AIRLINE BOMBING UPDATE….In the latest news on the airline bombing plot, the Observer reports that British security services have asked the FBI to please STFU and stop leaking information that might hurt their investigation. The Observer’s take on this is that having already been browbeaten by the Americans into rounding up the bombing suspects before they had all the evidence they wanted, British police are now afraid that the FBI is going to screw things up even further by leaking information that makes both the ongoing investigation and the prosecution more difficult.

And what are the results of that investigation so far? Basically not much. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke assured the media on Monday that the investigation is immense, global, and meticulous, and that “the enormity of the alleged plot will be matched only by our determination to follow every lead and line of enquiry.” However, the only real information he released was a report that investigators have found “chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items,” including martyrdom videos.

What this shows, of course, is that these guys really did want to blow up airplanes. What it doesn’t show is whether they were anywhere close to having enough training and expertise to justify the massive round of fear-mongering and airport hysteria that the British and American governments so eagerly foisted on us two weeks ago. The British public is pretty skeptical:

72%, including 65% of Labour voters, think government policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists. Only 1% of voters believe the government’s foreign policy has made Britain safer, a devastating finding given that action in Iraq and Afghanistan has been justified in part to defeat Islamist terrorism.

….The findings will shock many at Westminster who had expected Labour to gain ground following John Reid’s high-profile handling of the alleged plot against transatlantic airlines. Carried out over the past weekend, following the series of terror arrests, the poll shows voters do not believe the government is giving an honest account of the threat facing Britain.

Only 20% of all voters, and 26% of Labour voters, say they think the government is telling the truth about the threat, while 21% of voters think the government has actively exaggerated the danger. A majority, 51%, say the government is not giving the full truth and may be telling less than it knows.

USA Today reports some recent polling that suggests Americans continue to be more gullible than the Brits on this score. I suppose USA Today’s poll may just be an outlier, but if it’s true it’s a sad commentary on the continuing ability of the Republican Party to scare their way to victory. There’s very little evidence that the airline bombers were even remotely capable of pulling off their plot, and likewise little justification for the massive fear-mongering and hysterical anti-liquid regulations hastily put in place for air travelers. The risk of terrorists manufacturing binary explosives in the air could almost certainly have been handled in other, more effective ways, and it’s increasingly obvious that the government’s scare campaign was far out of proportion to the actual immediate danger. The likelihood that it was hyped more for political reasons than for genuine reasons of air safety continues to grow, and someday, when there’s a real emergency, this attitude may come back to haunt us.