On the "War on Terror" Rhetoric

Echoing what I said in my previous post, Sir Ken Macdonald -- the UK's "director of public prosecutions" -- has spoken out against the "war on terror":

He said: "London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, 'soldiers'. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a 'war on terror', just as there can be no such thing as a 'war on drugs'.

"The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement."

Sir Ken, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, told members of the Criminal Bar Association it should be an article of faith that crimes of terrorism are dealt with by criminal justice and that a "culture of legislative restraint in the area of terrorist crime is central to the existence of an efficient and human rights compatible process".

He said: "We wouldn't get far in promoting a civilising culture of respect for rights amongst and between citizens if we set about undermining fair trials in the simple pursuit of greater numbers of inevitably less safe convictions. On the contrary, it is obvious that the process of winning convictions ought to be in keeping with a consensual rule of law and not detached from it. Otherwise we sacrifice fundamental values critical to the maintenance of the rule of law - upon which everything else depends."

Exactly. This is not a job for the military, it's a job for the police.

Posted on January 26, 2007 at 6:56 AM • 51 Comments

Comments

suzyJanuary 26, 2007 7:19 AM

"The fight against terrorism [...] is the prevention of crime"

Hear, hear.
We are all safer when governments do not use excuses such as terrorism to hammer us all with this rhetoric that we need to forgo courts and due process.

I wish that in the (near) future, the overstepping of our governments will be recognized and condemned, and that all crimes will be dealt with as they should: with due process.

Thank you, Ken McDonald, for your courage in saying something that, whilst true and obvious for some, will enrage a lot of people in your government.

J.D. AbolinsJanuary 26, 2007 7:39 AM

In some ways, there are echos of Britain's history of working out approaches to keeping the civic order. Too long of history to really explain here, but in the 19th Century, there was move away from using military force to deal with civic order towards the modern civilian police force. Among the events of that transition were the "Peterloo" incident, the Six Acts & responses to them, and Sir Robert Peel's establishment of the first Metropolitan Police force.

Some starting references:
http://www.met.police.uk/history/archives.htm
http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/crime/fighters/...
http://www.nwpolice.org/peel.html
The last URL is for Sir Robert Peel's Nine Principles of civic policing. They may seem quaint these days but they were quite a profound development and still offer good insights. Among them is this principle:
"The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force. "

Yes, terrorism in the recent decades has differences with the challenges of earlier times. But the earlier centuries were not as peaceful or simple as it may seem. Mob violence was a big worry in earlier eras and it would have been easy to believe that only military force could maintain the peace. But it turned that Peel's approach worked well for many years. (This is not to say that policing approaches cannot change and adapt. It should adapt to changing conditions.)

Michael R. FarnumJanuary 26, 2007 7:43 AM

I can understand this argument from the standpoint of the courts and losing civil rights. I have struggled with these concepts over the last few years as I have beheld what seem to be an erosion of our civil rights.

However, police cannot go into foreign countries and stamp out these roaches where they live and breed. And to simply put up fences and try to arrest these scumbags is fighting a losing WAR. They keep coming.

It is a WAR against a group that wants to put the whole world under their thumb. These are some of the same blind attitudes Europe had when Hitler was storming and raging. These people are dangerous, and criminals they may be, but they are soldiers fighting against the world and deserve a military response.

TimHJanuary 26, 2007 7:50 AM

@Michael R. Farnum
..and where does the incursion into Iraq by (mainly) USA and UK while most of the rest of the world said "Don't! That would be an unlawful act."?

Remember, the 9/11 Commission found that that there was no relationship between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorist events.

TerryJanuary 26, 2007 7:53 AM

Police work should be done by the police. Unfortunately, an increasing number of police forces are looking more like military units than cops.

Ian MasonJanuary 26, 2007 8:18 AM

For those who don't know the structure:- The Director or Public Prosecutions is appointed by the Attorney General, who is himself a politician and a political appointee. So the DPP is a political appointee but is part of the civil service, not a politician in his own right. The DPP is responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service which has the job of bringing all criminal trials in the UK (Scotland are Northern Ireland have seperate arrangements).

All this makes his remarks remarkable. It is traditional for civil servants, no matter how senior, to not make any public statements on policy matters. That he has, is an indication of how wrong things are going with government policy on terrorism, civil liberties and the criminal justice system.

That the Magistrate's Association has also recently taken the goverment to task on criminal justice policy ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/... ) is also remarkable. This is another association not really expected to make disfavourable comments on government policy.

