I entirely agree with President Trump’s very able legal team – the Democrat impeachment process is an assault upon democracy. It’s a naked attempt to reverse the result of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election by taking out a candidate the Dems know they can’t beat. It’s a democratic disgrace, small ‘d’.
Last week’s report by the Government Accountability Office, a highly partisan, non-independent branch of Congress can safely be ignored. Clearly timed to influence the trial in the Senate its conclusions are junk. How can it be a crime for the executive branch to go under budget on funds allocated by Congress? The GAO is a joke, no offense intended.
Unsurprisingly the focus is now turning towards the dubious circumstances under which Hunter Biden was appointed to the Burisma Board. The Democrats are on shaky ground here and they know it. The population of Pompeii was on the firmer ground back in AD79.
The Democrats are still banging on about Russian hacking of the DNC as though it actually happened. This conspiracy theory was fact-checked over two years ago. The download speed was way too high for a hack. The download had to be done locally, probably onto a portable hard drive.
Moreover, it was done in Eastern time, that is to say not from Russia!
The very fact that this nonsense is still being pushed shows that the Democrats are acting in bad faith. Overblown rhetoric on the Senate floor can’t make up for an absence of evidence of wrong-doing by the President, either over the 2016 election or his dealings with Ukraine.
I suspect that the ratings for the Senate trial are pretty low. I imagine reruns of Friends are getting better numbers, never mind reruns of Hogan’s Heroes or I Love Lucy. The Senate is showing a great deal of sense in adopting an expedited procedure. Effectively they are saying that there’s no case to answer. There isn’t. It’s a crock.
The process has been political from beginning to end. It’s about abusing the impeachment process for political gain and nothing more.
The same could be said about ‘von’ Mueller’s silly investigation. I’m aware that I said I’d do a column on that, but I fell asleep halfway through reading his turgid report, no offense intended, which has now been overtaken by events. It’s in the running for the Top Ten Silliest Reports of All Time award.
Monty Python couldn’t have done a sillier report, frankly. I had to mention Monty this week, in which all men and women of goodwill mourn the passing of that great comedian and medieval historian Terry Jones. The Spanish Inquisition sketch was truer to life than ‘von’ Mueller’s report, with the difference that nobody expected it.
The shoot-down of Flight 752
No one is now arguing that Flight 752 crashed because of mechanical failure. It suffered mechanical issues alright, like the starboard engine blowing up, but only after it was hit by an Iranian missile or rather red-hot fragments from the exploding warhead. There is no way the plane was under control when it veered to starboard, probably because the port (No 1) engine was still generating some power and the plane was asymmetric.
The issue is whether the plane was shot down accidentally or not. There are surprisingly few accidental shoot-downs of civilian airliners. Modern missile systems like the SA-15 Gauntlet are sophisticated and quite able to distinguish real threats from harmless airliners.
I suspect that my argument that Flight 752 was deliberately targeted has had some impact on the MSM. My columns are read by mainstream journalists, even if none, so far, has been brave enough to quote me. Very few commentators were saying last week that the shoot-down was deliberate, but then very few commentators have the experience and technical knowledge to be able to distinguish between a friendly fire incident involving a civilian airliner and a deliberate shoot-down.
I’ve correctly called six deliberate shoot-downs now – TWA800, AF447, IY626, MH370, MH17, and PS752. I’ve also partially acquitted the USSR over the shoot-down of KAL007, where there were mitigating factors, principally the sabotage by the DVD of the 747’s Inertial Navigation System, and correctly acquitted Captain Rogers of responsibility for the shoot-down of IR655, which was set up by the Iranians themselves in order to embarrass the US.
As they always say in the best westerns, ‘it’s awfully quiet out there’. The MSM has gone very quiet over the 752 shoot-down. I know perfectly well what’s happened. A small number of aviation-literate journalists have taken either my column or the Iranian claim of misidentification, or both, to serious military experts and asked them if it could have been accidental. The answers were no doubt along the lines of ‘no way José’, especially if the journalists were Mexican.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been involved in five of the above shoot-downs, bringing down four aircraft directly (800, 447, 626 and 752), and supplying the weapons system (the Fakour 2) for MH370. I am quite satisfied that the IRGC SAM battery was notified by Iranian ATC of 752’s engine start or pushback, that the F-Band search radar was pointed in a direction of 100 to 120 deg. before the 737-8KV reached the hold point of Runway 29R, that the K-Band fire control radar was lit shortly after target acquisition, that the operators were fully aware that their target was a Boeing 737 aircraft and that two missiles were launched to be certain of a kill.
I am tolerably satisfied that the first warhead exploded in front of and slightly below the cockpit, instantly killing or disabling the pilots, following which the aircraft entered an uncontrolled descending turn to starboard. It’s not clear what happened to the second missile but it was probably detonated in-flight once the first missile had hit. Depending upon how close it was to the first missile however it may have been shredded by fragments as the first warhead exploded or it may have missed the target as it turned and descended.
