Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: December 2006

31 December 2006

Saddam Execution Update; Raw, Uncensored Video Footage ...


Someone has just sent us this.

It's raw, uncensored video footage showing Saddam's actual execution.

We've nothing else to add.


30 December 2006

So, Saddam Hussein Swung; So What?

So, we see that Saddam Hussein swung.

So what?

So a single drop in the ocean (despot-wise), has (admittedly, deservedly), died as he had lived - via violence.

But we still say, so what?

Almost all of Saddam's enablers, armourers, accomplices, aiders & abetters and his equally evil, devious, leader peers elsewhere - especially in our respective, so called, civilised western countries' heinous hierarchies - still strut and stroll freely.

They still live lives of luxury as they feast off the fats of their people's lands, and at their leisure & pleasure sup freely of others' blood, sweat and tears. Including yours and ours.

They still grow richer as we, the overwhelming majority of the masses, grow poorer - and certainly neither simply nor solely in the most easily understood terms of filthy, tangible lucre.

They continue becoming increasingly more powerful and decreasingly less caring - as far as their ordinary fellow countrymen and women are concerned.

They continue organising and ordering the mass killings of innocents.

Also -- the premeditated, serial infliction of torture, pain, maiming, deprivation, persecution, and all manner of similar suffering for which they are responsible -- it all remains rampant, unabated, largely unchallenged and almost totally unrestrained.

None of the terrible trauma experienced by any who sincerely strive to stand up to them, or even strongly and conscientiously dare to criticize them, has ceased.

Nor have they even lessened. Neither in quantity nor 'quality'. Nor are they likely to.

So, Saddam Hussein has swung.

So bloody well what?

The serially spewed, shameless shit of the same old, same old smoke and sodding mirrors -- that's what. And that's all. And don't let anyone try to tell you anything different.

Invoking inane, hackneyed, blase, lame, repititious, stock utterances such as 'The world's a better place ...', they retain the audacity to attempt to placate any regular man & woman in the street's uncertainties with just such (and similar), transparent tissues of lies.

What a gargantuan barrel of bullshit. What a humungus load of bollocks. What sheer unadulterated, raw codswallop. What contemptible insults to, and reprehensible disdain for, our own common sense and basic intelligence.

When you awoke this morning where you aware of any improvements?

Like hell you weren't. Likewise we weren't. Likewise nobody else was.

Since, - for those who may not yet have realised it, we want to plainly point out that - the dead have definitely not risen. Not a single, solitary one of them.

No bloodied broken victims have become whole again. Nor are any of them likely to.

Useless, senseless, sickening (yet convenient and/or profitable), wholesale slaughter still holds sway -- and is set to continue to. All under the disingenuous guise of serving the 'national' interest.

Sincere dissent and/or serious discussion is still stifled -- and will continue to be.

Political, religious and racist scores - both national and international - are still settled daily, almost always unmercifully -- and will continue to be. Of that you may be certain. As a matter of fact you can quite categorically quote us on it.

The puke producing political pricks in power still proliferate -- and will continue to.

Needless wars based on patently outrageous lies are still being waged -- and will continue to be.

Moreover, even as we type, fresh carnage elsewhere is currently in the offing.

Plans aplenty are already well and truly laid.

The great game goes on.

More madness and mayhem is at this precise moment being arranged -- the bulk of it, in the most meticulous, cold blooded, calculated manner imaginable .

So Saddam Hussein has swung.

So we say again, so what?

The monied, powerbroking wankers of our world still decide (completely, callously), our collective (and mainly miserable), destiny.

And we can count on them continuing to -- for as long as we the people remain so appallingly apathetic as to always accept and allow it all.

So Saddam Hussein has swung.

So what?

(See what some of the Arab world is saying).


29 December 2006

Home Sweet Home - Or Back Down To Earth With A Bump ...

We've been Christmasing (if there is such a word) in Calella, Costa Brava, Catalonia, sunny Spain.

But tonight ... brrrrrr ... we're back in dear old blighty ... aka Britain.

Cold, wet and windy bloomin' Britain, to boot.

But tomorrow we'll be back to blogging.

So in the meantime we want to thank you all for your warmest, seasonal best wishes.

We also want to apologise for the delay in moderation and publication of this last week's collection of kindest comments.

And, apart from the imbecile(s) who have been busy bombarding the blog with stupid - and sometimes sickening - spam, we hope that you and yours all enjoyed the holidays as much as we did.

'See' you sometime on Saturday.

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21 December 2006

This Old Brit's Taking Some Xmas Time Off ...

We're taking a bit of breather over the Xmas holidays.

No blogs. No television. No radio. No papers. No phones. No mail.

We'll be mixing a little traveling with lots and lots of relaxing, and some peace and quiet aplenty.

Well, that's the theory we're about to do our darndest to try to put into practice.

But before we go we'd like to thank you all for your loyal support throughout 2006.

And we send our sincere seasonal greetings and warmest wishes to you and yours.

See you all again soon.

In the meantime -- Peace on earth and goodwill to all.


20 December 2006

US Invader Occupiers: Iraq Christmas Siege Shame ...

Hands up if you thought that mediaeval methods of civilian subjugation such as laying siege to whole communities had long since been consigned to the ancient history books.

Well, we have to tell you that if you held up your hand, you can now don a dunce's cap and go stand in a corner, and face the wall at the back of the class.

Sound horribly harsh? Especially, in the 21st century?

Seem ever so slightly uncivilized in these (allegedly), so enlightened times?

Then take a good look at this and see if you still think so.

At least eight children have died and seven women have had miscarriages in the town of al-Sinya which invading U.S. troops have put under siege for more than 50 days.
Not very nice, eh?

Neither is this.

The town's nearly 50,000 inhabitants are now without running water and food supplies are running dangerously low.

But the occupiers seem to be determined to proceed with their mass punishment and are turning away aid convoys.

Pregnant women are denied access to the maternity hospital in Baiji and many others now risk miscarriage.
Read the report for yourself right here.

And if you think that's bad -- you ain't seen or heard nothing yet.

That is, not unless you've recently gotten yourself over to fellow blogger Mark's mind blowing,
'Gorilla's Guides' -- which is where we first found out about this siege.

