Spread the word – especially if you live in the UK. If you live elsewhere see if there are similar protests in your country. Visit Photographer Not a Terrorist.org to find out more.
It seems that some members of the government are not happy that legislation to allow innocent people to be sentenced to 42 days in jail failed. From the BBC:
[Security Minister Lord West] told peers that while some measures had been taken over the past 15 months to make Britain safer “this does not, I’m afraid, mean we are safe”.
he said: “The threat is huge. The threat dipped slightly and is now rising again with the context of ‘severe’, large complex plots, because we unravelled one the damage it caused to al-Qaeda actually faded slightly.
“They are now building up again. There is another great plot building up again and we are monitoring this.”
Now, I am not fully sure what Lord West’s point in all this was, other than he is a supporter (albeit in strange circumstances) of the 42 day internment detention plans.
With this in mind, it seems that Lord West is trying the age old trick of making people worried about a nebulous threat with the hope it will cloud their judgement. For this to work, you need to whip people up into a panic, then explain that “doing nothing” is bad so doing anything has to be good. (Sounds familiar)
As is often the case, this is massively flawed.
For longer than I have been alive the UK has been under threat of a “huge, complex” terrorist plot. Since we became weak and frightened (and the terrorists stopped looking like “one of us”) there has been huge spending on the security services along with a massive increase in technical and legislative procedures to surveil and control the public. All of this has been done on the premise that it would reduce the threat from terrorists.
Despite this, we are constantly told by the government that the threat is as bad as ever with what appears to be a steady state 200 terrorist networks operating in the country. Often (such as now) we are told the threat is increasing. The “Terrorist Threat Level” in the UK has been at Severe for around five years now with no signs it will drop.
Nothing we have done has reduced the threat from terrorist attacks. Nothing we have done has reduced the number of terrorist networks. Even when the terrorists kill themselves (such as at Glasgow) the numbers remain the same. Nothing has changed for the better (*), in fact the more laws we enact the more we hear “DANGER, DANGER” and the more we are urged for more sweeping legislation.
When will we learn – it is not working. Doing more of it wont magically make it work.
If the huge anti-terrorist effort since 7/7 has made no perceptible dent in the terrorist threat, it really is time to find a different way.
However, as it seems the security minister (et al) are more interested in telling the House of Lords and the House of Commons the sky is about to fall on our heads, it is unlikely they have the time to think of a way to be successful. Instead, it seems they would rather pander to the readership of the Daily Mail and be seen to be “tough on terrorism.” The fact it is having no effect is, basically, irrelevant….
* I am aware the security organisations may be working in the background to prevent attacks and destroy terrorist cells – that is what they are there for after all. However, if they are being successful, why hasnt the threat level changed and why aren’t we hearing that it is (even a little bit) safer today than it was yesterday?
(hat tip: DarkfireTaimatsu on FSTDT)
Other than being a bit to soft on fundies at the end, this seems pretty reasonable to me.
We, the photographers of the world, are at risk. More and more we are viewed with suspicion, more and more we are subject to illegal interpretations of new anti-terrorism laws, more and more are we stopped and our cameras, our film, our digital media are either confiscated or wiped by officials unaware of the real laws. More and more are we bullied, more and more are we treated with disrespect and fear.
This needs to stop.
This group is to organize a protest.
This protest will involve attempting to get *every* member of flickr to refrain from uploading *any photographs* on a specific day.
This day will be Monday, December 15th 2008.
Join the group, put it in your diaries, tell your friends, discuss in the group, tell people you know in the media, come together.
Come together before it’s illegal to use a camera in a public place.
Now, I am not yet convinced of the value this action will take, but I rarely see the point in “awareness raising” activities so that is not unusual. However, the group does address something I have begun to become interested in (which is why I have “raised awareness” of it through the medium of blog).
Added to this, it (worryingly) seems there are many groups of people who have had problems in one way or another because of their interest in photography:
Representative or not, it is a sorry state of affairs if people in the “free” civilized societies in the west can not carry out a harmless pastime that has been enjoyed for a hundred years. Wont life be better when we carry our papers round, are stopped at random by non-Police Security / Border Guards, are monitored 24/7, have all our emails sifted through by civil servants, be imprisoned for drawings …
Welcome to the New World Order.
If you hadn’t already noticed, I am a keen hobbyist photographer. I love going out with my family and taking pictures of everything around me. This is pretty harmless and it gives us nice pictures to hang on the walls or foist off on relatives in place of Christmas and Birthday presents. As a pastime, there could be much worse.
Being interested in photography, I always considered myself lucky that I was born in a democracy where people are basically free to indulge in their hobbies and predominantly interested in landscape photography where you dont have to ask someone to smile.
It seems, however, I was actually quite wrong and it is only my tendency for landscape shots that keeps me on the right side of the law. Despite our “evil freedoms” being abhorrent to the nutcases like Usama Bin Laden, we actually have a lot less than you would think. Actually, that isn’t true (yet) but I will come back to this.
Two news items from this weeks Amateur Photographer magazine give pause for thought about our “rights” and freedoms. The first is a worrying incident in the land of the free:
A TV crew filming a story about photographers being harassed at a US railway station were stopped by security and told to switch off their cameras. (…) Tom Fitzgerald, a reporter for Fox 5 television, was interviewing the chief spokesman for rail operator Amtrak when a security guard ordered the crew to stop filming. Ironically, the spokesman had apparently just confirmed to the reporter that photography was, in fact, allowed.
It continues to mention that this is not an isolated incident (flickr discussion) and the madness that “moves are afoot to introduce draft legislation designed to protect the rights of photographers to take pictures.”
It is doubly ironic that they tried to put paid to the film crew filming the company spokesman saying filming was allowed. What better example of corporate non-communication could there be?
