The Odd Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Osama bin Laden is dead, Obama announces

Posted by That Other Mike on 02/05/2011

Big news:

Osama bin Laden is dead, Obama announces

Osama bin Laden, the criminal mastermind behind al-Qaida and the world’s most sought-after terrorist since the attacks of 11 September 2001, has been killed by a US operation, President Barack Obama has announced.

In an address to the nation, President Obama said Bin Laden was killed in a “targeted operation” in Abbottabad, a highland town north of Islamabad, last night.

The operation started with an intelligence lead last August, and culminated in an operation involving a “small team of Americans”. “After a firefight they killed bin Laden.”

None of the Americans was killed. Pakistani co-operation “helped to lead us to him” he said.

ETA: The reactions over at LGM are, as usual, generally measured and thoughtful.

ETA: The Roasters go a little bananas, but still coherent and making sense.

ETA: In a move which shocks nobody, the CorrenteWhiners (and Lambchop in particular) are acting like bratty kids who don’t know anything about, well, anything.

ETA: Blimey. Fox News is actually doing proper journalism about it.

ETA: Apparently some guy inadvertently live tweeted the raid without knowing it at the time. Wow, that’s weird. Via.

ETA: Barron’s reports an upswing on the Dow and dollar following the announcement.

ETA: Dubya being surprisingly gracious; perhaps he’s mellowed in retirement.

ETA: From LGM, it looks like OBL may have been executed. Slightly troubling in a way, although to be honest, even if he’d been captured, any trial would’ve been a farce. Even the most committed defender of the concept of rule of law would find it difficult to argue that one..

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Major Guantanamo Setback for Bush

Posted by That Other Mike on 19/06/2008

I know, I know. I’m late to the party. As you all know, I’m not really one for blogging on news as it breaks. At least not with any kind of analysis. Adding links and quotes, yeah, I can do that. So could a trained monkey, although admittedly said monkey would probably be better than me at climbing trees and such.

Guantanamo's Camp Delta compound has housed prisoners since 2002Foreign suspects held in Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their detention in US civilian courts, the US Supreme Court has ruled.

In a major legal setback for the Bush administration, the court overturned by five to four a ruling upholding a 2006 law which removed such rights.

It is not clear if the ruling will lead to prompt hearings for the detainees.

Some 270 men are held at the US naval base, on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

US President George W Bush said he would abide by the court’s ruling even if he did not agree with it.

Human rights groups have welcomed the move, Amnesty International saying it was an “essential step forward towards the restoration of the rule of law”.

BBC News

This is obviously a fantastic decision, although disappointingly split; Chief Justice Roberts’s remarks about the rights afforded to detainees are also appallingly self-satisfied and blasé.

This sets the tone, really, for the coming years of the “war on terror”; this decision, coming after Hamdan v Rumsfeld, is likely to be a nail in the coffin of Bush-style unitary executive theory.
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Rebellion from the back

Posted by That Other Mike on 05/06/2008

Gordon Brown is once again facing a rebellion by backbench MPs, this time on new anti-terrorism laws. The issue in question is the new Counter-Terrorism Bill, a massive piece of legislation that would, among other things, give police the power to detain terrorism suspects for up to 42 days under certain circumstances before they would be required to press charges, the explicit ability to question suspects about further possible charges when lesser ones have already been brought, and give judges the right to impose longer sentences where alleged terrorism connections are considered an “aggravating factor”. Brown looking saturnine and vaguely creepy

You may already have guessed my response to the proposed terms of the Bill. Even with the proposed “safeguards” in place (such as the requirement for judicial approval), the provisions of it are deeply troubling.

This is one more sign that the current government needs to be brought to heel by its members –in this case, backbenchers– or to lose power entirely. We cannot preserve the principles of democracy and individual autonomy by destroying them entirely.

I would also remind everyone rushing to defend the limits on their freedoms that even during the worst parts of the Troubles, when there was a real and constantly present threat, we did not throw our liberties away.

