Friday, September 07, 2007

THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE LONDON RICIN CELL REFUSES TO DIE: Kept alive by the scholarly hobby of 'publish or perish'

A significant and noticeable part of the US and European academy of terrorism studies is like a shark. If it stops swimming forward, it dies. This has two consequences: a drive to publish or perish which, in turn, motivates it to creep onto past battlefields, assessing which bodies can be ignored for the sake of renewing mythologies; or new terror analyses that purport to show Byzantine networks and capabilities.

As an example from the dog days of summer, we consider an article entitled "The London Ricin Cell," written by Glen Segell of London for the August edition of Strategic Insights, succinctly self-described as "a bi-monthly electronic journal produced by the Center for Contemporary Conflict at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California."

DD's longer piece on the distortion of the ricin trial case for the sake of an American scholarly publication devoted to the study of terrorism is here at the the Reg.

It is no secret in England that the Iraq disaster coupled with the leadership of the Bush administration has damaged the United States' relationship with one of its best international friends.

This is poorly understood in the US. In fact, it's ignored, consigned to backpages where Brit generals, writing their memoirs, are reported to be calling Donald Rumsfeld a fool and dubbing American plans for Iraq post-Saddam as trash.

However, the seeds for British distaste for the Iraq war can, in part, be traced to convicted murderer Kamel Bourgass's jewelry tin of castor beans. Although never shown, it was used to bolster the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq.

However, unpleasant and disagreeable information contrary to the Bush administration's script on the matter did not come out until 2005. When it did, it was virtually ignored by the US newsmedia.

At-the-time allegedly rock solid intel, furnished by Colin Powell with the backing of the CIA, at the UN Security Council prior to war with Iraq.

Looking at Colin Powell's famous slide illustration, basic common sense requires most to come to the conclusion that a lame jewelry tin of castor seeds found in a dingy apartment should not have constituted any legitimate part of a reason to go to war with a foreign country because of assumed production of weapons of mass destruction.

Unsurprisingly, no one in the US government has ever seen fit to explain how the insubstantial tale of the London ricin ring -- and the lack of any poison -- was twisted to fit a case for war.

The contradictions of the case, however, were not lost on many in England. These contradictions became part of a growing conviction that the US government had been engaged in fixing an argument for war with Iraq. The London poison cell was a convenient addition, used to link Iraq to al Qaeda.

Information from the London ricin cell trial has also been inconvenient to terror experts fond of arguing that it demonstrated capability and training in chemical weaponry by al Qaeda men. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

However, the Strategic Insights article indicates such incongruities never hinder such experts from attempting to change the story.

Reporting from 2005 on the Bourgass ricin trial at GlobalSecurity.Org


Blogger cubic said...

Unfortunately I think that a certain amount _has_ stuck over here in the UK; just as anywhere, when there is mass reporting that TERRORISTS have been found with LETHAL POISON THAT COULD KILL EVERYONE, and then it turns out that that's just not true at all, the latter is reported on page 21 of the papers rather than the front page. It wouldn't surprise me if you took a sample of people here and found that a high proportion of them thought that the ricin thing was true. We're not any less gullible.

But at least it _has_ been reported that it was a load of crap.

2:30 PM  

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