Daily archives: August 23, 2006

Why Sustainability, not Terrorism, Should Be Our Real Security Focus

By Alex Steffen in WorldChanging.com

What really threatens us? How do we truly make ourselves safer?

The Cato Institute (a conservative thinktank) has released an outstanding paper, A False Sense of Insecurity (PDF), which makes the point that in any rational assessment, terrorism is really just not that big of a threat to the average person. For instance, about as many Americans have been killed by terrorists as have been “killed over the same period by lightning, accident-causing deer, or severe allergic reaction to peanuts.” Whatsmore, many WMD threats are overblown and largely preventable. Indeed, with exhaustive research, the authors can conclude that:

Assessed in broad but reasonable context, terrorism generally does not do much damage. The costs of terrorism are often the result of hasty, ill-considered, and overwrought reactions.

A sensible policy approach to the problem might be to stress that any damage terrorists are able to accomplish likely can be absorbed, however grimly. While judicious protective and policing measures are sensible, extensive fear and anxiety over what may at base prove to be a rather limited problem are misplaced, unjustified and counter productive


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The Crown Prosecution Service

Eventually we will find out something of the truth behind the alleged terror plot. The law prohibits me from commenting on the evidence: but as the police have already done so, I might say that so far nothing they said has contradicted my contention that no-one had purchased a ticket and nobody had assembled a bomb. It is also worth noting that the mother, Cossor Ali, has not been charged with conspiracy to murder, so the lurid story about her planning to blow up a plane and her baby with a bomb in a feeding bottle appears to be a fantasy.

The charges laid are extremely serious. We will wait to see what the trial brings – unfortunately, the BBC are saying that the prisoners could wait in jail for three years before a substantive trial. As with the “ricin plotters”, that is long enough that in the event of a not guilty verdict the public will have forgotten all about it and the media will be able to report it on page 22 in a single paragraph. Who doubts that if the ricin plotters had been found guilty, it would have been page 1 all over again?

Incidentally, my own straw poll indicates that most people don’t realise the ricin plot didn’t exist and the “plotters” were found not guilty. Hardly surprising when the disgraceful BBC News was today talking about the “Ricin plot” – without mentioning the not guilty verdicts – in a ridiculous scaremongering feature about “Agroterrorism”, claiming that terrorists could kill 250,000 people by introducing botulism into a milk tanker. Worth noting that the Head of News and Current Affairs at the BBC is Helen Boaden, whose brother was a New Labour candidate at the last election.

Of course, our still shiny independent Crown Prosecution Service will have impartially assessed the evidence and decided it was sufficient to go to trial – which effectively gave the CPS the power to lock these people up for three years before the evidence is tested by the defence. The CPS mission statement describes itself proudly as “an independent prosecution service”.

So, consider the statement by the Crown Prosecution Service at the police conference where the charges were announced on 21 August. I heard this on TV and sat up suddenly. I couldn’t believe my ears. I have just tracked down the quote to confirm I heard aright:

Susan Hemmings, Crown Prosecution Service:

“I was briefed in relation to these allegations before the arrest and asked to advise on some preliminary legal issues both before and just after arrest. Together with another senior CPS lawyer, I have been working with the police full time at New Scotland Yard for the last eight days.”

Source: http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/149_06.html

What? The CPS unit that took the decision was actually “embedded” with the police investigation in Scotland Yard? Was a party to the turmoil, excitement and indeed hype that has characterised this investigation?

That strikes me as very strange for the body that is meant impartially to assess the weight of police evidence and decide if there is a case for prosecution. Does anyone know if the CPS has ever physically moved itself to Scotland Yard before in any previous case?


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