MSNBC is reporting that Bush administration pressured the British government to arrest the suspects in last week’s alleged plot to attack airliners:
NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.
A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
In fact, it appears unlikely that the plotters were from the point of carrying out an attack, with some not even having passports that would have allowed air travel:
In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.
One can make the argument that security agencies cannot be too careful, especially following the absolute failure of the Bush Administration to respond to the clear threat of Al Qaeda in 2001. But to hype a story and cause unnecessary panic, just like they did with the Miami Terrorist Gang Who Couldn’t Plan Straight, while simultaneously arguing that it endangers national security to reveal investigative techniques, is indefensible.
Why not listen to the British officials on the ground? Couldn’t be politics, could it?
And, of course, the same media who breathlessly played up this story last week will ignore this story for the most part, burying it in Sunday night coverage or on page A8 tomorrow. The Bush Administration gets to claim success for not really being involved in stopping a terrorist attack that wasn’t really imminent, the public gets its fears ratcheted up again, and true discussion about deficiencies in our security five years after 9/11 will continued to be ignored.
It’s a Karl Rove fantasy.