You can’t pass on dirt and keep your hands clean.

Sleep on it, they say. Sleep on it and you’ll feel calmer in the morning. I did and I don’t. Yes, I’m talking about the BBC peddling conspiracy theories about Diego Garcia and the tsunami again. Again because I find it more disturbing the more I think about it, and because I have a few more links to add. Actually, this is going to tie into one of the most heartfelt complaints against the BBC: its reluctance to use the word “terrorist”.

To recap:

The British Broadcasting Corporation, funded by the British taxpayer considers it an open question whether, ten days ago, between one hundred thousand and a quarter of a million people were at best deliberately not saved or at worst murdered by the United States Government.

You think I’m exaggerating? Read the BBC story again. “Or was some malign hand at work…” If that “malign hand” does not mean either that the Americans started the tsunami and by some devilish means made it circumvent this island (strange and costly mercy amid such vast ruthlessness!) or warned their own servicemen while deliberately leaving others, including American tourists, to die, then what does it mean?

The British Broadcasting Corporation, funded by the British taxpayer, publicises this proposition and invites its millions of online readers worldwide to debate it in a non-judgemental fashion.

The British Broadcasting Corporation, funded by the British taxpayer, declines to give an opinion as to whether these rumours are true.

Many of those readers, both from the West and the East, are uneducated scientifically. Many of them are living in countries and cultures where paranoid conspiracy theories about the Americans and/or the Jews are common currency (even more than they are in certain left-wing circles here in the UK.) Many of them move in circles where the wish to kill an American or many Americans in revenge for this colossal crime which, they are told by their neighbours and their own newspapers, the US has perpetrated on their people need not remain a fantasy.

“Why did mother die, father?”

“Because of the Americans, my son. Some say they let off an atom bomb under the sea. Others only that they knew a great wave was coming but left us to die while warning their own people.”

“My teacher says that’s propaganda. For all that they are foreigners, for many years we have known that the BBC is more trustworthy than the papers here. We should see what the people at the BBC say.”

“Even the BBC dare not deny it.”

Rumours like this have started race riots, pogroms and even wars. Once started they go on for decades. There is no more fertile soil for terrorism than a sense of historical grievance. Fifteen years from now I expect young men now children to be blowing up aeroplanes because they grew up believing that hundreds of thousands of their co-religionists were killed by the Great Satan. The BBC will have played a part in that.

(And if it wasn’t yet obvious to you that it is all rubbish, if you are inclined to take literally the splendidly sarcastic first comment to the previous post from Bob Gleason, “As a Yank, I want to confirm that the U.S. military can, indeed, start a tsunami at will, but then have it go around any installations we might have in its path. My tax dollars at work. Damn, we’re good!”, ask yourself why, if the Yanks can and would do that, did they waste their time directing their tsunami at Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. Why not North Korea? There are lots of earthquakes in the Sea of Japan to work from. There was one Thursday before last.

You might also take a look at a new blog I found via our referrer logs, Shadow Chaser. The author, Michael Gill, has up two posts about all this, here and here.

Mr Gill points out more BBC misinformation. This BBC story about the effect of the tsunami on Somalia says

The small Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia – home to a US naval base – escaped unharmed as it was forewarned by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii.

This account from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association does not say anything about the reason for Diego Garcia escaping unharmed being that it was forewarned. It merely says that the US Navy at Diego Garcia reported to the US Navy Pacific Command at 8.20pm Hawaiian Standard Time that it had not observed the tsunami then.

And as Mr Gill says, Diego Garcia scarcely needed a warning from Hawaii, as the tsunami had hit the shores of Thailand and Indonesia hours before it reached Diego Garcia. Look at the animation of the tsunami he links to. Diego Garcia is that dot in the bottom left corner. (Strictly speaking that dot must be the whole Chagos Archipelago group of islands, of which DG is one. It’s at 6.34S, 72.24E if you want to use the latitude and longitude scales at the side.)

