Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.
It has been a long time since I last posted anything regarding the war in Iraq, mainly because I had nothing to add to the daily news reports. Given today’s news, I do have something to say (or write) on the subject, and for once it is hopeful.
Prior to the war, we were told that our government had intelligence showing that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and it was even possible that some of these could be just 45 minutes from use. Now the government is set to follow in the footsteps of the US and launch an independent inquiry into the failure to find any of these WMDs.
Another news item that caught my notice today was David Blunkett’s plan to lower the burden of proof from “beyond reasonable doubt” to “the balance of probabilities” for cases pertaining to the prevention of people carrying out terrorist activities. In these cases, the evidence used would be kept secret from defendants so as to protect MI5, MI6, and GCHQ intelligence sources.
The timing of these two developments couldn’t have been worse for David Blunkett’s agenda. The idea of people being locked up without them, or the public, hearing any evidence against them is bad. The idea of this happening when a “security-vetted judge” decides that, on the balance of probabilities, they intend to commit terrorist acts is frightening. Doing all of this based on intelligence evidence, yes the same intelligence that incorrectly justified an entire war, is staggering. It is so staggeringly bad in fact that I feel fairly hopeful that it will never happen.
An inquiry into the intelligence agencies’ failure regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq will surely be in the headlines for the next twelve months or so. In this case it will be very hard to justify bringing in laws that will lock people up based on nothing but the secret evidence of these agencies.
That the UK government is considering allowing one part of the establishment to lock people up, on the basis of undisclosed evidence presented by another part of the establishment, shows how little they care or understand about freedom. I hope that enough MPs also understand how bad these proposals are, that they will never be adopted. However, I fear we may have to rely on the government’s terrible timing to save us.
Email: colin at owlfish.com