Now men will go content with what we spoiled

Dateline Sunday 30 July 2006 - Hazardous material bound for Israel is believed to have been landed at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, after flights were diverted from Prestwick airport in Scotland in the wake of planned protests. A member of staff at RAF Mildenhall told the Press Association that one plane operated by US cargo firm Atlas Air was on the runway - but they could not say what was inside it. Atlas Air is being used for two hazardous material flights from Texas to Tel Aviv, and planes were due to fly into Prestwick over the weekend - but they were diverted to a military base elsewhere in the UK, according to a source at Preswtick.

An official operations spokesman at RAF Mildenhall, which has one of the biggest runways in Europe, later refused to confirm or deny the hazardous material flights had been diverted from Prestwick to Mildenhall. It is not sure exactly what is on board the planes, but their dangerous contents needed a special exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority, which was approved.

Two chartered A310 Airbuses carrying bunker-busting bombs for Israel previously stopped over for refuelling at Prestwick, apparently without following proper procedure. It led to calls for US planes to be banned from using the UK as a staging post for arms transport during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon - although the government has made clear it was the breach in protocol rather than the fact of the flights that was at issue.

US president George Bush apologised to Tony Blair over the previous use of Prestwick to refuel planes carrying bombs to Israel.Tony Blair defended allowing the use of Prestwick for US aircraft ferrying bombs to Israel.Speaking on an official visit to San Francisco he told Sky News last night:
"What happens at Prestwick airport is not going to determine whether we get a ceasefire in the Lebanon."

From the Eastern Daily Press. RAF Mildenhall is 35 miles from Aldeburgh, and 30 miles from where I write these words.

The pity of war, the pity war distilled
Now men will go content with what we spoiled
Wilfred Owen's words used in Britten's War Requiem

The heading photograph shows the aftermath of the German bombing raid on Coventry in 1940 which destroyed the 14th century cathedral. Benjamin Britten's War Requiem was composed for the reconsecration of the cathedral in 1962. Britten (left) intended that the soloists for the premiere in the cathedral should be a Russian, Galina Vishnevskaya, a Britain, Peter Pears, and a German Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, but the Russian authorities blocked the participation of Vishnevskya, and her place was taken, at short notice, by Heather Harper. For Britten's peerless recording of the work made in the following year Vishnevska joined Pears and Fischer-Dieskau. Britten and Pears purchased the Chapel House in Horham, Suffolk in 1971 because the noise from US fighters flying from the RAF Bentwaters base near Aldeburgh was disturbing Britten's composing. Ironically Horham is ten miles closer to RAF Mildenhall, and it was in Horham he wrote his late works, Death in Venice, Phaedra and the Third String Quartet. Britten died in 1976, and RAF Bentwaters closed in 1993 after 43 years with a US presence on the base.

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Dresden Requiem for eleven young victims and I am a camera - Britten's Aldeburgh


Pliable said…
From today's Eastern Daily Press:

Rift on flights to East Anglian airbase


01 August 2006 08:18

The Foreign Office and the US military appeared to be at odds about whether American planes carrying munitions to Israel can refuel at a major East Anglian airbase without the knowledge of the British government.

Officials in London told the EDP that they expected to be notified if cargo flights carrying weapons stopped off to refuel at the US controlled RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk en route to the Middle East.

But US officials said that under existing agreements between the two governments, they were “not bound” to inform UK authorities about weapons landing in Britain.

The confusion came amid growing anger that two Boeing 747 cargo planes carrying weapons bound for Israel had stopped at Mildenhall over the weekend as the bloodshed in Lebanon continues.

The EDP has also learned that air traffic in and out of the US airbase has increased in recent weeks.

But as protesters gathered for the second day at the gates of the airbase - which is the only 24-hour US airfield on UK soil and the biggest US-military refuelling centre in Europe - politicians added their voice to calls for an end to the munitions flights.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “This government has a determination to hang on the coat-tails of United States foreign policy.

“If it is right to support military action we should be prepared to risk retaliation but what is happening is disproportionate and to be helping in this American support for Israel is wrong and puts us more at risk.

“In my view there is a strong case for the bases not to be used in that way.”

Conservative MP for Suffolk West Richard Spring said his concern was securing an immediate ceasefire in the conflict but said there could be a review of the use of the airbase if peace was brought to Lebanon.

“In the cold light of day we may review some of these issues but we are not going to do it in a speedy or parochial fashion,” he said.

It is not the first time the base has been the centre of international controversy - in 1986 the US used the base to refuel F111 fighter-bombers to attack Tripoli in Libya in the face of opposition from across Europe.

Last night 1st Lt Jamie Humphries, spokesman for the US airbase, RAF Mildenhall, told the EDP that there were UK and US agreements about what could be landed on US bases in the UK, which meant that the American military was not bound to inform UK authorities about weapons landing in Britain.

He said: “There are prescriptive guidelines about what you can or cannot ship on a plane and as long as they are followed there is no notification made to the British authorities.”

But a Foreign Office spokesman said that such flights needed notification forms to be provided to bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority and Department of Transport.

He said: “The process for arranging flights invites notification forms to be submitted with the CAA and the DoT.”

Lt Rem Merrick, of nearby RAF Marham, confirmed there had been a marked increase in traffic from RAF Mildenhall in recent weeks.

