Security Theatre

This phrase was used on the BBC world service a few times yesterday in reference to the ban on laptops and other devices from some airports on some carriers, for reasons to do with airline competition, deflection of other news stories, or plain incoherence. I did not note who said it, but a quick search shows the phrase pop up a few times in the last 6 months, from for example, Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow at a security think-tank: the Royal United Services Institute. The phrase has some affinity with pantomime terror, but I am more interested in how opportunist news stories can be used to run cover over less savoury announcements. The famous good day to bury a news story Sept 11 incident from Stephen Byers adviser Jo Moore.

This somehow got me to wondering about other ways news which must be gotten out is nevertheless buried in plain sight. I wondered if there were any dissertations written on The Chilcot Inquiry, because when that report finally came, after 7 years, on 6 July, 2016, it was released just one day before the ten year anniversary of the London 7/7  bombing. Was this an attempt that also benefitted from the plain sight effect of their simply being an avalanche of volumes, too expensive for popular reading, too thick for journalists to summarise, and too dull, making it the greatest unread tome since Quixote, so very uninspiring for public commentary, buried in plain sight without any action on the calls to put Blair in front of a war crimes tribunal.

Critics rating: 4 stars.

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