Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Guarding the Guardian?

Owen Jones on the Guardian website discussing Secret Trials concludes:

Yes, let’s have a debate about preserving our security. If the state wishes to provide terrorists with ready-made propaganda, then flaunting its attacks on civil liberties is one way of going about it. Our governments have served as highly effective recruiting officers for terrorism in other ways, too – whether it be backing the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s, backing various hellish regimes such as the witch-beheading gangsters running Saudi Arabia, or the invasion of Iraq which handed vast swathes of the country to al-Qaida. These are actions that imperil our security. But if we want to ensure our safety, cracking down on civil liberties is as counter-productive as it is wrong-headed.
The Guardian “Comment is free” 5 June 2014: Britain’s first secret trial: this way lies trouble

So very true; but what follows?

• Comments on this article will remain closed for legal reasons

Says so much on Comment is free!

Simon Jenkins on the same website discussing the same issue says:

This week in the court of appeal a group of newspapers pleaded to be allowed to report the fact that a criminal trial was to be held in secret for the first time in Britain. A judge, Mr Justice Nicol, had earlier ordered that the press be gagged for reasons of national security. This was nonsense. There can be no way reporting the existence of a wholly anonymous secret trial threatens the integrity of the state. It threatens only its dignity.

Even if they killed hundreds, indeed thousands, it would not mean the end of the United Kingdom, let alone “the end of western civilisation”. The nation is robust enough to withstand such outrages.

Whatever their warped motivation, terrorists commit common crimes and should be subject to common justice. They should not be accorded warrior status and the reward of a suspension of the rule of law. If open justice sometimes means a criminal going free, or even a bomb going off, that is the price of liberty. Pretending such justice might infringe the security of the state is beyond scaremongering. It is an abuse of language, unpatriotic, untrue.

Whenever I argue this, somebody retorts that I would not like it if someone I loved were killed by a terrorist. I am sure I would not, but then I also grieve death in an accident or at the hand of a madman. I hope only to have the courage to accept such a tragedy as the price of living in a free society. Rowing back on the rule of law is not security. It is cowardice.
The Guardian “Comment is free” 5 June 2014: Secret justice may be right for Putin’s Russia – but not peacetime Britain

Again so very true; but what follows?

• Comments on this article are off for legal reasons


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