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Monday, April 14, 2008

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Tom

There has not yet been a case where the 28 days has not been enough.

Indeed, there was never been a case where the previous limit of 14 days was not enough. The police just to tend to use what they've got.

Clearly climate change is a far greater security threat. And to portray Britain as being 'at war', as that Rusi report did, or that terrorism is some kind of existential threat to Britain, is just laughable.

Far, far more Britons will be killed by road accidents than by terrorism this or any year.

BlairSupporter

Tom - after I read your retorts to this article, I kept saying - so what's your points?

For example:

"There has not yet been a case where the 28 days has not been enough."

So far. And there was at least one which was VERY close. The technological investigations needed to be checked by police to attain the high standards of evidence required means that working with "what they've got", the Police work round the clock and across forces to manage to complete within 28 days.

What if they fail to get enough evidence to convict because they have run out of time? Do you trust Ms Chakrabarti more than our own police forces? I don't! Do you? But she would probably cheer at such a failed outcome. I wouldn't. Would you?
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"Clearly climate change is a far greater security threat."

Er ... if so, so what? Should we then stop pursuing terrorists who want to destroy democracy as is written in their 'good' book because the climate is more of a threat?
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But I've worked you out. It all comes down to this sentence:

"And to portray Britain as being 'at war', as that Rusi report did, or that terrorism is some kind of existential threat to Britain, is just laughable."

You just DO NOT believe that terrorism is a threat DESPITE the court case going on right now, and despite 7/7 and the 3000 or so cases being pursued.

You are being very foolish, Tom. Or our police are. I repeat, I trust the Police more than Shami C. So should you.
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And what's the point of this:
"Far, far more Britons will be killed by road accidents than by terrorism this or any year."

And far more will be killed by cancer - of some sort or another. We're working on both cancer and road accidents. Are you saying we shouldn't work on terrorism? If not, why not?

Ah - I forgot - because "more more will be killed by road accidents ..."
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WHERE'S MY DADDY? Another sub-text could read:

Under current anti-terror laws you can be locked up and questioned by police for 28 days, without being charged. Imagine spending 28 days away from your home, your family, your life - and then being released without charge because the police had insufficient time to locate the evidence. Then, a few days later, the evidence surfaces in a backpack and blows the poor 'innocent' former detainee and many, many other innocents to kingdom come. Try explaining that to him.

Robert

14 days, 28 days, 40 days, 90 days, locked up until proved innocent, or is that until they proved you guilty.

The fact is if you lock up an innocent man for 14 days 28 days or 90 days which is what Labour are after, he will still be innocent.

With our police your more likely to end up in jail for a life time waiting to be proved either.

But lets be honest somebody could travel to the UK make a bomb blow himself up and nobody else be involved it's so easy, according to Labour, but heck not easy enough to stop building nuclear power stations.

But lets be honest we have more pressing problems of getting rid of the lier's and scare mongers and one eyed one handed bigots from the UK.

Tom

Hmmm.

Blair Supporter. Where to start in response to your rather intemperate post.

Obviously I'm not saying we shouldn't be bothered about terrorism. I'm saying we should not overreact to the risk.

Don't you agree with that?

We may disagree as to what constitutes an overreaction, given the risk.

I could try and outbid you and say, perhaps, let's lock up every Muslim in Britain. This would probably eliminate terrorism. But it would, I hope you would agree, constitute an overreaction.

As for the police - I don't think they are talking with one voice on this. Publicly, recently retired police chiefs Paul Condon and Geoffrey Dear are both against the plan. Hardly liberal lefties, are they?

And senior police chiefs are also reported to be uneasy about the plan, off the record, of course.

But it is hardly surprising some in the police want to extend detention. They are a sectional interest like any other. Any law which makes their job potentially easier they will support. The government has to look at the bigger picture.

I have no doubt there is a lot of good counter-terrorism work being carried out by the police. Such work has rightly done well out of recent budget settlements.

But the police have also displayed incompetence - think of the 'ricin plot'. Or the non-plan to blow up Old Trafford. So of course it is right to be sceptical of police claims.

Stan Rosenthal

Tom, you're still missing the crucial points being made here.

