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FOILING TERRORISM? August 21, 2013

Posted by wmmbb in Terrorism Issues.
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What is to be done about terrorism? The problem with terrorism is that mechanism, often in the minds of those who would claim not be terrorists, for generating fear. Could understanding (and restorative justice?) be the most effective response?

Of course that would be better than destroying the institutions and precepts of a democratic society. Some may well see these developments as the agenda. The latest example is the detention of the Glenn Greenwald’s partner as he transited London Airport on his way to Rio de Janerio.

The BBC reports on contending views of the arrest and confiscation of property:

He was detained under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This allows police to hold someone at an airport, port or international rail station for up to nine hours for questioning about whether they have been involved with acts of terrorism.

He is now taking action to challenge the legality of his detention, and to try to prevent the police from examining the electronic items they seized from him.

. . . The legal challenge would determine whether it was “permissible for government to use powers to be able to get material from journalists” without enabling them “to argue their case before a court as to why they shouldn’t have to answer questions or give up that material”, he said.

The UK’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, has said the length of detention was “unusual” and will meet police later.

The Government, who presumably were working in league with the NSA claimed that procedures were followed, but there was judicial consent required, even presumably this could have been arranged. The reports continues:

A spokesperson said: “The government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security.

“If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that.

“Those who oppose this sort of action need to think about what they are condoning.”

And Scotland Yard maintained that the detention was “legally and procedurally sound”. The detention had been subject to a “detailed decision-making process,” it said. And it added that “contrary to some reports, the man was offered legal representation while under examination and a solicitor attended.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard also in defending the law and the actions of the police changed the case from terrorism to national security:

“It may have inconvenienced the Guardian and those that work directly or indirectly for the Guardian,” he told BBC Radio 4’s the World at One programme.

“But the fact is they had concerns that there may have been somebody carrying sensitive material that may have directly or indirectly undermined our national security. And I’m glad the police took the action they did.”

Goodbye democracy, the rule of law, the long struggle of the development of Common Law in the struggle against tyranny. In this case, it is reasonable to assume that purpose is to stop the publication of information so that secrecy can be preserved. These procedures are so secret that they cannot be discussed in a election or in Parliament, and those that would have it otherwise should “consider what they are condoning”.

Why is it that terrorism such a threat? Don’t the terrorists know they can email, phone and otherwise contact their representatives and drive them to distraction, even without the courtesy of an answer. Seems not. Some people live in a very different world, with different horizons and possibilities. And how did that happen?

Chris Hedges, writing at Truthdig has some ideas, with reference to events in Egypt:

Radical Islam is the last refuge of the Muslim poor. The mandated five prayers a day give the only real structure to the lives of impoverished believers. The careful rituals of washing before prayers in the mosque, the strict moral code, along with the understanding that life has an ultimate purpose and meaning, keep hundreds of millions of destitute Muslims from despair. The fundamentalist ideology that rises from oppression is rigid and unforgiving. It radically splits the world into black and white, good and evil, apostates and believers. It is bigoted and cruel to women, Jews, Christians and secularists, along with gays and lesbians. But at the same time it offers to those on the very bottom of society a final refuge and hope.

. . . If you live in the sprawling slums of Cairo or the refugee camps in Gaza or the concrete hovels in New Delhi, every avenue of escape is closed. You cannot get an education. You cannot get a job. You do not have the resources to marry. You cannot challenge the domination of the economy by the oligarchs and the generals. The only way left for you to affirm yourself is to become a martyr, or shahid. Then you will get what you cannot get in life—a brief moment of fame and glory.

. . . The lifeblood of radical movements is martyrdom. The Egyptian military has provided an ample supply. The faces and the names of the sanctified dead will be used by enraged clerics to call for holy vengeance.

. . . What is happening in Egypt is a precursor to a wider global war between the world’s elites and the world’s poor, a war caused by diminishing resources, chronic unemployment and underemployment, overpopulation, declining crop yields caused by climate change, and rising food prices.

I am not sure that Chris Hedges is right about his analysis of terrorism. The 911 hijackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia, which not poor has extreme Islam as the official religion.

George Galloway, as usual, is in no doubt about what the proximate cause of terrorism:

Those who flew the planes on 9/11 were not from the wretched of the Earth, but rather an alienated elite who cared very little for the problems of the urban poor of Cairo and any of the other teeming cities of the world. Effective policing and respect for civil liberties has been thrown overboard as an viable option. As Ross Gittin’s argues in The Sydney Morning Herald, an informed citizenry is an irrelevance in the “democratic” electoral process. Consequently, Journalism has no real role, and could be terrorism.

…………………………….

POSTSCRIPT:

Since Australia is closely connected with the US and the UK in relation to security-anti-terrorism methods and the related civil liberties concerns, these should be subject to careful thought and critical discussion during the electoral process. Of course, these are the issues of the Wikileaks Party, but I suspect they have not been given media time in an election context. There is more on the detention of David Miranda at Democracy Now.

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