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In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

The Last Post...

For a while anyway. The film has run it's course, and to some extent has taken on a life of it's own. While civil liberties will always remain very close to my heart, it's time to move on and go and cause some trouble elsewhere. We'll Keep the blog up online, as in amongst the frothing rants their is actually some useful information. The Blogroll on the right contains some great blogs that will no doubt continue to fight the good fight, long after we fickle film types have moved on. However I'll just leave you with a brief update on some of the ongoing issues and stories that we've covered in the film. Starting with the one that makes me feel that for once I might have actually done something worthwhile in my life:

Omar Deghayes and the other British Residents interned in Guantanamo to be returned to the UK
Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Reprieve and the Save Omar Campaign all deserve a big hug for their tireless work in making this happen. For several years the position of the UK Government was "Let em rot" or "send em back to their home countries to be tortured", and it is thanks to the incredible work of these campaigners that these men - who have never been charged with any crime - will finally retun home to Britain. They have all suffered years of abuse at the hands of the US forces, so they will now spend many years with their families trying to rebuild their lives. Even though some credit has to go to the current government for finally standing up to the US and pressing for their release, it will remain a dark stain on this countries' history that we allowed this injustice to go on for so long. However there are already mutterings that they will be placed under Control Orders when theyreturn which is only going to increase the injustice.

Protest ban in SOCPA may be repealed
Mark Wallinger's "State Britain" - the recreation of Brian Haw's placards in The Tate - has just won The Turner prize, which has yet again shown the insanity of this law. It still makes my blood boil that we are not allowed to protest outside our own government without special police authorisation, but hopefully this will soon be shredded. Even though the Brown Government has made some encouraging noises about scrapping the requirement to apply to protest a week in advance, nothing has yet materialised so we need to keep the pressure up until they actually change it. Again we're proud to have been part of raising the profile of this issue, but the real credit should go to Maya Evans (who recently spent over a week in jail for illegally demonstrating), Milan Rai, Shami at Liberty, Mark Thomas and of course the venerable and slightly barmy Brian Haw.

Public wakes up to just how rubbish the government is at securing our data
Since the loss of the 2 x Data CD's from the Inland Revenue compromising the personal details of 25 million people (about 40% of the population) the public have finally started getting angry about how much data the government holds on us and how insecure it is. Far be it from us to say I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO or TOO FUCKING LATE, but this is an issue that we've been banging on about for a couple of years, and the chaps at No2ID have been campaigning about for much longer. While we're really glad that the public and the media are finally looking at the potentially catastrophic consequences of putting every last scrap of private information on big expensive leaky computers, it is shutting the door after the horse has bolted along with a few CD's and hard drives to sell to the highest bidder. All our medical records, school records and criminal records are already now in the control of similar systems, and there isn't a lot we can now do to get that information back. The DNA database - already the largest in the world - is expanding exponentially, and once the National Identity Register is online, all our biometric information will be accessible as well to several hundred thousand people. Unless something radical is done soon, we will soon wake up in a society where privacy is a distant memory.

What's the answer to life, the universe and everything? 42 Days
While most of the governments anti terror legislation is coming under sustained public attack, the one area where this government still wants to show the world how tough it is on a word (the word in question being terror), is of course the extension on pre-charge detention. At the moment the poilice can hold you without charge for 28 days - the longest in the western world - but Gordon Brown and Jaqui Smith are both still trying to convince us that we'll all die tomorrow if we don't increase this to 42. A month ago they were saying it had to be 56, but after the wave of critisism this brought, they have now lowered their sights to 42. But in doing so they have made it clear that this isn't really about keeping us safe, it's about being seen to keep us safe. While the current limit has never yet been reached, they are doing their level best to whip up our fears and push this through parliament. They are trotting out the same old excuses: terrorists now use computers (Oooo...scary!) and it can take a long time to search a computer. When we put this to Professor Ross Anderson (head of cryptography at Cambridge University) the response was "Hogwash". Passwords are either broken in a few days or not at all. However the government, and the senior police who back this measure have never responded when the experts rubbish their arguments.

What having 42 days pre charge detention will result in, is a sense of injsutice and outrage amoung the Muslim Community who think they are being unfairly targetted, which can act as a recruiting seargent for the very terrorism we are trying to fight. During the Northern Ireland troubles the UK government started interning suspected terrorists without charge, which far from reducing terrorism did the exact opposite by pushing hundreds of angry young men into the arms of the terrorists. When this argument is put to the ever dwindling ministers who support this extention, the repsonse is that "Al Qaeda is a far graver threat than the IRA so there are no lessons to be learned". This does somewhat ignore the statistics that the Irish troubles claimed the lives of over 3000 people in the UK, and Islamic Fundamentalists are currently on 52. Even Lord Goldsmith (he who changed his mind over the legality of the Iraq War and halted the SFO enquiry into the BAE Saudi bribes) has come out strongly against this move, so the battle lines are being drawn. My own personal opinion is that the Government will lose the vote, and when there is another bomb attack they can turn around and blame us whinging liberals for not giving them the power they needed.

Natwest Three take a plea bargain
Last week David, Giles and Gary pleaded guilty to 1 count of wire fraud in return for the other 6 charges being dropped. This means that they will spend about 6 months in a US prison, and then (hopefully) will return to the UK to spend the rest of their sentance (about another 2.5 years) in an open prison in the UK. Far from an actual admission of guilt, this shows the massive unfairness of sending UK citizens over to face crimes in the US without the production of any evidence in the UK. The NatWest three had been flown out to the US in July 2006, so had already spent a year and a half waiting to go to trial. If they had continued to plead innocent they would have had to wait about another year to even get into the courtroom - all the time under house arrest, unable to work, and thousands of miles away from their families. Also as most of the evidence that they needed to prove their innocence was here in the UK, the British Authorities and NatWest bank were actively preventing witnessses and evidence crossing the channel. As the crime was allegedly committed in the UK by British Citizens against a UK bank, the fact that they were standing trial on the other side of the planet was always going to throw a spanner in the works for the men's defense. Couple that with the fact that if you mention the word "Enron" in Texas courtroom a guilty verdict is guaranteed, the Three were always had the cards stacked against them. Plus if they had pled innocent and been found guilty they might get up to 35 years behind bars, but if they plead guilty to one charge (which is what they did) they will only get three. In the same situation most of us would have made the same decision, but this has been used by the government to triumphantly say that they were right to be sent out in the first place. The extradition treaty itself is still under review, and we can only hope that this one sided and unjust law will soon be thrown on the scrap heap.

Mouloud No Longer Under House Arrest
This actually happened round about the time of the film's release, so we're not sure preceisely how much we had to do with it... but a mole from the Home office sneaked into one of the early screenings, and we do know a transcript of the film was used in his defense. Big thanks to Jennifer and Des, CAMPACC and Mike Mansfield who have stuck with him all this time. Mouloud is extremely happy to not be confined to his little room indefinitely without any charge, but the laws that allowed the government to carry out this injsutice still remain.

And finally...
Just wanted to say a heartleft thanks to all the members of the Taking Liberties Team who all put their souls and wallets on the line to make this happen - couldn't have done it without each and every one of you... In no particular order:

Nicky Moss, Simon Robson, Nick Fenton, Christina Slater, Kurt Engfehr, Becca Elson, Vince Watts, Ian Neil, Ben Stern, Steve Goldsmith, Daniel Prim, Barny Wright, Sarah Bee, Fiona Button, Simon Goldberg, Nick S, Nick T and Justin at Revolver, Chris Smith, Jules Lewis and, finally, Nicky Moss (yes I know she's been mentioned twice, but trust me she deserves it...)

Thanks guys


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Who needs privacy anyway?

If I wanted to illustrate why you shouldn't entrust the government with personal data, I would never have concocted an arse up on the scale of the delicious disaster down at Revenue and Customs. The government is reeling from the debacle involving the most expensive items to get lost in the post since King George III sent the crown jewels off to get repaired, and forgot to put stamps on the box. 2 x CD's containing the personal records of 25 million people were "mislaid" by Her Magesties Revenue and Customs, and the chief taxman has now fallen on his paperknife in shame. The CD's were password protected (well, that's going slow the hackers down for at least 5 minutes!) but not actually encrypted, which means that we have to assume that all the data is now compromised. The records of the 7 million families that have been mislaid by the government include:

-Names (and don't forget these are family records, so it will be pretty straightforwards to work out maiden names as well)
-Dates of Birth
(this is all my bank needs to access my account by the way)
-Bank Account details (just in case the above doesn't work)
-National Insurance numbers

Now catastrophic as this is, it is in some ways manageable. Bank account numbers and national insurance numbers can be changed, so if it looks like these ahve fallen into criminal hands there is a level of protection. It'll cost the government (and therefore us) a small fortune to fix, but people can be issued new numbers rendering the stolen numbers useless. The really terrifying thing is to look at will happen when a similar balls up occurs in 5 years time (and, people being people, this sort of thing will happen again) but this time with the data held on the National Identity Register. When then NIR is breached (and with 60 million records that can be accessed by about half a million people, this is going to happen very easily and very quickly), it is going to be far more than just numbers that are stolen. Our fingerprints, iris scans, general biometirc information and possibly DNA will be what gets left in the back of a taxi, and when that happens the government is not going to be able to turn aruond and issue us all with new fingers, eyes or DNA. The more information that is put on a central computer, the greater the risk it has of being compromised. The NIR is the mother of all public databases, and it when it finally arrives will be the source of data breaches that make the loss of these 2 CD's seem like forgetting where you put your keys in the morning.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Torture: An Experts guide

There's been a mini malestrom on the internet over the past week, as someone with a guilty conscience - or a great sense of humour - has uploaded the US Handbook for Camp Delta Guantanamo Bay onto Wikipedia. It's since been pulled from counteless sites but it's now safely out in the vortex. There's a fairly relaible link here, but please let me know if this gets pulled.

