Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Government by fear

Gary Younge really captures the essence of the war on terror in his piece in yesterday's Guardian.
"So there was no ticking time bomb. No urgent need ever arose to torture anybody who was withholding crucial details, so that civilisation as we know it could be saved in the nick of time. No wires had to be tapped, special prisons erected or international accords violated. No innocent people had to be grabbed off the street in their home country, transported across the globe and waterboarded. Drones, daisy-cutters, invasions, occupations were, it has transpired, not necessary.
Indeed, when it actually came down to it, to forestall a near-calamitous terrorist atrocity in the US the authorities didn't even have to go in search of information or informants. The alleged terrorist's father came to the US embassy in Nigeria of his own free will and warned them that his son, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had disappeared and could be in the company of Yemeni terrorists...
To brand this near miss a "systemic failure", as Barack Obama has done, is both true and inadequate. It reduces the moral vacuity, political malevolence and enduring strategic recklessness that has been the enduring response to the 9/11 attacks to a question of managerial competence...
To galvanise the nation for war abroad and sedate it for repression at home, the previous administration constructed a terror threat that was ubiquitous in character, apocalyptic in scale and imminent in nature. Only then could they counterpose human rights against security as though they were not only contradictory but mutually exclusive." 
Gordon Brown's latest knee jerk reaction to the failed plane bomber - the promised widespread deployment of £100k digital strip search machines (they are not "body scanners") at all airports - is a clear indication that the stupidity at the heart of policymaking on this has not gone away.  And don't look to the opposition parties to change this - even the Liberal Democrat spokesman was complaining that the reason the latest bomber slipped past security was that the government had not deployed the strip search machines fast enough.

Well it could well be that the paranoia surrounding child protection is now going to clash with the paranoia surrounding terrorism as civil liberties groups have pointed out that the strip search machines breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children. The government would seem to be nicely hoist by their own scaremongering pertard.

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