Buried in this national-security debate is a class issue. Bob Ayers of Chatham House, a London-based foreign-affairs think tank, noted in an e-mail: "Now 15 people from the lower rungs of the military ladder find themselves experiencing Andy Warhol's famous 15 minutes of fame -- albeit this time it is a bit longer than 15 minutes -- and decided to profit from it. Their principal crime seems to be that they are intruding on what had heretofore been the exclusive domain of the admiral, field marshal and government minister -- being paid for publishing their experiences.
"The argument that (military) personnel cannot publish is difficult to understand when the large number of factual books about the Falklands, the SAS, the Irish 'Troubles' and so on are recalled. The only difference I can see is the time delay between having the experience and publishing about it.
"Assuming that they don't compromise sensitive information, why not publish?" The answer: Because if the Blair government wants to democratize its policies as to who in the military can publish for pay, this is the wrong time to do so.
The biggest known threat to the national security of Great Britain and the United States lies among Islamic extremists who believe that Westerners always will back down in a pinch. With a possible six-figure payout for talking about folding as a hostage -- Turney's reported take -- those extremists will see a system that rewards meekness, even in the military.
Yesterday, Ahmadinejad announced he was expanding Iran's nuclear program. This time, no goody bag.