Saturday, October 18, 2008

Response to 9/11 was 'huge overreaction' - ex-MI5 chief.

The former head of MI5, Stella Rimington, has called the response to the 9-11 attacks a "huge overreaction" and has blamed the war in Iraq for turning some young British men into potential terrorists.

In an interview with the Guardian, Stella Rimington calls al-Qaida's attack on the US "another terrorist incident" but not qualitatively different from any others.

"That's not how it struck me. I suppose I'd lived with terrorist events for a good part of my working life and this was as far as I was concerned another one," she says.

In common with Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, who retired as MI5's director general last year, Rimington, who left 12 years ago, has already made it clear she abhorred "war on terror" rhetoric and the government's abandoned plans to hold terrorism suspects for 42 days without charge.

The war on terror has always been a sham. For, unlike any other war, there is no clear point of victory, there is nowhere that a flag can be planted which proves that the campaign is over.

Rimington is actually on similar ground to the British Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, who stated in January of 2007:
London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, 'soldiers'. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a 'war on terror', just as there can be no such thing as a 'war on drugs'.

"The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement."
The right have sought to use the events of 9-11 to push an agenda which existed long before that dreadful day, the most obvious example of which was the invasion of Iraq.

But, as Rimington points out, far from fighting terrorism, such actions have actually encouraged it.

She challenges claims, notably made by Tony Blair, that the war in Iraq was not related to the radicalisation of Muslim youth in Britain.

Asked what impact the war had on the terrorist threat, she replies: "Well, I think all one can do is look at what those people who've been arrested or have left suicide videos say about their motivation. And most of them, as far as I'm aware, say that the war in Iraq played a significant part in persuading them that this is the right course of action to take."

She adds: "So I think you can't write the war in Iraq out of history. If what we're looking at is groups of disaffected young men born in this country who turn to terrorism, then I think to ignore the effect of the war in Iraq is misleading."

The war in Iraq was a catastrophic mistake as it did more to encourage terrorism because it was so blatantly immoral.

At last people like Rimington are saying what many of us have been saying for years. There is no such thing as the war on terror just as there was no such thing as the war on drugs. To elevate what these thugs do into a war is to give them a dignity which they do not deserve.

These people are criminals, not soldiers. Karl Rove would no doubt be horrified, but then, he's long been part of the problem rather than the solution.

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