Monday, June 05, 2006

Following on from Friday's counter-terrorism operation, those ubiquitous anonymous police sources are now briefing journalists that there may never have been a viable chemical device. Have the Met shot another innocent person? It's too early to be sure but it's looking increasingly likely.

A senior police source explained why they acted on the information in the way they did:
"In other crime you can take a risk to firm up the intelligence. The trouble with this new world of terrorism is you don't have the time, you can't firm up the intelligence to the point you like.

The public may have to get used to this sort of incident, with the police having to be safe rather than sorry."
Having to be safe rather than sorry? There's some seriously scary shit going on in this country at the moment and I'm not talking about terrorists.

Anyone living in London with dark skin or a beard might want to consider whether its really worth the risk. Perhaps applying for asylum in a safe country would be the most sensible option...

Terrorism is about using fear to force a society to make changes to their behaviour. The target government is not supposed to be a willing accomplice.

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MFF said...

What would you have? Nobody can ever wish again for 7/7, and as such Police have targets.

The people who get the knock are not randomly selected out of the phone book. Intelligence is collated and analysed before any operation is launched.

These people were not just sat there watching Countdown.

Matt said...

Just like that Latin American guy the met perforated to excess, I am sure mff.

I have never heard of such a stupid way to conduct counter terrorist actions like the Brits do in this case...

CuriousHamster said...

mff, you say "these people were not just sat there watching Countdown".

Are you sure?

I'm not, but the police seem to be increasingly on the defensive. My worry is that the police are not actually collating and analysing the intelligence. At the moment it's still not entirely clear but that appears to be the problem here.

I don't blame the police particularly though. It's the political leadership which has mishandled the threat of terrorism from the start. They've played on it, used it for political purposes, and generally taken the p*ss and that's what's caused the problem and left the police in an imnpossible situation. Blair and his acolytes have created a climate of hysteria and fear when they should have attempted to create one of calm.

Matt, I agree. Apart from the human angle, these sorts of operations are only going to alienate Muslims generally. It's exactly what bin Laden and his ilk want.

Antipholus Papps said...

These people were not just sat there watching Countdown.

That's true, because it was 4am and they were in bed.

So what you're basically saying is that to prevent another attack such as that which took place on 7 July 2005, innocent people must be prepared to have the police break into their house in the middle of the night and shoot them on the basis of suspicion?

Once upon a time, Britain gave the world Habeas Corpus. Habeas Corpus endured the onslaught of the World War II. But then the imminent invasion by a rampant Nazi war machine is really not comparible to the threat we face now is it?

Unprecedented times. A unique threat. The calling card of tyrants throughout history.

Jherad said...

Unsurprisingly, we (as a country) are unprepared as to how to deal with terrorism as a state of war - a situation that we have placed ourselves in, with monikers such as the 'War against Terror'.

Countries have always attempted to 'dehumanise' opponents (see WWII cartoon depictions of 'the hun') in a war in an attempt to make brutal realities somewhat more palettable - in a front line standoff, this is fine - shoot anything that moves 'over there'. In situations where the 'enemy' (potential or existing) is amongst us, both in the warzone (read Iraq) and at home, soldiers and police find themselves challenged to do whatever it takes, against inhuman opponents, to keep us safe. I personally believe that much of what we read about with regards atrocities in Abu Ghraib, and now Haditha, are the result of constant dehumanisation, combined with the very real stresses of war, particularly against an unseen enemy. Granted, an overly simplified view. Anyway... back to the point.

Particularly at home, the police and intelligence services would be crucified by the popular media if 9/11 or 7/7 were to reoccur. It would be bad enough if the terrorists involved were not under suspicion, but if the police, or whomever were found to be waiting to gather intelligence when something occurred - all hell would break loose. We must do whatever it takes to keep those nasty terrorists out of our backyard, right?

The question we have to ask, and one that I am continually shocked that the right people are not answering - at least to my satisfaction - is how far do we go?

Certainly we have a right to live, without being bombed/shot/whatever by terrorists... We also have a right to fair trial, a right to be regarded as citizens rather than potential criminals, a right not to have our homes invaded on a 'possibility', or the say-so of a neighbour. At some point, the two sides become incompatible - we improve on one side, whilst reducing the other. Total 'safety' can only be gained through total control (and zero liberty), and I feel that the balance is already off.

As a democracy, we must accept that there is only so much control that can fairly be wielded, and therefore only so much safety than can be achieved through control. Realise that this is not 'wishing' for another 9/11 or 7/7 - it is simply recognising that our basic principles of freedom are an incredibly important part of democracy, and must never be reliquished in exchange for (in many cases, only a perceived sense of) safety.

Perhaps I am overly worried about nothing. If anyone suggests that the policemen conducting raids after tipoffs from informants start wearing black trenchcoats however, I'll run for the hills.