It seems everybody who has a stake in terrorism, civil liberties or the criminal justice system in the UK is telling us the government has got it wrong. The only abstainers are the police who accumulate increasing and increasing arbitrary powers* under the current regime and keep asking for more (such as even longer periods of holding someone without charge - they asked the government for 90 days).

====
*Since January this year the police have had the power to arrest someone for even the most trivial offence, say dropping a single sweet wrapper - then they can and will take fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples and hold those indefinately irrespective of whether a charge is brought or even acquitted at trial.

From April, a system goes live that records vehicle movements using automatic number plate recognition that by the year end will span the whole UK. Vehicle movement records will be kept for 2 years. Cameras will be in place every 400 yards on motorways and on other roads. These are not the movements of known or even suspected criminals - they are the movements of everybody using a vehicle. ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/... and http://www.spy.org.uk/spyblog/2005/11/... )

pil123January 26, 2007 8:26 AM

@ Michael R. Farnum

"However, police cannot go into foreign countries and stamp out these roaches where they live and breed.��?

Neither can politicians with their incompetence and short-sidedness. Do you really believe that 20,000 more troops will stomp out all the roaches?

“These are some of the same blind attitudes Europe had when Hitler was storming and raging��?.

Ah…but Hitler’s “roaches��? at least wore uniforms! A lot easier to stomp them, when you can actually SEE them!

It’s hard to fight an enemy you can’t actually “see.��?

“These people are dangerous, and criminals they may be, but they are soldiers fighting against the world and deserve a military response��?.

Three years and counting….WITH a military response….and we still have roaches! The BIGGEST roach, who we set out to “stomp��? (remember him?....rhymes with “yo’ mama��?), is still out there!

BobJanuary 26, 2007 8:27 AM

@TimH
The "rest of the world" are looking after their own self-interests, just as America must do. Through the U.N., the "rest of the world" says America should provide the funds for what "they" believe the world needs from that organization.

If any state is giving aid and support to an enemy, they are at risk of political, economic and even military repercussions.

France and Russia had their own economic interests in Iraq that prevented them from allowing political and economic sanctions to be used. That was too bad. I wonder if those options would have worked?

But just because "the rest of the world" cannot agree, doesn't mean it is an unlawful act, or is even wrong. It just means our interests are different than theirs.

TarkeelJanuary 26, 2007 8:47 AM

TimH: Not only that, but Blair (with Bush at his side) on a direct question answered that "No, there is no direct link between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks"

SaxonJanuary 26, 2007 8:47 AM

Many in the West insist on treating every terrorist event as a seperate, unrelated event. Meanwhile, terrorist groups continue to announce that they intend to carry their "war" to the heart of every Western country that continues to oppose their goals. This has been ongoing since the 1970's.

The problem with addressing terrorist attacks piecemeal, and without regard to the possibility that they are connected, is that you end up treating the symptoms, not the disease. The US treated terrorism as a police problem throughout the 1990s, and it resulted in the 1993 WTC bombing, the 1994 Philippines flight 434 bombing, the 1996 Khobar towers bombing, the 1998 African embassy bombings, the Millenium bomb plot (fortunately stopped), the attack on the Cole, the Sep 11 atatcks, and Richard Reid (I count his attack because it was planned prior to the Sep 11 plot).

Since that time, terrorism has been addressed as a military problem, involving stateless combatants (something they themselves claim to be as well). It is a mistake to assume that, because they do not wear a uniform, the terrorists are not engaged in war against formal nations such as the US. The Madrid bombings are strong evidence that the terrorists have motives beyond merely killing people. They want to influence world politics in their favor.

I suppose a good comparison would be the current state of information warfare. Should we automatically assume that the Titan Rain attacks and the MyFIPS worm are merely the work of hooliganish Chinese hackers? I suspect that JTF-GNO would disagree.

SaxonJanuary 26, 2007 8:59 AM

@Tarkeel

The "no link between Iraq and 9/11" strawman has been thrown out before. The actual link, as mentioned earlier, is between Iraq (Saddam in particular) and Al Qaeda. Although the 9/11 commission declared there was no link, documents that have been translated since then indicate that there were several meetings between Saddam or other high-level government officials and representatives of Al Qaeda. Further, there is considerable evidence that the Iraqi government permitted Al Qaeda to train at several facilities such as Salman Pak, and apparently at least a few of the 9/11 hijackers trained there. So, while there is no direct link between Saddam and 9/11, there is plenty of evidence that Saddam harbored and assisted Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Lost in the noise about "is there or is there not a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda" is the fact that we were still technically at war with Saddam. The declarations the President made about WMDs and terrorism actually clouded the issue, since the US already had all the reason it needed to go back in and clean out Iraq under UN 1441 and the other UN resolutions dating back to the end of the Gulf War, which Saddam blatantly violated.