I am quite clear that the intent was to murder all the souls aboard. With two missiles and a non-hardened target incapable of meaningful evasive maneuvers so soon after take-off, there is absolutely no question of minimal force.
The MSM might wish to reflect that in covering up the shoot-downs of TWA 800 and later aircraft they jeopardized the safety of air navigation. The Iranians are getting away with it, indeed it rather looks as though they have got away with it.
The British and Canadian governments, no doubt advised by the Cabinet Office and Privy Council office respectively, are treating their dual nationals as purely an Iranian responsibility inside Iran, that is to say, they are treating them as Iranians. Neither the Cabinet Office nor the Privy Council Office has denied my suggestion that they might have cleared the shoot-down in advance.
Given the non-denial and the suppression of the truth about the shoot-down by both governments I suspect that they probably did. With great respect, neither bureaucracy has high ethical standards. I am quite satisfied that neither British Prime Minister Boris Johnson nor Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau green-lighted the Iranian decision to shoot down Flight 752 and murder its passengers and crew.
The motive appears to have been to deter the Ukrainian government from releasing information relating to Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of Burisma and/or commence a criminal investigation into that appointment. It is perfectly clear that Teheran wants the Democrats to win in November and is willing to murder innocent men, women, and children in order to defeat President Trump. Iran wants a free hand in the Middle East, which President Trump won’t give them.
Although there have been a number of recent murders connected with the Democratic Party I do not believe that anyone in the Party signed off on the plan to shoot down 752. I do not believe that the shoot-down decision was only taken after the targeted killing of the Iranian terrorist Qassem Suleimani.
We will probably find that the IRGC battery in question was lighting fire control radars on 737-800 sized targets for several weeks in advance. The Iranian air defense system has not been seriously tested since the Iran-Iraq War, long before Iranian deployment of the SA-15. The shoot-down will have been practiced and rehearsed well in advance.
Sorting out the motive, of course, requires connecting dots. This is something the MSM is simply not equipped to do. Asking the average newspaper editor to connect the shoot-down of a Ukrainian airliner with a political scandal involving a Democratic vice-president, his son and Ukraine would be tasking him or her with something they have neither the training nor aptitude for. It would be like entering a cockerpoo in the 1910 tonight at Crayford Greyhound Track.
As reported in my last column Cabinet Secretary, or, if you prefer, Kabinettratsführer, ‘Ritter’ Mark ‘von’ Sedwill, is opposed to the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing agreement. As Senator Rubio persuasively argued this week in the Daily Telegraph, by letting in Huawei to our 5G network, Sedwill is effectively trying to turn Five Eyes into Six-Eyes, by adding communist China. The result, inevitably, would mean Five Eyes becoming Four Eyes, as you guys could not possibly be expected to continue sharing intelligence with us.
I am not, of course, accusing Der Kabinettratsführer of anything, yet. However, given that communist China is the world’s most corrupt country, whose economy has been built upon the back of offshore high-yield trading programs, and the Cabinet Office is the most corrupt organization in the United Kingdom, it is legitimate to ask if anyone in Peking has been spraying money around.
Don’t forget that the last Cabinet Secretary, the German agent Jeremy ‘von’ Heywood, arranged a £50 million bung on the back of an HS2 contract in a failed effort to stop the referendum on EU membership from going ahead. Heywood’s own share was £1 million, paid into his offshore account in the British Virgin Islands.
It is now best practice to review any project in which the Cabinet Office has an interest in corrupt payments. It does not follow that any such payment has been made, just as didn’t follow that Al Capone never paid any federal income tax. When dealing with sleazy organizations however you have to be on your guard.
Huawei has to be blocked. We then need to go on the offensive and give the company a good smack, working in close concert with you guys. It would help if State would be good enough to relent and extradite Anne Sacoolas, although of course they’re anti-British and are no doubt relishing the opportunity to rub our noses in it. President Trump is a deal-maker however and may well have spotted a trade-off.
It’s high time the offensive MSM claim that the Royal Family is supported by public funds was fact-checked. The total Sovereign Grant for 2019/2020 is a measly £82.4m. This represents about a quarter of the Queen’s revenues from the Crown Estate. In 2018/2019 the Treasury trousered no less than £343.5 million from the Crown Estate. That’s net profit, by the way, not gross receipts. The capital value of the Crown Estate is a massive £14.3 billion.
This income belongs to The Queen. It is high time that it was returned to Her, along with ownership of the Royal Palaces. That’s right – Buckingham Palace is actually owned by the government, which is ludicrous. Obviously responsibility for maintenance of the Royal Palaces would transfer with ownership.
There is no sensible prospect of the MSM ever reporting royal finances fairly or accurately. They will only have themselves to blame when the reform happens, as happen it must.
The withdrawal agreement bill has finally become law. The House of Lords passed some silly amendments, in a futile attempt to frustrate Brexit. One of them concerned so-called ‘child’ refugees, some of whom will have manipulated their ages. Others will be young people, that is to say, teenagers, rather than children.
