Prevention of Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:30 am on 10th March 2005.

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Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Security and Community Safety), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 1:30 am, 10th March 2005

It is the advice of the security services that they want us to have control orders. Let me say this to Opposition Members. If there are people who are a real and serious threat to this country and we cannot prosecute them because that would mean revealing sensitive and dangerous intelligence, what do we do with them? At this stage, we have no indication that Opposition Members are prepared to support control orders that will protect our national security. I think that it is vital that we secure this legislation tonight and establish a framework enabling us to strike the right balance between national security and individual liberty.

These are real matters. This is not an academic debate—we are faced with real problems.

Annotations

Julian Todd
Posted on 15 Mar 2005 10:58 am (Report this annotation)

After you've held someone for three years, through two supposedly anti-terrorist invasions (of Afghanistan and Iraq) and so much has changed, is this intelligence against them "sensitive and dangerous", or utterly wrong and an embarrassment to the spooks that they would not want anyone to see it for it would ruin their undeserved reputation. Bring back John Scarlett. He knows all about WMD.

David reynolds
Posted on 15 Mar 2005 12:56 pm (Report this annotation)

Perhaps if the "sensitive and dangerous" information that lead to the invasion of Iraq had been revealed before the war and thrashed out we wouldn't have invaded.

They have this arguement that if they reveal their methods of gathering intellegence those sources would dry up. This arguement doesn't hold water. First, thanks to the "Enemy of the State" (a film demonstrating some cool intellegence gathering capabilities of the NSA) effect everyone's expectations of the intellegence gathering capabilities of the intellegence community are far greater than the probable reality. Second, thanks to a plethora of criminal investigation programmes, fact and fiction, criminals know a lot about forensic techniques, yet they still screw up; finger prints are still a valuable weapon in crime detection dispite every criminal being aware of the technique. Third a truely paranoid terrorist is going to assume every word they say can be over heard by a turncoat, every phone call is tapped and they always have a satellite tracking them; they wouldn't change their behaviour if they knew this as opposed to just assumed it.

A short while ago Charles Clarke was quoted here as saying he didn't think admitting wire tap evidence would help secure prosecutions, I think this is closer to the truth than any need to protect methodolgies. The "evidence" they are trying to protect either doesn't exist or was gathered in such a way, through torture say, as to make it highly suspect.

"These are real matters." Nope. I disagree. These matters are no more real than the much hyped threat of terrorism (an al-qaeda cell in every country in the western world with huge concrete bunker complexes in the tora bora mountains, highly organised, well funded and bristling with WMDs). Truth is there are some fanatics, fueled in part by the Government's own hype, who are not connected, don't have unlimited resources and do not have access to or the capacity to create a serious "weapon of mass distruction". As to the concrete bunkers in the tora bora mountains, the army was sent to find them and they are not there; apparently these were made up by journalists.