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Devoid of mercy
February 9, 2004 2:51 PM   Subscribe

You think you've got it bad? That nice Tony Blair has set up a new UK-style FBI which will be ruthless in fighting organised crime. Saviour of freedom Blair says, "the system is struggling against a presumption that you treat these crimes like every other type of crime and that you build up cases beyond reasonable doubt".
posted by biffa (14 comments total)

 
I tend to agree with that statement a little... I mean, if someone is looking likely to jaywalk, you wait until they do and then ticket them, but if someone is looking likely to blow up a building and kill hundreds of people, you have a little more leeway to act pre-emptively IMO. I know, this will demonize me among the defenders of freedom here...
posted by jonson at 3:10 PM on February 9, 2004


Then what, exactly, does MI5 do?
posted by Captain_Tenille at 3:24 PM on February 9, 2004


And Scotland Yard? I thought that was the British FBI... or is Scotland Yard the main headquarters of the police?
posted by Spacelegoman at 3:25 PM on February 9, 2004


I guess MI5's hands are tied by all those pesky laws and civil liberties and whatnot. hmm, why can't MI6 just do it then, is there some UK version of Posse Comitatus preventing it?

(actually, it sounds like one of the MI5 departments will make up a part of this new travesty...)
posted by dorian at 3:28 PM on February 9, 2004


jonson, nobody says you have to wait until the crime is committed. There are laws about "conspiracy to commit murder," for example. We've got plenty of laws against planning on blowing up buildings. There are generally no laws about "conspiracy to jaywalk." So the laws already cover your distinction.

Regardless, that's not what the article is about. It's about organized crime. It seems that some feel that the current rules are too restrictive because the criminals are too good at what they do. It also seems that they forget why the rules are so restrictive in the first place. They were created for good reason. I don't think relaxing these rules is the right response to increasingly capable criminals.
posted by whatnotever at 3:29 PM on February 9, 2004


Ye Gods this is scary...

Liberty have nothing about it on their website yet although Barry Hugill, a spokesman for Liberty, said: "The argument is always based upon the public’s fear of organised crime. We all want to see serious criminals put away but this is justice lite." Radio silence thus far from Justice

More terrifying than the agency itself which is essentially a merger of existing institutions such as the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the investigation arms of the Immigration Service and Customs & Excise is the erosion of the standard of proof required in order to secure a criminal conviction. Such a move won't prevent organised crime but will encourage a dramatic proliferation in miscarriages of justice. It will not be long until such powers are misapplied

This is ghastly. If Howard had proposed anything like this whilst he was Home Secretary he'd have been flayed alive and rightly so. On a related note, can we have a fucking word about the forthcoming destruction of lawyer-client confidentiality...

On preview. MI6 handle extra territorial intelligence and are estopped by law from operations within the UK. MI5 deal with domestic security matters and the organisation has demonstrated time and again that rigorous regulation is necessary to avoid illegitimate interference in domestic politics and what you refer to as "pesky.. civil liberties." It will liaise with the new agency but will not be subsumed into it.
posted by dmt at 4:00 PM on February 9, 2004


if someone is looking likely to blow up a building and kill hundreds of people
That's fair and dandy, but when you start allowing Government officials to lock people up because they "had a funny feeling about them", then you're wandering into a dark, dark place.
posted by seanyboy at 4:05 PM on February 9, 2004


allowing Government officials to lock people up because they "had a funny feeling about them

Waaa-aay ahead of you...

"Part Four of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 allows foreigners who are suspected international terrorists to be detained indefinitely without charge or trial... under [the Home Secretary's] new ideas it may also be necessary to designate a group of judges who had been security vetted to hear the cases. If this were introduced, the judges would by necessity have to sit without a jury in secret hearings."
posted by dmt at 4:28 PM on February 9, 2004


I assume Blair is willing to be the first innocent person to spend the rest of his life in prison as a result of this law, no?
posted by boredomjockey at 5:16 PM on February 9, 2004


Looks like Blair is giving up on the whole "crypto" part of being a crypto-fascist. It was just a couple months ago that they got rid of double jeopardy (a concept they origionitated and held sacred for centuries) and jury trials for "complex" fraud trials and cases where there might be jury intimidation.

Seems the british government can basicaly do whatever the hell they want over there, now.
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on February 9, 2004


*SCREAM* Imagine if all the erosion of liberties you are experiencing in the US was being commited by the Democrats and the only alternative was Bush - well that's more or less what we have over here.
posted by Summer at 2:30 AM on February 10, 2004


This proposed legislation is almost certainly aimed at Islamic terrorists that propogandise in the UK today. Muslim fundementalists scare me even more than jewish or christian ones, because of what they say they are capable of doing. Why we don't take effective action against the likes of Mustafa Kemal, better known as Abu Hamza.
Fundraising was openly carried out at mosques and newsletters of radical groups circulated. It was in one of these that a fatwa from a little-known Jordanian-Palestinian cleric, known as Abu Qutada, appeared in 1994. It said that the massacring of women, old people and children was justified in the name of jihad....The Observer has reported that combat training took place at the mosque involving a deactivated AK47, that battlefield first aid training took place in its basement, that horrific videos featuring graphic footage of soldiers being killed by Islamic militants circulated among worshippers. There is also strong evidence that the mosque was a hub of recruitment for radicals.

Hundreds of young Britons are believed to have been indoctrinated there. They included Richard Reid, the petty convict who tried to blow himself up on a transatlantic passenger jet in December 2001. A number of individuals linked to 11 September also worshipped at Finsbury Park.

The raid was intended to send a clear message that any hint of militancy will be strongly and swiftly dealt with. But intelligence officers have told The Observer that they are still hunting many more militants in the UK and more raids are likely. As each network is uprooted, new ones emerge. The greatest fear is of suicide bombers.
It won't take many successful attacks to bring huge support for the governments crackdown. I don't deny this is action spurred on by fear: on my part, fear of terror and intolerant religiosity. On the govt's part, fear of electoral defeat.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:00 AM on February 10, 2004


Apparently, this new force won't operate on Murder or Terrorism charges. They'll be left to the police.

However, that said, there are 11,500 FBI agents in the US (300,000,000 population), and there'll be ~5,000 SOCA agents in the UK (population 60,000,000).

Martial law, anybody?
posted by armoured-ant at 10:23 AM on February 10, 2004


This proposed legislation is almost certainly aimed at Islamic terrorists

And RICO laws in the States were aimed at mobsters. Before long before they were used to prosecute civil rights protestors and those on either side of the abortion debate.

"People who are willing to give up freedom for the sake of short term security deserve neither freedom nor security." Ben Franklin.

Are we really going to prevent the terrorists from destroying the ideals of the liberal democracy by doing it ourselves? Is this whast Bush and Blair mean when they talk about pre-emption?
posted by dmt at 11:17 AM on February 10, 2004


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