The Times has a suspiciously detailed account of the alleged transatlantic aeroplane bomb plot.
We are reminded of the amount of "background" information which magically appeared in the media after the "No Ricin plot" trial reporting restrictions were lifted.
However, in this case, the 19 people named in The Times article, are now, apparently under financial sanctions and have had their bank accounts "frozen" - a punishment ordered by Gordon Brown without any actual trial and details of the plot are being published before these people have even been charged with any offence.
N.B. the remaining provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006, which were not brought into force in April, have been Commenced on 25th July 2006 via Statutory Instrument 2006 No. 1936 (C. 64) - The Terrorism Act 2006 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2006 i.e. the controversially increased 28 days pre-charge detention is now in force
The news media were confidently reporting the arrest of 24 people, so who are the other 5 people (presumably people without bank accounts to freeze ?) ?
Readers of Spy Blog are, almost by definition, eager for detailed news, but you should pause to think exactly how and why these alleged plot details, which far exceed the statements given by the Government or the Police, are now being published by The Times.
We refer again to the statement by Peter Clarke, the head of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorism Branch:
As always, I must preface my remarks with a request for restraint - and by that I mean restraint in the reporting of events so far as they relate to those who have been arrested. We must all, please, be careful to say or do nothing that might prejudice the right of any individual to a fair trial.
As and when I am able to do so, I will give out information on the progress of the investigation. But please be aware that we will only release specific information when we are sure it is correct.
At this point I must focus on the criminal investigation and any subsequent legal process, and refrain from speculation."
Is this obvious briefing by unnamed "security sources", making claims about the contents of surveillance recordings and of intercepted internet communications (which are still not yet admissible as either prosecution or defence evidence in a UK court), an attempt to predjudice any actual criminal trial ?
One plausible suggestion in the article involves the idea that so called "energy drink" bottles, might have been planned to have been used to disguise explosives in airline passenger hand luggage. Several brands of these are made from or clad in, optically opaque plastic, and would be almost trivial to make into a two part container, with the lower part containing a solid explosive such as used by the terrorists last July in London, and in previous (failed) airline "shoe bombs" attempts, but with the upper part still containing a quantity of drink to help with the disguise.
Perhaps this is where the impractical idea of using extremely unstable "liquid explosives" (or the even more impractical manufacture of explosives from two or more liquids whilst on board a crowded plane) has entered the airline security bureaucracy and the media speculation machine, to the discomfort of so many mothers and infants and other passengers, who have been caught up by the stupid bans on bottled water and baby milk.
Surely even airport security staff can easily differentiate water, in transparent plastic bottles, from any known explosive or explosive precursor chemical liquid such as concentrated hydrogen peroxide or acetone ? Even then, it is surely impossible to produce a significant quantity of, say TATP type explosive, without refrigeration and drying facilities, in an aeroplane toilet. The July 7th bomb factory in Leeds had an industrial refrigeration unit.