Chris Cramer, managing editor of CNN’s International news division and a chief lieutenant of Eason Jordan, has made similar allegations about the military targeting journalists as his boss, as outlined here earlier and on Slublog. Alert CQ reader David D remembered Cramer from a famous hostage-rescue case in London in 1980, and pointed the way to other inflammatory comments Cramer made towards the men who rescued the hostages.
On April 11, 1980, six armed Iranians opposed to the rule of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini invaded the Iranian embassy in London, taking everyone inside hostage for a six-day siege. Two of the hostages were BBC reporter Chris Cramer and his partner and soundman, Sim Harris:
The hostages were mainly Iranian embassy staff, but also included a number of tourists and two BBC employees – journalist Chris Cramer and sound recordist Sim Harris – who had stopped by to pick up visas.
Later that day Mr Cramer telexed a shopping list of demands to the police from inside the embassy. … If their demands were not met the gunmen threatened to execute all the hostages and blow up the embassy.
The British activated the Special Air Service (SAS), their commando unit that had been under the budget knife to that point, in an attempt to free the hostages. For the first five days, the SAS planned but remained on standby while British negotiators tried to get the terrorists to surrender. Unfortunately, on the sixth day, the terrorists lost patience and killed an Iranian hostage, an embassy staffer and supporter of Khomeini. After the terrorists pushed the body out a window, the Brits sent in the SAS, which took the embassy back in 15 minutes, killing all but one of the terrorists and saving all but two of the 21 hostages.
Operation Nimrod, as it was designated, became widely hailed as one of the SAS’ most successful operations. The SAS earned a reputation as one of the world’s best counter-terrorist units and the British still point to Nimrod with pride to this day. Well, most of the British do. Cramer, who got released after the first day by faking a heart attack (on his own admission) and leaving behind his partner, doesn’t think too much of the men who eventually rescued Sim Harris and the other 18 hostages. Here’s what Cramer told a seminar of media editors for the Crimes of War Project in 2002 (emphases and break points mine):
I won’t roll out the victim syndrome for you at all — well, maybe I will for two or three minutes. My own humbling experience was 20 years ago last week. Not, of course, as I remember it. It was actually last Wednesday at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Not, of course, that I remember it because it has no affect on me. Tomorrow I fly to London for a reunion, the first in 20 years. And I’ll come back to you and let you know how that feels next year, if you like.
My experience was very brief. I was stupid enough to apply for a visa inside the Iranian Embassy in London in April 1980. I was stupid enough to be there when Iraqi terrorists stormed it. I was there for a very, very short time. I was there for precisely 28 hours. Not that I remember it, because I’m a member of your profession. We don’t do PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].
I was fortunate enough to have a slightly troubling stomach condition, having been in Zimbabwe, which manifested itself in a very short space of time. It’s a most incredible heart attack. And I do fantastic heart attacks. I do great heart attacks. So convincing with my heart attack that the people there were embarrassed and threw me out.
And I was released after 27 hours into the hands of the Metropolitan Police in London and two days later into a dreadful bunch of terrorists called the SAS, who were probably worse than the terrorists inside the Iranian embassy.
And four and a half days later, Maggie Thatcher, in one of her rare moments of triumph, deployed the SAS in broad daylight to storm the embassy and they rescued all but maybe one or two of the hostages. Two were murdered. The SAS conveniently took out five members of the terrorist group and forgot to take out the sixth. So that was my brief, humbling experience.
So Chris Cramer, president of CNN International and a former hostage of terrorists himself, appears to have gotten a lifetime case of Stockholm Syndrome from the experience. He considers British commandos to be terrorists — actually, worse than terrorists, because they freed people from the clutches of murderous thugs. Had Cramer not faked a heart attack, of course, he would have owed his life to the SAS, but apparently his sympathies lie with the gunmen who caused him all of his PTSD.
Now the man who considers these British commandos to be worse than terrorists says much the same thing about the American military — and CNN put him in charge of its international news coverage, including everything we and the world see coming from such places as Iraq and Afghanistan. No wonder Eason Jordan hired him to run CNNi. With his twisted sense of judgment and his sympathetic ear for conspiracy theories, he seems a perfect fit for the CNN chief who likes to make up wild accusations overseas about the American and Israeli military.
These are the people who have given us the news for the past several years on CNN. Now you understand the origins of the bias that you see in their “version” of the news. CNN has a lot of housecleaning to do, and firing Jordan won’t be enough to restore their credibility. Chris Cramer has to go.
UPDATE AND BUMP, 2/9: Cramer describes the terrorists as Iraqi in this quote. The research I found on Operation Nimrod suggests that he was correct, but officially the British maintain that the six terrorists were disaffected Iranians who opposed Ayatollah Khomeini. The scuttlebutt was that Saddam attempted to extend his war against Iran to London, although I’m not terribly clear on the motive. The British maintained diplomatic relations with Iran after the Islamic Revolution and our own hostage crisis in Teheran; perhaps Saddam wanted to shake that relationship.