« Home | The truth will out. » | By-election cry babies. » | A bizarre coincidence. » | Don't you just love being in control? » | Skull rape. » | Ex-MI6 officer arrested over leaked lists of curre... » | When politicians attack: Clarke bites the hand tha... » | News of the Screws and Sun pay Ashley Cole £100,00... » | Criminal justice. » | A troubling survey. » 

Monday, July 03, 2006 

Terrorism: Even when bombs aren't exploding, it never goes away.

When those planes hit the World Trade Center on that beautiful September day, the cliche that nothing would ever be the same again rang true for once. Terrorism has come to define this short early period of the 21st century. We live both in fear of it, and in fear of what governments are prepared to do to prevent it. We hear the prime minister of Israel without irony refer to the Palestinian Authority as being run by murderous terrorist organisations. This is the same Prime Minister that ordered the collective punishment strike on Gaza's power plant, leaving at least 60% of possibly the largest prison on earth without power, without water, and without fuel. At night Israeli jets go supersonic over the city, creating ear shattering booms which sound like huge explosions right near you, wherever you are.

We hear of at least 66 people ripped apart by a huge truck bomb in Sadr City in Baghdad. News that has become so grimly familiar that you accept it with a weary sigh, thinking of the mothers and fathers who won't be going home that night, of the children that will never again slam doors in houses. We hear Peter Clarke, head of the anti-terrorist branch of Scotland Yard inform us that the number of investigations into supposed terror plots has never been higher. His timing, as the anniversary of the July the 7th bombings fast approaches, and as the Home Affairs committee, with one rebel, says that 28 days detention without charge for terror suspects may not be long enough, is nothing short of infuriating.

It starts you thinking: is it always going to be like this? Was it like this during the Blitz? Was it like this at the height of the IRA's bombing campaign on the mainland? Is the threat really so great?

The answers are not easily forthcoming. Yet it seems obvious that the case for longer detention without trial for terrorist suspects is no stronger than it was last year. We're now told that the police apparently don't need 28 days to question suspects; that much is pretty clear following the Forest Gate fiasco. Last year's campaign by the Sun and the Prime Minister, with the police towing behind them in their parade of toughness, still says that the police need time to crack information that has been encrypted, but the main reason now given by the security services is that the 20 foreign security agencies need longer than that to get information across to them about the suspects. Even if we were to accept this at face value, what is stopping the suspects being released on strict bail conditions, made to report to the police station, once or even twice a day, as well as being electronically tagged? Are dangerous men so dangerous that they cannot be let back out to their empty shell of a homes with police guard, or similarly put up in hotels? What it seems to come down to is a series of long excuses and pleas that things might be different in the future. Yet the same people who have come to this conclusion admit that no one so far has needed to be locked up without charge for even 14 days, let alone 28.

In the end it all seems to be a distraction. The number of arguments the government is using to shrug off calls for an independent inquiry into what happened on the 7th of July are falling off steadily. From the beginning when it was claimed that such an inquiry would be a waste of time and tell us nothing new, we're now repeatedly slapped around the face by indignant government ministers who say it'll take too long, that only the lawyers will profit, and that it'll cost too much. It seems more and more likely that the government is frightened of what the report would say. Some of the less thorough investigations have already said that the Iraq war was a factor. An inquiry that the government could not control could come to even more alarming conclusions. While the recent Hutton and Butler inquiries were given to an establishment judge and a long serving mandarin respectively, the government could be less lucky this time around. The Mubarek inquiry, released last Thursday, showed how absolutely devastating such reports can be. To stop such a thing from happening again, we're warned that we could repeat the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday - a costly, hugely time-consuming cross-examination which seems unlikely to tell us anything we didn't already know.

Yet as Rachel North again posts, the ministers involved can't even find 15 minutes to meet the most seriously injured man in the 7/7 attacks. At the same time she and other survivors have to put up with commenters that accuse them of pushing for a independent inquiry in order to politicise what happened to them and so to "press her own particular views on how the so-called 'war on terror' should be conducted." Then there's the conspiracy theorists, still fantasising about how it was actually a government operation, that the bombs were under the carriages and that even suggest that those who saw the 4 men explode are deeply deluded. (I should admit something here: I thought for a while it was possible that the other men could have been drug mules duped by Siddique Khan. That is obviously wrong by what we now know.)

This same government that denies what is so obviously both wanted and needed is the same one that is now clamping down even further on whistleblowers and leakers who dare to suggest that all is not right in the world. Whether this is down to the embarrassment of allies, or just complete control freakery is unknown. What is known is that is only through fighting and continue to fight will an independent inquiry be achieved. It shouldn't have to come to this. The survivors deserve so much better, as do all those who have suffered through acts of terrorism since those fateful late summer days. New Labour, aptly described by Charles Leadbeater as neither new enough or Labour enough, can prove that it is still the party of the people. Whether it will or not is another story entirely.

Share |

Thank you x

I CANNOT believe that there will be no enquiry into 7/7. Why is this? Especially when you consider that in this country it's virtually as if a minister merely has to fart in the wrong direction and there's an enquiry.
Terrorism- In America they'd barely heard of the word and now it is bandied about there and everywhere with such impunity it is unbelievable. Many awful things are now being committed by the ally governments in its name. Yet are alienating laws such as in the UK and actions of countries such as the UK, US and most recently Israel really effective means of stopping it?
It is always encouraging to read a moderate view on this. It seems that in the blogosphere it is mainly right wing crazies that have the ball more than anyone.
I have also blogged on similiar stuff, today for example I wrote a post on the gaza strip situation. I would be most interested to know what you think.


Post a Comment

Links to this post

Create a Link