Is the 'War on Terrorism' fatally corrupting our systems of justice?
I was jolted out of my morning torpor today by the subject of "Thought for the Day", a regular slot at around 7.45am on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme. The speaker took as his topic a recent decision before The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) that the government was right to hold a number of individuals. The ten suspected international terrorists being held without trial have thus lost their appeal against their detention. You can read full details of this case, or at least as full as current tenets of British justice deign to allow us to know in this BBC report and a very forthright condemnation of the whole proceedings in a press release issued by Amnesty International.
I wrote about this whole issue and the legal preparatory work that seemed to be being laid in the wake of '9/11' to combat terrorism, and the dangers that some of these steps represented for the very freedoms our government purports to be trying to protect on our behalf, soon after the event in September 2001 and much more recently in January 2003 on my other main website.
Whilst I strongly agree on the need to protect ourselves against extremists, or 'terrorists' if you will in this context, I do wonder at the docility of most of my fellow citizens in the face of what is being done their names. Should the 'war on terrorism' ever be won, how ready do you think our democratically elected government and our appointed judicial system will be, either or both of them, to repeal the draconian pieces of legislation which underpin this sinister phase in our country's history? I find it quite extraordinary, also, that the level of discussion in the press and the media generally is so modest and only mildly critical (in some quarters) - if we did not have a Labour government in power at present, and instead had a Conservative government in power, I do wonder whether the media and public reaction would have been quite the same.