I’ve got Col. Jack Jacobs’s reaction to this coming up, but the clip’s still uploading so it’ll have to be in an update. In the meantime, Sky News has all the video you’ll need in bite-size form; they weren’t beaten, but as you’ll see in the clip, “We Feared the Worst,” they were made to believe they were going to be executed at one point. Below you’ll find Capt. Chris Air explaining why the Brits didn’t resist. Barnett watched it live and was horrified.
One clip that I don’t see here which I’ll try to cut is where one of them insists that their propaganda statements were always phrased conditionally — “we’re sorry if in fact we entered your waters,” “I can understand why the Iranian people would be upset assuming things happened the way you say they did,” that sort of thing. Here’s the video from last week of Chris Air and Felix Carman confessing on Iranian TV; the conditional statements have naturally been edited out.
Sky’s got a handy dandy bulletpoint treatment of the presser. Lots of updates coming here, including/especially Jacobs. Stand by.
Update: The Jacobs clip is up. He does not mince words.
Update: Sir Jonathon Band, the head of the Royal Navy, defended them in an interview earlier today:
Admiral Band also defended the way they acted in detention, despite criticisms that some had been too willing to give interviews and “apologise” for their actions.
“I think they acted with considerable dignity and a lot of courage. They appear to have played it by the rules, they don’t appear to have put themselves into danger, others into danger, they don’t appear to have given anything away,”he said.
“I think, in the end, they were a credit to us, the way they dealt with the situation when they were said goodbye to by the president.”
Update: Here’s the quote to which I referred above about the conditional nature of the confessions: “It was more like, according to this GPS map we’ve been given, then apparently we were in Iranian waters – and if that was the case we apologise.”
Update: Very quietly, the Brits have temporarily suspended cargo inspections off the coast of Iraq, a development to which I’m sure various unsavory parties will be taking full advantage. If they haven’t already:
In the deep south of the country, the Basra police commander said the type of roadside bomb used in an attack that killed four British soldiers on Thursday had not been seen in the region previously. Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Moussawi’s description of the deadly weapon indicated it was a feared Iranian-designed explosively formed penetrator.
Two more of the bombs were discovered planted along routes heavily traveled by U.S. and British diplomats in Basra. Weeks earlier, the American military had claimed Iran was supplying Shiite militia fighters in Iraq with the powerful weapons, known as EFPs. They hurl a molten, fist-sized copper slug capable of piercing armored vehicles.
The appearance of EFPs in British-controlled territory coincides perfectly with a British standoff with Iran. Fancy that.
Update: We’ll probably never know what really motivated Iran here, but if I had to guess I’d guess it was to produce editorials in western newspapers like this:
Because the U.S. relationship with Tehran is likely to remain confrontational, Britain’s handling of the crisis offers a model worth studying. London did not posture or threaten the Iranians, which would have been counterproductive. Yet neither did it apologize for a territorial trespass it insists its sailors did not commit. It has since agreed to discuss with Tehran territorial issues and operations in the tense Persian Gulf, which is a good idea in any case…
The events of the last two weeks show how important it is that the Iranian government be deterred from acquiring nuclear weapons or the means to produce them. This lesson holds even if the tough economic sanctions required to dent Tehran’s bravado are equally punishing to Western, Russian and Chinese commercial interests, and even if mustering such international resolve requires the West to make unpleasant political compromises. But the crisis also shows that a Western strategy of speaking softly in public — with a big stick lurking in private — is more likely to succeed in changing Tehran’s behavior than explicit threats and bluster.
Except the “big stick” wasn’t lurking in private; it was sitting off the coast of Iran in the form of several U.S. aircraft carriers. No matter, though — the fact that the carriers didn’t need to be used to obtain the sailors’ release is evidence for doves that Iran can ultimately be dealt with peacefully, and even act pseudo-magnanimously when need be. You can already imagine Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN next year, in which he compares and contrasts Iranian treatment of prisoners — illegally seized in another country’s waters, but never you mind that — to Abu Ghraib. They already had Faye Turney mention AG in one of her letters, in fact. The whole thing is aimed at persuading the left and the Third World members of the nonaligned movement that Iran has the moral high ground in its confrontation with the west. Shouldn’t be too hard given how eager they are to be persuaded.
Update: I missed this on Wednesday, but Toby Harnden of the Telegraph wasn’t waiting until the sailors were home to ask the $64,000 question: “Am I the only one who finds the conduct of the 15 on camera cringeworthy?”
Update: In a world of nuance, Iranian nuance is the most nuanced of all.
Iran’s state television said the British military “dictated” to its sailors what to say in a press conference Friday, in which they said they were pressured while in custody to admit to being in Iranian waters.
In its news report on the sailors, Iranian state TV said they held a “pre-organized” press conference in which “the British sailors only read from pages dictated to them.” “They made statements completely different from what they had said in Iran and claimed that they were in Iraqi waters when detained,” the TV newsreader said.
Update: Krauthammer draws the obvious lessons here about EU/UN impotence.
Update: Initial British estimates of the blast damage from the bomb that killed the four British soldiers indicates that it wasn’t an EFP, but the prime suspects are a wing of the Mahdi Army that’s now loyal to Iran. They also don’t address the Iraqi commander’s assertion that two bombs similar to EFPs were recently planted elsewhere.