Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: General

Phone hacking

On 19/7/2011 at 7 p.m. (2.30 p.m. GMT) Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch appeared before UK’s House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to answer questions about phone hacking by News of the World. NDTV 24×7, Times Now, Headlines Today, BBC, CNN, CNN-IBN, News X, NDTV Profit, CNBC TV18 and Bloomberg were showing the event. ET Now was the exception. Hillary Clinton‘s visit lost importance. Rupert Murdoch said “This is the most humble day of my life.” In the beginning his answers were “Yes” or “No”. James Murdoch answered in sentences. Later Rupert Murdoch answered in sentences. On Left Right and Centre there was little discussion and it was telecast for most of the time. Someone said the Murdochs had been tutored well and Rupert Murdoch must have rehearsed the sentence thousand times. On Face the Nation after some discussion it was telecast of Rebekah Brooks answering questions.

Phone hacking in Britain was going on for a long time. People did not protest when phones of royalty, politicians and celebrities were hacked. When it became public that phones of a murder victim Milly Dowler, 7/7 victims and of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were hacked there was outrage.

The phone hacking scandal has made international headlines. Not only there was hacking but also bribing of police officers to know the phone numbers of the queen and her itinerary.

Rupert Murdoch was considered invincible. The scandal made him vulnerable. Advertisements to News of the World stopped and he shut it down. He had to give up his BSkyB bid. He met Milly Dowler’s family and said sorry. He took out advertisements on newspapers saying sorry. He had to appear before MPs and answer questions. He said he did not know about phone hacking. His enemies were happy to see him in trouble. It is said that the character of Elliot Carver in the film Tomorrow Never Dies was based on him. However the way the death of Elliot Carver was reported in the film was similar to the death of Robert Maxwell. Unlike Elliot Carver who wanted a war between China and UK so that his newspaper could flourish Rupert Murdoch did not want a between China and UK.

The scandal led to 10 arrests and resignations of Commissioner of Police Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner of Police John Yates.

In India there is legal and illegal phone tapping. Private detective agencies do illegal phone tapping. Radia phones were legally tapped. Who leaked the tapes is not public knowledge but Coomi Kapoor of Indian Express had written that a business rival of Ratan Tata had distributed the tapes to media houses. If industrialists wanted a corrupt minister to continue in his ministry and used a lobbyist, the publication of such matter is of public interest.

There is need for tough punishment for phone hacking or illegal phone tapping. The punishment should be more severe if police officers or other public servants are bribed to reveal the phone numbers of people they are meant to protect. Any terrorist can pose as journalist and kill people. In Afghanistan Ahmed Shah Masood was killed that way.

NATO and regime change

In December 2010 demonstrations began in various Arab countries. Someone at that time questioned why they were taking place. He felt some people were behind those demonstrations. In Tunisia the president resigned. In 2011 Tahrir Square in Cairo made news. USA wanted Hosni Mubarak to quit. He quit. USA talked of democracy. Many said revolutions were sweeping Arab countries. Protests continued in many countries but the leaders held on. Bahrain demolished Pearl Square or roundabout. Saudi Arabia sent its army to Bahrain. In Yemen the leader held on.

Demonstrations began in Libya. It seemed Muammar Gaddafi will flee or that was the impression given by some people. That did not happen and there was civil war. Gaddafi held on and took back territories held by rebels. Arab League wanted a no-fly zone. UN authorized a no-fly zone. The resolution was worded in such a way that any country could interpret it in anyway. Russia, China, Brazil, India and one more member of Security Council abstained on the vote on resolution.

NATO took the task to enforce no-fly zone. France recognized the rebel government. Libya was bombed. Arab countries were aghast. They had not asked for bombing of Libya.

France, UK and USA want regime change in Libya. They say Gaddafi has killed his own people. NATO did nothing when dictators killed their own people in Sudan or Burma. In USA there is opposition to involvement in Libya. USA is involved in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has budget deficit and other problems and people don’t want involvement in a country where the future is not clear. Someone said the rebels are shouting jihadi slogans and not God Save America. There is talk of Muslim Brotherhood gaining strength in Egypt. Jihadis taking over Arab countries, some of them USA allies, is a possibility which many Americans detest.

NATO countries have not talked of regime change in Bahrain, Syria or Yemen. Rulers of Bahrain and Yemen do not seem to be in a mood to oblige USA. Arab countries know what happened in Iran when the Shah was deposed. Many in USA know that and do not want hostile governments to take over Arab countries.

Now it is known that people who led demonstrations had training in USA. Groups like Freedom House, National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute had trained those leaders. Arab governments will not be happy about such things.

Death of Salman Taseer

Murder is a crime. It is more serious when a security guard murders his protectee. Security guards who allow their colleagues to murder are accomplices in murder. Murderers and their accomplices deserve death penalty.

Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab in Pakistan, was shot dead by a security guard. Other security guards allowed him to shoot. Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her security guards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh. Other security guards were unaware of their intention. They shot Beant Singh and Satwant Singh. Satwant Singh survived, was tried and hanged.
Salman Taseer was against blasphemy law in Pakistan. He wanted the repeal of blasphemy law. Many Pakistanis were hostile to him.

Many people showered the murderer of Salman Taseer with rose petals. That was perverse. Shooting an unarmed and unsuspecting man one is meant to protect is an act of betrayal and cowardice besides being a crime.

Many Pakistani politicians did not condemn the murder or attend the funeral of Salman Taseer. They want to play safe and don’t want to offend fanatics. Nawaz Sharif condemned the murder but indirectly blamed Salman Taseer when he said Salman Taseer should have been more careful about his words and actions about blasphemy law. That is playing on both sides.

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