1. The politicians don’t want to know
Have confidence that the government really doesn’t want to know what it is you’re getting up to, as long as the effect benefits them. By their very nature, secret police intelligence and espionage organizations operate in secret and often do, “in the national interest”, illegal things or stuff which ordinary folk would regard as grossly unethical — things that would embarrass the government if they were to be exposed. If anything goes wrong the politicians want to be able to “plausibly deny” they were involved. This relationship hands enormous, uncontrolled, power to your small, ultra-secretive, self-governing elite clustered at the top of the nation’s security “service”. Your colleagues are invariably drawn from the upper reaches of the political and economic elite and of course you know better than anybody what’s in “the national interest” and you have a God-given right to rule. Breaking ranks and talking isn’t in your colleagues’ class nature.
2. Keep things on a need-to-know basis
Keep your security organization compartmentalised and discourage specialist sections from talking to each other. You can plausibly plead security reasons for this. Make sure all information gets passed up the line to your small group at the top who compile and “assess” the overall threat and decide when to act. Thus you control the “narrative” and the timing of the scam. The foot soldiers may shake their heads and wonder at some of the things you come up with, but they’ll be in no position to contradict you. And if they do, it’s a very serious offence. It’ll ruin their careers and could land them a very long stretch in gaol.
3. At the right time, get the president or prime minister involved
When you’ve decided on the optimum time for your security scare and sorted out who your “plotters” will be, it’s important to involve the head of the government. He’ll want to broadcast to the nation, taking credit for keeping the people safe from the terrible plot. He’ll automatically be followed by the leaders of the mainstream opposition parties, all eager to prove their credibility, responsibility and patriotism. As soon as you’ve made the official line clear, the media and the state apparatus will fall into line.
4. “Prove that we lie”
Always remember: it’s breathtakingly easy to claim you’ve “thwarted” something horrible and almost impossible for sceptics to prove that you haven’t. This applies especially if you “thwart” the plot in its early stages. Invariably you’re acting against individuals from a group that’s already been demonised and will be scared to speak up or fight back. The majority will be inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. Questioning the government in a time of “national emergency” isn’t an easy gig.
5. Don’t worry, they’ll all play their part
Complex conspiracies involving lots of people are entirely unnecessary. All that’s needed is for your close knit, unaccountable group to order those lower down the chain to act on “information received”. They don’t even have to know what the information was. They just have to know the addresses to raid and who to arrest. When they do, they’re sure to find some political or religious literature, or something on the hard drives, or some household chemicals that will, under the circumstances you’ve created, look suspicious. If you’re using agents provocateur, they’ll be able to plant “evidence” and report suspicious conversations to “sex-up” the case. Of course, details will never be available officially or in a verifiable form, but fragments and hints of purported “evidence” can be leaked to selected journalists (see below).
6. Feed the chickens
Keep information in official news releases to an absolute minimum. There’s a plausible excuse for this: more information will harm ongoing investigations and might prejudice the case when it gets to court. In place of any hard attributable facts, provide a steady stream of small leaks “under condition of anonymity” to selected journalists from politically reliable mainstream news organizations. These people are carefully selected for political conservatism and journalistic “responsibility”. Even if they weren’t, they need a story and they’re totally reliant on you for one. It doesn’t matter if the leaked details are outrageously illogical. Even if they’re suspicious of the story, your contacts will run it rather than lose a scoop. In this way you’ll establish an unofficial official narrative that most members of the public will be inclined to accept as something like the truth. They’ve already been conditioned by the media attack-dogs to thoroughly distrust the group from which your victims come so they’ll figure that if the charges are a fit-up the victims are probably guilty of something and it would be prudent to put them away.
7. Politicians who aren’t 100 per cent with you are friends of terrorists
No politician enjoys being attacked as “irresponsible” or accused of being unpatriotic or soft on terrorists. Very few will dare question the allegations in case they’re proved wrong. Most are venal politics junkies making a very good living doing something they enjoy. It’s safer for them to join the chorus condemning terrorism and congratulating you on your vigilance. With any luck, some politicians will show their credentials by loudly criticising you for not acting sooner and more ruthlessly. Those few who are troubled will probably just say nothing.
8. Don’t worry about proving links to real terror groups
Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was felt necessary to show that your local “terrorist cell” was recruited by, and in communication with, al-Qaeda, or some group with actual form some time in the not-too-distant past. This requirement brought its own problems, since evidence of the links often failed to convince, or, worse still, unearthed shady figures with a track record of collaboration with the CIA, MI6 or Mossad.
It’s still a good idea to hint at such links but it isn’t de rigueur because the problem disappeared with the happy invention of the “spontaneously-forming, self-activating” (SFSA) terror cell theory in the aftermath of the 7/7 London bombings. According to the SFSA theory, terrorists don’t have to be recruited or trained. Whenever any three integrated, happy, and successful young Muslim men get together to discuss politics or religion, or even just to play cricket, they spontaneously decide to set up a do-it-yourself terror cell. They scour the internet for recipes for powerful but highly unstable explosives made from sports drinks, peroxide, hair gel, acetone and baby formula. Without outside direction they select targets and decide the day. All you need to “prove” conspiracy was that they met, discussed politics and had in their possession common household chemicals, fizzy drinks and a mobile phone. It doesn’t matter if their conversations show nothing explicit. Just say they were talking in code. If you can show at least one of them has travelled overseas, that’s a plus. If not, assert that they “investigated” booking airline tickets or showed an interest in travelling overseas.
The SFSA theory not only relieves you of having to prove connections to international terror groups, there’s a bonus: it also increases public fear. Any group of young Muslims kicking a ball around in the park is actually planning to blow up trains. Or airliners. Anything you do to these people is likely to be “overlooked”, if not vocally supported by patriotic simpletons.
9. It doesn’t really matter if a court finds them innocent
Your victims won’t get their day in court for months, maybe years, and if you’ve organised things well, you’ll be operating under laws that ensure that the public and your tame media are prevented from reporting key details or even excluded from court altogether. By the time your victims get to court, the scare you used them to create will have done its job. Even if your victims are found innocent, that fact will get little press attention from a media who are embarrassed by their role in such an obvious scam. And anyway, the accused terrorists’ acquittal will be lost in the next big scare.