The War on Terror is a War on Reason
by Stella Jorgensen
wife of the British Prime Minister and a highly respected human rights lawyer,
recently spoke about the “war on terror” at a conference in
Mrs Blair’s speech follows the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes, a
Brazilian electrician shot eight times by
Following Jean Charles’ murder, a clumsy attempt was made at a disinformation campaign — police said he was wearing a conspicuous heavy coat, when he was actually wearing a light denim jacket, as the crime scene photos show. The police suggested Jean Charles was an illegal immigrant — the Home Office have now said they believe he was in the country legally. Police said they shouted warnings and were ignored, but eyewitnesses report not hearing any shouts. Publication of police guidelines show that they were unlikely to have issued any warning, since doing so would contravene official methods used for apprehending suspected bombers. The police also said he ran away from them — we now know he did not.
That the police and government colluded in a cover-up is more than just rumour and supposition - a police report leaked to the media this week has contradicted literally every single claim that they initially made. With lies no longer obscuring the reality, it is clear to see that Jean Charles de Menezes is dead because he was a dark skinned man in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in front of the wrong officers.
When it comes to the racial aspects of the war on terror, we need to
ask if there is such a thing as the right officers. Following the murder of
Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager, the Metropolitan Police (
Considering this, it is no surprise that crime against minority victims is treated less seriously than crime against white people. Officers are also more likely to dismiss the evidence of minority witnesses. More recently, the Home Office has been forced onto the defensive over the abuse of “stop and search” powers by police. Ethnic minority individuals are up to six times more likely to be stopped by police than a white person, despite the fact that they comprise just 7.9% of the total population. How can this racist police force with its tattered credibility be trusted to fight a war against terror rooted deep in the alienated and frightened Muslim community?
The truth is, the police can’t be trusted. Large numbers of them are incapable of putting aside their racism long enough to do even regular police work. Recent events have shown they are unfit to enforce the shoot-to-kill policy. They do not deserve, and must not be given, any more powers to bungle.
The other question that we must ask is why a war on terror is needed at all. If we remove the hysteria that breeds around the subject, we are left with some problematic issues. Why does fighting this particular crime require more powers than fighting any other kind? Terrorism is terrible, but it is not any more terrible than regular, non-politicised killing. The attack on the twin towers killed 3000 people. That is appalling and tragic, but in the same year, roughly 15,000 Americans were murdered with guns by their own countrymen. This is even more appalling and tragic.
The horror of seeing the victims of terrorists die en masse on
television and in newspaper pictures affords their deaths massive emotional
impact. But why are the crimes treated with more gravity by police and other
agencies once the emotion has faded? Why are school shootings and other mass
killings not treated as terrorism? Why are no attempts made to legislate for
their prevention? Why is there no War on Gun Crime? Would it impact too much on
the profits of arms manufactures? Campaign donations, even? Would it be
unpopular with the constitutionally minded American people? Evidently, the
Of course, the police and security forces are not just asking for increased powers to punish actual terrorists. They also want increased powers to deal with suspected terrorists. If, as they insist, it is ok to shoot a man who might be a suicide bomber, is it also acceptable to kill a man who might be a drunk driver? He could kill a dozen innocent people when he tries to drive home. What about someone who might be a drug dealer? He might sell tainted supplies — he might eventually be responsible for the deaths of hundreds.
Since September 11 2001, when the British government first started thinking about terrorism, terrorists have killed 57 people on British soil. Since 2001, more than 200 people have died in police custody. The figure rises by half again if those killed in pursuit are added to the total. Statistically therefore, British police are a greater threat to British citizens than Muslim terrorists. When will we see a War on the British Police, and what special measures will they require to fight themselves?
Thanks to the IRA,
Cherie Blair was right — the morally corrosive effect of fighting dirty is dangerous for the souls of our nations. On a more practical level, oppressive policies have a way of fanning outwards and broadening in use. It is necessary to ensure that even terrorists, suspected or otherwise, are treated fairly under the law, because if the rights of the very lowest cannot be guaranteed, nor can your rights, or mine.