Sunday, August 21, 2005

Timing is everything

The Times of London is reporting that a potentially deadly Al-Qaeda attack on the House of Commons has been thwarted. According to "an internal police document obtained by the Sunday Times," this was to have included the use of Sarin nerve gas, and chemicals, and a dirty bomb (oh my!) but this latter-day Guy Fawkes plot was discovered in encrypted emails decoded by an Al-Qaeda "supergrass." "Several more plots" were uncovered as well.

This, right in the midst of shocking revelations about the police execution of Jean Charles de Menezes (for such it almost certainly was, based upon a "Gold Command" order), knowing silence and misstatements from Scotland Yard, a bungled hush-money ploy, and a growing feud between police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which, despite attempted police obstruction, is trying to get to the smelly bottom of it all.

Sir Ian Blair, the metropolitan London police commissioner, is now playing the "wuzn’t me" card when reminded of faulty descriptions of de Menenzes' clothing and demeanour just before he was gunned down. Scotland Yard simply went along with excited and false eyewitness reports. Blair claimed at the time that de Menezes had not responded to police orders to stop: "As I understand it, the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions." Scotland Yard, later the same day, stated that de Menezes' "clothing and behaviour at the station" had led to the shooting. Now it seems that Blair was winging it: he only learned that an innocent man had been killed twenty-four hours later. At least, that's the story now.

(As a fascinating aside, Ian Blair once wanted to become an actor, but "realised he lacked the talent to turn professional. He opted to join the police as soon as he graduated.")

Now, back to the new shock and awe: when exactly was the headline-grabbing "everything but the kitchen sink" attack on Parliament discovered? Er, several months ago. In fact, it led to "increase[d] security around parliament this summer." The plot had allegedly been hatched last year. Old news, arriving in the nick of time to re-focus public anxiety about de Menezes' death onto what the embattled Ian Blair calls "the bigger picture."

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, British authorities have downgraded their terror alert. Go figure. I think I've already done so.

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