Along with, we might add, a helluva lot more awful (and authentic), reports coming in regularly from numerous 'boots-on-the-ground' sources over in Iraq.

But please be prepared ... since, as we've previously stated ... you ain't seen nothing yet.

And be warned as well;Mark pulls no punches and takes no prisoners.

The season of goodwill, eh?

Peace on earth and all that sort of stuff, eh?


Well, will you tell that to the shits running this shocking, Christmas 'siege-show' -- or shall we?

What's that?

We should?

Okay, then.

Consider it done.


19 December 2006

Our Christmas Good Cause ...

Photo: Dominic.  Click to donate to NSE

Here's a good cause that's extremely close to This Old Brit's and Richard's hearts.

Can you help us help this cause this Christmas?

Click on Dominic's photo to donate to NSE today or to set up a regular donation. Dominic has severe epilepsy as well as learning disability. NSE strives to help families like Dominic's cope with epilepsy.

The National Society for Epilepsy

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Support us: Make a donation

NSE works in many ways to help people with epilepsy as well as their families, friends and carers.

Photo: Dominic.  Click to donate today


Dominic and Hamish are cousins. In 1999, when they were born, their parents were very excited, comparing notes on feeding, sleeping etc. At that time they had little idea of the sudden changes Dominic and his family would face, and how stark the contrast between two little boys would become.

When they were just 2 years old, as Hamish was starting to walk and talk, Dominic had his first seizure - he has had over 1500 since. Although some people have very infrequent seizures this is not the case for Dominic. His condition is complex and he needs 24 hour care.

Now, while Hamish never stops talking, Dominic does not speak. As Hamish plays football 25 times a month, Dominic has the equivalent number of seizures. Hamish plays with his big brother, and Dominic's big brother has learned to play on his own. The differences between the two boys grow as quickly as they do.

Could you give a helping hand to Dominic and his family and those like them, living with epilepsy, by contributing what you can to help NSE today?

Any donation will be gratefully received but here are some suggestions on ways you can help:

£10 donation - find out more about the helpline Could help pay for Dominic’s parents to access a confidential helpline whenever they want to talk to someone in confidence about his epilepsy.
£20 donation - find out more about epilepsy information Could provide Dominic’s parents with free information packs and regular up-to-date news on medical research.
£100 donation - find out more about training services Could provide first aid training in Dominic’s school so his teachers and peers are better equipped to help him.

Or make a regular donation...

£30 a month donation - find out more about EIN Would help fund an epilepsy information service so parents like Dominic’s could access local face-to-face information and support.
£50 a month donation - find out more about the research programme Will help fund a new research programme into the genetic causes of chronic epilepsy which could give everyone with epilepsy hope for the future that their condition can be improved.

Donate online now

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Thanks - a - million!


18 December 2006

Enigmatic American Economy Extracts ...

Maybe you know more about money than we do, since we readily confess that we never seem to have enough of the stuff. And whenever we do manage to get our hands on any extra, it doesn't usually stay there for long.

So, who the hell are we to try to explain anything financial to anyone?

Anyway, we're not officially licensed for lobbing about financial advice -- be it either of the free, or the properly bought & paid for variety.

Better then that we let folks do their own adding-up and figure a few things out for themselves, eh?

However, here's a starter-trio of really recent, US dollar related news reports we reckon are well worth reading.

Dollar dropped in Iran asset move

The move could have implications for the oil market

Iran is to shift its foreign currency reserves from dollars to euros and use the euro for oil deals in response to US-led pressure on its economy.

In a widely expected move, Tehran said it would use the euro for all future commercial transactions overseas.

More here at link.

And then there's this one.

US deficit heading towards record

High oil costs have been boosting the cost of products such as petrol

The US current account deficit has kept widening, signalling that the world's largest economy is still having to foot a massive bill for energy imports.

The deficit was $225.6bn in the three months to the end of September, up from a revised $217.1bn in the previous quarter, the Commerce Department said.

That pushed the total for the first nine months of the year to $655.9bn, well on course for an annual record.

The deficit's size has raised concerns about the state of the US economy.
Find the full piece here.

And can you believe this? Moreover, can you say 'Melt-Down'?

Mint bans melting coins - now worth more as liquid than loot.

Chicato Sun-Times

WASHINGTON - Given rising metal prices, the pennies and nickels in your pocket are worth more melted down than their face value, and that has the government worried.

U.S. Mint officials said Wednesday they were putting into place rules prohibiting the melting down of 1-cent and 5-cent coins, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for people convicted of violating the rule.

Because of the prevailing prices of metals, the cost of producing pennies and nickels exceeds the coins' face value.
Read the rest of this remarkable report right here.

Phew. While we've often heard the phrase re; money not being worth the paper it's printed on -- this report about US coins not now being worth the metal they're cast from, is a first for us.

It's a good job we're not financial whiz-kids, otherwise we might start wondering. And that might even lead to worry -- which, unlike dosh, we definitely don't need any more of.


17 December 2006

Iraq: What Our Own Governments Would Rather We Didn't Remember ...


Here's how a couple of our decent, regular American friends reacted when we showed them the short video linked below.

We're sure that so long as we don't positively identify them individually, they won't mind us passing on their thoughts.

Lets call our first American mate, M and the other one, D.

Here's M's heartfelt comment:
I watch that video, Richard, and I just want to cry.

We've invaded a country, and destroyed a civil society, for no good goddamn reason.

Which is not to say anyone here "supports Saddam" -- of course the Iraqi people deserved better leadership than Saddam gave them; the video makes that clear.

But what we've given them instead is chaos, and indiscriminate punishment.
You nailed it, M.

And here's D's sincere response:
It strikes me that video like that is what the Bush regime most fears will be shown to mainstream America.

All it takes is a few minutes of that to make even the simplest Redneck Dittohead think "Hey, they're just like us/me! That is clear in the video, no matter what language they're speaking.

That is what Cheney is really worried about.
Damn right, D.

So lets put it to the test, eh?

It's nothing remotely controversial nor 'covert'. It simply shows ordinary Iraqis going about their ordinary lives -- after sunset when daytime temperatures drop to something - shall we say - more 'sensible'.

Show below is another shot of how those perfectly normal people's capital city Baghdad looked, every normal night.

Then along came BushCo, BlairCo, Shock & Awe and the so-called coalition of the willing.