There’s also no particular reason why family reunion couldn’t take place over in Europe rather than here in the UK. The UK has been overwhelmed with bogus refugee claims – in the immigration judiciary we used to reckon that only about 2.5% of asylum claims were genuine. The 1951 Refugee Convention is obsolete and has outlived its usefulness. The Home Office is well aware that it has been abused.
Possibly as a warning shot across their Lordships’ bows someone came up with the idea of moving the House of Lords to York, which very frankly was as silly as the proposed amendments. It would be like moving the Senate to Little Rock.
The sensible way to reform the House of Lords, of course, is to abolish life peerages, leaving the existing life peers to die out and restore the remaining hereditary peers. It’s the life peers who have brought the House into disrepute, with their Euro-fanaticism. As you guys are discovering with the impeachment process it’s a bad idea to have fanatics in your legislature.
The United Kingdom, at long, long last, leaves the European Union at 2300 hours GMT on Friday. I shall be in Parliament Square for the party! Sadly however there won’t be any bongs from Big Ben. (I always like a few bongs at a party.) Obstructionist to the last the Palace of Westminster authorities demanded £500,000 for the bongs, about thirty times as much as it cost on New Year’s Eve.
I’m sorry to say that the government has mishandled this issue. They should have been planning the celebrations as soon as the election was out of the way. The result, sadly, will be a fairly low-key departure. The government gives out the impression that it’s house-trained and in the grip of officials, who have acted in bad faith in the EU for decades. The government is still trotting out fraudulent trade stats, for heaven’s sake!
Labour leadership hopeful Emily Thornberry (we were in the same tutorial class in the Inns of Court School of Law) falsely claimed on the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday that we do “50%” of our trade with the EU. Nonsense! For starters the trade claim is blind – what matters is exports, not overall trade. Leaving out the Republic of Ireland probably only about 30% of British exports go to the EU.
Plan A is to get my next column out on Friday, concentrating on Brexit. Given the party we’re likely to be having on Friday night I doubt I’ll be much use on Saturday!
My Christmas reading included The Titanic Secret by James Becker (Gallery Books, 2012), not to be confused with The Titanic Secret by Clive Cussler and Jack du Brul(Putnams, 2019).
After more than a century of fairy tales about First Officer Murdoch trying to avoid the iceberg, it seems that word has spread that he was actually trying to hit it.
The absurd premise of Becker’s book is that the Secret Service Bureau wanted to sink the Titanic in order to prevent a German/American military alliance aimed at Great Britain. Given German influence in Washington, the latter part of the premise is not so outlandish. C, however, the first head of the SSB, who features in the book, was nothing if not a gentleman. He was also a former Royal Navy officer.
The Royal Navy doesn’t torpedo ocean liners in peacetime, even French ones.
Becker has the Admiralty sortieing a new diesel-powered D class submarine to intercept Titanic. She refuels in mid-ocean, which is something Jerry tried in World War II, although not nearly as often as you might suppose. (They had bases on the west coast of Ireland and Mexico and didn’t need to refuel.) It’s well-written and a good read, but for the truth about the Titanic have a look at Chapter 13 of Spyhunter!
This Week’s Movie Review: Out of the Clouds (1955: dir. Basil Dearden)
For the benefit of new readers, including many in Britain, I don’t just review the latest blockbusters like 1917 but classic movies, usually with a defense or aviation theme, particularly those which American readers may not have seen.
With streaming, even the most obscure movies have become available. You wouldn’t have found a copy of Out of the Clouds at your local Blockbuster in the old days.
It’s a charming movie. Centered on a romance between two Jewish passengers who chance to meet at London Airport (Heathrow), the nice Jewish girl, played by Margo Lorenz, flies in from Tel Aviv on a dear old BEA Vickers Viscount, whilst the nice Jewish boy flies in from New York on a Pan Am DC-6B. The lead is played by that fine actor Anthony Steel and there’s a wonderful cameo from James Robertson Justice, playing a BOAC Stratocruiser captain.
There are lovely shots of the Viscount, the DC-6B, the Stratocruiser, and a BOAC Lockheed Constellation.
For an aviation enthusiast, it’s an absorbing movie, shot at a time when civil aviation was in transition from piston power to turbine power. It’s schmaltzy but with the news full of reports of fried koalas and the latest Iranian airliner shoot-down a bit of schmaltz is no bad thing. That’s why it gets shown at Christmas.
It’s sweet. The romance is chaste, the humor, mostly supplied by James Robertson Justice, is gentle and the drama underplayed. The cast is just wonderful – Robert Beatty is there, along with Bernard Lee (M in the Bond movies) and Eunice Gayson. It’s by no means a great movie but I guarantee you’ll be smiling by the end.
There’s no point emailing in and saying it’s dated. It was shot in 1954. Of course, it’s dated. That’s the whole point. It’s so old somebody from the airline comes to fetch you when your plane is ready and the captain has to shut down an engine in flight and feather the prop – all the little things that used to add such charm and interest to international airline travel.
The book on which the movie’s based, Springboard, by John Fores (Hodder & Stoughton, 1956), which was actually published after the UK release, is well worth a read too. It’s a bit harder-edged than the movie.
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.