Some of the more revealing extracts are:
-Incoming prisoners are to be held in near-isolation for the first two weeks to foster dependence on interrogators and "enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process."
-Styrofoam cups must be confiscated if prisoners have written on them, apparently because prisoners have used cups to pass notes to other captives. "If the cup is damaged or destroyed, the detainee will be disciplined for destruction of government property,"
-The manual also indicates some prisoners were designated as off limits to visitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross, something the military has repeatedly denied.
-"Detainees are not allowed to color their hair."
-It contains instructions as only the military can write them, such as how to use pepper spray on unruly prisoners. "Aim at the eyes, nose and mouth when possible. Use a 1/2 to 1 second burst from a distance of 36 to 72 inches away."


And the Magic Number is... 58!
Well done to Mrs Cricklethorpe in Doncaster for correctly guessing the number of days pre-charge detention that the Brown Government would eventually come out and tell us we need to stop the world exploding in terror. A T Shirt with the words "Recruiting Seargant" is on it's way to you now. Yes after much anticipation of what number they would announce we need to hold people without charge has been unveiled. The battle lines a re clearly drawn with the Government, the Police and the security services on one side, and the tories, lib dems, the "arkward squad" of Labour MP's and Shami on the other. For me the most interesting chapter in way the announcement was managed was the antics of the defence minister Lord West. At 8.20am on the Today Program, he made it clear that he was in no way convinced of the need for extending the pre-charge period. 2 hours later - after a chat with Comrade Brown in Downing St -he completely change his mind and said that extending it to 58 days was the best idea since someone first took a breadkinfe to a crisp white loaf. When questioned over this blatant U-Turn, West said he got his words bit muddled as he was just a "simple sailor". It's nice that we can all rest in our beds at night knowing the security of the nation is in the safe hands of Captain Pugwash: "Ho Ho Me hearties, we're going to thrwart the Islamist Terrorists!"

Radio Gobsh*te. Again
Some fool invited me on Richard Bacon's Radio 5 live show last night, which was unfortunate timing as I'd just been out for a heavy dinner with my accountant. Several Mojito's were consumed over the meal, and then I had to make my way to Broadcasting house to bandy words with Bacon, and a nice chap called Peter Power who was there to support the new terror proposals. Peter is an ex copper who makes a lot of money now telling businesses how to protect themselves from terror. It started pretty well, and I got a few good points in about how extending the the pre-charge limit will only act as a recruiting sergeant for fundamentalists, and how you have more chance of winning the lottery than you doing of being killed by a terrorist bomb. But during the newsbreak my final mojito kicked in and I told Bacon he reminded me of Alan Partridge and it was all down hill from there. By the end they were really laying into me and Bacon gleefully read out a message that accused me of being a descendant of Neville Chamberlain and if it was up to me we'd all be dead tomorrow. Hopefully I enraged them enough so they won't ask me back, but that's what I thought last time...

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Function Creep - A Beginners Guide

Function Creep is one of the main reasons us libertarians get so narked off with big government databases. The scenario goes like this: A well meaning Government Minister proposes a shiny new database that is going to store A, B and C about everyone in the country. They sternly remind us that they have specifically restricted it's scope to those categories, as to store any more would be an infringement of our privacy. The database eventually gets built, and ends up costing 4 times as much and being delivered 2 years too late, by which time all the ministers and civil servants who commissioned it have moved on. The trouble is that as well as being massively expensive, it also doesn't work very well and the current minister is getting a lot of stick for this in the press. So he announces that he is going to increase the scope of the database, so that it now records D, E and F about everyone in the country. This seems to be a cunning way of salvaging what has turned into a white elephant that he never wanted in the first place. But by the time D, E and F come online there's yet another minister in charge - and this time he's facing an immigration row. So this minster tells the tabloids that the database is now going to store X, Y and Z which will stop the immigration crisis. In actuality storing X, Y and Z will do nothing to stop illegal immigration, but it sounds good in the tabloids. After 10 years what was an innocuous and polite little database has become the greatest invasion of privacy that the world has ever seen - not because of any grand design, just a series of people tacking extra functions on for short term gain. Function creep.

And so it is with the National Identity Register. Even before it's been built, ministers are quietly adding information categories that it will store about you, already breaking the promises previous ministers have made on limiting the intrusion of the NIR. The Home Office has announced that it will be bringing the Department of Marriages, Births and Deaths into the National Identity Register (NIR). This means that the NIR will not only store every last thing about your life and movements, but will now be able to provide any nosey civil servant with your entire family tree (and that of you spouse). So anyone who wants to pay to access to the NIR will be able to essentially see how the entire country is interrelated - all at the touch of a button. This will be perfect for any Tabloid editor who wants to smear someone, as being related to anyone who's ever done anything wrong is already Fleet Streets favourite trick of bringing people down. It will also be the stalking tool of choice for wife beaters hunting their partners who have escaped abusive relationships - all they need do is pay off one of the half million or so people who will have access to the NIR and they will get a handy list of all their relatives names and addresses - genius! Of course politicians and celebrities don't need to worry about private information being stored and potentially compromised - they are thankfully all exempt from the NIR.

However it's not all doom and gloom with the latest terrifying and unnoticed piece of function creep. Someone at the Home Office clearly has a great sense of humour, as this authoritarian move is coming into force on April Fools Day 2008!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

My name is Chris and I'm a Liberty addict

This is really starting to get silly. Even though I'm now supposed to be researching 2 different projects that have nothing whatsoever with civil liberties, I still seem to spend most of my tube journeys to work frothing at the mouth about some authoritarian story or other that has piqued my bristles. I'm not sure if then spending more time blogging about them is going to help cure my addiction, but for now I'm going to have a bit of a gorge...

Jacket that lets parents keep track of children
Yes this is the "must have" fashion garment for every child with demonically overprotective parents who think that by broadcasting their kids whereabouts to the world they are less likely to be nabbed by a nonce. This is a cool and trendy coat to make your youngster wear whenever they leave the house, that sends out a GPS tracking signal so you can monitor the young whippersnappers whereabouts via the Internet or mobile phone. Coming in at a snip at only £250 (Kevlar Lining is a reasonable £80 extra) these must haves are now on sale from UK manufacturer Blade Runner. (please check this out, I'm not making this up!). With a superb piece of Orwellian reverse logic, the Managing Partner of Blade Runner, Adrian Davis, actually believes that tracking your offspring 24/7 can increase the child's independence: "Parents might be more willing to allow them to go out more if they could check up on them!". Never mind that if the tearaway wanted to do a bunk they could (shock!) leave the jacket at home, give it to someone else to wear, or tie it to a cat and put a firecracker up it's arse.

But the most terrifying thing about the trackerjacket is the fact that the GPS signal will distributed to anyone who is willing to pay to receive it. Rather than have the signal known only to the "handler" (ie the parents) back at base, the exact location of your child will be stored on (you guessed it) a huge central database that is controlled by the friendly sounding company "Asset Monitoring Solutions". So, if a budding paedo wants to bundle off your bundle of joy, they just need to get someone to hack the servers (or simply pay off someone who works for AMS) and they can get the exact whereabouts of your child sent to their Blackberry. Cool!

Britain gets it's own torture camps
Yes, sick of letting the Americans get all the fun, there is mounting evidence of a "Black Site" on Diego Garcia, which is British Sovereign Territory in the Indian Ocean. Human Rights group Reprieve recently gave a dossier of evidence to the British Government containing reliable and credible evidence that innocent people who have been held there without trail by the US have and been routinely tortured. Our government has leased the land out to the US military for some time, and the base there was redesignated as a prison after 9/11 when the US was desperately looking around the world for places where it could carry out it's dirty work. The UK Government has defended it's position of complete inaction on this, by simply saying that it has asked the Americans if it has been carrying out torture or abuse on our soil, and we have been given "assurances" that they have not. Well that's OK then. Summarily the Brown government is accepting without question the assurances from a Mr Yogi Bear that he does not crap in Jellystone Park, and the assurances from Pope Benedict that he is in fact Jewish.

Sir Ian Blair demands a Pay Rise
No that's not a gag, just the gobsmacking truth. The head of the metropolitan police (or "Lonely of the Yard" as wags within the force are now calling him) has been a busy boy recently, what with announcing to the press (again) that he needs to be able to lock us up for 3 months without charge, and being revealed to be either mindlessly incompetent or a barefaced liar in the ongoing Menezes trial. He's been so overworked that he's put in a request for his maximum possible bonus (£25k) which has sent shockwaves of incredulity and anger through the Met itself. Blair's very own deputy, Paul Stephenson, was so outraged he is said to have actually told Sir Ian that "Of course you f*cking can't take the bonus, stupid!" This bust up between Blair and his right hand man, has resulted in them not speaking to each other for several days. This is presumably going to not be particularly helpful in their ongoing crusade against terror in which they apparently working night and day to stop us all getting blown to pieces.

