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Posts Tagged ‘Terror

So, we cannot buy as many anti-terror measures in Pakistan as we would like.

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It’s just another symptom of a bankrupt government.

What is it with all of the political hand wringing today?

Government ministers and opposition spokesmen and women all seem to be crying crocodile tears over the fact that we cannot get good value for our pounds in Pakistan. Well we can squarely lay the blame for the demise of our national currency at the door of Gordon Brown who has ruined our economy after thirteen years of unfettered spending and borrowing, and we can sneer at the apparent disjointed messages given by Brown and Baroness Kinnock respectively. Glenda bemoans the fact that Foreign Office budgets are under tight restraint, while Gordon says that:

the “crucible of terrorism” on the Afghan-Pakistan border remained the “number one security threat to the West”

Which is all rather odd considering that the Americans regard the UK as posing the worst Al Qaeda led threat in the western world. Perhaps we’d be better off spending what little money we have left on supporting our own Muslim communities in battling the radicalising of their religion, thus preventing large numbers of Britons heading off to Yemen or Somalia (for that is where the top intelligence people believe the most dangerous training camps have emerged recently).

With al-Qaeda’s leadership under intense pressure from Nato and Pakistani security forces, there are reports that scores of British activists are now travelling to Yemen and Somalia to attend al-Qaeda training camps and receive instructions for carrying out terror attacks against Western targets.

“The level of al-Qaeda activity in Britain is becoming a major source of concern,” said a senior State Department official. “The organisation’s ability to use Britain as a base to plot terror attacks constitutes a serious threat to the security of Britain and other Western countries.”

Unfortunately, we saddled ourselves with Tony Blair in 1997 who decided, for reasons still being investigated by Chilcott, to take us into a couple of wars riding along as George Bush’s partner. Blair, without realising, made Britain a target for Islamic fundamentalists by his actions and even threatens the security of the vast majority of decent average moderate British Muslims as they are psychologically profiled and generally demonised by other sections of society. After another of his Acts of Parliament strengthened the “no win no fee conditional arrangements” we find we cannot even freely talk about terror and it’s consequences in this country, freedom of speech has been seriously curtailed under Labour, and in another consequence of T.W.A.T. (The War Against Terror) we find our police forces spending their time fighting against photographers instead of misguided Islamic radicals.

All these damaging consequences arising from the so called War Against Terror are symptoms of a government bankrupt financially, strategically, and morally, they no longer command authority, are totally muddle headed, and have long passed their sell by date.

Problem is our next government is unlikely to change much in the way that we formulate our foreign policies and hang on to the shirt tails of the USA, President Obama has had a year in The White House, a year that he promised would bring “change”, there has been precious little of it, he promised he would end the war in Afghanistan, yet he has decided to do that by sending even more American troops there, and he promised to bring the troops home from Iraq within 16 months, time is fast running out on that one too. He promised to close Guantanamo Bay, yet it is still operating as his deadline looms.

Perhaps, just perhaps, with a more independent foreign policy and with a Prime Minister able to stand up to an American President, we may be able to divert more of our resources internally and not have to worry so much about the threats from abroad. Perhaps, just perhaps, with British involvement in Afghanistan brought to an end, our security at home may be much improved.

We must live in hope.

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Written by curly

January 21, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Jacqui Smith’s dilemna

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Jacqui Smith42 day detention plan should be dropped

It now seems that senior figures in the Metropolitan Police are not quite so eager to fully press for an extension to the current 28 day limit for suspects to be held without charge, this leaves Home Secretary Jacqui Smith facing a dilemna.

Does she press ahead with the plans to increase the limit to 42 days cobbled together with Gordon Brown, and thus provoke a major fight within the Labour Party and with the DPP and civil liberty campaigners, or does she concede in the hope that people will see this as one fight not worth taking on?

A little political expediency should ensure that the plan is dropped like a hot rivet.

With the polls as they are…….

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Written by curly

May 11, 2008 at 10:41 am

Brown’s next U turn

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Concessions over 42 day pre charge limit

Gordon Brown has little real concept of what is good for the country because his mind is too pre-occupied by what is good for him and his government – in a nutshell he will do anything to retain power.

