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On Labor Day, a British court convicted a group of terrorists who plotted to bring down airplanes. Today, in a feature in The Times (London), Andy Hayman, the man who led the criminal investigation into the plot, lashes out against unnamed Bush Administration officials. British counterterrorism officials had been carefully tracking the cells involved, doing their best to identify others connected to the plot. Throughout this period, Americans were briefed about the progress of the operation, with Prime Minister Blair updating President Bush with some frequency. The Americans, Hayman reports, were constantly skittish and concerned that their British colleagues, by dragging the investigation on, would allow a plot to be implemented.
The authorities in Pakistan had arrested a man called Rashid Rauf and the consequences of that were serious for our operation. Rauf, who hailed from Birmingham, was believed to be strongly linked to the senior command of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and as such was suspected as a key reference point for directing terror plots around the world. While not provable, he was also thought to be a contact for those attending terrorism training in the tribal areas. We suspected that the terrorism cell were known and linked to him.
If they got wind of his arrest it could scare the group and maybe prompt them into accelerating their planned attack — we had to get to the men in the British cell before they found out that Rauf was in custody.
Had the Bush Administration pushed Rauf’s arrest as a way of shutting down the operation against the airline bombing plotters—forcing British counterterrorism to bring in its suspects now and effectively stopping the undercover investigation in its tracks? That’s how Hayman sees it: “jittery Americans almost spoiled our efforts to foil the plot.” If so, it would be another demonstration of Dick Cheney’s one percent theory, which was constantly at loggerheads with law enforcement authorities advising a prudent, careful investigation that would both build a case to support convictions and take the terrorist operations out by their deepest roots.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”