Another senior police source has been quoted as saying that "Blair is off his trolley... he is the most self centred man I have ever met". The reason for this uproar is not just that Sir Ian is the most Gaffe prone policeman since Inspector Clouseau , but that he has picked the week to fill his boots as yet more damming evidence is made public at the Menezes trial. This week saw one of the (unnamed) officers defending the decision to shoot this innocent man in the head without warning by saying that Menezes was behaving suspiciously in the following ways:
-Getting on and off a bus
-Texting on his mobile phone
-Appearing frustrated when a station was closed.
Well if that's all it takes to be identified as a suicide bomber then most of London's commuters are in deep shit.

Richard Thwaites QC, who has the unenviable job of defending the Met against charges of breaching health and safety guidelines, has presented this evidence as his ultimate "Chewbacca Defence" to prove that this behaviour means that Menezes deserved to be shot: "If people deploy anti-surveillance methods it's usually because they are up to no good, isn't it?".

The other revelation last week was that the Met deliberately manipulated the picture of Menezes that it released after the shooting, so that it looked more like one of the suspects from the previous days failed bombings.

In a move that even Alistair Campbell might have found distasteful, some boffin at the Met actually had a fiddle on photoshop and tweaked the proportions and skin tones of the photo of Menezes to make him look more like the the person they were supposed to be following.

So while all of these damning revelations have been coming out on a daily basis, Sir Ian Blair has been demanding that he be paid what he's worth, a tactic which has suprisingly backfired. The Metropolitan Police Authority is said to be considering a motion to have him removed from office as soon as possible. According to one source, Sir Ian had "reached the last-chance saloon" and some members may pass a motion against the Commissioner at a meeting with him on 30 March. One said: "It's getting to the stage where he is the issue and not the safety of London. We should be talking about burglary and knife crime, not his latest gaffe."

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Nearly there...

The Taking Liberties journey is almost at an end... Well for us anyway. The DVD comes out TODAY (Monday 15th October), and that will sadly be the final installment of Britain's first (and probably only) feature film about the loss of British Liberty. Either things will get better so that films like Taking Liberties aren't necessary, or things will get worse and making films like this will be made illegal. DVD pre-orders are doing reasonably well - as of today we are at sales rank 422 on Amazon. To give this some kind of context Black Gold (docuimentary about coffee that was released at the same time) is on 5,088.

If you haven't got a copy yet, you can order yours here.

For those of you who managed to miss the reviews screaming at you on the website, I've cut and pasted a few of the crits below:

**** "Exhilarating... A vitamin boost of scepticism... cheerful, polemical and tactless." Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

"Excellent... you shouldn't vote at the next general election until you've seen this film" Phillip French, Observer

**** "Pure Dynamite... An eloquent mugging" The Times

"Bold, fearless and blackly funny, this vital film should be compulsory viewing" Dazed and Confused

**** "One of the most important films of the year... Watch it and get angry!" Daily Mirror

Film of the Week - Mark Kermode BBC Radio 5

**** "A less hysterical, but still gripping, incendiary and amusing British answer to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11…An excellent piece of populist film making" The Scotsman

**** Time Out
**** Sunday Times
**** Sunday Telegraph
**** BBC Films
**** Daily Express

OK enough navel gazing! Even though I'm supposed to be weaning myself off the subject of liberty loss, two items in the news last week had me frothing at the mouth:

Sir Ian Blair announces he will hold his breath until the Government gives him 90 Days pre charge detention
This Blog's favourite policeman has announced that he wants to be able to lock people up for 3 months - without having to tell them why. Even though there has never been a single occasion when they have needed even the existing limit before someone has to be charged or released (28 days – the longest in the free world), Sir Ian has declared that we'll all die tomorrow unless we turn Britain into a Police state because, er, he says so that's why. Sir Ian puts in a request for this power about once every 2 months, but on this accoaision the timing could not have been more galling.

Sir Ian’s plea for us to trust him unconditionally with our liberty, comes alongside the first and only court case into the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes. (No-one’s actually standing trial for the murder of the innocent Brazilian electrician 2 years ago… instead the Metropolitan police is being sued for contravening health and safety guidelines for firing a gun repeatedly into his head at point blank range. It’s a bit like giving Harold Shipman a written warning for breaking the Hippocratic oath.)

During the hearing last week, CCTV pictures were been made public showing Menezes calmly walking through the ticket barrier at Stockwell Tube on the 22nd July 2005. Moments later he was shot dead by 2 armed officers. Seven hours later, when most of London’s police force knew that Menezes was as dangerous as a Police Community Support officer, Sir Ian went on Live TV and announced that the suspect had “jumped the barrier” and therefore deserved what he got. These images prove that Sir Ian is either a blatant liar or horrendously incompetent. So Sir Ian choses this very moment that the images are released, to make a request to extend pre-charge detention - again - based on the say so of none other than Sir Ian Blair.

The arguments are exactly the same ones that have been trooped out the last half dozen or so times, namley: "There are lots of bad people out there who want to blow us up and this is the only way to stop them"

Firstly this is not the greatest threat we have ever faced, and we seemed to muddle through the Second World War, The Cold War and the IRA bombing campaign without tearing up the oldest civil liberty we have. Secondly keeping people locked up for long periods before charge produces terribly unreliable evidence. Studies have shown that the longer someone is detained without charge, the more likely they are to confess to something they haven't done. Thirdly, introducing the same limit for pre-charge detention that was in force in South Aftrica during Apharteid, is not going to do wonders for relations with the Muslim Community, who are the very group of people you want to keep on side while trying to fight terrorism. Of the very few actual real terrorists that have been caught plotting attacks in the UK, the evidence that has been used to scure conviction has not come from CCTV cameras, ID Cards or from people who have been locked up for weeks without charge. It has come from tip off's and sources from within the Muslim Commnuity, but this intelligence is going to dry up if we continue to pass illiberal laws that inevitably are going to create a feeling of grievance and injsutice within the community itself. At it's very worst this feeling of injustice can act as a recruiting seargent for the terrorists themselves, so by passing a law designed to prevent terrorism, you can in effect set it off. Similar laws were passed to try to stop the IRA, which enabled the authorites to intern people suspected of terrorism, without charge. This backfired massively and ended up ercruiting hundreds of dissafected young men to the IRA's ranks. If only our political leaders and senior police spent more time looking at recent histroy and less time poncing about in front of the cameras, then we might escape repeating the mistakes of the past.

Exporting Democracy to Burma
Yes it's all well and good for Gordon Brown to read out carefully drafted spin sheets condemming the Burmese Junta for crushing peaceful protests, but there is one tactic that in use by the Burmese military that will be frighteningly familiar to anyone who's been to a prtoest in the UK recently. Once the Burmese protests started, the authorities stood back for several days. After about a week the soldiers brutally rounded up the ringleaders in the dead of night. How did they work out who was organising these peaceful actions with such calculating efficency?

Step frowards the Burmese FIT teams, who seem to have imported thei tactics from Britain. Anyone who has been on any protests in the UK recently will have seen the FIT teams in force. These are overt surviellance officers who film peacful protests in the UK in order to gather information about who goes on political marches these days, as well as to dampen dissent by letting you know you're being watched. In some cases activists are followed for days at a time, and the effect is extremely threatening. Clearly the FIT teams are they are so effective at restricting protests that the idea has been joyously picked up by the authorities in Burma. During the first week of protests - when the government appeared to be restrained - the Burmese FIT teams were out carefully filming the activists, so they could work out who the ringleaders were. Thanks to this British technique, the Burmese were able to draw up a hit list of the orgnaisers, and then knock on their door in the middle of the night. Isn't it nice to see Britain exporting democratic values around the world, and it makes you feel proud that when we set the standard for civil liberties, other countries are more than happy to copy our methods.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Crossed Wires over Zimbabwe

It's not just on the subject of General Elections that Gordon is sending out mixed messages. On the one hand our new leader is trying to show us his caring sharing side, by publicly lambasting Robert Mugabe's muderous regime and the horrific human rights abuses it carrries out in Zimbabwe. So far so Tony. Gordon has now gone one stage further by refusing to attend the EU summit if Mugabe shows up, though this could be just a cover as he doesn't want to fork out for the airfare. But nonetheless, Gordon has been flexing his liberal muscles on this issue and at the Labour Party Conference declared:

"The message should go out to anyone facing persecution anywhere from Burma to Zimbabwe. Human rights are universal and no injustice can last forever,"

Quite so. But could this be the very same Gordon Brown that is doing everything in it's power to send scores of innocent people back to Zimbabwe where they are guaranteed to face torture and death?

In April, British Court of Appeal judges halted the deportation of three Darfuri asylum seekers that the government wanted to send back to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. The judges ruled the three should not be sent back to camps in Khartoum, because conditions there were "unduly harsh." But the government has now petitioned the House of Lords, the highest court in the land, for permission to appeal the court's decision. This is a crucial test case, and if the government wins, the first in line (after the 3 unfortunate Darfurians) are hundreds of Zimbabweans. NGO's are queueing up to show the government evidence that these people will face immiedate persecution on their return (the fact that they have run away and then been deported is a bit of a giveaway to the authorities) but the British Government continues in it's battle to fill Mugabe's Torture chambers.

Not surprisingly Britain also hold the European record for deporting the highest number of Iraqis back to the country we have done so much to stabilise.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Take the data and run...