After that of course, came the (continuing), occupation with all it's own awful, accompanying atrocities.

A fine freedom we brought those poor people, eh?

We should be ashamed.


15 December 2006

British Premier & Attorney General Bow To Saudis And Abandon The Rule Of Law

Those Americans who suggested it was stupid to say that their V.P. Dick Cheney, recently (and short-order-suddenly), was literally 'summoned' to Saudi Arabia by the ruling Royal House of Saud, should certainly now give said stated stance some serious second thoughts.

And we do not mean maybe, baby.

Once again it's been made abundantly clear to anyone with a mere modicum of common sense, that whatever the Saudis say they want -- they get. This time it's Blair's British government's turn to be told to toe the line - or pay a price - of catastrophic proportions.

We could hardly believe our eyes when today, confirmation - if it were ever needed - that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's demands definitely do demote the UK's own rule of law into second place when it comes to any 'You're either for us or against us' scenario .

Gasp aloud -- as you get a gander at this clip from today's relevant Guardian report.

A major criminal investigation into alleged corruption by the arms company BAE Systems and its executives was stopped in its tracks yesterday when the prime minister claimed it would endanger Britain's security if the inquiry was allowed to continue.

The remarkable intervention was announced by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, who took the decision to end the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into alleged bribes paid by the company to Saudi officials, after consulting cabinet colleagues.
For any who aren't aware, Lord Goldsmith as the United Kingdom's Attorney General virtually IS the law of our land.

He also just happens to be one of Tony Blair's oldest buddies/cronies, having been the boy Blair's old flat-mate during their chummy, ra-therrr, whizz-bang, eh-what?, old chap, university days.

But all that, of course, was well before Blair elevated his old mate to the peerage and provided him with his title, priviledged seat in the House of Lords and accompanying position of great power.

Reeling yet? You will be.

Read on.

In recent weeks, BAE and the Saudi embassy had frantically lobbied the government for the long-running investigation to be discontinued, with the company insisting it was poised to lose another lucrative Saudi contract if it was allowed to go on. This came at a time when the SFO appeared to have made a significant breakthrough, with investigators on the brink of accessing key Swiss bank accounts.

However, Lord Goldsmith consulted the prime minister, the defence secretary, foreign secretary, and the intelligence services, and they decided that "the wider public interest" "outweighed the need to maintain the rule of law".

Can you believe what you've just read? Or what you're about to read next?

Mr Blair said it would be bad for Britain's security if the SFO was allowed to go ahead, according to the statement made in the Lords by Lord Goldsmith.

The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the threat.

At this point we think it's time we took a breather, as we're already too angry to attempt to type much more on this shocking if not absolutely scandalous matter.

And while we were temporarily tempted to tie this piece up by asking what we the ordinary British and American people had done to deserve such louses for leaders, we eventually decided there's no damned need to.

Since almost anyone and/or everyone who is honest with themselves already knows the answer -- that the greatest sedition is silence; our own silence -- for far too long.

In other words, it's our collective serial apathy that has finally led us all into this sickening and seemingly now irreversible, shambles of a sensationally sordid, sewer-level-situation.

Please fasten your seat belt before taking off to read the full, frightening story.


14 December 2006

British Prime Minister Blair Quizzed By Cops In 'Questionable' Cash Case ...

We wonder where we've heard that before?

Never mind. We suppose that if you say so Mr Prime Minister, Mr & Mrs Average aught not to argue.

After all, the honourable leader of Her Majesty's Government would never, ever endeavour to emit any erroneous announcements - would he?

Leaving aside Iraq of course, along with Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction and all that kind of crass crap, eh?

Anyway, we aren't actually accusing anyone, Anthony.

As a matter of fact dear boy, we daren't do. Since you'd almost absolutely certainly 'ave us all 'auled up before the beak, for libel.

The truth is that we're merely passing on to the public some information received; albeit some information of the seediest sort.

And anyway, as is quite clearly advised at this old blogger's profile page, Richard just does the reporting -- it's readers who do the deciding.

So, how does something such as this sound for starters?

The British prime minister has been questioned by police investigating the so-called cash-for-peerages affair.

That is such an extraordinary statement in its own right it hardly needs stressing just how serious it is for the government and the Labour party.

It may have long been expected - and there were even those who believed Mr Blair would be interviewed under caution, as a suspect.

That worst scenario may have been avoided, but Mr Blair will be hugely embarrassed by the timing of the interview which came immediately before he left London to fly to an EU summit in Brussels.

Pictures of the prime minister being swept out of Downing Street in his official car for the airport after being interviewed by police are not what he wanted on the front pages at any time.


Then there's this.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates has pursued it vigorously and signalled the seriousness of his inquiry when he revealed in a letter dated 13 November, that "significant and valuable material" had been gathered.

The fact it has been taken so seriously by the police has already seen the government facing allegations it is just as sleazy, or worse, as the Tories were in their darkest days under John Major.

And there's more.

In fact, the full related report can be read right here.


13 December 2006

'Christmas Is Coming' : Caption Competition


After three pretty 'heavy' consecutive editions we thought it apt - as well as seasonable - to try to take some 'time-out' from such serious stuff.

And when we spotted the pic we've posted above we were so tickled pink, and had such a good old fashioned belly-laugh that we felt sure we should share it.

But while the original caption is quite comical as it stands, we felt sure some of you could come up with something snappier, sillier, snarky-er, stupider or whatever.

Like to try to prove us right?

Then take it away.

Have at it.

As the pretzel said to the president -- the floor is all yours.


12 December 2006

Ex US President, Jimmy Carter; On Palestine, Peace, Apartheid And Israel ...

This old Yank, Jimmy Carter ex President of the United States of America and long time, well respected world-wide, Nobel Peace Prize winner, has a well-worth-reading as well as well informed, personal opinion piece published in today's Guardian.

Here's a bit from it's beginning.

Israel, Palestine, peace and apartheid

Americans need to know the facts about the abominable oppression of the Palestinians

Jimmy Carter

Tuesday December 12, 2006

The Guardian

The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations - but not in the United States.

For the past 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts.

This reluctance to criticise policies of the Israeli government is due to the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.

Here's a quick clip from it's middle.

What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the US exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.
And here's an excerpt from it's ending.

Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort.
Access all of the article here.


10 December 2006

Now Another Military Message; Via An American Army Officer ...

David Ehrenstein is an acclaimed author, celebrity critic, show-biz columnist and a bloomin' good blogger, to boot.

So, he was one of the the last people on the planet we'd have expected to find something like the following coming from.

Nonetheless, it did. And what's more, David's happy for This Old Brit to publish it here in full.

Like our previous post, it's a message from a U.S. military man. This time, it's an American army officer, and we recommend reading every word.


This just in from my (David Ehrenstein's) friend Lucian K. Truscott IV (Thomas Jefferson's great-great-grandson):

The Pentagon's big plan to "win" the war is to train about 1,000 Captains, Majors and Lt. Col's so they can do this guy's job the way he describes it in his letter below. The chances of that happening are about the same as George W. Bush waking up tomorrow morning, changing his mind, and admitting his mistakes. I'm pretty sure I regognize the Iraqi military base he describes in his letter. It was the 101st Airborne Division 2nd Bde headquarters base in downtown Mosul, right on the Tigris River, back in 2003 when I was there.

[Note from ****y ******n: A *** buddy forwarded this article. It is a must read. It is consistent with what I saw on the ground in Iraq when I was there in June. I discovered that the our focus on counter terrorism--i.e. kicking in doors and killing suspected terrorists--was counterproductive and not diminishing the violence in Iraq. Sometimes we were right but sometimes we were wrong. When we were wrong we ended up creating new enemies. John McCain's mantra about more troops is off base. We don't just need more troops, we need more of the right kind of troops. We need more special forces troops like Bill Edmonds. Unfortunately, we call them "Special Forces" for a reason. Not everyone can do the job and it takes years to train these men and women. Without the right kind of forces we are just digging a deeper hole.]


A Soldier's Story -- by MAJOR ***L ******S

For just a minute or two, step into my life. I am an American soldier in the Army Special Forces. I have just returned from a one-year tour of duty in Iraq, where I lived, shared meals, slept and fought beside my Iraqi counterpart as we battled insurgents in the center of a thousand-year-old city. I am a conflicted man, and I want you to read the story of that experience as I lived it. In the interest of security, I have omitted some identifying details, but every word is true.

Routine and Ritual -- I wake in the cold and dark of each morning to the sound of a hundred different muezzins calling Muslim men and women to prayer. These calls reverberate five times per day throughout a city the size of San Francisco. Above this sound I also hear two American helicopters making their steady patrol over the rooftops of the city and the blaring horns of armored vehicles as they swerve through dense city traffic. As a combat adviser and interrogator, I find these contrasts very appropriate for the life that I now lead. This morning, on the Iraqi base in which I live, I walk 100 feet from my bedroom to work and back again. These are the same 100 feet I will travel month after month for one year. During every trip I smile, put a hand to my heart, sometimes a hand to my head, and say to every passing Iraqi the religious and cultural words that are expected from a fellow human being.

In Iraq, one cannot separate Islamic culture from the individual. They are intrinsically woven into the fabric of daily life, but for most Westerners, they seem abnormal. I sit in smoke-filled rooms and drink sugar-laden tea in small crystal glasses. I spray tobacco-scented air freshener, kiss cheeks three times or more, allow the Iraqi on the right to pass through the doorway first. I know never to inquire on the health of a wife or elder daughter. I even hold hands with other men. I proclaim my submission to God and my relationship to reality by saying "God willing" when referring to any future event. I say "God bless you" every time someone takes a seat. I eat with my hands, standing up, taking food from communal bowls. I attend work meetings where socializing is always the first priority. I hear the expressions "upon my mustache" or "by my eyes" or "over my head"--signifying the most binding and heartfelt of oaths. One day, I ask an Iraqi friend how many relatives he has and he answers, "In the city, maybe a thousand."

I have slowly come to realize that in Islam, and in Iraq, every action is worship. Every single thing that a person does--not just prayer or the time spent in a mosque but every action--is in fact an act of veneration. So yes, many things are different here. Yet we all have become friends--good friends--in part because I am here; I honor them and their religion by going out of my way to show them respect. Not all Americans act this way. Many Americans assume that if a person does not speak English, it implies a lack of intelligence or some mental simplicity. We usually speak up only when spoken to. We attend meetings to pass information in the most efficient ways possible; our goal is always to decrease time while not losing content. For most Americans, God is intensely personal and religious utterances are not considered appropriate in a group of strangers. Our society is established on the principle of separating religion from state. In America, tobacco is quickly becoming a social taboo, and most men do not hold hands. If we are the first to arrive at a door, we enter first. We go on dates to meet future spouses--this is a cultural activity that I try again and again to explain. Also, Americans are a pragmatic people. We calculate the merit of an action first by its utility. In Islam, such a philosophy is immoral, and this truth is clearly manifest in the current clash between the Muslim and the postmodern worlds. So yes, we are very different. Yet if I look closely, with eyes wide open, I see that we are in some ways very much alike.

I jogged this morning around the small Iraqi base where I live. It was 6:00 a.m. and mildly warm. I wore very revealing blue Nike running shorts with ankle socks while listening to Limp Bizkit on my iPod. I slowly passed a small group of Iraqis and they all just stared, unsmiling. As I came closer, with a huge smile spread across my face, I put my hand to my heart and said, "Peace be upon you all," (in Arabic of course) while gasping for air. They all, in unison, completely changed and beamed smiles, waved, talked, gave me a thumbs-up and replied, "Peace be upon you."

Insurgents -- On this small plot of land where I live, next to the Tigris River, in the very center of an Islamic metropolis, I help find and then interrogate terrorists alongside the Iraqi officer whom I advise and with whom I also live. We interrogate hundreds of suspected terrorists over many, many months. One of my responsibilities is to insure that prisoners are not abused. This I have done. But for a year I have also been an observer of an immensely complicated situation. I am a soldier who fights alongside Iraqis, and I interact daily with and hear the words of Iraqi soldiers, civilians and insurgents alike. Through their eyes I see the strengths, foibles and faults of my military and culture. Sometimes I wish for the return of my ignorance. If no one else can understand my distress, I hope other Americans who fought shoulder to shoulder with other cultures--the French, Filipino, the Nungs and Yards and tribesmen of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia--will understand.

