Friday, October 21, 2005

Terrorism laws

ZNet |Anti War | Entering The Land Of The Free

Here are three arguments against terror laws. This is not polemic. I assume, but do not really know, that these laws are overreactions, and are the very victory for the terrorists that those who continue to travel to Bali are so staunch in their refusal to countenance. But you just don't know, do you, because they don't tell us, except in reports of 300 at a time, of all the terrorist bombings they have prevented.

The first, whose link is above, is an experiment by Dr Sanjoy Mahajan (pictured), an English born lecturer in astrophysics at Cambridge University with dual US / UK citizenship. It commences:
"Since the United States began bombing Iraq, I have worn a sign wherever I go (cycling or walking around town, teaching, shopping, going on the subway, etc.). It is about 8.5"x11". One side says `Oiligarchy' in large red letters; the other has a 2"x4" sticker of George Bush labelled `International Terrorist' near a smaller sticker saying `Regime change starts at home.' I live much of the year in Cambridge, England, where I teach physics, and also in Manhattan."
The second is an article from The Guardian newspaper in London:
"The officer explains what made them change their mind and arrest me. Apparently, on August 4, 2004, there was a firearms incident at the company where I work. The next day I find out that there had been a hoax call the previous year, apparently from a temp claiming there was an armed intruder. Some staff had also been seen photographing tube stations with a camera phone. On June 2, as part of a team-building exercise, new colleagues were supposed to photograph landmarks and try to get a picture of themselves with a policeman."
The third is a blog post on lessons from Malaysia and Singapore where no one ever got round to getting rid of special purpose (anti-Communist) legislation for a police state. One of the articles it links to has the story of an 82 year old Briton and Labor Party long-time member:

"Walter Wolfgang, a veteran Labour activist from Richmond Park in south London, was dragged from the hall by stewards after shouting "nonsense" as Jack Straw spoke of Britain's success in bringing democracy Iraq.

Mr Wolfgang tried to re-enter the hall, but was refused permission under Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. His conference pass was also confiscated."

Then of course there is Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian kid gunned down on the London tube, a comprehensive account of which is at Wikipedia:
"The officers followed Menezes for 5 minutes as he walked to the Tulse Hill bus-stop for the Number 2 bus line. As he boarded the bus, several plain clothes police officers boarded, continuing the pursuit. At some point during the 10-25 minute ride to the Stockwell Tube station, Menezes briefly got off the bus, waited a few moments and boarded it again. The three surveillance officers later stated that they were satisfied that they had the correct man, as he "had mongolian eyes". Finally the bus arrived at Stockwell Tube station, 3.3km (2 miles) away.
At some point during this journey, the pursuing officers contacted Gold Command, and reported that Menezes potentially matched the description of two of the previous day's suspects, including Osman Hussain. Based on this information, Gold Command authorized "code red" tactics, and ordered the surveillance officers to prevent Menezes from boarding a train. According to a "senior police source at Scotland Yard", Police Commander Cressida Dick told the surveillance team that the man was to be "detained as soon as possible", before entering the station. "There's no doubt that Commander Dick did not instruct anyone to shoot de Menezes". Gold Command then transferred control of the operation to SO19, which dispatched firearms officers to Stockwell Tube Station."


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