Politics Terrorism Uncategorized

US Guantanamo tribunals ‘illegal’

BBC News: US Guantanamo tribunals ‘illegal’

The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Bush administration does not have the authority to try terrorism suspects by military tribunal.

Justices upheld the challenge by Osama Bin Laden’s ex-driver to his trial at Guantanamo, saying the proceedings violated Geneva Conventions.

The ruling is seen as a major blow to President George W Bush – but it does not order the closure of Guantanamo.

So the tribunals are ruled as illegal, doesn’t surprise me as they seem as fair as the trial of General Tomoyuki Yamashita. But having fair and open trials was never the reason for the prison at Guantanamo the prisoners were not there to be tried and punished for their crimes they are there solely for the extraction of intelligence in order for the US to carry out their War on Terror. Any open and fair trials would jeopardise this and would reveal the true nature of the detainees there including that many of them are probably innocents that were sold to the US by corrupt members of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. The fact that children were picked up and held before being released is surely an indication that people were detained without first establishing who they were and what threat they constituted.

I think that the pressure has built to such an extent that the prison will soon close particularly as the Bush administration seem to have finally woken up to the fact that it is a PR disaster. But any such closure will simply be the next step in a PR campaign as it will not mean the closure of those less well-known prisons around the world and the unknowable numbers of secret and hidden US military prisons.

I would be very surprised if we ever see more than a few token open and fair trials conducted under US law occur.

Politics Terrorism Uncategorized

Cameron’s wrong on British Bill of Rights

The leader of the Conservative Party has said in an interview on the BBC that they are considering replacing the Human rights Act with a British bill of Rights.

A US-style bill of rights would outline the rights of citizens, while the Human Rights Act incorporates European rules into British law.

Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said Mr Cameron’s plans were “unworkable”.

The Conservatives have long-pledged to look at the 1998 Human Rights Act, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

During the 2005 general election campaign, former leader Michael Howard pledged he would revise or scrap the act if elected, claiming prisoners’ rights were being put before those of victims.

A British Bill of Rights sounds like a great idea but it should have been done decades if not centuries ago and is now irrelevant and unworkable now that Britain is signed up to European rights legislation.

Mr Cameron explains that he is not proposing a withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights but instead wishes to set up a panel “to examine the issue to ascertain whether a bill of rights could be given legal status instead.”

Well I would think that such a panel will find that a separate British Bill of Rights will be contradictory with the European Convention on Human Rights and will therefore not be possible for them to exist in parallel.

Both the Government and the Conservative party have been attacking the human rights laws we have claiming they are hindering the fight against crime and terror.

The problem as I see it isn’t the legislation but perhaps it’s application in the courts.

This seems to be all political rhetoric with no real meat to it. Be seen to attack what the tabloid media have portrayed as ridiculous examples of the use of Human Rights Act whilst still being in favour of human rights as a concept.

Politics Terrorism Uncategorized

Guantanamo suicides a ‘PR move’

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a “good PR move to draw attention”.

Colleen Graffy told the BBC the deaths were part of a strategy and “a tactic to further the jihadi cause”, but taking their own lives was unnecessary.

But lawyers say the men who hanged themselves had been driven by despair.

A military investigation into the deaths is under way, amid growing calls for the centre to be moved or closed.

The suicides may have brought the Guatnanamo Bay detention camp back into the news but I don’t think that any rational person could believe that the suicides were designed to draw attention. It’s not like the camp is not an albatross around the neck of the US government in any case.

It has probably been the greatest tool for recruitment to the ranks of Al-Qaeda ever. It undermines the reputation of the US around the world amongst nations friendly to it and feeds it’s enemies by giving them a talisman of propoganda about how the US hates Muslims and mistreats and tortures them.

What makes the notion that the suicides were just “a tactic to further the jihadi cause” even more sickening is the news that one of the three detainess was due to be released but hadn’t been informed yet by the American officals.

Seriously if he was considered to be of such a low level of threat that he would be released is he really likely to commit suicide as an “act of asymmetric warfare”.

Politics Terrorism Uncategorized

Asymmetric warfare by suicide

BBC News: Guantanamo suicides ‘acts of war’

These are the first suicides at the base, despite dozens of attempts
The suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amount to acts of war, the US military says.

The camp commander said the two Saudis and a Yemeni were “committed” and had killed themselves in “an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us”.

That’s just sickening isn’t it.

How dare they commit suicide. Think of the poor US soldier that had to discover their dead bodies how he must have suffered to see such a sight, that must surely be a breach of his human rights no soldier should have to experience such horrors. The sooner the detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay is closed the sooner these US servicemen can return home and no longer have to suffer at the hands of the terrorists.

