Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm Not Sure What To Make Of This...

Sometimes, I have to stop eating my morning oatmeal and ponder a story. This is one of those:
LONDON (Reuters) - Muslim extremists are plotting at least 30 major terrorist attacks in Britain and the threats may involve chemical and nuclear devices, a British spy chief said.

Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of domestic spy agency MI5, said young British Muslims were being groomed to become suicide bombers and her agents were tracking some 1,600 suspects, most of whom were British-born and linked to al Qaeda in Pakistan.

"We are aware of numerous plots to kill people and damage our economy. What do I mean by numerous? Five? Ten? No, nearer 30 ... that we know of," Manningham-Buller said in a speech to a specially invited audience in London on Thursday evening.
Several questions have to be raised:

1) MI5 is usually pretty good about routing terrorists, and annoucing after the fact they've caught them. They've had lots of practice at it, of course, and the surveillance and detective work imposed in the wake of the Irish Problem has stood them in good stead. But wasn't it just recently that they cracked down on an huge plot, and we only found out about it after the fact?

2) Has the midterm election now freed the British government to be more open about potential threats, or has it forced them into panicking that a similar wave of hostility will overwhelm the voters of the UK, so they've torn a page out of the Bush manual and decided to terrorize their own population politically? Indeed, Blair plans to make a speech to Parliament next week which will say "law and order will be a major part of the next parliamentary session and tougher security measures are expected to be outlined."

3) What's more troubling: the fact that the head of MI5 has to come out with this announcement, or a statistic buried deep in the story: "the number of cases being pursued by security services had risen by 80 percent since January"? Mind you, this all comes on the heels of the plot revealed in August to blow up airliners using liquid explosives. Manningham-Buller refused to rule out any type of attack, even including nuclear weapons.

4) We're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here, but "there" should specifically exclude the UK, Australia, Spain, and Indonesia, wouldn't you agree?