SaxonJanuary 26, 2007 9:14 AM

One last item: Bruce ends with "This is not a job for the military, it's a job for the police." The problem here is that the police are primarily a reactive force, not a proactive one. While they do perform detective work, they lack the latitude necessary to be able to determine ahead of time who is and is not a terrorist. Since the terrorist groups often insert multiple sleeper cells into a region or country, the police not only have to round up the group they have discovered will perform an attack, but all the other groups that are controlled by the same organization, since rolling up one group does nothing to stop the (out-of-country) leaders from simply activating a new cell and sending them all the plans from the defunct cell.

Putting the burden on in-country police also means the terrorists get much closer to their target before they have to worry about being caught. This necessarily means that there cannot be as many layers of defense between the terrorists and innocents. Frankly, if someone is lobbing rocks at me, I would much rather put him in a box to keep him from throwing rocks, than put myself in a box to keep from getting hit.

I have to say I am surprised that Bruce would advocate using police (the last line of defense) for terrorist mitigation, especially since he advocates things like pushing security spending up the chain away from things like TSA screeners and toward better intelligence gathering. This situation is the same, only on a larger scale. I'd much rather our terrorism defense dollars get spent containing and eliminating the source of the terrorism threat than wasting it trying to catch every individual cell.

ProhiasJanuary 26, 2007 9:44 AM

Sir Ken said: "The criminal justice response to terrorism must be proportionate and grounded in due process and the rule of law."

That word "proportionality" is key. Robert McNamara's emphasises on it in the insightful biopic 'Fog of War'. That is one lesson that should be taken from war and applied to civilian threats also.

SpiderJanuary 26, 2007 9:51 AM

"The fight against terrorism [...] is the prevention of crime"

I would modify that statement slightly to the following:

The fight against terrorism [...] is the prevention of organized crime

The difference in those two statements is huge. Random crime happens and police can only be react to it. Just as we largely defeated organized crime in the united states without throwing out human rights, we need to to defeat the new threat of international terrorism in much the same way. Brittan defeated the IRA, which is the closest analogy to what they are facing now, but not without serious violations of ethics and human rights. I hope we all follow the example of the former case.

Ian MasonJanuary 26, 2007 9:54 AM

@saxon: " The problem here is that the police are primarily a reactive force, not a proactive one."

Actually in the UK - which is where we're talking about - it's a police officer's sworn duty to prevent crime i.e. be proactive. The oath that they take (below) makes no mention of reactive policing. It doesn't mean that they can't or don't operate reactively but it emphasises their duty to be proactive.

"I [SAY YOUR NAME] do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the Office of Constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to the law."

jayhJanuary 26, 2007 10:04 AM

"However, police cannot go into foreign countries and stamp out these roaches where they live and breed. And to simply put up fences and try to arrest these scumbags is fighting a losing WAR. They keep coming."

That's exactly the point. Soldiers working in a hostile territory behave one way. Police, acting in an area where the vast majority of people are their own countrymen, people who they are sworn to protect (unlike locals in a foreign country) and who are generally quite willing to help them (the police) within reason are in an ENTIRELY different operation. This seems unfortunately missed by too many politicians.


Hieronymous CowherdJanuary 26, 2007 10:19 AM

The "considerable evidence" on Salman Pak is a pair of defectors, one of whom now says he never went near the place, both of whom came out of the Iraqi National Congress (you remember, the people you sacked for being infiltrated by Iranian agents). On the contrary all the evidence suggests that it was what the Iraqis claim it was: a counter-terrorist training camp (Iraq, unsuprisingly, was also a target for terrorist attacks before the invasion.)

As for aiding and supporting Al Qaeda - there is evidence certainly that Al Qaeda was in Iraq before Sept 11. Unfortunately for the neocons Al Qaeda's bases were in a portion of Iraq not under Saddam's control, protected, ironically, by the northern no-fly zone. Remember that Bin Laden offered his mujahedin's services to Saudi Arabia to protect it against Iraqi aggression during the first Gulf War and it's the fact that the Saudis turned him down in favour of American troops that started this whole thing off. Iraq and Al Qaeda were as much enemies as the US and Al Qaeda.

