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How will they stop Amazon?

The Home Secretary today announced yet another package of “anti-terrorism” police-state measures.

Maybe it’s just me, but don’t they appear to come out more frequently and be bolder each time? The pace is stiffening, which is weird since the rhetoric is always of “striking a balance”. Surely, if a balance really was being sought, we would expect successive adjustments to be smaller and smaller?

The most interesting and alarming are the “powers to tackle extremist bookshops”. The proposed new offence is “the publishing or possessing for sale of publications that indirectly incite terrorist acts”. Better run down to Waterstones or Borders and pick up those copies of The Monkey Wrench Gang, The Fountainhead, Long Walk to Freedom, and Mein Kampf now, before they are shut down.

Make no mistake, the Blair régime now proposes to make many, many polemical and political books illegal. Or potentially illegal. For “indirect incitement” is a novel, but plainly very inchoate, inchoate offense, and the definition of “terrorism” we may expect to be used is that of the Terrorism Act 2000:

(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where—
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

(2) Action falls within this subsection if it—
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.

(4) In this section—
(a) “action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b) a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c) a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d) “the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.

(5) In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.

Potentially, is the rub. I doubt any of the works I mentioned will be banned this decade. But almost every strongly expressed political, religious or ideological opinion will be illegal, if the authorities so choose.

Arbitrary power by democratic mandate. Lawlessness backed by law. Once more Lenin would be proud.

I’ve already pointed out what the Home Office’s ambitions could mean for this site. Locking people up and deporting them for openly expressed opinions is easy. But the freedom of the press in other parts of the world presents a problem: are they going to search every book package from Amazon.com for works from the proscribed list?

42 comments to How will they stop Amazon?

  • Ted

    Arguments against this type of legislation are in my view becoming more and more moved from reality.

    We have paid a very high price already for the strategy adopted by MI5 and MI6 in the 1990s : which was to let these people in, then watch them. The French told us we were mad as they chased the Algerian extremists out of France, using extra-judicial powers and extremely tough legislation. The Germans told us we were mad. We, in our pride, thought that the guarantee of human rights protection and security from deportation would protect us. We thought that by providing sanctuary, they would not hit us. It’s called appeasement and it doesn’t work. We were wrong, very wrong.

    The legislation is an attempt to stop terrorists from attacking and murdering innocent people. Given that terrorist attacks are likely to rise in number and ambition in the coming years, the legislation is to be commended and it is to be hoped that it is used immediately and ruthlessly. I would ratehr have my tax pounds spent on ensuring these scum are kept off the streets

    It is always important to ensure that the application of legislation to real circumstances does not result in a breach of the legally protected rights of citizens. The sad fact is that this legislation will inevitably be applied against innocent individuals in the coming years.That’s why we have a legal system.

  • guy herbert

    I don’t think I’m the one removed from reality here.

    We have a legal system in order that overbroad offences may be created and used against the innocent? The point of my entire post is that this stuff appears to have the form of law, complete with intricate sub-clauses; but it has the substance of state terror.

  • GCooper

    I think Mr Herbert and I have disagreed before about the need for stricter anti-terrorism laws.

    But not this time.

    These proposals are like nothing seen outside the Third Reich (pace Godwin’s Law) or some other totalitarian nightmare, such as China or Soviet Russia.

    Banning books? Why not just go the whole hog, Blair, and have public burnings of them?

  • Ted

    Guy

    I respect your point of view, however at the moment it is an unused law. The term ‘state terror’ can only be applied once we see how the law is applied, how the judiciary interpret it and how the arrested are treated when in confinement.

    State terror, such as that used by Saddam Hussein, involves the complicity of the entire political, military and legal appratus. Innocents in Hussein’s Iraq were arrested without reason, were not provided with legal representation, were tortured and killed in prison and were not protected by the legislature, judiciary or legal profession. That is state terror.

    It is currently impossible in the UK for a person arrested to be subject to state terror.

  • Johnathan

    Guy, an excellent and sadly chilling post. I can think of a few writers in the anarcho-capitalist tradition, for example, who might come on the wrong side of this sort of law.

    Another point worth repeating over and over is that we already have the ability, under the existing and much-abused Common Law, to deal with actions or statements by persons likely to cause a breach of the peace, or laws prohibiting incitement to commit murder, etc. There is no reason for this or any other government to re-invent the friggin wheel. I am particularly stunned by the idea that a book could be banned for “indirectly” encouraging terrorism. That is so vague as to be either useless or give unlimited power of censorship to the State.