Hence, the growing suspicions about possible concessions in the fifth anti-terrorism Bill since 2000, Brown and Jacqui Smith appear to have conjured up a form of legislation which they hope will placate members of the Parliamentary Labour Party and involve bail and electronic tagging after 28 days. Having headed off Labour rebels who threatened to defeat the Finance Bill over the 10p tax rate it seems incredible that Smith and Brown can somehow offer backdating of your life if we happen to detain you for longer than 28 days without a charge

Either “charge or release” says Shami Chakrabarti, and don’t put “reserve powers” into the hands of the DPP, a Chief Constable, and the Home Secretary, because if you do, any decisions they make about exceptional circumstances will soon be seen as a precedent by some judges and illegal by others, seeing as the decisions were not voted upon by Parliament. This clause is not something that is worth losing a fight over Mr. Brown, for the sake of national unity, and to improve the chances of intelligence gathering among minority communities, and improving the success rate of police recruitment in these communities, you must drop the notion altogether!

We already have a period of pre-charge detention which is longer than that in the majority of western liberal democracies, we really have no need for an extension, and the DPP has already confirmed this and many parliamentarians of all colours are deeply disturbed by the prospects of building the apparatus of a police state. Let it go!

Wise sage Simon Jenkins argues that the raft of anti-terror measures recently taken on board are having the effect of killing the British justice system, and that only a handful of judges are protecting our centuries old liberties from an executive determined to chip them away bit by bit in the poorly (but aptly) named TWAT – The War Against Terror. His article outlines some the more bizarre and ridiculous cases which have come before British courts in recent years

Every prediction that Britain’s burgeoning terrorism laws would pollute justice is vindicated by these cases. The concept of preemptive imprisonment, like that of preemptive war, should have no place in an open society. Yet it tallies with revelations last week that ministers, who claim to be in control of security, no longer regard lawyer/client relations as sacred and that prison interviews are routinely bugged by the police. Officers who object, such as the whistleblower Mark Kearney, can expect to lose their jobs. The authorities now have extraordinary powers to arrest and convict Britons on evidence that may be tainted by American interrogation techniques or by the sheer ignorance of the police and security services.

It is to this secret establishment that Smith wants to give discretionary power to incarcerate suspects without charge for an undecided number of months. It is this establishment that is still determined not to reveal the extent of its wiretap activities in court. It is this that has equipped Britain with the most extensive network of surveillance in the free world. It is this that intends to computerise the personal, occupational, medical and family records of the entire nation, on bases that everyone knows will be insecure.

It is time that we stood back and took a calm and collected look at what is perceived to be “the threat” that Brown, and Blair before him told us we needed protecting against. Whatever it is, it can be nowhere near as great as the the threat we faced in 1939 with millions of heavily armed German forces facing us across the English Channel, yet Parliament, even then, was reluctant to introduce internment (for the safety of those who were on the wrong side of the ideological fence) and certainly did not introduce laws that removed the requirement to bring a criminal charge within a reasonable time. Neither in the 1970’s and 80’s did we need such draconian liberty threatening methods to deal with the bombers from Ireland, yet their threat was there, and probably in larger measures than we have seen since 9/11 in this country.

No serious person can imagine a Britain conquered and ruled by fundamentalist Islam. It is pure fiction. Any fanatic can set off bombs, as once could the Irish. The cult of the suicide bomber enhances the menace of explosive devices and that requires more assiduous policing. But such few bombs as get through are the price we pay for a free society. Democracy is never a free lunch.

Yet Blair and Brown keep repeating the mantra that we should not allow the “threat” to destroy British values and democracy, perhaps that’s why the government is taking away the choice and doing it for them? Using legislations that destroys centuries of liberties for the sake of an ill defined “threat”.

A final word from Mr. Jenkins, with whom I am in almost complete agreement;

But none of this justifies collapsing the values of justice and fairness on which British law has long been based. The paradox, espoused by the present government and mostly unchallenged by the opposition, that defending values requires infringing them, is unjustified. That habeas corpus must be restricted, that mens rea must be suspended, that reading and talking and thinking can be crimes, all are ideas so abhorrent to British people that one might imagine them the product of an Al-Qaeda plot inside the Home Office.

This week the only conclusion I can reach is one I would never have predicted. Thank goodness for judges with the guts to save British values from the present crop of British politicians.

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Written by curly

April 27, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Crime, Labour, Law, liberty, News, politics

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42 day limit slammed!

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DPP can manage prosecutions within 28 days

If the DPP, Sir Kenneth MacDonald can manage “quite comfortably” , then why are Sir Ian Blair and Jacqui Smith insisting that we need to increase the period of detention without charge from 28 to 42 days?

