By Ray Fleming
WAS the timing of the speech given by Home Secretary John Reid on Wednesday a matter of accident or design? His message, summarised in one headline yesterday morning as “Anti-terror critics just don't get it” could not have been more topical as the police rounded up 21 people suspected of being involved in what was variously described as a terrorist mass murder plot to bring down transatlantic aircraft and something “worse than 9/11”. Mr Reid will have known of the suspicions of the security services for some time but it would be extraordinary if his speech was related to the decision to make arrests, which was apparently taken on Wednesday. Central to Mr Reid's speech were these words: “Sometimes we may have to modify some of our own freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy all of our freedoms in the modern world.” Media commentators were among those identified by Mr Reid as “just not getting it” along with politicians who don't listen to what the police want and European judges. As a media commentator myself I have no complaint about the company Mr Reid thinks I keep.
This is going to be a long and difficult debate. All I ask is that neither the Prime Minister nor Mr Reid tells us again that such terrorist acts have nothing to do with Britain's role in Iraq, Afghanistan (and Lebanon).


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