From my seat in a dark basement room I understand that many of those who terrorize have always hated the Americans. But being Muslim is definitely not a predisposition for violence; quite the opposite for most Iraqis. Why is it that many have slowly transformed over three years from happily liberated American supporters, to passive supporters of the insurgency, to active fighters of the American "occupation"? "I love Americans but hate your military," says a college professor turned insurgent. "Americans have come here because you want our oil and because of your support of Israel. You bring democracy, but the Iraqi pays the price." These were the first words I heard from a man I will call Ibrahim. The Iraqi Army had captured him. He was angry, and for the first time he was sitting face to face with the American soldier whom he hates beyond reason.

That was two weeks ago. Yesterday, I put two red plastic chairs outside in the sun and spoke with him again. This time, I believe I am not the American soldier he has come to hate. This time I am "Mr. Bill," and it is now hard for him to hate me. I can see and sense his inner turmoil. For Ibrahim and for me, it is hard to hold on to the hate when the once-indistinct face becomes a real person. Later, he admits to having been deceived about the evil that is the American soldier. For two weeks I have spoken Arabic with him, started and ended every interaction with the required cultural and religious sayings, and demonstrated knowledge of his religion. For two weeks I have shown Ibrahim that I respect him as both an Iraqi and as a Muslim. "It is how you act," he says, "and how we are treated that makes me fight. For many Iraqis this anger at you is just an excuse to kill for money or greed. But for most others, they truly feel they are doing what is right. But you give them this excuse; the American military gives them the excuse." So now terrorist leaders pretending to be pious Iraqis target this very common base anger, Iraqis fight and civilians raise their fists to salute the Holy Fighter.

"Two years ago I saw Abu Ghraib and what Americans did to women. I became an insurgent," whispers a man I call Kareem, another civilian turned insurgent. "You come into our homes without separating the women and children, or asking the men politely if you may enter. Almost every hour of my life I hear some noise or see some sight of the American military. Soldiers talk with Iraqis only from behind a gun, from a position of power and not respect. Last week American soldiers got on a school bus and talked with all of the teenage girls. You had them take off their hijab so you could see their faces. You do not respect our women. This is the biggest of all problems of yours. You do not respect our women. How can we believe that Americans want to help when you do not even respect us or our faith?" I later tell Kareem that these soldiers thought a person hiding a bomb was on the bus. This was obviously too little and too late. Perceptions are what count and word of American soldiers demanding to see the faces of Muslim women streamed from cellphone to cellphone across an entire city.

Perhaps different from other past insurgencies fighting in different societies, within Iraq and over years, negative perceptions are what transform a citizen into an insurgency supporter and then into an insurgent. Now I drive throughout the crowded city alternating between shooting a machine gun and throwing Beanie-Babies to waving children. I think that at least the children are out in the streets and most are still waving. But even this hopeful sight is disappearing. Last night the Iraqi Army captured Ibrahim's cell leader and brought the two together in the same small room. For Ibrahim, this was a very traumatic moment, for he saw that the pious Muslim man, whom he followed but had not met, was in fact a 27-year-old tattooed common criminal. Ibrahim began to weep when he realized he had been deceived. A greedy and immoral man who killed for money while pretending to be religious had skillfully manipulated Ibrahim's anger at Americans.

Before Ibrahim was turned over to the Iraqi authorities, I saw him teaching soldiers to use their new office computer. He was helping them to type up his own written confession. But Ibrahim's transformation is an anomaly. Such a confluence of peaceful events does not often turn an insurgent away from the insurgency. Most insurgents continue to fight the hated American soldier whom they have never met. Their hope is that the American soldier will just go away. Bursting Bubbles I have slowly come to understand that if we are to succeed in Iraq, we must either change the way we perceive and treat those we want to help or we must disengage the great percentage of our military from the population. The Iraqi base where I now live was once a small American base. The anxiety and distress of American soldiers in years past are scratched in the ceiling over my bed. "The mind is a terrible thing...," "keep a sharp look-out during your descent," "happiness is a temporary state of mind," "control is just an illusion" and "nothing is as it seems." Across the room, on another wall, next to another bed, are other words from another soldier. They read, "My score in this War: Arabs=10, cars=10, houses=3." American soldiers are angry and frustrated with Iraqis.

Iraqis are angry and frustrated with Americans. Many Iraqis just want American soldiers to go away, and I struggle within myself not to agree. Day after day I observe the interactions of Americans with Iraqis and am often ashamed. I see that required classes given to all American soldiers on cultural sensitivity do not work; 100,000 or more American soldiers daily interacting, engaging and fighting Iraqis within their own society for more than three years will inevitably create a wellspring of citizen hostility. In this war, none of us can change who we fundamentally are. American military culture interacts with Iraqi Islamic culture like a head-on collision. And massive deployments of American soldiers fighting a counterinsurgency now hurts more than it helps. When we focus on the military solution to resolve a social problem, we inevitably create more insurgents than we can capture or kill.

As a consequence, real "Islamic terrorists" subverting their own tolerant religion will use this popular anger and sense of resentment to their advantage. As much as they hate and fear us, they also say that we cannot just leave the mess that we have made. "I know the American military cannot now leave Iraq," says another captured insurgent whom I will call Muhammad. "If you did, we would all start fighting each other until one person killed enough enemies to come out on top. When I stop seeing your military shooting at civilians on our streets and I stop seeing Iraqi soldiers and policemen as your puppets, then I will stop fighting."

Muhammad may be naïve and living in a bubble of projected motivations and false perceptions. But his bubble burst when he was captured and plucked from an insular society. My own bubble burst when I was taken out of my society and put into Muhammad's. Military leaders tell us to "focus on training the Iraqi soldiers and policemen to fight, and do not fight the insurgency yourself." Yet if the citizen is angry with us, won't this anger just transfer to the very people we train and fight with? What if we are unintentionally assuring that the Iraqi soldiers and policemen will have someone to fight against if we leave? The Iraqi civilian I speak with says that is so. In the eyes of many, there is now no difference between the American on patrol and the Iraqi policeman or soldier who is with the American on patrol. If the citizen believes that the American military is an "occupying power," won't he now perceive the Iraqi policeman or soldier as this occupier's puppet?

