Wednesday, June 29 2016

The Independent on the Terror Threat and Exploiting the Climate of Fear

climate of fear
 We thought you may be interested in reading an editorial in today’s Independent, which picks up on the stories reported in most newspapers today of fears of a terrorist attack in Europe (see The Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard to name a few of those papers).

The editorial states,

“The intelligence reports which prompted these alerts should be taken seriously.”

“But the US alert, though less serious than an official advisory not to travel, is an unhelpful overreaction and a kick in the teeth for the European tourist industry. If intelligence had suggested US citizens were a specific target, the alert might have been justified. But there was nothing in the intelligence reports last week to suggest that. And the fact that no arrests were made after the report was leaked indicates how nebulous and undeveloped these plots must be.”

It goes on to talk about the issuing of “vague and slightly panicked travel alerts” exacerbating a “climate of fear and helps do the terrorists’ job for them.”

In addition, a comment piece in The Guardian on Friday by Simon Jenkins highlighted a similar theme when he talked of the inadequacies of the threat levels system used by the Home Office in relation to alleged terrorist activity.

He says,

“There is no way a member of the public can sensibly use the information that an al-Qaida threat has altered from substantial to severe. These are abstractions. Are we supposed to calibrate our dread with Theresa May each morning, treating all dark skin as suspicious and every beard as hiding a foe?”

“To see what is happening we probably need to return to the old journalistic maxim, follow the money. There is now an extensive police and industrial lobby in Britain dependent for its resources on maintaining a high level of public fear. The lobby thrives on its own failures. The incidents in America on 9/11 (2001) and in London on 7/7 (2005) saw the greatest ever peacetime growth in spending on security. Unlike most forms of public spending, this one could by its nature demand cash with menaces and with no account of value for money.”

Both comments offer food for thought. You can read The Independent comment here and Simon Jenkins’ Guardian comment here.

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