Brown to create US-style security council

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2007-10-27 19:58:17

Scary stuff……   Brown to create US-style security councilBy James Kirkup, Political correspondent Last Updated: 1:45am BST 27/10/2007 Britain is to get a US-style national security council as Gordon Brown plans an overhaul of counter-terrorism work at Whitehall. Mr Brown is preparing to publish a new National Security Strategy that will supersede much of Tony Blair’s policy and give the Prime Minister greater control over Britain’s fight against extremism.   The new National Security Strategy will give the Prime Minister greater control The document will also set out to the public what insiders call the “truly frightening” extent of radical Muslim activity in Britain. The new plan, expected next month, will take priority over Project Contest, Mr Blair’s cross-government strategy that has guided British counter-terrorism since 2004. Derided by some officials as ineffective, the strategy will be rewritten and reissued early next year. Whitehall officials say the National Security Strategy is intended to be much broader in scope than Contest, bringing defence policy and diplomacy directly into a counter-terrorism agenda driven from Downing Street. Mr Brown’s plans, which build on work done by John Reid when he was Home Secretary, will also shed new light on the work of MI5 and MI6, as the Prime Minister moves to restore public confidence in the intelligence agencies eroded by Mr Blair’s case for war in Iraq. The most significant change will be the creation of a national security council, modelled on the US government body. It would include senior ministers, intelligence chiefs and military commanders. In an evolution of Mr Brown’s “big tent” politics, there is even speculation that he could appoint politicians from outside the Labour Party. Either Paddy Ashdown or Sir Menzies Campbell, both former Lib Dem leaders, could be asked to join. advertisement Creating a national security council would complete a US-style management structure for Whitehall. Like a US president, the Prime Minister already has a dedicated national security adviser, Charles Farr, a senior civil servant who runs the little-known Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. The dramatic shake-up has been driven by the conclusion that existing policies and structures are inadequate to the task of meeting the terrorist threat facing Britain. MI5 is monitoring more than 2,000 people it suspects of involvement in extremism. At any given time, the service has more than 30 “active” terrorist cells under observation. What worries security officials is that those numbers have remained constant for some time, indicating that increasing government efforts have done little to reduce the threat of Islamic extremism.   Gordon Brown’s plans build on work by John Reid when Home Secretary “No one should be re-assured by the fact that things have been quiet recently. During that time, a lot of these people have been re-grouping and mobilising,” said one Whitehall source. In preparation for the publication of the new security strategy, Lord West, a former admiral now serving as security minister, has been carrying out a wide-ranging review of Britain’s ability to withstand a major terrorist attack. His confidential review of so-called Critical National Infrastructure targets has focused on the potential vulnerability of sites including power stations, airports, railway stations, sports stadiums and shopping centres. It is understood that the review has been giving particular attention to “designing out terror” — ensuring that buildings and public spaces are physically stronger and offer fewer opportunities for possible attack. The Prime Minister is understood to believe that greater public confidence in the security services is vital to his new strategy, and he is planning to make their work more visible and accountable. As part of a reform of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, the panel could in future hold some evidence sessions in public. Committee members have been told that Mr Brown and senior -ministers, including Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, may be willing to appear before them and discuss security policy in public. MI5 itself is also continuing its recent dramatic expansion. Using money awarded in the 2004 -spending round, the agency is due to have 3,500 staff by next spring. After that, another injection of money announced earlier this month will be used to increase the size and technological capability of MI5’s eight regional stations around Britain. Another round of recruitment will follow. At the Home Office, meanwhile, a dedicated research and information unit is gearing up for a concerted “cultural offensive” aimed at challenging those young British Muslims who are sympathetic to radical Islam. One idea under discussion by a new “hearts and minds” team inside the Home Office is to enlist positive role models, such as Amir Khan, the boxer. Information appearing on is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright  

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