On Friday (24th March 2017) I released an article entitled:
In which I said that the government will respond to last week’s terrorist attack by increasing “security” and restricting our liberty — all for our own good, of course….
We didn’t have to wait long for my prediction to be born into reality — as is the (ever) predictable nature of the government…
Yesterday, for his BBC politics show Andrew Marr conducted an “interview” with the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, in which he fed her a bunch of loaded questions/Tory talking points.
Marr asked Rudd about the dangers of messaging service WhatsApp (apparently terrorists use it, because it’s encrypted) and apparently Masood used it minutes before carrying out last week’s attacks — the reason he did so is unclear, but given the fact he acted alone, it’s hard to know the relevance of this information — if any.
Rudd assured Marr that the government will be seeking to break into encrypted services such as WhatsApp in the future — because of terrorism, of course — and she assured him that the intelligence agencies need to have the ability to break into services like WhatsApp.
The idea that we do not have enough mass surveillance as it is in this country is so ludicrous that anybody sane would surely burst out laughing at Rudd’s comments — not Marr though, this apparently is a serious matter.
WhatsApp has shared details with security agencies in the past and has already stated that they are fully co-operating with the police over last week’s incident.
Also, it would appear that the police have already been able to access the messages in Masood’s phone as the BBC pointed out:
“BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw has highlighted that the police had declared that they believed Masood had acted alone on the day, and would not have done so unless they had accessed and read messages stored on his phone.”
Despite all of this Rudd has summoned WhatsApp’s owner, Facebook and other similar tech companies to a meeting on Thursday to discuss ways in which the security agencies can get access to the personal encrypted data — that they apparently need to stop terrorism.
The government has been trying to get access to encrypted data for some time now through the so-called Snooper’s Charter — which was at least partly shot down by the European Court.
Following last week’s attack — and Rudd’s comments — we can see the government will use this as an excuse to push through the most draconian, and invasive aspects of the Snooper’s Charter.
Marr went on to set Rudd up for yet another softball question about cracking down on internet freedom.
Apparently, you can easily access terrorist material on the internet such as “guidelines for doing just terrorist operations” a site which Marr claimed he managed to access after about 30 seconds of googling.
The site apparently tells you how to stab someone to death if they are wearing a stab proof vest. Marr called the site completely unacceptable, calling for a crackdown on access to such materials on mainstream platforms such as Google.
I have never once come across such a site — although I haven’t looked for one to be fair — but even so, surely if you’re determined to carry out an attack like this, you would find the material from somewhere? The IRA managed to do terrorism without the use of the internet, so surely other people in this day and age would be able too? It’s not exactly academic stuff, is it? Stabbing someone through a knife-proof vest — considering Masood had a background in knife crimes — and a criminal record going back to the 1980’s — I would imagine that he was already an expert in the field of stabbing people.
Rudd responded by reassuring us that the government already does its best to ensure that this kind of material is taken off platforms such as Google — perhaps then, that is why I have never seen such a website? This wasn’t enough for Marr though, who wants the government to enforce yet more censorship of the internet. Rudd assured him that the government has absolutely no problem forcing Google — or similar — into taking down such websites, and cited that the Home Office had already successfully worked in a similar way with Google to combat child sex exploitation — again, though — not that I ever want to see it (obviously) — but I have never seen child porn anywhere on google. Of course, such material should be taken off the internet, but, what exactly, is the kind of material that Rudd talks about when it comes to terrorism?
The main concern that I have comes in the definition of terrorism by the government — a few months ago the government put a group of anti-fracking campaigners in Yorkshire on a terrorist list alongside ISIS.
Would this mean that the government would, therefore, be able to restrict access to material about anti-fracking campaigns? And therefore force Google to take such information out of web search results?
When the government talks about its definition of terrorism — all too often they just target people they don’t like — such as the anti-fracking campaigners.
The PKK — a secular, Kurdish political group, fighting for the rights of the Kurds across the middle east — who have been successfully combating ISIS in the middle east are also considered a terrorist group by the British government — yet all they are fighting for is democratic, secular, nationalism, and against the tyrannies of the Turkish, Syrian, etc, governments.
Yet, as they are considered terrorists by the British government, does this mean that I wouldn’t be able to access material about them through Google? Would it become a crime to do basic research and learn about the world we live in? This is what people don’t seem to understand when the government speaks about censoring information on the grounds that it will keep us safe:
1. They don’t care about our safety, that’s just obvious.
2. Is this not just a modern version of book burning? Making sure that we can’t access certain materials, and being able to criminalise anybody who is researching or showing an interest in causes that the government hasn’t laid its stamp of approval upon.
How does any of this affect actual terrorists? People, who are committed to carrying out attacks? Let us not forget that the British government has a long proud history of supporting Islamic terror over more peaceful, secular democratic movements — so why should they start caring now? Osama Bin Laden, whilst being known for carrying out jihadist terrorism in the 1990’s had a base in London — the government not only knew about it — they seemed to have absolutely no problem with it at the time.
Marr continued — almost begging Rudd to have more armed police on the street, claiming quite hysterically that the attack was only stopped because the Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon’s armed police were present, and thus ready to shoot the attacker. Marr then claimed that there weren’t any other armed police there saying that for many people it is:
really strange that the main gate into Parliament at a time of the severe terror alert has no armed police on it
Interestingly Rudd couldn’t confirm that it was Fallon’s armed police who shot the attacker – this most likely means that it wasn’t his police — so once again the BBC presents a fact that probably isn’t a fact at all.
