Monday, January 19, 2004
Homeland Insecurity

The anti-terrorist policy of this government can be summed up in one word and I'm too polite to utter it on this weblog. The absence of debate or visible measures of deterrance to combat potential terrorist outrages were given the benefit of the doubt by many observers, including myself. The kernel of doubt, based upon this administration's incompetence in many other areas, was silenced by the possibility that the government was taking serious steps behind the scenes to protect Britain and ensure that casualties would be minimised in the event of a successful terrorist incident.

In a word, no. A report that took evidence from the commercial sector in order to guage their preparation for a terrorist incident showed quite clearly that the government had smothered debate in order to reduce public anxiety. It will now have the opposite effect:

In the report's executive summary it states: "The commercial sector appears to be unanimous in its criticism of the present counter-terrorism communications policy prior to a major incident. They find it outdated, condescending, generally uncoordinated and at times incoherent.

"The Government's current counter terrorist policy was founded largely on the outdated premise of preventing public panic by saying as little as possible. The scale of the present threat necessitates a well-coordinated and informative approach.

"Not only do the commercial sector and the general public deserve to be better informed, but also a knowledgeable and responsive public should be one of the cornerstones of an effective counter-terrorism policy."

One of the simplest reforms that could be put into place in the event of a civil emergency is situation awareness so that those individuals with a public profile or position can act swiftly to save lives.

As the report concluded, there is little public knowledge on the types of terrorist attack that Britain faces. Moreover, due to our involvement in the Iraq war, we are now in the 'Premier League' for terrorist attack. It is not possible to trust the state with these matters after it has failed to act in the public interest.

Defence is the responsibility of the individual and of civil society. If the government has proven a failure in this regard, then I hope that this report recommends voluntary efforts that can be implemented to reduce these risks.

(23.06, 19th January 2004)


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