Why Law Enforcement and Intel alone don’t work, pt. 137

Pyrrhic Victory?
Britain’s law-enforcement agencies did well to uncover a terror plan aimed at killing thousands. But the conviction of the plotters has raised questions about whether police missed a chance to prevent the 7/7 mass-transit attack of 2005.


The convictions should have been an unqualified victory for Britain’s intelligence and police agencies. Five British men were sentenced to life imprisonment after a jury found them guilty of planning to use one or more homemade fertilizer bombs to kill thousands in a public shopping mall or nightclub in 2004. Instead of bolstering confidence in British intelligence and security efforts, however, the yearlong trial–which, at a cost of


  1. I don’t agree with people who think the solution to terrorism is a purely law-enforcement solution – I think that state sponsorship has to be dealt with, and it’s also necessary to deal with terrorist rat nests such as Pakistan and Iraq to some extent. However, I’m not suggesting law enforcement is not an important tentacle of the anti-terrorism octopus. It is. So, I agree, for Britain at least the threat is real and they should spend more money on tracking more suspects. How much? I don’t know. I think if the ONLY anti-terrorism organizations are law enforcement, no amount of money will be enough to make them (or indeed us) as safe as we could be. Still, it’s interesting to ponder. I think this also shows why the civil court system is not acceptable for dealing with global terrorists. I agree that in cases like this, it is the correct mechanism, and obviously that they were convicted is a good outcome.. but the expense is ridiculous and it’s simply not applicable for people who are caught overseas in war zones. It may be that we need to come up with a whole new paradigm for how to deal with people whose host countries don’t want to do anything about their crimes but who aren’t PoWs as such, either. I do know one thing: the solution is not to let the U.N. deal with it.

  2. Nicholas: I pretty much agree with everything you said 100%. If military alone could do it it would have been all over a long time ago. I just get frustrated when we get told how dumb it is to use military force to deal with a problem that belongs in the law enforcement/intel/judicial system and then they fight the use of those systems when we try to use them and complain just as loud as ever when they’re not totally effective. At least Murdoc’s not bitter.

  3. Heh. The people who complain like that don’t take the threat of terrorism seriously. For me, it’s more about justice than safety, but also it’s about keeping ahead of the bad guys. The chance of you or I (or anyone we know) being killed by terrorists is not zero, but neither is it huge – at least based on what’s happened so far. More people die in car accidents, for example. However, that could change, especially if these whackos get their hands on more powerful weapons (thanks to their state sponsors). But just the fact that people exist who want to do these horrible things on purpose, says to me that we need to stop them. They are a cancer on our race (the human race) and must be excised. Nobody in their right mind lets a cancer grow unchecked just because so far it’s only been a minor nuisance. So I guess my point is, I understand where people are coming from when they think terrorism isn’t a major problem – but I also think they aren’t thinking hard or far enough. Anyway, don’t the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, etc. deserve to live a life free of meaningless violence and repression? Isn’t that worth something? I guess if you’re mega-selfish you don’t care about them, but I do. So I think about what we are doing over there are being ultimately good for us and good for them, if we can succeed. And I really think we can, if our compatriots don’t try too hard to lose it for us.