One of the consistent themes running through our seemingly unstoppable slide towards an authoritarian state, is that most of the key changes slip by almost completely unnoticed. While a lot of the blame for this can be placed squarely on the shoulders of an apathetic public, our government has become increasingly adept at bringing in new powers without properly telling anyone. And so it is with The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2007. A seemingly innocuous piece of Government red tape, actually gives the state sweeping and unprecedented powers to probe even deeper into your life, that will put us on a pegging with the Chinese when it comes to monitoring and tracking private citizens. Before I vent forth on the latest tools in this privacy busting document, it's worth noting that this is one of an increasing number of laws that are being made and changed without going through parliament. Under The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act, Ministers can amend existing law without needing to debate the proposed act before parliament. This means that when they have something particularly controversial they want to get through, they can deftly avoid all that boring democratic debate and potential defeat. Not surprisingly the New Home Secretary Jacqui Smith used the Leg and Reg to whip this piece of data retention legislation, as if she had put it before parliament even the most docile of slumbering MP would raise an eyebrow or two.

Show me the Data!
The new rules compel phone companies to retain information, however private, about all land line and mobile calls, and make them available to some 795 public bodies and quangos. While the justification for these new powers was, predictably, fighting terrorism, the vast majority of these bodies have absolutely nothing to do with foiling suicide bombers, and include:
-The tax authorities
-475 local councils
-The Food Standards Agency
-The Department of Health
-The Immigration Service
-The Gaming Board
-The Charity Commission

While I'm sure The Charity Commission does excellent work, I'm a little confused as to how they will stop Al'Qaeda bombing parliament by knowing how many sex lines I've called this week.

Records will detail precisely what calls are made, their time and duration, and the name and address of the registered user of the phone. The files will even reveal where people are when they made mobile phone calls. By knowing which mast transmitted the signal, officials will be able to pinpoint the source of a call to within a few feet. This can even be used to track someones route if, for example, they make a call from a moving car. Files will also be kept on the sending and receipt of text messages.

While genuine baddies are easily going to be several steps ahead of such ham fisted surveillance (real terrorists sadly use codes to avoid detection - this little trick was first used in the Gunpowder Plot) the real losers, again, are going to be unsuspecting members of the public, about whom yet more data is compiled, sifted and sold.

This is but a taste of what's to come. By 2009 the Government plans to extend the rules to cover Internet use: the websites we have visited, the people we have emailed and phone calls made over the net.

But if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear, right?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Vindication from an unlikely quarter...

I have to say it does take a bit to get us shocked these days, but Tony McNulty -Home Office Minister and trasher of civil liberties extraordinaire, has left me somewhat speechless. At a Labour Fringe meeting, he came out with the opinion that:
-Tony Blair had got it wrong in his reaction to the 7/7 attacks,
-The Rules of the Game had in fact not changed,
-And since the start of the war on terror the government has done all sorts of things that have curtailed our civil liberties. Furthermore these measuers have heightened resentment among the Muslim community which has subsequently increased - not decreased - the threat of terrorism.

Yes, I couldn't believe it either, so please check out full story here.

This is somewhat akin to being sternly told by a defecating ursus mammal in a tree dense area, that bears do in fact shit in the woods.

Monday, 24 September 2007

When two stories collide...

There's been quite a lot of this recently. A month ago the heathrow climate camp brought together the ubiquitous Lawyer Timothy Lawson Cruttenden who was part of the campaign to stop the EDO Protests, and the Plane Stupid activists who feature as a separate story in the film. This week it seems that the extradition laws are now going to be used to target executives from BAE systems.

Even though Tony Blair shut down the serious fraud office enquiry into BAE Bribes with the laughable excuse of "National Security", it seems that the authorities on the other side of the pond are less corruptible in their corruption investigations. The US department of Justice has been investigating the BAE bribes to Prince Bandar, which he freely admits taking. As the £1 billion bungs were covertly facilitated by the Ministry of Defence, there is an increasing list of civil servants, MP's and Ministers (from both the Tories and New Labour) who are facing indictments in the US for bribery. Now if there was any sensible barriers to extradition from the UK to the US - for example having to provide evidence in a British Court - then New Labour would be spared the embarrassment of having several mandarins, ministers and BAE executives hauled off to the US in chains. However, thanks to the 2003 Extradition act, the US no longer has to provide any evidence to extradite a British National, and all they have to do is fill in a form and off they go. The Natwest Three story in the film showed how unjust and nonsensical these arrangements are. The Home office is now doing somersaults as it is in an impossible situation - unless it breaks it's own law it is facing the prospect of shipping members of her Majesties government off to the US for corruption. The most amusing development so far was when Washington made a formal request for assistance from the Home Office, which was unusually denied, as opposed to slavishly carried out. When questioned about this, the Home Office said that refusing requests from the US was "not without precedent", but then failed to cite a single occasion when they had not complied with a formal request before.

The news for the Home Office, MOD and BAE Systems keeps on getting worse. The same lawyers who successfully took a $7 billion suit out on behalf of Enron shareholders, are now representing a group of BAE shareholders who want to take their execs to task over the Bribes to Prince Bandar.

The latest rumour is that the government, petrified of upsetting BAE Systems and the Saudis, will desperately amend the extradition laws so that they can continue to cover up the biggest corruption case in British history. From our point of view it's a win win - either we see New Labour ministers and BAE execs banged up in chokey, or the monstrously unfair extradition arrangements with the US will be changed. Just a pity we can't have both.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

University of Florida student Tasered at Kerry forum

Incredible footage of US student protestor getting tasered in Florida. US Senator John Kerry watches on.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Pants to Guantanamo!

Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of Reprieve who looks after several people who are being held illegally in Guantanamo Bay, has recently been accused of smuggling in underwear and swimming trunks into his clients. Below is the hilarious correspondence of Clive's sttrggle to clear his name:

August 12, 2007

Re: Discovery of Contraband Clothing in the Cases of Shaker Aamer, Detainee ISN 239, and Muhammed Hamid al-Qareni, Detainee ISN 269

Dear Mr. Stafford Smith.

Your client, Shaker Aamer, detainee ISN 239, was recently discovered to be wearing Under Armor briefs and a Speedo bathing suit. Neither item was issued to the detainee by JTF-Guantánamo personnel, nor did they enter the camp through regular mail. Coincidentally, Muhammed al-Qareni, detainee ISN 269, who is represented by Mr. Katznelson of Reprieve, was also recently discovered to be wearing Under Armor briefs. As with detainee ISN 239, the briefs were not issued by JTF-Guantánamo personnel, nor did they enter the camp through regular mail.

We are investigating this matter to determine the origins of the above contraband and ensure that parties who may have been involved understand the seriousness of this transgression. As I am sure you understand, we cannot tolerate contraband being surreptitiously brought into the camp. Such activities threaten the safety of the JTF-Guantánamo staff, the detainees, and visiting counsel.

In furtherance of our investigation, we would like to know whether the contraband material, or any portion thereof, was provided by you, or anyone else on your legal team, or anyone associated with Reprieve. We are compelled to ask these questions in light of the coincidence that two detainees represented by counsel associated with Reprieve were found wearing the same contraband underwear.

Thank you as always for your cooperation and assistance,


[Name redacted]
Commander, JAGC, US Navy
Staff Judge Advocate


29th August, 2007

Re: The Issue of Underwear (“Discovery of ‘Contraband Clothing’ in the Cases of Shaker Aamer (ISN 239) and Mohammed el-Gharani (ISN 269)”)

Dear Cmdr. [redacted]:

Thank you very much for your letter dated August 12, 2007, which I received yesterday. In it, you discuss the fact that Mr. Aamer was apparently wearing ‘Under Armor briefs’ and some Speedo swimming trunks and that, by coincidence, Mr. el-Gharani was also sporting ‘Under Armor briefs’.

I will confess that I have never received such an extraordinary letter in my entire career. Knowing you as I do, I hope you understand that I do not attribute this allegation to you personally. Obviously, however, I take accusations that I may have committed a criminal act very seriously. In this case, I hope you understand how patently absurd it is, and how easily it could be disproven by the records in your possession. I also hope you understand my frustration at yet another unfounded accusation against lawyers who are simply trying to do their job – a job that involves legal briefs, not the other sort.

Let me briefly respond: First, neither I, nor Mr. Katznelson, nor anyone else associated with us has had anything to do with smuggling ‘unmentionable’ in to these men, nor would we ever do so.

Second, the idea that we could smuggle in underwear is far-fetched. As you know, anything we take in is searched and there is a camera in the room when we visit the client. Does someone seriously suggest that Mr. Katznelson or I have been stripping off to deliver underwear to our clients?

Third, your own records prove that nobody associated with my office has seen Mr. Aamer for a full year. Thus, it is physically impossible for us to have delivered anything to him that recently surfaced on his person. Surely you do not suggest that in your maximum security prison, where Mr. Aamer has been held in solitary confinement almost continuously since September 24, 2005, and where he has been more closely monitored than virtually any prisoner on the Base, your staff have missed the fact that he has been wearing both Speedos and ‘Under Armor’ for 12 months?

Since your records independently establish that neither I nor Mr. Katznelson could not have been the one who delivered such undergarments to Mr. Aamer, this eliminates any ‘coincidence’ in the parallel underwear sported by Mr. el-Gharani. Your letter implies, however, that Mr. Katznelson might have something to do with Mr. el-Gharani’s underthings. Mr. Katznelson has not seen Mr. el-Gharani for four months. As you know, Mr. el-Gharani has been forced to strip naked in front of a number of military personnel on more than one occasion, and presumably someone would have noticed his apparel then.

