I have to say that I mistrust the politics of terrorism. Not that I deny what happened on 911 and not that I don't think we have to keep a constant vigil to thwart terrorists who, without doubt, wish us harm and would hurt us, spectacularly, if they could.
But what I also think is that politicians have learned to use terror as a political weapon and don't hesitate to play on our fears when it is their best political interests. For instance, it always seemed to me that back when our our terror alert system was jumping up and down the scale, we always went to a higher alert when the Bush administration wanted to change the subject (right after the Democratic National Convention, for instance).
Now, one of Tony Blair's own, Craig Murray, who used to be Britain's ambassador to Uzbekistan, is skeptical about the most recent terror arrests in England. He says:
"None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.
In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases, passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged about in internet chat rooms.
What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.
Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is, it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth....
We then have the extraordinary question of Bush and Blair discussing the possible arrests over the weekend. Why?"
Why, indeed. The defeat of Joe Lieberman, Bush's most cooperative ally on the Democratic side, coupled with the success of Hezbollah in making themselves look like the victors (at least the political victors) in the Israeli/Lebanon conflict and added to that, the absolute mess Iraq has become, which makes both Bush and Blair look incompetent, and there seems more than enough reason for the B's to want to turn our attention back to terrorism.
Adding fuel to the fire of suspicion, it has been reported that British law enforcement was not yet ready to make arrests in this case. They wanted to allow the suspects to go through their "dry run" before they moved in on them. It was Bush and Blair who wanted it done sooner.
Also, Bush and Cheney seemed to know about the impending publicity of these arrests when they made statements to the effect that Connecticutians who voted for Ned Lamont instead of Joe Lieberman, were giving aid and comfort to Al Qaida.
Would our government (and Britain's) really play political games with our fears of terrorism? I hate thinking so but there seems lots of evidence that the answer is yes.