We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“The Government uses a false dichotomy that liberty and security have to be traded off against each other. But you can indeed have both life and liberty. The freedom to express yourself short of inciting violence does not threaten security but bolsters it: I want to know exactly who my enemies are by reading their freely spoken words. And when they cross the line and incite people to terrorism, I want the Government to do the one thing with my tax money of which I approve: protect me from these nutters by throwing them in jail or out of the country.”

- Perry de Havilland writing in today’s Times of London.

41 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Johnathan

    Well done Perry! Excellent.

  • I see that PdH’s brief article is filed in the ‘Thunderer’ section of ‘Comment’. Not being a consumer of the Times, I wonder if ‘thunderer’ translates to ‘rant’? I don’t think Perry’s article came across as ranty at all. Why ‘thunderer’?

  • Jacob

    Perry,
    Could you perhaps be more specific ?
    I mean could you compile a list, stating specifically which of Blair’s proposed laws you oppose, and which you think might be needed or acceptable ?
    (Beside the ID issue, on which you are clear enough).

  • John East

    One minor problem. I doubt if we can throw any more people into jail. The capacity of our prison system is 80,000 and currently the number of people in prison is 79,000+. A sensible person might say, “OK, lets build some more”. Blair says (to the judiciary), “Reduce sentences and send fewer people to prison”.

  • Jacob

    Reading this article from The Times (Link) it seems that some new legislation, and some streamlining of existing procedures are needed.

  • Andrew Duffin

    It’s not the “Times of London”, it’s just The Times.

    Other papers may need a qualifier, this one doesn’t.

  • James Waterton – “I see that PdH’s brief article is filed in the ‘Thunderer’ section of ‘Comment’. Not being a consumer of the Times, I wonder if ‘thunderer’ translates to ‘rant’? I don’t think Perry’s article came across as ranty at all. Why ‘thunderer’? ”

    If memory has not renounced her perch in the Lud occipit, The Thunderer was the name Anthony Trollope gave to the fictional newspaper that occasionally appeared in his stories. It was a rag notable for its piousness and demagoguery.

  • APL@APL

    Jacob: “I mean could you compile a list, stating specifically which of Blair’s proposed laws you oppose, ”

    Speaking for myself: All leglislation passed since 1997. But I would like to go further, anything passed into statute under Majors administration.

    Then selected legislation passed under Thatchers administration.

    Then almost anything passed under the previous Labour administration and EVERYTHING passed under the Heath administration.

    Just for Starters.

  • guy herbert

    Good stuff, Perry.

    Jacob: I want none of Mr Blair’s proposals–none of them at all. (Though you probably guessed that.)

    Personally I cannot think of a single Act of Parliament under the Blair administration since 1997 we could not have done without. (And I probably have to go back to 1994 to find a Major Apart from moving the setting interest of rates to arms length through the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, a purely administrative change that took place in the first week they were in power, I can’t think of anything that’s an unalloyed good.

    [Mind you there has been a HUGE amount of legislation so I might have forgotten something: candidates please. Even those few I partially approve of have usually been poisoned by some further authoritarian imposition. Example: Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000. s1 & s2 good; s3-s6 bad.]

    John East: We could probably reduce prison populations quite a lot if some victimless crimes were removed from the statute books.

  • Jacob

    APL@APL, guy herbert,

    Seems you’re off topic, and in danger of having your rants deleted by admin.
    This is not a rant about how awful all legislation in the last decade has been (why only last decade ? make it last century !). This is not a rant about how we libertarians need no new laws, and could manage with common law etc. etc.

    This post is about measures (legislation and regulation)needed or not to protect people from terrorists, at present, in 2005.

    For example: the mullah Omar Bakri Muhammad, British resident, or naturalized citizen, born in Syria and holder of a Libanese passaport, reportedly described the July 7 bombers as “the fantastic four”. (see Times article linked in my post above).
    Would you consider this utterance (and others like it)incitement to violence, that justifies the deportation, or denyial of residence, or jail for Omar ? Or is this protected speech, and Omar is welcome to go on and preach in this vein ?