The Amtrak Goons are insane, but are not alone. We have a similar problem in the UK:
Olympics 2012 bosses have apologised to photographers who complained about heavy-handed treatment by security guards at the East London construction site. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) came under fire after two amateur photographers complained following a confrontation outside the site on 3 May. Louis Berk and Steve Kessel say they were left feeling intimidated after guards demanded to see their identification. ODA spokeswoman Laura Voyle said the guards approached the photographers ‘to investigate a report that they had been seen within the Olympic Park boundary’. However, the pair insisted they had been on a ‘public pavement’ and had not ventured onto the Olympic site itself. (…) And [Olympics Security Manager] promised to conduct a ‘review of instructions on how they will deal with issues relating to photography’. (…) However, [Louis Berk] does not feel reassured, telling us: ‘What concerns me is that I still don’t know if the ODA realises that suspicion of taking photographs of their property from a ‘public place’ is not a cause for intervention by the guard force.’
There is more madness around the 2012 London Olympics but this highlights the current problem.
In a nutshell, both instances were the result of private Security Guards not being aware of the rules regarding their location. This is down to poor education by their employer. In the UK you can photograph almost anything (some locations are exempt under the 1911 Official Secrets Act) from a public place. If you can see it, you can photograph it. Kind of makes sense really. It is different if you are on private property, but 90% of the time the property owner will give permission. Again, it makes sense. I can only assume the law is similar in America.
What is worrying is that both instances show people have a default setting of STOPPING photography. I will be charitable and say neither organisation put out instructions to annoy members of the public (including tax payers who paid for the bloody Olympic-farce) so the security guards must have assumed the camera was a security threat. Over the last few months there have been lots of occasions where over zealous guardians have taken offence at people trying to take photographs, even in (weirdly) popular tourist destinations like Trafalgar Square. I have read claims that people were questioned because they could be “terrorists doing reconnaissance” (with an overt camera and tripod – good job Johnny Foreigner isn’t clever enough to use a mobile phone camera…) or other equally spurious risks (there were children present etc..).
The problem is, these fears (and certainly this one in particular) are nonsense. Bruce Schneier, BT’s chief security technology officer, recently wrote an excellent article for the Guardian where he dismisses most of these fears. The article is really, really worth reading even if you aren’t a photographer – there are many more “freedoms” at risk from our apathetic approach to them and “terrorism.” Schneier has an interesting theory that this madness where we fear long-lens cameras is because it is a “Movie Plot Threat.” Also worth reading.
Sadly, it may well be too little, too late for our society. We fear that the evil Islamic terrorists will destroy our culture, so to “beat” them we destroy it ourselves. Well done us.
Well, sadly, the craven government of the United Kingdom has surrendered to terrorism and taken yet another step in dismantling the fundamental liberties we have enjoyed for centuries. A basic principle enshrined in Medieval law was that the State should not deprive a person of their liberty without a trial. In practice this amounted to about 24 hours between detention and charging. In my lifetime this has increased to four weeks and now looks set to become six weeks.
Well done Terrorists.
If you are able, please try to find a clip of the BBC News 24 interview with Tony Benn. What ever your opinions on the man as a politician may be (for example, mine aren’t great), he pretty much summarises what people should be feeling about this travesty of justice.
Sadly, people don’t seem to be feeling this. If the statistics are to be believed 65% of the UK population supports 42 days detention of innocent people (which means the pop-survey I carried out at work this morning massively fails to reflect the UK population). I can only assume they all think the detainees will be some one else so the thought of suffering is alien to them. Even more worryingly, listening to the BBC Radio 1 street interviews in the run up to the vote showed me that 65% of the population do support it – but that is because they are beyond stupid.
One person who called in said 42 wasn’t enough and people should be detained “until they can prove they are not guilty.” Oh sweet Thor. Another said “there is no smoke without fire.” Lots of it was about putting the needs of the many over the needs of the few. Yes, I did just want to cry but I was driving at the time.
It seems we are reaping the rewards of a generation of bad teaching, dishonest politicians, media dominance and uncontrolled spin. People are no longer equipped to see when they are being led down the garden path and a total lack of civic understanding means that when they do suspect it, they no longer care.
If I could find a suitable country, I’d emigrate.
The governments plans for 42 days detention of innocent people is unpopular and the government knows this. Unsurprisingly the opposition are currying public favour and seem set against the plans, but a few Conservatives remain true to their party’s ideas. Extended detention seems a very “Tory” policy so it is strange that the Labour party are trying to implement it and the Conservatives are against it but, I suppose, that is 21st century politics – no party has a policy any more they just want to get votes by any means…
Anyway, the irritating Ann Widdecombe seems willing to stick by her “Ideal” rather than curry public favour and she is going to vote for the inhumane six week imprisonment (with altered access to legal counsel as well) of innocent people. (Do I sound biased? I hope so).
Still, Widdecombe is not so principled that she can actually be honest with the public and, like most supporters of this madness, she wraps it up in false promises and an empty hope:
Widdecombe said that plans to extend the time terror suspects could be detained from 28 to 42 days would be acceptable if there was a “sunset” clause requiring the legislation to be renewed by MPs each year.
“My reasoning is very simple indeed: it’s that if we have a state of emergency then the government should be able to ask parliament for emergency powers, as we did for example over Northern Ireland … providing that the legislation does not remain on the statute books indefinitely until somebody gets around to repealing it,” she told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.
This infuriates me. The idea that a “sunset clause” would do anything other than give MPs something to vote on every 12 months is madness. If this shocking law makes it onto the statute books it will remain indefinitely.
If we are, as some mad people claim, in a “state of emergency,” how will we get out of it? Seriously?
Al Qaeda is not an organised terrorist group in the manner of the IRA so there will be no Good Friday Agreement. They are not a nation like Iraq/Iran so there will be no invasion then “end of combat operations” (however spurious a claim). Even if Osama Bin Laden surrenders or calls for peace, how will this affect the countless (or 200 if you believe the PM) other terrorist networks?
Our state of emergency, if one indeed exists, is permanent. The whole meaningless-ness of “War on Terror” means it falls into that never ending list of “wars” we fight since we became a peaceful nation. War on Crime, Drugs, Obesity, none will end. None can end until everyone is dead. Bringing specific “war-time” legislation on the basis of this is genuine, evil, madness.
More worryingly, go back to Widdecombe’s example. The government did, indeed, bring in special emergency powers as a result of the IRA bombing campaigns. Policemen in NI were allowed to carry weapons. Civil liberties were curtailed because of the conflict.