Without bringing this up with me, it was therefore patently clear that my office had nothing to do with this question of lingerie. However, I am unwilling to allow the issue of underwear to drop there: It seems obvious that the same people delivered these items to both men, and it does not take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that members of your staff (either the military or the interrogators) did it. Getting to the bottom of this would help ensure that in future there is no shadow of suspicion cast on the lawyers who are simply trying to do their job, so I have done a little research to help you in your investigations.

I had never heard of ‘Under Armor briefs’ until you mentioned them, and my internet research has advanced my knowledge in two ways – first, Under Armour apparently sports a ‘U’ in its name, which is significant only because it helps with the research.

Second, and rather more important, this line of underpants are very popular among the military. One article referred to the fact that “A specialty clothing maker is winning over soldiers and cashing in on war.” See here (emphasis in original). The article goes on to say:

In August [2005], a Baltimore-based clothier popular among military service members got in on the trend. * * * Founded in 1996, Under Armour makes a line of tops, pants, shorts, underwear and other “performance apparel” designed for a simple purpose: to keep you warm in the cold and cool in the heat.

This stuff is obviously good for the men and women stationed in the sweaty climate of Guantánamo, as we could all attest.

It would be worth checking whether this lingerie was purchased from the NEX there in GTMO, since the internet again leads one to suspect that the NEX would be purveyors of Under Armour:

Tom Byrne, Under Armour’s director of new business development, told Army Times that “The product has done very well in PXes across the country and in the Middle East, and we have seen an increasing demand month after month. There is clearly a need for a better alternative than the standard-issue cotton T-shirt.”

There must be other clues as to the provenance of these underpants. Perhaps you might check the label to see whether these are ‘tactical’ underwear, as this is apparently something Under Armour has created specially for the military.

Under Armour has a line of apparel called Tactical that’s modified for soldiers. It features the same styles as civilian tops and bottoms - LooseGear for all purpose conditions, HeatGear and ColdGear, meant for hot and cold weather, as well as a line for women. But Tactical items are offered in army brown, olive drab, midnight navy and traditional black and white. Also, the Tactical section of the Under Armour Web site features military models, not athletes. In one image, a soldier poised on one knee wears a LooseGear shirt, looking as if he’d just as soon take a hill as take off on a run. His muscular arms protrude from the tight, olive-colored fabric. He’s a picture of soldierliness. And he’s totally dry.

I don’t know the color of the underpants sported by Messrs. Aamer and el-Gharani, but that might give you a few tips. Indeed, I feel sure your staff would be able to give you better information on this than I could (though I have done my best) as this Under Armour stuff apparently provokes rave reviews from your colleagues:

Soldier testimonials are effusive. On, a convenient place to buy Under Armour online, a customer who calls himself Spc. Sublett says he’s stationed in Afghanistan. Although his identity cannot be verified, Sublett does note the Tactical line’s less apparent benefits. “Sometimes I have to go long times in hot weather without showers. Under Armour prevents some of the nasty side effects of these extreme conditions. All of my buddies out here use the same thing. They’re soldier-essential equipment. The only thing that would make them better is if the Army would issue them.”

I don’t mean to say that it is an open and shut case proving that your military provided the underwear, as I understand that other people use Under Armour. One group I noticed on the web were the amateur weight lifters, who seem confused as to whether Under Armour gave them a competitive advantage. See, e.g. here (“I was wondering what the rule on Under Armour is? I wear the briefs with my squat suit – it makes it soooo much easier to get over my thighs. My first USAPL meet is coming up and I wanted to get that squared away before I show up – Thanks, [name removed]”).

However, in the grand scheme of things, I would like to think we can all agree that the interrogators or military officers are more likely to have access to Messrs. Aamer and el-Gharani than the US Amateur Power Lifting Association.

On the issue of the Speedo swimming trunks, my research really does not help very much. I cannot imagine who would want to give my client Speedos, or why. Mr. Aamer is hardly in a position to go swimming, since the only available water is the toilet in his cell.

I should say that your letter brought to mind a sign in the changing room of a local swimming pool, which showed someone diving into a lavatory, with the caption, “We don’t swim in your toilet, so please don’t pee in our pool”. I presume that nobody thinks that Mr. Aamer wears Speedos while paddling in his privy.

Please assure me that you are satisfied that neither I nor my colleagues had anything to do with this. In light of the fact that you felt it necessary to question whether we had violated the rules, I look forward to hearing the conclusion of your investigation.

All the best.

Yours sincerely,

Clive A. Stafford Smith

Friday, 14 September 2007


Is still not finished. There was a balls up with the directors commentary and it had to be remixed. Carly at Revolver is now only speaking to me through the medium of a cricket bat. I really don't know what they expected... the book was 3 weeks late, the film was a month late so it would have been a poor show to start being punctual at this stage in the game. Apparently the soundtrack was delivered on time but this is probably because we had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Anyway it seems like it might just make it into the shops on October 15th, which is just as well as I've just spent the last month doing interviews and publicising the DVD launch like my life depends on it. Some of the more amusing interviews to look out for are with AXM Magazine (London's largest selling Gay publication) & BBC Hardtalk, where I very nearly get into a fight with the moronic presenter.

Meanwhile some stories that should astound even the most hard bitten libertarians...

Firms caught selling Torture Equipment at DSEi Arms Fair

Of course the news that instruments of torture and death being flogged at the East London bi-yearly arms jamboree is hardly news. What is astounding is that for once the normally apathetic Customs & Excise are actually doing something about it. Two firms - BCB International (British) and Famous Glory Holding (Chinese) were turfed out of the ExCel centre for selling cuffs and leg irons that blatantly contravened the ban on the sale of torture equipment. BCB called the decision "totally unfair", presumably they are riling at the fact that everyone else at DSEi is happily selling instruments of death, so why can't he also have a piece of the action as well. I popped down on Wednesday to see how the protests were going & bumped into Mark Thomas was on fine form.

The afternoon became hugely entertaning when the Space Hijackers turned up in a genuine Tank that they had gone to the trouble of buying. The police were waiting for them and stopped them a good way away from the arms fair. But just when it seemed that all was lost, it was revealed that that was in fact a decoy tank, and a second tank had in fact sneaked around the side, and got outside the Excel center. They promptly got out and tried to auction it off, and it quickly descended into farce, which presumably was the idea.

Blind drummer in Steel Band thrown off flight as he behaved like a terrorist.

Well, it's an easy mistake to make isn't it? Five members of an Afro Caribbean steel band were settling in to their seats on a flight back to London from Italy on New Years Eve after a world tour. The drummer - who is blind - happens also to be a football fan, and asked one of his friends to read him the latest scores, which he did. One of the other passengers thought this behaviour was suspicious (and lets face it we all live in fear of the day that blind suicide bombers start chanting the score draws at us) and alerted the cabin crew. The Ryanair employees took one look at these dodgy musicians, and instantly raised the alarm. The plane was then stormed by a gang of Italian Armed police (none of whom spoke English) and marched all the band members off the plane at gunpoint. Even after they proved to the Italian authorities that they were not terrorists, Ryanair refused to let them rebaord the plane. Not only were they stranded in Sardinia for another 3 days, Ryanair has not offered them an apology or compensation. They are now suing the airline, but no doubt the company will play the "terrorism" card to try and excuse this appalling and discriminatory act.

Flash Gordon

And finally it's been made public that New Labour - despite being massively in the red - has enlisted the services of Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad men of choice for people with more money than sense. I've heard on the grapevine that their strap line for the next General election will be

"New Labour: No Flash - Just Gordon"

Which probably cost them about £500k. It's also massively contradictory as blowing half a million quid with smuggest ad company in soho smacks of being a wee bit flash by anyone's standards.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

In His Prime...

Remember the dying days of Blair's reign? Just to show us that he wasn't clinging on to office for an extra several months just to get as much media exposure as possible, he went on a farewell tour of Africa with a posse of snappers and sycophants from Men's Vogue in tow. I seem to remember venting forth about it on this Blog so angrily that there is still a bloodstain on my keyboard. Anyway, I recently went to the USA for a wedding (amazed they let me in) and happened to see Blair's smug grin leering at me from a Newstand. I caved in to the temptation and bought the copy of the magazine, and spent the rest of the day furiously shouting at the article, which got me lots of strange looks on the New York Subway. I'm not surprised that you can't buy it in the UK, as otherwise there would be a significant increase in the number of incidents of newsagents being daubed in pig excrement.

But seeing as I had to endure the litterary equivalent of having my netheregions clamped in a vice, I feel forced to share the pani with everyone else. The article that cost the British Taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds starts thus:

"Tony Blair left Britain better than he found it, and now the bombers in Baghdad and the tabloids in London are someone else's problem."

Genius. It then goes on to give an subjective politcal assement of his greatness:

"With Blair, you begin and end with the eyes. His dark suits and white shirts and generally modest ties (with an occasional splash of Paul Smith boldness) are unremarkable, sending you back to his most arresting feature. Blue and warm in laughter, the eyes can harden to a gemlike intensity that has its measure of ice. This is his talisman. It is an expression that speaks of the willfulness beneath the geniality."