    And if it is incitement -
    “John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, admitted yesterday that he had no power to deal with the cleric”

    Wouldn’t you favour giving him the legal power to deal with this ? (i.e. some new legislation, or repeal of hindering rules, or whatever it takes). Or, do you know for certain, being an expert lwayer, that Mr Prescott is wrong, and he does have the powers to deal with Omar under current law ?

  • Joel Català

    No IDs for the British people. I think so.

    But now, let’s study, and then explain, what the hell Islam teaches and, consequently, produces. Jihadwatch and faithfreedom are two pretty good places where to start.

  • Its a bloody long slogan for a T-shirt…

  • guy herbert

    Jacob:

    In case my previous comments on the subject have not been clear enough: no. We do not need new laws to protect people from terrorists in 2005, any more than we needed the new laws passed “to protect people from terrorists” in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and the earlier part of 2005, which have notably not done so.

    A modest increase in danger from a few maniacs requires not a change to the law but more intelligently directed use of the law we already have. Murder has been illegal round these parts for the past thousand years or so. The statutory offence of conspiracy to cause explosions was an innovation of the later 19th century, when it was discovered the intent to cause injury thereby was hard to prove.

    A repeal of some of the laws we have that specifically forbid it would allow communications intercepts to be used in evidence in court, but I would not contemplate such use unless the evidence were open to challenge in the same way other evidence is.

    Omar Bakri, as Perry’s original article implies, should be permitted to say whatever he likes. (I don’t distinguish protected and unprotected speech, which is an American conception.) If what he says amounts to an incitement to criminal actions, then he should be prosecuted. The words you quote don’t, but it is a case by case judgment.

    Mr Prescott does not need any new powers. He either does not understand the ones the government already has, or is misrepresenting the situation in a rather cruder way than some other ministers do in order to press for new–and in the Bakri “holiday” case, irrelevant–ones) .

    You should also note that Bakri is a canny publicity-monger, a rent-a-quote, almost a cartoon Islamist rabble-rouser, who has been left in place in London since the 90s as a means of keeping an eye on people who are attracted to consort with him. He has been probably been very useful to counterterrorism.

  • Verity

    James Waterton – The Times was nickenamed The Thunderer for a couple of hundred years. As in The Torygraph and The Grauniad.

  • apl@apl

    Jacob: “This is not a rant about how awful all legislation in the last decade has been (why only last decade ? make it last century !).”

    Too right. If you notice I did say my list was just for starters. I am quite happy to go back to the begining of the last century if you wish.

    To my mind the rot sets in when we started paying our MPs. At that point the job stopped being about representing their constituents and started being about representing themselves. How to justify this state of affairs? Churn our legislation, the more the better.

  • Very good stuff Perry

    Tony Blair is a dangerously sinister character for the same reason as Perle, Worlfowitz et al: he is a former Marxist militant turned “neo-conservative” the prefix neo/new as in “New Labour” is just a fancy positivist word in vogue in Auguste Comte’s French Republique, in Soviet Russia under Stalin and more recently in the Pentagon and at US consulting firms (it’s no coincidence if many of Herr Bliar’s senior advisers come from McKinsey & Co)

    These neo-bastards truly believe (“there is no doubt in my mind…”) an omniscient government will do a better job at “fighting terror” notably through “speech control” than a free citizenry: in essence, if they succeed, it will be the final nail in the coffin of 18th century European enlightenment.

    Bush, Blair and Sharon could well succeed where Stalin and Hitler have failed

  • Jacob

    “Omar Bakri, as Perry’s original article implies, should be permitted to say whatever he likes. (I don’t distinguish protected and unprotected speech, which is an American conception.) If what he says amounts to an incitement to criminal actions, then he should be prosecuted.”

    Well, which is it ? “permitted to say what he likes” or “prosecuted” ?

    You admit that one can and should be prosecuted for some things he says or preaches ? Or you don’t ? One never knows, because you stick to generalizations, and try to have it both ways when we have here, as an example, a very concrete case.

    “I don’t distinguish protected and unprotected speech…” – then why “prosecuted” ? Incitement is speech.