American soldiers do live within self-imposed bubbles of isolation. These are called American bases and are where the greatest percentage of soldiers live and never leave. These bubbles are far different from the universe of Muhammad and his colleagues. We know that Muhammad's beliefs about who we are and what motivates us are mostly false. His first perceptions are defined by culture and religion, careful words of terrorist leaders, and a thousand channels of satellite television beamed into the homes of almost every Iraqi. It is then our behavior that contributes to these negative perceptions. Our self-imposed isolation and the citizens' perceptions may be all that the insurgency needs to continue and be successful.

I have come to realize that we isolate our soldiers from the societies in which we operate. We airlift and sealift vacuum-sealed replicas of America to remote corners of the world; once there, we isolate our soldiers from the societies in which we operate. We airlift and sealift vacuum-sealed replicas of America to remote corners of the world; once there, we isolate ourselves from the very people we are trying to protect or win over. An Iraqi once told me, "How you treat us must be like how African-Americans felt." If you're an American soldier in Iraq working as an adviser, ask yourself this: Is the Iraqi I live and fight with not allowed to enter any American facility? If you are a military adviser or training to be an adviser, look around where you eat: Are the Americans on one side of the room and the Iraqis on the other? Do you even eat with Iraqis? Do you go out of your way to avoid eye contact and thus not greet the Iraqis you walk by? Do you try to learn their language or follow their customs? Do you habitually expect Iraqis to share intelligence and then not respond in kind? Do you distrust them?

Last week I read an article in an American newspaper that described a very common scene. Getting ready to go on a mission with an Iraqi policeman, a young American soldier snaps at an Iraqi officer and says, "Get off the cellphone." Then this same soldier turns to another American soldier and says, "He is probably warning a terrorist that we are coming." It may not be racism, only ignorance combined with frustration and paranoia, but to the Iraqi, it sure does feel like racism.

To play the role of a combat adviser--something American military personnel are increasingly asked to do--is to live within a foreign culture and to train and fight with a foreign military. Many American soldiers are not capable of such an important role or mission. The job is long, very difficult, and set within a very austere, hostile and unfamiliar environment. The adviser becomes culturally isolated and so requires a unique personality combined with extensive training; but most lack this expertise and inclination. It's a sink-or-swim job, and most candidates sink after only a few months. They then retreat inside the shells of themselves and soon become combat advisers who do not interact or even advise. They thus form adviser teams that are dysfunctional and counterproductive. They exist until the day arrives when they can return home to a place that is familiar, where they are not hated.

The Tightrope -- American soldiers now patrol the streets with extreme caution and quick reflexes. They have come to think that every Iraqi who runs a red light or does not yield is a terrorist. They shoot at or accidentally kill civilians, which then creates one more insurgent and three more insurgency supporters. I know this cause-and-effect explanation is simplistic for an immensely complicated situation, but you get the picture. I will never fault American soldiers for their actions and reactions; it really is dangerous out there, and no other nation could ever ask for such service and sacrifice from its citizens. Yet I also try not to fault Iraqi civilians, for their truth is just as valid to them as is mine to me. I have seen firsthand why I cannot create stability by force within an Islamic society and why many say democracy cannot be brought by force but must evolve.

To be a moral person in a protracted counterinsurgency is my daily struggle, one in which I am asked to instill social morality on a culture that is not my own. So what is the balance between taking charge in Iraq and/or abandoning the country? Our best response is to pull the American soldiers back and push the Iraqi soldiers/policemen forward as quickly as possible. I feel the urgency of this mandate as I type these very words on this small Iraqi base among Iraqi soldiers. As I told Ibrahim, the captured insurgent, "I want to leave your country. The only reason I stay here is because Iraqis are dying and you insist on fighting. All we want to do is to help." I naturally assumed he understood this. Well, he had not, and most do not. This message is one that is lacking and one that Iraqis surely need. So I find myself balanced on a tightrope bridging a deathly height. As Iraqi intelligence officers once explained to me over hot tea, "It is a race to see which of many possibilities comes first; the competency of an Iraqi Security Force with a stable and competent government, or the formation of a monolithic and deadly insurgency or civil war, both of which would prevent the latter."

In Iraq, I wish to survive and to succeed. Yet as the days pass, my hopes increasingly become mutually exclusive: The insurgency gets more effective; the citizen anger at us and the Iraqi Security Force becomes greater; the fractions in the society grow deeper and more violent; the American public becomes more impatient as the war is perceived as less legitimate and the conditions to form a stable Iraqi government become more elusive. So I run along this rope as if in a race to get away. I run knowing full well that my speed comes only at the sacrifice of my balance.

I long for the tranquility of normalcy, the comfortable, the understandable, and so I want to run from Iraq. So what then can I do besides serve admirably and hope for the best while fearing the worst? The Iraqi officer I advise once said after months of frantically working to capture terrorists, "You need to just relax. You are here, so there will always be another terrorist to capture. Sit and drink some tea with me." I doubt he was intentionally being prophetic. As a soldier who lives with an Iraqi, I do hope to one day just sit and drink some tea with him. To sit and talk of family without a worry in the world. But to do so, I must do more than just train, advise and fight with my Iraqi friend. I must go out of my way every single day to disprove the "Ugly American" label that is attached to me. I must approach every personal interaction as a singular opportunity to battle the insurgency and then realize that my interactions with each and every Iraqi do have very lasting and very strategic consequences.

** This Old Brit & Richard are indebted to David and all other parties involved.

09 December 2006

A Message From An American Marine ...

Pictured above is Philip Martin.

He's 21 years old and has been a U.S. Marine for 2 years.

He's a "grunt" in the infantry. He's spent 7 months in Iraq.

He's completed over 180 combat patrols both inside and outside Fallujah, where he was hit with 2 IEDs though thankfully, escaped injury. He's also survived several fierce firefights.

Currently, Philip's based at Twentynine Palms, CA, and is set to be sent back to Iraq in April next year.

Here's a clip from a message from Philip.

I'm sick and tired of this patriotic, nationalistic and fascist crap. I stood through a memorial service today for a young Marine that was killed in Iraq back in April.

During this memorial a number of people spoke about the guy and about his sacrifice for the country. How do you justify 'sacrificing' your life for a war which is not only illegal, but is being prosecuted to the extent where the only thing keeping us there is one man's power, and his ego.

