Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Britain Takes a Lurch Towards Kafka

After a contentious parliamentary reading and much upper House debate, Britain passed the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2005.

It is a modification of the already strong Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 which itself was knee-jerk policy in the wake of 9/11.

The problem with the new bill is that it crosses the line between the need to protect the public from the threat of terrorism and the need to protect the public from the loss of fundamental human rights.

The new bill superimposes sanctions based on traditional judicial reviews with executive branch orders. These orders can be based on ‘reasonable suspicion’ founded on secret evidence, subject to a limited and delayed judicial review.

There is also the provision of house arrest. This is a gross infringement of liberty of not only the person subject to the order but also anyone who might share the household.

Tony Blair’s government said such draconian actions were necessary as it was unable to prosecute suspects of terrorism because evidence cannot be used in court. Yet the bill has no provisions to loosen judicial procedures, say for example to remove the ban on intercept evidence.

The absence of such procedures in the bill make the government seem like they are trying to circumvent natural justice. The Bill allows for methods such as ‘control orders’ (similar to ASBOs – Anti Social Behavioural Orders). All the government requires is ‘reasonable grounds’ to impose such orders.

This falls far short of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ the standard required of criminal law. There is also the prospect that control orders could be carried out on the basis of secret evidence. Here is Kafka's Trial in action. Potential incarceration and no means of finding out why or for how long.

The control orders may be imposed for 12 months but can be renewed indefinitely. So why then is intercept evidence banned from criminal proceedings? The UK and Ireland are the only countries in the world with total bans on intercept evidence. Why?

It would seem foreign intercepts are admissible as evidence if obtained legally bugged communications and surveillance is also admissible even if unauthorised. The ban is in place due to a concern of disclosure of intelligence sources but a removal of the ban would make prosecution of terrorists suspects easier.

No #
I get the feeling that scripture hasn’t been written yet
Except that its all there, everything we have done to death
By the siren of the Roman candles,
Fires, passion, bedroom scandals
Rueful with our love, so fitfully dispersed
Back was turned on us, the winner gets there first
Glory in the three, babylon be burnoosed
Struck up in the Wests thirty at the sign of the truce
Hatching plans for old targets and new markets
Something big on the quiet, protected encryption
While any white coat can give you the prescription
Wake on the side of the mountain
Everything is in its place of ritual
Defensive fencing in each direction
Substantial fruit in olive complexion
Viral magnets stir in uneven keel
Suspicious in moments and leaving feel
Sepulchre handguns tabernacle ominous
From Ziggy Freud to all things Mormonous
We’re not quite ready to quit the planet
So please Mr Meteor Man don’t blow us away
Before its time to say our silly say
And then, but then, let them gainsay
A gain again against me
As Autumn falls down
And ends up around the head
Of a Winter’s talisman
Which they rip from the code
With pearls and pants round their ankles
Spank me Jennifer, through the goalposts of life
And save me from the some-one industry fishwife
Only fleeting enter the cell and the smell
Of any English speaking woman
Seek alternative in writing and
I see the power in industry but do not trust it
Glib hand of markets live in ideas
that take root in Richard Dawkins' head
spreading e-coli salami on sour bought bread
out of the splendour of what comes next
nervous in motion arrival on text
what I’d asked you to do least
not a question that is foremost established
Make me understand a queer querulous beast
Safari jackal, hysterical hyenas abolished
And dingo was his name
Earnestly important
Death and dying in either culture
So they don’t belong any more
Shut the window, open the trapfloor
Widows of warwounds of words
Collapsed ministers west in the surf
Sell copper, coal mine, accountants turf
After half a minute or a lifetime or so
95 canon Wittgenstein salute to go
Marco Polo has reached his market heaven
I’ve lost my way in hayseed tea Devon
Fillers with bootful mosque moments
Advertising space for a brain in need of work
Or a kind that leaves something in the basket
As he walks away with his balls in his hands
I’ve pumped my life with so much imaginary stuff
I doubt if I could pull the real rabbit from the hat
From the trill of the paranoid camera I keep
The idea imprisoned disappearing with a huge leap year
And an extra day for good luck
I might as well weep for spilled diary products
As I have for my unacted other
The future I did not carve
Plenty times I did not starve
Food none too far away in thought
Fish and chippaper conscience easily bought
Hills of bills dipped in vinegar
Komodo crisis marinated in goat
What is the earth but a collection of peas
Queued in a pod estimating your venal potential
‘your double-you’s ex’ why not..its boring
Rather you than me than stop

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