Gordon Mackenzie

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Person.png Gordon Mackenzie PowerbaseRdf-icon.png
(propagandist, soldier)

Major Gordon Mackenzie was a serving officer in the British Army until 2008 at least. Between November 2003 and 2008 he worked as a Ministry of Defence press officer.[1] [2][3]

However, Mackenzie has been used as a source on the BBC without indicating that he is or was a military employee. For example in 2007, while he still worked for the MoD, BBC Online reported: 'Defence analyst Gordon Mackenzie, who served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders...'.[4] In 2009 Mackenzie was featured as a 'UK security analyst'[5] and a 'military analyst' on the BBC.[6]

Military propaganda

He acted as a 'spokesman' for The Pipers' Trail - Jamie's Story, 'a stage adaptation of a piece of musical theatre which the Army has been performing in towns and cities across Scotland' and which was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008.[7] The Evening News reported that

Organisers said they hoped it would allow people to understand the core values of the Army, and help to counter some of the negative opinions arising out of recent conflicts.[8]

Background

Biographical Information

History

Mackenzie was military spin doctor for the 22-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan,[9] as part of an Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders contingent 'among the 53 Scots serving with the 340-strong group of British peace-keepers in' Kabul in late 2002.[10]

Denying abuse of journalists

In December 2002 Mackenziie denied that two journalists arrested by western forces had been abused while in custody:

Peacekeepers in Kabul detained and blindfolded two journalists and interrogated them about al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, one of the journalists said Dec. 20. The correspondents of the Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera were detained as they tried to videotape outside a peacekeeping base just after an attack there. Sayed Hashmatolla Moslih, a cameraman and naturalized Australian citizen, said he and Wali Shaeen, an Afghan correspondent, were held for six hours inside a compound of the 4,800-strong multinational force.
Moslih said he told peacekeepers he was a journalist and showed them identification. "Despite all this they treated us as if we were members of al-Qaida," Moslih said. "They asked questions like, 'Where is Osama bin Laden? Do you know Osama bin Laden? ... Do you have a relationship with Taliban leader Mullah Omar?"'
In the past, Al-Jazeera has carried interviews with bin Laden and has broadcast messages from al-Qaida. Moslih alleged peacekeepers stood on his forearms, dug boot heels and pushed the barrels of their weapons into his body, and bound his wrists so tightly that they swelled afterward.
Peacekeeping spokesman British Maj. Gordon Mackenzie denied the journalists were abused and said they were arrested because they were "filming in an area ... which is clearly marked 'No Photography."' He said the men were restrained with plastic handcuffs and kept in an office. Mackenzie also said a German army doctor inspected them and found they had no injuries.
"It's unfortunate that they were detained for longer than we would have liked, but they weren't bullied, they weren't beaten," Mackenzie said. "We have to remember that this is a defensive situation where terrorist attacks happen all the time and indeed people have been killed before by people pretending to be TV camera crews," he added.
The northern alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massood was assassinated by suicide bombers posing as journalists on Sept. 9, 2001. MacKenzie said the journalists failed to identify themselves. But Moslih's camera, which was taping during the arrest, clearly shows the prostrate cameraman telling peacekeepers he was a journalist - to which one peacekeeper responded, "Shut up!"
Afghan police and peacekeepers of the International Security Assistance Force kept journalists away from the scene of the attack, in which an Afghan man hurled a grenade that killed two Afghans and wounded two French citizens. The attacker was killed by another grenade he was carrying. Ibrahim Helal, chief editor of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, condemned the detentions and said the station would take legal action for what he called "inhumane" treatment.
"This proves the ignorance of the Western world and the ignorance of international peacekeeping forces who cannot distinguish between competent journalists and extremist groups," Helal told The Associated Press in the Qatari capital, Doha. Al-Jazeera's Kabul bureau was destroyed Nov. 12, 2001, in a U.S. airstrike. The United States said it believed the building was a site used by al-Qaida and did not know the television channel was located there.[11]

Helicopter incident

Also in December 2002 he was involved in issuing information about an incident in which a helicipter crashed killing 7 German military personnel and allegedly two children. According to a report in the Australian Townsville Bulletin:

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but officials from the 22-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said they believed it may have been caused by engine trouble rather than a missile attack or other foul play.
Witnesses claimed to have seen the bodies of two children at the crash site.
But ISAF spokesman Major Gordon Mackenzie said this was incorrect. "There were no children," he said, speaking from near the crash site a few kilometres outside Kabul. "We would have known by now."[12]

Current activities

Views

We cut off the head, and the tail is still wiggling. - Maj Gordon Mackenzie, of the British army, on the problems facing coalition forces in Iraq[13]


MAJOR GORDON MACKENZIE, OF THE BRITISH ARMY, SUMS UP THE PROBLEM THAT THE COALITION FACES IN IRAQ
"People think that because of the way you look there can't be one tiny bit of insecurity, but there is. I am a shy person."[14]



References

  1. The Express, November 10, 2003, POIGNANCY OF REMEMBRANCE SUMMED UP AS BOY OF 10 WEARS GRANDAD'S MEDALS TO JOIN WAR HEROINE GRANNY AND WATCH STRAINED-LOOKING QUEEN LAY WREATH; FINEST OF THE FINE HONOURED, BYLINE: By PAUL CALLAN SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 15
  2. Gold Coast Bulletin (Australia) March 26, 2004 Friday CAUGHT OUT AND RED-FACED ; UK service cavers trapped in Mexico SECTION: WORLD BRIEFING; Pg. 22
  3. Evening News (Edinburgh) August 6, 2008, Wednesday, 1 Edition, 'Army hopes Fringe first will help to "reconnect"' BYLINE: GARETH EDWARDS SECTION: Pg. 11
  4. Steven McKenzie, BBC Scotland News website, Highlands and Islands reporter Armed forces recruit on YouTube BBC Online, Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 15:43 GMT
  5. Afghan run-off faces huge challenges BBC Online, Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 13:05 UK
  6. BBC Radio Scotland, Good Morning Scotland, 9 November 2009
  7. Evening News (Edinburgh) August 6, 2008, Wednesday, 1 Edition, 'Army hopes Fringe first will help to "reconnect"' BYLINE: GARETH EDWARDS SECTION: Pg. 11
  8. Evening News (Edinburgh) August 6, 2008, Wednesday, 1 Edition, 'Army hopes Fringe first will help to "reconnect"' BYLINE: GARETH EDWARDS SECTION: Pg. 11
  9. The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan) December 23, 2002 Monday Final Edition U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan SOURCE: Associated Press SECTION: Canada & The World; Pg. A3;
  10. The Scotsman January 1, 2003, Wednesday THE VIOLENT BUSINESS OF PEACE-KEEPING AFGHANISTAN BYLINE: Jonathan Ledgard In Kabul SECTION: Pg. 9
  11. December 23, 2002, Monday, BC cycle Publishers:; Editors:; Managing Editors: SECTION: Domestic News Developments in the news industry for Dec. 16-23: AP SURVEY-TOP 10 NEWS STORIES: Al-Jazeera journalists detained in Afghanistan, claim abuse
  12. Townsville Bulletin/Townsville Sun (Australia) December 23, 2002, Monday Seven dead, two missing after Kabul chopper crash SOURCE: AAP SECTION: WORLD; Pg. 17
  13. The Irish Times October 25, 2003 This Week They Said SECTION: CITY EDITION; OPINION AND ANALYSIS; Pg. 14
  14. The Times (London) October 21, 2003, Tuesday Verbatim SECTION: Features; Times2; 2