Candide’s Latest: Tuesday, October 3, 2006
When the U.S. Fakes a Terror Threat
Pierre Tristam/Candide's Notebooks
We’ll never know whether Britain-based terrorists really plotted to blow up airliners in July. Evidence is either scant or nonexistent that they did more than make home-made videos. Like that Brooklyn Bridge plotter who thought he could blow-torch the thing into the East River, the story is more revealing of imaginations running wild, on both terrorists and secret service’s sides, than of actual threats nearing reality. What we do know now is that the British authorities were not planning to arrest those individuals as imminently as we were made to believe.
What we do know, thanks to Britain’s observer, is that the arrests were made only when the U.S. threatened to kidnap one of the alleged plotters and “render” him to one of the American secret prisons being sublet from their former Soviet landlords in Romania or Bulgaria or Poland. The British acted to prevent the rendition. That being the case, the alleged plot couldn’t possibly have been close to execution. That being the case, that whole carnival of 9/11-like hysteria in July, when the alleged plotters were arrested, was a sham, like so much of the stories dribbling out of the terror war’s script writers in Washington. We also know that if anything, the arrests damaged rather than helped the cause: “The Americans' demand for [Rashid] Rauf's quick arrest dismayed the British intelligence services,” The Observer wrote, “which were worried that it could prompt terrorist cells in the UK working on separate plots to bring forward their plans or go underground. In the weeks preceding his arrest it is understood that MI5 and MI6 discussed with their US counterparts the best way to dismantle the alleged plot. Britain wanted more time to monitor Rauf, but the US was adamant that Rauf should be arrested immediately.” And why? Because it’s an election season and the mid-terms looked bleak. By the way, we do find this little nugget many paragraphs down the story, many weeks past the initial explosion of news of that supposedly imminent downing of a dozen planes over the Atlantic: “The intelligence source said the alleged plot had not been at the advanced planning stage.” Not even at the advanced planning stage.
That also explains the downgrading of the terror threat at U.S. airports, the on-again allowance of carry-on squirts of shampoo and Evian water. Never underestimate the power of the ruling party to inconvenience a world for the sake of an election. As it turns out the electoral numbers look even bleaker today than they did when the “plot” was announced, thanks to Bush’s illiteracy over the National Intelligence Estimates, Mark Foley’s pedophilic tendencies with Congressional pages, and now Bob Woodward’s confessions that yes, Virginia, President Bush is a catastrophic failure after all. And as long as we’re detailing Bush’s running roughshod over Britain, his last remaining true ally besides Australia, Laura and Barney, here’s what else trickled out of Woodward’s book, as reported by Britain’s Daily Mail: Blair “repeatedly complained to Bush after discovering Britain was being denied access to key information on the grounds that it was a 'foreign' nation. The attempt to bluff the Prime Minister involved a highly classified database called the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) which the Pentagon used to store and communicate years of potentially embarrassing intelligence, as well as technical information about combat operations in Iraq. Woodward says that top Pentagon officials took the decision to deny Britain access to it, apparently with the backing of America's Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.”
Revelations like that will punch out of “State of Denial” in drips and drabs until the White House manages, as it seemingly always does, to outlast it with a new diversion or a new scandal.