They feel perfectly justified by the Koran to kill billions of people around the world if need be until every person on Earth is under the yoke of Sharia law. I would have rather seen the message of the story is that we are making mistakes and we have to figure out how to get it right because otherwise we go down in a big way.

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