    “He has been probably been very useful to counterterrorism.”

    Not useful enough to prevent 50 people from dying. Anyway that is idle speculation from you, not knowledge. Maybe Omar is a cartoon islamist, (they all are, nevertheless people get murdered), the issue remains – what to do about the real death preacher ? (the one who isn’t a cartoon) ? Presumably – your answer is: nothing.

    You seem to be comfortable only in generalizations disconnected from actual cases, and even there you are fuzzy enough to avoid taking a clear stand and try to hold both ends of a contradiction.

    So, down with Blair, no new laws, freedom to all, yada yada, yada yada.

  • Jacob

    “How to justify this state of affairs? Churn our legislation, the more the better.”

    Good point. Wrong thread.

  • Thanks Verity, I didn’t know that. Still, I wonder what criteria one’s article must conform to if they are to be ranked in the “Thunderer” section of Comments.

  • guy herbert

    Jacob, can I ask when you first discovered the existence of Omar Bakri? I have a feeling that it is rather recent.

    Is there anybody else except Jacob who can’t understand my comments? If not, I might give up trying to explain.

  • guy herbert

    James,

    The “Thunderer” column is a recent adoption when The Times changed its design. It is a guest column, appearing on one of the three main comment pages, but rather shorter than the regular columns in the same spread, and is generally polemical in style and contrarian in content. The Times thus gets kudos for publishing off-beat views, while retaining the capacity to stand aside and not endorse them if they go down badly.

    It is an environment in which a Samizdatista should feel right at home.

  • Gregory Schade

    damn straight

  • pommygranate

    Guy or anyone else

    A request from readers of this site not trained in the law. Can you help me understand the following –

    i) Do our existing laws permit both deportation (of foreigners) and incarceration (of British citizens) who glorify violence or encourage others to commit violence?

    ii) If so, why are these people still “free to come and go as they please?” (Prescott)

  • Before becoming the Arabian kingdom’s ambassador to the UK, Prince Turki al-Faisal was the head of his country’s ruthless intelligence services for more than two decades.
    He personally supervised the killing of hundreds of dissidents be they “Islamic” or democrats; under his guidance thousands of journalists, lawyers, trade union leaders and human rights activists were systematically tortured in Riyadh’s infamous high security prison

    In a farewell interview with The Times earlier this week, Prince Turki al-Faisal said that he had been “going around in circles during his 2½-year posting in a failed attempt to make Britain understand the danger posed by Saudi and Arab dissidents in London”

    This is where we’ve come to after 4 years of “war against terror”: Saudi thugs and Pentagon “security experts” are giving enlightened advice to Herr Big Bliar- not that he needs it, Tony’s technocratic/positivist “neolabour” ideology is largely aligned with Washington and Ryadh’s repressive mores…

    Blair simply needed a pretext to commence his totalitarian crackdown on civil liberties: from that perspective the tragic events of 7 July 2005 were god sent- on September 12, 2001 his friend Paul Wolfowitz said that “911 had awakened an insouciant giant”…and that “the rules of the game would change”

    Sounds familiar?

  • GCooper

    Dr Victorino de la Vega writes:

    “In a farewell interview with The Times earlier this week, Prince Turki al-Faisal said that he had been “going around in circles during his 2½-year posting in a failed attempt to make Britain understand the danger posed by Saudi and Arab dissidents in London””

    Regardless of the veracity of your smear job on him, he was right.

    The only person who seemed unaware of that was former MI5 boss, Stella Rimington.

  • A propos the “The Times” comment: with a transatlantic readership, there’s nothing wrong with differentiating between the Times of London and the Times of New York.

    The NYT is referred to as “The Times” Over Here by most — when it’s not being referred to as “Pravda On The Hudson”.

    Similarly, golf’s The Open is referred to as the “British Open” Over Here, because we too have one.

    I know, one can be pedantic about all this, and insist on the “correct” nomenclature.

    But good grief, we even have a “Spectator” (albeit called “The American Spectator”), so at least for We Dumb Americans Who Voted For Bush, it’s nice to have clarity, even if the correct terminology is compromised a little.

