Saturday 19 August 2006

The terrorist "threat"

Have you ever gone shooting your mouth off in an Internet chat room? Or have you ever transferred money outside the formal British economy? It is for these things that several British Muslims have been arrested as suspected terrorists. They need not worry too much: of over one thousand British Muslims arrested on the same basis, only 12% have ever been charged with anything, and 80% of those have been acquitted. That leaves about two per cent of arrests leading to a conviction, and most of those for nothing to do with terrorism: once the Police go rummaging through people's lives, they can find all sorts of things.

Some of those recently arrested had been under surveillance for over a year. But then some poor soul under Pakistani interrogation alleged a plot to blow up aeroplanes. To Bush and Blair, who discussed this matter over the weekend before the arrests, it was Christmas. "Another 9/11," they must have exclaimed. Something to distract attention from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and numerous domestic policy failures.

True to form, Blair sent in John Reid, whose own spin is that he directed the arrests. This is so scandalous that it must be true: no one would make it up against himself. The Home Secretary now brags about directing the Police to arrest people in the middle of the night! Dr Reid is very clever, and, as I can testify first-hand, an excellent after-dinner speaker. But he was a Communist Party activist deep into his adult life, well before the fall of the Soviet Union. At Stirling University, when the Communist Party ran the Students' Union (with its large cash turnover), Reid was its enforcer. As he later was for Neil Kinnock, and now is for Tony Blair.

So, yes, I am afraid. Of John Reid.

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