Friday, August 11, 2006


Terror, terror everywhere—and not a drop to drink

The latest revelation from the United Kingdom—that explosives come in liquid form and that there are a number of British Muslims who would like to use them aboard an airliner—has left me thankful I didn't invest in that little duty-free shop at the airport.

The arrests, reminiscent of several others where young Muslims have gathered together, were announced without presenting a shred of evidence of a threat. When you consider the length of the investigation (it's been ongoing since at least December 2005), you would think that someone would've considered the PR implications and maybe prepared a little tape of a telephone conversation or a photograph that could be released to the public. But of course PR was the last thing on the minds of the British government at the time of the announcement, I suppose.

The British security services are also to be congratulated on the caution they took this time with their firearms. They didn't wait for anyone to board a plane and then shoot him in the head, as they did with innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes as he boarded a tube train. In fact, they didn't even wound anybody, as they did in the case of innocent suspect Mohammed Abdul Kahar when they invaded the family home at Forest Gate.1

While the absence of details accompanying the news announcement may have been regrettable, what little there was was sufficient to provide America's public television with enough inspiration to devote the entire hour to discussions of the arrests and their implications.

Ray Suarez of The NewsHour began his opening summary by announcing the British announcement of the arrest, then quickly reviewed the effect of the announcement on the price of oil and the stock market. In a spectacular blitz of reporting, over in less than two minutes, Suarez went on to mention the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the daily suicide bombing in Iraq (35 killed), the displacement last month of 25,000 people from Darfur in Sudan, and the worst typhoon to hit China in 50 years—all so that we could get to the important stuff.

And what was the important stuff?

All in all, it was as fine a day of news coverage as I can remember.

Cynics have questioned the timing of the arrests. Could they have in any way been linked to Ned Lamont's win over Senator Lieberman in the Connecticut primary? That is silly. In fact, the threat was so great that by the end of the day we had pretty much forgotten that the election even took place.

Here's how bad it was—

So you can see that the November elections were the last thing on anybody's mind. In fact, if the Bush administration can't convince the Congress to provide it with "retroactive war crime protection," my guess is that they'll just decide to call the whole thing off—there'll be too much terror about to have time for elections.



1The police were exonerated of wrongdoing in both cases. But in the case of Kahar, child pornography was discovered on his home computer, so he was arrested for that instead of terrorism charges. The shooting would have been justified in any case. [back]

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