Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today's News

It has been an interesting morning for people I know to be commentating in the news - Sally Lievesley on "Good Morning Scotland" and Bob Ayers in the Scotsman.  It is a pity that they were both so badly misled (or, worse still, maliciously misleading.)

Sally was opining (here just before 2:09 to about 2:14) on Dame Stella Rimington's comments about the appallingly statist nature of recent law and of the creeping extension of anti-terror legislation into public order and minor crime investigation (although I must stress, hopeless pedant that I am, that RIPA is not and never was anti-terrorism legislation).  Sally is a specialist in risk analysis for catastrophic incidents and regularly applies this to anti-terror issues (I have said before, here I think, that if you want to know where to put your nerve gas or cyanide bombs on a tube train to cause maximum damage, she's the woman who knows :)  However, she makes some errors on the Human Rights front.

Human Rights law is not there to protect us from criminals - it is there to protect us from the overwhelming and potentially oppressive power of the government and its agents.  Terrorists are just a highly motivated subset of criminal.  And there are already distinct graduations in Human Rights law - in the European Convention on Human Rights the right to freedom from torture is an absolute, the right to life is qualified - originally also including allowing judicial executions.  The prohibition against slavery permits conscription and jury service.  The Article 9, 10 and 11 rights of freedom of thought, expression and association are so hedged with get outs, conditions and exceptions to be almost worthless in modern Britain (as some consider Articles 5 and 6.)  

She also mentions Identity Cards with the suggestion that they might contribute to the fight against terrorism.  I strongly disagree.  At least, at the end, she is encouraging public participation rather than direction by the nanny state. 

Bob, on the other hand, seems to have been reading too many Tom Clancy novels or, at least, too much into "The Sum of all Fears".  The Harry Ricks character who, in the fiction, plays tracking games in the USS Maine with Captain Dubinin's "Admiral Lunin", or as Bob alleges Vanguard and Triomphant were doing:

"They were playing games with each other – stalking each other under the sea," Mr Ayres said. "They were practising being able to kill the other guy's submarine before he could launch a missile." 

was overtly considered a dangerous lunatic (by Clancy and the plot) for doing that with a ballistic missile submarine .  Hunter-killer (or, to use the Americanism "attack boat") captains do track other boats, absolutely - that's their job.  Neither Vanguard nor Triomphant are hunter-killer boats.

Just to round things off - a couple of stories that have nothing to do with anybody I know:

Max Mosley, from Law in Action:
"At the moment you have a tabloid 'judge' taking the decision about whether he's going to ruin someone's life, and I don't think he should be allowed to."
No, the person who took the life ruining decision was the one who decided that an S&M 'orgy' was a good idea, not the creeps who reported on it. They were merely marginal contributors.

Then we have more police abuse of powers, from those guardians of our freedom in the Met. For our own good, of course.

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