A recent Marine Corps intelligence report that was leaked said that the war in the al-Anbar province is unwinnable. It said that there was nothing we could do to win the hearts and minds, or the military operations in that area. So I wonder, why are we still there? Democracy is not forced upon people at gunpoint.

( * Here, This Old Brit has snipped substantially, so as to skip straight through to this. * )

The sad fact of the matter is that we are not fighting terrorists in Iraq. We are fighting the Iraqi people who feel like a conquered and occupied people. Personally I have a hard time believing that if I was an Iraqi that I wouldn't be doing everything in my power to kill and maim as many Americans as possible.

I know that the vast majority of Americans would not be happy with the Canadian government, or any other foreign government, liberating us from the clutches of George W. Bush, even though a large number of us would like that, and forcing us to accept their system of government.

Would not millions of Americans rise up and fight back? Would you not rise up to protect and defend your house and your neighborhood if someone invaded your country? But we send thousands of troops to a foreign country to do just that.

How is it moral to fight a people who are just trying to defend their homes and families? I think next time I go to Iraq perhaps I should wear a bright red coat and carry a Brown Bess instead of my digitalized utilities and M16.

Please take the time & trouble to read this young man's message in it's entirety.

You'll find it posted at Lew Rockwell's. You'll also find that from there you can email young Phil, personally.

We don't know about you but we'd say here's a brave young trooper who would certainly appreciate some show of support -- especially from his fellow American citizens.


07 December 2006

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson; Iraq Remark Really Riles George Bush

Nick Robinson is the Political Editor of the BBC.

Obviously, the man's been around.

Obviously, he's somebody who knows the score.

Obviously, interviewing presidents and premiers poses him no problems.

Also, this (not too old), BBC Brit named Nick -- is obviously a 'bring it on' type of media man.

And equally obviously, our Nick is not George's favourite fellow.

If you wonder why -- take a look at this BBC news footage from today's White House press conference with Bush and Blair.

Boy, was Bush bloody boiling.

In fact, he was flaming well fuming.

'Strewth. Talk about if looks could kill.

See and hear for yourself, as Bush snarls at the man from the 'beeb'.


06 December 2006

Iraq: Jonathan Steele Asks Why Bother With The Baker Report ?

A different old Brit, Jonathan Steele (shown left), is a Guardian columnist, roving foreign correspondent and author.

He was also the Guardian's bureau chief in Washington (1975 to 1979) and Moscow (1988 to 1994).

In the 80s he reported from southern Africa, central America, Afghanistan, and Eastern Europe. In the 90s he covered Kosovo and the Balkans.

Since 9/11 he has reported from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

And, he has written several books on international affairs, including books on South Africa, Germany, eastern Europe, and Russia.

Sounds like Mr Steele sure has some seriously, credible credentials, eh? Seems the sort of media man who knows what he's talking about, too.

Take this excerpt example, from his piece published in today's Guardian.
Mission accomplished?

Predictably, the Baker report does not come to any radical conclusions about Iraq. But did it serve any of its underlying purposes?

James Baker is a lawyer, a fixer, a Republican, a friend of the Bush family, and a deeply political animal. He is not an independent radical or a man known for original thinking. So the question in the wake of his Iraq Study Group's predictably uncontroversial is: why was it ever set up?
Critics of his disastrous strategy in Iraq could be told that Bush was listening to the American people and understood their concerns. That is why he had set up a blue ribbon panel to evaluate all options. Nothing was taboo.

The tactic did not work, and Bush and his Republican party took a heavy beating. It was not Baker's fault so much as a sign that voters felt they had to send a message to Baker as well as to Bush. A majority of Americans as well as Iraqis want US troops to leave.

The second purpose behind the study group was to co-opt the Democrats behind Bush's war.

But it gets better as it goes along.

The third purpose in appointing Baker's panel is the most extraordinary.

The country's political elite wants to ignore the American people's doubts, and build a new consensus behind a strategy of staying in Iraq on an open-ended basis with no exit in sight.

"Success depends on unity of the American people at a time of political polarisation ... Foreign policy is doomed to failure - as is any action in Iraq - if not supported by broad, sustained consensus," say Baker and his Democratic co-chair, Lee Hamilton, in their introduction.

In other words, if things go wrong, it will be the American people's fault for not trusting in the wisdom of their leaders.

If you're interested in reading the rest of Steele's super-insightful and surprise-filled piece, grab a quick gander at this final teaser first.
Fudging the end-date or hoping it need never be promised will not end the war. Baker is not suggesting anything as radical as this, of course. No one should ever have thought he might.
Now go read it all; it's good.

In fact, like ourselves, you may rate it better than good.

Tsk, tsk. Talk about Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.


04 December 2006

The UN: Adios Annan And Bye-Bye Bolton: It's Not Been Nice To Know You ...

Today there's lots of talk about two totally different types of men who, though equally extremely high profile, are both set soon to become ex United Nations major players.

We refer of course to US envoy John Bolton and to UN secretary general Kofi Annan. The former having finally realised the time has come to cut and run -- the latter having simply come to the end of his 'contract'.

So, it's to be adios Annan and bye-bye Bolton, eh?

However, to stay as straight speaking as we always and sincerely strive to be, we can't honestly say we're sorry to see either of them sail off into their respective sunsets.

No siree. Since we personally have already seen more than enough of the pair of them -- albeit for different reasons.

Bolton, because he was such a blatantly big headed, bully-boy of an archetypical bombastic b*stard -- and Annan, because he was such a spineless softie.

Where Bolton was so obviously just plain too big for his bloody boots, Annan wasn't big or bold enough to properly run such an important international operation as the United Nations.

While John Bolton was the proverbial mad bull let loose in a china shop, Kofi Annan was a wishy-washy wimp who couldn't - indeed wouldn't even try to - punch his pathetic way out of a tissue-thin paper bag.

Call us a couple of cruel old codgers if you care to -- but don't brand us biased -- since we are prepared to admit that Annam did have the decency to drop his serial, dithery pseudo diplomacy -- eventually. And to come right out and say the following when asked if he agreed with those saying things in Iraq are now worse than they were before. Meaning, before the US led, illegal invasion and ongoing occupation.

I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi's life.

