Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has made some controversial partisan remarks on BBC television, on the supposed need for even more terrorism laws (as if there are not far too many already), and which add to the "Climate of Fear" by raising the possability of bubonic plague attacks.
He also called for "iris scan" ID cards, another New Labour Party only policy, right in the middle of the General Election campaign.
Partial transcript from BBC1 television "Breakfast with Frost"
Sunday 17th April 2005:
"DF - Sir David Frost, TV interviewer IB - Sir Ian Blair , the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
The case has shed more light on this, on the terrorist threat here, and I have been discussing this, and other issues with Britain's, most senior Police Officer, Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
We talked in his office at Scotland Yard, and I began by asking him what general conclusions he drew, what lessons he drew , from last week's events:"
"IB: There, there's real clarity, now, that, er, Al-Quaida affiliates are targetting Britain, that's the first thing.
Secondly, I think we always have to mourn, the death of, er, Stephen Oake.
Thirdly, the important point is to say, this is one individual, arhh, this is not the whole Muslim community. Ninety nine point nine per cent of Muslims and ninety nine cent, per cent of Asians are law abiding people."
For such a "Politically Correct" Policeman, he should not be confusing "Asians" with "Muslims". There are billions of "Asians" who are non-Muslim and millions of Muslims who are non-Asian
99% is, presumably meant as a tabloid figure of speech and does not actually represent the true percentage of "law abiding" and "law breaking" amongst the UK population as a whole, nor of any particular ethnic or religous group.
Equating "breaking the law" generally with "terrorist crimes" is wrong as well. Assuming for a moment, the his predecessor as Commissioner of the Metroplitan Police, Sir John Stevens guesstimate of "up to 200" Al-Quaeda suspects is remotely correct, and even rounding this up to say a couple of thousand hard core Irish terrorist sympathisers, a few animal rights extremists and other assorted nutters, would give an estimate of 2000 out of 60 million UK population i.e 99.99997 % of the UK population are not any sort of terrorist.
"and we've got to support them in that, and understand the diff, what is it that drives a tiny number of young men and women, into extreme violence.
And lastly, I think, it really does start to look at, how does the legal system deal with cases of this sort. It's been a very long time coming to trial, er, it was a hugely long trial, and I think there, I think will be a number of questions to be asked it, whether the Law is quite right."
Why should the Law be changed because of one single trial or political media furore ? There is a well established history of producing Bad Laws this way.
"DF: How could the Law be improved to deal with this threat ?
Well I think, er, the way that Al-Quaida operates, is in a sense of very loose knit conspiracies, and in comparison to the United States, for instance, or Continental law, er, the way English law has developed, it doesn't like conspiracies, it likes, actual, offences."
So what, exactly, is wrong with that fundamental principle of English justice ???
"and where one person does something, another person does another thing, that, it's only when they add up that, er, they become a conspiracy. I think that's when you, loo, look for the kind of aquittal that we've seen.
Umm, I think we're just going to have to just look again, to see whether there's some other legislation, around "acts preparatory to terrorism" or something of that nature, that's what we'll have to do."
The report by the Newton Committee of Privy Councillors on part 4 of the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, made some sort of vague recommendation last year along these lines, which the then Home Secretary David Blunkett dithered over.
The question should be asked if Sir Ian Blair has actually bothered to read the existing extremely draconian and catch all provisions of the existing Terrorism Act 2000
Which possible "acts preparatoty to terrorism" are not already covered by:
- Membership of a proscribed organisation Section 3 Proscription
- Section 15 Fund Raising
- Section 16 Use and Possession
- Section 17 Fund Arrangements
- Section 18 Money Laundering
- Section 54 Weapons Training
- Section 55 Weapons Training Interpretation
- Section 56 Directing terrorist organisation
- Section 57 Possession for terrorist purposes
- Section 58 Collection of information
Inciting terrorism overseas
- Section 59 England and Wales
- Section 60 Northern Ireland
- Section 61 Scotland
What about the equally draconian Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, which includes catch all wording regarding hoaxes involving "noxious substances", anywhere in the world
- Dangerous substances
- Section 114 Hoaxes involving noxious substances or things
You cannot get anything more catch all and overbroad than the existing
(1) For the purposes of sections 113 and 114 "substance" includes any biological agent and any other natural or artificial substance (whatever its form, origin or method of production).
(2) For a person to be guilty of an offence under section 113(3) or 114 it is not necessary for him to have any particular person in mind as the person in whom he intends to induce the belief in question.
When the wretched Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 is also considered, what possible excuse can there be for calling for even more repressive anti-terror legislation ?
"DF: So, it, would be where they are anticipating or planning, that, at the moment, they can't really be nailed
IB: [same time as DF]
whaor it's been very difficult
as we've found
tha, that's what, I mean, the, the law, is difficult, the defence is made more easy, and so on."
Sir Ian Blair seems to be confusing the idea of the Police / Prosecution Case with "The Law". The Defence is equally also "The Law"
It is totally unacceptable for a senior public servant to be calling for partisan political changes to the law, during the General Election period.
"DF: And , in general, what more do we know about Al-Quaeda, from this, [indistinct - sounds like "dip"] ?
