Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Moral equivalence?

Still don't quite get that particular phrase, but I was loosely accused of it back in July when suggesting that the US might have to bear some responsibility for the 7/7 bombings if it were true that the Bush administration had screwed up a joint British/Pakistani investigation by announcing the name of an al Qaeda defector, Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, who was helping the British/Pakistani team by supplying information about a plot to bomb the London Underground. (You may remember Tim Ireland, Robin Grant and Juan Cole on the same subject.)

In short, I suggested that by failing to do something (i.e. keep their mouths shut), the Bush administration could be considered at least partially responsible for any deaths that resulted from the British/Pakistani operation being brought to a premature end.

Now, of course, we have US prosecutors arguing that Zacarias Moussaoui should get the death penalty because HE failed to do something, and arguing that by keeping his mouth shut about the 9/11 plot he should be treated as harshly as if he had actually hijacked a plane and flown it into a building. In other words, he's being treated as a murderer, not the accessory to murder he actually is.

So, if (still an if, please note) a link could be found between Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, his information of a plot to bomb the tube or his associates, and those involved in the 7/7 London terrorist attacks, could we then, by pretty much the same logic as Moussaoui's prosecutors are using, hold the US accountable for the 7/7 bombs?

All in all, it's just as well that the official whitewash "narrative of events" has apparently concluded that the 7/7 bombers were not part of some grand conspiracy after all (in fact, they seem to be echoing my sentiments from the fortnight immediately following the bombings).

Because if this official history HAD uncovered links to the al Qaeda bogeyman, especially to the plotters surrounding Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, then at the very least there would have to be some awkward questions asked of the US's decision to ruin that UK/Pakistan investigation. As it is, they simply have to explain away how this country could have so massively failed in its pastoral care and education of four young(ish) citizens that they would choose to go on an indiscriminate killing rampage in the heart of our capital city. And do so, of course, without using the word "Iraq"...

At the risk of sounding like a raving conspiracy theorist, it's all rather convenient, really... Especially the whole "no one else knew, no one else was involved, there are no possible other lines of enquiry, move along - nothing to see here" tone of the thing... Go on, sign the petition for a full public inquiry.

(Here endeth a rare terrorism post from Nosemonkey. Now let the batty comments commence...)

11 Comments:

Anonymous Sunny said...

I thought that was quite a good point made. Never really thought of it that way...

4/13/2006 02:25:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The non-direct link thing matches what they've concluded in Spain about those attacks. Bin Liner runs a franchise - you get training (generally indirectly), money (sometimes), and contact info for others of the same frame of mind and are supposed to support his goals. You then get the right to claim to be part of Nutjobs International.

Mis-understanding this is what caused some "journalists" to start peddling the "There is no such thing as Al Quaeda" stuff...

4/13/2006 09:39:00 am  
Blogger Jonn Elledge said...

Ah, but you forget what I'm sure the Bush administration would say is the key point. The US are the good guys - Moussaoui is evil. This has to be taken into account when considering whose fault terrorism is.

4/13/2006 09:50:00 am  
Anonymous Paul Davies said...

Jonn, you missed a few 'e's in evil. The official spelling has to contain at least four.

'Evil' on its own doesn't excuse ignoring habeas corpus or scrapping the right to a fair trial. 'Eeeevil', on the other hand...

4/13/2006 10:25:00 am  
Blogger Jonn Elledge said...

Paul, why are you defending the terrorists? Why are you deflecting debate away from the key point? How can there possibly be "moral equivalence" between Bush (good) and Moussaoui (evil!)?

Your terrorist sympathies make me sick.

4/13/2006 11:23:00 am  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

The Moussaoui prosecution is a monumental embarassment, though not perhaps as much a one as our President.

4/13/2006 04:15:00 pm  
Blogger Marcin said...

No, I don't know anything of American justice, but in England an accessory is liable for the same punishment as a principal, and indeed may be charged with the principal offence (in any case the penalty is identical). So, an accessory to murder in England would automatically receive life imprisonment.

4/14/2006 11:43:00 am  
Anonymous ronnie in new orleans said...

Bush must be liable for it. Maybe Elvis too.

Shine the light of justice on it guys... the aliens are waiting.

4/15/2006 02:38:00 am  
Blogger Jarndyce said...

could we then, by pretty much the same logic as Moussaoui's prosecutors are using, hold the US accountable for the 7/7 bombs?

Hmmm. Foreseeable and unforeseeable results of an action or inaction, old boy. Plus the asymmetric possession of relevant information. In short, no.

4/19/2006 05:52:00 am  
Blogger The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

NM,

Only just getting round to this. Apologies.

This is indeed an interesting issue. I need to read up on what we all said before diving in and making a nonsense of it.

For starters though, I think Jarndyce has a pretty good stab at an answer.

Toodle Pip!
PG

4/21/2006 11:03:00 pm  
Blogger The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

aha.

Back in July, you did not suggest that "the US might have to bear some responsibility for the 7/7 bombings if it were true that the Bush administration had screwed up etc etc... "

What you said was:
"If this is true, our leaders will have become as bad as those they are supposed to be fighting."

That is not the same thing at all. The first would pass entirely without comment. I say so explicitly myself in the post to which you refer:

"I would have no problem with impeachment, or even jailing the tosspot if necessary."

The second is moral equivalence. It is an indefensible attempt to equate the behaviour of Bush with that of the terrorists. It will not stand. It did not then and it does not now.

PG

4/21/2006 11:12:00 pm  

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