Posted by Tim Ireland at August 11, 2006

Category: The War on Stupid

Please excuse the following question… that’s just me thinking that something doesn’t quite add up.

Please excuse the delay…. that’s just me waiting for the crowds to abate.

(cough)

If there’s a real risk that multiple terrorists are carrying disguised explosives into an airport, why respond in a way that results in crowding, uncertainty and chaos at the target airport when one small explosion in such circumstances could (via placement and/or panic) cause loss of life that would be unacceptable (if not ‘unprecedented’)?

I smell a blown operation.

(Oh, and please excuse me for suggesting that such a thing would have something to do with Blair briefing Bush on the developing situation… that’s just me knowing that Monkey Boy has screwed us on this kind of thing before.)

UPDATE – Guardian – Blair forewarned Bush of terror threat to US airlines: Downing Street admitted Tony Blair would not have left the country on Monday for his Caribbean holiday if he had known the police would need to swoop so quickly to disrupt a terrorist plot. He has known about it in general terms for months, and has spoken to President George Bush about it on a number of occasions. The two leaders discussed it in more detail on Sunday, during a conversation on a secure line in which the prime minister outlined what he knew of the British cell being monitored by the security services. Downing Street officials said he had also mentioned the specific surveillance operation. Mr Blair warned the president that it showed there was a specific threat to US airlines and urged total secrecy, warning premature leaks would destroy the monitoring of the group.

UPDATE (12 August) – Independent – Police recover bomb-making equipment as search goes on: The police were rushed into making the arrests after one of the alleged ringleaders – a British citizen – was arrested in Pakistan on Wednesday, US intelligence sources have disclosed. The police acted swiftly because they were fearful that the arrest in Pakistan would alert British based suicide bombers and prompt them into carrying out the planned attacks in the next few days, the US sources confirmed.

Please note the presence/involvement of US ‘intelligence’…

More:

IOL – Intercepted phone call ‘urged plotters to attack’: An intercept of a telephone call made from Pakistan to Britain that urged plotters to go ahead with attacks on US-bound aeroplanes played a crucial role in foiling the alleged terror plan, Pakistani officials said today. The arrest in Pakistan of a key suspect with alleged al-Qaida links, British national Rashid Rauf, prompted an unidentified associate of his to make the call from Karachi to one of the suspects subsequently arrested in Britain, the officials said.

Independent – Arrest of British man in Pakistan triggered raid: A series of arrests in Pakistan appears to have been instrumental in uncovering the alleged plot








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 10, 2006

Category: Page 3 - News in Briefs

Congratulations to Labour Councillor Martin Whelton, who has copied and pasted written a passage that’s so concise, carefully-focused and on-message that it stands a very good chance of being tomorrow’s Page 3 editorial

Blogging4Merton – Airport security alerts: The Government is right to take whatever action is necessary to ensure the security of its citizen and I find it hard to fathom that some believe it is an overreaction given the events that have happened overnight.

(PS – Can someone please inform Martin that the government is actually responsible for the security of more than one citizen? It could be a typo, but you never can tell with Blairites.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 10, 2006

Category: Christ...

Pandora (10 Aug): A rather unholy row at the Edinburgh Fringe: the Australian comic Jim Jeffries has been dropped from debating in the BBC1 religious affairs show Heaven and Earth this Sunday, following a run-in with the evangelical activists Christian Voice. They have their robes in a twist over Jeffries’ production, The Second Coming, which claims to be “his most morally bankrupt show to date” – not bad considering that his last one, Porn Idol, delivered “lashings of the most explicit and offensive punchlines of the festival”. Jeffries was billed to join a panel discussion on blasphemy with Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, but Green refused to engage with such a “sick, repellent man”. “Heaven and Earth called to confirm at 11am,” Jeffries tells me. “At 11.40am they rang back to cancel. It’s stupid because I was looking forward to dropping the knob gags and having a serious debate about blasphemy. He could easily have beaten a hungover bloke on a Sunday morning.” Green admits he “spoke to the producers”, adding: “Freedom of speech doesn’t go so far as being blasphemous. This is a matter of God being gratuitously insulted. God is Almighty and beyond insult.” A member of the H&E production team said the change was “no big deal”. Jeffries denies charges of blasphemy: “Jesus didn’t know he was the chosen one until he was 30. I have got a couple of months left – and as much chance as anybody.”

Picked up by Media Watch Watch, of course, and it needs to be noted for the record that this is yet another example of Stephen Green’s rather unique interpretation of freedom of speech.








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 10, 2006

Category: 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 Fark.com

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
Perfect.co.uk – 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








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 9, 2006

Category: The War on Stupid

The Times – Israel backed by army of cyber-soldiers: Israel’s Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages.

You can join the fun here!








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 8, 2006

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Ick! Ick! Ick-ick-ick-ick-ick!

(Eurgh. I feel all dirty now.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 8, 2006

Category: The War on Stupid

Attack of the cloning toolThe wingnuts are furiously circle-jerking their way around a second lap of Reuters, having revealed that not one, but two photographs by Beirut-based freelance photographer Adnan Hajj had been altered.

