No loose ends

A week ago some people who worked in an office that produced some crudely drawn, frankly a bit rubbish cartoons were shot dead. A couple of days later everyone who’d done it was shot dead, which always hinders an investigation. One of the people who had officially ‘done it’, Hamyd Mourad, someone who was named by the police as having done it, was later released without charge after half his class said, some of them on Twitter, that he’d been sitting in school with them at the time, somewhere else.

Which begs the question how the police came up with his name. Luckily, they knew the name of one of the other people who got shot, because just like at the Twin Towers, where officially the fire from aviation spirit and some office chairs burned so hot that er, the building melted, like they do, except they don’t really, fingers crossed so it doesn’t count, one of the hijackers’ passports was found on top of the rubble.

Sorry? How could that not be possible? Obviously paper, which we know burns at Fahrenheit 451, doesn’t burn at the kind of temperatures you’d need to melt the metal girders holding a building up. Probably it was too hot to burn the paper or something. Are you some sort of conspiracy theorist?

Someone else was shot dead in France, as well. A policeman called Helric Fredou. Part of the investigation team on the cartoon murders, he met one of the victims’ families then went and shot himself, like you do as an experienced 45 year-old police investigator. Happens all the time. What’s interesting is the hysterical denials that appeared on Facebook when only foreign media, notably Russian, reported it, until the noble British free press decided that it was worth reporting after all.

Clearly something isn’t quite right with this story, though what it is you won’t ever find out. The CIA did some trying to find out stuff about ten years ago and they couldn’t find it out either.

At the time they were looking for Osama bin Laden and someone had an idea. Next time he switched on his satellite phone they could triangulate on where the signal was coming from and send a cruise missile there. Job done. They’d have to keep him on the line a bit, so maybe they could ring him up and tell him he’d won a prize or something, except as he was one of the world’s wealthy that probably wouldn’t work. Free breakdown insurance or a complementary boiler survey probably wouldn’t keep him on the phone either, but they could think of something, surely. That’s what the brightest and the best minds are for.

The only snag was they didn’t know his number so in an old-school Man From Uncle kind of way they went to the satellite phone company and demanded it.

It came as news to them. They didn’t actually have a Mr O. B. Laden in their phonebook, and oddly enough there wasn’t a billing address or entry that might likely be him at 4, The Caves, Tora Bora, Afghanistan either. The satellite phone company did have an idea though. They found a block of about 30 phones that transmitted from that part of the world.

Give us the numbers, said the CIA. Love to, said the satcom company. Would. But we can’t. Because you ordered them with blank numbers, specifically so that nobody had a record of them.

You read that right. The CIA gave Osama bin Laden a satellite phone, fixed it so it didn’t have a traceable number, then demanded the number. Freedom, liberty and democracy. Semper fi, Mac, as they say. Semper fi.


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The voices of the damned

Twelve people were killed today at the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, when three masked gunmen walked in and started shooting.

According to Sky News, which never makes things up, they are believed to have called out the victims by name, including the editor, a cartoonist, a contributor, Bernard Maris and two police officers were also among the dead, including one assigned as a bodyguard after prior death threats. As happens when you start loosing off assault rifles, 20 people have also been injured, at least four seriously.

After the killing, the gunmen apparently ‘calmly’ returned to their getaway car and shouted: “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed, we have killed Charlie Hebdo.” One of the gunmen was heard screaming “Allah”, as they opened fire. God likes this stuff. Always.

Henry Samuel, the Daily Telegraph’s Paris correspondent, told Sky News: “According to people on the ground, two masked gunmen burst into the offices very heavily armed, (with) Kalashnikovs, apparently even with a rocket-propelled grenade, and opened fire, leaving several minutes later. He added: “Then the gunmen escaped and are currently on the run, being pursued.

And then it all got normal. Francois Hollande condemned the attack as “an act of barbarism”, although what else he could have said apart from ‘alors’ is a bit moot. An extra 3,000 police officers have been deployed on the streets in a massive security operation and let’s face it, that always makes it look as if Something Is Being Done, even though it’s not, or at least not by them.

Parisiens have been asked to turn out at 7pm on the Place de la Republique in a show of solidarity with the victims and the magazine Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard told France Inter: “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”

Except of course, it is. And while we’re here Gerard, assault rifles and an RPG are categorically not ‘heavy weapons.’ Heavy weapons are things like howitzers, the type of materiel that levels buildings. Notwithstanding that, Facebook was instantly full of journalists demanding that every newspaper in the world ran the cartoons of the prophet that were supposed to have irked Islam in the first place, while some of their friends on their timeline took these events as yet more proof if proof were needed that all Moslems are terrorists. Obviously. They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true, as Joe Jackson used to tell us.

I didn’t see any of these people demanding that the crap that journalists wrote about WMDs and missile attacks in 45 minutes was also reproduced, another time that newspapers were jumping up and down begging to be weapons of war, too excited to report facts and more than happy to repeat any bullshit the government chucked their way.

We Are At Conflict

Gotcha! when over 300 Argentinians were drowned by the British Navy and Bastards! when the Argentinian Navy killed far fewer plucky noble Brits was the time before, when once again newspapers were only too happy to be weapons of war, trumpeting the Our Brave Boys chorus.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted, or got someone to Tweet for him: “The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”

There is clearly no terror at all when we flatten Baghdad, or Kabul, or invade other countries, or go to someone’s house in a foreign country and kill everyone there then throw away the body in case anyone wants a good look at how we shot exactly, or drones strike a wedding, or when we do anything military at all. Obviously. We kill hundreds of thousands of people instead of a dozen for the very best of reasons always and frankly they respect us for it, he might as well have added.

Any murder is sickening. It diminishes everybody, murderer, bystanders and murderee alike. But we don’t stand by the freedom of the press any more than the press, as a whole, wants to get off its collective arse and go and do some open and honest reporting when the public is being lied to. And if you seriously believe that this or any other government doesn’t simply embargo and D-Notice inconvenient facts while piously talking about freedom, there’s not a lot of difference between the simplicity of that stance and the upholders of any faith who maintain their invisible friend in the sky wanted people machine-gunned.


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