NY Times' Schizophrenia in Article On British Terror Plot
You can sense the warring narratives in this article
on the planned plane bombers. At first we hear of the seriousness of the charges and the plot:The ominous language of seven recovered martyrdom videotapes is among new details that emerged from interviews with high-ranking British, European and American officials last week, demonstrating that the suspects had made considerable progress toward planning a terrorist attack. Those details include fresh evidence from Britain’s most wide-ranging terror investigation: receipts for cash transfers from abroad, a handwritten diary that appears to sketch out elements of a plot, and, on martyrdom tapes, several suspects’ statements of their motives.
But they make sure to water that down with the message that the attack was not imminent:But at the same time, five senior British officials said, the suspects were not prepared to strike immediately. Instead, the reactions of Britain and the United States in the wake of the arrests of 21 people on Aug. 10 were driven less by information about a specific, imminent attack than fear that other, unknown terrorists might strike.
Those are two consecutive paragraphs that basically send conflicting messages. We get the same throughout the article:Later that day, Paul Stephenson, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police in London, said the goal of the people suspected of plotting the attack was “mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” On the day of the arrests, some officials estimated that as many as 10 planes were to be blown up, possibly over American cities. Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, described the suspected plot as “getting really quite close to the execution stage.”
But British officials said the suspects still had a lot of work to do. Two of the suspects did not have passports, but had applied for expedited approval. One official said the people suspected of leading the plot were still recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers.
It was serious, but not that serious. It was advanced, but not that advanced. They didn't have passports but they had requested expedited approval....
Get what the Times is doing? While they have to report the facts, they are making sure to color the facts in a way that the plot doesn't end up helping the Bush Administration.