All of Bush's pre-war anti-terror rhetoric re Iraq has been a deliberate smearing of Iraq's support for anti-Israeli terrorists/fighters (pick yer own angle) into some global conspiracy of Islam contra mundum.

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda's two great sponsors - Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - are allies in the war on terror.

It's time for the west to accept we got conned by the Iranians into getting rid of their number one regional rival, back off and let the Iranians deal with Al Qaeda.

AnonymousJanuary 26, 2007 10:20 AM

Saxon,

What support is there for the idea that military action is more effective than police action in foiling terrorist plots? I can easily think of some examples of police work foiling terrorist plots: the 2000 Jordan bomb plot, the 2000 LAX bomb plot, and of course, the "liquid explosives" plot from last year. On the other hand, i'm drawing blanks for terrorist plots foiled by military action. Or are you arguing that military action eliminate terrorist groups so that plots don't get hatched in the first place? Judging by the results of the US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, it seems that military actions actually INCREASE, rather than decrease, the number of terrorists.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/...

"Although the 9/11 commission declared there was no link, documents that have been translated since then indicate that there were several meetings between Saddam or other high-level government officials and representatives of Al Qaeda."

"Further, there is considerable evidence that the Iraqi government permitted Al Qaeda to train at several facilities such as Salman Pak, and apparently at least a few of the 9/11 hijackers trained there."

I'd really like to see these evidence.

"The declarations the President made about WMDs and terrorism actually clouded the issue, since the US already had all the reason it needed to go back in and clean out Iraq under UN 1441 and the other UN resolutions dating back to the end of the Gulf War, which Saddam blatantly violated."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan disagrees with you.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/...

BennyJanuary 26, 2007 10:25 AM

Oops. The post by "Anonymous" at 10:20 AM was from me. And to clarify, the quoted chunks of text in that post are not from the links i posted, they were written by Saxon.

Ian MasonJanuary 26, 2007 10:37 AM

@Spider: "Brittan (sic) defeated the IRA, which is the closest analogy to what they are facing now, but not without serious violations of ethics and human rights."

I beg to differ. We did not defeat the IRA, although there were "serious violations of ethics and human rights" as we tried to defeat them. What happened is that we started talking to them and addressing their grievances, which led to the Good Friday agreement, which led to peace. The republicans had legitimate grievances that they addressed in an illegitimate way. Once they were addressed by the UK in a legitimate way the need or desire for them to persue illegitimate methods disappeared.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana (1863 - 1952), The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

"History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives."
Abba Eban (1915 - 2002)

[ Just in case anybody thinks this makes me an apologist for the IRA, or other terrorist, I'll point out that in a former role I was actively involved with the police in preventing IRA terrorism. ]

QuercusJanuary 26, 2007 10:41 AM

@Saxon: I think you accidentally left Oklahoma City off of your list of terrorist actions in the 1990s -- the second-deadliest terrorist attack in the US, ever.

KeithJanuary 26, 2007 11:41 AM

I agree with the original quote in the sense that the "War on Terror" is not taking place in London. Domestic reactions to domestic groups is not war. Dealing with rogue nations, hostile extra-national organizations growing their capabilities in those rogue nations and working to prevent infiltration of those organizations into London requires something that looks a lot more like war than like the police.

Using the 'defense in depth' metaphor, firewalls and virus checkers are like the No-Fly lists and background checks. Police are like the crypto-forensic guys who come in after your business has been hacked to figure out what happened. The anti-spyware companies and companies finding exploits in the wild are a bit like the intelligence services, detecting threats before they hack us and working to stop them before they cross our threshold. In the IT security world, however, we don't have the option of the Army going after the botnet mafias. In the real world, we *sometimes* do have that option with terrorists.

Frank WilhoitJanuary 26, 2007 11:44 AM

A job for the police? Well, yes; but bear in mind that the police are lacking a few things that they would need in order to be able to do that job. Little things like manpower, funding, technology, skills, honesty, and seriousness.

PassALaw!January 26, 2007 12:38 PM

A "culture of legislative restraint in the area of terrorist crime is central to the existence of an efficient and human rights compatible process".

