Sunday, July 08, 2007

New Brit Security Minister: Terror fight 'may take 15 years'

Quotes from Orwell's 1984:

"Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it… All their ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children." —pg 24

"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could igve [sic] you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face… was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime…" —pg 54

Britain's new security minister hails the excitement of snitching as he predicts that it will only take about 10-15 years to get a grip on the war on terror:

The battle to deal with radicalisation in the fight against terrorism could take at least 15 years to achieve, the UK’s new security minister has said.

Former navy chief Admiral Sir Alan West blamed jihadists outside the country for influencing young Britons, and said the terror fight was a “daunting task”.

He urged people to be un-British by “snitching” to the authorities.
Sir Alan said: “We’re talking about such a big change in the way people behave that it’s inevitably going to take 10 to 15 years, and that’s if we’re lucky, and that’s what I hope we can achieve.

“I think it would be wrong to pretend otherwise to the British nation.”

Sir Alan said jihadists outside the country were influencing young British men and women and that “we need to think about how we can change that”.

He added: “I used the word ’snitch’ because I thought this would get everyone rather excited and interested, and I think that’s achieved that.

Let's deal with the issue of "snitching" first. The admiral seems to think he's a behavioural psychologist who can predict a massive change in his nation's thinking in a very short 10-15 year timeline by promoting this supposed excitement people will feel by becoming "un-British" (now isn't that quite the framing?). And his proof for this prediction is what, exactly?

Now there is no doubt that "snitching" can be useful in fighting crime, however there is that little complication of the risks and rewards involved. Take, for example, the money doled out to people in Afghanistan who were willing to turn over their innocent friends and neighbours to the Americans - many of whom ended being imprisoned (and who knows what else?) in Gitmo.

The US government has a "Rewards for Justice" program that focuses on handing out money worldwide to anyone willing to snitch and, to encourage tips, they state on their site:

In addition to a cash reward, personal protection is available. You and your family may be relocated to a safe location, and have an opportunity to start a new life, pay for a home, and educate your children.

So, if you knew someone was an actual terrorist, would you turn that person over without a personal guarantee for your family's security? "May"? How encouraging - how "exciting" - is that? And how many of those who were snitched on and have since been released have successfully sought revenge? We don't hear anything about that. The US government knows though that some people will do anything for money.

And just how well run is that program? Take a look at this case in the Philippines.

Abdulla is a well-known civic and religious leader in Sulu. He has many friends in the Philippine Army – officers as well as enlisted men. He is in fact a frequent visitor to Army detachments in his province. “They know me very well,” he told Bulatlat in an interview.

Abdulla was also very much visible in the campaign period for the recently-concluded senatorial and local elections as a candidate for councilor under the Mushawara Party.

Unfortunately, that didn’t protect him from being mistakenly identified as a commander of the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which both Philippine and U.S. troops are hunting down in Mindanao.

On June 9, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) distributed a Rewards for Justice recognition handbook in Brgy. Samak, during a medical civic action program (MEDCAP) mission with U.S. troops.

The handbook contains a list of suspected terrorists with corresponding offers of reward money for any information that could lead to their arrest. Among the alleged terrorists in the list was a certain ASG commander identified as Ali Igasan, a.k.a. Abdulla Tuan Ya Yasir Igasan. Igasan was described in the handbook as a Brgy. Samak resident who goes by the nickname Ustadz.

Problem is, it was the picture of Ustadz Yahiya Sarahadil Abdulla – who also goes by the nickname Ustadz – which appeared with the name of Igasan.

After getting hold of a copy of the handbook, Abdulla immediately met with his friends in the Philippine Army and demanded an explanation. “They told me I had been mistaken for someone else,” he said.

“They may have found difficulty looking for a picture of Igasan so they just put my picture there,” he said when asked what could have prompted his being tagged as an ASG leader.
“What do I have to be afraid of?” he said. “I know that my friends in the military know very well that I am not an Abu Sayyaf commander… I could not be any kind of bad element because I am an ustadz, a religious leader.”

He said, however, that he worries for the safety of others who may experience the same. “If it could happen to someone like me, it could happen to anyone else,” he said.

Obviously, if Abdulla hadn't been well-known, he most likely would have ended up in American custody somewhere having to continually plead to his innocence to deaf ears who would just point to his picture in that handbook and insist he was lying.

How often has that happened? I doubt the US government makes that information publicly available.

Going back to the British admiral's ridiculous prediction that his country can bring radicalization to an end in his country during the next decade, note that he places all of the blame on foreign "jihadists" while making the obvious and arrogant mistake of refusing to examine why those radicals exist. Even Bush has often said that you have to listen to the extremists words themselves to understand their motivations (not that he actually hears what they say anyway - obviously).

Their huge blind spot (wrapped in the "they hate up for our freedoms" nonsense) is their failure to acknowledge what people like bin Laden have been saying for decades: it's all about the west's foreign policy in the Middle East. It doesn't get any more plain than this (via wiki):

In conjunction with several other Islamic militant leaders, bin Laden issued two fatwas—in 1996 and then again in 1998—that Muslims should kill civilians and military personnel from the United States and allied countries until they withdraw support for Israel and withdraw military forces from Islamic countries.

They have a cause. If western countries really want to get serious about fighting al Qaeda-like terrorism, perhaps they should stop doing things like illegally invading Iraq, supporting Israel unconditionally while thumbing their nose at the democratic process in the occupied Palestinian territories, abandoning any sort of peace process, protecting Saudi Arabia, endlessly killing innocent civilians (and then blaming the dead for being in the wrong place at the wrong time), forcefully trying to pillage the ME's oil resources, allowing Israel to have undeclared nuclear weapons while warmongering against Iran - which doesn't even have any...and on and on.

Root causes.

That's what imperialists choose to ignore while fearmongering about how they need to "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" - all the while creating even more radicals as a result.

So Sir Alan, as excited as you may be about your snitching expedition and as optimistic as you are about eliminating radicalization in such a short time (while you seem to forget that radicals have existed as long as human beings have), your extremely simplistic view is nothing but laughable. If you are the new person in charge of Britain's security, I fear for the safety of the British people because it's more than obvious that you are in as much denial as every other western empire-building supporter.

And one more thing: the so-called war on terror is impossible to win. There will always be terror. You should know. You're a part of a coalition of western powers that uses it regularly try to scare your own people and others into submission. You've all certainly taken the words of Winston Churchill to heart and have actually chosen to fashion them into your official policy to impose on your countrymen:

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

You dole out the fear and call that "leadership" while decrying the fear created by radicals and terrorists. You're in desperate need of a mirror.

What if what they really want is for us to herd children into stadiums like we're doing? And put soldiers on the street and - and have Americans looking over their shoulders? Bend the law, shred the Constitution just a little bit? Because if we torture him, General, we do that, and everything that we have bled and fought and died for is over, and they've won. They've already won!.
-- Denzel Washington. The Siege (1998).

Related: Via wiki - Human rights in the United Kingdom

Since 2001, the "War on Terrorism" has led to new human rights concerns.

The most recent criticism has concerned the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, a response to a perceived increased threat of Islamic terrorism. This act allows the house arrest of terrorist suspects where there is insufficient evidence to bring them to trial, involving the derogation (opting-out) of human rights laws. This aspect of the Prevention of Terrorism Act was introduced because the detention without trial of nine foreigners at HM Prison Belmarsh under Part IV of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was held to be unlawful under human rights legislation in A and Others v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (2004).

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