And the Number One news story in the UK tonight was...
CCTV images of one of the 21 July bomb suspects apparently fleeing London in a Muslim veil have been shown in court.
The jury at Woolwich Crown Court saw footage of Yassin Omar, 26, wearing a black full-length dress and burka with a handbag over his arm.
He is said to have travelled by bus to Birmingham from Golders Green in north London on 22 July 2005 - the day after an alleged attempt to bomb the Tube.
Not only were the images shown in court, the Metropolitan Police obligingly released a video of Yassin Omar wearing a burka so that everyone else could have a look.
The video is obviously a tremendously crucial piece of evidence, as demonstrated by it being the first item on most news broadcasts, but a few niggling questions remain...
The only thing the video seems to actually prove is that it is possible for a large Black man to flounce around Birmingham wearing a dress without drawing too much attention to himself.
All very disgusting from the point of view of any red-blooded heterosexual but, to the best of my knowledge, Omar is on trial for unsuccessful terrorism in London, not successful transvestism in Birmingham
The sheer irrelevance of the footage comes across nicely when reading the non sequiturs in articles attempting to report it as news...
The police have released a video of a black man in a dress
He's on trial for trying to blow up London
However, whilst it is not exactly slam dunk evidence of Omar's role in the 21/7 bombings the footage released today does convey two very important pieces of information to the British public
- The next time you see someone wearing a burka they could be a terrorist
- CCTV is a jolly good thing
With the conspicuous exception of 7/7 and the Stockwell Shooting (where is that pesky CCTV footage?), our security forces have been planting news stories that preach the virtues of high tech surveillance (CCTV/ DNA databases/ Cellphones/ Travel Cards) for years now and we're used to that - though if CCTV really did make our world a better place London should be fucking Nirvana by now
But the banging on about the burka thing is something newer and nastier
And why is no-one in the mainstream questioning what the police are up to releasing this material whilst a trial is still going on?
So what's the deal now? The police release videos shown at every criminal case? Just terrorism cases? All videos? Just selected material? Selected on what criteria? By who?
This is so dodgy, and not a squeak from anyone.
I'd expect our tabloid press and politicians to bump up their circulation figures by stirring up the mob, but our police joining in as well. Our police?
I haven't seen much blogging about the 21/7 trial to date. I suspect that's because people are waiting to see how the defence pans out. From what has been made public so far, the 21/7 bombers, and their bombs, come across as some kind of incompetent comedy act, coordinated by the Somali equivalent of Coco the Clown and destined for failure from the start. These guys are cast from the same mould as most of the other losers living in bedsits that our police have trawled up in recent years. They are not the same kind of people as those who carried out 7/7. Oh no...
Of course, there is a tiny problem-ette with waiting to hear what the defence case might be. And that problem is our media doesn't report the defence case in terrorism trials. Take the trial of the guys arrested during the amusingly named Operation Crevice for example. Lots and lots of daily coverage of the prosecution case, including lashings of CCTV footage from the police, then as soon as the defence starts, and particularly when one of the accused mentions the ISI - biff - nada - niente.
Ah well, fuck it, not many people want to hear what the defence has to say anyway.