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Sunday, 9 November 2008

Not secret, not contentious and not newsworthy

Our administration is clearly feeling the need to ratchet up the climate of fear in the UK today. The Telegraph leads with news of a 'leaked government intelligence report' that warns of increased terrorist activity. By the time this has reached the BBC - an ever-willing accomplice in creating popular fear on behalf of the government - this has become 'a secret intelligence report'.

Rubbish. Both stories describe the document as being marked 'restricted'. This is the very lowest level of what's called Protectively Marked Information, and applies to printed field instructions for cooking rations, to manuals of map reading, equipment maintenance instructions and the like. Above it are 'confidential', 'secret' and 'top secret'. So not secret, then. And the fact that there are Jihadists in the UK who would love to see an act of terrorism here is hardly contentious. The information quoted is also pretty much given openly on MI5's website, so it's hardly newsworthy.

No, this smells of a piece of planted government spin intended to frighten people. And since the BBC is now too corporately stupid to spot it, and the Telegraph has sacked all its experienced staff and has no-one left to spot it, it manages to get through.

Sabretache comments intelligently on the post below that many wars are the 'manifestations of the gross, pompous, blind, stupid, failures of leadership'. Transparent efforts by those in power to mislead, to distort, omit and misrepresent evidence such as this contemptible little story are often the precursor to ill-considered and avoidable actions that are such failures of leadership.

The greatest threat I face is from Jacqui Smith and those like her whose well-meaning but deeply stupid zeal seeks to restrict our freedom 'for our own good'. The government should be very wary indeed of planting stories such as this, if indeed this was a government plant, in order to secure short-term political objectives.


JuliaM said...

"No, this smells of a piece of planted government spin intended to frighten people."

This, plus the offer of 'meaningful talks' to the PCS union - to get them to call off the planned strike for Monday - and the leaked story that Brown has ordered staff to look into tax breaks, makes me think we are headed for a snap election...

Anonymous said...

Julia M - you got it in one.