    It will be a test of how seriously one should take the Tories to see how and whether they oppose these measures.

  • Ted

    By the way, while I agree with the provisions regarding inflammatory literature, I think it is next to impossible to apply. Jihadists use the web for their information, which includes text documents and video.

    However I am all for hassling the owners and patrons of jihadist bookshops in the UK, where terrorists have been meeting since the late 1980s.

  • GCooper

    Ted writes:

    “However I am all for hassling the owners and patrons of jihadist bookshops in the UK, where terrorists have been meeting since the late 1980s.”

    If you know where the bastards are, then the proper procedure is to bug or infiltrate and then prosecute under the many existing and perfectly good laws.

    Banning books is just typical Za-NuLabour attention-seeking, authoritarian neo-fascism.

  • Jacob

    “We have a legal system in order that overbroad offences may be created and used against the innocent?”

    Have the laws been used against the innocent, or are you again crying wolf in vain ?

    Laws can be used against innocents. All laws. The question is: are they so used ?

    I’m not sure these new laws are needed; seems that, as Johnatan said, the problem seems to be non-enforcement of perfectly good existing laws.

    Still, the very real problem that faces Britain (and the world) is terrorism, and efficiently fighting it, while the other problem – the oppresion of innocent citizens is theoretical, it’s not something that actually happens, it’s not acute.

  • Robert Alderson

    What about the rights of common criminals and bankrobbers?

    3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.

    Somebody who uses firearms or explosives regardless is therefore a terrorist regardless of whether section (1)(b) (covering the intent to influence government or intimidate the public) is triggered.

    The only remaining point to be satisfied to make a terrorism case if guns or explosives are involved is 1(c) that the action is for religious, political or ideological reasons.

    Since ideology is not defined that makes it very likely that members of an organised bank robbing or drug dealing gang could be construed to be acting out of ideology and therefore treated as terrorists.

  • Richard Garner

    The stress placed by the government is on inciting, directly or indirectly, terrorism. Well, libertarians have disagreed on whether incitement should be a crime or not. However, my question is how one differentiates between inciting terrorism, justifying terrorism, and explaining terrorism.

    For instance, it seems to me that “they were pissed off at the government for invading Iraq, maintaining a regime their, and at the public for giving the this government a mandate” is a pretty good explaination of why the terrorists on 7/7 may have committted their acts. We can disagree with it or not, but it is an explaination. It is not a justification, but surely it wouldn’t take much to be read as one.

    Also there is all the twaddle about “extremism”. The government talks about banning extremist bookshops, organisations, and deporting advocates of extremism. Likewise, Bush has declared the war on terror over and now presumes to call it a war on terrorism. Well, “Extremism in defense of liberty in no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Those words were, of course uttered by a Republican candidate for president, Barry Goldwater (though written by the libertarian Karl Hess).

    Or how about this:

    But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal …” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime—the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

    The author here was, of course, Martin Luther King, passionately defending his own extremism. Would Blair or Bush applaud the assassin who rid the world of this “extremist.”

    I am an anarchist. I personally believe that society could be more justly ordered, and better ordered, without a state. That’s pretty extreme. Should I be deported?

  • Robert Alderson

    Laws can be used against innocents. All laws.

    People are innocent until proven guilty so laws are always used against innocent people.

    The point is that these laws are so broad that they criminalise much behaviour that is not dangerous. It is no good saying that the authorities won’t absue their powers, how can we be sure? These laws would allow the prosection of e.g. a student who passed a copy of Mein Kampf to a fellow student studing the Nazi period. If the state chose to prosecute the student there would be no defence open to him – he would be found guilty.

    Don’t rely on the state to exercise discretion on the basis that it will only prosecute ‘bad people’. Tomorrow there could be a change of government and the state would have all the tools it needed to start prosecuting / persecuting any one it wants.

  • Andy

    ‘let these people in’, Ted?? You mean you know who they are?? Have you informed the authorities or are you in the plot??

    Do they have long robes, big beards and dyalysis machines? Have they been buying from BAe?

    The use of expressions like ‘these people’ is improper. I don’t think anyone ‘let these people in’, unless you are broadening the debate to include ALL Moslems, ALL asylum seekers, ALL immigrants. But that would be racist wouldn’t it?

