by Gwyn Headley
In every society there is a need for openness and a need for secrecy.
Fundamentalists have planned and are planning terrorist attacks on our way of life. They plot and connive with as much secrecy as they can muster.
The prime function of government should be to protect its people, and the executive arm of that prime function is generally the police force.
British bobbies haven’t been covering themselves with glory recently. Running over a 16 year old schoolgirl at 94mph, batonning down a non-protesting passer-by (from the back) who died 5 minutes later, and yesterday Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, our top counter-terrorism officer, arrives at 10 Downing Street with The Secret Plan to catch these vile fundies tucked underneath his arm.
Not in his briefcase, note, but tucked underneath his arm. In full view of the world’s press. With their expensive cameras with hi-res lenses.
Getty Images, a picture library a little larger than fotoLibra, had a photographer or two on site. The images were on the wire and syndicated around the world in minutes. Then someone noticed you could actually read The Secret Plan to trap the fundies. It was there in plain view, tucked underneath Assistant Commissioner Quick’s arm, a clean sheet of A4 headed “Security Service-led investigation into suspected AQ (al-Qaeda) driven attack planning within the UK”.
The Government issued a D-Notice, which bans British media from publishing sensitive material. It has no validity in Calais, Cincinatti or Cairo. Getty Images withdrew the images from their site.
But it had already been syndicated around the world, and they had no power to order its removal from other publishers. I bet servers in Pakistan were overloaded last night. The police had no option but to carry out the plan immediately, and eleven Pakistanis and one Brit (perhaps of Pakistani origin — we don’t know) were arrested yesterday.
This morning Quick quite rightly resigned. It was a monumental blunder.
I think with true British phlegm the situation can best be summed up in England’s noblest native verse form, the clerihew:
Is a bit of a dick
For revealing his terrorist investigation
To photographers with worldwide syndication.