The conflict in NI is now officially over. The IRA / Sinn Fein want peace. The government says there is peace there now and Operation Banner is now over. However all the emergency legislation remains – in lots of cases it has got much, much stronger. The original 1974 reason for bringing in 7 days detention for terrorist suspects was the “difficulty” In prosecuting the IRA. This caused public outrage and was described as an “emergency measure” to offset the massive success the IRA were having – ten times as many died at their hands each year in the 1970s as have been killed by Islamic Terrorists in the UK, ever. It is also implicated in several wrongful prosecutions (eg Guilford Four). It seems the end of the state of emergency which allowed for 7 days detention has simply resulted in it increasing six fold.
The recent ordeal of the student who was detained for only a fraction of this time highlights how this is not something a civilised nation should ever do to its population. If I was detained for 6 weeks without charge I would certainly be close to confessing to things I have never done. Likewise, when I was released I would certainly hold a monumental grudge against the state that instituted such acts.
Another thing which really concerns me about this is: The politicians in support of this law, and the media, seem to carry the basic assumption that the person is guilty. The talk is about detaining the person while they gather enough evidence for a successful prosecution. No mention is made of the fact this person is innocent. No mention is made that an innocent person has been put in jail while the police look for evidence of guilt. We have actually gone to the stage of allowing the police to decide guilt on our behalf. Wonderful.
It is a good job we can trust the state to never make mistakes, never falsify claims and all public servants are so well behaved no one will ever misuse these powers. It is a good job because the state is certainly not answerable to the public in the Wonderful Britain of 1984 2008.
I suppose, if people were allowed to sue the government if they were detained for 42 days then not found guilty (or not charged) it would be a bit more reasonable. But, basically, you will spend six weeks at Her Majesty’s Pleasure what ever the outcome.
That can never be right.
It was a scenario that would have seemed like overkill in an Eastern European border post at the height of the Cold War. At least a dozen uniformed British Transport Police with dogs and backup vehicles in the average-sized mainline trainstation of an insignificant UK provincial city, at tea-time on a Sunday evening.
Doing stop and searches, apparently based on the hunches of the afore-mentioned sniffer dogs. Which apparently were experts in the fine old canine arts of sniffing out “drugs” or people who “look a bit
I listened to one father challenging a Transport policewoman about the fact that his teenage son’s details – name, address, date of birth, etc – had been collected to go in a database. …. Despite a search of all the lad’s pockets, socks and so on, not having turned up an aspirin, a knife, a gun or a handy pocket-sized stick of semtex.
The father pointed out that any other time the lad is stopped, the information that pops up will record him as the subject of a drugs/weapons/terror search. Thus setting him off on a path that leads to an identification as somehow having warranted this suspicion.
The policewoman said words to the effect that it was just tough. That’s just the way things are. And no, there was nothing he could do about it. The database entry stands. All the details collected from such stops go into the database of information on – well – close to everybody that they can get information from .
Blimey, I didn’t even realise that British Transport Police had rights of random stop and search. Let alone rights to gather information on people’s names addresses and travel plans. Oh, yes, RIPA. D’oh. It’s probably only an oversight that they didn’t demand DNA.
I am so innocent. Who would have thought that a teenager buying a train ticket, with his parents, could probably be an international drug dealer or a suicide bomber? Well, better to be safe than sorry. Silly me.
A huge policeman came to physically back up the policewoman, in case the father might actually raise his voice, cuss or commit some other subversive act.
At this point, I could see a potential for nothing good to come of it for anyone who wasn’t in uniform, so I sidled off in a cowardly manner…….
The title is quoted from the Register, in a post entitled “UK ID card service mounts birth, marriage, death landgrab” (The clue is in the title. )
The UK Identity & Passport Service (IPS) has staged an identity landgrab on birth, marriage and death records. From April 2008 the General Register Office, which is responsible for recording these matters and is currently a directorate of the Office of National Statistics, is to become part of IPS, meaning that IPS will be logging you from the moment you’re born until the moment you die.
Not only is the previously respected General Register office about to disappear into the gaping maw of the Orwellian Identity ministry, but its data will now feed
into the somewhat more chilling notion of of a continually updated life record. So was that Web 2.0, or just Stasi?
Considering the new owners, it’s now pretty clear which it is. (The Register, 11th October 2007)
Today, the Treasury announced its plan for cutting out all “avoidable contact” between the public and government services. Partly this consists of shutting down government websites and merging their information into one uber-website for citizens and one for businesses. It also involves minimising the chances that you might get to speak to a human being in the dole office or tax office. It’s supposed to be based on “customer journey mapping” which is supposed to be so successful in the private sector.
I assume that the government ministers and senior civil servants have other people to do their shopping for them. Otherwise they might know what a “customer journey” is like in the real world. There are few activities more infuriating than trying to get an answer to a nonstandard question from a phone-line that tells you how important your call is. Unless you count a call-centre operator with a preset script and limited understanding of any regional accent. Or a website that throws away all the details you have laboriously typed in after hours of searching through pages that were delivered over the Internet at a speed that would embarrass a partly squashed slug.
What does this whole new world of applying customer service principles mean for the UK citizen then? Well basically, yes, you’ve guessed it, extending their data sharing between departments. More ID.
Making better use of the customer information the public sector already holds. The types of transformation covered by this Agreement will simply not be possible unless the public sector can establish the identity of the customer it is dealing with simply and with certainty, and be able to pass relevant information between different parts of government. (The Treasury paper, 11th October 2007)
Page 19 of the Treasury document says
MAKING BETTER USE OF THE CUSTOMER INFORMATION THE PUBLIC SECTOR ALREADY HOLDS
3.34 This is a highly complex challenge which will not be entirely solved within the CSR07 period. The public sector can, however, make progress:
â€¢ at a strategic level; with the work being lead by the Home Office (on identity management) and by the Ministry of Justice (on information sharing). …
â€¢ at a tactical level by tackling these issues within the context of specific projects, most importantly â€œTell Us Onceâ€. ….. In addition to â€œTell Us Onceâ€ the Government will also sponsor and facilitate other specific projects including the Free School Meals pilot which is already
This is all boring stuff. The social consequences of applying mad business models to delivering public services makes your eyes start to droop. I know. I feel just the same.