  • Ted

    Andy, I will ignore your silly comments as they add nothing to the debate. Grow up. ‘These people’, as my posts clearly predicate, are mujahadeen soldiers living in the UK,or who come to the UK. Current estimates are that we have as many as 1,200 in the UK. What would you do if you were running the country, Andy? Thought so – d’oh, no idea. Well, why not learn about the threat facing you, your family and your fellow citizens? A starting point could be learning about Abu Doha and the Frankfurt terror cell, broken up by German secret services, in 2000. 2 of the 4 man cell were refugees and asylum seekers, living in the UK.

    Most of you are content to treat the threat posed by islamic extremism as a transient one, overhyped by the press and western governments who in reality seek further control over citizens. It seems clear that Andy doesn’t even think there is a threat, even though the London bombings were carried out by people that our secret services had no idea about at all. Fair enough – I respect that, as well as the fact that the state cannot be trusted.

    However I think the threat is real and as dangerous as fascism in the 1930-40s, if not more dangerous. I think that Blair, Bush, Howard, Aznar, Putin and other leaders are genuinely worried and are not intent on increasing state power over the citizen body. The threat posed by islamic extremism is real and the people who conduct it are serious, committed and skilled soldiers who refer to themselves as such. We may as well admit it. they want us gone and another system in place. The difference between them and other starry eyed revolutionaries, apart from the fact that they know exactly what they are doing, is that they have the support of hundreds of millions of muslims across the globe, as well as the financial and logistical support of nation states – Iran and Saudi come to mind. That’s not fiction , it’s the truth. The fight against these people will last for at least the next decade, if not longer.

    Then there’s the comment about book burning. Again, grow up. The Nazis targeted and then burned the books of jews, an innocent minority in German society. The government in the UK seeks to target and prohibit books that are sold as an incitement to jihad, which currently has at least 57 victims on the UK mainland and thousands of victims internationally. These books are found in extremist bookshops, which have for a long time now been targeted by MI5 and are a haven for extremism.

    Leaving the current system in place increases the risk that more of our fellow citizens will be murdered. I am prepared in these circumstances to give the state the benefit of the doubt, as I believe the state poses less of a threat to society than do the terrorist cells who are currently planning further attacks in the UK. As events unfold in the next 12-24 months internationally and in the UK, a time in which we are going to see islamic terror on a scale never before imagined, I am certain that my view will be the right one.

  • Richard Garner

    Ted, you miss the point entirely.

    First of all, unless you can identify the “mujahadeen” personally, then your diatribe against “letting them in” is necessarily a diatribe against letting all immigrants in. After all, if you want to shut out every thousand or so people from a country because you think one of them might be a terrorist, then what else can you call your position?

    Secondly, again you assert that the government is using these laws to target jihadists. Is it? A person is a jihadist if they are proved to be a jihadist. Today it was announced that six people of plotting terrorist acts are on a government list to be deported.

    Nevertheless, suppose it is true that the government is using these laws to target jihadists. Does this alter the FACT that these laws can easily be used to target other groups? And what is the definition of targets for these laws? It is so broad that it could practically include anybody that the government doesn’t like or thinks there is strong public opion against and political capital to be made from victimising.

    I look at laws such as these, and others, and I know that I am more afraid of the threat to my freedom from the British state than from terrorists. At least the terrorists don’t pretend to rob me of my liberty in the name of protecting my liberty.

  • Ted

    Richard

    At the risk of repeating myself, addressing your paragraphs :

    1 I support asylum and immigration. Why ? It works. In my opinion, 99% of asylum seekers are genuine people and the history of English tolerance should be maintained, if possible. However I am against letting in jihadists. Yes, the state has let in jihadists knowingly.

    2 The government has enacted these laws in light of thei failure of UK policy during the 1990s, where it was decided the best way to protect the citizenry was to let in known jihadists, such as Abu Doha, and watch them. The laws are directed 100% at islamic terrorists, so you are wrong.

    3 I take your point here. The laws can be used to target other groups who have crazy views but do not exercise violence. This is a legitimate concern, especially in the medium to long term. However in my opinion that danger does not justify doing nothing now. On balance and as I take the threat from militarised islam extremely seriously, I give the government the benefit of the doubt.

    4 You are more frightened of the state than of islamic terrorists. Fair enough. We differ on that point and if the law was used in a way to target totally innocent groups or people, the I would be the first to argue for its repeal. But as I posted before – I assume that these laws have been passed (with the full consent of the Lib Dems, I might add) to round up and get rid of people who seek to replace our way of life with a way of life based on extreme islam. Just remember that the latter will be around far longer than Blair, Brown et al will be.

