Friday, June 30, 2006

So charge them

The British government has responded to yesterday's court decision that control orders are "the antithesis of liberty and equivalent to imprisonment by carefully leaking the claim that the six men involved were "al-Qaida supporters sent to bring the insurgency to Britain" who were detained while they were "in the final stages of planning bomb attacks".

So charge them and prove it in court. It's illegal to belong to a proscribed organisation, its illegal to plan a terrorist act, its illegal to make or posess explosives (though there's no claim that the men actually did), or pretty much anything which is intended to be used for terrorism, and its illegal to collect information "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". That's without even getting into conspiracy to murder or blow shit up. These offences all bear heavy penalties, and if the British authorities have evidence of them, they should put it before a jury. Given the array of offences available, and the low level of proof required for some of them (collecting information - how easy is that to prove?), their failure to lay charges speaks volumes about the strength of their "evidence".

Meanwhile, the British government is also labelling the repeated failure of their anti-terrorism legislation in the courts a "constitutional crisis". But the courts are simply judging the law, as passed by Parliament, against the standards set by another law, also passed by Parliament. That's not a "constitutional crisis"; to the contrary, it's the judiciary doing its bloody job. But I guess to the authoritarians in Blair's government, any challenge to the power of the executive to do whatever it wants is a "constitutional crisis"...