Political theatre: Counter-Terrorism Awareness Week (#UK #politics #terrorism #police)

ctawtheatreIt was inevitable that the propaganda machine of government would kick into hyper drive as Theresa May sets out new ‘anti-terror’ laws.

This week has seen May and Cameron engage in public posturing, primarily blaming social media for allowing ‘terrorists’ to use their networks to ‘spread murder and mayhem’ after the report of government quango the Intelligence Select Committee (ISC) into Lee Rigby’s murder.

Then we see ‘Counter-Terrorism Awareness Week’ events being held in most major cities, with a full complement of armed police, posters, and all of the paraphernalia of a political circus.

The ISC’s report criticised social media giant, Facebook, for failing to inform authorities of posts indicating the intentions of Lee Rigby’s murderers. David Cameron received the report several weeks ago and held off publishing until Tuesday to coincide with the awareness campaign, as was May’s announcement of new legislation.

After Cameron’s and May’s public statements criticising internet companies,  former MI6 director Richard Barratt said it was “unfair” to ask firms such as Facebook to check all postings for possible terrorist content – given that Britons post tens of millions of updates every day.

Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg echoed the concerns of the former ex-MI6 director during his LBC radio show.  Clegg said “What this independent report by the committee highlighted was that more needs to be done so that the internet service providers have got their kind of own alarm systems. So that with all the millions of communications that go across their networks that where something of serious concern happens that can be sort of flagged up…

“But you’re absolutely right it’s not saying that it’s anybody’s fault as such. I think what the ISC has said quite rightly is that in looking, with the benefit of hindsight which is always a good thing, at what happened in the run-up to this terrible murder it feels some procedures overseen by the security services and others need to be tightened up.”

Ramping up terrorism propaganda over the past few weeks has been a precursor to introducing censorship and limitation of civil liberties – that is all.

From the revelations of Edward Snowden we know that GCHQ and other security services are already monitoring our electronic communications, including what we post on social media sites such as Facebook.

So it seems nonsensical to suggest that Facebook and other service providers are responsible for information being unavailable to security services. It is especially ridiculous when we know that Lee Rigby’s killers were the subject of scrutiny by MI5 and other agencies.

Even under the current system, it would have been very easy for security services to get a warrant to intercept all of their communications – including Facebook posts. In fact, it would be highly unusual for the security services not to be monitoring them considering the extended contact there was between the killers and MI5, which makes the claims of the ISC and the government very suspect.

Cameron wasn’t worried about a potential terrorist attack when he visited Leeds. His security was so slack that a jogger bumped into him on the pavement while Cameron was bumbling around. It was only in the aftermath of being caught-out (again) that Cameron made an exhibition of increasing his security.

When we consider how widespread the problem of terrorist activity in the UK is (according to the government) it is highly surprising there have not been more instances of terrorism on British soil.

For those of us who can remember the days of the IRA, terrorist incidents were a regular feature of British daily life in the 70s and 80s. According to the government Islamic terrorists are much more prevalent across the country and are continually plotting some atrocity or another – something we have yet to experience or see evidence of.

The government claim that their intelligence is so good that plots are thwarted. If that is the case then why wasn’t the killing of Lee Rigby foiled – especially when the killers had apparently made their intentions quite clear for the public to see and they were well known to security services?

It just doesn’t make logical sense – even with the smoke and mirror propaganda of the government machine.

Independent organisations across the UK are questioning the latest government anti-terror initiative and its real objectives.

Renate Samson, the chief executive of Big Brother Watch, told The Independent “If the counter-terrorism awareness week has made us aware of anything, it is that the Home Secretary remains as determined as ever to pursue further data retention on each and every one of us.”

Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights group, told The Independent “The government is trying to persuade people their freedom is under threat while busily removing it with very little justification.

“It is clearly campaigning to make terrorism crackdowns a major issue and a sign of strength. This is politically driven and not evidence-based. Campaigning against companies and trying to blame them for terrorist acts is cynical, misleading and cheap.”

Amnesty International accused ministers of being “intent on fast-tracking a whole host of potentially draconian new measures without – again – allowing proper time for Parliament to scrutinise them”.

David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, also yesterday suggested the plans were driven by media headlines. He said proposed powers to turn away UK citizens when they return from Syria and Iraq were an “announcement waiting for a policy” and said there could be a “more sensible” way of dealing with such people.

The real reason the government has been so intent on censoring and monitoring the internet is to protect itself – not the citizens of the UK.

The Conservative element of the current government has been determined to being in legislation to censor and monitor all of our electronic communications.

They tried to introduce the Data Communications Bill, which fell flat on its face even at the second revision. The main reason being that it gave the government unprecedented powers of censorship and control in such a vague way that any restriction the government wanted to introduce, or any prosecution it wanted to pursue, would have been justifiable under the new law.

In a desperate attempt to push through some form of legislation Cameron placed further requirements on internet service providers by introducing a bill which was rushed through Parliament just before the summer recess. Little time for any of the members, or independent organisations, to scrutinise its content or true impact.

We need to question the motives of a government which uses such underhand tactics. It is more than obvious they can not be trusted to work in the best interest of UK citizens.

 

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