Terrorist threat - or not?

From Reuters
UK film at Cannes says terror fears exaggerated By Erik Kirschbaum
2 hours, 14 minutes ago

A British documentary arguing U.S. neo-conservatives have exaggerated the terror threat is set to rock the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, the way "Fahrenheit 9/11" stirred emotions here a year ago.

"The Power of Nightmares" re-injected politics into the festival that seemed eager to steer clear of controversy this year after American Michael Moore won top honors in 2004 for his film deriding President Bush's response to terror.

At a screening late on Friday ahead of its gala on Saturday, "The Power of Nightmares" by filmmaker and senior BBC producer Adam Curtis kept an audience of journalists and film buyers glued to their seats and taking notes for a full 2-1/2 hours.

The film, a non-competition entry, argues that the fear of terrorism has come to pervade politics in the United States and Britain even though much of that angst is based on carefully nurtured illusions.

It says Bush and U.S. neo-conservatives, as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are exaggerating the terror threat in a manner similar to the way earlier generations of leaders inflated the danger of communism and the Soviet Union.

It also draws especially controversial symmetries between the history of the U.S. movement that led to the neo-cons and the roots of the ideas that led to radical Islamism -- two conservative movements that have shaped geopolitics since 1945.

Curtis's film portrays neo-cons Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld as counterparts to Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in the two respective movements.

"During the Cold War conservatives exaggerated the threat of the Soviet Union," the narrator says. "In reality it was collapsing from within. Now they're doing the same with Islamic extremists because it fits the American vision of an epic battle."


In his film, Curtis argues that Bush and Blair have used what he says is the largely illusory fear of terror and hidden webs of organized evil following the September 11, 2001, attacks to reinforce their authority and rally their nations.

In Bush's government, those underlings who put forth the darkest scenarios of the phantom threat have the most influence, says Curtis, who also devotes segments of his film to criticize unquestioning media and zealous security agencies.

He says al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has a far less powerful organization than feared. But he is careful to avoid suggestions that terror attacks won't happen again. Included are experts who dismiss fears of a "dirty bomb" as exaggerated.

"It was an attempt at historical explanation for September 11," Curtis said, describing his film in the Guardian newspaper recently. "Up to this point, nobody had done a proper history of the ideas and groups that have created our modern world."

But Curtis said there were worlds of difference between his film and Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which won the "Golden Palm" and gave the festival a charged political atmosphere that prompted this year's return to a more conservative program.

"Moore is a political agitprop filmmaker," he said. "I am not. You'd be hard pushed to tell my politics from watching it."

"The Power of Nightmares" was a three-part documentary aired in Britain and won a British film and television industry award (Bafta) this year.
I watched and enjoyed The Power of Nightmares and took it for what it was: a polemical piece of agitprop. It wasn't a balanced argument in any way, but I suspect the director didn't intend it to be. I'm so glad I pay my licence fee...where is the right-of-centre publicly funded equivalent on the BBC?

All the liberal left w@nk fantasies are there... a neo-conservative conspiracy (although in reality the neo-cons are as divided as any other ideological faction), the CIA arming the Afghan jihadists in '79, the need for a new enemy after the collapse of the USSR, and so on (yawn). It's Mike Moore on a diet and with bigger words.

Personally, I'm as suspicious of politicians as the next sentient being, but I like to remember "Hanlon's Razor" when confronted with allegations of conspiracy:

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

This laxidazical attitude towards the threat of terrorism is going to lead to britains 9/11 and that's what it will take to wake people up to the threat. I know plenty of people who think we are in no danger, just waiting for the day that they cough up what used to be there lungs after a terorist NBC attack. Then they will realise.
307 said:
This laxidazical attitude towards the threat of terrorism is going to lead to britains 9/11 and that's what it will take to wake people up to the threat. I know plenty of people who think we are in no danger, just waiting for the day that they cough up what used to be there lungs after a terorist NBC attack. Then they will realise.
Britain's 9/11 ? A bomb outside Canary Wharf perchance ? Or maybe some incendiary devices in city centre pubs in Birmingham ? Possibly a bomb in a shopping centre in Omagh ? Too late, we've had all these and more. Only the US wasn't involved (well, apart from allowing fund raising to go ahead) so we all kept a sense of proportion.

The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise. What decades of IRA terrorism taught us was to get on and ignore the SOBs while trusting the security apparatus to get it right most of the time. If we go hysterically overboard like the Yanks then the terrorists win.

As for chemical weapons, the quantities needed to kill any appreciable amount of people are far too large to transport around easily. Any such incident would kill far more through panic than the substance itself.
307 said:
This laxidazical attitude towards the threat of terrorism is going to lead to britains 9/11.
Britains 9/11 will come just the same, if we have spend billions or spend nothing. It's difficult to convince anyone to spend money against a threat they can not see, when all other government departments come cap in hand each day with real people with real needs.

at a conservative extimate we have spent about £100M since 9/11 on protective and prevention measures. As a fellow taxpayer, I for one would be interested to hear how much more you think should be spent, what on? and where the money should come from?

The US equivalent of the NAO has just discovered that perhaps they had not been spending as wisely as they could
Overview of Department of Homeland Security Management Challenges

Perhaps we should give some credit to the hard pressed civil servants on Marsham Street for keeping their powder dry. In January a £10M Scientific R+D program was announced to meet a spreadsheet of multiple Civil Security requirements.

This will inform OR activity in coming years an may perhaps refelect that UK took a more considered view of TW@T than their US cpounterparts.

The Security Sevice got something like an immediate 50% increase in budget and something like 10% per year more for 3-5 years.
We should take some solace from the fact that the Security Service and Special Branch have been able to continue to detect and deter these people here in the UK, inflicting attrition that puts other countries to shame.
Perhaps this again is a reflection that we have spent more wisely?

We should not overlook the fact that much of the intelligence to inform these operations starts with leads from members of the public, inculding Britains minority communities.

I am not saying that the government are doing an great job here, some of the civil service cuts the chancellor recently announced have even touched some of the departments with Civil Security responsibilities.

Even if we are muddling through, I would suggest that the Civil Service are doing it with more consideration and application than many of our allies.

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