Thursday, 23 April 2009

Looking at it again...

Both the police and Gordon Brown are rightly coming in for criticism over claims two weeks ago about a big terror plot, with the arrest of 12 "suspects". On Comment is Free, Ewan Crawford invites the media to consider their role:

We know from previous incidents that initial police statements, either on or off the record, do not always stand up to scrutiny once the full facts are known. The big fear among journalists seems to be missing out on information that will be published or broadcast elsewhere – but is that reasonable editorial decision-making?

The BBC's security correspondent, Gordon Corera, said today that in relation to the police, lessons needed to be learned in terms of "public presentation". Surely large sections of the media should also be questioning their role in this presentation.

From senior politicians in this government – of all governments – we should expect much greater circumspection when drawing conclusions from intelligence about alleged terrorist activities. We all know the UK went to war in Iraq on the basis of flawed intelligence but once again a British prime minister has been stating as fact the existence of a plot, which we were told was based only on intelligence gathering.

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