Did we say you can read that?
When the police replace librarians
An issue that refuses to go away is whether some academic research now needs a license from the local police. Regular readers may remember the case of Hicham Yezza and Rizwaan Sabir, which we reported on in May.
This kicked off when Mr Sabir, a postgraduate student at Nottingham University, asked Mr Yezza to help him out by downloading a document described as an “Al Qaeda Training Manual”.
Bad move. The matter was reported to the University authorities, who informed the police. They arrested the two and held them for the best part of a week. At the end of that time Rizwaan Sabir was released but Hicham Yezza was transferred to the custody of the immigration authorities for deportation. Inquiries had turned up some irregularities in his status.
Outwardly, this is unfortunate but explicable. The University authorities decided that they were not a competent body to investigate, so involved the police, and the police did their job. Events hinge on section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which makes it an offence to possess material that might be useful to someone planning to carry out terrorist offences. But never fear, “it is a defence for a person charged … to prove that he had a reasonable excuse for his action or possession”.
In the course of the year, various courts have applied their minds to what might constitute a “reasonable excuse”, with much debate about whether “reasonable” means any reason that is, well, reasonable – or simply any reason that is not a terrorist reason. Read the judgment in R v. G to work out whether a paranoid schizophrenic delusion may nonetheless be considered “reasonable” for the purposes of this law.
What then of our students? Initial events may have pursued their own inevitable logic.
It is what follows – and the entire thrust of the law - that is questionable. First, the law: If you possess dodgy material, it is for you to explain why. Parliament could have legislated the other way around - it could have made it a crime to possess such material “with intent”. But it didn’t, so now you must prove yourself innocent.
Following Mr Sabir’s release, the police wrote to him. Allegedly, they warn that he risks re-arrest if found with the manual again and add: "The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes."
This is all very peculiar, and oddly reminiscent of the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ (aka Prisoners, Temporary Discharge for Health Act 1913), a response to the unsportsmanlike tendency of some suffragettes to go on hunger strike whilst in prison. Multiple deaths would have been a PR disaster. So this Act allowed prisoners to be sent home to fatten up, before being returned to custody.
Face it, folks...
We're living in the new, improved version of the late 5th century CE, when what was left of a once-great civilization was put out of its misery. We can quibble over whether Brown or Bush is actually the one filling in for Romulus Augustus.
The difference is, Middle Ages tech didn't reliably give the overlords total control, 24/7/365 like the well-heeled autocrat of today. No, back then, they had to appropriate and subvert a previously pacifist religion and use it to drive the fear of the Other into the minds of millions for a millennium. While that approach has been proven effective in modern times (e.g., what once was a constitutional republic known as the "United States of America"), combining it with the electronic and media technology available today gives even the most insecure dictator thoroughly reassuring levels of Total Control over His supine populace. Thus, the backward age that lasted a mere thousand years the last time 'round looks quite likely to go considerably longer under the New World Order. The optimist in me hopes it's 'only' ten times as long; in any event, I'm sure my (natural or other) death will long precede even the end of the beginning.
The first performance as tragedy, the second as farce - though no less tragic or harmful.
> you don't like the list of books/documents or feel that some other freedom is being trampled on, please feel free to vote at the next election for a member you feel will represent your views.
What a marvellous idea. Unfortunately the rest of the sheeple (and those "authoritards", like you, who blindly think that simply owning/ reading something means you're going to do something bad) are quite happy in their blissful ignorance, to vote for someone who says they're going to make us all safer without the slightest clue of how this will actually be achieved or how they will lose basic rights and liberties that their forefathers fought wars to protect.
> And did any of you libtards stop to think for a second the Yanks have the AQ manual up as a honey-pot for the very stupid AQ sympathisers?
Ah, of course! It was all a cunning ploy all along! It was, indeed, so cunning, that you didn't event think to *MENTION* this in your previous "authoritard" rants about how someone didn't have a "good reason" to download "dangerous books" etc etc...
*breaths deap and used his mental fire extinguisher*
how wrong can you be let me count the ways
""How about someone having copies of launch codes for Britain's nuclear weapons "for research"?""
codes and passwords are not books codes , paswords , PINs etcare allways imune for free speech arguments
"Or how about a manual describing how to make and use date rape drugs effectively? Someone involved in pharmacology might have a legitimate use for such information but it would probably depened on the context of their research."
having the knowlage on how to make it and uning it are 2 diffrent things I know how to make gunpowder should I be arested?
"I don't see why books should have some kind of immunity. If someone has a slide-hammer and a screwdriver whilst working in their garage, that's perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, if someone is found to be carrying the same tools in a car park at 2am, they will probably be arrested for "going equipped to steal"."
again tools and knolage are not the same things and you would have to be doing soming suspisions.
"If someone has a book providing instructions on how to make bombs from household materials, it doesnt seem unreasonable for them to explain the context." yes but the burdon of proof should be "prove I am going to blow somthing up" rather than "prove you are not going to blow somthing up"
"Given that Al Qaeda has used British citizens with origins in various Islamic countries to commit acts of terrorism in the UK and abroad, it would seem particularly stupid for someone of that demographic to be in possession of such material." I call racisum on that!! seriousley it is that sort of profiling that causes a lot of hatrated in the first place