The recent security blunder by Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick of London’s Metropolitan Police should not obscure the fact that the United Kingdom is at the forefront of counter-terrorism. It is true: Assistant Commissioner Quick was photographed holding documents related to Operation Pathway as he arrived at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday. He lost his job for his mistake. Nevertheless, Pathway moved forward on a modified timetable–and it was successful. Eleven Pakistanis and one Brit were detained in Manchester, Liverpool, and surrounding areas.
The United States continues to have much to learn from our allies across the Pond. While Quick was photographed holding sensitive security documents, the British media did not publish the photos until after the operation was completed. A joint government-media body warned news organizations that publication of the photo would “seriously damage national security.” And the media listened. This demonstrately clearly that British society as a whole has an understanding of the current struggle against international terrorism and the deadly stakes involved.
As the Obama administration busies itself “decommisioning” overseas sites and restricting the use of contractors for interrogations, senior officials would be wise to spend time reading the UK’s Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, released late last month. Known as CONTEST Two, the document explains the nature of the threat, which continues to mutate, and describes how the UK is going about the serious business of countering terrorism worldwide. If nothing else, Assistant Commissioner Quick’s resignation, Operation Pathway, and CONTEST show just how serious the United Kingdom is with regard to counter-terrorism. The same could not be said of our current administration.