The recent Coroner's inquest on a British soldier, Cpl. John Harrison, killed during the 2009 rescue of New York Times journalist Stephen Farrell in Afghanistan got me wondering what I would have done if I'd been captured by the Taliban. I guess hope for a quick and painless death – or, very much less likely, a negotiated release. The Canadian troops I was with at Kandahar used to joke with me when we went to local villages that if I didn't stick close to them I end up in a “Taliban snuff movie”. What I wouldn't have done was hope to rescued – particularly if I'd ignored numberous warnings not to go somewhere and got myself capured through my own stupidity. Hostage rescues in Afghanistan are kind of dicey anyway, Farrell's Afghan assistant, Sultan Munadi, was killed during the rescue and Linda Norgrove was killed last year by a US grenade during an attempt to rescue her. By the way, I think the US military should get some credit for admitting it was responsible for the death of aid worker Norgrove.
Perhaps I'm being a bit flippant here, but perhaps the New York Times could have arranged and paid for Farrell's rescue – I'm pretty sure the paper has budget not far short of what the British Army gets these days. There are plenty of so-called security contractors (when did “mercenary” go out of fashion?) with the technical know-how to conduct a rescue operation. Actions should have consequences and those consequences should not involve the death of another person.