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May 25, 2007

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Mark Wadsworth

I think mainly it's because he doesn't have a f***ing clue what he is doing and doesn't really care either. To call this "vapid gesture politics" would be to bring vapid gesture politics into disrepute.

dave heasman

"I think mainly it's because he doesn't have a f***ing clue what he is doing "

Yes, this seems the most likely reason. How he ever got the reputation as a "safe pair of hands" is beyond me.

It's shocking, isn't it, after 10 years in government with all the opportunities for on-the-job training, for people to grow into their jobs, with still-fairly-professional civil service backup, there's noone in the government that you'd trust to walk your dog?

cmain

"Indeed, the success of Operation Crevice shows that the terrorist threat can be countered by good, professional policing."

The convictions in Crevice were secured by the testimony of an FBI supergrass and by torturing one of the defendants:
"This statement is provided on behalf of Salahuddin Amin:

In the name of God, the most compassionate, the merciful.

I am innocent.

An outrageous confidence trick has been played on the jury, and against me.

I was convicted by false evidence and the fruits of torture.

I am innocent.

I told the jury the truth.

I am innocent.

I told the jury I had been tortured and mistreated by the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence services, over a ten month period of illegal detention in Pakistan during 2004.

I told the jury how the British security services were responsible for my illegal detention, mistreatment, and illegal transfer to the UK.

Even though I am a British Citizen, the British government did not lift a finger to protect me from abuse and torture.

In fact, the British authorities made it worse by interrogating me at the same time as knowing I had been tortured.

The British government have been able to hide their shameful involvement in my illegal detention and torture in secret sessions which occurred during the trial.

These hearings cannot be reported to you, the public. They continue to hide behind this veil.

I demand they tell the truth about what they did to me.

I demand the truth about the other people who are still in secret detention and being tortured as part of this misguided war on terror.

I was illegally detained with some of these people. I know that some of them were treated far worse than I was, while British, American, and Canadian intelligence officers stood ready to benefit from the unreliable fruits of torture.

I demand an apology from the head of the security services and the British government about what they did to me.

I demand an explanation as to how this could have happened.

My wrongful conviction has given a green light to those who carry out the heinous act of torture on behalf of civilised western governments.

I will continue to fight to clear my name.

Thank you."

http://www.julyseventh.co.uk/crevice/index.html

Steve

I'm not sure that rights trump success in war. In overseas conflicts, perhaps, but if Hitler had come close to conquering Britain in 1940, we'd have thrown everything at the invaders - mustard gas, dum dum bullets and the lot.

If our government had been replaced with a Nazi dictatorship, the question of whether we had rights or not would have become academic.

Recusant

"When we speak of North Koreans, Zimbabweans and Darfur refugees as having human rights, we usually mean that they have moral rights, whatever the laws of their nations say."

Rights, in other words, conferred on us by the very fact of being human. But conferred on us by whom? If it is just society, an ideology, or other people in whatever form then that can quite easily be co-opted by governments of any stripe. No, I think we have to thank Christianity for some things and this is one of them: that human beings are each unique and that 'bondsman or freeman, Jew or Greek' they have rights endowed by their 'Creator'

MJW

Whilst I don't support or condone torture nor imprisonment without due legal process, I simply don't buy into the logical fallacy that evidence obtained by torture is automatically rendered false (it's certainly immoral but that's a different matter), especially if it leads to a shedload of other evidence confirming that it’s not false (the terrorists in question were convicted on far more than the simply word of a supergrass and a torture victim).

So isn't it more than a little hypocritical to suggest the conviction is wrong whilst refusing to acknowledge the rest of the evidence which substantiated the immorally obtained information? Two wrongs don’t make a right, but then ignoring a wrong doesn’t make a right either.

Even if we agree that torture should never be used, should we ignore evidence obtained under torture which leads to substantial evidence that people are about to commit acts of mass murder on moral grounds? Would that be the moral thing to do?

Shuggy

"if Hitler had come close to conquering Britain in 1940, we'd have thrown everything at the invaders - mustard gas, dum dum bullets and the lot."

What reason do you have for believing this? Or indeed that we would have behaved any differently from the French? We defeated Germany without generally disregarding the protocols of war that held POWs would be expected to give their name, rank and serial number and nothing else. If terror suspects are 'enemy combatants', they are entitled to the same treatment - whereas if they are to be treated as criminals, the usual standards of evidence should apply.

"Even if we agree that torture should never be used, should we ignore evidence obtained under torture which leads to substantial evidence that people are about to commit acts of mass murder on moral grounds? Would that be the moral thing to do?"

Shuggy

"if Hitler had come close to conquering Britain in 1940, we'd have thrown everything at the invaders - mustard gas, dum dum bullets and the lot."

What reason do you have for believing this? Or indeed that we would have behaved any differently from the French? We defeated Germany without generally disregarding the protocols of war that held POWs would be expected to give their name, rank and serial number and nothing else. If terror suspects are 'enemy combatants', they are entitled to the same treatment - whereas if they are to be treated as criminals, the usual standards of evidence should apply.