  • Julian Morrison

    Hmm, unless I’m very mistaken, the law could well ban “glorification” of the American Revolution, since that’s a past event that would definitely have fallen under the definition of terrorism.

  • Jacob, said:

    the oppresion of innocent citizens is theoretical, it’s not something that actually happens

    Under the prevention of terrorism bill you can be locked up in your living room without ever going to trial. This has been appled to a number of suspects who are now subject to deportation to countries that practice torture, if I recall correctly from the Times.

    Have they let these people out yet? Have I missed something? Remember that we are talking about people whom, as the Government openly admitted, could not be put on trial and who do not know what they did wrong. I believe the explanation lies with “expedient” investigations that do not result in admissable evidence.

    I would much rather more tax went to the security services to run properly resourced and properly planned investigations that led to actual trials, rather than simply allowing people to rot. Our willingness to compromise on what makes someone guilty depending on the crime they are accused of says a great deal about the morality of this nation.

  • GCooper

    Ted writes:

    “Then there’s the comment about book burning. Again, grow up.”

    Let’s deal with that impertinence first with a joyful ‘fuck off’. I resent being advised to “grow up” by someone to whom, I suspect, I could happily donate a couple of decades.

    As for the rest:

    “The Nazis targeted and then burned the books of jews, an innocent minority in German society.”

    You’re wrong. The Nazis burned books by anyone of whom they disapproved. They were authoritarians and unless you have spent the past five years or so with your head stuck up your arse, you won’t have missed the techniques used by Blair and his cohorts to smear, slander and denigrate any and every opponent, on an increasing scale . Whether you are talking about a government that arranged the sacking of the IOD economist Ruth Lea, hounded poor David Kelly to his death, engineered the resignation of the effective head of the BBC and even stooped to smear members of the Women’s Institute as ‘BNP supporters’ because they dared heckle Blair, this is a government growing progressively out of control. It will brook no opposition, nor any dissent. Book banning is simply the extension of a mindset – and that mindset is a totalitarian one.

    “The government in the UK seeks to target and prohibit books that are sold as an incitement to jihad, which currently has at least 57 victims on the UK mainland and thousands of victims internationally. These books are found in extremist bookshops, which have for a long time now been targeted by MI5 and are a haven for extremism.”

    If MI5 were even half as effective as it was before the idiotic Stella Rimington elected to ignore islamofacists in favour if the IRA, such targeting as you claim takes place would have nipped this particular cancer in the bud.

    Only an imbecile or a fascist would ban a book when he could jail a jihadi.

  • MT Wilkins

    Comment deleted as you are banned for posting under multiple names. I cast you out, Gadarene Swine!

  • Julian Morrison

    Realistically I don’t think the current government is planning to go totalitarian. I doubt they harbor any ambition scarier than the use of their new powers to look good in the Sun.

    I think folks who are warning against a new Reich are missing the real trouble.

    It’s not that this law isn’t dangerously overbroad if fully applied – but it won’t be. It will be capriciously applied. And that’s the problem. This and various other new-labour laws are intentionally designed to let the state and its flunkies play favourites in enforcement. That’s an open invitation to corruption, petty empire-building, and the long slow down-spiral towards a banana republic.

  • guy herbert

    GCooper: If MI5 were even half as effective as it was before the idiotic Stella Rimington elected to ignore islamofacists in favour if the IRA, such targeting as you claim takes place would have nipped this particular cancer in the bud.

    Oh, ’tis worse even than that. The IRA focus was a symptom, not the problem. It was becoming part of the departmental bunfight.

    Note that the Security Service was not responsible for dealing with terrorism, that was the job of Special Branch (just now abolished). It was the fall of the Soviet empire that led to (I deduce) panic among the intelligence services bureaucracy that they were out of a job, and then they embarked on some empire building of their own. It was then they went public; it was then the Security Service remit was broadened to include terrorism and serious crime (drugs in particular–since even a securocrat could see that was a “problem” that wouldn’t go away).

    There is also a question of strategy. Recall that in the 70s and 80s islamofascists and actual fascists were encouraged as a bulwark against communism. This was most obviously crazy and disastrous in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Remember Zia ul-Haq?) But it doesn’t in retrospect look too clever elsewhere in the Middle East. That’s the core of the problem.

