I'm not sure how to interpret the "liquid bombers" story yet. It may well be a remarkable feat of counter-terrorism, yet it's also, at the very least, strangely synchronistic that this story broke the day after the Israeli government authorised a full-scale miltary invasion of Lebanon. John Terry's installation as captain of the England football team enjoyed more coverage than the Middle East in the UK media yesterday, but the liquid bombers obliterated the opposition.
At first the news networks seemed to convey the impression that up to 50 terrorists had been restrained from boarding planes bound for USA yesterday morning, intent on blowing them out of the sky. Reflecting this sense of imminent threat, this morning's edition of "The Independent"' ran with a front page boldy proclaiming: "10/8, Was This Going to be the Next Date in the Calendar of Terror?"
However, as yesterday progressed, US Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff informed us that the terrorists weren't ready to go after all, but were merely "getting close to execution phase." "They were not yet sitting on an airplane," but were close to travelling, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told The Associated Press. Before long, we were getting the impression the terrorists had lost their passports down the back of Condoleezza Rice's couch and, sure enough, Homeland Security were soon speculating that we may have been as "close" as two days away from a "rehearsal" and that the real thing might well have followed "a few days after that". From "Apocalypse Now" to "Apocalypse a Week on Tuesday, Weather Permitting."
Not only that, but early-morning emphasis on the the triumphant anti-terrorist activities of UK intelligence agencies and police forces became diluted, mid-afternoon, by increasingly influential US intervention. Predictably, Bush couldn't be restrained fom crowing about the inexorably-accelerating Islamo-fascist threat and the algebraically-escalating urgency of waging unrestrained war on terror.
By the end of the day it was all about the US: Bush was practically claiming proprietorial rights to a "terrorist plot aimed at US airlines and US cities." He was also, reassuringly, promising to send many more armed US air marshals to patrol our airports and "safeguard" our flights. We can probably interpret this as fair warning that we're on the cusp of being designated, like Lebanon, as a state harbouring terrorist organisations inimical to US interests. Who knows, we might eventually become eligible for fully-fledged "Axis of Evil" status? Future "targeted" bombing raids aimed at destroying our indigenous terror networks (with "minimal" collateral civilian damage) must, logically, follow.
It's hard to deconstruct the news right now. The truth is, presumably, hiding beneath the veneer of propaganda, but it feels like we're in the middle of a "long con." There's a multi-dimensional strategy unfolding, that's for sure. With this much misdirection going on, there's just got to be a con ~ and we already know we're the suckers. Blair's fawning "relationship" with Bush reminds me of a naïve ingenue with a crush on a movie star. Don't play victim when it all goes wrong, Tone. If you get into bed with Warren Beatty, you know you're going to get fucked.