March 17, 2004


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Mark Latham, Kerry O'Keefe, John Howard, Ray Martin, Pedro the Ignorant, Muttiah Murilitharan, Archbishop George Pell, Reverend Dr Peter Carnley, George W. Bush, Simon Jenkins, Tony Blair, Winston Churchill, Hans Blix, John Kerry, and Yvonne Ridley.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 17, 2004 12:10 PM

A dangerous column. Should be turned into a row.

Posted by: ForNow at March 17, 2004 at 01:01 PM
Early anti-conservative spin suggested that the Spanish government was punished by voters not so much for the attacks but for trying to pin the blame on ETA. This is insane;

Is it "insane" to imagine that a Government may attempt to spin information before an election? Or "insane" to suggest that voters were influenced by such spin?

Do you deny that there was any backlash against the Spanish Government for attempting to blame ETA?

the day before polling, the government released details of an al Qaeda video claiming credit for the blasts. Plainly, information was released as it became available.

There's a difference between "releasing information as it became available", and attempting to pin the blame on ETA before sufficient information is available.

For example, this article in The Australian a few days back:

It was also reported yesterday that just hours after Thursday's attacks, Foreign Minister Ana Palacio ordered all Spanish ambassadors to "take every opportunity to confirm ETA's responsibility in these brutal attacks".

And this article in The Australian today:

The head of one Catalan newspaper said Aznar had personally called editors to implicate ETA even when clues emerged suggesting Islamist involvement.

"The day of the massacre, Aznar told me personally, and the directors of other dailies, that ETA was the perpetrator without the slightest shred of doubt," Antonio Franco of the newspaper El Periodico said on the website of his publication.


The association of foreign journalists also issued a formal protest that the government had deliberately misled them into thinking that the bombings had been carried out by the Basque separatist organisation ETA.

"On the evening of Thursday, March 11, some officially accredited correspondents received an appeal from the ministry of communication asking us to say explicitly in our articles that ETA was the author of the attacks," said the protest, signed by the association's president, Steven Adolf.

Take that with a grain of salt if you wish, but there's the distinct whiff of spin by the Spanish Govt there.

Denying that there was a backlash (justified or not) against the Spanish Govt for its attempts to blame ETA is neither "insane" nor "anti-conservative spin".

Posted by: Jethro at March 17, 2004 at 02:01 PM
Denying that there was a backlash (justified or not) against the Spanish Govt for its attempts to blame ETA is neither "insane" nor "anti-conservative spin"

Ooops. That should of course be "Reporting that there was a backlash ....".

Although denying such a backlash may be "insane" :-)

Posted by: Jethro at March 17, 2004 at 02:04 PM

For why ETA was initially blamed, see this article.

Posted by: Alan E Brain at March 17, 2004 at 02:13 PM

Those crazy liars, telling the truth and providing the evidence the moment they got it.

That issue may certainly be what was on the minds of the swing voters, but it can't be used as a rallying cry for the BUSHLIED hounds who are so gleefully giddy that a government that "lied" got voted out. There wasn't a coverup. We're talking about 24 hours of hellish confusion and chaos, and neither party was above spinning it. To believe that the PP fell because they "lied" is a credulous and threadbare excuse for an election that gave the terrorists the result they planned for.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 17, 2004 at 02:21 PM

...internet commentator Pedro the Ignorant...

This is why extreme care must be taken when choosing an internet handle. One day your words may be thought worthy of inclusion in some Witticism Hall of Fame or other, and then you'll have to suffer being known as something like, "Internet commentator 'Fartsmeller'". On the one hand, you're thrilled your shining wit has been noticed by the literati; on the other hand, who can you tell? "Hey, boss, check this out, I've been mentioned in, never mind."

Posted by: Angie Schultz at March 17, 2004 at 03:31 PM

Hello, appeasement. Hasta a la vista, freedom.

Posted by: Andjam at March 17, 2004 at 04:12 PM

Further to Alan's comment, the week prior to the Madrid bombings saw worldwide coverage of an unprecedented search of the entire French rail network after threats posed by an unknown group rumoured to have connectionswith IRA and ETA.

It was quite reasonable to suspect ETA, nevertheless, Rajoy should have realised his initial denial of an al-Qaeda link would be seen as a cynical political ploy, not to mention calling for an embargo, if that in fact happened.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 17, 2004 at 04:18 PM

In fact, it is a plausible (although not likely) scenario that the French search was so comprehensive that it caused the terrorists to hit a second option.

France remains a major target.

And if France is hit, all this 'blowback' and blame-game spin will do a 360. Or 180. I'm no good at math.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 17, 2004 at 04:40 PM
Speaking of cricket, the bestline after Australia's startling win in the first Test against Sri Lanka came from internet commentator Pedro the Ignorant, who observed following bowler Muttiah Murilitharan's dismissal: "Throws a bat worse than he throws a ball."

Ironic that you had a post earlier about bad timing -- Murilitharan scored the second-highest score of 43 in the Sri Lankan second innings :-)

Can't comment on the elegance of his shots, however.

Posted by: Jethro at March 17, 2004 at 07:26 PM

Yvonne Ridley...and here children we have an example of Stockholm Syndrome.

Posted by: aussiejoe at March 17, 2004 at 08:00 PM

So, can the women in the Middle East wear copies of Ms Ridley's t-shirt?

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 18, 2004 at 12:56 AM

Once, out of curiosity, I
googled for pix of Yvonne Ridley. Not a burqa on any of them, and head-scarves on only about half. Her Taliban catechists were very remiss.

I've lost count how many Middle Easterners have voluntarily converted to Lutheranism after being taken hostage by armed Swedish militant groups (such as "The Blood-Dripping Infidel-Carving Sword of Augsburg" -- sounds better in the original. Hence the clinical term "Stockholm Syndrome".

Posted by: Uncle Milk at March 18, 2004 at 10:27 AM

Hey, Angie, re my nick:

"The humourous or mildly sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean"
-Collins English Dictionary

But then again what would I know?
I'm ignorant.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at March 18, 2004 at 11:56 AM

"This is insane; the day before polling, the government released details of an al Qaeda video claiming credit for the blasts. Plainly, information was released as it became available. Moreover, the UN Security Council had voted on the very day of the attacks to blame the ETA's Basque militants; a drastically premature move, which the UN must have known would influence (one way or the other) the election."

Yet again it is what you, perhaps conveniently, leave out or remain ignorant of that gives you away Tim. Fortunately, there are resources other than your's where facts are more readily provided. Why don't you tell your readers that the reason why the UN Security Council blamed ETA was because the Spanish government requested it.

From the article: "The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1530 condemning the bombings. This happened early in the day and, at the behest of the Spanish government, the resolution accused ETA unambiguously of being the perpetrator. The resolution "condemns in the strongest terms the bomb attack in Madrid, Spain, perpetrated by the terrorist group ETA." After al-Qaida involvement became clear, Germany and Russia voiced their concern over Spain's hasty assurances on Thursday. On March 15, Spain's ambassador submitted an unapologetic letter updating the Security Council on the progress of the investigation, repeating that the Spanish government had "the strong conviction" that ETA was involved."

Posted by: arthur at March 18, 2004 at 05:58 PM