Friday, November 04, 2005

BBC links to MI6?

Is John Simpson naive or unlucky or is he working for MI6?


Nicola Jones, writing in New Scientist, 19 November 2001, pointed out that 'Taliban nuclear documents' found by BBC reporter John Simpson were identical to a spoof article.

In 2001, John Simpson claimed he had found documents strewn on the floor of a Taliban recruitment centre in Kabul. He claimed these documents apparently described how to build a thermonuclear device.

The documents, according to Simpson showed "how dangerous Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network aspired to be".

According to the New Scientist:

The sentences shown in focus by the camera also come from a famous document called "Weekend Scientist: Let's Make a Thermonuclear Device", which was first published in 1979 as a humour piece by The Journal of Irreproducible Results.

The paper was written in response to US court decisions of the time that restricted popular magazines from detailing how to make a bomb. Since all the information is freely available in public libraries anyway, the author said, he decided to provide a humorous "ten easy steps" proving how easy bomb building can be.

While the gist of these instructions may be accurate, for example giving suggested relative proportions of plutonium and TNT, they are written completely in jest.

The first instruction tells readers to obtain weapons grade plutonium at their "local supplier". It continues: "A nuclear power plant is not recommended, as large quantities of missing plutonium tends to make plant engineers unhappy. We suggest you contact your local terrorist organization."

The US Department of Energy generally refuses to comment on the accuracy of such documents. But they do say that about five kilograms of plutonium is theoretically enough to make a nuclear explosive device, while the recipe in The Journal of Irreproducible Results calls for 110 kilograms of plutonium.

The BBC film only allows a few parts of the documents to be read, but these few phrases are exactly as found in the 1979 paper: "Theory of operation ... the device basically works when ... critical mass then produces a nuclear chain reaction ... Plutonium (PU), atomic number ... and is similar in ...".

"From what I've seen, this is certainly a shortened version of the original article," says Marc Abrahams, former editor of The Journal of Irreproducible Results.

Some of the more obviously absurd parts of the original are missing from the document in Kabul, such as a paragraph starting "in next month's column, we will learn how to clone your neighbor's wife in six easy steps." The Kabul document also has paragraph returns in odd places, as if someone had cut and pasted the text.

Even so, says Abrahams, "if you spend half a second scanning any of this you should be able to tell it's a joke." He adds that if the instructions were made more believable by removing the ridiculous parts, there would be practically nothing left.


Reportedly, John Simpson was a university friend of a former head of MI6.

John Simpson wrote "A Mad World, My Masters". He makes various references to MI6 in the book.


An extract from:

"Britain's role in setting up stay-behinds throughout Europe was absolutely fundamental," BBC reported in its Newsnight edition with some delay on 4 April 1991. Newsnight reader John Simpson criticised that MI6 and the British Defence Ministry were withholding all information on the subject while "on the back of revelations that Gladio existed it has emerged that other European countries had their own stay-behind armies - Belgium, France, Holland, Spain, Greece, Turkey. Even in neutral Sweden and Switzerland there has been public debate. And in some cases enquiries have been set up. Yet in Britain, there is nothing. Save the customary comment of the ministry of defence that they don't discuss matters of national security." [42]

Simpson related that ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall the British with fascination and horror had learned of the conspiracies and terror operations of the Stasi, the Securitate and other secret services in Eastern Europe. “Could our side have ever done anything comparable? Surely not,” he noted with a wonderfully British ironical intonation and then turned the spotlight on the Western security services: “Yet now information has started to emerge of the alleged misdeeds of NATO's most secret services. In Italy a parliamentary commission is investigating the activities of a secret army set up by the state to resist a possible Soviet invasion. The inquiry has led to the disclosure of similar secret forces across Europe. But the Italian group, known as Gladio, is under suspicion of being involved in a series of terrorist bombings." [43]

[42] British television. BBC Newsnight, 4 April 1991, 10:30 pm. Gladio report by journalist Peter Marshall.[43] British television. BBC Newsnight, 4 April 1991, 10:30 pm. Gladio report by journalist Peter Marshall.


The BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson came under attack from an American warplane.



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