Thursday, January 28, 2021

Licenced to kill

The English government (and specifically English: Scotland says nay) is currently trying to pass a law to enable its spies and police to break the law, and authorise murder, torture, rape, and other crimes in the name of collecting "intelligence". But it turns out that MI5 already thinks it can do this:

Government lawyers have told a court that MI5 officers could authorise an informer to carry out a murder under controversial powers that ministers want to see continued contained in a bill that passed the Commons hours later.

The admission came in a court of appeal hearing on Wednesday when Sir James Eadie, representing the government, was asked if there was “a power for a Security Service officer to authorise an agent to execute an extremely hostile individual”.

Eadie, defending MI5’s current policy for handling confidential informants, said “there would be the power to do that” under 1989 Security Service Act and the royal prerogative that effectively governed the intelligence agency prior to that.

Opponents of the bill are currently trying to set limits on what crimes the law would authorise, to ensure it is consistent with the UK's human rights obligations. Of course, the English government opposes this. We can trust them, they say. Except that there's a whole history of English death squads in Northern Ireland which says we can't, not to mention basic common sense saying we shouldn't. Sadly, with a Tory majority, it looks like they'll be issuing spies and cops their formal licence to kill in the near future.

Meanwhile, MI5's admission invites an obvious question: have they already? Other than of course the cases we already know about...