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article imageEx-MI5 Chief: 9/11 Response 'Huge Overreaction'

By Tse Hao Guang     Oct 19, 2008 in World
In an interview with UK paper The Guardian, former head of MI5 Stella Rimington criticizes the politicization of national security.
Stella Rimington left the British secret service 12 years ago, but has always remained vocal about security issues. A longtime critic of her government's now-discarded plans to detain suspected terrorists without charge for 42 days, she also rejects the "war on terror" dogma and downplays the importance of the 9/11 attacks.
Calling the response to the attacks a "huge overreaction," Rimington believes them to be just "another terrorist incident", no different from any of the others she experienced in her line of work.
"That's not how it struck me. I suppose I'd lived with terrorist events for a good part of my working life and this was as far as I was concerned another one," she says.
Going further, she condemns politicians such as Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for turning national security into a political issue and competing with each other to harden their stance on terrorism.
Rimington believes this mindset started with 9/11. "Parties are tending to use it as a way of trying to get at the other side. You know, 'We're more tough on terrorism than you are.' I think that's a bad move, quite frankly," she said.
She also believes that the subsequent war on Iraq actually influenced those in the UK who turned to fundamentalism and terrorism, challenging assertions by Tony Blair and others to the contrary.
"All one can do is look at what those people who've been arrested or have left suicide videos say about their motivation. And most of them, as far as I'm aware, say that the war in Iraq played a significant part in persuading them that this is the right course of action to take," she said.
"So I think you can't write the war in Iraq out of history. If what we're looking at is groups of disaffected young men born in this country who turn to terrorism, then I think to ignore the effect of the war in Iraq is misleading."
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