  • Guy Herbert

    But, KdT, if you lived in California, wouldn’t “the Times” would mean the LA Times– unless you were some crazily affected San Francisco liberal who holds LA more foreign than Manhattan.

  • A self respecting intelligence service never arrests an actual spy. We should be inspired by the Tsar’s Police, the Okhrana.They arrested Lenin only once, and then by mistake.The gendarme responsible for this was punished

    Sergo Beria of his father Lavrenti Beria in “Beria My Father” London Duckworth. 2001 ISBN 0 7156 3062 8
    The Okhrana’s (Department of Police from 1883. Strictly speaking, the term refers specifically to the security detail assigned to the Tsar and the royal family) penetration of the Bolshevik party was extensive and so thorough that the Police files constitute the most complete (and only reliable) record of the conspiratorial Bolshevik’s early history, internal organization, membership, and deliberations—an historian’s goldmine.

    This was not the only unintended consequence. By penetrating the radical groups, the Tsarist police were using a classic divide-and-conquer tactic to prevent formation of a unified opposition. Ironically, this tactic was most successful in preventing the emergence of an open opposition party with a mass base, and thus it helped to create an environment in which Lenin’s small monolithic party of professional revolutionaries could (and did) flourish.

    Lenin’s confidant Dr. Jacob Zhitomirsky was an Okhrana agent and for many years it has been proposed that in 1912 Stalin was – an argument that centres around the authenticity and history of the Eremin letter.

    The Okhrana was, in a limited sense, ahead of its time as an equal opportunity employer. It recruited people of all nationalities-and especially women-as agents. Women, in fact, were crucial to its operations and were paid as well or better than their male counterparts – see promotional literature about UK Secret Services – women form majority of staff including current and previous Heads of MI6.

    Consequently I have always assumed that the comical al Muhajiroun, Bakra, Hamza and the rest of the exotic , state funded honey pots have had a “dual use”, both to attract, and therefore enable identification of dissident voices, and also to focus public attention on and away from the subliminal agenda of the State.

    Jim Haynes with his Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and the “International Times” in the 60’s is called to mind.

  • Guy Herbert

    Pommygranate,

    The law’s a big place. To a first approximation the position is this:

    i) Do our existing laws permit both deportation (of foreigners)[...]

    Yes; pretty much ad lib, whatever they do or don’t do, provided they are not EU citizens and there’s somewhere to send them. Whether it should be so is arguable.

    [...] and incarceration (of British citizens) who glorify violence[...]

    No.

    [...] or encourage others to commit violence?[...]

    Yes; provided they are proved to have done so in a fair trial.

    ii) If so, why are these people still “free to come and go as they please?” (Prescott)

    They are if the Home Office lets them; they’re not, if the Home Office decides they are not. Prescott is more clueless than the average minister. Or perhaps more intrepid in not relying on notes passed by officials. Or perhaps more brazen in stoking tabloid fury by misdirection.

    Aficionados of British moral panics will recall the Danish film-maker and prankster Jens Jørgen Thorsen being excluded from Britain as “not conducive to the public interest” after he’d declared he was going to shoot a pornographic life of Christ here (which would not have been illegal).

  • Guy Herbert

    Edward Teague:

    Consequently, I have always assumed [...]

    You are far from the only one.

  • Guy, I live in LA, and everyone I’ve heard talking about the paper here (including me) calls it “the LA Times,” not just “the Times.”

  • Jacob

    Edward, guy,

    “Consequently I have always assumed that the comical al Muhajiroun, Bakra, Hamza and the rest of the exotic , state funded honey pots have had a “dual use”, both to attract, and therefore enable identification of dissident voices, and also to focus public attention on and away from the subliminal agenda of the State.”

    Ok. Conspiracy theories are so appealing…. they make excellent fiction. Of course, you don’t KNOW anything, you guess, surmise, imagine and spew it. Fine. No harm done. But you don’t expect people to take you seriously ? “Subliminal agenda of the Staqte” ha ! See, we heard some Freudian terminology too. We have penetrated into the hidden recesses of Blair’s mind. How clever !

