Crashing the Petition

25 October 2010

I suppose I should say something about the four-day absence of our highly successful e-petition to the Scottish government. The petition was set up by Justice for Megrahi core members Jim Swire, Robert Black, Robert Forrester, Iain McKie, and Pat Keegans, to encourage the Scottish parliament to investigate the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in 2001. It has reached at least 1,440 signatures before grinding into emptiness and "not found." Professor Robert Black's blog has been keeping a running tab:
Scottish Parliament e-petitions website crashed
Lockerbie petition hit by technical glitch
Forty-eight hours on ...
Seventy-two hours on ...
Ninety-six hours on ...
The last points out that "the website's failure has already deprived the petition of twenty per cent of the time allotted for signature." Despite the petition page being down, it can still be "signed" by sending an e-mail (at this page, which still works) with intent to sign (specify e-petition 417), and giving your name and address for verification. It's also been pointed out that thgere is good reason to expect an extension given this episode, but as Black points out, that could hurt one central goal - to have the petition done before the upcoming elections.

Each of the posts above contains lively and evolving dialog about what's going on here.  Conspiracy theories naturally arise among many commentators, naturally I think given the duplicitous handling of this case from the beginning. Others have voiced a more generous interpretation. For example, Robert Forrester (as "Quincey Riddle") said somewhere in there, three days ago, when people were starting to voice suspicions:
JFM deals in verifiable facts only. The facts concerning the current difficulties on the Scottish Parliament Petitions Site are at present:
1 The site crashed in the early hours of 21/10/10.
2 BT is still working on a solution.
[...] Speaking personally, I do not hold with the contention that those whom JFM is confronting on the Lockerbie/Zeist case are attempting to sabotage the petition. There are far more effective methods of dealing with us, also including the tried and tested 'just-ignore-them' tactic. To do something as blatant as this would simply present JFM with yet another weapon to use against them.
That's a darn good point, and considering the known issues with the occoasional ill-managed government site, and how inundated as this one was by signers and viewers, something along these lines should be the obvious default conclusion. But the days dragged on without a fix and, by number, the comments espousing the paranoiac view are predominating.

At the beginning I said only "agreed with all," but that's not fully possible. Technical details of how these things work are past me, but considering conspiracy theories is something I enjoy. You can consider the possible conspirators and their motives. For example, any number of those in power, the intelligence services, and so on, might have an eye to shutting down e-petition 417. Even if it can be gotten back up, many will have forgotten or lost interest by then, and the tally will be hurt.

Then there's the role of possible reverse psychology. By this, sympathetic Scots on the inside - or allies on the "new investigation" side - might have the most interest in faking a cyber-attack to increase its profile and interest. But then considering possible double-reverse psychology, the UK nationalist anti-SNP cabal in MI5, or the CIA, might have done this to both halt the petition AND implicate the SNP in doing it as a false flag operation.

This is all worth pondering to some degree, but in itself will get us nowhere as far as the bigger picture. Some good points are made about the size and totality of this "glitch" and what it might mean. But really, even if it is some nefarious plot, what the hell good is it going to do to anyone? The min problem with it its lack of binding power, not the number of names. But even by that it's doing fine. Forrester continued, helping put this in perspective.
Once the petition comes down on the 28/10/10, we will be able to assess any impact this breakdown may have had. However, given that the JFM petition went online on the 8/10/10 and was around the 1,500 mark at the time of the crash, there are good grounds for concluding that it had already broken existing records for the number of signees over time. [...] the average number of signees per day has been around a steady 100 plus. [...] the phenomenal response to the petition has already made a very significant point, and one which cannot easily be ignored, even if the site remains down right up to the 28/10/10. [...] I believe in sporting circles that could be described as something of 'a result'.
This is in fact a result and even if this is it, it's a possible record, and the knowledge we'd've gotten more yet is clear. Considering the timetable decided, an extension should be denied - ask for an amended note suggesting conservative and liberal estimates of expected signatories, apply 125% of the established fraud rate for good measure, etc... and just let them consider it or not as they will see fit. It's a small chapter of this movement either way, and that's already in the historical record. Good job all.

