Recent terror plot

/ 18 August 2006

I know how scary it can be to live amidst the terror plot headlines. My own heart pounded more quickly the day of the British arrests, and I would turn on NPR as I was driving, with a kind of sinking anticipation that reminded me of the days following September 11th. Given the current state of the world, it would be foolish not to expect further terrorism on a grand scale.

I also know how much I yearn to trust in the authority of government officials. I want to believe that government can made a good difference, that it can help us collaborate towards the common good.

But I know how frequently the US government has not acted altruistically in the past. And this most recent terror alert is starting to smell worse and worse. Here's a powerful piece written by a former British diplomat, who notes the very political consequences of this recent alert, and writes:

"None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not have passports. It could be pretty difficult to convince a jury that these individuals were about to go through with suicide bombings, whatever they bragged about on the net.

What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for more than a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests."

He asks the British public to be skeptical. I think the US public has to be a thousand times more skeptical. Now is the time for us to listen as carefully as we can to a range of voices from around the world, not simply our own, very narrow news media.