Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Unimaginable Scale

The new extended 28 day limit on holding terrorist suspects without charge is now in effect. What chance the power that be will be looking to use that 28 day limit to the full for political reasons, irrespective of whether it's actually necessary? Hmm...

Time will tell but right now, I'm fairly confident that at least some of those arrested last week will be held for the full 28 days before being charged. The government and the police are still smarting over the defeat of the 90 day proposal. A crisis is also an opportunity, after all.

Given that the suspects are just that, suspects, it is difficult to comment on the alleged plot in a meaningful way while staying on the right side of moral integrity. It's clearly not something which bothers John Reid unduly but that's no reason for everyone else to forget that there are rules of acceptable behaviour when it comes to this sort of thing. Whether this alleged plot was real or not is something for the courts to decide.

What I will say is that the timing of these arrests, regardless of whether the plot was real or not, looks likely to have been politically motivated. Remember that Blair was facing signs of open revolt just before this all kicked off. A member of the government had resigned (a minor one admittedly but noises off were strongly suggesting there were more to follow) and a large number of Labour MPs were demanding the recall of parliament to discuss British policy with regard to the crisis in Lebanon. Those "evil terrorists" soon put paid to that sort of talk.

If you think Blair's government is above manipulating the timing of events like these in order to serve their own best interests, well, where have you been these last five years? Sending tanks to Heathrow in the run up to the Iraq war just a few days before the largest demonstration in British history is the most obvious example of this government's willingness to manipulate what is undoubtedly a very real threat of terrorism to further their own agenda. What use is a tank against a terrorist exactly? I mean, behave. Tanks do make for very theatrical images for the front pages of the newspapers though. And there have been plenty more examples of this sort of thing.

There might be political advantages attached to this behaviour, Blair clearly thinks there are, but as counter-terrorism, it's dangerously self-defeating. As I've said many times before, the terrorists are trying to frighten us. The government isn't supposed to help.

On the first day of the crisis, it was Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police deputy commissioner (apparently big Blair's new mouthpiece now that little Blair's reputation has been all but destroyed), who said "This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale." The report does not record whether he was foaming at the mouth as he made the statement.

In the meantime, in Iraq, people are now being killed at a rate of 110 per day (via). Woe betide anyone who tries to describe that as a crisis though. What are you, some sort of bin Laden sympathising, Iraqi hating, cowardly defeatist? Things down there are going splendidly. And it's only the sand and some working class cannon fodder who're being killed. This plot in Britain was about killing IMPORTANT people. Middle class people with frequent flyer cards and wireless laptops. Can't you tell the difference, you leftist freaks?

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Simon C said...

As a wise man once said, "I don't know, kid, I can imagine a lot."

Will said...

I once heard a radio presenter excitedly refer to a cash prize (think it was around £20k) as "an unimaginable amount". Since then, I can't take that adjective seriously.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere on the news today they were announcing that the search of the woods in Buckinghamshire will take at least 6 weeks to complete - it could run for 90 days - I would not be surprised,

Mark said...

It is also at least possible the 28-day period is designed to surpass public attention span (28 hours would do it for some), so that folk will not make embarassing enquiries about arrested "terrorists" and why they haven't been charged with anything. This allows the government to whip up a crisis whenever one seems called for.

The "terrorists" arrested in connection with the Toronto scare (who had allegedly planned to blow up Canadian Security Intelligence Service headquarters, but abandoned it because they didn't know Ottawa well, and weren't that sure where the building was) have not been charged with anything, to the best of my knowledge, but have been held in utmost secrecy under a reporting blackout, for a couple of months now. The "terrorist training" they were alleged to have undergone was described by one as a game of paintball.

Inspired by the draconian assault on civil liberties of the Bush and Blair administrations, other governments who perhaps feel their citizens have an excess of self-determination are beginning to climb aboard the terror wagon.

Deeply Cynical said...


I commend this read to you:

CuriousHamster said...

simon, indeed. But I do have some difficulty imagining how we'd react as a society if 100+ people were being killed here every day. Perhaps it would provoke "unimaginable hysteria". Ahem.

mark, there is that possibility. Blair and his cronies are masters in the art of stonewalling till people get distracted or forget and this might help. The Forest Gate lot were released on a Friday afternoon/evening, the nearest thing to news blackout zone these days but it was all too fresh and the media were still interested.

True enough about those Canadians. I can't remember hearing about any charges either. I wonder what's happened to them.

deeply cynical, by a curious coincidence, I'd just finished reading that and was about to add it as an update when you left that comment. It's good stuff.

CuriousHamster said...

I'll make Craig Murray's post a clickable link here.

Anonymous said...

We tend to forget that last year 52 people (56 if you include the bombers) were killed in the UK by terrorists. Each week of the year, 58 people are killed on the UK's roads. This gives us the "unimaginable" figure of 3,016 - ten jumbo jets - but no one seems unduly worried about this annual death rate.

We have a new twist with the latest "thwarted" plot - information coming from unofficial police sources which Scotland Yard will not confirm Presumably, if everything goes pear-shaped and those arrested are released without charge or only charged with non-terrorist offences, the police will say, "We never claimd evidence had been found linking these people to terrorist activities - it was the media that kept going on about it."

By the way, we keep being told about three plots thwarted since 7th July 2005, but never about what the plots were or any arrests. Now that is worrying!