If I were an average Iraqi obviously I would make the same comparison, that they had a dictator who was brutal
but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, "Am I going to see my child again?"
As for the walrus faced fellow fart - here's all we care to quote, since we deem him positively unworthy of any more of our precious, personal time or effort.

... Mr Bolton saying that there is "no such thing" as the UN and calling the US the world's "only real power".

Mr Bolton also said that if the 38-storey UN building "lost 10 storeys today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference".

Incidentally, we've always wondered whether or not Bolton wanted the top ten story, regular UN workers evacuating out of harm's way before any demolition - partial or otherwise - began. Since sadly, none of the mainstream media whores ever did have the guts to ask the arsehole.

Here's a BBC profile of Bolton.

Here's the text of Annan's (pre-exit), BBC interview.


03 December 2006

Another Story Showing How Much Stinks In The United States

The ICE shown on the back of the jacket is short for the Immigration and Customs Executive of the United States. It's a branch of the increasingly infamous, Department of Homeland Security.

So, bearing that in mind please now read this excerpt from an amazing article appearing today in the UK's Guardian newspaper, and note that any emphasis is This Old Brit's.


Now, as a result of documents disclosed in three separate court cases, it is becoming clear that his murder, along with at least 11 further brutal killings, at the Juarez 'House of Death', is part of a gruesome scandal, a web of connivance and cover-up stretching from the wild Texas borderland to top Washington officials close to President Bush.

These documents, which form a dossier several inches thick, are the main source for the facts in this article. They suggest that while the eyes of the world have been largely averted, America's 'war on drugs' has moved to a new phase of cynicism and amorality, in which the loss of human life has lost all importance - especially if the victims are Hispanic.

The US agencies and officials in this saga - all of which refused to comment, citing pending lawsuits - appear to have thought it more important to get information about drugs trafficking than to stop its perpetrators killing people.

The US media have virtually ignored this story. The Observer is the first newspaper to have spoken to Janet Padilla, and this is the first narrative account to appear in print.

The story turns on one extraordinary fact: playing a central role in the House of Death was a US government informant, Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, known as Lalo, who was paid more than $220,000 (£110,000) by US law enforcement bodies to work as a spy inside the Juarez cartel. In August 2003 Lalo bought the quicklime used to dissolve the flesh of the first victim, Mexican lawyer Fernando Reyes, and then helped to kill him; he recorded the murder secretly with a bug supplied by his handlers - agents from the Immigration and Customs Executive (Ice), part of the Department of Homeland Security.
And there's more.

That first killing threw the Ice staff in El Paso into a panic. Their informant had helped to commit first-degree murder, and they feared they would have to end his contract and abort the operations for which he was being used. But the Department of Justice told them to proceed.

Here's another cut & pasted segment straight from the same shocking story.

When Lalo arrived, two cops were already there. He went out to buy the quicklime and duct tape, and when he returned Santillan turned up with Reyes. The policemen jumped on the lawyer, beating him and trying to put duct tape over his mouth.

Lalo, wearing his hidden wire supplied by Ice, recorded Reyes's desperate pleas for mercy. 'They [the police] asked me to help them get him to the floor,' reads a statement he made later. 'They tried to choke him with an extension cord, but this broke and I gave them a plastic bag and they put it on his head and suffocated him.' Even then, they were not sure Reyes was dead. One of the officers took a shovel 'and hit him many times on the head'.
Next, peruse our penultimate teaser.

Bill Conroy, a reporter who works for an investigative website,, was about to publish an article about it. On 24 February, Sandy Gonzalez, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA office in El Paso, one of the most senior and highly decorated Hispanic law enforcement officers in America, wrote to his Ice counterpart, John Gaudioso.

'I am writing to express to you my frustration and outrage at the mishandling of investigation that has resulted in unnecessary loss of human life,' he began, 'and endangered the lives of special agents of the DEA and their immediate families. There is no excuse for the events that culminated during the evening of 14 January... and I have no choice but to hold you responsible.' Ice, Gonzalez wrote, had gone to 'extreme lengths' to protect an informant who was, in reality, a 'homicidal maniac... this situation is so bizarre that, even as I'm writing to you, it is difficult for me to believe it'.

But Ice and its allies in the DoJ were covering up their actions, helped by the US media - aside from the Dallas Morning News, not one major newspaper or TV network has covered the story.
Okay, after this one you're on your own.

In October The Observer won clearance to visit him with his lawyer, Jodi Goodwin. On the eve of the interview he was abruptly moved to a different facility where officials said a visit was impossible. Goodwin passed on a message: 'I'm not mad, I'm sad and disillusioned. Every time I did a job and brought them information, I was congratulated. Now they want to deliver me to my death.'

'If Congress and the media start to look at this properly, they will be horrified,' Sandy Gonzalez says. 'It needs a special prosecutor, as with the case of Valerie Plame [the CIA agent whose name was leaked to the media when her diplomat husband criticised Bush over Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction].

But Valerie is a nice-looking white person and the victims here are brown. Nobody gives a shit.'

Read the rest of this report.


01 December 2006

High On Their Horses -- The Queen's Crack-Troops ...

Sex, drugs and rock 'n roll?

Well, seeing as This Old Brit was once much younger and brasher -- and a right bit of blooming boy'o to boot -- lets talk the swinging sixties.


Sure. A surfeit of said stuff, in fact.


Darned if he damned well didn't. Though only ever alcohol and tobacco. Truly.

Rock 'n roll?

Right on. Can you say Rolling Stones?

But that was then -- when the UK swung like a pendlum do.

This is now. And when we first caught sight of it @ AOL news, we cringed.

Soldiers who guarded the Queen during the State Opening of Parliament later tested positive for cocaine, it has been reported.

The soldiers lined the Mall as the Queen went past on November 15, two days after providing urine samples for a compulsory drugs test at their London barracks, according to The Sun.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Seven people from Chelsea Barracks provided positive samples following recent testing as part of the Army's drug testing programme. "Appropriate internal action is being taken against all seven soldiers."
Appropriate internal action?

One can't help but wonder what that means.

Washing their mouths out?

Some stomach pumping?

Several shootings at dawn?

Anyway, we went to the Sun - something we scarcely do - to see more for ourselves.

Maybe you should, too.

Kinda puts a complete new complexion on the term crack-troops, eh?