This entry was posted on
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004 at
10:33 am and is filed
under The War on Stupid.
Honest John Prescott was dragged out of bed to address the small problem of Radio 4 this morning (as he always is when the government is presenting something that’s total bollocks).
Prescott insisted that the new ‘security’ measures were nothing to be afraid of, as they would be open to public debate. Also, he insisted that the threat of global terror was not something that could be ignored (cross-reference with Blunkett’s recent soundbite: “…we will have to take whatever steps are necessary, particularly in terms of security and intelligence, because it’s no good picking up the pieces – literally – afterward”).
But, when the presenter quite rightly brought up the issue of Iraq (which was supposed to make us more secure, but did just the opposite) Prescott dismissed these concerns by claiming the presenter and the programme had an “obsession” with the subject. He also said – when pressed for details of the ‘benefits’ we were expecting from the invasion of Iraq – that we should “wait and see”.
1. Public debate, yes. But let’s not bother with any meaningless subjects. Like Iraq.
2. The threat of terror cannot be ignored. Action must be taken. But on the action in Iraq, which has done so much to promote global terrorism and continues to do so to this day, we should just hang around and see what happens.
Now, let’s get to the bit where you’re at risk of getting blowed up…
Daily Mail – Al Qaeda attack on Canary Wharf foiled: The source, who has no axe to grind, said that the threats were real and were not deliberately exaggerated for political purposes.(Read a comment on this article and the front page here.)The Sun – Foiled: 9/11 London plot: Last night a senior security force said: “This is not about politics. It is about hard work behind the scenes to prevent what is a clear threat to the nation.”Methinks they doth protest too much. Some semblance of the truth in The Times (miracle of miracles). Please note the inverted commas in part of the headline…The Times – London ‘terror plots’ thwarted: One senior security source approached by The Times was unaware of such a plot, and pointed out that al-Qaeda rarely repeated terrorist outrages.Just what I was thinking. Planes! Towers! Even if this hasn’t been deliberately leaked and tweaked to frame the public debate Honest John seems so keen on, it shows a distinct lack of imagination.Anyway, let’s step back towards the echo chamber and take a look at Murdoch’s new York Post, where this vague and isolated report from “an authoritative senior source” begins to grow and take shape as ‘fact’…New York Post – ‘9/11′ Plots in Britain: The ghoulish copycat plot was thwarted by British intelligence sometime after the U.S. terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 – and before the would-be suicide pilots could finish training for their fiendish mission – sources told Britain’s ITV News.Ghoulish! Fiendish! Thwarted! Gosh, it’s all so scary, one might just be tempted to skip over those telling words “it was reported (i.e. claimed) yesterday”…This is what used to be a link to the original report at ITV.com, which has since been withdrawn. In its place is this (please note the inverted commas, this time around the entire headline)…ITV – ‘Security services foil 9/11 attack in UK’: ITV News understands that the security services have thwarted four or five September 11-style attacks on targets including Canary Wharf and Heathrow Airport.As we step back yet again into the echo chamber, we see this evening’s Evening Standard plans to change “was reported” to “has emerged”… See how it’s becoming more and more real as the source of the ‘story’ becomes less and less clear?Evening Standard – Canary Wharf terror plot: September 11-style terror attacks on the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf were thwarted, it emerged today ahead of the Queen’s Speech, which will focus on security.Notice also that the following AP report that made it onto CNN that ties this latest round of bull to a more recent round of bull that I commented on here and here. In this bloggage, you may note the quote: But – and this is how the magic time machine works – if I bring up the subject of the Heathrow stunt in 6 months time, the answer from any ardent supporter of the government will be; “Of course the threat on Heathrow was real – they arrested 13 people and found all sorts of plans and photos on a laptop!”Not quite what I predicted, but certainly grist for the mill…AP/CNN – Reports: UK terror attack thwarted: Last northern summer, Pakistan gave British officials intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda had plotted to attack Heathrow airport. The information was found on the computers of two accused members of Osama bin Laden’s terror network arrested in Pakistan. The computers held images of Heathrow.Meanwhile, the government sits back and ‘refuses to comment’ (because they don’t want to compromise security, you understand). As David Blunkett plays the ‘if you only knew what I knew’ card (back to The Daily Mail): Mr Blunkett has recently insisted that Labour will campaign on hope not fear, but then warned that forthcoming trials will show that Al Qaeda are “on our doorstep and threatening lives.”Actual trials for suspected terrorists? Allow me to get over my surprise long enough to suggest that these trails will take place sometime after the general election.Likewise, most of Blunkett’s new bills set to represent the guts of the Queen’s Speech today won’t be fully revealed (or ‘shaped’) until well after Blair walks away with a result.As I’ve been writing this, an article has gone live with some quotes from John Prescott’s interview this morning (If you have ReallyCrapPlayer, you can listen to this interview here). I’d like to share a quote with you: “Every one of our citizens is concerned about the level of security. All the polls show us that people are concerned about crime and security.This is the Government properly responding to that threat and fear.”1. Yes, I’m concerned about security. Which is why this bullshit alarms me so much.2. All the polls show people are concerned about crime and security (note what is to be one of many blurred lines between terror and crime in the coming months) because some irresponsible twat is busy stirring up that fear as part of his election strategy.3. This isn’t being handled responsibly. At all. Far from it. This government’s continued manipulation of perceived threats places us at greater risk of an actual ones.The publicity coup that was 9/11 greatly enables this manipulation. What was once beyond imagination can now be used to frame almost any debate, simply by evoking the fears everyone felt on that day (which is the end of the conversation for many people) and asserting that – in these times – nothing is beyond imagination (so they can feed us any old rubbish).Speaking of rubbish, let’s nail down today’s sound and fury….#1: But the stories, which cited unidentified sources, did not say when or where the plots were uncovered, or how close they came to being carried out.#2: Key quote: “The significance of this would depend on whether these suicide training exercises were disrupted within the United Kingdom, and what they actually consisted of in terms of preparation, such as the indoctrination of key individuals”So let’s get back to the guts of it, as Murdoch’s Herald Sun helpfully provides us with the few scraps of meat this story is based on: ITV’s political editor Nick Robinson: “This is the story of what could have been a nightmare averted. A story not of failure, but of success. That, at least, is what I am told by a senior authoritative source who says that the security services managed to avert a plot to fly planes into Canary Wharf here, and also into Heathrow Airport. I simply do not know the details of how they found out, how they stopped it, how close the plot got, but I am in no doubt that this was a genuine feeling on the behalf of those in the security services that they had managed to foil a plot and make us safer.” ITV News confirmed to AFP that their journalist’s “non-attributable source” was in “the arena” of the security services or government, but would not be specific.This, at least, is what he was told. By a source he cannot reveal who is in “the arena” of the security services. Or government. And what he has been told is that something has been thwarted. But he has no real idea of how it was thwarted and/or if the (Goulish! Fiendish!) plot(s) had any significance.You know, today I’d really like to blow up Canary Wharf. I think I’ll start by… oh, darn is that the time? I’m supposed to start work at 10:30. Oh well, looks like I’ve been thwarted. Still, you came pretty close to tragedy there. Did I mention that in 9/11 over 2,800 people died? And that the central tower in canary Wharf is 771ft high? And that an estimated 10,000 people work on its 50 floors? Never mind the details, just think of the scale of the tragedy that has been so narrowly averted.