Culture of legislative restraint. Hmmm. Would that mean refraining from advocating passage of a BroadLaw as our first reaction to our perception of a widespread evil?

dfJanuary 26, 2007 12:51 PM

The goal of criminals, the historic and understood foe of the police, is for personal gain and they are willing to go against the established norms of society. The terrorists goal is to destroy the society and establish one based on their own principles and they have no intention ever of respecting the rules of society. Dealing with terrorist solely as criminals rejects this distinction. I don't mean to advocate turning the prosecutiuon, and not merely in the legal sense, over to the military. But neither to I believe that we should treat them solely as criminals. Treatment such as this prevented the US from eliminating OBL before 9/11.

BennyJanuary 26, 2007 1:14 PM

df,

You basically said neither criminals nor terrorists respect society's rules, so what distinction are you talking about?

DougJanuary 26, 2007 1:22 PM

Saxon, you are right: "The problem here is that the police are primarily a reactive force, not a proactive one."

All too true. The police do not operate until a crime has been committed. Bruce should understand that. Their task is to find and apprehend the perp after somebody is dead, or in some cases to produce revenue for the town by writing speeding tickets. I for one insist on and require something more than a white chalk outline on the floor around my body and an open file in a folder after some dumb jihadi strikes. I would like to see Osama the diseased cockroach and his evil ilk mashed very hard. That he may still live just means the job is hard, and will make it even more satisfying when his head is finally on a pike somewhere. If it takes the US Marines to get the job done, then God bless and keep them!

Pat CahalanJanuary 26, 2007 1:40 PM

@ df

> The goal of criminals, the historic and understood foe of the police, is for
> personal gain and they are willing to go against the established norms of society.

Not all criminals are in it for the money, that's an oversimplification. People kill for money, but they kill for jealousy, or because they're drunk. They rob for money, but they also rob because they're young and invincible and with other young and invincible people and acting as a mob that comes across someone not in their mob. They run red lights and hit pedestrians. I could go on.

Criminals, regardless of their motivation, act outside the rules of society. So do terrorists.

The purpose of cops (in theory) is to enforce the rules of society codified in law, not necessarily catch criminals. Catching them is good, deterring or preventing them is good, too.

@ Frank

> the police are lacking a few things that they would need in order
> to be able to do that job.

Take the money spent on the Iraq war, take 5% off the top and put it into law enforcement.

dragonfrogJanuary 26, 2007 1:48 PM

@Spider re: "Just as we largely defeated organized crime in the united states without throwing out human rights, we need to to defeat the new threat of international terrorism in much the same way."

There's still a heck of a lot of organized crime in the States. How do you supposed coca leaves in Colombia turn into crack in Los Angeles? The Italian mafia of the 20's is largely supplanted by the Hells Angels, triads, and heaven knows who else, but the crime is still there, and it's better organized than ever. Today's lot just aren't the organized criminals about which Hollywood made all those great mob movies in the 80's.

Incidentally, the one act that had a larger impact on the organized crime of the 20's than any other, was repealing prohibition of alcohol. Today's organized crime could be similarly devastated by the legalization of a number of other drugs.

So, is there a similar action that the West could take, that would have the same sort of effect on the (already vanishingly insignificant) threat from modern terrorists? It seems anyone who suggests that getting the heck out of the Middle East might help, is accused of "blaming the victim", "antisemitism", and "appeasement" (the last one actually almost makes sense), so the orthodox answer is a clear "no". But then the orthodox answer during the 20's was that legalizing alcohol would only make the crime problem worse.

K. Signal EingangJanuary 26, 2007 1:56 PM

On the justification of military force to suppress terror:

"It's not so much the country; it is its leader. He has led a reign of terror... The maintenance of a tremendous military arsenal can only be regarded as a focus of danger. We have displayed a truly unexample patience, but I am no longer willing to remain inactive while this madman ill-treats millions of human beings."
--Adolph Hitler, on his reasons for invading Czechoslovakia.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme"
--some wiseacre

GdrJanuary 26, 2007 4:16 PM

The DPP's speech has particular resonance in the UK because some of us remember what happened in the last outbreak of terrorism in our country. In the frantic effort of politicians and police to secure convictions of IRA terrorists in the 1970s, there were many miscarriages of justice, and many innocent members of the Irish community were wrongly convicted and imprisoned.

The legacy of the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, Maguire Seven, Judith Ward, and other wrongful convictions, is a much tighter rein on the police (e.g., the Police and Criminal Evidence Act) and fewer fit-ups. The DPP is pointing out that the current UK government is undoing a lot of this progress.

