The Samovar

It’s back! and this time it’s still bullshit
June 7, 2007, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Civil Liberties, Politics, Security, Terrorism

John Reid wants to keep people in jail without trial for three months – one month just doesn’t seem to do it for him. Gordon Brown seems to agree.

This is the wrong thing to do for the same reasons that it was wrong last time – neatly summed up by David Davis “We do not protect our way of life by undermining our way of life”. The threat of terrorism is fairly small (about the same as the threat of drowning in your bathtub or being struck by lightning), and in a democratic society policy is not decided by what the police want or think they need – that’s a police state.

I wonder if we’ll have such good arguments this time round as last time?

Janet Anderson (Rossendale and Darwen) (Lab): … In their recent evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the police referred to one case in which, if they had printed out the computer data that they had recovered, it would have made a pile 66,000 ft high. That is the sort of challenge that the police face and they need our help to meet it. (Hansard, 9th Nov 2005)

ZOMG! Thousands of feet high? That’s millions! We need to give the police 3 years of detention without trial, not 3 months!

Lib dem peer Lord Carlile kicks off this round with his active imagination:

I can imagine that there may well come to be cases – and I’m not saying that there have been any yet – in which the need to protect evidence, to discover what the evidence is, to de-encrypt computers, to find people may not be achieved within 28 days.

Ah, ‘de-encryption’, if only there was a word for that. Let’s see now, hardware-based decryption of a 128-bit key was estimated to take 11,000,000,000,000,000,000 years in 2005 (excitingly, down from 84,000,000,000,000,000,000 years in 2000). I hope Lord Carlile will be pushing for this length of detention without trial.

Whatever happens, I’m sure we’ll be able to trust the BBC to report accurately on it.



What’s worrying is that the concept of questioning after charging is being accepted silently whilst people go mad about 28-day detention. If the police can continue to build up a case after they’ve charged you, then they can just get to 28 days, charge the poor detainee with some stupid small thing, and then harrass them till kingdom come to get a better charge.

At the moment they have to have a strong case before they charge someone – because they can’t question them afterwards. It’s a crucial safeguard. They don’t need 90-day detention without charge if they can question people after charging them – they can just charge them quickly and then build up the case. Police state-style.

Comment by Chris

Good point Chris – well noticed.

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

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