Surely the possibility of a terrorist slipping through the net to commit carnage must be a greater consideration than an innocent person being locked up for 42 days, particularly when the government is proposing so many safeguards to stop this happening.

The fact that 28 days has proved to be sufficient up till now is no argument for 28 days being sufficient in the future. In the same way that bacteria adapt to antibiotics so terrorists are adapting to increased police surveillance by adopting ever more sophisticated techniques to avoid detection. In these circumstances it's almost certain that more time will be needed to suss them out.

As for your somewhat inappropriate comparison with traffic deaths, the death toll from the 7 Airliners plot would ALONE have approached the annual number of fatalities on the our roads. And this was only one of the dozens of plots currently being investigated by the police. So much for the terrorist threat to this country being "laughable"!

Tom

Stan, it's not just one innocent person though is it? This will be a law applicable to anyone, and could be used against anyone.

Is that kind of society we want to live in?

And don't such increasingly draconian laws have the perverse effect of alienating Muslims? Read this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/31/uksecurity.terrorism

Funny you should mention the airline plot. With the caveat that no-one has yet been convicted, the police managed to bring charges under the current rules, didn't they?

Stan Rosenthal

Tom, Muslims are only becoming alienated because people like you insist they are being victimised by this legislation.

If it's Muslims who are mainly at the receiving end of it this is because it is Muslims who are responsible for almost all the atrocities that are now being committed.

In fact moderate Muslims should welcome this legislation since it is aimed at stopping further terrorist mayhem which would very much alienate the non-Muslim population and make their position in this country much worse.

Would anyone else like to chip in?

Sunny

Surely the possibility of a terrorist slipping through the net to commit carnage must be a greater consideration than an innocent person being locked up for 42 days,

This argument is so disingenuous as to be almost breathtakingly bad.

Why the 42 days then? Its not clear by your post when is an acceptable time, since its unlikely but *possible* that even on the 42nd day some potential terrorist could slip through and end up committing an atrocity later. What next? 90 days? Indefinite internment? Why is it the rest of the world has such low figures and the UK so high? Even the US has two days. Are our intelligence services so bad? Or are you discounting the view of the head of the MI5 who himself said he saw no need to extend it past 28 days.

The point is that any democracy needs a balance between ensuring citizens have sufficient liberty and security. As Benjamin Franklin said, any society willing to give up a little liberty in favour of more security deserves neither.

My third point is that you sound quite misinformed on what is being proposed. The govt won't hold anyone longer than 28 days anyway and say they have no plans to normally. In exceptional circumstances, when they feel the security services are being overwhelmed by multiple attacks, then 42 days kick in subject to the govt informing judges that a decision has been taken to extend the pre-charge period.

The sticking point is that there is little transparency over the times when the govt extends from 28 to 42 days, and what is what MPs and judges want - more transparency (a good thing for a democracy, no?).

Liberty and others contend that in case of an emergency with multiple attacks, there is already the Civil Contigencies Act that allows extra-judicial powers to kick in. but that is more transparent than what is being proposed by the govt now.

So I'm afraid the premise on which you base your argument is also flawed.

And lastly, during the pro-Tibet Olympic protests, recently many of the protestors were threatened with anti-terrorism legislation. For what reason? So be careful of the day you go out with your daughter to protest against higher fuel prices and end up in jail for 42 days without explanation. This is NOT an issue just for Muslims, it an issue about the lifeblood of our democracy.

Confused

Has anyone noticed that in other western countries people can be held for months without being charged? The people held in Italy since November (but not charged) for the murder of Meredith Kercher, for example. Why aren't Liberty shouting about this?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7324217.stm

"Three suspects held in Italy over the murder of a British student have lost their last appeals to be freed.

"In Italy's top court, appeals by lawyers for American Amanda Knox, Italian Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Hermann Guede, of Ivory Coast, failed.

"The three have been held since November on suspicion of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, in Perugia.

"All deny involvement in the student's death and have not been charged.

"They are being held at Capanne Prison, near Perugia, and can be detained for up to a year before trial."

Nick

The only logical conclusion to Stan Rosenthal's line of argument is surely to support indefinite detention without charge, i.e. internment. Is that what you'd support, Stan? And if not, why not?