There has been a lot of what amounts to, in my opinion, police misbehaviour (the 2002 "dirty bomb", the Wood Green "ricin" plot, Rauf Abdullah Mohammed, the "red mercury" plot, Atif Siddique, Abdul Kahar and Abdul Koyar, Daniel Menezes, etc), but there don't seem to have been any obvious wrongful convictions yet.

RalphJanuary 26, 2007 4:38 PM

It is a good thing to reclaim our language in this way.

Misuse of words like "war" muddies thinking and paralyses response - as happened in this case.

Terror is not a word you can arrest, shoot or conduct war against.

The same rules apply in our security workplace. One the big challenges I face daily is effectively communicating security principles to business people. It is not a skill taught to business people except to the extent of general risk management.

X the UnknownJanuary 26, 2007 5:37 PM

National military forces can be useful against terrorists - but not against "terror". The dismantling of the Barbary Pirates was an excellent example of using military force against extra-national "terrorists".

However, that only works in the case of a specific, identifiable target. Generally, some sort of gathering place, staging area, or training camp. The military works great at disrupting and suppressing such physical concentrations of manpower and materiel. It does NOT work very well at investigation, policing, and being discriminating in the application of force.

To ferret out terrorist plots, we need lots of good ol' fashioned police work, possibly augmented by high-quality espionage. Unfortunately, our record in useful espionage against loosely-coupled distributed organizations is rather poor...

Nick LancasterJanuary 26, 2007 6:41 PM


Right, police aren't proactive. They *obviously* sit on their butts and drink coffee until one of us gets mugged.

Shame on those who have suggested police aren't proactive. They are proactive every time they choose to don the uniform and walk a beat or drive on patrol.

Or are you next going to proclaim that the visible presence of police is not a deterrent?

As to the 'It's a WAAAAAAR! We have to fight a WAAAAAR!' silliness, I figure there's no better way to promote terrorism than to sanctify their views and make them worthy of the attention of a nation's military. MacDonald's point is that we treat the terrorists like criminals, without wholesale savaging of the laws that have made our societies what they are. (And that view beats the heck out of our own AG saying, "Hey, there's no habeas corpus granted by the Conny!")

Certainly, the military can do some things that police can't. But it is the day-in and day-out work of investigation and law enforcement, not only in our country, but in others, that carries the day.

Ralph Waldo EmersonJanuary 26, 2007 8:23 PM

In these types of cases, Bruce tends to disappoint many of his "followers" because his political leanings do not allow him to be honest. It frankly surprises me, but even Bruce is human.

ThomasJanuary 26, 2007 9:53 PM

@Michael R. Farnum

"""It is a WAR against a group that wants to put the whole world under their thumb. """

Both sides are using the exact same line.

I hope everyone appreciates both the irony and the symmetry.

StudentJanuary 27, 2007 7:01 AM

Frankly, the attacks 2001 didn't change the world. Just like the german autumn didn't change the world and the IRA didn't change the world.

The terrorists are not fighting a war, they are indeed criminals that are using violent means to reach a goal. And should be dealt with like criminals. Just because their crime is violent and deranged doesn't change stuff. We don't get the army to deal with serial killers, or mass murderers, so why should the army deal with other violent criminals?

Your MomJanuary 27, 2007 6:33 PM

If people weren't too brainwashed like cattle by their TVs and the rest of the media, not swimming in personal entertainment and other flights of fancy, perhaps things would be much different. People started to move together for change in the 60's, but now we have more and more mechanical devices to divide us from getting together in public as communities. Sure, we're talking more on cell phones and E-mail, but we still let these devices divide us from assembling as communities under the guise that they are easier and save time but the real shame is that we are isolating ourselves more and becoming nothing more than cattle with barcodes in the form of cell phone #s and IP addresses.

If people wanted peace, if people wanted change, we would have it. But we don't, because people are asleep in their fantasy worlds of entertainment, distracted from the real world by make believe characters and stories.

Several philosophers are correct in that we are just a dream and we have ourselves to blame for not waking up, participating in elections fully and having serious discussions apart from the blue and red rigged circus of shit.

MikeJanuary 28, 2007 7:49 AM

"Sir Ken, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, told members of the Criminal Bar Association it should be an article of faith that crimes of terrorism are dealt with by criminal justice"

Well, pardon me if I prefer reason to faith.

Acts of terrorism are *not* the same as domestic crimes and the fact that "Ken" (Kenneth?) does not realize this says much for his failure to understand the issue.

BennyJanuary 28, 2007 8:10 AM

Mike,

It seems ironic that you say "I prefer reason to faith", and then makes the claim "Acts of terrorism are *not* the same as domestic crimes" without citing any evidence, thereby asking us to take your statement on faith.