Eventually they do talk about things other than his ties and eyes, and Blair defends on the the most contentious part of Blair's leadership - his closeness with President Bush:

"Of course Clinton and Bush are very different personalities, But I like them both immensely as people, so personally there were never problems. Politically, obviously, you have a Republican president, and different political perspectives, but in reality, certainly after 2001, it did not make much difference."

This is atually quite revealing, admitting that ater 9/11 he shifted massively to the right. - the only other interpretation being that Bush shifted to the left.

"One of the things that I've already seen is that, as prime minister, you have to deal with everything," Blair said. "The liberating quality of this new life is that you are free to concentrate on the areas where you can make a difference."

Astonishing... firstly that he still thinks that he did "deal with everything" while Prime Minister, and secondly that he honestly believes he can "make a difference" as condoleezza Rice's tea boy (aka Special Envoy to the Middle East). The article ends with a visit to 10 Downing Street on the penultimate day of his premiership.

"On his second-to-last day in office, I find Blair at Downing Street—the kind of place where you run a country from a dowdy sofa—flanked by, of all people, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California.

He and Schwarzenegger clamber into a Jaguar, and their motorcade sets out across London, now the world's financial center. Later, Schwarzenegger admits, "I wanted to model myself on him." He describes how the fun-loving Blair is "not clamped down—as we say in German, verklemmt. You know how you can find the sweet spot in tennis or in golf? Well, in politics you can also find the sweet spot, that fine line that gets the economy and the environment pulling in the same direction. Blair did that, and I wanted to do the same."

So rather than spending his final hours doing some detailed handover notes for Gordon (where the hotline to Rupert Murdoch is, which button to press when George says to Bomb Iran, etc) Blair spends even more precious moments with Men's Vogue while hanging out with Arnie. It's also very worrying that Arnie wants to base his plans for the environment on Blair's miserable record in the UK: CO2 emissions rocketing, faliure to meet any of our Kyoto targets and massive plans approved for extensions to all our aiports.

But I've saved the most gobsmacking section for last - the desperate assertion that he will continue to have a powerful influence in the days after his abdication as the special envoy to the middle east:

"So it was plain enough even then in South Africa, shortly before the long- announced though contentious end of his three-term run as Labour prime minister, that Blair, far from turning to a multimillion-dollar memoir, would take on the Jerusalem-centric mother of all conflicts."

No-one knows preceisely how many, but Tony Blair has thus far spent less than 10 days in the middle east since he took on this mother of all well paid jobs. And what's this tosh about not doing a multi million dollar memoir?!?! The bidding war has already begun...

Show me the money...

While ranting about this to a pair of elderly New Yorkers, one of them pointed out to me a reason for Blair's absurdly long departure that I was completely unaware of. Apparently, if you are Prime Minister for 10 years or more, you get you Prime ministers salary for life.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Some Silly Laws...

Even though New Labour has created over 3000 new criminal offences, some of which are lovingly mauled in our film, someone has just pointed out to me some of the stranger laws that have remained on the statute book from yesteryear:

-It is illegal for a cab in the City of London to carry rabid dogs or corpses.
-It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.
-It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.
-Under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don’t want him to know, though you don’t have to tell him anything you don’t mind him knowing.
-Royal Navy ships that enter the Port of London must provide a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.
-A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even, if she so requests, in a policeman’s helmet.
-In Lancashire, no person is permitted after being asked to stop by a constable on the seashore to incite a dog to bark.
-In England, all men over the age of 14 must carry out two hours of longbow practice a day.
-In London, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll; they are also allowed to drive geese down Cheapside.
-A man who feels compelled to urinate in public can do so only if he aims for his rear wheel and keeps his right hand on his vehicle.
-In Chester, Welshmen are banned from entering the city before sunrise and from staying after sunset.
-In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.
-In London, it is illegal to flag down a taxi if you have the plague.

And finally my favourite...

-The head of any dead whale found on the British coast is legally the property of the King; the tail, on the other hand, belongs to the Queen - in case she needs the bones for her corset.

Suddenly being arrested for setting off a nuclear weapon doesn't seem half as silly.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Branson's Eye in The Sky

Anyone attending the Virgin organised V Festival this year, might want to keep an eye out for a brand new addition to the line up.

This is not a new saccharine boy band or whining drug addled trustafarian, but a super new flying robot that will be silently hovering over the crowds, quietly filming you without your consent. Alarmed at the thought of lots of people standing in a field listening to pop music, police have spent another small fortune on the latest gadgetry and are now piloting the drones (no puns please) at the touring rock festival every week.

Like something out of Knight Rider when they had really run out of ideas, these toys are controlled by a man on the ground, who has a big mask on enabling him to see whatever the drone sees. The stated aim of this toy is to prevent crime, in this instance drug dealing. Aside from the fact that everyone knows if you try and buy weed at a Festival you will almost certainly end up purchasing bay leaves, it does seem slightly preposterous to assert that this expensive flying camera can actually stop this happening. The drone is several hundred metres in the air, the copper with the magic helmet could be a mile away and the drug deal takes only seconds to conclude. Nonetheless, the Police have gleefully declared the trial a success and proudly pointed out the sixty two arrests at Weston Park last weekend. However when they were pressed further, the police admitted that the Drones did not lead to any of these arrests. But they are really good fun to play with, so they've just ordered a dozen more...

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Postcard from Texas

The most common question I've been asked since Taking Liberties was released, (apart from ones about the bloody Nazi analogy) is "how is David Bermingham getting on?". Well this week the Texan court - in it's infinite wisdom - has postponsed the trial for the 3rd time, and the date has now been set for January 2008. The painful irony of this is that when they had their rubber stamp extradition hearing in the UK (way back in October 2004) the magistrate actually said that they should be extradited to the US, as to prosecute them in the UK "would cause unnecessary delay". The reality is that they could have had the trial about 50 times over in the time it's taken them to even sniff a courtroom in the US. Thanks to the hideosly unfair extradition treaty, they will have basically had an 18 month prison sentance and a million dollar fine (if you add up all the bail and legal costs) before they've even got to trial. If they had gone out and bashed a pensioner over the head to buy crack, they would have been treated much fairer.

Also, contrary to the misleading platitudes that emenated from New Labour at the time of their extradition, they are unlikely to get anything close a fair trial in Texas, thanks to the skullduggery of their ex employer. This is not suprising to anyone with a modicum of common sense, as the crime of which they are accused allegedly took place in Britain, the perpetrators are British and the victim is British, so of course it makes perfect sense to base the trial in the middle of an American Desert. The real problem is that in order to defend themselves the Natwest Three desperately need to call witnesses to prove their innocence, and these witnesses are where? (I'll give you three guesses but you'll only need one) Britain!

So the Nat West Three have sent a request to NatWest bank with a list of 36 people theat they need to give evidence in their trial via video link. Lawyers acting for Royal Bank of Scotland (which owns NatWest) wrote back stating that none of the 36 witnesses are willing to testify. This turned out to be a big porkie pie, as several of the individuals who were susequently approached directly, said that they had never even heard of the law firm, or said anything to them about testifying one way or the other.

So it looks as if if RBS is going out of it's way to make sure that the men are hung out to dry (what a caring sharing employer!), the US Justice system is doing it's best to grind them down with ridiculous delays, and the British Government is keeping it's blnid eye firmly turned.

But in spite of all this, David is in excellent spirits. Thanks to the wonders of Skype video he gets to see his wife and children every day, and he has got the best suntan he's had in years. Hopefully fortune will smile on them one day soon, and we can get them back to Britain where they rightfully belong.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Those Darn T shirts again.

While most self respecting liberty buffs have their attention firmly focused on the climate camp at Heathrow, I spotted a utterly ridiculous story about a man being threatened with a fine for a slogan on a t-shirt. Dave Pratt was warned that he would get an £80 fine from Peterborough Council if he continued to wear the offending garment. The T Shirt read:

"Don't piss me off. I'm running out of places to hide the bodies!"

But the powers that be at Peterborough have decreed that this might put someones nose out of joint, so Mr Pratt has been told in no uncertain terms that if he persists at wearing comedy tops he will feel the long arm of the law.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Workin on a chain gang...

The much trumpeted New Labour scheme of tagging prisoners and releasing them early is now in serious trouble. And guess what, at the heart of the problem is a big shiny computer that they were sold by the massive IT Firm EDS (see blogs passim), that has now gone more than 400% over budget and still doesn't work. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is - according to the Probation officers Union "close to collapse".

The news that a government IT system has gone vastly over budget, been hugley delayed, and failed to work in the slightest should not be news to anyone, and would be slightly less sensational than the news of a pensioner in Rome banging on about contraception. What is utterly staggering about this particular IT arse up, is that EDS is fining the government for pulling the plug! EDS (they of multiple similar IT foul ups, particularly at the MOD), will be paid a £50 million "penalty" as the government is going to have to back out. This is rather like asking someone to build you a house that quadruples in cost, takes 10 years to finish, and collapses on you as soon as you move in. And then when you try to move they send you a cancellation fee. Good job EDS isn't an integral part of the National Identity Register... Oh shit, they are.

Don't sweat it at the airport...

