The phrases "the BBC learns" or "the BBC understands that" or "Whitehall sources" etc. are euphemisms for an "off the record" a "leak" / briefing by a Whitehall spin doctor, not for revelations by a worried whistleblower.
The BBC and other mainstream media should refuse to publish such anonymous briefings about changes to Government policy. There should be a named official Government spokesman and Minister who takes the credit or blame for the policy announcement. If the final details of Government policy have not yet been decided, then they should say so and invite comment and advice from the public and outside experts, who know at least as much as they do about the issues.
This particular the media spin is about the hugely controversial "Control Orders" scheme, which , like so many "security" policies introduced by the inept and authoritarian former Labour government, has been both a practical disaster and a propaganda victory for our enemies, through the destruction of our basic freedoms and fundamental human rights i.e. exactly what they are trying to achieve.
The Home Office or the Prime Minister's Office should simply announce their new proposals officially, as a public consultation, on a website, for everyone to see and comment on, before they are implemented.
Given the appalling scheme which Labour produced in secret, there is no excuse for repeating the same mess, with slightly different variations.
The BBC often claims to be independent of the British government, but that is not the impression given by this report:
11 January 2011 Last updated at 19:25
The coalition plans to replace control orders with a new range of restrictions to keep terror suspects under surveillance, the BBC has learned.
One working title for the new curbs is "surveillance orders".
The BBC understands the new orders would give the security services the power to:
* ban suspects from travelling to locations such as open parks and thick walled buildings where surveillance is hard
If the BBC were actually doing a proper job of investigative journalism, instead of just parroting the Government line, they would have asked how exactly is this stupid idea is possible to enforce.
Are MI5 and the Police really going to compromise their Surveillance Sources and Methods, by revealing exactly where "surveillance is hard" for them ? Unlikely.
Does this mean that the fabled airborne Surveillance Drones are useless for enforcing such "Surveillance Orders" ?
Does "thick walled buildings" include the London Underground Tube system or concrete car parks ?
* allow suspects to use mobile phones and the internet but only if the numbers and details were given to the security services
The existing Control Orders were incapable of preventing this, so the new "Surveillance Orders" will be just as useless.
Are the Controllees really likely to be ignorant of Mobile Phone interception and location tracking ?
* ban suspects from travelling abroad
Presumably none of the existing Control Orders aimed at British citizens have yet done so, since this would be a direct challenge to our fundamental human right of freedom to travel, which would require Derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights making the United Kingdom morally equivalent to totalitarian regimes like North Korea.
Remember, these are not bail conditions, where someone can be forced to surrender their Passport, these Orders are applied to people who have not been charged or convicted of any crime. Just because they have been used sparingly so far, is no excuse for creating a legal infrastructure of repression which can easily be used against other political or religious dissidents or opponents in the future.
* ban suspects from meeting certain named individuals, but limited to people who are themselves under surveillance or suspected of involvement in terrorism
Under the planned new orders, the security services would lose the power to impose overnight curfews, force suspects to phone into a monitoring company every time they entered or left their homes and lift the ban on them using mobile phones and the internet.
They would also lose the power to force suspects to live in a particular location, known as "relocation orders", or limit the visitors to their homes
Giving secret policemen and bureaucrats the power, without arrest, charge or conviction, to force your relocation to somewhere more administratively convenient for them, is indistinguishable from the legal power to set up Concentration Camps.
However, one detail that appears to remain unresolved is over the future of tagging.
This will no longer be used to enforce a curfew by informing the authorities whether or not a suspect is at their home.
But some in government are pushing for the security services still to have the power to tag suspects simply so they can keep tabs on them by knowing if they are no longer sleeping regularly at one particular address
Who exactly are these "some in government" ?
Have they been lobbied by the security industry companies who have or are bidding for multi-million pound contracts electronic tagging services to the criminal justice system ?
N.B. former Labour Home Secretary John Reid gets £50,000 a year from the foreign owned multinational G4S (which took over the Group 4 Security and Securicor brands in the UK) to act as a "consultant".
The BBC has also learned that the government is drawing up tough new anti-terror laws that could be rushed through Parliament after a major terrorist incident - in case the new surveillance orders proved inadequate in the face of increased threat levels.
Whitehall sources said the draft legislation would - if enacted - give the police and the security services effectively the same powers they have now under existing control orders.
The so-called Terrorism Prevention Orders would be put before Parliament if the heads of the three intelligence agencies and the home secretary agreed there was a national emergency.
No ! There are already plenty of Emergency Powers available under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. In what way are those draconian, Henry VIII powers in any way insufficient ?
Rushing through repressive terrorism legislation after a single "major terrorist incident" is utterly wrong - look at the creepy, authoritarian, badly draughted legal mess that Labour in the UK and the Republicans in the USA made with the hodge podge the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 or the PATRIOT Act.
Any such proposed legislation should be published and debated, now, so that everyone is clear on the fine details before it is ever needed.
But shadow home secretary Ed Balls said that the process had "descended into a shambles" as ministers struggled to find a way of keeping the coalition united.
"With daily leaks, briefings and counter-briefings, this is a chaotic and disorderly way in which to decide national security policy," he said.
Why didn't the BBC point out that that is exactly the modus operandi of the previous Labour government and that Ed Balls was himself a prime abuser of anonymous leaks and briefings ?