Sunday, 3 February 2008

Who Is Terrorising Who?

Does anybody else think that it is ironic that the government restates the right for MPs’ conversations not to be bugged at the same time as it proposes that juries can be removed from inquests and even the coroner replaced, at the request of a politician? On the one hand, they want to restrict the rights of the secret service, but, on the other, they want to take away the means that we, the public, get accountability for the secret services’ actions. Does anyone notice who gets to hold all the cards here? Yes, the politician. They get to decide whether the secret service is behaving appropriately; they get to keep that information from the public; and they get to be protected from that organisation by default of their position, unlike any other member of the public. I appreciate that the family of Azelle Rodney want an explanation for their son’s death. I think they should get one. But, surely secrecy at the demand of politicians is a very dangerous path to go down. I am not sure I want to live in a country where people can be shot in the street in the name of national security and no explanation is given. All this creates is a country that is suspicious of the police and the government and where accountability is held in the hands of a very interested minority. The police’s reputation is already in tatters after the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. We do not trust them to use intelligence reliably or without harm. Yet, now we are being asked to agree to the removal of their accountability? The police and the state’s refusal to give explanations for actions in the name of national security has to be questioned. We need a more rigorous and open system that allows the public to make informed choices, instead of accepting the removal of our rights, and the restrictions of our actions, in the name of threat that cannot be evidenced ‘due to national security’.

Recently in Scotland,
train commuters have been randomly searched despite police claims that they are not responding to a known threat. Why should we be put through a stressful and threatening ordeal that wastes our time and makes us suspicious of the police? An action, which in its ability to generate fear, seems to be a much more real form of terrorism than what may or may not happen in the future. Especially considering that at the train station I use every day, there has been a spate of violent and random attacks on innocent commuters. Yet, there is no budget to put a policeperson where actual crimes are regularly committed. Why is fear of a future crime being given a higher priority than real crimes? Why are our rights being eroded in the name of what may or may not happen? Why are we worrying about terrorists, when our own government is instilling fear; restricting our movements and removing our rights, and all the while creating an ever more powerful state without accountability?

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