They’ll never take our freedaaaarrrgh!

Posted by Tim Ireland at August 10, 2006

Category: The War on Stupid

This entry was posted on
Thursday, August 10th, 2006
10:12 am and is filed
under The War on Stupid.

Well, how about that, then? Less than a week after the launch of the fear-o-meter and it’s already being put to good use. As of today, we have graduated from ‘severe’ to ‘scared shitless’ ‘critical’ (i.e. “an attack is expected imminently”).

Bloomberg – Airlines ban hand luggage from UK: The U.K. today raised its threat level to “critical,” the highest category in a five-point scale, indicating an attack is expected “imminently” according to the U.K. Home Office Web site. The level was previously a notch lower at “severe.” Airports were instructed not to permit hand baggage aboard flights. The police and U.K. security services “are investigating an alleged plot to bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions,” Home Secretary John Reid said in a televised briefing. BAA Plc said all short-haul incoming flights to London’s Heathrow Airport are canceled until further notice.

Hand baggage includes handbags, according to one witness I’ve just spoken to. Oh, and because the police believe liquid explosives are involved, if you wish to take breast milk on board, you will be expected to taste it in front of staff. (No, I’m not kidding.)

Let’s approach this with an assumption that the police have detected an actual threat of some import (i.e. not one that’s been invented or enhanced by the Downing St Echo) and begin with a trip down memory lane…

Bloggerheads – May 02, 2005:

Before the war, as millions of us prepared to march in protest, Blair rolled tanks into Heathrow. The best explanation that could be offered at the time was this was “an ongoing operation in relation to a specific threat”. Even if – if – this action resulted from a credible threat (and we have yet to see evidence of it), this amounts to a terrible miscalculation, as Blair was already on weak ground because of his manipulation of the threat, and the timing ensured that the protestors felt as intimidated as the terrorists.

My verdict: Mismanagement only if we give Blair the benefit of the doubt. Manipulation if we don’t.

But it gets better. The pro-war lobby have deliberately blurred the line between protestors and terrorists. The logic is that we oppose a war which is clearly part of the ‘war’ on terror, therefore we side with the terrorists. In the US, money earmarked for the ‘war’ on Terror has actually been spent fighting protestors. Here in the UK, anti-terror powers were used against protesters at an arms fair and further crime and terror laws deliberately target types of protest and even individual protestors.

My verdict: Evidence of manipulation and misrepresentation.

But it gets even better. Do you remember when George W. Bush came to town? We were assured that the exclusion zone around him was for security reasons, but – at the same time – we were assured that his visit was not the reason why were placed at the highest state of alert since September 11. Which lasted for the duration of his photo opportunity. George Bush invited himself to town in order to paint himself as a great statesman, and Blair complied. If the threat was not real, then it was played up (or made up) in order to minimise protest. If the threat was real, Bush willingly (and unnecessarily) placed our leaders and the general population (including a school full of photogenic children) under that threat.

My verdict: Evidence of manipulation and/or misrepresentation.

Civil liberties have became more of an issue as the post-911 panic died down and people started to realise what we were being expected to sacrifice in the name of ‘freedom’. And wasn’t it funny that each time issues such as ID cards or detention without trial approached a debate/voting/action stage that there was a major terror arrest or ‘revelation’? Here are three recent examples:

Nov 23 2004 – Queen’s speech with focus on security heralded by ‘evidence’ of plans to attack Canary Wharf

Mar 11 2005 – The big push on detention without trial (timeline here) is preceded by the launch of an anti-terror campaign, designed to protect us from “hundreds of potential terrorists” that want to kill us.

Apr 15 2005 – Ricin conspiracy involving no ricin and no conspiracy closely followed by renewed calls for ID cards (that would have prevented something that didn’t happen) and this timely announcement by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

OK, now I remind you that we’re operating under the assumption that this is a genuine response to a genuine threat. We’re also going to assume that John Reid (aka The Arse Doctor) is competent enough to know in advance when major operations conducted under him are about to take place. Which brings us to yesterday’s speech…

BBC – Terror ‘may force freedom curbs’: The UK might have to modify its freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their “misuse and abuse” by terrorists, John Reid has said. He conceded that was never an easy request, but it was up to everyone to ask: “What price our security, at what cost can we preserve our freedoms?” The UK faced its “most sustained period of severe threat since the end of World War II”, the home secretary warned.

