[Marxism] The Greatest Threat to Civil Liberties in 700 Years
Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Thu Mar 10 09:29:17 MST 2005
Under the guise of Anti-Terrorism, Tony Blair’s Labour Party is
proposing the greatest restriction on civil liberties in 700 years.
Last December, by an 8 to 1 ruling, the Law Lords of the House of Lords
ruled that the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, which has
permitted the indefinite detention of foreign terror suspects, violated
the British Constitution and European Rights legislation. .
The special committee of nine Law Lords, although without its full
power, is equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That legislation had made a distinction between British citizens and
foreigners, allowing the indefinite detention of foreigners without
trial and without any information of the charges against them. Thus, it
avoided the whole question of the rights of British Citizens.
The Blair government has used this ruling as an excuse to force through
a new “Prevention of Terrorism Bill” that would allow various forms of
“control orders,” including house arrest, without trial for both
British citizens and foreigners. It would take away all protection
against arbitrary detention for British citizens as well as foreigners.
Opposition has come from both the Conservative Party and the Liberal
Democrats in the House of Commons as well as a majority of the House of
Lords. The House of Lords consists of approximately 500 life peers, 92
hereditary peers and 26 clergy. It is now the only force standing
against abolishment of the 700 year right of Habeas Corpus.
What is particularly striking about the bill is that British Home
Secretary Richard Clarke says that it would not be used against the
present detainees that the Law Lords had ruled were held
unconstitutionally. In other words, those individuals that had been
selected as the most dangerous present or potential terrorists would be
set free and the new law would not be used against them.
If the alleged most dangerous prisoners are to be set free, then what
is the purpose of the new legislation except to destroy the civil
liberties of those both “alien and citizen.” to quote the American
revolutionist Thomas Jefferson against the Labour Party Prime Minister?
Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was acting on the “unanimous” advice
of the security services and police chiefs, who said the orders were
“necessary to disrupt the planning of terrorist activity in this
country.” In other words, it is the military and police forces of Great
Britain who are using this opportunity to destroy basic civil liberties
and rights of the British people.
AMERICAN VIEWS ON THE RIGHT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Alexander Hamilton quoted famed British jurist Blackstone on habeas
corpus in The Federalist, No 84 as follows:
To bereave a man of life or by violence to confiscate his estate,
without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of
despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the
whole nation; but confinement of the person by secretly hurrying him to
goal, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public,
a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary
government.”...”the [habeas corpus act is the] BULWARK of the British
His great rival Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1798 and 1801:
The Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against
everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume. . . .
Freedom of the person under the protection of the habeas corpus I deem
[one of the] essential principles of our government.
THE BRITISH POLITICAL OPPOSITION’S CRITICISM
All control orders should be issued by a judge, not the home secretary
Standard of proof for control order rises from “reasonable grounds” for
suspicion, to satisfaction on the “balance of probabilities”
Director of Public Prosecutions must state there is no reasonable
prospect of successful prosecution before order is made
Use of evidence against terror suspects obtained under torture abroad
No additional forms of control order can be created
The legislation will expire on 30 November 2005
* * *
“To win over his own party members, Blair has conceded that judges
rather than politicians will have the final say on all forms of
“control orders” -- up to and including house arrest -- on terrorism
suspects, and that parliament will review the law annually.
“But he has refused opponents’ demands for a higher burden of proof
before restrictions can be imposed and for a “sunset clause” in the
bill whereby it would lapse entirely in November, allowing legislators
to start from scratch.”
In other words, it is no longer the Home Secretary who can alone issue
the order. It must go before some judge, obviously one picked by the
government. However, this judge must accede to any “reasonable”
suspicion on the part of the police forces.
The “sunset clause” may not seem important. However, this law, like the
American Patriot Act and the first British Anti-terrorism bill, is
being rushed through in only two weeks. The “sunset clause” provision
would allow time for opponents to rally national opposition. In an
attempt to diffuse the issue, Blair promises only an annual review.
Such a review would side step the public debate, concentrating only on
how the law been working in the interim. Arbitrary arrests and
detentions could continue. Movements for rights and justice including
the freedom of association and assembly could be crippled until the
Those arrested as terrorists would be whoever are so declared by the
The “burden of proof” may also seem a minor point. However, police
forces don’t want anyone to have the right to question their judgment
and impose their own based on the “balance of probabilities.”
House Arrest. How bad could that be? Well, we are not talking about
Martha Stewart here. The BBC lists the following as possibilities:
# Banning possession or use of specified articles or substances
# Prohibiting the use of certain services, such as Internet or phones
# Restricting work or business
# Restricting association or communication with certain individuals, or
other people generally
# Restricting the person’s place of residence or who is allowed into
# Requiring the person to be at specified places or in a particular
area at certain times or days
# Restricting movements within the UK or international travel
# A specific 24-hour ban on movements
# Requiring the surrendering of a passport
# A requirement to give access to specified people to his home
# A requirement to allow officials to search his home
# A requirement to let officials remove items from premises for tests
# A requirement to be monitored by electronic tagging or other means
# A requirement to provide information to an official on demand
# A requirement to report at a specified time and place
What happens if you violate one or more restriction?
Based upon the Anti-Social Behavior Orders or ASBO, which were
introduced in 1999, breach of a control order could lead to
imprisonment for up to 5 years. In other words, a long list of control
orders could be imposed amounting to turning your house arrest into a
prison. Then if you violate one of these arbitrary rules, you could be
imprisoned. Meanwhile you know nothing of the charges against you or
anything about the information upon which it is based.
Here it is again: (1) complete restriction of political liberty under
house arrest. (2) Five years of jail time for violation of one of the
control orders. (3) No knowledge of the charges or information against
In my opinion, this goes well beyond our Patriot Act. It should also be
looked at in view of the close historical relationship between United
States and Great Britain. Along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and
other nations, we share a common heritage of civil rights and civil
liberties. The acceptance of this law in Great Britain, imposed by a
Labour Party, no less, could be the opening of similar restrictions
throughout the world.
[Send an e-mail to me if you want a word document that includes the BBC
articles that I have used for this note. However, they are also all
available at the BBC news site.]
Statement of Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, human rights
In the wake of the twin towers atrocity in New York, the government
passed emergency legislation permitting the indefinite detention
without charge or trial of foreign nationals suspected of terrorism.
The government sidestepped all of the ancient fair trial protections
which distinguish our great democracy from dictatorships throughout the
Over three years on, the detainees have never seen the “secret
intelligence” case against them. The government admits that some of the
material may have been gained by torture abroad.
Detainees have never been charged with a criminal offence or even been
interviewed by a police officer. Britain’s highest court condemned this
terrifying law as “the stuff of nightmares”.
The government’s response is to push legislation for “control orders”
through Parliament in less than two weeks.
This new law will also apply to British nationals and will allow for
house arrest, curfews, electronic tagging and many other punishments on
the basis of closed secret intelligence rather than a trial.
Some politicians are trying to sugarcoat the unpalatable by calling for
judges rather than politicians to issue “control orders”.
This will not help you if you had no knowledge of the accusation or
evidence against you. And so the nightmare continues.
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