Monday, July 11, 2005

John Simpson's security plans

The BBC’s World Affairs editor John Simpson echoes Simon Jenkins’ belief that last week’s attacks should be treated as nothing more than a criminal matter. Simpson, studiously avoiding use of the “T” word that the Beeb has declared non grata, characterizes the perpetrators who blew up 3 trains and a bus, killing at least 60 people and injuring over 700 in the space of a few minutes, as simply “misguided criminals”. Islamic fanatics, apparently, just need a little "guidance". That's the ticket.

Oddly, in justifying their position, Jenkins uses the British experience with the IRA as a cautionary tale of what not to do, while Simpson cites it as a positive example of something that “worked”. How they then settle on the same strategy is anyone’s guess.

Naturally, a Simpson piece would not be complete without the obligatory swipe at America in one way or another. Not content to simply praise London’s eminently praiseworthy stiff-upper-lip attitude towards the attacks, while also putting the security threat into perspective by noting that the Queen was able to lead a parade of veterans yesterday in an open top car, Simpson simply can’t resist the urge to contrast this with the “security over-kill” of President Bush’s last trip to London.
When President Bush visited London last year, his security people insisted that the threat was so great he would have to drive in an armoured limousine from his apartments at the back of Buckingham Palace to a formal meeting with the Queen at the front of the building.
What’s wrong with a little stroll around the outside of the palace? Afterall, it's not that easy to shoot between the bars of the perimeter fence. The Queen wouldn't take such measures. Those paranoid Yanks.

But then again, it wasn’t the Queen whom London Mayor Ken Livingstone declared to be “the greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably seen” while inciting protestors. Nor was the Queen the subject of a question posed by a prominent and reasonably respected London daily in its online musings over the merits of assassination. So perhaps a little extra caution on the part of those charged with protecting the president's life can be forgiven.


Anonymous Mark said...

Unlike most of Britain's leaders, we've had the experience of having our presidents shot at. It sounds like Simpson is not up on the history of our security measures for presidents. Presidents have had an armoured limo for a long time, bulletproof, and armoured for protection against bombs.

Plus, a single jihadi with an RPG could make short work of an average limo. Even an armoured limo only provides limited protection from such an attack. In Iraq, some of Saddam's soldiers managed to kill a few of our guys riding inside tanks, with an RPG shot at its "weak spot" from close range.

1:31 AM  

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