Thursday, April 16, 2009

'Considerable damage to national security'

It is getting kind of tiresome now, how frequently it seems to happen. Something embarrassing happens to a senior person in government and all of a sudden it's OMG! QUICK! LOOK OVER THERE! A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY! 1111!!!

The latest headlines concern the scathing parliamentary report in which it is stated that the threat to national security had been grossly exaggerated just before the Crown Prosecution service was due to announce whether MP Damien Green would be charged or not. The report states that claims in a letter to the Met from Chris Wright, (Cabinet Office director of security and intelligence), that the leaks had caused 'considerable damage to national security' were 'hyperbolic'. And 'unhelpful'. And gave 'an exaggerated impression of the damage done' by the leaks. 'Frustration' in the Home Office and the Cabinet was, the report suggested, the probable cause of the exaggerated claims.

Yeah, I bet they were frustrated.

Could any examples of actual damage to national security be found? Nope. But the leaks were damaging to the Home Secretary and that must have been very upsetting indeed. What can be done? Arrest someone! That's the spirit!

Now it's all collapsed into a great flapping heap of humiliation, desperate fingers are pointing blame at Bob Quick, who resigned last week. No word from the Home Office, who are possibly looking for a passing bus to throw certain people under. But 'Scotland Yard sources' are today quoted in the Standard saying 'the only senior officer keen on an arrest was Mr Quick, who quit last week when he compromised top-secret terror raids'.

That'll be the The Top Secret Terror Raids conducted in the full glare of publicity that managed to conveniently push the embarrassing stories of the Home Secretary's expenses claims - for bathplugs and adult movie rentals and a kitchen sink - off the front pages for a day, remember.

Terrorists! Easter spectaculars! Pictures of places in Manchester! Pakistanis!

Except, unfortunately, no actual evidence of bomb-making equipment has yet been found, and now a diplomatic row has broken out with Pakistan. Pakistan has been lectured on 'doing more' to fight terrorism by the British - but Pakistan has not been given 'basic information' about the Pakistani citizens who have been nicked. Way to go, international co-operation between staunch allies in the War on Terror! Communication and intelligence-sharing is key, right?


The threat from a plot may yet turn out to be real. Worse, the investigation may turn out to have been fatally damaged by too-early arrests. Or they may be no plot at all. Who knows how parlous the state of national security is today, compared to a week ago?

Here's the thing. National security is a grave and serious concern, and those tasked with protecting it bear heavy responsibilities and should receive our dutiful support whenever it is asked for. To see the sacred and honourable business of protecting and preserving the life and liberty of the realm bastardised and cheapened so, made into a tawdry stunt, a distracting sleight of hand, to see the horrors of terrorism invoked and waved about as a tattered figleaf to cover up someone's embarrassment, for God's sake - is sick-making.

And they've done it too often now. They're always bloody doing it, this lot in power, and then the headlines fade and the news machine trundles on, and then sometimes, three months later, if you're lucky, a paragraph on page 27 states that so-and-so was released without charge, or bundled off to be deported, or whatever, and the headline-grabbing plot, the threat, the suspect and the suspicions that were made so much of at the time came to nothing after all. More than half of those arrested under suspicion of terrorism offences are released without charge.

And yet there is a threat; a threat made worse half the time by the frequently heavy-handed and misguided policies of this government at home and abroad. There are people who want to hurt us - there always have been and there always will be - and those brave and dedicated men and women in the police and security service who are sworn to the task of thwarting their plans are best served by being allowed to get on with their jobs and not being dragged into political gambits to prop up other people's sodding careers.

Communication between agencies. Intelligence-sharing. The grindingly boring business of slow, careful detective work. This is what keeps us safe, not media showboating, not civil-liberty-shredding, not ratcheting up the all-channel terror until millions of people become ill with worry and sick with anxiety. When we allow our logical thinking to be bitch-slapped by paralysing fear, and we indulge the attention-seeking posturings of the powerful who should know better, who should respect us more than to try to play us like cheap fiddles, then we do ourselves no favours, and we make things much, much worse than they need be. It blows back and bites us in the face, this bad business. Terrorism terrorises. So does reading about it all the time.

'Considerable damage to our national security?'
Yes, I should say there has been over the last few years.
And the stink, as they say, comes from the head.

Sheesh. It's always worth remembering, however grand you are, the following piece of wisdom:

And so, take it away, the original and best poster of all time, that has suddenly become wildly popular a half century on, expressing as it does the epitome of Britishness in its dignified humanity. Reminding us of a time when nobody sat about worrying about such things, because there were more important things to concern people, like whether the house would be flattened by a bomb overnight and whether loved ones would come home alive, as a result of a raging world wide war.

With thanks to some now-rather-old -hat popular internet memes
for providing the illustrations to today's irritated rant.

Good night and good luck.

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Blogger Tom Paine said...

Well said.

April 16, 2009 11:14 pm  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

ha ha nice one Rachel XX

April 17, 2009 12:58 am  
Blogger Andy Ramblings said...

Very nice an entertaining there Rachel. It's getting very much like the boy who cried wolf. Eventually, we won't listen to them I guess ?

April 17, 2009 11:49 pm  

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