Thursday, August 10, 2006

What came first?

There's a healthy measure of suspicion around many blogsites commenting on the today's news. Typical of them is Europhobia

Yesterday: Major terrorism policy announcement by Home Secretary John Reid

Today: A 'plot to blow up planes' is apparently foiled, and Heathrow airport shut down.

And my first reaction? Utter disbelief and a sigh of resignation.

Pretty much everyone is convinced that there was a plot, but think that the timing of the raids, coming just a day after John Reid's policy announcement, is a little suspicious to say the least.

The question that's bothering me is: were the raids timed for the day after John Reid's speech or was John Reid's speech timed for just before the raids?

If the raids were moved to follow the minister's speech then it suggests an outrageous level of interference in the detail of police work. We are meant to have an operationally independent police service - and with very good reason. It is the job of the police to decide the optimum time for a raid on suspects. If media relations and the government's desire to control the news agenda become a factor in the timing then security is, to some extent at least, compromised.

The alternative scenario - that the speech was timed for just before the raids is, if anything, even worse. There were plenty of bloggers who claim to have thought that the speech heralded a raid of some sort. If the plotters themselves had even half an eye on the news they might have put two and two together in the same way and gone to ground. Reid would have been risking warning off the terrorists.

Either way someone needs to ask some questions.