25 May 2007

Emergency! Reid in terror attack on liberties

Press Release 14:00 25 June 2007

Fabian Tassano, author of two books and a countercultural blog, and a Research Director at Oxford Forum, made clear today he is prepared to declare a "state of philosophical emergency" to suspend intellectual support for the legitimacy of the UK government, if the Law Lords overturn — as Home Secretary Dr John Reid has demanded — a series of judgments that have weakened the anti-terrorist control order regime partially reaffirmed British civil liberties.

Tassano’s warning follows Dr Reid’s acute embarrassment yesterday when he had to confirm to MPs that three terror suspects whom he had placed under "control orders", to prohibit them from travelling to Iraq (supposedly to prevent them killing British troops), had all absconded on Monday night. (None of the three men has been charged or prosecuted for terrorist offences.)

MPs fear the control order regime attempt to get round civil liberties by using “prisons without bars” is in danger of becoming a public laughing stock, since six of the current seventeen terror suspects subject to orders have managed to disappear.

Dr Reid is threatening to "opt out" of a key part of the European human rights convention. Such a move — which can only properly be justified by war, or a public emergency threatening the life of the nation — will represent a new round in the continuing struggle between ministers and the courts the public, over liberty versus the fight against terrorism goal of creating a police state.

"There is a very serious threat to our liberties," said Tassano, "and I am the first to admit that the means we have of opposing it are so inadequate that we are fighting with one arm tied behind our backs. So I hope that, when the government brings forward its dubious proposals in the next few weeks, we will have a little less misplaced utilitarianism and a little more support for basic moral principles."

Dr Tassano said he was prepared for the first time to take the "nuclear option" of refusing to accept the legitimacy of the democratically elected (Labour) government, if the Home Secretary proceeds with the plan of "derogating" from Article Five of the European Convention on Human Rights (which guarantees the right to liberty).


With apologies to The Guardian. Note to Private Eye: I got here first.

(See also Not Saussure, Stumbling & Mumbling, UK Liberty and Tim Worstall.)

7 comments:

james higham said...

"derogating"

Oh how they must have chortled as they dreamed that term up. The cynical pack of b-s-ds are pursuing a more than immoral agenda. I suggest it is amoral, in that they think they have the right to do this.

Mister Anonymous said...

No baby, it's democracy!

When Tony Blair gets into a state and says "Why can't we do this?? Why?" when he wants to change civil liberties legislation, he means what he says - as in, he doesn't know why he can't safeguard democracy by letting the security services off the ethical hook. Because "what have you got to hide? " My point is this, without the legislation the country is wide open to attack yes?

If John Reid does not do this and another 7/7 attack takes place, people will ask him "Why didn't you protect us?" The government would have failed in its democratic duty to protect individual life and property. That's the contradiction, you can read all about it in Utopia.

Alternatively you could just lay the blame on another democratic phenomenon - egalitarianism and liberalism. The pathetic fantasy that all people are really the same, all differences are meaningless and all people can be harmonised through STRUCTURALISM has allowed the country to be flooded with hostile foreigners. This problem would simply not exist were it not for this infantile belief system. (read the first chapter of genesis - Adam and Eve did not know they were naked until the ate the apple of knowledge and discovered that they were different. The rest of the Bible is dedicating to reconciling this difference and jealousy). All of this could have been avoided. But that's democracy for you. We need an aristocracy, we need evil old battle axes who can tell the truth to the hysterical 'schools and hospitals' obsessed crowd. But.. Then it wouldn't be a democracy anymore would it?

Or maybe I'm just over-reacting, maybe the laws as they were before 9/11 were quite sufficient for fighting terrorists but the government is using the fear to drive through all kinds of repressive legislation.

I very much look forward to replies.

Fabian Tassano said...

Mr A, you’ve raised some interesting issues.

“[Blair] doesn't know why he can't safeguard democracy by letting the security services off the ethical hook”
That is certainly one way of looking at it, and I suppose it’s the way people on the inside like Blair, Reid, Straw, Blunkett etc see it - or at least like to present it to themselves. They are charged with the job of safeguarding the country, and the civil liberties restrictions are simply not helping.

But:
1) There are good reasons for the civil liberty “obstacles”. They weren’t just invented by a bunch of people wanting to be ornery. They were made up precisely to address the situation where there was (or appeared to be) a legitimate public interest for doing something but where that interest needed to be resisted. E.g. torturing a terrorist suspect to make him reveal whether he has information which could lead to saving lives.

2) As always, one needs to think about underlying ideology and motivation of the legislators. Those on the left tend to believe in subordinating the individual to the public interest. They will therefore tend to be motivated to see reasons for abolishing safeguards for the individual, whether or not those reasons are good ones.

3) I believe there is also a certain amount of propaganda going on here, in the sense that “civil liberties” are being given a bad name. Certain new “liberties”, created by instruments such as the ECHR, have perhaps shifted the meaning of liberty away from the individual per se, and instead given an ideological bias in favour of specific social groups. The impression created is that we have somehow got a lot more liberties than before, and these are causing the problem. But in fact, even before 9/11 we were seeing a trend of abolishing long-standing liberty principles such as habeas corpus.

I do think it's pretty alarming when a Home Secretary starts to call for a "state of emergency". IMO we would need to be given a lot more justification before that could even begin to be considered a reasonable action.

Shame on the mainstream media for not reacting more critically. But I suppose they, like certain politicians, actually like crises. In the latter case, because it legitimises more state intervention; in the former, because it sells newspapers.

Mister Anonymous said...

So just how severe is the threat? Because even the IRA would sometimes warn the authorities before an attack. The main intention was to damage property though loss of life was of course callously tolerated.

"E.g. torturing a terrorist suspect to make him reveal whether he has information which could lead to saving lives."

I wouldn't put it past them.. We must bare Forest Gate and De Menezes in mind. Point conceded with troll like grumbling. I still think their all motivated by an utterly banal concern for social peace and security - and a fear of backlash. So yeah, it's the visceral left bias which they think is quite normal. The centre ground.

Paul said...

"As always, one needs to think about underlying ideology and motivation of the legislators. Those on the left tend to believe in subordinating the individual to the public interest."

Those on the Left are also the most vociferous proponents of human rights legislation. I'm interested in the way in which human rights law has become a new religion for statists, whilst civil liberties have steadily been eroded. It appears to mirror the way in which Britain has become a security-addled surveillance society whilst simultaneously levels of crime and disorder have been climbing steadily.

"I believe there is also a certain amount of propaganda going on here, in the sense that “civil liberties” are being given a bad name. Certain new “liberties”, created by instruments such as the ECHR, have perhaps shifted the meaning of liberty away from the individual per se, and instead given an ideological bias in favour of specific social groups. The impression created is that we have somehow got a lot more liberties than before, and these are causing the problem."

I think this is a pretty good analysis: how do you think this bias towards certain "approved" minorities has come about --- is it the tenor of the legislation itself or is it simply due to the Leftist leanings of those charged with its implementation?

Mister Anonymous said...

it's getting mental

Roger Thornhill said...

For a true Eye story, it needs to be more on the lines of:

Terror Suspect Found at Home Shock

The Home Secretary was recalled to Parliament to answer MPs' questions after it was revealed that a Terror suspect subject to a control order was found at their registered address watching "Deal or No Deal".

Police became suspicious when the person in question had not been seen boarding a cross-channel ferry dressed in his Auntie's burqa and that mobile phone records showed he had remained within a few miles of his home, only leaving it to buy a paper and play Lotto at the local newsagent - his PC having been confiscated as part of the terms of his control order.

etc.