Quick Take: Reuters' initial reaction to the UK airliner bomb plot arrests was to tie it to Tony Blair and Israel's actions in Lebanon. A later story, perhaps in response to blog criticism of the original, added the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "reasons." Nowhere is the idea that Islamic Jihadism, independent of day-to-day events in the Middle East, is involved. More important, and worse -- Articles containing speculation gone wild are allowed to go out disguised as "objective" news pieces.
Here, from The Washington Post at 2:13 AM (article saved to my hard drive to guard against the "memory-hole effect) are three paragraphs from a Reuters story on the UK airliner bomb plot arrests (paras 9, 10, and 11):
Following the arrests, security at all British airports was increased and additional security measures put in place for all flights.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under strong criticism at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.
The security alert comes 13 months after four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network on July 7 last year.
Note that writer Adrian Croft was trying to tell us that the very recent decision by Blair to support the US in refusing to call for an Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire is THE "reason" for a thwarted plot that has been months in the making. Either that, or Mr. Croft was just throwing in a Blair-bashing paragraph in a supposedly "objective" story for the heck of it (uh-huh).
Now, from Yahoo News at 7:59 AM (also saved) are THESE paragraphs from an expanded Reuters report co-authored by Croft and Michael Holden. Note the relevant changes bolded by me (paras 20 through 23):
"We heard about it on the TV this morning. We left a little early and said a prayer," she said at Heathrow.
Britain has been criticized by Islamist militants for its military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also come under fire at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.
In a speech on Wednesday, Interior Minister John Reid said Britain was in the most sustained period of severe threat since the end of World War Two.
Oh, so now there are THREE "reasons" why the plot was being hatched: The Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and ("also") the refusal to call for an immediate Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire. Or, again, perhaps Mr. Croft and Mr. Holden just threw in TWO Blair-bashing paras for the heck of it (yeah, right). At least the first two are longer-term "reasons."
What the initial story betrays, in my opinion, is an institutional reaction on the part of Reuters ("institutional" because Mr. Croft DOES have have editors [doesn't he?]) that ANY terrorist plot occurs only because of the Blair-Bush-Israel alliance.
What the later story may reveal is that Reuters was reading the blogs last night and discovered that its terror plot-no ceasefire linkage in a supposed "objective" article was being roundly criticized in the blogs. Or it could be that Mr. Holden (instead of an editor) looked at what Mr. Croft was working with and told him to get a grip (nevertheless, they just couldn't let go of that beloved ceasefire "justification," and it remained).
Memo to Mr. Croft, Mr. Holden, and their supposed editors -- Isn't it at least as likely that the plots occurred because Islamic Jihadists want to cripple western commerce and politics, independent of day-to-day, or even year-to-year, events in the Middle East? Better yet, if you don't yet know (and you don't) what motivated the terrorists in this particular instance, how about this idea -- Don't say anything, stop speculating about motives, and just give us the facts. What a concept.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.