    As I pointed out, all this cleverness did not stop the 7/11 atrocity, neither the 9/11 conspirators, some of whom spent time in London. So, there…
    About “identification of dissident voices” … maybe they did a lot of indetification, but little arrests or deportations… So yes, wonderful exercise in “identification”…

  • guy herbert

    Ken,

    Thanks. I’d swear I’ve heard Californians refer to it thus, however. I probably have an unrepresentative sample.

    Jacob,

    On matters of concrete fact… You didn’t answer when you first heard of Omar Bakri. I’m still puzzled why you think your brand of whole-cloth assertion is other than guess, surmise and imagination.

  • Jacob

    “You didn’t answer when you first heard of Omar Bakri”

    I first heard the name Omar Bakri the day before yesterday when I read that Times article.
    Why are you asking ? Maybe you had the honor of meeting him, or know him for some time… Maybe he is indeed a clown. Do you wish to imply that there are no violence inciting preachers in England ? Is that “surmise” or fact ? What did you try to imply ?

    I had my share of quite close contact with Arabs of all types. These preachers might seem clowns to you (they do, to me too), but they have their followers….

    Like you make it sound, this whole 7/11 business was a clever plot by the sinister Blair chap, to advance “the subliminal agenda of the State.” Wait a minute, haven’t we heard this theory somewhere ??

  • David Mercer

    I’d think that anyone not born a British Subject would he on UK soil technically at the Sufferance of The Queen or some such thing, no? Aren’t the Home Office presumed to be executing her will in a fashion dictated by Parliament?

    In other words, European Convention on Human Rights notwithstanding, can’t they just toss the bastards out on their ass? And if they wanna play nicey nice with the EUnicks, just toss them into some other country that’ll take them aside from ‘home’ where they’ll presumably get their possibly just deserts?

    Or have I horribly mis-read British law and tradition in this case?

  • Jacob : On your reckoning the penetration of CND to obtain the control of the Secretary for many years was wasted effort for the organs of the State ?

    I would have hoped that the quotation by Beria Snr. on the habits of the Okhrana, was a helpful guide about how useful spies are , when left unarrested.

    If you do not believe that the State has an unstated agenda then you are probably happy to believe Lever Bros. when they tell you “Dove” will rid you of unsightly cellulite….after all they spend a great deal of money seducing the credulous..so does HMG.

  • guy herbert

    Jacob,

    What I mean to imply–and I’m glad that I’m confirmed in my supposition–is that my knowledge, and the knowledge of virtually everyone in Britain who takes an interest in current affairs, of the sayings and actions Omar Bakri vastly exceeds yours. I have known of him for around 10 years. He is highly familiar to the educated British public, through the documentary “Tottenham Ayatollah” first broadcast in 1997 in which journalist Jon Ronson trailed him with his consent for a year, and from frequent other appearances in our media.

    I don’t know whether Omar Bakri has said or done anything worthy of prosecution. However, the fact that he has not been prosecuted in a decade of saying calculatedly ourrageous things whenever the opportunity presents itself suggests that (a) he hasn’t, or (b) he is more useful unprosecuted. If he is ever prosecuted then I hope the court will decide on the facts of the case, not third party prejudice (not even mine).

    Yet you, with your intense concern for concreteness and specificity, are happy to dismiss, indeed mock, any judgment I may make on the basis of some actual knowledge, and any past decisions the British authorities have made on the basis of rather more, in a particular, specific, concrete case–because you have read a newspaper report the day before yesterday, and you are prepared to make some generalisations from your own contact with Arabs.

    On a similar basis you presume to tell us that our monstrous populist Prime Minister is right, and we are wrong, about what our law should be. Then you mirepresent criticism of Blair and your own presumptiveness as part of a conspiracy theory.

    Of course, you don’t KNOW anything, you guess, surmise, imagine and spew it. But you do expect people to take you seriously.

    But I don’t think: “Fine. No harm done.” This sort of non-argument, whether in the hands of Islamist preachers, slavering anti-Muslim pundits, or power-hungry Western politicians, should not be the spring of action.

  • pommygranate

    Guy
    Thankyou for answering my questions.

