Genuine Journalism, Humiliation, and Cynical Omissions

The Independent

The Independent posed a question about the confession by the British captive, Faye Turney, on Iranian television: “A genuine confession or humiliation and cynical abuse of international law?” ((Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown, “Blair and Bush vent anger at Iran’s TV footage of hostages,” Independent (UK), 29 March 2007.))

The Independent claimed, “Film footage of the servicewoman taken prisoner in the Persian Gulf, wearing a black headscarf, as she ‘admitted’ to trespassing on Iranian waters, will become one of the iconic images of the crisis between Iran and the West.”

I do not know where in the Shatt al-Arab waterway the British navy ship was when it was intercepted by the Iranian navy. I do know that it was a long, long way from Britain and that it was engaged in the evil of a genocidal occupation that has claimed the lives of approximately one million Iraqis. ((Gideon Polya, “Fourth Iraq Invasion Anniversary and One million Iraqi deaths,” Media Monitors, 19 March 2007. Writes Polya, “In 1945, ordinary Germans said that ‘they didn’t know’ that the Jewish Holocaust was happening. The same excuse cannot be used by the citizens of the US Alliance, notwithstanding the continuing lying by commission and omission of racist, holocaust-ignoring Mainstream media — the awful truth is only several mouse clicks away.”))

I do not know if the appearance of British seaman Turney on Iranian television was coerced or not. I do not know if her confession was genuine.

But of humiliation, that can be analyzed.


Turney appeared on TV wearing a headscarf, but it is worn in an independent fashion by Turney, being pulled back and revealing her blonde tresses. She was clean, clothed, and free to smoke a cigarette.

Now compare the “iconic” images of the deposed president of Iraq.


The reader may decide which photos depict humiliation. For this writer, it is a no-brainer.

The Independent stated that the “British Government [is] lodging a vehement protest, demanding that diplomatic access be given to the 15 sailors and marines who have been held for six days.” The Independent article did not inform the reader about the six Iranian officials captured by US special forces in an early morning raid on an Iranian diplomatic office in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil who were held without charge for months. ((Sudarsan Raghavan, “In Shift, U.S., Iran Meet On Iraq: Diplomats Air Grievances at Regional Summit,” Washington Post, 11 March 2007.)) The US Ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, denied that Americans were holding any “diplomats.” ((Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “U.S. detains Iranian diplomats in Iraq,”, 12 January 2007.)) The BBC reported US backtracking following the release of two Iranian diplomats. ((“US frees detained Iran diplomats,” BBC News, 29 December 2006. US forces in Iraq have released two Iranian diplomats detained in a raid in Baghdad last week.))

Neither did the Independent article mention the case of Iranian General Ali Reza Asquari who mysteriously vanished in Istanbul on 7 February.

An analysis by the independent Hebrew-English language publication DEBKAfile noted:

Tehran sees the hand of US undercover agencies or contract gunmen and believes Washington has stepped up its war against Iranian officers running Tehran’s clandestine operations in Iraq. The kidnapping of an Iranian general outside Iraq would expand President Bush’s permission for the capture or killing of Iranian agents helping Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda murder Americans in Iraq. ((“The Vanishing Iranian General: Did He Leave or Was He Taken?” DEBKAfile, 2 March 2007.))


Turney said: “I have been in the Navy nine years. I live in England. I was arrested on Friday March 23. Obviously we trespassed into their waters. They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, good people. They explained to us why we had been arrested. There was no aggression, no hurt, no harm.”

The British Ministry of Defence in London emphasized that Turney’s words “should be judged in the context of the pressures she had been subjected to while in captivity.” ((Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown, “Blair and Bush vent anger at Iran’s TV footage of hostages,” Independent (UK), 29 March 2007.))

Of course, and so should the context under which confessions are extracted from other captives. The risible confession of purported 9-11 accomplice Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to everything that occurred under the sun comes quickly to mind. ((Paul Craig Roberts, “The Strange Fruit of Torture: The Confession Backfired,” Counterpunch, 17-18 March 2007. Jeff Sparrow, “The uses of confession,” On Line Journal, 30 March 2007.)) Concludes Sparrow “If a single person can set in motion so many plots in so many different places, the terrorists can never be totally defeated.”

International Law

The Independent cited legal and defence experts that Iran was potentially in breach of the Geneva Conventions. Analyst Paul Beaver said: “There are a host of reasons why this could be in breach of the Convention.”

Britain is also known to have breached international law, according to a leaked document from attorney general Peter Goldsmith, in its attack on Iraq. ((Gaby Hinsliff, “Blair blow as secret war doubts revealed,” Observer, 24 April 2005.)) For a British regime that is in collusion with the US regime which practices torture, extrajudicially transfers people from one state to another for torture, and imprisons people without charge and without normal legal recourse, and staunchly supports the outlaw Zionist regime in occupied Palestine to carp about breaches of international law is bathetic.

Is reporting tainted by jingoism genuine journalism? Should criticism of actions by a rival country not equally apply, or more so, toward the same actions by one’s own country?

The Independent might pose a question to itself: Genuine journalism or self-humiliation and cynical omission of relevant information?

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at Read other articles by Kim.