The recently retired Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir John Stevens now seems to be paid to write a "hard hitting" column (presumably designed to raise circulation through sensationalism) in the Rupert Murdoch controlled News of the World tabloid Sunday newspaper.
He seems to be set on adding "column inches" multiplied by the undoubted "weighting factor" of the News of the World's large circulation into the Home Office's vicious circle "media feeback loop", which apparently is used to justify and prioritise their anti-crime policies and budgets.
Is it a mere coincidence that his controversial column which appears on the same day as both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats have party conferences, and right in the middle of the guillotined debate in the House of Lords on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill ?
This certainly looks like a continuation of the "climate of fear" spin and disinformation which he did nothing to deny whilst in office.
It is important that this political spin is deconstructed, so here goes:
"News of the World Sunday March 6, 2005 page 13
Forget Human Rights.. Kick Out The Fanatics
by Sir John Stevens
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner
As you read this there are at least 100 Osama Bin Laden-trained terrorists walking Britain's streets.
The number is probably nearer 200... the cunning of al-Qaeda means we can't be exact."
So where are these figures from ? Are these meant to be actual terrorists or just "fellow travellers", sympathisers or just friends and aquaintances of actual terrorist suspects ?
Are they all Al Quaeda ? The recent arrests in say, Coventry have been apparently against Kashmiri independence terrorists.
"But they would all commit devastating terror attacks against us if they could, even those born and brought up here."
So why did the British born "shoe bombers" Richard Reid and Saajit Badat not attempt to blow up an aircraft in UK airspace ? Reid flew to Paris and Badat planned to fly to Amsterdam and attack transatlantic flights (not British carriers) heading for the USA.
The first of the recent British "suicide bombers" Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif, who actually detonated a device and attacked Israel, not the United Kingdom.
Could it be that even fanatical Islamic extremists often do obey the Koran and do not consider it worthy or polite to attack the society in which they and their families actually live and were brought up in ?
"Thankfully, even larger numbers of undercover agents, moles and special deep-cover surveillance teams risk their lives daily to track and monitor the evil in our midst.
So far they've managed to frustrate Bin Laden's followers and many are awaiting trial as a result.
But as Professor Paul Wilkinson, a world expert on terrorism once said: "in a football match it's not the goals that are prevented that anyone talks about or remembers, it's the one that's scored.
And though they haven't yet subjected Britain to horrors such as 9/11 or the Madrid bombings, make no mistake - they would if they could.
If I heard on my car radio that they had pulled off a terrorist atrocity at last, I'd be horrified but not the slightest bit surprised.
Which is why it is vital that the government's new Prevention of Terrorism Act is enacted as soon as possible. Any delays can only give comfort to the terrorists in our midst waiting to attack us."
We dispute that the Control Orders would be of any use against truely dangerous terrorists. How, exactly, does an electronic tag prevent you from committing a suicide attack ?
"It would bring in tough control orders against suspected terrorists or their leaders, who, under existing laws, can't be prosecuted."
Why not exactly ? Perhaps because there is no actual evidence ? Surely if someone is a "leader" of "terrorists" there must be evidence, there are certainly plenty of vague, catch all provisions in the existing anti-terrorism legislation.
"The new PTA has had to be rushed in because the Law Lords have ruled that, under the Human Rights Act, a group of al-Qaeda's spirtitual leaders who have been locked up in Belmarsh prison for several years should be freed."
Some of the Belmarsh detainees may well be "spiritual leaders", others appear to be, from the leaked reports, petty credit card fraudsters who only supported the fight against the brutal Algerian government.
The reason for the extraordinary haste in which the Government is trying to rush the legislation through Parliament without proper scrutiny, has nothing to do with the Law Lords judgement made in December.
The Government knew that the "emergency legislation" which it rushed through Parliament in December 2001 would very likely fail the Human Rights test, They were told so very clearly at the time. They did not bother to try to get any better legislation onto the statute books in the intervening years.