It’s a damn shame that nothing like the Pacific warning system was in place in the Indian Ocean. Those NOAA guys seem to have tried, but – “I’m a scientist! Get me the President of Indonesia!” Sorry, the world doesn’t work that way. Or it didn’t ten days ago when tsunamis were considered rare in the Indian Ocean; it might today. The fact is that a monitoring station in the wrong bloody ocean which was never set up to work outside its area was never going to be able do that much. The systems were not set up. Tsunamis move at 500mph. Sad, very sad. Not evidence of a malign hand.

So how does a conspiracy theory about the tsunami link into use of the word “terrorist”?

The answer to this is tied into the answer to another set of questions: What is the BBC for? Why do we have to pay for it?

Recently in an effort to be more accountable the BBC instituted Newswatch. This Newswatch story about why the BBC will not refer to ETA members as terrorists confirmed what many here already knew: that the BBC’s policy is to admit the existence of something called “terrorism” in general but not to ever call anyone terrorists, even if they are admitted to have carried out what the same writer, Matt Holder, calls “atrocities”. Presumably the outburst of uses by the BBC of the word “terrorist” applied to specific individuals at Beslan, commented upon in this blog, was in violation of those rules. Here is the reason Matt Holder gives for the policy:

It [the BBC] avoids labels wherever it can. And its credibility is severely undermined if international audiences think they can detect a bias for or against any of those involved.

Actually that isn’t what credibility means. You have credibility when people think you are truthful, not when you successfully conceal from them what you think good or bad.

The only reason why we should care about the credibility of the BBC; why our society should see it as enough of a Good Thing to pay for it out of a particularly unpopular hypothecated tax, is that the credibility of the BBC provides some social good.

The social goods that the BBC claims to provide are ensuring people are well informed (an ideal that rests on the proposition that truth in itself is good) and making people better citizens – that is more peaceable, more tolerant, more law-abiding, better able to participate in society. Oh, and in so far as the non-UK audience is being considered, less likely to kill Britishers.

No media service, not even a privately-funded one, should be indifferent to these kind of values. A tax-funded media service in a democracy cannot be, unless it wishes to deny its own justification for existence. Don’t kid yourself. All public broadcasting is ultimately advocacy.

If truth in itself matters, then you don’t abuse your position of trust to pass on a known and dangerous lie, pretending that your hands are clean so long as you don’t actually endorse it. That is what the BBC did in spreading the tsunami conspiracy theory.

On to the T-word: if the maintenance of liberal values in Britain and the world matters, that objective being what the BBC claims it is for, then you don’t play neutral to the most basic liberal value of all, the right to continue living without being blown up at random. If neutrality is possible or desirable, why is the BBC not neutral about ordinary British murders? Or about rape, or theft, or racial attacks or any of the other crimes that disfigure the body politic? Some section of our own British audience – quite a large section if the BBC is to be believed – cheers on racist attacks and presumably objects to any bias against those involved. Why does the BBC not strive to maintain its “credibility” with them?

Because, and never mind the name of this blog, in that sense it has no business being unbiased.

What is the BBC saving up its credibility for anyway? The mere pleasure of contemplating the high regard in which it is held? The BBC audience figures are no concern of mine. If the BBC is striving to keep that segment of its international audience that thinks it OK to take children hostage and shoot them comfortable with its beliefs, then would that the figures were lower! The basic reason for me, the taxpayer, wishing for you, the BBC, to be trusted is so that you can change that sort of thinking. So that when there is an important truth you must convey you are believed. So that when it it is necessary to save lives you can say, “this rumour is not true” and they’ll take it from you, because you are truthful.

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35 Responses to You can’t pass on dirt and keep your hands clean.

  1. Joe N. says:

    Okay – I’ll fess up – we have this magical force field, y’see, and… the entire tsunami was started by Carl Rove using his anazing powers of mind-energy projection.

    Sorry. We won’t do it again. I promise, that nest time something bad happens, that Americans will die, so that a handful of thumbsucking lefts can feel better.