Ian MasonJanuary 28, 2007 11:00 AM

@Mike:

I think we can take it that Sir Ken meant "article of faith" in the sense of axiom* instead of the sense of unreasoning belief.

====
* Axiom: In general use - a self-evident truth; in mathematical and logical use - a basic principle without which a system doesn't work.

SquidJanuary 28, 2007 3:43 PM

Who the hell are US, UK and whoever to tell the rest of the world how to live, govern and blah? Stop riding the moral or whichever high horses.

Two words from the rest of the world really... "FUCK OFF".

aceJanuary 28, 2007 5:18 PM

long ago i said to friend of mine that it is up to mi5 and police to keep things safe at home. however, there is lack of experience issue.

StephaneJanuary 29, 2007 3:51 AM

[quote]Who the hell are US, UK and whoever to tell the rest of the world how to live, govern and blah? Stop riding the moral or whichever high horses.[/quote]

Well, that's pretty much unfair: with such a reasoning, the 3rd Reich would probably be controlling Europe and Africa today (at the very least).

There is a point where you have to stand for your ideals, even if it means getting your feet wet in other countries's backyard.

That isn't to say US and UK and the other "allied" nation where right (IMNSHO) to invade Irak: when you have to lie to produce a reason for invading a country, it's very difficult to imagine that the real reason is anything that you could morally support.

And what's more: any nation that invades another nation has better to find a good plan for whatever happen /after/ the conventional part of the war is won: what the US did is just say "we'll see how it goes" or, even worse, compared the situation with 1944 Europe or 1945 Japan. And today, US is a situation that can, I'm afraid, only get worse one way or another.

StephaneJanuary 29, 2007 3:56 AM

Back on the topic of the military acting as a police force, the movie "The Siege" shows a very nice illustration as ty why this is truly a bad idea.

dfJanuary 29, 2007 12:43 PM

Benny, The distinction between criminals and terrorists is that criminals while not respecting society aren't out to destroy it, and in fact they are better served by it existance.

Pat, they are certainly other reasons people commit crime. Mental illness is one you didn't mention. I think what we are talking about he is crime that can be predicted and prevented. The police, while interested in prevention are not really in that business. Are there police stationed in Banks? or right outside of them? Why not wouldn't that prevent bank robberies? You are correct that the job of the police is to enforce the rules of society. The problem is that in a "free" society like the US the police can't arrest someone until a crime is committed and the police are aware of the crime. This is not a criticism of the police, but there are many crimes that go unsolved every year. Our society will not tolerate a terrorism prevention rate that is similar to the rate of unsolved crimes. Furthermore, in the US there are legal restrictions on Intelligence being used in a criminal trial. So if the police act on Intelligence gathered in a way that will not be useable in a criminal trial, even to prevent an act of terrorism, the terrorist or criminal could possibly be set free. That sort of thinking is why we repeatedly did not either arrest or kill OBL prior to 9/11. Remember Sudan offered to arrest and turn over OBL to the US but the Justice Department told the President they didn't think they could convict him.

LenJanuary 29, 2007 2:24 PM

The gun is a weapon of war, no less so a bomb a mine, poison gas or nuclear material used in a deadly manner. Weapons of war are supposed to be used by soldiers. I personally would like to not see them used at all.
The fact that Sir Ken doesn't see these murderous miscreants as Soldiers shows he is missing the point.

They Do!

They are prepared to kill and die for what they believe in. They actually welcome the prospect of dying and taking as many of us with them, women, children yound and old alike.
Like it or not, the world is not the same place as when Sir Robert Peel developed the Metropolitan Police. Police should police and always should do.

The police have a legal framework beyond which they cannot and should not operate. Prevention of Crime and solving of Crime is a valid task for the Police.

Security is best left to Security experts; specialists in their fields.

Terrorism isn't a crime, but to be fair, nor is it a war. It is however a risk to security, yours, mine and everyone elses, and a security risk to the very fabric of our lifestyles. It is perpetrated by sick minded individuals who have either been brainwashed into beliefs that are illogical, immoral or downright wacko, and supported by governments who believe there is an advantage to destabilising other countries or beliefs.

Anyone else heard of the saying "Divide and Conquer". A small group can conquer a large population by getting the large population to fight amongst itself. The British did it in India and Ireland, the US did it in the Phillipines. The French did it in Africa. A small group of terrorists can polarise any intelligent population, because we are always looking for a reason why they do things, or what we should do about them. By polarising populations you can turn them in on themselves.