If a politician says that they won’t confirm something like this, then it most likely means it isn’t true.
Rudd then stated that the Palace of Westminster already has lots of armed police, and that security may need to be increased for MPs as they do feel “under threat sometimes”.
But more importantly (and this is the key) she said this wasn’t just an assault on MPs, it was also an assault on the country, tourists etc — this most likely means that when security is reviewed we will end up with more armed police on our streets as a result of the attack. More armed police guarding Westminster, and more armed police guarding MPs.
The further militarization of the police is a real concern — given how these weapons get used against innocent people (as discussed in my article on Friday). But apart from that, it’s just unsettling — that we are now being drawn into what ISIS wants — ISIS don’t even have to kill innocent people in this country — the further milatirisation of the Police means that our own government does it for them.
We only have to look at the US to understand that when you start going down the road of arming the police, it ends up with many innocent — often black and brown, poor — people being killed.
If the aim of ISIS is to turn us into barbarians who are as bad as they are — on our own soil (we are in my opinion far worse than them when it comes to our “foreign policy” ) then they are succeeding.
I live in an area in which gun crime used to be so prevalent that it was almost a weekly occurrence — the police didn’t respond by sending officers with arms on 24/7 patrols — instead, they combatted it by less militaristic means and certainly the level of gun crime has fallen as a result.
However, the imperative to stop such crime — black people killing each other — is far less, to begin with from the point of view of the police, so that’s probably another factor as to why they didn’t send out armed police during the height of the violence.
Something which I hadn’t actually thought about, until after I posted Friday’s article is that perhaps the Police should not have shot last week’s terrorist.
We still don’t know whether or not the man surrendered, and I can find no information stating how or why he was shot, beyond the fact he was shot.
This is not to say that he shouldn’t have been shot, if it was the only option then, of course, they had to do it. However, if it wasn’t — and they could’ve arrested him as they normally would for such an incident, then that is yet another illustration of how having armed police all too ready to fire bullets can go wrong.
It is too early to give a judgment at this point as to whether or not the Police were right to shoot him — we have to wait for the evidence to come in.
However, if they shot him when they didn’t have to, then apart from it being morally wrong — even the Nazis were put on trial — they may have also martyred this man for the cause of ISIS, again feeding into the goals and aims of the jihadists.
No doubt, if this is the case ISIS will use it to strengthen their propaganda — how can we claim the high moral ground, when we do not even apply the rule of law in our own country?
For contrast just look at the way that this incident in December 2016 at Forest Hill Overground station, southeast London was handled by the Police and the media.
The attacker, not described as a terrorist in the press because he shouted:
“Muslims…kill them all”
Whilst waving a knife around on a train — before proceeding to stab a Muslim man, and then getting off the train at Forest Hill station.
The victim stretchered away into an ambulance (naked) — bleeding profusely from stab wounds all over his body. A horrific scene and a horrific crime, the crime described by the British Transport Police as not being terrorism — despite the clear Islamophobic nature of the attack.
The police later arrested the attacker and charged him with GBH. Although the situations are far from identical, they do show the difference between what the state calls terrorism, and differences in how they handle such incidents based on whether or not they deem it to be terroristic.
If the attacker, in this case, had have been brown with a beard and stabbed a businessman on his way to work in the City, shouting ” Allahu Akbar” and “death to the west” — would the police have been so quick to decide it wasn’t an act of terrorism? And would they have been so quick to ensure that the attacker was arrested, rather than gunned to bits?
The state then has, as I predicted (I’m not Mystic Meg, it’s just the standard pattern) has reacted by increasing security, and further gained what it sees as justification to snoop through our private messages, texts etc, And clampdown on the freedom of the internet.
Although I do not wish to sound too dramatic here — how long before this website gets taken out of Google’s search results or Facebook, put on a list of banned websites, and then dismissed as harboring “terrorist sympathizing” views, etc?
For the crime of trying to look rationally at what is going on, why it is going on, and challenging the illegitimate terrorist power of the state?
It sounds like it could never happen — we live after all in a free country, don’t we?
Well, any country that spends millions upon millions every year on security to encase Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — in what is essentially a prison in the form of his darkened room in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London — Assange the man who has been brave enough to reveal a myriad of state abuses, from the Iraq war, to Hilary Clinton, to offshore tax havens — when a country spends so much effort and money just trying and stop someone as important to democracy as Assange, then really what freedom do we have? What freedom is that?
Given that this is our starting point, and that “security” will now be increased — how long before they start to silence more and more of us, for the same crime as Assange:
standing up to state power, and daring to expose their lies and hypocrisy.
That’s the only thing the state really fears — terrorists they can live with — the truth, now that’s a different story.
The lack of concern that people show over the ever growing intrusions into privacy, is I think safe to say shocking. After all, this is just the digital equivalent of the state coming round to search your house without a warrant, and just looking through your stuff whenever it wants.
Yet, because it happens in cyberspace and under the guise of fighting terrorism — for which no evidence exists showing it is successful at doing — people seem to accept it.
In Soviet Russia, or communist China the state would/does do exactly that — they inspect people houses whenever they like, just because it happens in cyberspace doesn’t change the principles of the British legal system — protection from unreasonable search and seizure — yet this seems to go largely unnoticed.
Rudd’s interview demonstrates — quite perfectly — how consent is manufactured for things like state snooping. The questions, not real questions, just propagandist talking points, designed to lull a fearful population into accepting the totalitarian, authoritarian rule of the government’s endless abuse of our basic civil liberties.
The Real Terrorists Are The Government & We Are Their Victims
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW: