the Disillusioned kid: Believe it or not, they're lying to you
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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Believe it or not, they're lying to you

The trial and conviction of Kamel Bourgas has been one of the boiggest stories (apart of course from the election) this week. Bourgas we are told was at the centre of a terrorist cell producing ricin to use as a poison. The Sun printed this scaremongering frontpage:

The Tories used it as an argument for tightening up restrictions on immigration ("It's not racist. Honest!") and Alan Milburn even went so far as to apologise for the governments for Bourgas having been in the country.

Problem is, there never was a ricin cell. There was never a danger of thousands being killed by Bourgas and his acomplices. It was all bollocks. George Smith reveals in an article for (reprinted at UK Focus) that months before the trial
the British government had seen its claims, that the group had the capability to produce ricin and that materials on a ricin recipe found in their belongings could be linked to al Qaida, rupture. And equally startling, it was confirmed that a preliminary positive finding of the poison in a residue tested in a raid on their apartment in Wood Green in January of 2003 was false but that through bureaucratic bungling, just the opposite news was presented to British authorities.

Two days after the January 5th search of the Wood Green “poison cell” flat, and well before the outbreak of war with Iraq, the chief scientist advising British anti-terrorism authorities, Martin Pearce—leader of the Biological Weapon Identification Group at Porton Down, had finished lab tests which indicated the ricin finding was a false positive. “Subsequent confirmatory tests on the material from the pestle and mortar did not detect the presence of ricin. It is my opinion therefore that toxins are not detectable in the pestle and mortar,” wrote Pearce in one document.

But in an astonishing example of sheer incompetence, another employee at Porton Down charged with passing on to British authorities the information that the preliminary finding of ricin was in error, turned around and did the opposite, informing that ricin had indeed been detected.
The more dubious might interject at this point that Bourgas was convicted in a court of law (for all that's worth in light of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four) and indeed he was. But not of terrorism. Instead he was convicted of the murder of DC Oake and causing a public nuisance. Horrific enough, perhaps, but not terrorism. Smith notes, "In the British anti-terror sweep that netted them, there were 90 arrests. Nine people were charged and none have been convicted." Either they're very, very good at doing things without leaving evidence (which is hardly supported by the fact that there house was raided) or the whole thing was a mountain out of a mole-hill job

This misapprehension that Bourgas was a major threat to large numbers of people has been cultivated and allowed to continue, because at the time it was useful. The search of the flat and murder of DC Oake took place in January 2003 when the build-up to the invasion of Iraq was in full-flow. The claims about WMDs were already falling apart as UN weapons inspectors scoured the country and the government jumped on the story as a way of terrifying a dubious population into supporting something the vast majority of them could see was both wrong and uneccesary.

Epilogue: In 'researching' this post I noticed Tim Ireland had been here already and probably done a better job than I have.

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