Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Why Avedon Carol Can No Longer Take a Book on the Plane 

We briefly interrupt Zemblan Smut Week to bring you a serious post, courtesy of our saturnine colleague J. Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution. Here's Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, on last week's UK terror plot:
None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.

In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.

What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.

Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth.

The gentleman being "interrogated" had fled the UK after being wanted for questioning over the murder of his uncle some years ago. That might be felt to cast some doubt on his reliability. It might also be felt that factors other than political ones might be at play within these relationships. Much is also being made of large transfers of money outside the formal economy. Not in fact too unusual in the British Muslim community, but if this activity is criminal, there are many possibilities that have nothing to do with terrorism.

We then have the extraordinary question of Bush and Blair discussing the possible arrests over the weekend. Why? I think the answer to that is plain. Both in desperate domestic political trouble, they longed for "Another 9/11". The intelligence from Pakistan, however dodgy, gave them a new 9/11 they could sell to the media. The media has bought, wholesale, all the rubbish they have been shovelled . . . .

In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.
And, by way of contrast, President Bush's take on the same event (courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.D.):
President Bush said Tuesday that the foiled plot to blow up flights between Britain and the United States is evidence the U.S. could be fighting terrorists for years to come.

"America is safer than it has been, yet it is not yet safe," Bush told reporters at the National Counterterrorism Center just outside Washington. "The enemy has got an advantage when it comes to attacking our homeland: They got to be right one time and we've got to be right 100 percent of the time to protect the American people" . . . .

[White House spokesman Tony] Snow said it is still not clear whether al-Qaida was involved with the plot.

"The characterizations in the past has been it has the looks of al-Qaida," Snow said. "And I'm aware of reports from other governments that it's al-Qaida. But our intelligence, at this point, does not permit us to say with confidence that that was the case."
See also Keith Olbermann on "The Nexus of Politics and Terror," brought to you by our eminent colleague John Amato of Crooks & Liars.

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