The unncorrected transcript of what David Blunkett and Des Browne said to the Home Affairs Committee this week is now online
Reading the actual transcript is even more depressing than our off the cuff recollection of the soundbites:
"Mr Blunkett: The media have. I have been very circumspect and I have indicated what the security services have said to me, which is they believe that in excess of a third of those who are engaged in supporting terrorism use multiple identities in order to be able to evade detection and to evade us being able to disrupt their activities"
"Mr Browne: ...There is no doubt that terrorists employ multiple identities. There is no doubt that they employ false identities for money laundering. In fact, our information is, as the Home Secretary said, that 35% activity involves the use of false identities, and I know from my own experience in Northern Ireland how successful we were in terms of policing terrorism by being able to stop people from using false identities and using them in many other circumstances."
Do they mean 35% of the multiple identities which are used by terrorists are actually British identities ?
If the figure is really so high, then civil service and Ministers' heads need to roll, as there must either be staggering incompetence, or else there are terrorist sympathisers working within the system.
If the figure of 35% only includes a small proportion of United Kingdom identities, then to use this as supporting evidence for a UK ID Card is dishonest - even if the proposed system worked perfectly, the effect on terrorists use of multiple identities would be negligable.
How many false identities does a terrorist or spy actually need ? Probably only one at most.
"Mr Blunkett:...I love academics when they get into these areas. I would be very happy to have a debate with Professor Thomas about this"
We look forward to David "Mastermind" Blunkett debating computer systems security.
with a distinguished Professor.
"Q676 Mr Singh: Home Secretary, I understand that if somebody refuses to register they could face civil penalties of up to ?2,500. Do you envisage a situation where taking that approach we might create ID card martyrs who refuse to pay?
Mr Blunkett: It is precisely to avoid people being martyrs in relation to the ID card, if they get fined ?2,500 for disobeying the law and not being able to correctly identify themselves then the consequent enforcement action would be on the failure to pay the fine. I think it is very important that we do not have martyrs;"
You can still go to jail if you refuse to pay a civil fine. There will be martyrs and refusniks, exactly as with the previous Tory Poll Tax (which affected fewer people than the Compulsory ID Card Poll Tax would do)
"Mr Browne: ...By definition, we will pick up a significant number of people who may have bad thoughts or bad intentions by building on the existing documentation and putting them into the system, whether they like it or not,"
This really does show an Orwellian, authoritarian mindset, grasping at technology, in the vain hope that it can provide fixes for wider social and political problems.