That's one of Margaret Thatcher's catch-phrases, as you know...Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.
It's on my mind because I've just been reading John Simpson's op-ed on the alleged iniquities of the government's Terrorism Bill. The Beeb's world affairs editor thinks the measure will stop investigative journalists doing their job properly:
Suppose someone contacted me nowadays to ask if I were interested in visiting a camp in Britain, or anywhere else in the world where al-Qaeda volunteers were trained to use weapons or explosives. As a result of Clause 8 of the Terrorism Bill, which is at the moment making its way through Parliament, I would have to say No. You could go to jail for knowingly visiting a terrorist training camp.
Perhaps I'm particularly slow-witted and bleary-eyed this morning, but I don't see anything worth going to the barricades for. Certainly not in the case of camps in Britain. But the part of the article that really caught my eye came later:
Let's take a practical example. I have gone to, say, a council house in Bradford with three or four al-Qaeda volunteers who are letting me film a discussion: not necessarily about the making or use of a weapon, but perhaps about ways of setting up resistance cells that might at some future stage use violence. At this point, in the famous old newspaper phrase, I should make my excuses and leave. Then I must hurry round and tell the police what I have seen. And if, instead, I carry on making my programme and broadcast it, I and my colleagues will be liable to a fine or imprisonment.
I'm happy to leave other scribes to argue about the legal complexities. (I was a BBC journalist at the time of the infamous IRA/Real Lives controversy 20 years ago, and even though I was then a fairly conventional member of the chattering classes, I still thought Mrs T won the argument in that particular case.) What I truly don't understand is why Simpson uses the words "resistance cells". Did a sub-editor cut out the quotation marks, or is this some new, non-judgemental label dreamed up at Television Centre?
ANOTHER THOUGHT: Perhaps the British resistance should consider accepting embedded reporters. I assume they've got Channel 4 News' phone number.