    My bad.


  2. marc says:

    Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel!! 🙂

    If someone hasn’t already posted about it, be sure to check out Melanie Phillips blistering attack on the BBC.


  3. Andrew Paterson says:

    I hate to use a loaded analogy but I feel it’s valid.

    The Nazis had no qualms about pinning anything and everything on the malign hand of the Jews and it appears that the left has taken this on board and widened this to the United States. A rotten ideology has developed in which mere facts will not dent a righteous self belief that wouldn’t look out of place during the Inquisition.


  4. Joe N. says:

    I’m not worried – like all guilty pleasures (like projecting hatred on a randon set of nations), people tire of it after a while. This is no different than the mid 80’s and the early 70’s.


  5. Susan says:

    NOAA tried to prevent deaths more than any entity on earth and yet they end up getting criticized for not doing enough. We need a Good Samaritan law for scientific agencies. Especially American ones.

    What did the EU tsunami warning agency do? Oh, wait, they don’t have one, do they?


  6. Angie Schultz says:

    Damn, we’re good!

    We’re not that good. If we were really good, we’d have sicced the tsunamis on Afghanistan. Now that’s good.


  7. Roxana Cooper says:

    That would be miraculous given that Afghanistan is landlocked, still if we can make earthquakes at will…

    I too have been wondering why this wonderous technology was wasted on killing Indians, Indonesians and assorted European and American tourists when we could be using it on France, Iran, Saudi Arabia – surely the gulf is big enough to generate a tsumani – etc.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for saying excactly what i feel.


  9. Anonymous says:

    The Today programme on Radio 4 had Sir Christopher tickell waffling on about how super the UN is – the oil scandal and the sex scandal are basically the fault of member governments, he claimed. He concluded by saying that the UN had performed magnificently on tsunami relief, and had a dig at “neo-cons” who had tried to operate independently, ie the US core group.

    LIES, LIES, LIES – but they fit the BBC world view. continues to record that even after 2 weeks the UN has done NOTHING in Indonesia – virtually all the relief work has been the US and the Aussies.


  10. dan says:

    Why are Muslim countries stingy on tsunami aid? – America’s fault.
    Thats the view of Dr Siddiqui, head of the Muslim Parliament on News24.
    He claims that Western government aid increased due to pressure of the “civil society”. No civil society in, say, Saudi because of despotic rulers supported by the US.
    The BBC interviewer didn’t think to inquire whether the mosques could have exerted pressure on their governments, if they were bothered.


  11. Rob Schneider says:

    While I agree that the BBC’s motivations are dubious, the explanation by the US Government that Diego Garcia is “surrounded by deep waters and the grade of its shores does not allow for tsunamis to build before hitting land” doesn’t really make technical sense either.

    The energy of the wave is what it is and it disipates as it radiates outward from the source (the earthquake). The energy at source is expressed in the high velocity in deep water. As the water depth, decreases, wave height increases and speed decreases. At Diego Garcia, the way will approach at great speed (in the deep water), but by definition the shore is at zero depth. So the energy has to go somewhere. If it wasn’t increased wave height and slower velocity, then what was it. Something had to happen. I’m going to have to dig out my fluid mechanics textbooks.


  12. Blogstrop says:

    I am amazed on a daily basis that the BBC, which should exist to inform us all of world events and to carry the character of the United Kingdom to all corners of the world, is doing the reverse. It re-writes or spins world events rather than properly report them, and it carries the propaganda of the scumbags of all dysfunctional regimes back to the west in order to … what? Keep its friends in those countries so poorly governed? People of the UK – you pay for this in coin. We will all pay for it in other ways.