The picture that kicked this off is a staggering show of incompetence on all fronts. I don’t know what the photographer was thinking when he clumsily cloned those clouds (perhaps it’s a clever viral for a certain online casino that’s sick of goldenpalace.com getting all the free press), or what Reuters were doing when they cleared this obvious forgery. I certainly have no idea what was running through the mind of the individual who sent a ‘death threat’ to the head wingnut at LGF from a Reuters server… but I do know ultra-bias and intellectual dishonesty when I see it, so please excuse me while I share:

1. Psst! You may not be familiar with the term ‘ultra-bias’… because I’ve just made it up. We need something snappy to describe the practice of operating with an agenda while insisting that all others remain ‘objective’ – i.e. that they present matters in a ‘fair’ manner that favours said agenda.

2. Some quick background for you; Little Green Footballs had this to say about my project ‘Chasing Bush’: A shady group of British peace creeps is planning to electronically stalk President George W. Bush during his visit to the UK: Chasing Bush. Isn’t that lovely. Maybe they’d also like to help Al Qaeda build their car bombs.

The comments contain more than one (ahem) death threat, but let’s stick with the ever-so-subtly-inferred charge by the webmaster; that I was enabling terrorists.

Bush came to this country on a State Visit. It wasn’t a talk or a summit, so it served no purpose beyond a boost to his ego and/or his campaign for a second term. That (still) no-one will admit to inviting him would suggest to anyone but the most ardent Bush-supporter that he invited himself. So that’s Bush who turned Iraq into a playground for terrorists, swept munitions into their hands and provided them with a never-ending stream of propaganda via the use of illegal detention and torture, lining up a photo-opportunity that puts him, Blair, the Queen and the British public in the frame… and in the firing line. The oft-repeated charge that we were helping Al Qaeda to target our beloved leaders and/or place the public at risk contains more than one lie, but the common thread in all of them is the careful and knowing manipulation of the terrorist threat for political gain… and the core message is as follows:

The liberal protestors are in league with the terrorists!

3. As telling as it is, this is just one single run-in. The wingnuts and Reuters, however, go way back and past findings would suggest that… (steel yourselves):

The liberal media are in league with the terrorists!

OK, preliminaries sorted. Let’s press on:

(clears throat)
(sips water)

Here’s Little Green Footballs kicking things off, here’s way too much analysis of an obviously doctored image and here’s Michelle Malkin connecting her private dot collection. Even at this stage there are early mutations that seem to suggest that any visual proof of Israeli overkill is an invention (a later version of this same ‘joke’ appears here).

Reuters nix the image, and quickly withdraw all 920 photographs by Adnan Hajj from their database.. Only 43 of these images were filed with the Reuters global pictures desk since the start of this conflict, but there’s no prizes for guessing how often the number ‘920’ is favoured ahead of ’43’ following this withdrawal. Here’s one typical entry and here’s one blogger carefully noting the ’43’ on one day before switching back to the far more useful figure of ‘920’ the next.

Scale is important…. as is scope. While a number of attempts are made to link Adnan Hajj to a wider terrorist-led conspiracy, more wingnuts busy themselves with the other 43 920 images… The Jawa Report try and fail early on before hitting paydirt with this image and a further admission by Reuters.

Before any of this happened, EU Referendum was busily beavering away highlighting the ‘staged’ nature of images of children killed in Qana. One of the photographers involved was… Adnan Hajj.

Result? Cox & Forkum helpfully link the two items here and suddenly (and quite accidentally) we have a widely-distributed suggestion that images of dead children are being photoshopped into existence.

By now it’s hit the mainstream… and Rush Limbaugh has more than enough ammo to run with a ‘tip of the iceberg’ rant against ‘big media’, peaceniks, Jew-hating terrists, etc. etc. etc., taking us to the centre of this perfect storm, where the impression is hammered home time and time again that Israel’s disproportionate response is nothing but an invention of the liberal media (who are, of course, in league with the terrorists).

Job done. Objectivity restored. You may return to your homes.

UPDATE – A related link regarding the ‘liberal’ media. (via)

UPDATE – Liberal media strikes again. (via)

UPDATE (14 August) – BSSC – Double Double Effect: This video contains scenes which some may find disturbing. It’s called “Green Helmet acting as cynical movie director in Qana” and that’s a fairly accurate description of what it shows. It does not in any way alleviate the moral responsibility of those who killed the innocent child shown. Clearly, this video is being used as part of a coordinated effort to distract and deflect attention from what Israel is actually doing to Lebanon.

UPDATE (21 August) – Independent – America’s one-eyed view of war: Stars, stripes, and the Star of David (mirror): Often, the coverage has been hysterical and distasteful. In the days following the Israeli bombing of Qana, several pro-Israeli bloggers started spreading a hoax story that Hizbollah had engineered the event, or stage-managed it by placing dead babies in the rubble for the purpose of misleading reporters. Oliver North, the Reagan-era orchestrator of the Iran-Contra affair who is now a right-wing television and radio host, and Michelle Malkin, a sharp-tongued Bush administration cheerleader who runs her own weblog, appeared on Fox News to give credence to the hoax – before the Israeli army came forward to take responsibility and brought the matter to at least a partial close… Part of the Republican strategy this year is to attack any media that either attacks them or has the temerity to report facts that contradict the official party line. Thus, when Reuters was forced to withdraw a photograph of Beirut under bombardment because one of its stringers had doctored the image to increase the black smoke, it was a chance to rip into the news agency over its efforts to be even-handed. In a typical riposte, Michelle Malkin denounced Reuters as “a news service that seems to have made its mark rubber-stamping pro-Hizbollah propaganda”.