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Students win appeal against terrorism conviction

Posted by That Other Mike on 13/02/2008

Or rather, their conviction for downloading extremist literature from the Internet, which was made a crime under the Terrorism Act 2000.

ExoneratedThe convictions of five young Muslim men jailed over extremist literature have been quashed by the Appeal Court.

Freeing the men, the Lord Chief Justice said there was no proof of terrorist intent. The lawyer for one said they had been jailed for a “thought crime”.

A jury convicted the students in 2007 after hearing the men, of Bradford and Ilford, east London, became obsessed with jihadi websites and literature.

The Home Office said it would study the judgement carefully.

This is good news. The Terrorism Act 2000 is a monstrous piece of legislation which makes the PATRIOT ACT look like a shining example of civil liberties protection. It criminalised the possession of extremist literature, among other things, which was widely decried at the time. It in no way proves terroristic intent; to give an example, I have downloaded Industrial Society and Its Future, otherwise known as the Unabomber Manifesto. It’s a rather disturbing piece of writing, although what’s even more frightening is how many internutters post extremely similar diatribes on a daily basis. That aside, I could technically go to prison under the provisions of the Terrorism Act. So too, thinking about it, could anyone who owns a copy of Mein Kampf or The Communist Manifesto.

This is simply the latest in a series of dubious uses of the Terrorism Act. As I’ve mentioned before, all anti-terrorist legislation is prone to abuse; how could it not be? It gives law enforcement sweeping powers and relaxes the rule of law to the point of being a joke, and that is just an invitation for it to be used for unintended consequences.

The Terrorism Act, for example, has resulted in 1166 arrests, with a conviction rate of 40 in total; this itself is from the grand total of 221 people charged with terrorism-related offences under the Act. This equates to related charges being brought 18% of the time, with 18% of those resulting convictions. To put it another way, less than 3.5% of the people arrested under the Act were convicted of terrorism-related offences.

A conviction rate so low is because of three things: the Act is not fit for purpose; the police are not able to secure evidence of wrongdoing (whether it exists or not); and the Act is being abused.

Numerous acts of abuse are on record: Walter Wolfgang, whom I have mentioned before, and Sally Cameron being the most obvious and well-known, although other victims of the stop and search provisions of the Act; not to mention an 11 year old girl, a cricketer and a busload of elderly anti-war protestors on their way to a peaceful protest. Then there is the case of Samina Malik, convicted under the Act for writing poetry approving of mujahideen and martyrdom, and given a six moth suspended sentence after much outcry in the press.

There are no crimes here, except for the Government’s use of the law as a bludgeon to damage civil liberties. Make no mistake, I do not condone membership of pro-jihadi or pro-mujahideen groups, nor do I approve of lionising terrorism; however, these people have not committed crimes. They have merely held political views which are abhorrent and unpleasant. If that is a crime, then we all need to be thrown in jail — if abhorrent politics are terrorism, we’re all terrorists.

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US charges six suspects over 9/11

Posted by That Other Mike on 11/02/2008

Via BBC News:

US charges six suspects over 9/11

The Pentagon has announced charges against six Guantanamo Bay prisoners over their alleged involvement in the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the six, who include alleged plot mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The charges, the first for Guantanamo inmates directly related to 9/11, are expected to be heard by a controversial military tribunal system.

About 3,000 people died in the hijacked plane attacks.

The Guantanamo Bay detention centre, in south-east Cuba, began to receive US military prisoners in January 2002. Hundreds have been released without charge but about 275 remain and the US hopes to try about 80.

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UK ID Card Scheme to Cost £5.6bn

Posted by That Other Mike on 08/11/2007


ID card scheme ‘to cost £5.6bn’

Ministers say the cards will help protect people against ID fraud

The projected cost of the identity card scheme will be £5.612bn over the next 10 years, the Home Office says.

The figures, which are for October 2007 to October 2017, cover the set up and the operational expenses of the set up and the operational expenses of the scheme.

This rather… expected news (UK governments underestimate costs worse than any cowboy builder) has prompted a new flurry of argument over the Brown government’s continuation of the Blair plan for a national identity card. Read the rest of this entry »

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