The voice of young liberal democrats


Serious questions need to be asked of our security services by georgeinwashington
July 15, 2007, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Law and Order, Terrorism

One of the astonishing things about the somewhat farcical terror attack that occurred in Glasgow, and the failed one in London’s West End is just how much information journalists have been able to uncover about the men carrying out the attack, worryingly, it seems as these men were well known radicals. For example, Bilal Abudllah the only man arrested in connection with the attacks was described by his professor in Baghdad as one of the most radical students he had ever met http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/08/nrmuslim408.xml. He also seems to have been a member of a radical group in Cambridge.

If journalists knew so much about these people it begs the question as to how much our security services knew, several of the plotters were known to MI5 and the home office. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=34DI4PBVRCP5LQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/07/03/nterror104.xml

Worryingly the recent conviction of some of the 21/7 bombers has lead to the revallation that many of these failed bombers were also known to the security services. Muktar Said Ibrahim, the man who attempted to blow up a London bus, had been filmed by security services attending a terror camp and traveled to Pakistan to undertake more training.

Despite some of the serious questions that should be asked of the security services are being missed. The Conservatives are using these revelations to push their policies of a border police and the Liberals have fallen silent on the matter.

We should be seeking proper and thorough oversight of our security services, if for nothing else so that the public can be safe in the knowledge that all has been possibly done to protect them. In the United States the directors of the intelligence services have to appear regularly before Congress to testify. In the UK on the other hand our response to seemingly preventable acts of terror is to further curtail our civil liberties, as with the extension of the 28 day detention without charge law last week so perfectly demonstrated.

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Before Introducing New Terror Laws, Try Using the Ones we Have by georgeinwashington
July 11, 2007, 3:52 am
Filed under: Law and Order, Terrorism

As the perceived threat of terror increases year on year, and every new attack, either realised or attempted brings further anti terror measures we seem to justify these further encroachments onĀ  our civil liberties on the premise that what was in place before was insufficient. The British it would appear have a deep loyalty and respect for the security services, any terrorist attack is of course the fault of the law and not the fault of those enforcing it.

My Washington Post this morning told me that this assumption is wrong. For years it would seem that the British Police have been failing to check people against Interpol’s database of seven million stolen passports, a measure that would help prevent criminals and terrorists entering the country. Secretary General of Interpol Richard Noble went further in the same interview and said that there has generally been a lack of cooperation by the UK police with Interpol, the international police organisation which coordinates the efforts of the worlds police forces in combating international crime, and that the UK’s counter terrorism efforts were in the “wrong century”. The full report can be found here. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/09/AR2007070901758.html

Passing new laws that encroach on our civil rights should only ever be used as a last resort, when we can be certain that without these extra measures there would be serious consequences for public safety. Before we get to this point politicians need to make absolutely certain that we are doing the best we can under the current system.

The reasons for this are obvious, firstly it prevents unnecessary encroachments into our personal liberties, and second of all no amount of new laws will help protect anyone from terrorism if the police do not use tools already available. Further anti terror legislation will simply widen the scope of possible abuse without providing any extra security.

However as politicians need to be seen to be doing something, and admitting errors will inevitably reflect poorly on themselves, the easy option is always to enact more legislation. Instead we should be asking tough questions of our security services, ensuring that they are doing their job, and that we can remain safe, without the need to give up the liberties that we have fought so hard to enjoy.