The writers know that peppering documents with enough empty phrases like “the context of specific projects” and “strategic” and “tactical” and “facilitate pilots” will switch us off. This stops us seeing the content.
The No2ID campaign makes the same point as the Register, mentioning “Stasi files. ”
In your face, bungling amateurs in the Stasi. The UK government can teach you a thing or two.
The tragedy of missing Madeleine McCann seems no closer to ending than it did three months ago. During this time the media personification of the parents has alternated between saint and sinner – sometimes seemingly at random. For the most of it, in Portugal, the McCann parents have been looked at as (at best) negligent parents while (again, for most of the time) in the UK the middle class, white, professional, religious status of the parents has ensured they have been seen as saints who are undergoing a terrible ordeal. This changed recently, when for a short period the tabloids smelt more blood and in the wonderful manner of the press changed allegiances, barely stopping short of calling for their execution (mentioned previously). Given the natural order of the universe, the “truth” probably lies somewhere between the two extremes and I certainly have my own personal opinion. I should stress at this stage that my opinion is based on nothing other than gut feeling and the information made available by the press, so I have no intention of going into detail about it.
Before I go on, I would also like to point out that one of the main search terms which is driving traffic here recently is a variation on the words “Kate McCann Guilty Violent Murderer.” Given that this is generating a LOT of traffic, I can only guess at public opinion on the matter.
I digress. Risking eternal disfavour by the Great Antero Vipunen, I actually read the Sun newspaper today. I know. I am sorry. I will try not to do it again. In it, good old Archbishop John Sentamu writes a piece titled: We Must Have Faith For Maddie
Despite the overt religious tones in which the the piece is written, this is a largely secular humanist bit of writing with the basic theme being that the presumption of innocence is the bedrock of the legal system. For example, he relates this parable:
In 359AD a trial took place where a local governor, Numerius of Narbonne, was accused of raiding his own coffers. There was little proof but that didnâ€™t stop the whispers and accusations. Still, the prosecutor was convinced the governor was guilty and said as much to the judge, the Roman Emperor Julian. At his trial, the governor denied the charges and the case was due to be dismissed.
The prosecutor was furious: â€œOh, illustrious Caesar,â€ he raged, â€œIf it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?â€ Emperor Julianâ€™s response has been repeated in countless trials for the past 1600 years: â€œIf it suffices to accuse, what then will become of the innocent?â€
And, for once, I find my self in total agreement with the Archbishop of York. Scary.
Sadly, despite the valid comments the Archbish makes and the fact the Sun newspaper of all papers prints it, there are a few things which still make me uncomfortable about it. I agree whole heartedly that as a society we should reinforce the automatic presumption of innocence.
Now, with this in mind, have a flick through the Sun news paper (or any media output over the last, say, day) and see how many examples there are where a person accused of a crime is assumed to be guilty. It is a regular occurrence. Take poor Robert Murat for example – due to his past he was largely assumed to be guilty of anything people wanted to accuse him of. He had no support from the various churches, he had no support from rich idiots. He had to defend himself against the court of public opinion.
Not so for the McCann parents. The cynic in me is screaming this is entirely down to their perceived image as “successful” white professionals – anything which implies this part of our society can harbour evil seems to damage the national psyche. In the same edition of the Sun which calls for the return of innocent until proven guilty, OJ Simpson is pretty much called a murderer several times. Is this hypocrisy?
Anyway, enough ranting about this obvious state of the world. Dr Sentamu concludes his article with something that produced mixed emotions:
Our focus must again be upon the love of the parents for their lost daughter, for their hope that they may one day be reunited with her and for their faith that she is still alive.
These must be our watchwords â€” faith, hope and love. For as St Paul once wrote, in the end it is these three which remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Wonderful words, and I too hope she is alive and unharmed. The adult in me is aware that this hope is pretty much doomed to be dashed against the rocks of reality, but I would like it to be so.
Sadly, and again this is cynic in me now, the plight of poor Maddie has shown that despite all the prayer in the world (and the wishes of his representative on Earth, the Pope), the Christian deity will not intervene to save even one life, nor will s/he take action to return a lost child to an apparently grieving family. From this I can only draw one of three conclusions:
- God exists but is evil or totally uninterested in the human race, with no intention to get involved in any of our affairs.
- God hates Christians.
- There is no God.
It is up to you which option you go for, but I know which one I think is true…
[tags]McCann, Madeleine, Kate, Kate McCann, Maddie McCann, Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Society, Law, Rights, Liberties, Philosophy, Robert Murat, Gerry McCann, The Sun, Tabloids, Media, UK, Culture, Civil Rights, Trial, Crime, Murder, Dr John Sentamu, Church of England, Catholics, CofE, Roman Catholic, Pope, Portugal, Police, Atheism, Humanism, Faith, Hope[/tags]
Some people get all the luck and manage to cultivate their own crop of fundamentally hatstand commenters. I was reading the generally excellent Effect Measure blog over on scienceblogs today and I came across a post titled “Osama visits Bush in Oz, says it’s all a misunderstanding.” It is well worth a read but I know how you all like to stay here so I will summarise it.
Basically, the President of the US was on a visit to Australia. As you can imagine this resulted in all manner of high security perimeters being established and all manner of security guards employed to keep bad people away. A bunch of Australian comedians mocked up a Canadian diplomatic convoy, with one of their number dressed as Usma Bin Laden and made it through the outer perimeter – getting to the door of the hotel the President was staying in. It is only when the comedians pretty much out themselves that the police jump them and arrest everyone who moves.
All in all, this is mildly amusing – on a par with any other one of the stunt-comedy shows on TV at the moment. Still comical, but with a more serious twist, this shows that the vast sums of money (apparently $A165 million) spent on “security” are actually pointless. Yes these were comedians, but they did nothing a terrorist group couldn’t do and being able to drive a limo to the ground floor of a hotel is a good way of delivering several hundred pounds of explosive. (Brighton and the Hotel Europa provide UK based examples of hotels being hit). On this blog we have often ranted about the costs that the illusion of security are incurring and this is highlighted by these events. Every day we are being asked to sacrifice liberty, time and money for “security” measures which, in reality, are empty gestures.
