14th September 2008
DailyMail.co.uk – Peter Hitchens’ Mail on Sunday column
There is no such organisation as ‘Al Qaeda’. The spooks know this, Cabinet Ministers know this and so do the ‘security correspondents’ who so readily trot out the spooks’ point of view on our broadcasting networks.
Of course, there are terrorists, and there are also fantasists, fanatics, low-lifes and camp followers who plot and attempt horrible things. Some of them even call themselves ‘Al Qaeda’ these days because they have learned that this is a good way to scare us.
But, while they are a menace, they are not as big or as organised a menace as the Government likes to make out.
The State and the vainglorious bureaucrats of the ‘security’ services need to pretend that the terrorists are a tightly organised and terrifying threat, to make themselves look big as well — and to help them get hold of new powers to snoop on us and push us around.
Some of you may remember the rather squalid behaviour, back in the summer of 2006, by the then Home Secretary, the unrepentant ex-communist brute John Reid.
Lightly tossing aside the wise tradition that in free countries Ministers stay out of criminal justice matters, he reeled out a boastful, alarmist statement about some arrests of alleged terrorists, using words so preju-dicial that I will not reproduce them here.
When, two years later, a jury was unconvinced by many of the claims made by the authorities in this case, the same nastiness re-emerged in a different way.
Tame commentators were briefed to hint — baselessly — that the jury were stupid, inattentive or lazy, or even to blame the Americans for forcing our police to act before they were ready.
What is all this about? Remember, the authorities were tailing the alleged plotters from April to August. They had filmed them, recorded their conversations, searched their homes. If a real attempt had been made by the alleged plotters to blow up any planes, the police would have been able to prevent it.
But I suspect that someone, somewhere, wasn’t happy with that. What was wanted was not just the prevention of a potential outrage through diligent surveillance.
What was wanted was a nice big propaganda success, after which we would face another call for detention without trial, compulsory identity cards, and all the rest of the 1984 rubbish this Government wishes to impose on us.
Source URL: DailyMail.co.uk