Let's do what we can to keep the word out there for a few more days, encourage e-mail submissions unless/until the petition is restored. And then come Thursday it'll be time to move on to the next things as we wait and see.  Any evil plot that may lurk here has already failed (unless it's very clever and will unfurl itself in our midst later on...).


Charles said...

But the trouble is that the "just ignore them" tactic is ineffective and I suspect that Black knows that the forces of darkness know that.

Having been subjected to their attentions in ways that Black perfectly well knows about, I can put his attement about the crashing of the website in contaxt.

I'd like everybody to read what Black writes, and then consider that if that rule had been followed over the petition, there would be no petition, for the original investigators and the prosecutors do not accept the premiss of the petition that Magrahi (sic) has suffered a miscarriage of justice.

So what is Black's game?

Patrick Haseldine said...

According to 'The Lockerbie Divide': "Conspiracy theories naturally arise among many commentators, naturally I think given the duplicitous handling of this [Megrahi] case from the beginning."

According to 'Wikipedia': "A conspiracy theory is a term that originally was a neutral descriptor for any claim of civil, criminal, or political conspiracy. However, it has become largely pejorative and used almost exclusively to refer to any fringe theory which explains a historical or current event as the result of a secret plot."

According to 'Justice for Megrahi': Its main objective is to campaign to have the 'Lockerbie bomber' Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction quashed.

Therefore, by definition, all JfM supporters and all signatories of the JfM e-petition must be 'conspiracy theorists'.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum?


Charles said...

How much I agree with Patrick's analysis, but I'd go a tad further than him.

What is a conspiracy theory that is not allowed to be aired (such as a conspiracy between Iran and the US) in the wikipedia, which is the case.

In my opinion, the TRUTH.

Caustic Logic said...

Charles: Having been subjected to their attentions in ways that Black perfectly well knows about...

To be fair, I don't think anyone but you "knows" that "they" have subjected you to anything. You've had some articles pulled at Wikipedia. Boo hoo. And then ...

convoluted nonsense, then So what is Black's game?

In your case, as the only commentator I know of who's been banned from commenting over there, his "game" is running a blog where people can discuss freely without their personal details being revealed and having accusations of undercover intelligence work hurled at them by confused disruptive people.

I'm a tad more lenient here, but don't push me.

Patrick:I didn't intend to double up on naturally, FYI, but since you're quoting it I'll pretend I forgot a comma or something...

I'll copy over my anwer from the other place:

On JFM being CTists by default, I don't think necessarily. We're after a wrongful conviction achieved however - by accident, willful intent, full-frame-up, or some murky middle between these options. I think it's silly to explain such a thing without any conscious conspiracy in there somewhere, and personally I take a very conspiratorial view of the investigation and something akin to it with the trial and conviction.

The petition .. maybe. Luckily we've achieved the goals we have even despite this and I don't feel I need to dig in and and decide and fight and so on.

Fair 'nuff?

Caustic Logic said...

Oh, and may I note what a coincidence that the other comment is from Patrick, as far as I recall the only person aside from Charles directly and scornfully chastised by Prof. Black. One of the few to have posts deleted. It was for about the same thing, wasn't it?

Caustic Logic said...

Oh, and I've decided there's no reason to not enforce the same comment limitation on Charles that I have on Patrick. Please, no spamming of unrelated post comments with your theory. You can discuss it here, no suppression, but at the designated "thread"

Otherwise, you're free to be you and talk about you and the issues at hand, or other issues.

The upside, since the only place you will be able to discuss your theory at the Blogspot is at that post and your own book-page-thing (linked there) you won't need to keep that URL handy as often.

That's your platform. Don't complain, just use it well.