How the Courage of CAGE is forcing a Paradigmatic Shift in the “Liberty-Security” Balance

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“O you who believe, do not enter any houses other than your own homes unless you seek permission and greet their inmates with peace. That is better for you, perhaps you may take heed.[1]

“Those who are faithfully true to their trusts and to their covenants; and those who strictly guard their prayers.  Those are the inheritors, who shall inherit Paradise.[2]

“Irving Kristol came up with the solution that has become the cornerstone of neoconservative politics: use democracy to defeat liberty. Turn the people against their own liberty… if you can convince people that liberty undermines security, they will gladly renounce it.[3]

On the day US war crimes whistle-blower Chelsea Manning was released from military prison, CAGE’s international director Muhammad Rabbani was charged for essentially refusing to hand over passwords to devices holding confidential information. This followed his arrest at Heathrow airport in November – despite being told there was no reason for his detention under the unjust Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Rabbani’s arrest and his principled decision to withhold passwords against the threat of imprisonment has implications which ripple across the security paradigm enveloping the Western world.

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Panama Papers: Along with Cameron, Neoconservatism in Government Must also be Removed

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The political landscape globally has been changed thanks to the Panama Papers. A consortium of independent journalists have releases a trove of hacked details from the database of Panama-based law firm, Mosack Fonseca (MF), implicating politicians, celebrities and the wealthy engaged in shadowy arrangements to hide their wealth.

Those Linked to Neocons

MF itself offers wealth management and company law services for off-shore jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands. In short, it can help set up shell companies that disguise the beneficiaries – an ideal set up for gangsters, banksters, and impious politicians.

Reading through the list of individuals exposed in the leak, it is interesting to note that some of the individuals are linked to neocons in some way or another.

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The Beginning of the End of PREVENT

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We live in an age where those who work towards realising idealised principles of the rule of law, transparency and due process are smeared by their governments and press.

Julian Assange is the most recent case in point.  In the face of the categorical UN ruling that Assange was being subjected to arbitrary detention, the British press has been focussed on his rape allegations. David Cameron has deflected that Assange “should stand trial in Sweden, a country with a fair reputation for justice” so there could be an “end to the sorry saga”. What has been forgotten is that the Swedish prosecutor refused to go to London to interview Assange for more than four years before being questioned by a Swedish court for her failure to progress investigations into what Helena Kennedy QC said was “unlikely to lead to conviction”. Then of course there is the ever so minor detail that Sweden refuses to issue safety guarantees to the Wikileaks founder which would prevent extradition to the US to face potentially the death penalty.

Edward Snowden is another prominent example of a smear campaign.  Western security agencies have strongly tried to associate his actions of accountability with the secular blasphemy that is the threat to national security. Incidentally, he also exposed previously unknown British activity with regards to bulk surveillance, and now there is an attempt by Theresa May to ex-post facto legalise the gross invasion of privacy via the Investigatory Powers Bill and in particular the recent, criticised investigatory powers tribunal ruling on GCHQ bulk surveillance.

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David Cameron has Become the Monster He Seeks to Battle

DavidCameronThe neocon government wants the Muslim to be resilient from “extremism”.  Over the years, despite the Muslim apologia, pronouncements of condemnations, Stasi-esque policies, government associations with anti-Islam organisations, rampant anti-Muslim hatred from the media to the intellectually challenged supremacist thug on the street, and judicial rulings relegating Muslims to second-class citizenry, Muslims have certainly developed a resilience. A resilience to neoconservatives and their blustering anti-Muslim doublespeak and a firm resilience to the designs of neoconservative extremism.

The script for the neocons is like clockwork.  Governmentally pressure Muslims throughout the year, consorting with the media to demonise Muslims treating them as suspect communities.  Use arms of the state to effectuate this goal by using ambiguous words like “extremist” which are only ever to be applied to Muslims and not Christians and Jews.  Feed the Eurabia myth pedalled by the far-right and neocons that Muslims are “taking over Europe”, with unfounded Trojan Hoax plots and (discriminatory) Shari’ah courts fear mongering (and let’s not forget the dreaded halal meat!). Announce draconian security measures which discriminatorily target and profile the Muslim minority.  If these measures face opposition, then await an atrocity to heavily spin and exploit.  Make announcements that the Muslim community needs to “do more” to tackle radicalisation, ignore belligerent foreign policy and police-state actions and push through more measures, all the while profiling Muslims and eroding civil liberties for all.

This cyclical minority battering is really getting old.

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Has the Neocon Government Lost its Legitimacy?

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I have outlined in previous blog how the government has in essence stripped the people before the State and shrouded itself against scrutiny. Earlier in the year the case of David Miranda became a significant milestone in the treatment of journalists. He was detained under the anti-terror legislation at an airport because he possessed encrypted intelligence documents. More recently news surfaced that Metropolitan police had been recording journalistic activities on a secret database designed to monitor “domestic extremists”. Journalists are being “assaulted monitored and stopped and searched by police during their work, which often includes documenting police misconduct”.

The question remains, for a government which promotes democratic principles to the point that it happily enforces its respect in the guise of “British values”, why are journalists whom are supposed to be the practical manifestation of the principle of government transparency being harangued and monitored like this? To reverse the question to the State: what have you got to hide?

Inextricably linked is the treatment of whistle-blowers. Miranda’s detention is but one example. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have helped disclose the excesses of western governments which would have otherwise gone unnoticed without accountability. Yet these individuals are pursued to the point that they have to hide in embassies and seek asylum.

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Surveillancing “Mistakes”, PREVENT and the Muslim Minority

With the Snowden documents pointing to a culture of pervasion with regards to the invasion of privacy, a recent report has further shed some light on the regulation of these invasions.

According to the Independent, there was a “shockingly high” number of incidents of privacy of individuals being breached by the MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. Out of the 318 warrants examined, 33 were “mistakes” which had led to unacceptable breach of privacy.  In other words, one in ten people surveilled are done so incorrectly.  The “mistakes” are claimed to be not intentional, however this is coming from an investigation by the Intelligence Services Commissioner against the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and whose accountability to parliament is “non-existent”. This Act has been comprehensively criticised for being ineffectual and definitely not human-rights compliant. As Eric Metcalf states,

“As Justice’s new report shows, Ripa doesn’t restrain surveillance so much as actively license it. Indeed, it is nowadays hard to find a public body in the UK that doesn’t have access to surveillance powers of some kind. This would be less problematic if only Ripa contained sufficient safeguards against unnecessary surveillance. In truth, the great majority of surveillance under Ripa is essentially self-authorised by the public body itself, as the sorry case of Poole borough council shows. Of just under 3m surveillance decisions taken under Ripa since October 2000, less than 5,000 of these were approved by a judge. You might not think that the best check against unnecessary surveillance by a public official was a more senior official in the same department, but that is the way that Ripa works for the most part. There are oversight commissioners, but they appear to rely heavily on “dip-sampling”, and it seems highly doubtful that they examine more than a small fraction of the authorisations that are actually made.”

Human Rights are what protect the citizens against state abuses, because it provides a reasonable solution to the problem of “who polices the government”.  However those rights seemed to have been side-lined by the security services.

The Need to Prevent PREVENT

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