Update. Seven men face bomb plot retrial. This is a rare and legally difficult move, entailing the risks of double jeopardy, being tried on the same evidence twice.
There’s a long chain linking your tube of toothpaste to al Qaida and it runs through the White House. We have it from Peter Clarke head of Met counter terrorism at the time that it was the big feet of the CIA that wrecked a British intelligence operation to net the whole of al Qaida intelligence, planning to blow up half a dozen US airlines in 2005. The trial at the British end proved conspiracy on Monday but not in the actual plot. Who was to blame? Who else but veep Dick Cheney. US motives and strategy are slammed by Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins, no casual leftie: Months of work, which might have unpicked an entire al-Qaida network back to the Pakistani training camps, was ruined by “forced, foolish hastiness” – and all for the mid-term elections This operation was but one of a pattern begun when the US faked evidence of links between Saddam and al Qaida, recounted by US sleuth Ron Susskind and surprise – denied by the CIA. . The US politicians aren’t denying anything so far, though the US MSM have still to pick up on Monday’s acquittal on the second count, the specific airline bomb charge. The bomb plot fiasco in the trial just ended puts critics of the war on terror in a dilemma. Do they slam Cheney, Bush and co for wrecking a brilliant British intelligence operation? ( I heard a US former counter terrrorism chief on Newsnight last night claiming MI5 and MI6 were far superior to their US counterparts). Or do they sneer at the British account as just hype from the securocrats?
What we know is that for the airport check-in well still have to separate out those tubes and bottles bigger than 100 mils from the rest if we can tell the difference. While in Afghanistan, theyve much more to worry about than toiletries. In spite of the worsening collateral damage, according to a major Washington Post report on the hunt for bin Laden, the use of drones to bomb targets is set to expand, in a major shift of strategy from Iraq to Afghanistan, announced by President Bush yesterday.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London