    The Londonistan approach was and is sound in principle, and it is far from clear that the intelligence services lack the resources to use it correctly. (Although they will always say they do. They are civil service departments, of course their budgets and staffs are too small.) What they have clearly lost track (of some) of is native English islamism, not piped through London refugees but through proselytising mediated by friendly relations with Saudi and Pakistan.

    That we mistakenly encouraged evil abroad however does not, pace Ted justify destroying our own freedom. As I have said before, our freedom is our best defense and strongest weapon.

    BTW, Ted: if the law was used in a way to target totally innocent groups or people, the I would be the first to argue for its repeal…

    How do you know what we have isn’t being? (Note: link covers only T2000, not related anti-terror statutes. The Home Office is the most legalistic of organisations and should only ever be taken literally.) How would you decide when it was? What makes you think you would be allowed to when you got to that point?

    Julian is right, such a law can be and will be capriciously applied, as certain other laws already are, for political purposes. And that was my key point: over-broad laws cease to be laws but a license for the lawless application state of state power.

  • Ted

    In other words, your solution is to maintain the status quo and do nothing : which is precisely what the jihadists want.

    Nice work, guys.

  • Dave B

    I was listening to Tony Bliar on Radio 4 this morning talking about these proposed new laws. I noted that whilst the laws are being brought in as a reaction to 7/7 Bliar talked about the need to combat “extremism” not “Terrorism”. So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these laws are used against dissidents of all stripes as the state sees fit.

    Very good post BTW Guy.

  • guy herbert

    No; my prescription is not to do nothing. But I would do almost none of the things that our present Government has done and is doing. I would have done almost nothing in parliament. And now there are a great many “anti-terrorism” laws, in urgent need of repeal.

    I want a legal system that is not susceptible to political manipulation, and intelligence and police services that do the job using skill and the powers granted to them that are fit to be granted in a free society.

    My prescription is for the Government and police to stop collaborating in spreading terror, and for the police and intelligence services to go about their work diligently within the law, without the press releases and spin, and without the hucksterism for increased powers. I would change the law to permit intercept evidence to be used, challenged and discovered in criminal proceedings (but not civil ones). I would also make the following rules: 1. The intelligence services make no public comment on anything, and do not supply materials to journalists save as an operational expedient. 2. A serving senior officer including any Chief Constable who publicly opines on the state of the law should be dismissed, and an officer of any rank who comments publicly on a court judgment will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

    The political scientist’s definition of terrorism is the deliberate inculcation of fear in the public for political ends, particularly but not exclusively in order to create a more repressive state. On that basis, Her Majesty’s Government is a far more effective terrorist organisation that even the IRA (whose effectiveness and achievements dwarf those of the islamists in this country).

  • Roland Mar

    Gentlemen and Gentleladies of SAMIZDATA:

    Might I offer the suggestion that you rather urgently consider measures to preserve your own safety and freedom of action in case the British government, or perhaps the EU government acting through its new powers, decides that free thought and expression is “extremist”? It would perhaps be also wise to have fallback positions to maintain the site away from the grasp of those entities. Finally, as frequently screwed up as we are here in the United States, I don’t think that we are as far along the road to Big Brother as Britain. Have you considered adding your talents to the American resistance to oppression and idiotarianism?

  • Jacob

    “2. A serving senior officer including any Chief Constable who publicly opines on the state of the law should be dismissed, and an officer of any rank who comments publicly on a court judgment will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.”

    Hear, hear! That in the name of protecting free speech ?!

    So you would deny some people the right to criticize, or suggest improvements, to the work of the Parliament and the judges ? To the very same people who, unlike you, are deeply immersed in the subject matter, and probably know what they are talking about ?

  • GCooper

    Jacob writes:

    “To the very same people who, unlike you, are deeply immersed in the subject matter, and probably know what they are talking about ?”

    I take it you’ve never heard of Richard Brunstrom?

    It might once have been the case that British Chief Constables could be assumed to know what they were talking about. If nothing else, they were highly experienced in the quotidian realities of policing.

    That is no longer the case and their opinions are, as a consequence, frequently worthless.

    That, I might add, is additional to the principle Guy Herbert is seeking to establish and which is, clearly, absolutely right.

  • Diablo Tazmania

    Guy,

    I’d say that was a good article but frankly, it scared the bejesus out of me. It’s exactly the sort of stuff we have come to know and loathe from “Tony’s Cronies”.

