#CharlieHebdo Capitilisation: Call For More Snooping Powers

Andrew Parker, the MI5 director general. Photograph: MI5/PA

Much activity has been visible over the past few days as the neocons and right-wing politicians come out to take advantage of the situation. Some are pointing to the inconsistencies in the “facts” which have thus far come out, the most glaring one being the alibi of one of the suspects at the time of shooting. “Conspiracies” aside, and despite the fact that we are living in an age of mass deception, at the very least, it can be said that there many questions which will need answering before a proper analysis of what happened on the day can be done.

What is established however, is that the alleged perpetrators of the killings were known to the French security services for a decade as well as the European and American authorities. One of them was described as a “ticking time-bomb”. France has one of the most extensive and intrusive surveillance laws in the whole of Europe. RUSI research analyst Shashank Joshi has said that, “France has unusually powerful intelligence agencies”.   Despite having “more powers” than Britain, the French security services failed to stop the attack. While some see this as evidence of the need for yet even more power, the more sober question is, what exactly led to the intelligence community’s failure to stop the attack? Although Shashank concludes more resources are the answer, his piece points to a lack of communication between the US and France, weak controls of weapons in and out of the country and a failure in local policing which could have prevented the attack.

Looking closer to home, in the Lee Rigby investigation report, several lapses were found on the part of the intelligence agency, which had the powers to monitor, was monitoring their persons of interest extensively, and decided not to further monitor them just leading up to the murder. A referral to the police by the intelligence agency was not followed up by the police because the house number of his address was omitted.

The failure in both attacks was seemingly not want of more liberty-destroying powers, but rather, the human element in the application of existing powers.

Andrew Parker and Malcolm Rifkind

Despite this, Mi5 director general Andrew Parker, in a timely fashion, and along with the usual blusters of “we can’t guarantee protection”, and fear-inducing spiel, declared his desire for more snooping powers. George Osborne, who’s economic advisor is the daughter of neocon, Muslim charity-harassing, anti-Muslim William Shawcross, and in-line with the neoconservative agenda to continually erode civil liberties and constrict the Muslim minority, pledged his support for Parker, endorsing Parker’s view that the fight against “Islamist extremism” is Britain’s main national priority. Of course, the twenty or so terrorist attacks by Republican dissidents in Northern Ireland last year have barely register on the media scales.

Malcolm Rifkind MP also supported Parker’s calls, which is ironic for two reasons: he, as the chairman of the parliamentary intelligence committee, reported the findings of the Lee Rigby inquiry, and highlighted the things which went wrong; in his capacity he supposed to be an impartial oversight of security service activities. His support, though, is not surprising given he has joined Parker in attacking the Edward Snowden leaks in the past, framing the leak as “damaging” for national security, as opposed to holding the ultra vires activities of security services to account.

If we recall, at that time, Parker (backed by David Cameron) attacking the PRISM revelations controversially argued that anyone who reveals anything about the activities of GCHQ, MI6 and MI5 is, by definition, helping terrorists. The argument was constructed in such a way that a dissent of such a position would place one in enemy-of-the-state territory (a classic neocon tactic), much like the current call for more powers. And exactly like the current call for powers, the real issue was skirted.

Just some additional context. Parker’s response was published in the Daily Fail alongside a campaign of demonisation and smears of the Guardian paper, utilising the full force of the neocon media machine. The Daily Fail’s leading article ran a story titled “The Paper that Help’s Britain’s Enemies”, whilst notorious neoconservative hate-preacher Douglas Murray – who’s Henry Jackson Society was/is funded by the big hitters of America’s Islamophobia industry and allegedly by the far-right Likud party in the Zionist state, also joined in the smear campaign. Cameron’s Murdoch papers all unreservedly laid into the Guardian. For defending democracy. Human rights. Rule of law. You know, those British values which the neocons keeping harping on about.

Concluding Remarks

The public should be aware now that such situations are consistently used to justify powers which corrode the defence mechanisms put in place to prevent abuse. Capitalising on the fog of fear, emotions and blusters, exasperated by officials and irresponsible media, the neocons push their agenda of control through without barely any resistance. The glaringly obvious points are being side-lined and ignored. As stated in an incisive Guardian piece,

“The Paris killers were known to the French intelligence agencies. The Woolwich killers were known to MI5.”

One of the few sane voices in Parliament, David Davis MP said,

“France is an intrusive, almost surveillance state already and it has been for a long time. And yet it didn’t stop what happened and it never can. It’s not possible. When agency chiefs go to the Prime Minister and say, ‘if you don’t do this we can’t guarantee the safety of the British public, of course they can’t whatever [powers they have],”

Instead of relying on existing findings from inquiries into previous attacks, and investigating the possible failures of the latest French attack, we have calls for that which neocons continually crave: power. Given the impending neo-Stasi state courtesy of the Counter Terror Bill and the statutory enforcement of the human-rights violating PREVENT strategy which “free speech” head-bangers should be really focussing on, the last thing needed are more powers. Using such corrupted reasoning as their justifications, the adage, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, couldn’t be more apt.


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