    This morning’s Times, (here), details the options available to the lawyers defending those arrested yesterday (the print version is more comprehensive).

    The number of courts and higher authorities to which they can appeal seem endless. Deportation looks highly unlikely as a result.

    What is needed to speed up the process?

    New legislation?, Repeal or amendments of existing legislation ? (e.g. certain clauses of the ECHR), pressure on judges to stop being so dogmatic?, new judges?

    The inevitable consequence of these welfare-addicted mad mullahs remaining in Britain will be a steep rise in anti-Muslim feelings amongst the general population.

    Prior to 7/7, my office used to be a bastion of PC sobriety in which any self-respecting Guardian journo would have felt perfectly at home.
    The change in a month is startling. Regular foul-mouthed tirades are directed at TV screens whenever anyone of Muslim appearance is wheeled on. Noone admonishes them.

  • Well said Guy. ….Don’t be too hard on such people though…London would run out of taxi drivers if we deported them.

  • Jacob

    guy,
    First I must admit than, indeed, my knowledge of circumstances in Britain, and of British law is rather poor (I don’t live in Britain).

    Still, much of what you say doesn’t make sense.

    For example:
    “If he is ever prosecuted then I hope the court will decide on the facts of the case, not third party prejudice (not even mine).”

    This is a fuzzy generalization and evasion . I would expect you, possesing a good knowledge of the facts, as you claim, and a full set of guiding philosophical principles, to make a judgement, not to evade it. Should the mad mullahs be deported or not ? Stop beating about the bush “I hope the court will decide on the facts of the case..” and give us a staright answer, if you don’t mind.

    The courts have not deported them so far, on the contrary, they were welcomed and granted residency and citizenship. Do you think that was a mistake or not ? Do you think the mistake should be corrected, or that everything is just fine, nothing needs to be done, and 7/11 was a lamentable incident of no major significance, with no danger of it’s repetition ?

    you presume to tell us that our monstrous populist Prime Minister is right,

    I will accept your assesment of the “monsrousity” (or not) of your prime minister. You are indeed in a position to know better than me. Still, he did one right thing, in my opinion – the war in Iraq. He showed great courage in going against the almost unanimous opinion of his party, and against public opinion, and did, in this case, the right thing. (He might be wrong about all other things…).

    But assesing the personality of Blair and his record so far is not the topic of our debate.

    The topic is: do you need to deport inciting mullahs or not ? Is current legislation adequate, or needs it some correction ?

    I don’t know about Law, but just a hypotetical question: maybe in the last years, under Blair, the law was modified (as it was in many instances) in ways that you would not approve of. Maybe they have now recognized their mistakes and want to correct them ?

    Your judgement of the specifics of this case should not be based on you opinion of Mr Blair.

  • Jacob

    Furthermore, from this (Link)article from The Guardian:

    “A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that Omar Mahmoud Othman Abu Omar, also known as Abu Qatada, was among the 10 foreigners in custody. The government declined to name them.

    The 44-year-old Palestinian cleric, who carries a Jordanian passport, was granted political asylum in Britain in 1993. He has been in jail or under close supervision here since 2002. He faces deportation to Jordan, where authorities convicted him in absentia in 1998 and again in 2000 for involvement in a series of explosions and terror plots.

    British authorities believe Abu Qatada inspired the lead Sept. 11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta, and he is suspected of having links with radical groups across Europe. He has been named in a Spanish indictment as “supreme leader at the European level of the mujahedeen,” or Islamic fighters. ”

    Do you think that it is sane and correct to grant political asylum to people such as Abu Qatada, “convicted in absentia in 1998 and again in 2000 for involvement in a series of explosions and terror plots.” ?
    Who was Prime minister in 1993 when asylum was granted ?

    What is the biggest human rights outrage in this case – granting asylum to the terrorist, or Tony Blair’s attempt to deport him ?

    (Of course, he should not be deported but extradicted along with a big list of other fine specimens of his kind, whose extradiction Britain has refused, including one suspected of complicity in the detonation of a bomb in the Paris metro 10 years ago).