Sunday, February 03, 2008

Banning Juries & Bugging MPs

We need a new word.

What I want to be able to say would be true under a Democratic regime but is not true under the existing constitution. The word needs to mean "legal only in the narrow sense that it has been passed into law by a constitutional authority - but entirely without democratic or moral legitimacy".

"Bad Law" just doesn't cut it. "Evil" get's closer but has too many religious connotations for my taste. Hmmm... how about "Levil" - implying "legal but evil". Yeh, we'll go with that for the time being...

In a Democracy, any attempt to bypass Juries will be a criminal offence and will result in the long term imprisonment of the persons responsible. Unfortunately such meddling, whilst "Levil" is not illegal under an Elective Dictatorship. Elected Dictators are able give themselves the authority to make the rules and any rules they make are, therefore "legal". Which, of course, is why we have to end Elective Dictatorship.

If you're wondering, by the way, what has rattled my cage and caused me to start spouting off, again, about Juries, then read this or listen to this (mp3 10 mb). It's the relevant item on Radio 4's "World This Weekend" earlier today. It describes the proposal, buried within a counter-terrorism bill, to give government the authority to appoint their own Coroners and to exclude Juries in certain "exceptional" cases where the evidence would expose something the government would rather not have exposed.

In a Democracy, there will be some ground rules. One will be that "We The People" remain, at all times, the supreme authority. Occasionally, we will delegate that authority to a Jury who will act on our behalf as a fair sample of The People. There will be occasions when we will trust individuals we pay from the public purse to carry out duties on our behalf. But there will be NO circumstances where such duties include the setting of public policy or the establishment of principles. These are the exclusive domain of the Democratic process.

The idea that there are some matters which cannot be entrusted to The People or our representatives in the form of a Jury is the most offensive political concept it is possible to hold in modern society. It betrays true contempt for We The People. Unfortunately it is a concept and a contempt widely held, mainly by the elites who currently hold power over us - the true "enemy within".

This latest attack, as you will hear in that audio snippet, arises from the government's refusal to reveal, to the family of Azelle Rodney, the background explaining why a policeman murdered him in an attack frighteningly reminiscent of the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes. I use the term murder advisedly. Any execution by the State should be assumed to be murder until or unless they can prove otherwise. Innocent until proven guilty cannot and should not apply to those we licence to kill on our behalf. They must be made to account for every such fatality.

And we must be grown up about such killings. Even when they are tragically wrong, like the Menezes example, it is still possible to argue that the police conduct in the case was reasonable in the circumstances (as I did argue in that case). It is also entirely plausible that intelligence gathered in the case may be of such a sensitive nature that we cannot reasonably expect it to be made available to the public at large or to the family of the victim/s (who are more likely than most to leak it to the wider public in their understandable urge to seek retribution)

What is utterly unacceptable is the notion that such evidence cannot even be placed before a Jury duly sworn to secrecy. What this amounts to is a bunch of jumped up politicians arguing that they cannot trust the people who gave them their jobs. This is completely arse-about-face. It is clearly politicians who cannot and should not be trusted to continue to exercise and abuse their power in the way we have allowed them to do for, well, thousands of years.

Politicians not only have no right or ethical basis for demanding greater trust than the poor suckers who elect them but, by any intelligent analysis should, by virtue of the various priveleges they have awarded themselves, be regarded with considerably less trust than normal citizens.

And in this regard, by strange coincidence, the same news program headlined another fascinating story about the bugging, by Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist gang, of MP Sadiq Khan when talking to his constituent Babar Ahmad in the confines of Woodhill Prison, where Ahmad is being held pending extradition to the PSA

Let us first deal with the serious matter. This case is, I fear, the evidence I've been dreading that the UK is now closing in on becoming a Police State in its own right. I have just written to the authors of the Free Babar Ahmad website seeking clarification of certain points, such as when, if ever, Babar Ahmad's alleged web based fund raising activities on behalf of the Taleban took place.

If, as I suspect, it was in the period prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, there are no conceivable grounds for calling such activity a crime. The Taleban were then the "legitimate" government of a foreign state with whom we were not at war and supporting them was no different to raising funds for the Ethiopian or Indian governments. You might argue that it was unwise, but you cannot argue that it was criminal. Only if his support continued after the invasion could there be any grounds for prosecution (because it could then be "legitimately" argued that he was giving "aid and comfort to the enemy") And it looks extremely unlikely that there are such grounds because we already know that the British Government have made it clear that they have no grounds for prosecuting him.

In any case, even if it turned out that his support did continue after the invasion (which would raise the question of why the British Government isn't prosecuting him) that would present no excuse for his brutal American Police style treatment at the hands of the British Police. And, of course, his detention under the "Levil" Extradition Act of 2003 is a cause for deep national shame for which political heads (not just of ministers but of all the MPs who allowed this Bill to get onto the Statutes) should roll, preferably sooner rather than later.

Be all that as it may, the fuss today is not about the much more serious injustice being perpetrated against Babar Ahmad but about the rather trivial issue of his conversation with his MP being bugged(mp3 6.5mb). It seems that the ganders are not at all keen to suffer the sauce being so regularly dished out to the geese.

It's apparently OK for MPs to vote in powers which subvert Habeas Corpus and allow detention without trial for 28 days (and seeking - in the same counter terrorism bill - to extend it to 42); it's OK for them to let the police bug us in our homes or workplaces or on our phones. OK to demand our encryption keys or web surfing history for the past two years or to track us anywhere we go in our cars and it's OK to watch every citizen in the country about 100 times a day with the largest set of CCTV cameras anywhere in the world.

But heaven help us if somebody bugs an MP! Oh No! They must be Off Limits! Jack Straw has actually said:
"It is completely unacceptable for an interview to be conducted by a MP on a constituent matter or in any other issue to be recorded."
Well Bollocks to that. While I'm entirely in favour of the constituents' privacy, under any kind of civilised system, it is those who place themselves at the top of the tree who must expect to be watched most of all. And whether they are watched should, like the rest of us, be decided not by Police, Politicians or Judges but by Juries of our fellow citizens.

Certainly anyone who wants to allow the kind of massive uncontrolled and untrusted surveillance of ordinary citizens that these incompetent charlatans have permitted in recent years had better get used to the idea that the era of Elected Dictators is coming to an end. We're coming to get you. And we're going to start the process by watching you much more closely than you've ever dreamed.

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