Friday, June 22, 2007

BBC The Fifth Column?

As this poster from WWII communicates, one should not blithley give away information about military units or their precise movements. This is sheer common sense. Information is power in war. If you know where the enemy is, his routes of travel, and his strength at any particular location, then you can successfully attack and kill them. Such information in wartime is always classified and always closely guarded. It is a matter of life and death. This is all the more true when you are moving on the offensive - as the U.S. military is now doing. The U.S. military is in the opening stage of a massive Corps size offensive going on throughout Iraq, including in Diyala Province.

The BBC ran a story on the U.S. and Iraqi offensive in Diyala Province the other day. At the conclusion of the article, they appended the following request for information:

"Are you in Iraq? Have you seen any troop movements? If you have any information you would like to share with the BBC, you can do so using the form below."
See here. There is an excellent discussion of this at the website Biased BBC. And the Telegraph provides some additional information on this incident:
A spokesman was unable to offer a detailed explanation of why anyone at the BBC should be seeking such information or whether any details on troop movements had been received.

He refused to identify who put the message up but said that "the journalist" responsible had been reminded that "this is not a form of words we would use".

However, in a statement, the BBC added: "BBC Online regularly asks visitors to its websites to supply information they may have relating to a specific story through a response form posted at the end of a news item.

"This particular page should not have been published. The BBC never broadcasts or publishes information which may put British troops at increased risk."
Read the entire article here. here. There is no legitimate reason whatsoever for the BBC to be seeking this information just as American soldiers are launching a major offensive. Information on troop movements during an offensive has no news value. Its only value is to the enemy. Even setting aside for the moment the virulently anti-American bent of the BBC, as well as their pro-Arab bent, it is quite reasonable that our government should be demanding a thorough investigation of who put up this request for information, who received information per the request, and whether it was retransmitted to anyone.

The BBC has completely stepped over the line on this one.


Martin Belam said...

I've seen a lot of excited comment about this, but surely the real story doesn't bear up to the scrutiny it is being put under?

For two hours, on one page of the BBC's website, someone made the wrong choice of words. The BBC doesn't as a routine ask for details of troop movements. The BBC didn't publish or broadcast any details of troop movements. It isn't even clear that the BBC received any details of troop movements. The BBC removed it and apologised as soon as it was pointed out. A true fifth column would be doing this on a regular basis and publishing the results, surely?

scott said...

It may well be that this turns out to be much ado about nothing. But it also needs to be thoroughly investigated. This cannot just be brushed off. Whether the BBC published the information is irrelevant. The questions are who requested the information, did they receive information, what did they do with it, was it retransmitted, and if so to whom.

A request for information on "troop movements" during a major offensive is information that the enemy would dearly love to have. I find it difficult to believe that both an journalist and an editor are so clueless of the miitary and basic security that they would request such specific information in blissful ignorance. It may be the case. But it seems at least equally likely that someone at the BBC may have an ulterior motive. It is that someone with whom I am concerned. Memories of Kim Philby are coming to mind.

In retrospect, you are probably correct that "Fifth Column" is far to strong a term to describe the BBC as a whole. Granting that, I still strongly believe that the BBC news division is hopelessly biased and needs to be spun off the public dole.

Anonymous said...

The person who posted this request should be supplied to both the British and US governments for questioning. Where do you catagorize this action: extreme naive stupidity or treason during war? As the media has shown a willful desire to enter the fray and become a combatant we should prosecute accordingly. When they undertake actions like this they are no longer neutral observers, they are valid targets.


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