The Newton Committee of Privy Councillors reported over a year ago, which again should have warned the Government to consult properely about what better legislation should be produced. They could have brought forward a Draft Bill for detailed scrutiny last year, but they failed to do so.
There is absolutely no reason that the Prevention of Terrorism Bill could not have been brought forth in January and had a reasonable time for discussion and debate. The "rush" is entirely down to Government incompetence and contempt for Parliament.
"Depite all our intelligence, they decided that because of their "human rights" these figures must be set free to continue propagating their perverted brand of Islamic fundamentalism because we had no hard evidence we felt safe in producing in court against them."
We can understand why the security services might be reluctant to reveal intelligence assets such as informers etc., but if the people held without trial in Belmarsh are only "spreading their perverted brand of Islamic fundamentalism", then Sir John Stevens is saying that they should be locked up or deported simply because of their religous or political beliefs. If they are actually communicating these beliefs and are calling for violence, then surely there is evidence of that which can be used in a proper prosecution and trial, which is exactly what even the odious Abu Hamza al Masri ("The Hook") is facing at the moment ?
The precedent of locking up people or deporting them without trial, simply for their religous or political beliefs, and the legal mechanisms that would be used to enforce such a policy would be equally applicable to any of the rest of us, at the whim of a politician desparate to cling to power. The Prevention of Terrorism Bill is not simply aimed at the dozen or so Belmarsh foreign born detainees, it is aimed at any British person as well, wheteher Islamic extremist or not. This Bill must not happen in the UK.
"I have read every word of the evidence and intelligence against them. I know that for the safety of the innocent people in this country they should remain under lock and key.
They simply should not be at liberty in this country. It is madness. for the safety of the vast majority, occaisionally we will have to accept the infringement of the human rights of high-risk individuals."
How long should these people "remain under lock and key" ? Indefinately, until they die ? Or until they no longer pose such a threat ?
Even the Home Secretary Charles Clarke claims that, according to the advice from the Security Service and the Police, the Belmarsh detainees no longer pose a major threat to the UK, and he is not even proposing to apply for "house arrest" Control Orders should this Bill be passed.
Should we believe Sir John Stevens or Charles Clarke ?
How do known terrorist suspects, without money, weapons, explosives, or the element of surprise, pose such an extraordinary threat to the people of the United Kingdom ?
"I have some reservations about some of the detail, true.
I don't see how a policy of House Arrest can practically work. I agree that it shouldn't just be a politician who could who could decide if someone should detained without trial - should be a senior judge."
If even Sir John Stevens does not see how "House Arrest" can work in practice, and does not believe just a politician should issue Control Orders, then why is he supporting this Prevention of Terrorism Bill ? The Bill consists almost entirely of procedures for "derogating" Control Orders for "House Arrest" and ways to deny a suspect a full court hearing, or showing the evidence against him, before a judge.
"I am equally strongly against opposition demands that evidence obtained by what you might call "undercover" means should be openly and routinely revealed to obtain conventional convictions."
Neither the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru or any of the other Opposition parties have called for "undercover informer" or "Confidential Human Informant" testimony to be produced in open court.
They have called for the use of "intercept evidence" i.e. phone and email taps to be used where appropriate, and where human agents are not compromised. We accept the Government's claim that this is unlikely to result in more than a handful of cases that could be brought to court - amazingly real terrorists are suspicious of phones and emails, and tend to use code words and phrases in foreign languages.
"It could be used in special cicumstances, perhaps, but only in very limited and controlled ways.
The lives of incredibly brave agents working often under deep cover in what are dreadfully dangerous situations would without doubt be at risk. The main opposition to the Bill is from people who simply haven't understood the true horror of the terrorism we face."
Most telephone or email tappers do not face any more danger than the rest of us.
Surely placing any sort of Control Order or making any arrest under anti-terrorist legislation is equivalent to tipping off a terrorist cell that they have been infilitrated or are under surveillance, assuming that innocent people are not caught up in the "guilt by association" nature of "intelligence" ?
"I've hear opposing politicians say "We didn't need these new measures to fight the IRA when they were bombing our cities. Why do we need them against this lot?"
The difference is no Provo ever strapped a bomb to their body, walked to somewhere like Trafalgar Square and blew themselves and 100 innocent passers-by to smithereens"
There have never been any suicide bombers who have managed to kill that many people with "strap on" explosives, suicide car bombs, yes.
The IRA did send young and easily manipulated or fanatical bombers on "suicide" missions where there was a high probability of "an own goal" e.g. the idiot who accidentally blew up himself and a London double decker bus in the Aldwych outside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The IRA did kidnap the families of petrol tanker drivers, and rig them with explosives and force the driver to park up by a police station.
The IRA did nearly kill the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on at least two occaisions the Grand Hotel Brighton bomb against Mrs. Thatcher and the Downing Street mortar bomb attack on John Major.
Al-Quaeda have not come close to emulating any of these "old fashioned terrorism" attacks in the UK.
For most of the IRA campaign, we also faced a fanatical, ideologically motivated international organisation intent on totally destroying our way of life, and imposing a repressive police state on us. They had access to unlimited weaponry, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and had intelligence information obtained by targeting and infilitrating even our Security Services, as well as having sympathisers and fellow travellers and agents of influence and sedition within our society.
Has everyone who is discussing Al-Queada as "the greatest threat" to our lives and liberty, simply blanked out the Cold War with the Soviet Union from their memory ? Or are people now re-writing history and claiming that there was no real threat from the Soviet Union and the Communist religion after all ?
Even with the combined threat of the IRA and "Loyalist" terrorists and the Soviet Bloc and their Comintern tentacles, no British Government felt the need to introduce "House Arrest" or any other detention without trial (apart from the disasterous and abandoned Internment policy restricted to Northern Ireland, which simply trained and recrutied more terrorists and organised serious criminals) or "Control Orders", applicable potentially to everyone in the UK.
"Last week I attended an interpol conference in France to discuss bio-terrorism.
We've never had to consider the prospect of the IRA flooding London Underground with poisonous gas or exploding an anthrax bomb in Manchester..."
Is Sir John claiming that these were/are real credible threats ?
Sir John appears to be repeating the scaremongering hype of the alleged Osmium Tetroxide "poison gas threat" to the Tube.
There is no evidence of Al-Quaeda having access to weaponised anthrax. The anthrax attack on the USA in 2001, appears likely to have been by some US Government insider.
Both of those scenarios have had to be considered as possible Soviet attacks, so where are the Civil Defence Contingency Plans and Budgets to deal with them ?
"More than three years after 9/11, I am still shocked by new developments in the al-Qaeda threat. Some of the reportd that crossed my desk in the last few months alone made my hair stand on end. That dreadful day in September 2001, I was on a plane heading for New York when I was called to the cockpit to be told of the Twin Towers attack, the jet turned back to Heathrow and I was rushed to a meeting with the Prime Minister and the security services.
I remember one man there warning the PM: "The world will never be the same again". As a police officer who'd spent who'd spent 30 years fighting the IRA, I didn't understand why he was saying it. Now I know he was right and I was wrong.
The world has changed forever and for the worse"
Perhaps he foresaw increased budgets and powers for his secret intelligence empire ? Perhaps he correctly foresaw the goading of the lackadaisical US Government to strike out against "terrorists targets", especially the Temporary Autonomous Zone that they had allowed Afghanistan to become.
The terrorist threat to the United Kingdom after September 11th 2001 is, objectively, no worse than it was before. Only the attitude of powerful USA and UK politicians and governments, who willfully ignored the warnings, has changed.
"I remember the shock on the faces of Mr Blair and his Cabinet as experts from Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch, MI5 and MI6 gave their first post-9/11 briefing on the size of the homegrown threat. I shared that horror.