Anyway, this is a side issue now. As always, the comments have gems. It seems that Effect Measure has a dedicated commenter who is so convinced about the inherent “rightness” of his beliefs that he will keep posting, no matter how incoherent or illogical the posts have become. This is some one who KNOWS they are right. Scary stuff. Why do we never get nutters like this commenting here?
The commenter in question here goes by the name “M Randolph Kruger” (which is strangely apt) and the first comment made opens with this line:
I likely would have just shot them and then said, “Its just a misunderstanding.”
And just think, people wonder why Americans kill so many people who are non-combatants or allied troops. It seems there is a significant proportion of the population there with a “shoot first so there is no need for questions” mentality. Wonderful, isn’t it? M Randolph Kruger continues:
I wonder of the Canucks think it was funny too?
Probably. Most Canadians I have met actually know what a sense of humour is.
In 1979 Revere while I was in San Antonio the base was locked down because of a credible threat against the airmen at the base. Along about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I think it was the first week of August a car carrying some long haired anti establishment types charged the gate. A stop sign went up, they accelerated. Warning shots were fired, they accelerated more, then they opened fire on the SP’s. Bad move. 30 seconds later the assailants were all dead. Over 1000 rounds were fired and the engine was shattered. So in todays world, especially at our embassies and restricted areas to shoot or not to shoot is the question. Screw it. Shoot them all and let God sort them out.
Now, I can only assume this is largely bravado rather than a real boast. Any modern, first world military which needs to expend over 1000 rounds of ammunition to stop one vehicle has many, many problems. As an example, Lee Clegg managed to do it with four rounds and also managed to kill the occupants. Are American service personnel really that badly trained? More importantly this smacks of a military which has lost its purpose in life. The armed forces are not there to protect themselves from the people, but to protect the people from external threats. Was the base so badly defended with physical security measures (ever heard of barriers and gates?) that the vehicle could not be stopped without such firepower and loss of life? Still, I suppose the sign of a healthy democracy is that people need to be scared of the men in uniform, carrying guns…
These guys think this is funny. Okay, hows this? Say Osama bin a Bomba or one of his cronies made it thru and to the proximity of the PM and the Prez and got them both. That makes Dick Cheney President of the United States. Feel better now?
Wow. Prime example of how the angry rightwingers nearly always miss the point by such a degree they end up arguing with themselves. This is brilliant. The whole funny part of the stunt was the apparent ease with which the security was circumvented. Still, it just shows that deep down the ranting-right want to agree with the people they despise…
My point? This is classic treat a war like its a police action stuff. This leaves the point of good sense and fun at the first checkpoint. They could have been killed. Might have to do that once or twice to make the point that it wont be tolerated.
I think MRK’s point is that MRK has no understanding what he is talking about, but needs to sound off on some right wing talking points. I struggled to follow the line of reasoning here, so I might be wrong. I have read this that MRK is saying people who take part in these stunts should be shot to show that the stunts wont be tolerated. The fact that the overall security is a farce is something which should be disguised so that the general public can sit happy. Is that right? What makes this even more ironic is that the security cordon were not able to identify the imposters in time to have shot them anyway. Shooting them after they get to the bomb detonation point is somewhat pointless. What really should have happened is the security actually earned its money and prevented the incursion.
Freddie Randolph Kruger concludes:
There is a LOT of chatter on the internet right now about an attack along or about next week. Specific target?
Fear, uncertainty and doubt. Say it over and over again. There is a LOT of chatter on the internet about alien abductions. There is a lot of chatter on the internet about Elvis being alive. Neither of them are real so why is this “chatter” more believable? It is interesting that MRK uses a term which TV (24, Alias, Spooks etc) and Film (Bourne, Bond et al) have implanted in the collective conciousness as being synonymous with “intelligence” and spy agencies. Chatter is people talking. It means nothing. Don’t be fooled by buzzwords.
For extra comedy points, MRK posted his “next week” dire warning on 6 Sep 07. Come 13 Sep we may know more…
Manhattan…. Keep it in mind about the above post. If they take New York, they take the country with it. It would knock the markets to the ground, it would flatten our economy with it.
Really? Well the last attack didn’t manage to take the country with it. What is special this time?
Should have shot the bastards…… Then they would have my opinion on being funny around the leaders of any country and that includes Clinton.
Aha, again we see a democracy where the people need to fear and bow to their leader. The leader is no longer “of the people, for the people” but in a special class above the people. In the presence of the glorious leader, the general public must learn to modify their behaviour.
M Randolph Kruger is a nutcase of the highest order. I could spend weeks taking his froth filled rants apart, bit by bit, but I will spare you for now. However, as it has been some time since I got to rant at length online, please excuse one more bit of snippets. This time from MRK’s later comment: (Replying to someone called Troff who has ripped him apart)
And it would seem that everyone there in Oz is in la-la land about this and that its no big deal. You dismiss the fact that if it hadnt been a “giggle group” attack that it could have indeed been a valid one Hell bent on taking out the PM and Bush. I think its absolute bullshit that these guys got this close and Troff I really dont care whether you think I am right or not. But I do expect that you would be somewhat open minded to the facts and that is that they could have been anarchists just as well. Full blown wars have broken out over this exact same thing Troff. Archduke Ferdinand ring a bell? Bush wasnt around then old son and thats a fact. I guess that WWI never happened.
What? No, I mean, really, what?
Following this line of “logic” (sneer quotes intended) gives me a headache. MRK is still 180 degrees away from getting the point and arguing with himself. It is bullshit that the comedians got that close, but the shame is not on them for doing it – it is on the “security” for charging millions for nothing. MRK really is missing this by such a wide margin, I have to wonder if he can tie his own shoelaces.
The bit about WWI really is insane.
Anyway, do you see what I mean? Why does this blog only ever seem to get sane comments? This MRK makes Raphael seem “normal.”
