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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The fear of terror

If anybody is going to be in a credible position to attack the government's exploitation of the fear of terrorism so as to bring in laws that restrict civil liberties then it is the former head of MI5. And that is precisely what Stella Rimington has done:

Dame Stella, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, has previously been critical of the government's policies, including its attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial plan to introduce ID cards.

"It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state," she told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.

She said the British security services were "no angels," but they did not kill people.

"The US has gone too far with Guantanamo and the tortures," she said.

"MI5 does not do that. Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect - there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification."

At the same time a study has been published by the International Commission of Jurists that accuses the US and the UK of undermining the framework of international law. Former Irish president Mary Robinson, the president of the ICJ said: "Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years. Human rights and international humanitarian law provide a strong and flexible framework to address terrorist threats."

Liberty have set out a list of some of the recent developments which it believes represents "a creeping encroachment on our fundamental rights":
Stella Rimington and Mary Robinson are not flaky radicals that can be dismissed by the Government as soft on terrorism. They are substantial figures in their own right.

Labour Ministers are guilty of using the terrorist threat to bring in laws above and beyond what was necessary. They are ineffectual and authoritarian.


"She said the British security services were "no angels," but they did not kill people."

That's a bold claim (Shoot to Kill, Death on the Rock, Stockwell...)
It's the constant phenomenon of the Labour Govt being attacked from the 'left' by senior Tories such as Rimington and, err, even David Davies, that makes me hope that this fag-end of Brown's premiership is really also the end of Labour as a governing party.
Surely you mean David Davis? Even New Labour is not to the right of David Davies.
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