    Ted,

    You seem to have a slightly lopsided view of Terrorism. Islamic Extremist Terrorists are not, have not, and never will be the sole threat we face. You say that the only books the Nazi’s burned were Jewish texts. Not so, they burnt any text they took as disliking to or that disagreed with their crock theory of Aryan Supremecy.

    However, given the threats we face, the answer CANNOT be “curtail everyone else’s freedom”. How precisely could any of these new Laws have prevented the tragedy in London? They couldn’t. Both Police and Security Services have said they could never have prevented them as they had no clue nor warning. Surely a better use of time and money is to upgrade our Intelligence Community, not threaten the general populous.

    We seem to be at the mercy of a Govt that has forgotten that the idea of Law & justice is to punish and rehabilitate criminals, and has perverted it into something that allows them to criminalise any one, any time & for any reason.

    The line from the up and coming film “V for Vendetta” springs easily to my mind. “People should not be afraid of their Govts, Govts should be afraid of their people!”. The day we fear our Govt is the day we stop living in a democracy I feel.

    Taz

  • MT Wilkins

    Comment deleted. So… you have posted the same comment earlier under the name of ‘John Thomas’ so I guess you are the repetative and multiple personality disordered Dr. Vic. Ciao

  • I was thinking ‘The Fountainhead’ how could that incite terrorism, then I remembered how the work culminated, with the blowing up for the excessively modified building and such. To think that work, whatever its merits, would be banned is crazy.
    Peace,
    Chris

  • GCooper

    guy herbert writes:

    “What they have clearly lost track (of some) of is native English islamism, not piped through London refugees but through proselytising mediated by friendly relations with Saudi and Pakistan.”

    I agree with all that you say, with the exception of the statement above.

    It is my impression that home-grown islamic extremism has been quite significantly influenced by “refugees” and that they have also played a significant role in recruitment, financing and organising of islamofascist operations abroad.

    At the time, I considered the Londonistan containment principle extremely foolhardy , not least because I doubted the ability of the police and security services to monitor it, let alone cope with the heady mix of ignorance, ambition and incompetence of our politicians.

    I believe events have proved me right.

  • rosignol

    Tony Blair and Charles Clarke are taking yet another page from the official doctrine of Washington’s “New Conservatism”: their draft Terrorism Bill published today possesses all the characteristics of a totalitarian legal system as defined by George Orwell, including retroactive legislation and government-imposed limitation on freedom of speech and freedom of association… etc.
    -MT Wilkins

    Only someone utterly ignorant of the fact that law making something illegal ex post facto is explicitly forbidden by the US Constitution, and completely unaware of the legal significance of the 1st Amendment, could spew such rubbish. Whatever Blair’s inspiration was, it certainly wasn’t anything in Washington DC.

    …..

    The next time you have a revolution and put together a new system of government, get how it’s supposed to work down in writing. Without that, all you’ve got between you and the government is the self-restraint and decency of politicans and vague memories of how things used to be.

  • Jacob

    GCooper:
    “That is no longer the case and their [British Chief Constables’] opinions are, as a consequence, frequently worthless.”

    Which is not reason enough to prohibit them from uttering them ….

  • Jaime Raúl Molina

    This latest directive for banning ‘pro-terror’ books by the government of Airstrip One, errr, sorry, England, is much more worrisome because it comes from the country where individual freedoms that we are lately starting to lose in the name of the fight against terror (reminds me of the Holy Inquisition and all its abuses being justified by the fight against the devil), were first developed.

  • Julian Taylor

    Martin Luther King once observed: “The law might not change the hearts, but it can restrain the heartless.” Unfortunately not quite so in this case.

    We all know that Our Little Tony designed this dreadful bill, not Charles Clarke as he likes to make out, and it was purely done as something to show at the UN – allowing for OLT to look manly, stern and statesmanlike in front of the cameras. I would hazard a guess that even the faceless minions of the EU or the European Parliament would balk at legislation designed with such a ferocious intent at subjugation and control of population.

    I wonder what will become of many of the quality book stores in London, in light of this most disgusting of all legislation. Would Foyles or Borders be required to purchase a ‘terrorism inspiration waiver’ before selling a Freddie Forsyth or Tom Clancy novel, simply because they describe how to build a nuclear or other explosive device and thus could be construed as possibly being of assistance to a terrorist group? Will secondhand book sellers be held liable if they clear out someone’s home and sell a copy of a work found to be an incitement to terrorism, religious, class or racial hatred – Das Kapital, for example – regardless of their even knowing the subject matter of the book?