[tags]Nutter, Scienceblogs, Society, Australia, Terrorism, Culture, Security, Safety, America, Osma Bin Laden, Philosophy, Effect Measure, Democracy, Rights, Liberties, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Civil Disobedience, Rightwing Idiot, Rightwing, Military, Scaremongering, FUD, Fear, Terror[/tags]
It seems today is the end of an era which has lasted longer than I have been alive. At midnight tonight the British Army ends its operation in Northern Ireland after 38 years of anti-terrorist operations. (Belfast Telegraph or The Guardian)
Despite the recent media-led impression that terrorists are all Islamic, from west-Asia, and only started attacking the west in the last decade, the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland have a history of horrific atrocities that were committed by both Catholics and Protestants. For decades Policemen were shot in their living rooms in front of their families, suspected informers were made to “disapear”(The tale of Jean McConville can break the stoniest heart), joyriders were shot dead, teenagers were brutally beaten for having girl/boyfriends from the wrong side of the street etc. As well as this, “low level” terror, the mainland UK in the 1970s and 80s was continually subjected to IRA bomb attacks. The Houses of Parliament were mortared (1991), the Conservative party conference in Brighton was blown to pieces (1984), over 700 soldiers were killed (mostly off duty) and scores of civilians were killed and maimed. As a child in the 70s, I can acutely remember why we have no bins at train stations and why “suspect package” announcements are a regular occurrence.
Anyway, after 38 years, it seems that the worst is now over and the process of normalisation can begin. The soldiers are no longer going to patrol the streets (although I recall it has been a while since they did anyway) and the overt signs of military oppression have been dismantled (such as the observation post on the Divis tower and the watch towers in South Armagh).
It would be nice to think that lessons have been learned, and the mistakes made (of which there were many) would not be repeated again. The government have comissionned studies into the troubles for this very purpose.
Sadly, it seems that, as always, the memory retention of the public is short and politicians are fickle enough to go where ever public opinion drives them.
Countless (certainly more than I intend to link to here) studies show that some of the government’s actions provided massive amounts of support (and volunteers) to the IRA cause. The most cited example was the horrendous internment policy. The CAIN study group has an excellent summary of internment, and pretty much all the research supports the idea that prior to this heavy handed tactic, PIRA were a “smalltime” organisation, playing second fiddle to the “Official” IRA who were much more disposed to peace talks and power sharing. By interning people (on both sides of the sectarian divide) without trial for indeterminate periods of time, the government provided the ammunition for the more militant wings (PIRA and the UVF) to overwhelm the objections of the more peaceful groups and increased the violence on a massive scale. As can be easily imagined, the increased violence lead to an increased security response, which in turn continued to alienate the communities and provided the impetus for more violence. The circle continued for three decades.
Now, hindsight is always 20:20 and I know enough of history to know that trying to second guess “what ifs” is something best left to fiction authors. However, it remains a strong possibility that, had the government allowed the moderates to dominate the thugs (rather than giving credence to the violence is the only option routine), the troubles would have been over 2o or more years ago.
Before any rightwingers get confused here, I am not suggesting a cowardly capitulation. In the late 1960s, the Catholics wanted better representation in government and they wanted the police to stop oppressing them. After 38 years of violence they now have better representation in government and the police are mixed. While I don’t for one second think either side could be described as “having won,” the fact remains that the Catholics in Northern Ireland now have what the Official IRA were calling for in 1968.
Despite this, it seems the recent peace on the mainland primed the public for another terrorist group to cause outrage. Despite the “lessons” from the troubles it seems that the public are crying out for a repeat of all the mistakes made in the 1970s and the government / police are more than happy to repeat them. Every “debate” about the extended detention without charge laws seems to begin with “we are not talking about a return to internment” but I cant for the life of me work out what is different. Can any one explain it to me?
Detention of a specific class of prisoner, who will almost certainly share a cultural and religious background with a significant (yet minority) portion of the UK population will do nothing to engender that population with a trust of the “state” and a feeling of “Britishness.” In reality, people who have family members detained for two months without charge are almost certain to become alienated and distrustful — providing a fertile recruiting ground for the jihad-calling headcases. When you factor in the risks inherent of police detention (injuries from other prisoners, accidents and stress related conditions) it is probable that when the first detainee dies in custody (of purely innocent and natural causes) the conspiracy theorists will have a field day and the terrorist cells will have a recruiting bonanza. We saw recently how the police can be poor at controlling evidence (Dr Haneef for example), so why should anyone assume that the intelligence required to trigger a “terrorist detention” would be any better?
Worryingly, hidden amongst the joys of the end of the troubles, there are some sneaky powers being rolled out. For example, from the Belfast Telegraph:
But at the same time, legislation goes into effect giving soldiers here the power to stop and question anyone about their movements – and hold them indefinitely until they answer.
People refusing to identify themselves or answer questions about their movements could be subject to a Â£5,000 fine.
The PSNI is also granted the power tonight – even though the Cabinet rejected them as unacceptable for police in the rest of the UK.
The Government acknowledged last night that the role of the Army will be ” slightly different to that in the rest of the UK”.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said the special powers are necessary because the Army could still be called up to support the PSNI.
Despite what some people tend to believe, Northern Ireland is part of the UK. Is this a sign of the future for the mainland? [tags]Law, Civil Rights, Society, Culture, Terror, Fear, Legislation, Civil Liberties, Northern Ireland, Troubles, Anti-Terror Legislation, Catholics, Protestants, Islam, Government, Media, IRA, UVF[/tags]
Refusing to register with the BBC to leave a comment, I will vent my frustrations here (although I doubt the BBC care about a backlink from this blog!).
It is common in the real world, and the mainstream media’s representation of it, to succumb to the false authority fallacy. The BBC has another “news” item which does this in a dramatic manner. Seriously, today has convinced me that 24 hour news will be the end of the world.
In a piece titled “Longer detention ‘may save lives’” the BBC begin with:
As the debate rages over the length of time terror suspects can be detained without charge, three people whose lives were changed forever in 2005 by the 7 July London bombings explain why they are backing an extension.
Now, what is “newsworthy” about this completely eludes me, but even the most cursory reading shows the problem with attributing authority falsely. The three people the BBC have dragged out are victims of a terrible terrorist attack, they are not experts on the law or social policy. They have no greater insight to the event, or its repercussions than anyone else. The BBC may as well have dragged three random people off the street and asked them for all the weight the opinions should carry.
And here lies the problem. The opinions of the victims carries more weight because we, as a society, are now used to the false authority. We listen to ageing pop stars when they talk about global economics, we listen to Christian clergy when they talk about housing and so on. We have been force fed the false authority to such a degree it is almost assumed. Modern victims seem to feel they have a right to tell people how to sort problems out based solely on the experience which made them a victim. It is madness. It is scary madness because this drives public policy. Very scary madness.