Why do Gordon Brown and the Home Secretary wish to risk their parliamentary majority on a plan that will go a long way to destroying the concept of habeus corpus and attack civil liberties in a way which no government has done since the introduction of internment in Northern Ireland so many years ago? Even the former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith is now speaking out against the government’s plan saying it would be seen as another attack on the muslim community. We managed to get through a long period of “terror” instigated by the Irish without the necessity for such ridiculous changes to our long held traditions of fairness under the law, nor did this create an anti-Irish fervour amongst our communities. There are great dangers in increasing detention without charge to 42 days, it will alienated sections of our communities and make the job of police and intelligence agencies more difficult, it is grossly illiberal and if used would virtually undermine the presumption of innocence. If a person is to be arrested and held, then they need to be charged and to know the extent of the accusations against them in order to produce a defence. The removal of this right will create a tool far too powerful to be left to the trust of future governments or police forces in the UK.

Sir Kenneth MacDonald has revealed that over the past three years only three suspects had been held for longer than 14 days without charge (but less than the 28 day limit), and that none had been held for longer than 14 days in the past nine months.

Our MP in South Shields, David Miliband will not be one of those opposing the government’s aim of increasing the powers of the police and the overbearing hand of the state, he has a track record of “blind faith” and never voting against the government. Therfore I call upon our neighbouring MP for Jarrow, Stephen Hepburn, to stand up for the civil liberies of the small man, to speak out for the British legal system and our rights to know the accusations and charges to be laid against us. I urge him to join fellow members of the Labour Party in the House of Commons who are prepared to restrict the amount of power that the executive wishes to take for itself.

The opinions that are now being formed can be summed up as “it ain’t broken, so don’t try to fix it!”

Here’s a hypothetical scenario (which isn’t all that far fetched)

You are a young man living in South Shields, of the Islamic faith, and have recently started in a good steady job in a Newcastle office, and you have a healthy interest in current affairs, are net “savvy” but happen to come across a website that is being monitored by security services. You also look at a few message boards and forums that promote understanding of the Quoran and one morning at about 04:00 armed police surround your house and take you away “to help them with their enquiries”. Forensic teams take away your pc, related hardware and all of your digital storage devices, your house is searched down to the most minute levels, floorboards are lifted and the plaster is stripped away from the walls, when they are finished your home is no longer inhabitable.

They don’t find what they are looking for yet all the while you are held in Frankland prison for up to 42 days without a charge being put against you. Your legal representative has little chance of building any sort of defence yet, and eventually you are released without charge with an apology.

Where will you now live, will your employer have kept your job open for you, will your family be angry at your treatment?

Remember, a future government may cede even more powers to the police and the current “dangers of the day” may not have anything to do with terror or misconceived notions about religious faith, the dangers would be able to be visited upon anyone! This government of Gordon Brown’s is about to create the conditions that we must all be afraid of.

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Written by curly

April 23, 2008 at 10:45 am

Data sharing

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cctvRoadside cctv cameras to send data to USA!

Can we possibly trust the words of politicians when anything that they tell us is “private and confidential” ends up in someone else’s hands?

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (who cannot trust herself to walk the streets of her own constituency) has been one of those telling us not to worry about the number and level of CCTV cameras, not to worry about the amount of private and personal data that this Labour government routinely collects from us, not to worry about changing the pattern to our lives in the face of terrorist threats – yet now it has been revealed that roadside CCTV cameras are using datamining techniques to send our most personal and private information to the USA!

Worse still, she hides her permission for this act in a “special certificate” which was not mentioned to Parliament!

“The certificate relates to the processing of the images taken by the camera, personal data derived from the images, including vehicle registration mark, date, time and camera location.”

Civil liberties campaigners said they were appalled that images of innocent people’s journeys could end up in the hands of the British police, let alone foreign investigators.

Ostensibly the reasons for this are as a safeguard against terrorism, well I’m sick and tired of hearing this argument, useful as it may be to the CIA and other agencies, they should be responsible for gathering their own intelligence, and our government ought to be responsible for ensuring that our ways of life do not buckle or change in the face of a terrorist threat. Apparently that’s the line that Tony Blair kept putting out after 9/11 and the London Tube bombings. Unfortunately this government has a very poor track record when it comes to safeguarding our personal data, their robust safeguards just don’t seem to work, secure https servers and ssl just don’t have any use at all when they are in the habit of putting discs in brown envelopes!

Makes you wonder how many civil servants carry a usb flash memory device, doesn’t it? Then who do you think looks after your data when it gets to the other side of the pond?

I know to my own cost that CCTV cameras are capable of reading vehicle registration plates in South Shields too – hmmmm……

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Written by curly

April 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Posted in I.T., liberty, motoring, News, politics, privacy

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