Security vs. Liberty

This morning’s Daily Mail leader gets it wrong.

Make no mistake, Britain will almost certainly have to sacrifice some of our ancient legal rights if we wish to protect our citizens. Civil liberties mean very little to someone killed by shrapnel…

This morning’s Glasgow Herald leader gets it right.

It is a cruel paradox that terrorism is able to exploit open society, and the right it confers, to move about freely to seek to destroy that society and the values it cherishes. We need to defend our freedoms, but we must do so without eroding them. Identity cards, had they been in place, probably would not have prevented the bombings. There are enough warnings in the flawed anti-terror legislation to be very wary of reining in individual freedoms for a dubious and perhaps unattainable security aim. Intelligence is the key. The BBC reported yesterday that the official terror alert had been lowered to one of a substantial risk. If so, why, given that the summit began yesterday? We need answers to that, and to how the bombers slipped through the security net.

The Daily Star runs the headline all the other papers probably wanted to run, although I’m bemused by the Ken Bigley coverline.

Update, 9.30

The Register highlights two important points: Home Secretary Charles Clarke admits that ID cards wouldn’t have prevented yesterday’s atrocities, and London’s tube network is covered by hundreds of CCTV cameras. The Reg doesn’t say it outright, but despite being one of the most heavily surveilled cities in the world – I think it’s second only to Monaco – the surveillance tech didn’t do anything to prevent the attacks. It’s a point worth bearing in mind when papers such as the Mail make idiotic statements about surrendering our liberties and ancient legal rights.

4 thoughts on “Security vs. Liberty

  1. Tony Kiernan says:

    First hand account:
    http://www.urban75.org/london/bombs.html

    Best bit:
    “I bloody well am getting on the tube on Monday. And yes, I probably will feel scared and I probably will remember the bomb, but as I said to someone yesterday, when we were on the train stuck underground, coughing, ‘well, we’ve now established that we can survive a tube bomb, so sod it, yes, I am going to travel again’. I don’t see what else to do really. Today, lots of people on the tube will be worrying about what if and whether they’d cope, and I ‘ll know I did cope, we all coped, which is kind of empowering really. I’m scared but I’m angry, so I’m using the anger to get through it. We all need to go to work. Life goes on.”

  2. Squander Two says:

    The trouble with CCTV is the police’s attitude. It can be used preventatively (and, back when it was still a novelty, often was), but it’s so much easier to use it as an after-the-fact evidence-gathering-and-suspect-finding tool. Which is no bloody use. The Government could force the police to start monitoring live CCTV and responding in real time, but they won’t.

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