The boffins in the basement at The Pentagon have been working overtime, and have now come up with a truly dazzling gizmo that is going to save the world from terror, but also cost the earth. This is something called Project Hostile Intent (I'm not making this up) that is a device that scours crowds and examines minute facial involuntary expressions, which it then analyses to assess whether or not you are about to blow yourself up. The plan is that these things get installed at airports, where they will tirelessly examine the minute changes in your facial expression as you are about to about to board a plane, to work out if you are a potential threat. It would be interesting to see this tested at Heathrow right now, and see what it makes of several thousand people crying, screaming and yelling "FOR THE LAST TIME, WHERE IS MY F*CKING LUGGAGE?!!" Presumably a hundred thousand people all twitching uncontrollably through severe nervous exhaustion at the prospect of a 10 hour wait for the security checks, will send a message back to Washington to wipe Heathrow off the face of the map...

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Brown Government to ask for British Residents to be returned from Guantanamo Bay

Well even a miserable cynic ilke myself, who's also recovering from a particularly heavy weekend, has to applaud this action. This means that hopefully Omar Deghayes will be coming home soon, after 5 years of illegal imprisonment without charge and torture at the hands of the US military. Omar is one of the 5 British Residents that had, until now, been abandoned by the Blair Government. As with the decision to reverse the protest ban around parliament, we don't know how much Taking Liberties has had to do with it, but it does warm the heart to see that sometimes if bang on about smoething long enough it can make a difference. While this a step in the right direction it's critically important that:
1) The Foriegn Office actually keep up the pressure on the US so that this actually happens, rather than the announcement being a bit of PR that gets quietly forgotten.
2) That we don't forget about the 700 other people who have been held illegally in the camp from other countries around the world.

As we've said all along it may well be that there are some dangerous people in there, so in which case let's deal with them as we've dealt with dangerous people for centuries: put them on trial, and if found guilty put them in jail for a very long time. Terrorism - however barbaric and violent - does not justify suspending the rule of law, as it is the rule of law which seperates us from the Terrorists.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Police Censure Independent Police Complaints Comission

Hang on I thought it was supposed to be the other way around? But no, in the Kafkaesque world of the upper echelons of the most politicised police force this side of Zimbabwe, Senior Members of the Metropolitan Police Force have effectively sued the IPCC as it looked like it might criticise them over the death of Jean Charles De Menezes.

In a Report issued tomorrow, the IPCC has massively backtracked from it's original stance, and has cleared all the senior officers who work directly under Sir Ian Blair. This was nothing to do with them being free of blame, more the fact that they had taken the IPCC to court (all paid for by the Police Federation by the way) as presumably it was doing it's job far too well. If only Crippen had tried that on, he would have escaped hanging - not because he was innocent but taht a guilty verdict might hurt his feelings.

However the good news is that Andy Hayman - the most senior counter terrorist officer in the country - is to get a mild slap on the wrist, as he was "deliberately misleading" over his handling of the affair, namely:
-Lying to the press over the fact that Menezes had a bulky coat with wires hanging out, refused to stop for police and jumped the barrier at stockwell tube.
-Allowing his cretinous boss - Sir Ian Blair - walk in front of the worlds press and announce to the world that Menezes was a terrorist when half the met know he wasn't.
-Allowing crucial evidence (CCTV tapes and police records) to be either tampered with or lost.
However Hayman will not lose his job, or even face disciplinary action, just a stern word before bedtime. Not that Hayman is going to give a flying toss as he was awarded a CBE in Tony Blair's farewell honours round, for his services to whipping up the climate of fear and for smearing dead people in the press - another great new Labour tradition.

Liberty Box Office Stats
Believe it or not we are still getting bums on seats, and by a stroke of fluke more than anythng else, we were the highest grossing British film last weekend (unless you count Harry Potter which is about as British as a sausage filled with Californian pork.)

Also we discovered that our distribtor was actually given a whole £4000 by the film council to help with the release of the film. The full list of all the awards is below, and the staggering thing is that we are the only British film on the list (that isn't a 30 year old classic being re-released)

Film Council P&A awards 2007
$307,980 (£151,606) to Icon for Olivier Dahan's La Vie En Rose
$225,056 (£110,774) to Revolver Entertainment for Guillaume Canet's Tell No One
$203,146 (£100,000) to Pathe for Laurent Tirard's Moliere
$10,158 (£5,000) to The Works UK Distribution for Paris Je T'aime
$10,158 (£5,000) to Peccadillo for Tony Gatlif's Transylvania
$10,158 (£5,000) to Park Circus for Laurence Oliver's Hamlet
$10,158 (£5,000) to Park Circus for Laurence Olivier's Richard III
$10,158 (£5,000) to Tartan for Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal
$9,141 (£4,500) to Park Circus for Alexander Korda's The Thief Of Baghdad
$9,438 (£4,646) to Dogwoof Pictures for Tomasz Konecki and Andrzej Saramonowicz for Testosterone
$8,126 (£4,000) to Revolver Entertainment for Chris Atkins' Taking Liberties
$7,110 (£3,500) to the BFI for digital distribution of three John Cassavetes classics
Also, the P&A fund gave $158,458 (£78,000) to Optimum and $73,133 (£36,000) to Park Circus for their seven-week retrospective Summer Of British Film. Optimum is handling Billy Liar, The Wicker Man and The Dam Busters, while Park Circus is releasing Goldfinger, Brief Encounter, Henry V and Withnail and I.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Big Chill

Taking Liberties will be screened at the Big Chill festival this weekend. And having seen the weather forecast we may also avoid screening the film in a swamp, which will be a real bonus. Apparently it's on at 2pm in the Amnesty Tent on the Sunday afternoon, and I'll be doing a Q&A afterward. The tricky part is going to be to try to hold it together and not come across as a dribbling wreck...

BNP Bombers Jailed

Robert Cottage, former BNP member, who was caught with largest haul of explosive materials ever in British History, has just been jailed for 2.5 years. What is fascinating about this case is that when he was arrested - at the end of the summer of 2006 (you remember, when the new offence of travelling whilst Muslim was invented) it went completely unreported in all the mainstream media. The previous month several dozen unfortunate dark skinned gentlemen had been arrested in a series of "Terror Swoops", had their names and photos splattered all over the Murdoch Press, and were then quietly released without charge. But when a right wing racist nut nut gets arrested with more explosives than wiley kyote on the way home from an ACME January sale, it fails to make a single column inch in any of the national press, and was only reported in the local newspaper. The other revealing aspect of this affair is the attitude of the police. In May 2006, when 2 innocent brothers from Forest Gate get shot by the police and thrown in the slammer, the MET commander gets on his batphone to The Sun Newspaper within seconds. The next day the paper is filled with slurs, smears & lies, proclaiming the men to be filthy terrorists - even though it was clear they were nothing of the kind. When BNP's finest get arrested, and actually do have a seriously dangerous amount of explosives tucked away in their potting shed, the unforgettable quote from the senior arresting officer was "These men are not terrorists!"

Of course not.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Boomerang Brown

Does anyone have the feeling that they've had their Deja Vu feeling somewhere before? I think that I've blogged about Gordon making macho noises about pushing for an extension in pre-charge detention for the past 90 days. Hey, I've got a plan... If Gordon Brown stops saying he's going to increase the time the police can hold suspects without charge, I'll stop writing about it... deal?

Sadly not.

Still you can't keep a good man down. Now Tony Blair is safely causing havoc in the middle east and John Reid is locked up in the St Tebbit's home for the permanently deranged, Gordon took centre stage and said that he wants to push the limit up to 56 Days. Or at least he said he wants to push the limit up and allowed his minions to let it be known that 56 days is the preferred limit.

56 is the magic number

Where do they get this figure from? Certainly not the police as there has still never been an occasion when the police have needed to hold a terrorist suspect for the existing 28 days (the longest limit in the free world by the way) so they can't have come up with it. Are there teams of brand consultants sitting in the basement of Downing Street, with mood boards and rubber stress balls saying: "Yeah “90 Days” is sooo Tony Blair so we can’t go near that... but we have to be sexier than 28... what number sums up Gordon Brown in peoples mind... 47? No, too yellow... 63? No, people might think that's his age... 56? I like it!"

Or maybe it's a mathematical equation?

How tough Gordon wants to look divided by how much he wants to appear different from Blair subtract how many column inches he'll get in The Sun = the new limit for pre charge detention.

Nathan Barley?

Last week had an interesting chat with a journalist from spiked magazine. Interview and comment published here. Arguably the most intelligent and sophisticated piece on the film so far, and he actually compares me to Nathan Barley twice, which is quite impressive…

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Mass Lone Demos Are Back...

And sorry for delay in posting. Chris Smith (the cameraman for Taking Liberties) has just got Married in Ibiza, and foolishly asked me to be his best man. Was arguably one of the most debauched parties I've attended. Which, combined with bags being stolen, friends going missing and a restaurant where the house speciality is to put nails in the food, has meant that I've neglected blogging for a few days, for which I humbly apologise.

But yes, the irrepressible Mark Thomas has just sent me the following email regarding the next Mass Lone Demo, which I would ask you cut and paste and send to your friends, family and work colleagues.

"This is just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who has been involved in the Mass Lone Demos. Finally Brown has said he will change the law, though we are still far from certain if he will repeal it, tinker with it or replace it with something else. But his comments in Parliament is a victory of sorts none the less. Brown has said that he will change the law after consultation with the Police, the GLA , the Mayor and civil liberties groups. But until we see what he is up to the

Mass Lone Demos are back on track for August, after a short respite.
Hand in date is the 8th of August at Charing Cross police station and the Mass Lone Demo is on the 15th August - 5.00pm till 7.00pm Parliament Sq.

