Three ‘unconnected’ stories

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
10:23 am and is filed
under The War on Stupid.

CNN – Howard warns of new terror threat: Australian Prime Minister John Howard warned Wednesday that he had received intelligence information about a specific terror threat to his country, though he refused to divulge details of the threat, citing security concerns.

Washington Post – CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons: The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement… The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

BBC – Bombing remembrance: Writing in the Sun, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair issues a stark warning ahead of a Commons debate on new anti-terrorism proposals. He says further attacks have been prevented in recent weeks, but other attempts are likely.

Reuters – Police chief says attacks foiled: “The sky is dark,” Blair wrote in an article for the Sun newspaper on Wednesday. “Intelligence exists to suggest that other groups will attempt to attack Britain in the coming months.” He gave no details of the past or future threats. A London police spokesman declined to comment.

Let’s for the moment disregard the ever-honourable Sir Ian Blair acting – yet again – as Minister for Timely Assurances (more on that here) and concentrate on the common thread that these three stories share… the need for secrecy.

There is a specific threat for you to be afraid of, but we can’t tell you anything about it because it’s a secret. We can’t tell you how we are treating certain prisoners (or even if they exist at all) because it’s a secret. Like many held in Guantanamo Bay, they probably haven’t seen the evidence against them, because that too is a secret. There is compelling evidence to suggest that we should surrender a few civil liberties, but we’re not going to tell you about them (and this time, we’re going to let you assume the obvious… that it’s a secret).

Let’s also operate on the assumption that the need for secrecy for purposes of security is genuine in some cases (but not all; in some cases it is more important that a political point be scored).

If our democracy is to function in an environment where matters of national secrecy clash with the need to inform, protect and/or reassure the public, then we need to be able to trust those who tell us they are acting in a certain way in response to information that they cannot or dare not divulge.

Bush, Blair and Howard have shown time and again that they cannot be trusted. Further; they each have a history of actually *manipulating* unseen threats and visible atrocities for political gain.

The rules of the game have changed. We cannot hope to deal with the terrorist threat sensibly or effectively until these men are exposed and removed.

About Tim Ireland

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