As I have made this into a post rather than a comment, I feel I should highlight some of the bits I have big issues with. As an example, when talking about the proposals to increase the time an innocent person (well, I suppose they are guilty of looking Islamic in a western nation) can be detained without charge to 56 days, they have this to say:
“If it’s going to help prevent another 7/7, then I have to support it.” [ROB WEBB – BROTHER OF VICTIM, LAURA]
“We believed 90 days was right so I would certainly be in favour of 56 days,” [JUNE TAYLOR – MOTHER OF VICTIM, CARRIE]
He wants the law changed to allow terror suspects to be held for as long as is necessary, so long as detention is dealt with responsibly and is under judicial review. [MICHAEL HENNING – BOMB SURVIVOR]
Great comments, really. They show why laws should not be written by people who are traumatised by loss.
Rob Webb hits the nail on the head, “if” is the critical part of it though. The changes to the law would not have prevented the 7 July bombings. They would not have prevented the recent London and Glasgow attempts.
Worryingly, they are quite likely to further alienate the segment of the population in which the terrorists move and recruit. This will, in the words of the Treason laws, have the effect of providing support and succour to the enemy. Is that really what these people want?
All three say largely the same things about how detaining people for up to 90 days is OK as it may save lives – with references to the tabloid favourite about the courts putting the suspects human rights before those of innocent people. This is complete tosh. It really is nonsense. The rights of the suspect are the exact same as the rights of the innocent person. If you take away the rights of the suspect (remembering they are innocent at this time, over three quarters of terrorism suspects have been released without charge…), you are taking them away from everyone. White or black. Christian or Muslim (or atheist).
Rob Webb also states (and this is another tabloid ranting point):
“In the balance of fairness, I would rather be completely unfair to them, than for a completely innocent person to be murdered on the public transport network.”
(In this context I think “them” means terrorist suspects rather than Asians in general)
This really does show why victims are not experts. I wonder what peoples reactions would be if the people who were most in danger from this new legislation were not a minority group? Would Mr Webb be happy to do 56 days in detention (Interment by another name) and then released without charge? That is effectively what this legislation calls for — just because at the moment “we” don’t feel that it will target us does not make that the case.
[tags]Comment Week, BBC, False Authority, Law, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, Human Rights, Fallacy, Society, Culture, Logic, Reason, Sane, Traumatic, Loss, Revenge, Minorities, Islam, Christianity, UK[/tags]
Over the last few months, I have ranted a few times about how I think that civil liberties in the UK (and to an extent the world over, but I don’t have first hand experience of that) are being eroded as a result of general fear and the media’s incessant pressure to convince people we live in dangerous times.
I also rant about this quite a bit in the real world where, the same as online, I am often faced with arguments which basically say there is nothing to worry about, the security forces are trustworthy and only guilty people need to have anything to hide. These arguments are basically false but it can be difficult to refute them, examples like the Guildford Four or Birmingham Six are distant memories now.
Recently, the latest spate of inept terrorists appear to have provided the impetus for the Home Secretary to be looking at reforms to the UK’s anti-terrorist related laws. As well as on this blog, even sites such as the Register have demonstrated some concern in both the driving force, and the results of this new fear-based-law society.
I have spoken in the past about the problems of detaining an innocent person for two months without even having enough evidence to charge them, and this remains (in my mind at least) still the critical issue over the whole deal. Taking someones life away from them, putting them in a cell and controlling their life is a punishment. Despite what the tabloids may try to make people think, it is not an easy time nor is it a “holiday” camp. Given that most UK prisoners are Christians (interesting considering…) someone detained as a suspected Islamic terrorist is at much greater risk of mistreatment by fellows inmates if they are detained with the general population, or they end up being put in solitary confinement for their own protection. Either way it amounts to a serious punishment that would normally require you were convicted of a criminal offence first (and a reasonably serious one to amount to two months detention).
It would be nice if we could be sure that the police forces across the UK would only enact this legislation on the most solid intelligence possible, and this is certainly what is claimed by the ministers and officials pushing for it. The problem is, this really is not the case. The police have no public accountability (for reasons I agree with) over their intelligence and neither the police nor the security forces are subject to any form of censure should they get it wrong. There is no real incentive for the police to adhere to this high standard — in fact, given the way figures are presented with the totals being more important then the amounts presented for trial, it seems the opposite is true.
A recent example of this has been bouncing through the news since the London/Glasgow terrorist event. One of the key suspects was an Indian born Doctor who was arrested in Australia based on UK police information. Dr Haneef has been identified repeatedly in the tabloids as a terrorist (suspect with lesser emphasis) over the past few weeks and the police were doing their utmost to have him sent back over here (in an ironic reverse deportation) so he could be detained under anti-terror legislation — this would have meant the police could detain him for 28 days under current laws, before having to bring charges.
So that the Australians would co-operate and deport Dr Haneef, the police shared a fair bit of their intelligence with them and this is a good thing. I am not pro-terrorist. As a result of this, the Australians detained Dr Haneef for several weeks and tried to bring a case against him.
Sadly, it appears the intelligence indicating he was linked to the terrorists is heavily flawed. The BBC reports:
Prosecutors had claimed that the doctor’s mobile phone SIM card had been found in the burning car that crashed into Glasgow international airport on 30 June.
But it later emerged the card had actually been found in a flat in Liverpool, some 300km (185 miles) from Glasgow, where his second cousin lived.
Blimey. Call me old fashioned but that is a serious mistake to make and, as the prosecutors were willing to present it as evidence when it was so wildly incorrect, it is worrying — it means they didn’t know their “evidence” was faulty. This is not a problem with intelligence, it is evidence. It seems that the police were unable to establish if they had gathered a vital piece of evidence at the crime scene or in a different country. That worries me. A lot. The BBC continues:
Australia’s most senior police officer, Commissioner Mick Keelty, said UK police had provided the inaccurate information.
“Haneef attempted to leave the country. If we had let him go, we would have been accused of letting a terrorist escape our shores,” he said.
