Monday, 20 December 2010

Fetishising the Threat Level (the life which he has conferred on the object confronts him as something hostile and alien)

Counter terrorism arrests 'absolutely necessary', says police chief

This afternoon, standing outside New Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates said it was "absolutely vital" that the public remained vigilant.

"...what I would say is that with the current threat level in the UK at severe and with the information we have, I believe today's arrests were absolutely necessary in order to keep the public safe."

So the threat level is severe is it? Let's take that at face value. Either the threat level is (1) related to the information and allegations involved in these arrests, or (2) unrelated to them.

If it's (1), then citing the threat level is blatant double-counting - you have the information, and the fact that as a result the 'threat level' has been increased is a side-effect, not an additional cause for concern.

If it's (2), then the threat level is irrelevant.

In either case, there's an odd kind of fetishisation of this Threat Level. It's treated as if it were some kind of terror-barometer, a source rather than a summary of information. It's also treated as if it measured some free-floating ambient substance, 'terror-risk', which somehow ebbs and flows, casting its baleful influence quite independently of particular facts about suspects or bombs or suspicious behaviour.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Wikileaks Cables: Possibly a Plant of Selective Information? (A comment montage)

I've been speculating in the blog comments for a while about the possibility that the leaker of the latest Wikileaks dump might have been selective about what was leaked. Now I call in those comments, being far too lazy to type it all out again, still less to reorganise
it and tidy up. Come home, my pretties!

from, 2-5 Dec 2010:

 Tim Wilkinson said...
[...] so undamaging to the US - and so convenient in many cases for their PR effort - is
the preponderance of the documents I've come across so far that I'm inclined to give some consideration to the possibility that Akhmadi-Najad is on the right track when he claims that this latest batch was an engineered 'leak' of selected material.

Though the pronounced (though not too blatant, obviously) pro-US bias could just be down to what the papers have focussed on. It may be that this is influenced by the pseudo-coercive machinery of D-notices rather than just their customary obesiance to the authorities, though the latter could probably explain it.

But at some point Wikileaks was/is bound to be on the wrong end of such a trick (which is after all a standard bit of spy work, including adding just enough material just damaging enough to make it convincing).

Ideally I'd like to see some evidence that the selection of cables leaked doesn't have gaps in it. But I don;t really know what such evidence would look like, let alone think it likely that any is going to be forthcoming.
12/02/2010 05:02:00 PM

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Bleeding Obvious Part 3562 - Local Planning

Just heard on radio 4 news that the 'Coalition' are planning to introduce - as part of its localisation agenda blah blah - local planning schemes set up by the locals blah blah. The bit that got my attention was where they mentioned that 'residents' would be able to make alteration to their homes without getting planning approval from the (local!) council.

Here's the bleeding obvious bit - this is about making things easier for Tesco and other corporate developers. That's the whole thing, end of story, all the rest is window dressing.
Right I'm in a hurry so I won't go off on a two thousand word ramble for once. I'm not even going to look it up ont web.

Expect the penny to drop with media commentators in about two days time.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Annie Machon v Christopher Andrew on MI5

...on Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4:

Less interesting and entertaining, but included for completeness, the first half of the segment:

UPDATE: Machon's book Spies Lies and Whistleblowers can be found here.