Piers Morgan: one day you're the tree, the next you're the lampost
27 May 2004
Poor old Piers. Morgan but not forgotten. Forced out last week by the board of Trinity Mirror after his fake torture pictures turned out to be, well, fake.
Like the BBC before them, the paper apologised "unreservedly for publishing the pictures and deeply regrets the damage done to the reputation of the QLA [the Queen's Lancashire Regiment] and the Army in Iraq."
...which all seemed to placate Colonel David Black, the former commanding officer of the QLA, who said that his regiment would feel "vindicated and relieved" at the verdict, and that they can at long last "get on with life."
And indeed, we all hope now that the QLA will be able to put this ugly episode behind them, and get on with the business of maintaining the illegal occupation of Iraq. An occupation which, with the reckless Morgan gone, will be safer, we trust, for coalition troops.As Colonel Black put it:
It [was] time that the ego of one editor was measured against the life of the soldier...
Well said, Colonel. You can't have people going around endangering the lives of British troops by publishing, knowingly, recklessly or otherwise, serious allegations that later prove to be untrue.
After all, just imagine if the Prime Minister started acting in exactly the same way - say by putting his signature, willy-nilly, on dossiers that alledged that Saddam Hussein was capable of deploying weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, simply because it happened to suit his agenda.
Never mind one British soldier, that kind of reckless behavior would probably result in an estimated 2,200 British troops being killed or injured in the fighting of a war that might also very easily leave an estimated 9,137 Iraq civilians dead.
But - hey ho - let us not dwell on Morgan when his resignation is one of the less interesting things that have happened in the last twelve months or so.
Here are some of the more interesting ones...
Britain and America invaded Iraq on the basis of officially sanctioned (and published) evidence that has since been shown to be completely untrue. One of those pieces of evidence was the so-called '45 minute claim'. Another was the claim that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy Yellow Cake uranium from Niger.
Incidentally, the claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction were supported by information from (head of the Iraqi National Congress) Ahmad Chalabi and (high ranking defector) Khidir Hamza. In an interview, former UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter told The London News Review...
"Every intelligence source has to be evaluated. With technical intelligence, you need a database of imagery to compare with what’s happening on the ground. And human intelligence traditionally has some checks and balances built in. Does the source have access to the information he or she claims? Do they have a record of reliable reporting? Can the information be corroborated elsewhere?
But Chalabi and Hamza don’t pass any of the tests. Chalabi’s a known fraud with political motivations. He doesn’t pass the common sense test and his information not only fails to be corroborated by imagery and data: it’s contradicted by them. And yet they believed it anyway.
And Hamza was just an outright liar. He wasn’t who he said he was. He should never have been trusted. Ever. So I have no use for these gentlemen. I find them culpable in the deaths, not only of 560 Americans, but also over 60 British soldiers and 10,000 Iraqis.
But the information was published anyway, Iraq was invaded and scores of British troops are dead as a result.
Neither President Bush or Tony Blair has published a full page apology for being 'duped'. No high ranking member of the armed forces has publicly called for Tony Blair to publish such an apology or to resign.
While the pictures published by the Mirror were almost certainly fake, the accusations of abuse made to the Mirror by serving members of the British armed forces are supported by sworn testimony and a Red Cross report. And the fake photos were almost certainly taken by rogue members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. The same regiment whose former commander accused Morgan of doing enormous damage to the reputation to the "good lads and good lasses of the regiment."
Last year, the BBC's today programme published a report by journalist Andrew Gilligan claiming that the government had 'sexed up' the 45 minute claim dossier.
A public inquiry found that the accusation of 'sexing up' was not true and that the BBC was wrong in reporting it. Lord Hutton, the judge in charge of the inquiry limited the scope of his inquiry to that question. He did not examine the wider question of the accuracy of intelligence information that lead to the war.
As a result of Lord Hutton's findings, Greg Dyke, former Director General of the BBC, no longer has a job.
Now, as a result of the fake pictures row, neither does Piers Morgan.
People who do still have jobs include:
Prime Minister Tony Blair,
President George W. Bush,
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.
Charles Kennedy is away.
Piers Morgan: A textimonial
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