The charges against Dr Haneef were dropped after Australia’s chief prosecutor said there had been mistakes made in the investigation, and because of a lack of evidence.
(read more on the BBCs article titled “Why the Haneef case disintegrated“) Sadly, it is probable that we only know of this because the case was handled by a foreign police force. If Dr Haneef had been detained in the UK, he could have been held for 28 days before any case was even made and if it collapsed in that time, there would be no public information as to what went wrong. Basically, Dr Haneef would have spent a month in jail because the police thought his SIM card was somewhere it wasn’t. Most of the current vitriol against the police over this case is aimed at the Australian police, but does anyone think the UK (or pretty much any other western nation) police are all that different?
I have said before that the main reason there is so much apathy over this is that it seems to target minorities, and that alone is a sign that we should all be concerned about the steady erosion of basic civil liberties. While, for now, it may seem like only the brown skinned ones with beards, funny accents and unpronounceable names are being singled out, once the right has been legally removed it is gone for everyone — Hindu, Atheist, Moslem, Jain or Christian alike (and it brings to mind Pastor Martin NiemÃ¶ller‘s famous poem).
That is why I think it is really, really, important. [tags]Civil Liberties, Hindu, Atheist, Moslem, Jain, Australia, Christian, Dr Haneef, Anti-Terror Legislation, Laws, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Jail, Intelligence, Detention,Pastor Martin NiemÃ¶ller, SIM Cards, Evidence, Trial,Terrorist,Terror,The Register, Society, Culture, Fear, Terrorism, Tabloids, Media[/tags]
As always, the BBC remains an excellent source of the worrying statements made by politicians, reporting:
“The time is now right” to reconsider extending detention without charge beyond the current 28 days limit, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said.
The article continues to discuss how she feels that the complexity of modern terrorist plots means the police need longer than 28 days to detain and question a suspect before they charge him or her. Worryingly, this seems to be garnering general public support and it has all the hall marks of the “reasonable” sounding claims I detest with a passion.
On the face of it, detaining terrorists for indefinite periods of time seems like a good idea – it is one of those things which make it difficult for people to argue against, I mean who wants to support terrorists? The same argument is used over a variety of crimes and it is almost always false.
Basically, the problem is that these are innocent people. The bedrock of western laws is that a person’s liberty can only be taken away from them under certain situations. Most of the time, the only way for this to happen is after a court of law finds the person guilty of certain offences. The primary exception to this is people who are charged with a grave offence and may prove to be a flight risk or a continued threat to the public, at which point they may be refused bail.
The current terror legislation (in that it is a law based on terror, rather than the principles of law or good governance) allows some one to be detained by the police for 28 days without any form of charge, nor is a formal charge required when the 28 day period runs out. It is unique in this respect, I can not for one second imagine someone being detained for 28 days while they were being investigated for vandalism…
In a nutshell, this means that someone without being charged of any crime can have their liberty taken away from them for a month. I am sure the police forces of the UK are (currently) professional enough to have some standard of evidence required before they enact this detention, but the fact remains this is something wide open to abuse. It takes no stretch of the imagination to see how this can be misused – especially as there is no censure, nor public oversight, over the police actions. They are not punished if they detain some one wrongly (accidentally or deliberately) and the innocent person wrongly imprisoned receives no restitution for their suffering.
Is this the way people envisage a western democracy treating its citizens?
The terrorists, who want to destroy what they see as a decadent society, seem to be winning and we are slowly becoming a police state in the manner of the Middle Eastern dictatorships we used to condemn.
As always, the irrational fear of terrorists seems to cloud people’s reasoning when it comes to detaining them – the old refrain about the public’s “right to life” being more important than the suspect’s “right to liberty” is the most common. It is also complete nonsense and draws an ad absurdum over itself like a cloak. The fear of a terrorist killing lots of people is used as the argument behind excessive pre-charge detention, however Harold Shipman killed more people than any terrorist in the UK and we do not detain Doctors for 28 days without charge on the off-chance they may be mass murderers.
Sadly, the main victims of this legislation are minority groups so the will of the masses overwhelms any complaints they may make. Oddly (although not odd for anyone who has thought about this rationally), the main effect of this legislation will be to further alienate and isolate a vulnerable group of people. The extremist rabble-rousers must be overjoyed at the thought of disgruntled Islamic youths who feel like the state is oppressing them unjustly.
As well as the potential deaths a terrorist could cause, another “reason” often cited for excessive detention is “the complexity” of a terrorist investigation. This is reasonable and actually has my full support, although I think that if the Home Secretary agrees that complex investigations should allow the police to detain suspects for long periods before charge, this should be applied across the board.
Complex criminal investigations are widespread in the modern society we live in. With the exception of terrorism the suspect remain free until a charge can be made though – some recent examples are footballers suspected of fraud, the Members of Parliament suspected in the “Cash for Honours” fiasco, companies suspected of financial crimes and the like. In not one of these cases was a suspect detained (without charge) for more than 24 hours – even though the investigations lasted months or years. Obviously the police are more than able to investigate people who are not sitting in the cells – even very rich people (all of the above) who are a real flight risk.
Ah, I hear the right wing cry out that these are “fraud” cases where no one will die as a result. Ok, that seems reasonable – although if someone loses their lives savings thanks to financial fraud and is left penniless at the age of 60, I suspect they will die a lot sooner than if they had their money. What about complex cases involving health and safety legislation or corporate manslaughter? What about the cases of human traffickers (or any organised crime)? There is a multitude of incredibly complex cases, in which the investigations last years, where the police are not allowed to detain a suspect without charge for 28 days (or more).
What makes a terrorism suspect any different from a CEO who’s corporate negligence has allowed 50 people to die?
As a parting shot, I will return to the BBC’s article and Miss Smith’s comments:
In recent operations … six people were held for 27-28 days and three of those were charged.
A fifty percent success rate does not fill me with confidence.
[tags]Terror, Terrorism, Law, Legislation, Jacqui Smith, UK, Civil Rights, News, Fear, Civil Liberties, Society, Culture, Police, Arrests, Islam, Minorities, Crime, Home Secretary, BBC, Corporate Crime, Logical Fallacy, Ad Absurdum, Reductio Ad Absurdum, Logical Fallacies[/tags]