MPs criticise government's climate of fear
'All terror all the time' presumption prodded
The "permanent state of emergency" over terrorism since 9/11 has blocked debate over whether the dozens of new laws introduced to combat the threat are justified, according to a cross-party group of peers and MPs.
The Joint Committeee on Human Rights today questioned ministers' claim that there has been a "public emergency threatening the life of the nation" ever since the attacks on New York and Washington.
"In our view it devalues the idea of a 'public emergency' to declare it in 2001, and then to continue to assert it more than eight years later," they said.
The Committee called for every piece of terrorism legislation introduced since the attacks - including 28-day detention without charge and the expanded use of secret evidence - to be urgently reviewed by Parliament to determine if they are necessary.
Tha Committee also put further pressure on the intelligence agencies over their alleged complicity in torture. Its report criticised Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, for refusing to give evidence in public.
"We are disappointed that the Director General of the Security Service is prepared to give public lectures but is not prepared to give public evidence to us," it said.
The Committee also took aim at the government's "narrow definition" of torture, designed, its report said, "to enable it to say that, although it knew or should have known that some intelligence it received was or might have been obtained through torture, this did not amount to complicity in torture because it did not know or believe that such receipt would encourage the use of torture by other states".
The need for an independent inquiry is now "irresistible", the report added.
The full document is here (pdf). ®
About 8 years too late
But a welcome outbreak of common sense nevertheless. It's a shame that those in a position of influence usually don't choose to use it when the heat is on, but wait till what they have to say has long been overtaken by public sentiment.
Longer than the Second World War, then
Which also produced some fabulous, if scaryily poingnant, quotations...
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
Sometimes attributed to Goerring, sometimes to Goebbels, sometimes claimed neither said it.
In the spirit of Dark Star 'The concept is valid no matter where it originates' ;o)
"Errr hello... bomb?" - Dark Star <-- couldn't resist
Oh, the irony
So we have a government that feels justified in the use of torture, secret evidence, surveillance, and detention without charge. Isn't it ironic that these were reasons we were given to be afraid of 'communist' regimes?