    And there was I thinking that Fahrenheit 451 was just futuristic fiction …

  • Ted

    Guy, you say:

    I would change the law to permit intercept evidence to be used, challenged and discovered in criminal proceedings (but not civil ones).

    But doesn’t that fall foul of the objections against state interference that you have raised through this post?

    Taz: I have already stated that the judiciary, legal profession, media and executive powers in this country already have the government by the balls – so yes, while theoretically the law could be applied against anyone using freedom of expression, I doubt it. This law is directed against islamic extremism, pure and simple. Without that threat, the tories and lib dems, let alone the judiciary, media and legal professions would let this legislation survive.

  • guy herbert

    Ted,

    I confess I do not understand your reasoning. There are other fans of arbitrary state power against “bad people” who post here whom I disagree with but think I comprehend. My post isn’t about state interference (“interference” in what, in this context?) but about creating laws that grant powers to the state that are both arbitrary in any likely application and inherently repugnant in content.

    Could you elucidate that distinction between the executive and the government?

    AS for the law being “directed against islamic extremism”, the law says what it says. (Or will say what it will say. The appalling definition of terrorism is already law, but what we are mainly discussing is government ambition.) There is nothing to suggest that it applies only to muslims, though I think it would still be unacceptable (and in some ways worse) if it did.

  • guy herbert

    Jacob,

    My reasoning is essentially the same as my desire to remove the vote from civil servants, and to abolish SEFRAs altogether. There’s a conflict of interest. One cannot be both servant and master.

    It is the duty of police officers to uphold and enforce the law as it is. Not to make things easy for themselves. Policemen want more arrest powers and lower burdens of proof rather as industrialists want tarrifs and subsidies. Policemen and intelligence officers are by the nature of their work susceptible to confirmation bias, and the prosecutorial fallacy. Among the traits that draw people to such roles–and get them promoted in them–are personal certainty about right and wrong and an unselfconscious sense of standing above the moral compromises. They are the last people whose opinion I want on criminal procedure

    Judges generally refrain from expressing opinions on what the law should be. Sitting Law Lords do not by convention participate in debates of legal policy, though they occasionally intervene on technical questions.

  • And just as the Spanish Inquisition was beginning to relax its enforcement regime based on the Index.

  • Jacob

    “It is the duty of police officers to uphold and enforce the law as it is.”

    Of course.
    But that does not mean they are prohibited from suggesting amendments and improvements. It is possible that they are biased (everybody is somehow), therefore, their sugestions aren’t accepted automatically; like all suggestions, they are mostly ignored; but sometimes found worthy and adopted after full deliberations in Parliament.

    Judges generally refrain from expressing opinions on what the law should be.

    I don’t think so. If they find some technical fault (like two laws contradicting one another) they say so. Judges should refrain from taking part in legislative campaigns that are somehow political in nature, but they sure can comment on general principles and aspects of current legislation.

  • John K

    I take it you’ve never heard of Richard Brunstrom?

    It should be noted that the egregious Brunstrom’s increasingly bizarre public fetishization of traffic camera revenue devices has shown to the public that:

    a) these cameras are a cash raising scam;

    b) he is a small minded monomaniac who is not fit for the job.

    If he was forced to stay silent in public, we would still suspect as much, but we wouldn’t know it for sure.

  • John K

    We all know that Our Little Tony designed this dreadful bill, not Charles Clarke as he likes to make out, and it was purely done as something to show at the UN – allowing for OLT to look manly, stern and statesmanlike in front of the cameras.

    You surely don’t mean that this was “an eye catching initiative with which the PM could be personally associated”? Shock horror. Surely el Presidente would never be so cynical as to misuse such important legislation to such base ends. Do you people not know he is a pretty straight kinda guy? Ask anyone, they’ll tell you: Peter Mandelson, David Blunkett, Bernie Ecclestone, Hinduja, Beverley Hughes, Alistair Campbell, Andrew Gilligan, David Kelly (OK, not him, but if he could, he would), they’ll all vouch for the Dear Leader’s bona fides.

    Tony Bliar is a straight guy who does exactly what it says on the tin, provided you select the right tin and hold it up to the light so you can just read today’s version of the truth.

    The Projekt marches on.