The 727Air Mobility Squadron based at RAF Mildenhall regularly refuel US-military and US-affiliated planes at the base.

Earlier yesterday , speaking over the drone of a constant stream of KC135 refuelling aircraft leaving the base, protestor Jean Davis, of the Norfolk Jewish peace group, pleaded with the region to make a stand against the conflict.

“What Israel is doing to the Lebanese goes far beyond anything that can be justified by a military power, it is utterly barbaric, totally disproportionate and an outrage to the whole of humanity.

“We are allowing these arms to go through Mildenhall so they can be used to commit war crimes in indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population.”

Anna Yandell, member of the Cambridgeshire Palestian Solidarity Society, added: “They are condemning us to explosions on the underground, on buses, streets and restaurants for generations to come.”

Pliable said…
Flights protest targets Prestwick
Demonstrators have staged a protest at Prestwick Airport against the refuelling of US flights to Israel.

About 150 people voiced their anger at the landing of planes which they believe are carrying bombs for use in the conflict in Lebanon.

Two flights carrying "hazardous" material were diverted from Prestwick to the RAF Mildenhall military base in Suffolk on Saturday evening.

There has been no official confirmation of the cargo being carried.

A spokesman for the US air force at RAF Mildenhall said the two the Atlas Air cargo flights arrived late on Saturday night. One departed on Sunday afternoon, with the other expected to follow later.

He could not comment on what was on board the planes, but said they were there to refuel and allow the crew to rest.

Sunday's protest at Prestwick was organised by the Glasgow Stop the War Coalition.

Demonstrators unfurled banners, Lebanese flags and placards before chanting peace slogans and making a series of speeches.

The protest took place outside the main entrance after police ordered demonstrators to leave the terminal building.

The Strathclyde force said this had been for safety reasons, and described it as a "very orderly protest".

Glasgow-based human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar claimed that the UK Government was breaching international law by allowing bombs to pass through Prestwick.

He said: "The munitions that have been allowed to land are weapons of mass destruction being used on innocent people.

"The Americans have been landing munitions here for several months."

Dr Rashid Mohammed, who speaks for Glasgow's 100-strong Lebanese community, said: "Innocent people are getting killed by bombs of mass destruction which are coming through this airport.

"We are calling for an immediate ceasefire and a stop to what's been going on at Prestwick.

"What the Israelis are doing is not self-defence, it is the worst sort of war crime."

Local Conservative MSP John Scott has joined the calls for future flights to be routed away from Prestwick.

"If the Americans wish to support Israel's policy by providing these armaments they must do so from their own military airbases," he said.

"They should not be doing so from Prestwick, which is Scotland's fastest-growing civilian airport."

A spokesman for Prestwick said the airport had provided support for military flights - including refuelling aircraft and providing food and water - since World War I.

It was obliged to allow any Civil Aviation Authority-registered country to land its planes there but was not "entitled or obliged" to find out what cargo was being carried on flights in transit.

"The operation of these reported flights is a matter between governments and discussions with regard to their operation takes place at a much higher level than us," the spokesman said.

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said the Irish Government had refused to allow its airports to be used as a stopover for munitions.

"Meanwhile, Scotland is dragged in as an unwilling accessory before the fact of violence and murder while our puppet executive of Labour and Lib Dem ministers maintains a guilt-ridden silence," he said.

"This is an extraordinary situation, which is completely intolerable and totally unacceptable."

The Scottish Green Party also congratulated Ireland for its stance.

It said First Minister Jack McConnell should "pull out all the stops" to persuade Westminster to say no to any more flights.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said it had no power over aviation policy, which was a matter for the Foreign Office.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Pliable said…
News blackout imposed on American arms flights refuelling at British bases
By Thomas Harding, Telegraph Defence Correspondent

(Filed: 02/08/2006)

The Government refused last night to give details of the flights entering Britain containing American arms destined for Israel.

There was also a suggestion that all arms flights via Prestwick airport, near Glasgow, were suspended following pressure from Scottish Labour MPs afraid of the political impact in their constituencies.

An Atlas Air Boeing 747 cargo jet at Prestwick Airport

Although Government officials have admitted that two flights, carrying GBU28 bunker-busting bombs, arrived at Prestwick the weekend before last and several others came in last week, a news blackout has now been enforced on reporting any new arrivals.

After hundreds of protesters gathered at Prestwick last weekend, at least two flights from Texas were diverted to RAF Mildenhall, in Suffolk.

The US air force has leased three bases in Britain - Mildenhall and Lakenheath in Suffolk, and RAF Fairford, Glos - for refuelling purposes.

During the initial flights into Prestwick, the American planes apparently violated normal procedures and President George W Bush had to apologise to the Prime Minister.

The Foreign Office said it was "not commenting on the handling of any flights" but so long as proper procedures were followed "permission will be granted".

However, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has claimed that a large cargo plane, reportedly bearing Hebrew markings, was seen by an activist at RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire.

The BBC's Newsnight programme said that six aircraft carrying military supplies for Israel passed through British airports at the weekend. Three carried munitions and the rest had "associated equipment".

The programme also suggested that the use of English bases came as a result of a Cabinet row over the issue. Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, allegedly offered their use after protests to Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, by Douglas Alexander, the Scottish Secretary, about the use of Prestwick.

A spokesman for Mr Browne said the Government as a whole made all decisions on the flights. "Newsnight is wrong," she said.


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