Is the famous figure of two hundred, or several hundred Al-Queda, affiliates, sss, still about right ? Do you think ?
Wuh, we think it's somewhere in that area, I mean, it's the number of people who went to the camps, and came back from the camps"
Presumbaly in Afghanistan under the Taleban, before November 2001
"and then what do we know about those that have, err, are supporting, [indistinct - sounds like "sprez man" ??? did he mean "terrorism"]
Al-Quaeda is not a classic terrorist organisation, in the shape of "cells" and so on, it is groupings, loose knit affiliates, it's often asymmetric"
Classic terrorist "cells" have always been recruited from "loose knit" affiliates and groupings, often with family or tribal ties - how exactly is Al-Quaeda different from this ?
"when, the famous one, I think, is worth looking at, is the attempt, by, er, North, er, African terrorists, to attack the Russian Embassy, in Paris, about events that happened in Moscow, relating to Chechnya. Now that, is a very, difficult conspiracy to understand."
Presumably this is a reference to the equally non-existant ricin plot in Paris, involving Menad Benchellali, and family, which, significantly, also mentioned "Nivea cream tins"
"DF: Do you feel nervous about all these events, you, you said, there's obviously, the, the Election is a, enormous opportunity, in a way, for, er, terrorists ?
Well, it must be, I, I mean, there's no specific intelligence that the Election will be targetted, let's make that clear, but, the terrorists, you know, have memories, they understand what happened in Madrid, they saw the impact, of what happened in Madrid, and we therefore have to be alert, not alarmed, but alert, all the time."
The "impact" of Madrid, is, presumably, the slightly surprising change in Government, where the electorate chose not to rally around the sitting Government at a time of national crisis. Whether this was due to the terrorist act itself, or the spin, disinformation and preconceived "it must have been ETA" initial reaction by the Spanish authorities and Government, is unclear. It is unlikely that the Spanish people as a whole were actually terrorised into submitting to an Al-Quaeda politcal agenda, since they do not have one which which is sane, and neither would the British people be either.
They may well think twice about the alleged competence of the likes of Sir Ian Blair of New Labour politicians, should there be a major terrorist outrage, and that, presumably is one of the reasons why there has been so much hype and spin on this issue during the lead up to the Election
"And of course, we have this year, the EU Presidency, and the G8, and so there are, a number of issues, which make, er, this job, certainly interesting.
Ken Livingstone, we were talking about, er, terrorism, er, said on the programme here, "I think we're more at risk, of, um, dying from Bird Flu, than by being blown up by terrorists". what's the truth , or otherwise, of that ?
Well, I'm not an expert on Bird Flu
not my department [chuckle]
but do I think there's a risk of terrorism ? Well I think we've just seen that with Bourgass. Is it inevitable that they'll get through ? No it isn't. Is it inevitable that they're gonna try ? Yes it is, 'cos we know they have tried, they're here, they have tried, we have people who have been tried and convicted, and we have people who are awaiting trial, aarh., you know, this, is, inevitable, that this, island, is, at, at risk.
There was one thing, about, umm, people themselves, being carriers, of, of, er, err, a deadly drug, and, and instead of it being a suicide bomber, it's a suicide person."
What a remarkable question Sir David ! Drug ?
"IB: I mean those are, those are parts, of the, of the things that we must fear, I mean that's the infection of somebody with bubonic plague, and how long it, it takes before they show the symptoms, and then the people they have been next to, err, catch it later on. Ahhm, I mean so far we've seen no evidence of that, but of course it's a pos, remains a possability."
Admitting to not being an expert on Bird Flu does, it seems, allow him to talk about bubonic plague !
Bubonic Plague ? Before and during World War 2 the Japanese military war criminals experimented on live Chinese and Korean prisoners and attempted to develop porcelain bombs or aerosol sprays with plague infected lice, against the Chinese, research which was dropped as being impractical by the USA afterwards.
Is Sir Ian Blair seriously expecting us to believe that Al-Queda has access to this biological weapon, and to such a methods of dispersal and infection ?
London is not as infected with black rats or lice as it was in the Middle Ages.
Was this the sort of ill informed scenario planning desktop wargame that Sir Ian Blair was involved in the recent Atlantic Blue anti-terrorist wargame, held under the auspices of the Metroplitan Police during the week of the calling of the Election and the Pope's funeral ?
How does mention of bubonic plague or any other biological weapons, not also a contribution to the "Climate of Fear" spin and disinformation ?
"Err, I think that what we do have to understand, though, is, that these very extraordinary, possabilities, are much less likely ,than actually just classic bombs. I mean that's what they did in Madrid, that's what they did in Ankara,"
Ankara ? Does he really mean Istanbul ?
"that's what they did in Casablanca, these are just bombs, not even suicide bombs, because you don't need suicide bombs, you just need bombs.
I think that's what we've got to be more concerned with, although we've got to watch out for the wilder extremes."
So the Al-Quaeda threat to the UK is not, after all, significinatly different from that posed by the IRA etc., if Sir Ian Blair is now discounting the risk of suicide bombs here.
