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Thursday, April 20, 2006


"Give Peaceniks a Chance?

My feelings are that if an competent adult knowingly places themselves in a battle zone protesting the war and is kidnapped, then they did so knowing that was a real possibility and a consequence of the actions they undertook.  Great if they can be rescued in the NORMAL course of military operations, but otherwise hope they manage to convince their captors to spare them until the end of the war.  Life's tough sometimes.

"Give Peaceniks a Chance?

By Val MacQueen

Source Tech Central Station Daily

"In what must be one of the most extraordinary military rescues in history, the British SAS and the Canadian special forces recovered 74-old-British peace activist Norman Kember and his two co-hostages by warning the kidnappers that they would be coming by to effect a rescue and it would be a good idea if they weren't there. Once the "several million pound" ultra sophisticated surveillance operation was ready to activate, the SAS detained a man they were certain was one of the kidnap leaders, persuaded him to cooperate with details of where the hostages were held and ordered him to warn his cohorts to vacate the premises.


By the time the British and Canadians blew the door off the house, 118 days after the kidnapping, it was empty except for the three hostages lying on the floor, bound but unguarded. As Glasgow Sunday Herald writer Torcuil Crighton wrote, "With the names of the executed Britons Margaret Hassan and Ken Bigley haunting the Foreign Office, there was never any question of the British government not going after the gang that kidnapped the 74-year-old peace activist Kember."


Norman Kember doesn't approve of the war in Iraq.


He had made his feelings known to the government, which had inexplicably failed to heed his insights, thus leaving Kember, a retired physics professor, no choice but to go to Iraq to try to organize things himself. He and three others, including 54-year-old American Tom Fox, under the aegis of Christian Peacemaker Teams, went to Iraq with the specific aim of helping Iraqis opposed to the war to file grievance suits against the Coalition of the Willing.


On November 26 last year, they were kidnapped by the Swords of Truth Brigade, an outfit that specializes in ransom demands, and on November 30, the now traditional video footage of pleas made its traditional appearance on al-Jazeera. The choreography creaked along, with a second al-Jazeera video of threats made by the hostage-takers a few days later, followed by a video-ed plea from Kember's wife a few days after that.


Meanwhile, Kember called, in yet another video, for British troops to be pulled out of Iraq, apparently unaware that his kidnappers had little interest in the war one way or the other. They kidnap people for money. A day or two after that, Abu Qatada, a terrorist suspect -- so someone with street cred in the hood -- made a guest appearance video pleading for their release. Two days later, another terrorist suspect, British-born ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, made his own video pleading for their lives.


Then, the deadline passed and all went quiet on the video front. Suddenly, at the end of January, production picked up again, with a video showing the four hostages alive. Two days after that, another video was released, this one showing only three of the hostages. Missing was American Tom Fox. Three days later the Americans confirmed that a body found in Iraq was that of Fox. There has been no explanation of why he was murdered


Thirteen days later, the three remaining hostages were rescued in the massive, "several million pounds" operation.


On arrival at London's Heathrow, his face churlishly free of gratitude, Kember allowed as how he was fairly pleased to be home.


The Christian Peacemaker Team put out a press release advising that the three had "been released", which was a lie, of course. Kember and his two fellow hostages had been rescued in one of the most sophisticated operations ever mounted. Besides the "several million pounds", the massive three months of meticulous and sophisticated information-gathering and planning had involved cooperation between Coalition forces, the SAS, the Joint Communications Headquarters at Cheltenham, MI5 and MI6, with both the armed forces and ordinary Iraqis taking tremendous risks.


The British press and the public were quick to pick up on, and condemn, Kember's self-righteous omission of a single word of gratitude that he was back in Britain with his head was still firmly attached to his rigid, disapproving neck, thanks to the action of British military forces. According to Oliver Poole reporting from Baghdad for Britain's The Telegraph, the three rescued hostages also refused to cooperate in their debriefing. Britain's Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson appeared in television studios with a face like thunder.


Although Kember was eventually persuaded to make a faintly more gracious statement, this begs the question: should someone who has demonstrated disloyalty to his own country and has deliberately placed himself in harm's way be the subject of massive public expenditure and risk of the lives of professional soldiers, and ordinary citizens on the ground, when his foolish and willful behavior leads him to be kidnapped? If the citizen shows no loyalty to his country, what does his country owe him?

Val MacQueen is a TCS contributing writer."

when his foolish and willful behavior leads him to be kidnapped? If the citizen shows no loyalty to his country, what does his country owe him?


Hanoi Jane should have been tried for treason and convicted of murder by giving the enemy the S.S. numbers of the soldiers who gave them to her in the handshake as she went thru the prisoner line in North Viet-Nam.
Could not agree with you more. There was a proposal before the Georgia Legislature to honor Jane Fonda for her work to lower teen pregnancies and the Legislature literally lit up with speeches of condemnation regarding her treasonous actions in Nam. They went through a very formal process of voting so the record would reflect that Georgia was not about to honor her for anything. All legislators except for the person proposing it voted a resounding NO.

It was a proud day for me and may provide a bit of relief for others of our era.
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