Torture and detention

Over in the mad world, CIP castigates his fellow countryfolk for promoting torture. AFAIK we’re not doing that (except very quietly and discretely, one suspects) so instead we’re going for detaining people for implausibly long times. We’re currently at an insane 28 days and our glorious leader wants to extend this to a totally barking 56 days. At least thats less than the 90 they wanted at one point.

Unfortunately most of the debate is over how extending 28 would be bad; I don’t see anyone saying that even 28 is grossly illiberal.

One silly piece of humour that came out of this was the sad saga of Minister Lord “Simple Sailor” West, who Dared to Disagree, at least briefly. But after Number 10 stomped on him he toed the party line. See grauniad or BBC.

And we still have all the f*ck*ng insane restrictions on plane baggage (not that I care, I’m not flying for the forseeable future and who knows it might put a few people off) and other madness. Still, it beats doing something useful on climate change and may distract the Public for a while. James notes that the friendly Japanese are planning to fingerprint us all; but as I recall the US fingerprinted and retina-photographed me just for transitting through LA. At least our trains are currently sane (I mean, in terms of security, of course), though the govt are working on that.

Oh, and before I go, let me moan at you a bit more… “Tourists visiting the capital often question why there are no litter bins on the London Underground. The simple answer, wearily repeated by staff, is “security”. ” [bbc]. I suspect that the answer is “Its a lot cheaper and more convenient not to have to bother empty them, and security provides a convenient excuse”.

Comments

  1. #1 James Annan
    2007/11/14

    The Japanese lock you up for 23 days as a matter of routine, before they even think about charging you with shoplifting or hitting a taxi-driver or whatever minor offence it is that they torture you into confessing to. They have a ~99% conviction rate too.

    It’s actually a deeply scary police state here and always has been, which is why people just keep their heads down.

    [23 days is extreme, though not quite as extreme as us. But most others use far less - US is 2/4 days I think -W]

  2. #2 inel
    2007/11/14

    I’m not flying for the forseeable future and who knows it might put a few people off

    If you fly, or if you don’t?!

    I wonder what the latest is on UK government plans to fingerprint all schoolchildren from the age of 11? If this is mandatory when applying for passports (assuming an escape from the school trap is possible), that might put a few parents off travelling abroad with their kids by any means of transport!

    Australia are also introducing fingerprinting in schools.

    P.S. We need bins (recycling and rubbish) ahead of the entrances (and beyond the exits) to every location that prohibits bins within its boundaries. Somehow, purveyors of snacks and refreshments manage to sell us consumables inside those boundaries, without considering what we are to do with the packaging …

  3. #3 Andrew Dodds
    2007/11/15

    Actually, I vowed to stop flying after my last experience.. it’s just insane nowadays, and I have to work to keep my mouth shut.

    As far as bins go, I believe that they were a favoured target of the IRA.

  4. #4 Adam
    2007/11/15

    There were, IIRC, two IRA bin attacks – one on Waterloo(?) station and one outside Harrods. All bins were removed then, and they were actually re-introduced until 2001 when they were removed again (IIRC). It’s not just stations and LU though, try and find one outside St. Pauls for example. Instead you get piles of rubbish in the corners of the square, where a bomb can just as easily be hidden.

    I do sometimes wonder about the concentration on public transport (both by the terrorists & the security forces). It seems to me that traffic jams (esp. on or under a bridge or flyover) would make softer, and more potent targets.

    [The security forces always fight the last war, and terrorists are creatures of habit -W]

  5. #5 Iain George
    2007/11/15

    “Unfortunately most of the debate is over how extending 28 would be bad; I don’t see anyone saying that even 28 is grossly illiberal.”

    The usual readjustment of norms I suppose. When the argument about 56 – 90 days comes about there will be no discussion about whether 56 days is too much.

    “One silly piece of humour that came out of this was the sad saga of Minister Lord “Simple Sailor” West, who Dared to Disagree, at least briefly. But after Number 10 stomped on him he toed the party line.”

    I interpreted that all slightly differently. It seems to me that what he was trying to say on Radio 4 was that he will need to be convinced, so that when this inevitably comes to pass we will all interpret his support as evidence of his being convinced. He worded it ambiguously enough that no. 10 wanted him to clarify, thus the stomping.

  6. #6 guthrie
    2007/11/15

    WEll, more evidence that Brown is just as stupid as Blair. “Oh no, we’l have to spend millions on making public buildings more terrorist proof”
    “really? Where are these public building attacking terrorists?”

    Methinks Brown is trying to act like he knows something we don’t. Is there any reason to expect large scale terrorist attacks in this country over the next decade or two? I can’t think of any.

    AS for the detention, isn’t it like the global warming balance silliness? We are told that we have to compromise on it, so we’ll compromise with 40 days instead of 56 or something, instead of just rejecting the power grab out of hand.

  7. #7 Brian Schmidt
    2007/11/15

    As much as I can’t stand the Bushies over torture, Mukasey is actually likely to be more of a roadblock to the pro-torture wing of the Bush Admin. than the guy who was sitting there as the interim appointee (no Congressional approval required for the interim).

    I think the moderate Dems were right about this one.

    And William’s right about the time period for detention without arraignment in the US, about 2 days unless it’s a weekend.

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