  13. JohninLondon says:

    The BBC continues to find Kirsty Wark pure as the driven slush. But Wark’s company impeded the Holyrood investigation, and there is an open question about collusion with the Labour leader there :

    “In the most serious allegation since it emerged that they spent New Year together, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie claimed that the close relationship between the BBC Newsnight presenter and Jack McConnell may have undermined his investigation into the £431 million building

    Lord Fraser chaired the Holyrood investigation
    He suggested it prevented Mr McConnell supporting a parliamentary motion forcing the BBC to hand crucial evidence to the inquiry.
    The Fraser inquiry was frustrated by the failure of the BBC, backed by Wark’s company, to hand over the unpublished tapes of Mr Dewar, the late First Minister, and Mr Miralles, who has also died. They were recorded for a BBC documentary The Gathering Place, made by Wark Clements, which charted the rise in the building’s cost fr


  14. Han says:

    The link below might be of interest. It claims the US base knew about the tsunami ahead of other countries.

    “An NOAA log shows that the US Pacific Command, including Diego Garcia, was given a specific warning about the tsunami some two and three quarter hours after the earthquake.”

    Cut and paste link below to read more

    and before y’all pile in on me, I’m not necessarily espousing this as gospel, just adding it to the mix 😉


  15. John says:

    “An NOAA log shows that the US Pacific Command, including Diego Garcia, was given a specific warning about the tsunami some two and three quarter hours after the earthquake.”

    They apparently haven’t considered this fact:

    “NEW DELHI, GOA, DEC 27: After yesterday’s earthquake, there were 90 minutes before the first wave of the deluge crashed into the Indian coast. Within 15 minutes of the earthquake, scientists running the tsunami warning system for the Pacific had issued a cautionary from their Honolulu hub, to 26 participating countries. India was not among them.”

    It seems to me that the U.S. has a communication problem if their base was warned an hour and 15 minutes AFTER the tsunami had already hit India.


  16. Richard North says:

    Diego Garcia is located to the west of Chagos Trench, which runs north and south. The depth of the Chagos Trench and grade to the shores does not allow for tsunamis to build before passing the atoll. Apparantly, all they had was a six-foot surge.



  17. David Field says:

    The Muslims must make up their minds. Was it Allah or America who caused the Tsunami? It can’t be both. Or perhaps it can. Was it Allah willing the Americans to do it? In which case it’s all Allah’s will so what are they so upset about. Ah – the joys of fatalism.


  18. Angie Schultz says:

    That would be miraculous given that Afghanistan is landlocked…

    Thank you for belaboring the joke.


  19. John H. Costello says:

    I stopped believing anything the BBC said when they denied there were US troops at Bagdhad Intl. Airport while CNN and Fox were showing us troops there (and I had only gotten the BBC a few months earlier.)

    Has the Guardian published the UN-sourced hitjob on the US military’s relief effort that was promised in Diplomad yet? Or are they holding it for Sunday?


  20. H Johns says:

    I hate to be boringly factual, but the BBC is NOT funded by the British taxpayer.


  21. Andrew Bowman says:

    H Johns – it is funded by taxpayers – UK tellytax-payers to be precise, plus a portion of HMG tax money that funds the so-called World Service.

    The tellytax money may not be raised in the government’s name, but given that it is legislated for by the government and must be paid, on pain of a fine, followed by subsequent imprisonment, by anyone who possesses a television or a PC with a TV card (even if it’s not for watching the BBC), it is, to all intents and purposes a tax – a regressive telly poll tax, that hits those that can least afford it the most.

    Worse than that, because it is easier and cheaper to convict the poor and the feckless in higher density housing areas (rather than the wealthier and more astute) they are the people who get hit the hardest and the most – poor single-mums of the nation beware.

    Good old BBC!


  22. Neil Craig says:

    If the Beeb were to start calling people terrorists just because they engage in terrorism they would have to start calling the KLA terrorists including the genocidal animal we have just appointed as prime minister (of Kosovo I mean).

    If you start being objective about such things you may find our Islamic terrorists we help are actually worse than the terrorists others.


  23. Donna W. says:

    Natalie said what had to be said.

    Mainstream Media has a great deal of power. Even more powerful than the mightiest military force as the mind and voices of the masses have the ability to sway governments and the decisions they make.

