Update on the terror ‘Debate’ – the BBC version By William Bowles

11 March 2005

BlairDid Blair blink first on terror? Analysis By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

This is how the BBC Web site titled its alleged analysis of the alleged debate on the alleged ‘anti-terror’ law but how much analysis does it actually contain? Precious little basically, but lots of assumptions. For example Assinder tells us without a shred of evidence to back up his assertion that:

And it certainly seemed to be the case that the public were broadly behind the government’s approach.[1]

Oh really? On what is this opinion based? Well you won’t find anything on the BBC Web site that supports Assinder’s assertion, it’s just more ‘received opinion’ masquerading as fact, glibly tossed into the piece in one sentence.

The central thrust of the ‘analysis’ revolves around the spurious and entirely irrelevant ‘debate’ about a ‘sunset’ clause, in other words a time limit on the law. The fundamental idea namely that the state can imprison people for what they might do (or think) has conveniently vanished. Convenient because tackling the issue of preventive detention – because that’s what the law is all about – is entirely missing from Assinder’s phony analysis.

What does emerge (though by accident, not design) is that all the political parties used the ‘debate’ as a cynical point-scoring exercise, thus depriving the public of anything approaching a real debate on the fundamental principle at stake here – preventive detention using the ploy of “terrorist related activity”.

In another piece with the paradoxical title of:

Fighting terror within democracy by Neil Bennett
BBC home affairs correspondent

We are told that:

They are held because the intelligence services, MI5 and MI6, have information about them which gives rise to suspicion that they are linked to international terrorism.

Normally they would be charged with criminal offences and brought before the courts.

But in the case of the 12 individuals still being detained under this Act, there is either not enough evidence to charge them or the information about them comes from sources which the government does want to be exposed in court. [my emph. WB][2]

So it’s merely suspicion that deprives individuals of their liberty. The article ends with the following statement that could well have come from the home secretary himself:

It will be a prolonged debate as the terrorist threat will be with us for years to come. [3]

Although again, what is the basis of this assertion? The BBC it seems, is in total lockstep with the government’s propaganda campaign, so much so that it doesn’t even bother to use it’s boilerplate phrase ‘it is believed’ that the terrorist threat will be with us for years to come. Whoops! sorry ‘bout that, pressed the wrong F-Key.

And in yet a third piece, we are told by top cop Sir Ian Blair:

Election ‘could be terror target’

… terror groups would remember the effect of the Madrid bomb on Spain’s general election last year.

Other potential targets were the royal wedding and the UK’s presidency of the European Union and G8, he said.

He refused to say if there was specific information about the risk of a pre-poll attack. No 10 was similarly cautious but said the threat was real … “Terrorists have long memories.” [my emph. WB] [4]

So is it only terrorists who have long memories? What kind of assinine statement is this? And these are the people allegedly conducting the ‘war on terror’! The same piece quotes our glorious leader Blair:

“There is no greater civil liberty than to live free from terrorist attack.”[5]

Except of course, a law that locks people up to prevent them from possibly doing something a single individual, namely the home secretary, thinks they might do on the basis of secret information (but not enough to actually charge them with an offence) obtained from who knows where (and some of it through the use of torture in far-off lands eg, Uzbekistan, where it’s the practice to boil people alive). Spare me a ‘civil liberty’ that calls itself a civil liberty by taking away my civil liberties!

The article ends by reducing the nature of the ‘opposition’ to the bill with a single sentence:

But critics are concerned that it would be the home secretary and not judges who decided to impose control orders. [6]

Any other kind of criticism it seems, is not worthy of entering the BBC’s ‘debate’ about a law that takes away our civil liberties with one phrase that it doesn’t even bother to mention – “terrorist related activity”.

This is what you get for your hard-earned money, extorted from you in the guise of a license fee for allegedly supplying you with a public service, namely, a ‘public’ broadcasting system that propagandizes on behalf of a government busily building a security state that Goebbels or Stalin would be proud of.

Just received, the statement by arch-Tory Boris Johnson MP, who seems to have a better handle on the implications of the proposed law than an entire parliament-full of alleged democrats:

Boris Johnson MP denounces Government’s latest Anti-Terror plans

Speaking in the Chamber, Boris Johnson MP yesterday lambasted the Government’s proposed Prevention of Terrorism Bill as an attack on the fundamental principles of Habeas Corpus:

“I hope that the House will forgive me if I begin by repeating some of the powers that the Home Secretary is about to take under this Bill: the power to lock someone up in their own house; the power to stop other people visiting that person; the power to remove any item of property from that person’s house; the power to tag that person; the power to ask that person to surrender his or her passport, to report to a police station and to produce any information demanded of him; in other words, the power to incarcerate that person.

“These powers are to be exercised against anyone whom the Home Secretary deems to be involved in a terrorism-related activity. Such a person is defined in the broadest possible terms as, for instance, someone engaged in conduct that gives support or assistance to individuals who are known or believed to be engaged in terrorism-related activities. It is the intention to detain such people without trial for an unlimited period, contrary to the most basic principles of English law.” [my emph. WB]

Good on yer Boris. At least one person with the courage to call a spade a spade.


1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4341865.stm
2. ibid
3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3652981.stm
4. ibid
5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4295489.stm
6. ibid

And a couple of additional resources


Statewatch Report: G8, EU & UK counter-terrorism plans – The exceptional and draconian become the norm

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