In the wake of three more escapes from control order regimes, Home Secretary John Reid has been coming under fire for failure to keep closer tabs on supposedly dangerous terror suspects. And returning fire with threats to abandon more freedoms in order to keep us free. But a reality check of control orders is long overdue here …
War on Terror ?
The entire idea of control orders makes a mockery of habeus corpus, a concept that dates back to Magna Carta. Control Orders are essentially house arrest or even internal exile, and as such would be more familiar to ex-pat burmese, russian, chinese, or israeli detainees than is frankly confortable.
Put yourself in the position of a regular joe picked up in a trawl, you have no idea who is accusing you, what you are being accused of, no idea of whether any evidence has been produced, and certainly have no opportunity to refute any such evidence. If you aren't marginalised and radicalised by this point, then by the time you have been on your control order for a year or two, I suspect there's every chance that the balance of your mind is hardly going to be as it was before events unfolded.
Open ended sentencing, house arrest, restrictions on whom you may talk to, suspension of habeus corpus........ I thought the war against terror (sic, sic, sic baby.... the folks facing the most terror are the poor buggers on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, both foreign troops and local population) was about bringing values of freedom and democracy. Not suspending the freedom of our own populace.
The craven hypocrisy of UK politicians knows no bounds. I'm not going to give my opinion of what I think about the rising price of, and the intrusive nature of UK ID policy, whilst our politicians exempt themselves from transparency by voting themselves outside of the FOI act, as the reg is a family friendly (mostly) publication, and I'd have to use words like "wankers".
That depends on the intent behind these control orders. If it was to soften the public up to the idea that the government needs to be allowed to remove our rights and personal freedoms in the "war on terror", then I'd say selecting a handful of people linked to high profile convicted terrorists and slapping control orders on them is a very rational idea. Of course you would need to make sure that these suspects could, and would abscond if you wanted an excuse for introducing more restrictive measures.....
June 27th is PARTY AT MY HOUSE
We're going to run a bar after 11pm.
Set off fireworks after 10pm on a non designated firework night.
Make dysfunctional people afraid by staring at them, for our ASBO.
We'll put the bins out 2 days early and put plastic bottles in with the general waste.
Eat expired produce.
Roll up one of those 'if you smoke you stink' pub toilet posters the health department puts up.... and smoke it.
And talk about Tony Blair & John Reid behind their back, for our 'suspected of planning a terrorist attack' control orders.
All in front of a CCTV camera natch.
Is this a failure or was it the plan?
Nice article John, as usual.
One point you don't fully explore here though is the political spin value of these suspects. It has become valid New Labour policy (as all their criminal justice legislation is written by the tabloids anyway) to create, cause or allow an incident to 'provide public support for these unpopular policies'. (New Labour learnt a lot from the PNAC).
Consider the wish to create an incident such as this to bolster support for abandoning human rights legislation in this country and let's face it European human rights in British law have been a terrible restraint on the Blair government plans to turn England into East Germany under the Stasi.
You would choose some likely suspects of relatively low real threat (minimal loss if they act, minimal loss through exposure / backfire of the plan) but who can be easily presented as high threat in the public mind by tabloid newspapers, the BBC and other cooperative media. You then place them under deliberately lax controls and make it quite clear to them through your actions that they can do a bunk whenever they like. If they hang around, you have contained suspects, if they do a bunk you have your story and another nail in the coffin of rights and freedom.
I don't see what the Home Office / MI5 has to lose from this one.
Re: June 27th
If you want a real laugh, tie up Central London for a few hours by chucking a few bangers out the car window as you drive through parliament square !
Second thoughts, after seeing the amount of unconcealed machine guns being sported by police in that area, better make it a HumVee !
Vote for an independant scotland
John Reid is the most serious danger to the population in this country since William The Conqueror. Now, as I see it a vote for Scottish Independence will remove him and many like him back north of the border, so removing them from power and we can live in PEACE in OUR Green and pleasant land. No more control freaks, no more lies, no more illegal behaviour from Parlliament and perhaps we can regain some of the freedoms we used to have before throwing sweet papers away was made arrestable.
If the police do not feel they can do the job with the draconian powers they have, then they are in the wrong profession and should go and get a job more suited to their skills (none) and abilities (none). We need more and proper enforcement of OUR liberties.
Sorry, I stil believe in innocernt until proven guilty, the right to silence and the fundamental better the guilty go free than the innocent are punished.
For those of the "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" camp, erm, people on control orders have nothing to hide, they have commited no crime, yet are punished for doing, well, nothing.
"No more control freaks, no more lies, no more illegal behaviour from Parlliament and perhaps we can regain some of the freedoms we used to have before throwing sweet papers away was made arrestable."
And what have you been smoking exactly? lol
Ok, so we have 2000 people being watched, and none of them have commited any terrorist acts thus far.
So, how exactly can we prove that if this system is working or not? Do you want to take them off the system, "just to see" if they really are terrorist? Oooh, great idea! How are we going to know it was them if we weren't watching them? We'll be getting back to the old barn and horse scenario again.
Once again, we're in a lose-lose situation for the government. If we don't watch them and they do commit a terrorist act, why didn't the government stop them? And if we do watch them, we're invading their privacy and screwing them over.
But, to be fair, why would these people be being watched if they weren't seen doing something suspicous? 2000 out of a population of over 60 million, I'd have to say that that is a pretty select group of people. I can't really imagine the police going out into the street, and just selecting 2000 people to watch "just in case", there must be some genuine suspicions.
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