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Scoop Audio: Scoop Interviews Reporter Robert Fisk

Scoop Audio: Scoop Interviews Reporter Robert Fisk

Scoop Correspondent Jon Stephenson with Robert Fisk in Baghdad

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UK Independent Newspaper foreign correspondent Robert Fisk is in New Zealand this week for the Wellington International Arts Festival's Writer's & Readers Week.

This Wednesday and Friday he will discuss his recent book " The Great War For Civilisation – The Conquest of the Middle East " in two solo sessions at the Embassy Theatre chaired by former nine-to-noon Radio NZ host Linda Clark.

Robert Fisk will also appear in two panel discussions during the week Making News (17 Mar, 12:30pm) (with John Campbell) and The War Zone (18 Mar, 9:30am) with cartoonist Joe Sacco, and novelists Nuruddin Farah and Aleksandar Hemon.

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This morning Scoop Co-editor Alastair Thompson caught up with Mr Fisk en route to Wellington by phone in his hotel in Auckland.

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Question outline for the interview ( N.B. these are the notes for the questions as intended, not a transcript of the questions as actually asked):


Welcome to peaceful New Zealand. One of our correspondents Jon Stephenson says hello, he and Rebecca Wright recently interviewed you in Lebanon in a taxi on the way to the airport.

For your information this interview is being recorded for live stream over the internet and is likely to be posted fairly smartly.


What do you think the significance of the Downing Street Memos and the recent revelations that George Bush wanted to bomb the HQ of Al Jazeera in Qatar is in relation to what you have said about the build up to war and the involvement of the Blair Government? Have these developments changed your views at all about what happened or clarified them?

Are these leaks a sign that elements in the British establishment are unhappy about what has been happening recently?

Lets move now to the fall of Baghdad – there were some reports around the time of the fall of the city that the CIA had bought off the Republican Guard and that many of them were subsequently relocated to the West. This is not a story that seems to have been pursued at all in the media? Is this a theory you are familiar with at all?

Recently you talked to Tony Jones in Australia about the growing conflict in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites. In the course of that interview you said:

" What I'd like to know is who is running the Interior Ministry? Who is paying the Interior Ministry? Who is paying the gunmen who work for the Interior Ministry? I go into the Interior Ministry in Baghdad and I see lots and lots of armed men wearing black leather. Who is paying these guys? Well, we are, of course. The money isn't falling out of the sky. It's coming from the occupation powers and Iraqi's Government, which we effectively run because, as we know, they can't even create a constitution without the American and British ambassadors being present. We need to look at this story in a different light. That narrative that we're getting - that there are death squads and that the Iraqis are all going to kill each other, the idea that the whole society is going to commit mass suicide - is not possible, it's not logical. There is something else going on in Iraq. Don't ask me to..."

..and then you were interrupted. What did you not want to say?

There has been quite a lot of speculation about the rescue of the two British soldiers in Basra who had been caught by Iraqi police with an arsenal in their car. Were you also suspicious about those events too?


In Chapter 22 of your book "The Die is Cast" you talk at length about the deceit that led up to the war, is all this now happening again with Iran?

Is it possible that the recent rhetoric has been preparing public opinion for Israel to launch air strikes against Iran?


911 What do you think of the 911 Commission report…. In particular the evidence of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the capture of him?


You are often out on your own in your reporting of events in the Middle East, why is this so? And what media do you use personally?

The Internet has provided something of an alternative avenue for informing people – through it I am certain your readership has increased by many millions. Your reports have even coined an early blogging term "Fisking" meaning to deconstruct a column in blogs? Is the Internet something you pay much attention to & do you see it as a balance – of a sort – to the propaganda machine?


What happens next?

New Zealand Post Writers & Readers Week
Flashpoints - In the Eye of the Storm: Robert Fisk
Scoop's Festival 2006 – Complete Coverage


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