Shuggy

Ooops! Was going to add that, yes, this would be the moral think to do from a Kantian position and I also think it would be the moral thing to do from a utilitarian point of view. The ticking time bomb senario shouldn't be taken seriously. There was never a time when torture was not justified under a similar pretext. Apart from anything else, it ignores the other, probably more important reason, torture is used: it is not to gather information, it is a mechanism of terror.

Roger Thornhill

Nice lot of outrage at Reid and I agree he is on the wrong track, but remember why these characters are/were on control orders - basically because NO OTHER COUNTRY wanted to take them, not even their own (or if they did, they were sharpening the disembowelling skewers).

I am not in favour of sending people back to murderous, torturing regimes who have declared they might do harm, but when it is a person who has openly declared hatred and war upon me, that changes everything. It also changes everything when the threat is generic or national - i.e. Zimbabweans, as it woudl be impractical to take anyone who pitched up (thought this has been tried).

These blokes were on control orders because of a bad piece of law aimed at fixing a bad piece of law that came out of another bad piece of law - EUCHR etc.

Fix the problem - permit the UK to expell unwanted aliens and the threat to liberty has gone. Right now a murdering, raping terrorist from any rogue nation can pitch up and then sit here, refusing to be sent home. THAT is madness. The least worst option is to permit them to be kicked out if desired.

Mark Wadsworth

What Steve, MJW and Roger (again!) say.

Chris Williams

If someone's a murderer, then charge them with murder. That tends to work.

Shuggy asked for evidence about:

"Hitler had come close to conquering Britain in 1940, we'd have thrown everything at the invaders - mustard gas, dum dum bullets and the lot."

Not sure about the dum dum bullets (there weren't any), but in June 1940, Churchill overrode GHQ's concerns that arming the ununiformed LDV would be in breach of the Geneva Conventions. His (paraphased) line was 'if we're going down, I don't really care about that'. I can't remember any smoking guns about gas, but I imagine that they are there. Source is Gilbert's edition of Churchill's papers.

Talking of Churchill, who was it signed the ECHR? Ah yes, he did. We have that for a reason, you know - the reason is the death of democracy in Europe in the 1930s. At that time, my grandparents' generation thought it was worth sustaining casualties to defend the freedoms that they had. Shame that my generation are such wussies, it seem.

'If it saves one life it will be worth it.' No it won't.

emmanuelgoldstein

[I'm not sure that rights trump success in war.]

Always nice to see bald expressions of consequentialism.

Maynard Handley

""if Hitler had come close to conquering Britain in 1940, we'd have thrown everything at the invaders - mustard gas, dum dum bullets and the lot."

What reason do you have for believing this?
"

Hmm. Dresden?

Flying Rodent

"At that time, my grandparents' generation thought it was worth sustaining casualties to defend the freedoms that they had. Shame that my generation are such wussies, it seem."

God, how I'd like a senior politician to stand up and say that - that would be leadership, rather than an ever-escalating game of alarmist poker.

junglecitizen

"I am not in favour of sending people back to murderous, torturing regimes who have declared they might do harm, but when it is a person who has openly declared hatred and war upon me, that changes everything."

And exactly what evidence do we have that these specific people have actually 'openly declared hatred and war upon [us]'? What we have is an (apparently, since there's no trial) unsubstantiated accusation.

Why is it that when dealing with Islamic terrorism, otherwise normal people suddenly start assuming that the security services and police are incapable of error?

If you're going to argue for deportation (to probable death) on accusation by the intelligence services, then you've got to be prepared, morally, for the fact that a number of innocent people will die as a result. If many of the stories we hear about US anti-terrorism practices are true, perhaps a significant number.

If terrorism really were an immediate existential threat like Naziism, I admit it might, just maybe, be conscionable. But it's not. As a nation we have faced far, far bigger threats over the years. And to boot, Islamic terrorism is a threat that is fuelled - made worse - by precisely these sorts of unnecessary and unjust practices.

"It also changes everything when the threat is generic or national - i.e. Zimbabweans, as it woudl be impractical to take anyone who pitched up (thought this has been tried)."

So, it's morally OK to send innocent people on a plane back to certain death so long as it's a bit inconvenient or expensive to look after them? I admit this is one of the principles our immigration system now seems to work on, but I still really can't imagine how the deportation staff sleep at night.

You know they'll quite happily deport people for misunderstanding the form, too, if it helps keep the numbers down for the tabloids. It's like they don't actually believe that violent dictatorships really exist.

Paul H.

I'd like to pick up on the comments of junglecitizen. If I read it correctly, his argument turns on three points:

i) the idea that deportation means "probable death" for those deported;
ii) that incompetence, indifference and corruption on the part of the security services and police will mean that "perhaps a significant number" of innocent people will die as a result;
iii) and that the threat of Islamic terrorism is increased by "precisely these sorts of unnecessary and unjust practices".

Is each of these points now beyond question? Just wondering...

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