Oh My

Via Matt at The Tattered Coat comes some infuriating, if altogether unsurprising, news. The Bush administration pressured British officials to make arrests in the recently reported foiled terrorist plot at least a week before the British wanted to.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.
That’s certainly a different perspective than was originally reported, which suggested that Scotland Yard, in conjunction with American officials, had thwarted an imminent attack to “commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” The White House, natch, denies the charges (with Attorney Alberto Gonzales insisting that “the British government made the calculation [that] now was the appropriate time to take action”), but:

Another U.S. official, however, acknowledges there was disagreement over timing. Analysts say that in recent years, American security officials have become edgier than the British in such cases because of missed opportunities leading up to 9/11.

…The British official said the Americans also argued over the timing of the arrest of suspected ringleader Rashid Rauf in Pakistan, warning that if he was not taken into custody immediately, the U.S. would "render" him or pressure the Pakistani government to arrest him.

British security was concerned that Rauf be taken into custody "in circumstances where there was due process," according to the official, so that he could be tried in British courts. Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the objections of the British.
“Missed opportunities leading up to 9/11” might elicit some sympathy for the administration’s determination to prematurely blow their load, except for the rather inconvenient report that “U.S. and British officials say this group was under such close surveillance that the police virtually held the on/off switch, able to shut it down at will. …Such tight control, U.S. officials say, that after months of intense surveillance there was almost no chance any of the plotters could have actually carried out their attacks.” Which leaves us with the decidedly cynical but unavoidable conclusion that the Bush administration was playing politics with terror yet again. Says Matt:

This goes way beyond what we understood previously — that the Bush Administration knew about the arrests ahead of time, and timed around it a PR offensive against the Democrats.

It turns out that it was the other way around: the Bush Administration orchestrated the timing of the arrests to coordinate them with the PR offensive, which attacked Democrats after Ned Lamont’s victory in the Connecticut primary.
And Richard Cranium:

As the story of this plot starts to unravel over the coming days and weeks (or at least morphs into something much less threatening), the media really needs to step back and take a look at how they were once again played. We're already seeing the initial rumblings of a 2004 replay in terms of terror alerts and proclamations. The GOP is making it clear that their only gambit to retain control of the House and Senate this fall is to once again go for the reptilian brain stem - fear. It's the only issue they have absolutely any control over, because they can pull the “red alert” string on the Charley McCarthy media anytime they want.
The Heretik weighs in, too: “What’s imminent to me may not be so imminent to you.”


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