UPDATE (6 Sep) – Robert Fisk – The lies, the threats, the hypocrisy… Does one sigh with weariness or rage at such dishonesty?: So you can see how Hizbollah are planning their post-war narrative. They never intended the Lebanese to suffer, but they were anyway going to suffer later and, besides, Hizbollah won… But equally pernicious is the utterly false narrative which the Israelis and their supporters are now preparing for the world, one which includes all the old lies about the anti-Semitism of reporters and the involvement of the Red Cross in terrorism… The lies against the press by Israel’s friends are as predictable as they are vile.








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 7, 2006

Category: Tony 'King Blair

Mail on Sunday – Straw sacked after ‘US expressed concern over Muslim sympathies’: George Bush put pressure on Tony Blair to sack Jack Straw as Foreign Secretary, it was claimed last night. Washington insiders said the Prime Minister was urged to oust him because of Mr Straw’s sympathy for Muslims and his highly critical view of U.S. foreign policy.

The Times – How the US fired Jack Straw: This is not entirely unprecedented, but the precedent is a bad one. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain wanted to pursue his policy of appeasement, which was opposed by the young Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. Chamberlain conspired with the Italian Ambassador in London, Count Grandi, at a Downing Street meeting. Eden was virtually forced to resign on the appeasement issue. I do not know of any other example of a British Prime Minister allowing a foreign power, friendly or otherwise, to decide a senior Cabinet appointment.








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 7, 2006

Category: It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!

Juan Cole – War on Lebanon Planned for at least a Year: That is why I was so shaken by George W. Bush’s overheard conversation with Tony Blair about the war. He clearly thought that it broke out because Syria used Hizbullah to create a provocation. The President of the United States did not know that this war was a long-planned Israeli war of choice. Why is that scary? Because the Israeli planning had to have been done in conjunction with Donald Rumsfeld at the US Department of Defense. The US Department of Defense is committed to rapidly re-arming Israel and providing it precision laser-guided weaponry, and to giving it time to substantially degrade Hizbullah’s missile capabilities. The two are partners in the war effort. (More here.)

New Statesman – Blood on his hands: Blair knew the attack on Lebanon was coming but he didn’t try to stop it, because he didn’t want to. He has made this country an accomplice, destroying what remained of our influence abroad while putting us all at greater risk of attack.

1. My goodness. Déj&#224 Vu.
2. My goodness. Could that last bit be true?

Well, somebody* knows something. The shiny new fear-o-meter (reviewed here) has launched with a robust rating of ‘severe’.

(*And by that, I mean somebody besides Armando Iannucci and Robert Fisk.)

Perhaps another terrorist attack is just what we need; recent history teaches us that such a thing will call an immediate halt to all sorts of silly questions about foreign and domestic policy and/or Teh Vicar’s retirement. There’s no need to engineer anything… all we have to do is let one slip through the net. And speaking of holes and nets…

Thomas Ricks (Washington Post): “… I think civilian casualties are also part of the battlefield play for both sides here. One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.”

And speaking of holes and nets…

Prison Planet – The New Gonzales Standard for Torture: But rather than bring policy-and practice-into line with the international conventions that the United States had observed up to September 11, 2001, the administration is now trying to absolve itself ex post facto. It is pressuring Congress to pass legislation that retroactively shields from possible prosecution anyone who authorized or encouraged the use of coercion during interrogations.

And speaking of… oh, you know the rest. Torture, murder, slaughter… and none of it enables or prompts further terrorism…

BSSC – A Few Minor Corrections: The logic of Blair’s claim is that the attacks of September 11th predated our response and that our response cannot therefore have made the situation worse. Have a think about it. He’s effectively claiming that because September 11th happened, nothing we now do could possibly cause an increase in terrorism . It’s just ludicrous. Every time he says it, the correct response is to point, laugh, and then worry that the leader of our country actually appears to believe his own logic defying nonsense.

And speaking of logic-defying nonsense…

Blood & Treasure – Arc of Arson








Posted by Tim Ireland at August 1, 2006

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

I pledged to write a letter to Jack Straw. Time to deliver.

To: Jack Straw
From: Tim Ireland
Re: Your comments of Thursday, 20 Jul 2006

Dear Jack,

It is my sad duty to inform you that you are a cretin.

People feel quite distanced and excluded from politics these days… and you yourself hold a great deal of responsibility for that – though your participation in certain farces may excuse you being sensitive to questions in general.

Here I would say something positive about what you could do to encourage engagement, but as the only viable option involves your immediate resignation, I’m pretty sure there’s no need for me to go into detail.

Then again…

Cheers

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

PS – We still have to have an open and frank discussion about torture (i.e. not another whitewash).








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