    This information goes all the way down the food chain to simple terrorist who is contemplating reasons why he should blow himself up and take as many innocent bystanders with him as possible.

    MSM like the BBC and the New York Times have influential power that eventually matches and then exceeds any government information office or military propaganda machine. The difference is that the Media doesn’t have to take responsibility for it’s product.

    It’s a lose/lose situation. We want freedom of speech and information. On the other hand this “information” is what is ultimately defeating us, not car bombers.


  24. Roxana Cooper says:

    “That would be miraculous given that Afghanistan is landlocked…

    Thank you for belaboring the joke.”

    Sorry, bad habit of mine. However according to the Discovery channel there really might be a way to generate not just tsunamis but ‘mega’ tsunamis at will – all you have to do is dump several million, billion or trillion tons of rock into a body of water, surely a strategically placed nuclear weapon could do that. But talk about your smoking guns! I mean if a huge chunk of coastal or island real estate suddenly goes missing people are likely to notice!

    And there’s still the difficulty of protecting friendlies in the target area…..


  25. lgfwatch says:

    “If the BBC is striving to keep that segment of its international audience that thinks it OK to take children hostage and shoot them comfortable with its beliefs then would that the figures were lower!”

    Ah, so that’s where we’re coming from, are we? You seem to believe the BBC now has a mission to please and pander to terrorists. Dream on, kiddo.


  26. Andy says:

    Indeed. I had a crazy dream that the New Year would see the contributors to this blog grow up; but apparantly not.


  27. Giles says:

    Indeed lgf – most of us consider Al-BBC to play a fairly similar role to Al Jazerra


  28. JohninLondon says:

    The original al-Jazeera core staff worked for the BBC Arabic Service. So no change there then.


  29. lgfwatch says:

    Giles, are you honestly saying that Al Jazeera’s ‘role’ is to support terrorism? Have you ever watched Al Jazeera for any length of time? Do you understand Arabic? Have you talked to many Al Jazeera staffers about the material you find objectionable?


  30. Richard says:

    “you honestly saying that Al Jazeera’s ‘role’ is to support terrorism? Have you ever watched Al Jazeera for any length of time? Do you understand Arabic? Have you talked to many Al Jazeera staffers about the material you find objectionable?”

    I remember on Newsnight, or some other such programme where Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK’s former ambassador to the UN and British Envoy to Iraq noted the frequent coincidence of Al Jazeera camera crews happening to be in the right place at the right time to witness Terrorist activity.

    Coverage here:,_Right_Time.html


  31. lgfwatch says:

    Ah, you REMEMBER someone with a GRUDGE against critical reporting SPECULATING about the CORRELATION he PERCEIVED between terrorist activity and an ARAB TV station reporting on it. Well, I don’t think that warrants further coment.

    Good night.


  32. JohninLondon says:


    Anyone who watches the discussion panels on Al Jazeera can see the endless anti-Semitism and anti-US bile.

    Or do you take the usual leftie line and deny that ? The leftie line of speaking up for the enemies of the West ?


  33. Monkey says:

    “Many of those readers, both from the West and the East, are uneducated scientifically”

    You are so right. I remember a while back reading the results of a poll of arab citizens, asking them for their attitudes and beliefs on various subjects. For example.

    A clear majority believed that the US faked the moon landings.

    A clear majority believed that the US and Israel were responsible for 9-11.

    A clear majority didn’t believe in evolution.

    We are talking about fully grown adults here!


  34. Michael Gill says:

    A great Aussie piece about the rantings on the tsunami by some Mad Mullahs can be read here:

    These are the very people who would fall the Diego Garcia conspiracy theory aired by BBC Newsnight.


  35. Dave F says:

    How would being forewarned do anything to hel[ Diego Garcia avoid the Tsunami? Were those fiendish Americans able to move the island out of the way? As has been pointed out here already, the answer to its being spared is in the geography.
    It seems the BBC is in the hands of very ignorant although nicely spoken people.