EDITORIAL: Blair is right to inform the public

The alarmist tone of reports in the media following Tony Blair's 'general warning' about potential terrorist attacks illustrates the balancing act the Government faces when releasing information to the public on potential security threats.

In his speech on Monday, Blair admitted facing a 'dilemma ... reconciling warning people with alarming them', and then had to quell fears raised by reports of that speech. Some media even reported Government plans to run a poster campaign on dealing with gas attacks. The Home Office denies such plans exist.

However, the PM's careful approach to raising awareness of potential al-Qa'eda attacks has been entirely appropriate and shows how he has learned from mistakes made in the US. By highlighting the volume of intelligence reports crossing key ministers' desks, he is aiming to avoid the criticisms of US intelligence services in the wake of 11 September - that they failed to act on threats or to make them public.

His approach is also aimed at avoiding the public apathy caused in the US by repeated warnings that failed to materialise into attacks.

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