More here: Guardian – Anti-terror critics just don’t get it, says Reid

There’s plenty that needs to be said about this, but happily most of it is said here at

That leaves me free to quietly point out that John Reid must have known about this impending action when he made that speech.

Further news and bloggage (as it comes in) will be posted under this line. Enjoy your freedoms.


Related news:
ITV – Reid: ‘Terror plot significant’
Independent – Police foiled plot to bring down aircraft, says Reid
BBC – ‘Airlines terror plot’ disrupted
BBC – Parties ‘united’ over terror plot

Related bloggage:
A Little Polite Music – Timing is everything – Airshow
Europhobia – Oh, come on…
The UK Today – Stay Lucky
Samizdata – Wolf! Wolf! (Psst! Join me in a relevant flashback.)
Kitty Killer – Now is the time for salt, and pinching
BBDO – Bomb threat
Lenin’s Tomb – Terrorism: you can get it in a can
Blair Watch – John Reid – removing our freedoms in order to preserve them
Craig Murray – No dead Lebanese children on TV today
Blood & Treasure – Bojinka Part Two


  1. bigdaddymerk says

    If the Plot was indeed ‘Foiled’ why are they cancelling planes still?

  2. U.S. raises threat level to ‘red’

    The U.S. government raised its threat warning to the highest level for commercial flights from Brita

  3. Manic says

    Oi! It was ‘foiled’… nobody said anything about it being ironclad.

  4. Charlie Whitaker says

    It looks as though the plane cancellation thing was owing to overcrowding at Heathrow’s terminals. The overcrowding being a good thing, if getting a point across is your task for the week.The humiliations are adding up. You can’t take a book into the cabin, hollowed out or otherwise, nor even the smallest audio device (unless maybe up the arse?). So you will be bored on your flight: this will help you remember.Strangely, no official is suggesting that you cancel or postpone your foreign holiday: the one true path to safety in the air.

  5. says


    On Friday 4 August the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal brought by the Home Office and confirmed an earlier High Court ruling that the Afghan hijackers could not be deported. On Wednesday 9 August the Home Secretary gave a…

  6. bigdaddymerk says

    maybe this is a ploy to get us to watch more shitty in-flight tv.

  7. Pickled Politics says

    Plot to blow up airlines

    As many have already pointed out…A plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit “mass murder on an unimaginable scale” has been disrupted, Scotland Yard has said. It is thought the plan was to detonate explosive …

  8. richard says

    Funny how books, drinks of water, nail scissors etc. have all been deemed too dangerous to take on a plane, but they’ll still happily walk down the aisle and sell you an overpriced glass bottle of duty-free whisky…

  9. goatchurch says

    I wonder if people in the First Class cabin are excluded.How do we find out if UK Gov pays the airlines compensation? Recall that in the first week after 9/11 the US airlines got given billions of dollars of taxpayer support for their troubles. They still sacked all their staff, though.

  10. goatchurch says

    I think I prefer the daftness of Blunkett, who kept telling us that the country was experiencing the most severe threat *ever* — worse than the Blitz.Remember the Cold War and nuclear annihilation? What was that all about? Oi, we shouldn’t be scared of heavily armed nations. After all, governments hold the monopoly of legitimate violence… therefore all the violence they do is legitimate.

  11. The UK Today says

    Stay lucky

    We only need to be lucky once. You need to be lucky every time. – The IRA to Margaret Thatcher, after she survived the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton. And that’s the problem with combating terrorists, the security…

  12. Simon Maxwell says

    Why is the ‘Current threat level’ still at ‘CRITICAL’ if the alleged plot was foiled? Is there another plot that they’re not telling us about, or is the whole thing a load of cobblers, like the non-existent ‘ricin ring’?

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