The ladies and gentlemen of Wapping were no doubt pleased with their latest front page splash for the Sun on Sunday. In stark bold letters it screamed: OLYMPIC BOMB SCANDAL – WORKER SMUGGLES IN FAKE EXPLOSIVE. Reporter Tom Wells ramped up the hyperbole to 11 straight from the lede calling it a ‘terrifying flaw’ in the Olympic Park security plan and expressing capitalised outrage that the worker in question ‘sailed’ past TWO checkpoints.
The third paragraph is italicised so you know it’s juicy;
“It looks like a bomb, it’s wired like a bomb and it has a timer like a bomb. But incredibly a worker carrying it in his digger was simply allowed to drive in UNCHALLENGED.”
What looks like a bomb but isn’t a bomb? Well, lots of things in all honesty, and all of them lack the ability to explode – hence them not being bombs.
The no-doubt-soon-to-be-ex Olympic site worker says he contacted the Sun on Sunday as he was alarmed at the lax state of security at the “ultimate prize for Al-Qaeda” and colluded with the Sun’s investigative [sic] team to smuggle the ‘Semtex’ onto site and place it at various locations. If the Sun hacks and their tame tradie had managed to smuggle parts of a firearm or real explosive material onto the site then we would be staring down a pretty serious breach and it would’ve been quite the scoop for the chaps from News International.
But we’re not.
In essence; a bloke known to security and other personnel for several years brought a battery, some copper wire, an alarm clock and some Play-Doh onto a building site in a Tupperware box. He then videoed his daily routine driving plant machinery about. At no point did he handle real contraband or anything that could go bang, thus making the whole ‘scandal’ a bit of damp squib: R2D2’s lunchbox does not a viable device make.
There a various ways of detecting explosives, from chemical swabs and digital probes, to old classics like sniffer dogs and mirrors on sticks. All rely on the presence of – you’ve guessed it – explosives. This whole story seems to have gone-off half-cocked and it’s clear any proper research into Olympic Park security and bombs in general would’ve led this story to be spiked prior to print. The whole story appears to be little more than sensationalism for the sake of it.
The Guardian website picked up on the story and added some generic numbers and a couple of quotes from a Locog media wonk who barely conceals her contempt for being disturbed on a bank holiday Sunday:
“Clearly a Tupperware box containing batteries, a mobile phone and some loose wires would not pose a security threat on a construction site. However, we will be looking into the allegations to ensure our security regimes are as robust as they need to be at this time.”’
Well said, Locog. The security operation around the London 2012 Olympics is the greatest to be mounted in the United Kingdom since the Second World War and is reported to cost £1billion. On the face of this we have a cold-war era anti-aircraft missile providing a controversial ring of steel and fire around London. Eurofighter jets and Apache helicopters will patrol the skies above Stratford and HMS Ocean ismoored in the Thames providing a base for Games military personnel. But this is only the visible tip of the Olympic security iceberg.
Without being alarmist, it is fair to say a successful terrorist incident at the London 2012 Games would be on a par with the attacks of 11th September 2001. It is patently clear that the British government is taking the security risks seriously and any attempt to inflict violence on the Games will be met with extreme prejudice. It is to be hoped that we never see the true depth and scale of the apparatus in place to prevent such a terrible incident occurring this summer. The forces involved are competent, experienced and comfortable with the job in hand. Like most military operations of this kind, we will only hear of failures, not of the things done to prevent tragedy.
News International and by extension The Sun on Sunday are desperate to regain ground lost with the axing of the News of the World last summer. Cheap and shoddy investigative reporting is precisely what got ‘the Screws’ into bother in the first place; Rupert Murdoch and his minions would do well to remember that.