BlairSupporter

Confused, you're right to be so.

Aren't we all? All we hear in this country is the government-damning voices making out that our parliamentary representatives and police are not to be trusted. It's insulting as well as oh so WRONG!

If it's a choice between trusting our own lawmakers and law enforcers or people who have to have the most complete evidence against them before being found guilty, (and even then we can't seem to deport them, as we have to babysit them forever in case their OWN governments hurt them), I know who I trust!

We are constantly told that we hold suspects longer than anywhere else. And, as you point out, it is patently untrue! But the liberal press hardly dares tell us that. Of course if we DO hold people longer than other countries, it may be because we have realised that the multiculturalism we all held in such high esteem IS NOT working. We are the world HQ for Hizb-ut Tahrir, and allegedly, Al Qaeda in Europe. WE have not yet banned HuT. Blair tried. He had to drop the attempt because of such as Liberty and the Human Rights Act.

Disgraceful.

Will Liberty et al be held responsible when the system breaks down as the Home Secretary prophesied the other day? NO. It'll be the government. And people will say they were not tough enough.
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And to Sunny -

You said:

"Surely the possibility of a terrorist slipping through the net to commit carnage must be a greater consideration than an innocent person being locked up for 42 days. This argument is so disingenuous as to be almost breathtakingly bad."

WHY? What is wrong with this argument?

I contest it is YOUR argument that is disingenuous and breathtakingly bad.

Yes, 42 days might be one day too short for the collection of evidence. Jacqui Smith said several inquiries now in the throes went to the 28 days limit, and the cases were getting more complicated with growing & time consuming technological investigations.

And 90 days too might be one day short. Whatever. At least allow the government to make the decisions, without this constant, selfish carping about 'our' rights.

I live in a free land and I have no, repeat NO concerns about my or my family's civil rights.

Those of you who do, can't tell your risk from your opportunity.

Or maybe you can. It's OUR risk, and THEIR opportunity - whoever the suspects are.
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And to Tom - and there is also the risk of under-reaction. You display it clearly here. Did you see Newsnight on Thursday? Did you hear the individual's nonsense on his partner in arms (he who heckled John Reid and has been convicted of incitement)? The presenter was moved to say - "if you hate it so much here, why don't you leave this country".

His answer was an eye/ear/brain opener.

Go and listen if you didn't hear it, at the BBC website. And then tell me our country is safe with these barbarians roaming the streets and infiltrating the mosques.

They, and all who think this is a land lacking in civil rights need to re-consider their position. Their physical position.

As far away from here as possible.

Stan Rosenthal

Nick, you put the following point to me.

"The only logical conclusion to Stan Rosenthal's line of argument is surely to support indefinite detention without charge, i.e. internment. Is that what you'd support, Stan? And if not, why not?"

This is of course one of those tricks of argument that I wrote about in my piece at http://theprogressive.typepad.com/the_progressive/2007/03/the_single_step.html

The idea is to discredit an argument by stretching it to the point of absurdity i.e. I'm supporting indefinite detention.

I am of course supporting nothing of the sort. I just believe that detention should be related to the time needed to build up a case. As terrorist methods of hiding what they're doing become increasingly complex and sophisticated so more time is needed to break through their defences. It's as simple as that. Iain Blair, the police chief, made the same point in his evidence today to the Parliamentary Select Committee.

There could come a time after the next atrocity when the public may demand a much greater detention period without any human rights safeguards but the government may be forestalling such draconian measures by putting through legislation now (in calmer times) which allows for a tougher approach but with exceptional judicial and parliamentary scrutiny.

Nick

Well in that case Stan, the argument surely boils down not to the rather stark images you use in your opening attack, but simply a judgement as to how long is necessary to build up a case (or what other measures will enable you to do so - e.g. changes to the charging system itself, allowing post-charge questioning, use of remand for terrorist suspects, etc).

I think it's possible to disagree on such a judgement without having blood on your hands and all that nonsense. After all, the Director of Public Prosecutions (whose role it is to, erm, build up a case) didn't think 42 days necessary to do so.

As for "absurdity" I'd just say that we have had indefinite detention for terrorist supects in the UK within living memory.

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