"Widening Public Skepticism" About Airline Terror Threat?

London correspondent Alan Cowell follows up Tuesday morning on the terror plot to blow up ten passenger planes ("Britain Charges 11 In Plane case; Bomb Fear Cited") and spread his usual unfounded skepticism of how urgent the terror threat really was.

"The British authorities charged 11 people on Monday in connection with a suspected plot to blow up United States-bound airliners, and said investigators had discovered 'martyrdom videos' and bomb-making materials in a far-reaching search of homes, cars, woodland and other locations."

Cowell downplays the terror threat: "The decision to press formal charges followed days of widening public skepticism about the extent of the suspected plot, first disclosed on Aug. 10, when the police warned that conspirators had planned to commit mass murder on what one officer called an 'unimaginable scale.'....The extent of the charges raised new speculation about the plot, possibly suggesting that it was more limited than indicated by the sweep of the first arrests. Of an initial 24 arrested, only 8 were charged Monday with the most serious offenses."

Cori Dauber snarks: "The 'new speculation' seems pretty much limited to the Times newsroom, as nears as I can tell."

Indeed, the left-wing London Guardian seems to accept the validity of the threat rather more than Cowell.