Craig Murray is the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who lost his job over his refusal to go along with Blair/Bush plan to hide Uzbekistan’s ghastly torture record. He writes in this post on his blog that,
- Unlike the great herd of so-called security experts doing the media analysis, I have the advantage of having had the very highest security clearances myself, having done a huge amount of professional intelligence analysis, and having been inside the spin machine.
So this what Murray says there about the “terror plot” that was announced with such fanfare by Tony Blair (and indeed, also by George W. Bush) last week:
- 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…
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.
We then have the appalling political propaganda of John Reid, Home Secretary, making a speech warning us all of the dreadful evil threatening us and complaining that “Some people don’t get” the need to abandon all our traditional liberties. He then went on, according to his own propaganda machine, to stay up all night and minutely direct the arrests. There could be no clearer evidence that our Police are now just a political tool. Like all the best nasty regimes, the knock on the door came in the middle of the night, at 2.30am. Those arrested included a mother with a six week old baby.
For those who don’t know, it is worth introducing Reid. A hardened Stalinist with a long term reputation for personal violence, at Stirling Univeristy he was the Communist Party’s “Enforcer”, (in days when the Communist Party ran Stirling University Students’ Union, which it should not be forgotten was a business with a very substantial cash turnover). Reid was sent to beat up those who deviated from the Party line.
We will now never know if any of those arrested would have gone on to make a bomb or buy a plane ticket. Most of them do not fit the “Loner” profile you would expect – a tiny percentage of suicide bombers have happy marriages and young children. As they were all under surveillance, and certainly would have been on airport watch lists, there could have been little danger in letting them proceed closer to maturity – that is certainly what we would have done with the IRA.
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.
Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.
(Hat-tip to Jonathan Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution for the Murray link.)
So yes, Murray has persuaded me to be very skeptical. When I was writing this JWN post last Saturday about the Blair government’s “revelations”, I did consider for a while whether to refer to the plot as an “alleged plot”, or not, and finally decided not to.
I guess sometimes I’m just too naive. I would have found it hard to believe that the British police and other government agencies could be so politicized and so craven as to undertake this big, much-publicized “reveal and takedown” operation on the basis of such very, very shaky “information.” And as Murray notes, the timing of it all certainly did look extremely political.
Actually, the idea that the British government agencies might have participated in an intensely politicized exercise in this way makes me even more scared than I was last week about the (alleged, and definitely still not proven) plot itself.
Here’s what Murray wrote, very sensibly, on Aug. 10 itself:
- We wait for the court system to show whether this was a real attempted attack and, if so, it was genuinely operational rather than political to move against it today. But the police’ and security services’ record of lies does not inspire confidence.
Right. Testing and openly establishing the facts of the matter is one of the key functions of a well-run court system. Wouldn’t it be great if the 500 men who’ve now languished in Gitmo for more than four years, and the other hundreds languishing in other US-run “black hole” prisons around the world, could also rely on a court hearing that would show us all– the public in whose name they have been captured and detained this long– whether there was any evidence against them, and if so, what?