As more intelligence flooded in after the invasion of Afghanistan, and Bin Laden's terrorist training camps were examined for clues to the "graduates", the more grim those reports we gave become and the more dismayed Mr Blair was.
Ever since our fears have been fuelled, not least by the huge amounts of intelligence given to us by most Muslims in this country, who are appalled by the atrocities some commit in the name of Islam.
That intelligence proves that these fanatics must not walk our streets. They must be locked up - or kicked out of the country."
"kicked out of the country" even if they are British citizens ? Kicked out to where, exactly ?
But under the same human rights laws, drafted many years before western society ever dreamed of evil such as 9/11 could be carried out in the name of religion, that is banned too.
The European Convention on Human Rights was drafted partly by British lawyers, when memories of the truely evil Nazi and Soviet genocides, mass starvation, pogroms, slavery, torture, "medical experiments" etc. and the repressive laws and police states which allowed these true horrors to be perpatrated by so called governments against their own people and those of other countries.
The September 11th 2001 atrocities were, in terms of mass casualties of innocent civilians, rather smaller than many that happened on multiple occaisions during World War 2, in the Nazi extermination Camps, the Soviet gulags and death marches, let alone actual battles between military forces or aerial bombing raids on cities. The number of September 11th 2001 casulaties is even less than the daily totals of those who were butchered and raped by their neighbours with low tech weapons like knives or blunt instruments or fire, during the Partition of India and Pakistan, the Indonesian or Cambodian or Rwandan genocides.
The big difference was that millions of people and their politicians around the world felt connected to the September 11th 2001 tragedies via television and the media and the internet.
To claim that these evil surprise attacks were somehow the worst atrocities ever, is utterly wrong, and actually quite naive.
"Human rights are being too skewed towards the individual - this small group of evil individuals being freed in particular. Judges need to be reminded it's their job to protect not just these hardcore fanatics but society as a whole.
That is you and your family and your friends who simply want to live a peaceful unthreatened life."
Human rights are human rights and are indivisible and irrevocable, no matter how evil the individual. To deny that is to become as evil as the enemies we are trying to protect ourselves from.
It behooves even Policemen and Politicians to remember that their job is not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" when they attempt to strike the balance between security and civil liberties.
They should also remember that many British people have risked their lives and indeed sacrificied their lives in order to defend our human rights and civil liberties from regimes or ideologies which threaten our core democratic values.
"If the fanatics currently detained in Belmarsh and elsewhere are freed, as the Law Lords have instructed, most of them should be deported immediately. These men are much too dangerous to be freed unrestricted on to the streets of this country.
Whatever the human rights lobby say, we should do it for the safety of the vast majority of people in this country. The world has changed. We need to take new steps for new threats.
We might be considered to be part of "the human rights lobby", but we are at least as concerned about the threat of terrorism as anyone in the Police or Security Services or even the Politicians.
Making bad laws which will help to the terrorists to destroy our core democratic liberties and freedoms by taking on the appearance and , in the future, risking the actual establishment, of a Police State by power hungry politicians, is not what we consider to be being "tough on terrorism", rather the reverse.
"This new Act must be passed as soon as possible"
It is entirely reasonable to call for the deportation of undesirable foreigners. The Home Office under David Blunkett seems to have failed to even have bothered to try to see if other countries would accept people branded by, but not convicted as terrorists by the UK Government. Charles Clarke's Home Office does seem to be flapping around in desparation to do this now.
Has Sir John Stevens actually bothered to read the text of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill ?
One has to wonder, since it does not contain any measures to deport foreigners anywhere. The Home Secretary already has these powers, subject to not colluding with the death penalty or torture, so the failure of this Bill to be enacted would make no difference whatsoever to any deportations of the people being held in Belmarsh without trial.
Our best defence against the Al-Wueda or other fanatics is to re-affirm in public that even if they do somehow manage to cause hundreds or thousands of casualties, or manage to assassinate our leaders, or cause large scale economic damage, even during the forthcoming Election campaign, they will still have failed to destroy our society and our core values of freedom and liberty.