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In an amazing coincidence, news of a thwarted 911-style terror attack on the UK emerged just hours before the Government was due to unveil a legislative programme chock-full of security-related goodies. The strangely fact-free story, available from the Mail, ITN and The Scotsman, among others, is attributed to a "senior authoritative source", and Downing Street, the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police "declined to comment."

As journalistic constructs designed to distance government from responsibility for the junk the spin doctors are handing out go, "senior authoritative source" is pretty esoteric. It's not 'Home Office sources', nor is 'sources close to the Home Office' - maybe it's not even 'informed sources', and our confidence in it is further undermined by the apparent need to say in the story that the source "who has no axe to grind, said that the threats were real and were not deliberately exaggerated for political purposes." When you have to put in your story, 'look, I know you're all going to think this is junk made up by the Government to coincide with the Queens speech, but it's not, OK?', you are in bad shape.

The Government's intention now will be to let this one lie (as it were), and just smugly decline to comment. David Blunkett, who heads up the newly-merged Ministries of Fear and Truth, has however had trouble controlling his mouth on previous occasions. Earlier this year the man who is not running a fear-inspired campaign to justify his terror measures cited a thwarted chemical bomb plot as justifying them. The chemical in question was, even in the views of the terror rentaquotes, a peculiar choice for a bomb that would do anything apart from, er, inspire terror, and it later transpired that nobody had actually been arrested, and that none of the strange and ineffective bomb-making chemical osmium tetroxide may even have been acquired.

There were actual arrests in another chemical bomb scare (although in that report John Prescott seems weirdly off-message). Unhappily, as this valuable sweeping up of terror-scare aftermaths reports, none of them was ever convicted of terrorism-related activities. One of the three was sentenced to three months for possession of a fake French passport. What percentage of fake ID holders are terrorists, Mr Blunkett?

But back to today's events. Among the 'sensible preemptive measures' to be announced today we have the ID scheme bill, and just last week David Blunkett was pre-spinning the matter in his speech to the IPPR. The transcript of this now available, and we note with some interest that David, who assures us he does not use terror scares to sell repression, says: "Now people say to me that they don’t believe for a minute ID cards would actually help in terms of being able to track or prevent terrorist activity and they say 'It didn’t stop the terrorist attack in Madrid in March, did it?' And the answer is: 'no it didn’t' and I have never claimed that it would have done."

A little research provides an example of trustworthy and truthful David not saying that very thing. In the Breakfast with Frost interview in April, which is rapidly acquiring 'seminal' status, he said:

"Firstly because we've got biometrics, I mean, people say to me you couldn't stop the World Trade Center attack, you couldn't stop the Madrid bombing with ID cards. Well, you couldn't with, of course because the Americans although they have an insurance system, do not have an ID card as you know."

"The Spanish do. But it isn't a foolproof biometric card with a database, with the ability to test not only the card vis-a-vis the database, but actually the person and the card they hold. That's what will be potentially possible."

Which, we'll grant, is not saying the ID scheme would have stopped Madrid, but it does look a bit like saying Madrid happened because the Spanish had the 'wrong kind of ID card', while we, of course... More later, after the rich lady sings, no doubt... ®

Related stories:

Blunkett moots 'proof-lite' internet and banking banning orders
UK looks at 'integrating' ID card with health care
Register backs Blunkett drive for trust in government
ID card doubts - Blunkett blames dead German philosopher
Blunkett explains your terror nightmares - be very afraid
Selling surveillance - has Blunkett got a deal for you
The Great 'standalone' ID card Swindle
UK.gov database 'rationalisation', the ID scheme way

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