Thursday, August 17, 2006

War on Hair Gel

Details of the "intelligence" that caught the alleged terrorists planning the hair gel bombs is starting to come out. It seems that the information that the terrorists were using hair gel to make their bombs was extracted by torture in Pakistan.

As Cory Doctorow writes:

"Please stop electrocuting my testicles! What? Only if I reveal a -- OWWWWWW -- terrorist plot -- AAAAAAHH? All right -- SCREEEECH! -- the terrorists will be blowing up a plane with, with, oh man, I don't know, hair gel! Yes! Hair gel!"

Direct link to Craig Murray's (former UK ambassador to the Republic of Uzbekistan) analysis here. Quote:

None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports [...]

In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.

Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance. Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth.

It is important to remember that this is not the first -- nor will it be the last -- "terrorist plot" uncovered in the UK. Remember the plot to make Ricin? Nothing came of that: one suspect was found guilty of murder for stabbing a policeman. But there was no Ricin. The strongest case the government had (apart from the murder charge) was "conspiracy to make a public nuisance". Some terrorists.

It was a storm in a teacup, but it accomplished it's purpose: keep the public scared so they'll give power to Stalinists like U.K. Home Secretary John Reid. Over one thousand British Muslims have been arrested under anti-terrorist legislation. Just twelve percent are ever charged with any crime. Eighty percent of those are aquitted. Out of the thousand people arrested, just two percent -- twenty -- have actually been found guilty, and not a single one of those has been for terrorism-related crimes.

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