I won't see you on that one as I am away on holiday but will catch up with everyone in September.


The weather promises to be something other than a hurricane, so it should be a laugh and make sure that Gordon actually keeps to his word and abolish the protest exclusion zone once and for all. The forms and full details of the MLD is on the Taking Liberties Website.

See you all down there!

Monday, 16 July 2007

As long as necessary.

Well no-one can say that Ken Jones wants to hide his light under a bushel. The new head of the Association of Chief Police officers has recently called for the pre-charge limit of terrorist suspects to be increased, but this time with seemingly no upper limit. To call for an increase in the pre-charge limit is now a standard rights of passage for all senior policemen, especially when they want either a pay rise or a knighthood. Ken Jones has wasted no time in pleasing his new boss Gordon Brown by publicly saying that he wants to be able to hold onto terrorist suspects for "as long as necessary". This actually goes further than his predecessor, Andy "well Menezes looked like a terrorist" Hayman, who at least only campaigned to intern potentially innocent people for 3 months. Ken Jones wants the police to have the power to detain people indefinitely until "they have all the proof needed to carry out effective prosecutions in court." Presumably this "proof" means a signed confession, which they will of course get from anyone - innocent or guilty - after they've been locked up without charge in solitary confinement for a few months. Even Ken Jones would admit to cutting Diana's brakes if you banged him up for long enough.

There is a mountain of evidence that shows that the longer you hold someone without charge the more likely they are to confess to something that they haven't done. Presumably this is why the police are pushing for these powers, as it will push up their conviction rate. Ken Jones has admitted that there still hasn't been a single case where the current 28 day limit has been needed, but still wants to introduce interment, just with a different name. When challenged Jones said that "he didn't want the British equivalent of Guantanamo Bay", but being able to hold people indefinitely without charge is exactly what The Americans do in Guantanamo Bay. Jones has said that the new powers would be subject to "Judicial Oversight", but again there is apparently judicial oversight in Guantanamo Bay, but it doesn't seem to stop innocent people getting locked up there and regular suicide attempts.

His call for an increase in the pre-charge limit echoes Gordon Brown's tough rhetoric on the subject. It is also has provoked a very hostile reaction from the Muslim community, which is exactly the part of the population you want to keep on side if you want people to come forward with intelligence to fight a serious terrorist threat. There was a hope that when Gordon Brown assumed the throne that senior police officers would stop playing politics with the terrorist threat which is desperately counterproductive, but it seems that senior police officers and New Labour are going right back to their old tricks.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

DVD Extras

Are now upon us. Initially the thought of doing any more work on Taking Liberties has made those members of the team who somehow retained their sanity from the film itself reach for the nearest bottle of meths. But once that urge was tamed, there is a strong inclination - from myself at least - to return to the edit suite, go back through the vast swathes of material that were cut, and put together another hour or so of material together for when the DVD comes out in October. This is because:

1) All of the stories in the film had to be cut down considerably from their original edits, in order to bring the film in at under 10 hours and give it some semblance of pace. For example the Mouloud/Ricin story has many strands that had to be chopped (eg how the media completely misreported the outcome of the trial). We still have the longer edits for all the stories (somewhere) so hopefully we will be able to tell the stories in more detail.

2) We interviewed several academics and commentators who really know their stuff on the different aspects of civil liberties. Sadly we were able to include only very small snippets of these interviews in the film - again for reasons of pace. We will be able to go back to each of these interviews and show much more of the discussions - which will be particularly useful as an educational tool.

3) There are several stories that we had to cut from the film completely. If you've read the book you'll see that there are incredibly moving and powerful stories that just didn't make it into the film at all, and we feel we have a duty to tell these on the DVD extras:
-Simon and Gus. 2 Academics at the LSE who wrote a report on ID Cards that showed that the Government was essentially lying about the cost of ID Cards. The Government then initiated a smear campaign against them.
-Sandy Mitchell. Truly horrific. Sandy was framed and tortured in Saudi Arabia for a crime he did not commit. Rather than fight to save this British citizen from his appalling treatment, the British Government turned a blind eye and left him to rot. Once Sandy was finally freed and returned to the UK, New Labour sided with the Saudis again, and halted Sandy's efforts to sue the Saudis to get compensation for his years of abuse.
-Sack Parliament. This was a very surreal demonstration we filmed which was about attended by about 20 very small anarchists and about 800 very large policemen. The Police overreaction was astonishing and they ended up hospitalising a press photographer, Marc Valee.
-Phil says "shit". This is a tale of a heavy metal fan who was accosted by police and given an £80 fine for quietly swearing near a police metal detector.
-Alex Stone. Alex is a British citizen who was falsely accused of assaulting a child in the USA. He was extradited with no evidence and sat in a US Jail for 6 months in terrible conditions (Alex is blind). Rather than help him, the UK government facilitated this injustice. Alex was eventually released but not after his life had been ruined.

Along with several others. These are stories that we all have a very strong emotional connection with and we were gutted when they had to be cut.

4) Lots of Random weird stuff. There's a sketch by John Oliver, an extremely distasteful puppet show on the history of protest, and the many incidents we were stopped and hassled by police on a demonstrations.

There will also be the obligatory "making of" featurette (however we want to break with industry norms and talk honestly about the making of the film rather than spew forth sycophantic guff), Directors commentary (will probably end up being heavily edited by the lawyers and the distributor so apologies in advance for the long breaks of silence) and anything else silly or interesting that we find along the way.

We welcome suggestions and requests for the DVD extras so please make your views known on the Taking Liberties Forums.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Here we go again...

Reading the tabloid press over the last few days has given me the strangest feeling of deja-vu. The response of the right wing press, particularly The Sun, to the terror farces of last week, has been frighteningly similar to the deluge of media hysteria that came after the 7/7 attacks. The scariest example of the recent thundering demands to erode civil liberties even further is to be found in Yesterdays The Sun Says.

it starts the "article" with the standard proclamation that we are all about to die:

"BRITAIN is under siege — threatened by suicide bombers and murderers who have no fear of the law or respect for human life. Just about every shopping mall and sports ground is now a target for terror. Nuclear plants and water reservoirs are at risk of attack."

Where are they getting this information? And where do reservoirs come into the equation? Surely if you set a bomb off in what is essentially an extremely large puddle, the only thing you would be blowing up is water. And why is it "just about" every shopping mall? Does Tervor Kavannah have a list of the few "safe" shopping malls that the terrorists wouldn't dream of blowing up as they find the parking handy?

He goes on to cite the Afghan Hijackers case as an example of the looniness of The Human Rights Act. This was the case where nine men hijacked a plane to avoid imminent torture and death from the Taliban (a move that John Maclean would have been proud of). They flew the plane to Britain where they peacefully surrendered. Jack Straw then tried to deport the men back to Afghanistan where they faced, surprise surprise, torture and death. So the High court stopped him and they were given leave to remain in Britain. The Sun has always had a hysterical problem with this, and Kavannah tells us that:

"All nine are still in Britain today, making a mockery of our support for international law and order."

Which is deeply ironic as it's actually only because of our support of international law and order (ie not sending people home to be tortured) which meant that Straw was overruled by the Judicary. The Sun goes on to tell us how to stop the extinction of the Human Race from the evil men with beads... Dismantle the ew civil liberties that Tony Blair left behind:

"INCREASE the absurdly inadequate 28-day detention limit — preferably to 90 days as originally planned."

Who has said that the current limit (the longest in the free world by the way) is "Absurdly Inadequate"? I suppose that we should give The Sun some credit for using such long words. In his dying days in office "Dr" John Reid was forced to admit that there still has never been a case that has even required the 28 day limit, let alone any extension. The Police are now backing down from demanding it and the security services have provided no new evidence. The only people who seem to think that 90 days is necessary, write for the Sun Newspaper, but for New Labour that's good enough reason to pass a law. We're taking bets on how long before Gordon responds and announces that introducing 90 days precharge detention is at the top of his "to do" list.

"OVER-RULE judges who rejected 24-hour control orders — leaving seven out of 17 dangerous terrorists free to disappear without trace."

Again a scary example of how the Sun, (along with various members of New Labour) have no distinction whatsoever between a terrorist and someone who is "suspected" of being a terrorist. All the people on control orders have never been charged, and are only on control orders because there isn't enough evidence against them to bring a charge about. They are put under a control order only if the Home Secretary "suspects" they are a terrorist, then they they are placed under partial house arrest. However as far as the Sun is concerned that's enough, and convicts them by media. Not only is the Sun pushing the boundaries of Free Speech by printing this inflammatory drivel, but this dangerous nonsense actually effects government policy.

"DEPORT convicted terrorists to countries like Libya — even if lawyers argue they may be mistreated."

Firstly not even terrorists should be tortured - that's what living in a civilised society is all about. Secondly the problem is that the government is trying to deport people who haven't been convicted of any crime back to countries where they face torture and death. Omar Deghayes has been in Guantanamo Bay for 5 years and never even been charged, yet Jack Straw has effectively signed his death warrant by saying that even if he is released without charged he will have to go back to Libya where he will face immediate torture and death.

It is clear to any idiot that none of the above measures would have prevented any of last weeks derisory failed terror attacks.

This editorial and others like it are almost a carbon copy of what we saw after the July bombings. Will Gordon follow in Tony's footsteps by responding to this misguided taunting, and hack away at our rights yet further?
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