Look at the Sunnis and Shiites in Irag now. They are all Muslims, they all worship the same God, yet they are killing each other. Who will be left? Choas and the terrorists who pitted them against each other. (Some people will say the US had a hand in it, but evidence shows otherwise)

How do they police it? With Police? They haven't a hope in Hell's chance. Nor have the UK, US or any other police force without help from specialists.

In the US you have the CIA and the NSA helping the FBI and the other police forces.

In the UK MI5 and MI6 help the UK Police forces. For those unitinitiated the MI stands for MILITARY Intelligence.

I have not seen any evidence that the introduction of the Military into the affray is going to stop due process in the courts. What it will do is to remove from the police the onerous task of having to deal with something that are not and should not be trained for............killing people! For whatever reason.

If ever such a reason exists it should be given to those that know how to do it cleanly, effectively, but also to those who know how stop the terrorists another way...alive.

Am I naive to believe that people always get the due process our legal systems mandate. No, but then did the 2,749 in the World Trade Center, the 323 Children and Teachers in North Ossetia in Russia, the 70 in Kenya and Tanzania and oh yes the 52 in London from the transport bombing, or the 1,775 people who were killer in the 35 years between 1970 and 2005 by the IRA, a terrorist organization with strangely enough the word Army in their name. Go figure.

Spy EquipmentJanuary 29, 2007 2:58 PM

Insurgents will always target gaps or weakenesses in security.

So while soldiers will be more careful about who they let in from now on, insurgents will strike at another weakness.

Its a never ending game or trying to plug the gaps

Max

X the UnknownJanuary 31, 2007 4:44 PM

@Len: "Am I naive to believe that people always get the due process our legal systems mandate. No, but then did the 2,749 in the World Trade Center, the 323 Children and Teachers in North Ossetia in Russia, the 70 in Kenya and Tanzania and oh yes the 52 in London from the transport bombing, or the 1,775 people who were killer in the 35 years between 1970 and 2005 by the IRA, a terrorist organization with strangely enough the word Army in their name."

The problem is that "due process" is not something we impose upon reasonable people. It is something we impose upon and require of inherently super-human institutions and agencies, before we are willing to trust them with the power to police, punish, and (if necessary) kill us.

Such institutions and agencies have historically proven to be not particularly trustworthy. Somehow, they usually seem to get "out of control", taking on agendas not originally envisioned.

Our system of "checks and balances", and requiring "due process", is an experiment. It is intended to help keep our government (the collection of empowered institutions and agencies) from getting too ambitious or self-serving.

The general design of this experiment in social governance was developed by some of the sharpest minds of their time, drawing upon the lessons of thousands of years of recorded history and failed governments. It is not perfect, and may eventually prove not to work. But it represents the best we have come up with so far.

Curtailing the "due process" requirements, for ANY reason, is *NOT* an effective way to save our socitiy. It is, in fact, one of the best ways to destroy us. Weakening or removing one of the key innovations that make our society "better" than most of its predecessors, is a terrible idea!

Certainly, "the trains ran on time", and there was by some measures "less crime" under Hitler's regime. That doesn't mean I (or many other Americans) want to revert to a fascist dictatorship as a governmental model. However, that seems to be the way we are heading, through the politics of fear and unbridled capitalism. Weakening due process is a major step along that path.

And the problem is that you can't say "Oh, well retain due process for everyone EXCEPT terrorists!" The whole problem is that of determining exactly who is a terrorist, without first applying due process to make that determination. Otherwise, you get the case that we are perilously close to, where agents of the state (the dread "secret police") arbitrarily accuse you of being a terrorist. At that point, due process no longer applies, and you are stripped of all resources and rights that might let you clear yourself. You just "disappear".
Most of the civilized world finds the known instances of official disappearances to be horrific and inhuman (or at least inhumane), and few want to encourage (or even allow) that sort of behavior by their governments.

Mathieu DeflemFebruary 2, 2007 12:32 PM

This is a very interesting discussion that is important for our understanding of terrorism and the proper responses thereto.

As a sociologist who is interested in international police activities, I have been researching the policing of terrorism in a variety of contexts, including US law enforcement, Interpol, and Europol. I am presently writing a book on these matters, but various article-length contributions are already published and can be found on my website: http://www.mathieudeflem.net/

Best,
Mathieu Deflem
University of South Carolina
deflem@sc.edu

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