Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Police State USA

I have over the course of the past several years headlined quite a large number of articles in my Police State Britain series and I've been thinking of doing the same for a while now (three or four years at least) with some of the stories coming out of the US. Now with this story I think the time has come - naturally it involves the Patriot Act. This time it has been used against a barely sixteen year old youth in North Carolina. He may well be all the bad things that the FBI are alleging, who knows, but it sure does look like either a complete nonsense (cloned identity?) or a wildly-exaggerated case of a teenager playing a prank which has gone seriously wrong. In any case very little of what he is suspected of is required to be released under the Patriot Act - basically people can be locked away more or less indefinitely with little or no 'due process'. It would certainly be reassuring to see the case heard openly in a regular court, if that's what it is decided is warranted and not in some kind of Kafka-esque modern-day Inquisition, from which no-one is safe.

And this, three months into the Presidency of a so-called 'Democrat' president?

(thru Andrew Sullivan writing here)

2 comments:

  1. Bill, I think your comment is slightly harsh. The Patriot Act much like the legislation passed by our own dear government is potentially oppressive and there are elements in the law enforcement bodies in both countries which will enthusiastically carry out their duties in this spirit. Cameras in the UK anyone? Give the man a chance. He does have a few other things on his mind after all.

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  2. You mean my last one-liner?

    Perhaps. But who said life is fair? He is now the President and the 'buck stops here' in his case now. I know he has announced Gitmo is to close, but it hasn't actually happened yet, and there is a strong case for believing that it has in fact already been supplanted by a similar type of place in Afghanistan, so the back-story to the public story is perhaps less savoury.

    If you mean the Patriot Act itself, then I'm afraid it is, like some of the legislation passed by our own dear government completely over-the-top and takes us down the road toward a police state. I know some like to pooh-pooh the idea as some paranoid fantasy, but the case I write about in North Carolina makes it clear that we are, frankly, already there - just as the cases a while back of full-scale anti-terrorist arrests in the suburbs of London, when the people arrested and held incommunicado for days were subsequently released very quietly with no charges of any kind being brought. I do think that some recent events have been hyped-up in order to justify draconian legislation to curb our hard-won freedoms. I may not trust parties of the 'Left' to have our best interests at heart, quite apart from their obvious incompetence, but I think right-of-centre parties (like the Conservatives) require careful watching, too, even if they have promised to cancel the ID card scheme if/when they enter government.

    When people say to me "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" I'm afraid I want to scream with frustration at the complacency of people who acquiesce in such pernicious nonsense, usually spouted by a policeman or similar.

    The price of freedom really is 'eternal vigilance' to ensure that our protectors (police and armed forces) and those we hire to manage the country for us (i.e. the corps of MPs and the government) don't morph into our oppressors.

    PS/ I've refrained so far from writing about the MP's expenses row and returning to my hobby-horse about having acoommodation available for out of town MPs whilst they hold that position and must have a London base, but it is interesting that I am not the only person who has mooted the idea ;) It also ties in rather neatly, I think, with the mortgage interest and other proerty-related shenanigans rather too many MPs seem addicted to and which they tried their hardest to prevent becooming public, until a court told the Speaker to, in more polite language, 'get lost'.

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