The "Climate of Fear" security measures and legislation have all raised the spectre of suicide bombers here in the UK
There has been a singular lack of discoveries of bomb making equipment or explosives or even firearms associated with alleged Al-Queda terrorists, found in the UK since September 2001, apart from a single bag of ammonium nitrate fertiliser in a storage unit in West London.
"DF: With this additional battle on terror, do you need, still need more police officiers, do you still need more resources ?
Well, there's two answers to that, no, no public servant like myself, is ever going to sit here, Sir David, and say, oh no, we don't need any more, we'll be fine
I do believe we , that we are still, a long way short of the total numbers that we need. But on the other hand, we have built up very considerably in the last in the last five years, and, you know, parties, of, of all sorts, have backed us in that process. From when I started as a Deputy five years ago,"
Deputy Commisisoner of the Metropolitan Police
"we've got five thousand more Police Officiers, two thousand more Community Support Officers, and three thousand more Police Staff, that's quite a big number. We are, interestingly now, the largest employer in London.
What about, immigration ? We were talking about the Law, earlier, errm, are we getting on top of, err, immigration difficulties ? You asked for a special force, of course, that's what you's do about it.
Yeaaah, when the aahm, Serious and Organsised Crime Agency, as it now is was being discussed,"
The Act of Parliament has been nodded through, but SOCA does not start operations until next year.
"I think the whole of AC.., the Association of Chief Police Officers was keen on a, some kind of [indistinct - sounds like "biss"]
Immigration is not my field, Crime is my field, and I think one of the things that we have to look at, in relation to the Bourgass case, is that while, err, he was obviously an Asylum overstayer, or whatever, ah, we've got trials coming up, of people who are, British Citizens, so I think the Immigration thing is ancillary, it's not the main issue.
Is the fact that the, err, ID Card, Bill, fell, uuhm, because of the, the Election, and so on, was that a bit of a blow, for you ? 'Cos that's an important aid. Would you hope that the Home Secretary, would instantly, err, restore that, of whichever party ?"
N.B. there is only the New Labour party which is pressing for an ID card scheme "instantly", so this is a very controversial answer in the middle of a General Election
Some people asre calling for the resignation of Sir Ian Blair over this matter.
"IB: I think that, there has to be, err, further consideration of that.
I mean that I wasn't particularly keen on ID cards, until recently, until I bagan to understand the way in which Identity Theft"
"Identity Theft" or "Identity Fraud" is not the same as illegal immigrants having multiple real, false or forged identity documents, as is relevant to the Bourgass case.
ID cards are not the solution to "Identity Fraud"
"and the fact that what you or I, or many of the viewers would recognise as "forgery" does not exist anymore. There are no more printing presses in basements."
Oh yes there are !, especially for "high quality UK Passports" created by ex-Soviet bloc KGB forgers now working on the black market.
"The documents that are being produced are exactly identical to the, real documents, just unauthorised"
If they are identical, and not actual forgeries, then they must have been issued falsely, through false supporting documents, corrupt officials etc, which an ID Card system will also suffer from.
"And so we have to go to a place, where we do know who people are. And we now have the technology, I think, through "iris recognition" to go to that, er, and I think that would be very helpful."
Not an expert on infectious diseases, on immigration, and, it seems, ignorant of passport forgery and biometric technology as well.
"I mean, one of the things about, some of the Belmarsh detainees, and indeed Bourgass, is we do not know who, he is. We have many names
He's had five names
We have no idea. At one stage or another, we have got to start with a position, where we do know who people are."
No you do not, not for the vast majority of innocent people you do not !
What actual difference did it make to our safety, under which alias Bourgass was arrested and convicted ?
An ID card system should not be simply an extension of the police criminal records system, with everyone considered to be a suspect or a potential future criminal
Could Sir Ian Blair or the Labour Party or the Home Office please explain how even a perfect United Kingdom ID card and/or Passport system would have had any effect whatsoever on the activities of Kemal Bourgass and the 8 other illegal immigrants, who had only one cheap fake United Kingdom Passport (and one genuinely issued UK Passport), out of approaching 30 fake or false foreign identity documents between the nine of them ?
How many Metropolitan Policeman can determine whether or not a foreign passport or identity card is genuine or not ?
How can imposing a massively expensive, complicated and intrusive ID surveillance system on all the rest of us, make anny difference to these illegal immigrants and terrorist suspects ?
"DF: And err, what about the battle with drugs ? errm, Are we winning that battle, at the moment, or, is it a tie, or what ?"
Presumably Sir David does actually mean drugs this time and not infectious diseases like his previous question
"IB: I, I fear it is probably something like a tie. I mean to say that we are winning, would be, ahh, ahm, ahh too much. We are doing very well, we're working very closely with other agencies, but there are, sss, big, sweeping, movements of drugs, in from, err, Colombia, and the West Indies, and in from, err, Afghanistan, through Turkey, and so on. and the only way to combat those is far back, I mean when they've arrived here, it is much more difficult."
So no truck with any attempts to reduce demand for drugs in the UK.
"Umm, I , I think that drugs remains a huge scourge, and, and it produces misery and criminality and we've got to do everything we can to stop it.