Who knows if these were indeed members of Al-Qaeda committed to destroying the US through their own suicide or if they were innocents picked up by the Northern Alliance and sold to the US military who through despair took what they saw as the only possible route out of their unending detention.

I don’t think the line given by camp commander Rear Adm Harry Harris that

I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.

really stands up to analysis.

Martyrdom is only effective if the outside world and one’s followers are aware of the sacrifice. But the detainees have no contact with the outside world they could not possibly know that their deaths would be reported. Would they really make such an empty sacrifice as an act of war against the United States.

Terrorism Uncategorized


Movies Reviews Security Terrorism

Review: V for Vendetta

Just got back from watching the movie adaptation of V for Vendetta. I have mixed feelings but it was enjoyable and a lot better than I had feared it might be especially given my feelings for the previous adaptation of a comic that was close to my heart Hellblazer which became the painful Constantine.

I thought that Hugo Weaving was very powerful as V and Stephen Rea did a great job as Inspector Finch. Natalie Portman was merely adequate as Evey and her accent was not as awful as some have written but she was a little wooden in her performance. I thought Stephen Fry was remarkably good also, other characters such as Chancellor Sutler were too poorly written to allow much from the other actors in the cast.

The movie lasted two hours and yet it felt like a lot had been edited out. There was very little characterisation outside of the central few main characters all the others seemed like stereotypes painted in broad strokes. Some events such as what happened that night at Larkhill which enabled V to escape were glossed over as was Finch’s visit to the derelict Larkhill.

I think the general mood of the film was established well, it was visually stunning and there were a number of very powerful scenes especially the fingerman’s shooting of the girl and the subsequent uprising of the townspeople.

In many ways the movie felt like it was set in some parallel universe version of Britain rather than a dystopic near future of our own Britain, possibly due to it being an American production. The Britain of the movie was very twee and a little off, Rupert Graves as a copper using the word “chummy” when apprehending V, eggy in a basket and the Benny Hillesque TV satirical attack on the Chancellor.

A number of things in the movie make me feel like the points of the original graphic novel were lost or misunderstood by the writers. V was too overly made to be identified with Guy Fawkes who in the introductory scene is portrayed as a freedom fighter rather than the religious nutcase that he actually was. I thought that the Guy Fawkes mask in the graphic novel was a useful disguise which was merely appropriate given the date of key events in the story and a shared interest in blowing up public buildings. But the motivations of V and Guy Fawkes are in no way the same.

In fact Guy Fawkes has more in common with the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists our society is being made to fear at the moment. The character of V is different but is no hero either really he is a force for change through destruction, rebirthing society by destroying it’s institutions so something better can be born out of the ashes.

The surveillance aspects were altered and there was no sight of surveillance cameras in the movie odd given their ubiquitousness in modern Britain and given the totalitarianism surely there should be even more in evidence. Plus the populace do not seem cowed by the authorities, living in constant fear of speaking out of turn. Certainly this so called dystopia is to my eyes a lot deal better than we can really hope to expect several years down the line from now once we have a National Identity Register, cameras that can scan our faces to identify us and track our movements and legislation that gives the ruling party pretty much free reign to do whatever it wishes.

Reviews Security Surveillance Terrorism TV

Review: The Power of Nightmares

I watched the first part of a three-part documentary series titled The Power of Nightmares on BBC 2 early tonight.

This series shows dramatically how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neoconservatives and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. These two groups have changed the world but not in the way either intended. Together they created today’s nightmare vision of an organised terror network. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. Those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.

I would urge everyone to see this if you get the chance as well as watching Errol Morris’s documentary film The Fog of War.

I’ve been saying this for a while but the concept of a War on Terror is nonsensical because not only is it a war on an abstract concept but you cannot defeat terrorists by waging war anyway. We are not at any greater risk of terrorism since 9/11 than we were before, that’s not to say that there is no danger but that it is of the same level as it ever was.

To really combat terrorism requires the typical cloak and dagger stuff that the security services do such as surveillance, wiretapping and infiltration of suspect groups. Plus increasing the security of likely targets of terrorist attacks in a manner that not only appears like you are doing something to improve security but actually does improve security.

But it isn’t easy to sell to the public that you are doing everything possible to combat terrorism if nothing is appears to be happening. Foiling a terrorist attack isn’t something that can revealed to the public in many cases at it could hamper future operations. So for the governments to appear to their citizens that they are effective in this they need to go and wage war in the name of combating terrorism even if the enemy in these wars are only tangentially connected to terrorism if at all.