In the wake of the 11th March 2004 Madrid bombings, have our leaders rushed through all of these new anti-terrorist measures ? Why were these not already in place after the September 11th 2001 attacks in the USA ?
All the indications from the soundbite reporting by of the EU meetings by the media give the impression that all of the controversial measures set out in the European Commission paper below have been agreed, and are merely waiting to be rubber stamped next week, without any public discussion or debate.
We are reminded of the way in which the Home Office succeeded in gettting a shopping list of measures passed without much (or in some cases with zero) debate via the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, passed in the panic after the September 11th 2001 attacks.
Would anybody care to explain to us who, what or where exactly, the following European Union funded institutions are, and what they are now being tasked to do in the way of monitoring and surveillance of EU citizens ? Some of these should, apparently, already have been working on terrorism - are we getting our money's worth ?
- Europol - "Europol is the European Law Enforcement Organisation which aims at improving the effectiveness and co-operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international organised crime."
- Eurojust -"Eurojust is a European body which supports investigations and prosecutions by the Member States into serious cross-border or transnational crime"
- ENISA - European Network and Information Security Agency
- OLAF - European Anti-Fraud Office
If this paper has been agreed, then it looks as if there will be new institutions such as:
- Another European wide database blacklisting suspected money launderers and suspected terrorist organisation financial assets, to be in place by mid 2004.
- Even more intrusive "use of travellers' data for border and aviation security and other law enforcement purposes"
- More use of controversial database systems such as the SIS II (Schengen Information System version 2), VIS and EURODAC
- "A European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will be established in 2005 and will prioritise the coordination of efforts to improve surveillance, notification, response, assistance, communication and laboratory capacity on health security matters" - Will this help or hinder the World Health Organisation in Geneva, which already seems to do this for influenza or SARS or plague or smallpox etc.
Then there is some wishful thinking and science fiction:
- "Terrorists are often more innovative in using legitimate goods for illegal purposes than we might imagine. The Commission as well as Member States should monitor all its legislative or standard producing machinery so as to have it subject to "ex ante" terrorism proofing. No legislation should leave this institution without first being submitted to a terrorism proofing scrutiny."
- Some attempt to get rid of those irksome anonymous pre-paid mobile phones -"Measures should be taken so that the sale of replacement SIM cards does not impede the efficient actions of law enforcement authorities. "
- Self justification for the development of the Galileo Global Satellite Positioning system and a throw away reference to Radio Frequency ID tags (RFID) as if these will magically help to track explosives or radioactive sources.
Which of these, if any, will be the under the control of the new "Terrorism Czar", who, by some mystical process of appointment, is being reported by the Guardian, as likely to be to be the former Dutch Interior Minister Klaas de Vries.
Statewatch have similar comments and criticisms regarding this "action plan".