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The internet. A new front in the so-called War on Terror. November 6, 2007

Posted by franklittle in European Politics, European Union, Freedom of speech, Internet, Islam, Media and Journalism, Terrorism, The War On Terror.
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Great news in the war for freedom and against people of a different religion and darker skin pigment than ours. According to Examiner Breaking News, the European Commission is to unveil proposals today to make it a criminal offence to promote acts of terrorism on the internet.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini wants a new law making illegal ‘public provocation to commit a terrorist offence’ including under the definition of ‘public provocation’, ‘the distribution, or otherwise making available, of a message to the public, with the intent to incite…’ terrorist acts. Note that it is a crime to incite acts of terrorism regardless of whether an act of terrorism actually results from that incitement, something which would anyway be very difficult to prove.

According to the Examiner, Commission officials insist, presumably with a straight face, that this will not impinge on the expression of political views or analysis of terrorism. Also worth noting that though the Commission is stating that the internet and the use of it by terrorists is the main motivator behind this, the law will apply to all forms of communication.

Statewatch have an analysis up here.

In a related story, the EU Observer has an interesting piece about another EU Commission in the fight against terrorism to increase the amount of air passenger data stored by EU member states and to store it for up to 13 years. The proposal, which would require unanimity, would see name, address, credit card number, passport data, telephone numbers, travel agent, flight history and, my favourite, seat preference, join a great deal of other information in computers in European capitals.

Statewatch again:

According to Tony Bunyan from UK liberties group Statewatch “this is yet another measure that places everyone under surveillance and makes everyone a suspect without any meaningful right to know how the data is used, how it is further processed and by whom”.

“The underlying rationale for each of the measures is the same – all are needed to tackle terrorism”, Mr Bunyan said, referring to the mandatory taking of fingerprints for passports and the mandatory storage of telecommunications data.

“There is little evidence that the gathering of mountain upon mountain of data on the activities of every person in the EU makes a significant contribution. On the other hand, the use of this data for other purposes, now or in the future, will make the EU the most surveilled place in the world”, he concluded.

Terrorists seek to destroy our freedoms but worry not, the European Union will erode our civil liberties first in a weird kind of scorched earth policy. And in case there’s some confusion, wherever I use the word ‘terrorism’ or ‘terrorist’, I do so with more than a little cynicism. Terrorists after all are the people with the small guns and the tiny bombs. The ones with the big guns and gigantic bombs are defending our diminishing freedoms by abolishing those of others.

Comments»

1. Craig - November 6, 2007

“Great news in the war for freedom and against people of a different religion and darker skin pigment than ours.”

Sarcasm noted. There are very good motivations behind the war on terror, though. You can argue that Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan kill civilians, and that’s true, but at least the countries from which they come have democracy, free press and accountability (up to a point). The suicide bombers who blow up innocent commuters on metro trains and buses have nobody to answer to but their own twisted ‘consciences’. Freedom fighters, they are not. The war on terror is not a racial conflict, despite its superficial appearances.

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2. Hugh Green - November 6, 2007

but at least the countries from which they come have democracy, free press and accountability (up to a point)

None of those three things means a damn if you’ve been extra-judicially tortured by one of their agents or blown up by one of their bombs.

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3. franklittle - November 6, 2007

I’ll go along with Craig for a few miles on this road. I absolutely loathe that section of the Left which will turn itself into an ideological pretzel in order to justify support for the most extreme and bloodthirsty form of Islamic Fundamentalism so long as they’re putting it up to the Americans. I go with Mercutio on this and as far as the conflict is concerned say ‘A plague on both your houses’.

I might prefer to live in the US than under a theocratic government, but that does not mean I think the US should be given carte blanche to liberate people, many of whom might not want ‘liberation’.

And no, it’s not a racial conflict in the strictest sense, but some of the comments from US officials and military offices about the inability of Arabs to run their own country, appreciate freedom, know what is right for them etc. are on the record in large numbers. Whether it is a racial, class or cultural superiority complex Americans have when dealing with Arabs is up for debate. I think it’s all three.

Finally Hugh is spot on. The US is no cleaner than whom it is fighting against in this conflict.

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4. ejh - November 6, 2007

Craig’s point is incoherent. Most of the people resisting the Coalition in Iraqq and Afghanistan are not suicide bombers and he should know that. And given how many suicide bombers there were in Iraq before the invasion – nil – to try and claim them as a motivation for the war on terror is ludicrous.

Nor should it be necesary to observe, on an Irish blog, that just because a country has democracy and a free press means that it is trying to pursue those values in the country it invades. Mind you, trying to ignore or evade that fact is pretty much standard operational procedure.

I don’t think “a plague on both your houses” will quite do. It is not a conflict between morally superior and inferior forces and indeed most armed conflicts are not. There’s no reason to prefer the Iraqi forces, in politics or social attitudes or methods, to the Coalition forces. But one of these groups is trying to enforce their will upon the other. One is trying to step on the other’s head and keep their boot there. So do we want the boot removed from the head or do we not? If we do, then I think it’s incumbent on us to some degree to say we are not neutral and we would like the Coalition to leave Iraq with all due speed whether we are admirers of those fighting them or (more likely) we are not.

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5. WorldbyStorm - November 6, 2007

I would be profoundly antagonistic to large swathes of the so-called ‘resistance’, but… it does strike me that disengagement is the only tenable course of action at this stage. Mind you, those seem to me to be two distinct arguments.

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6. Craig - November 7, 2007

“Craig’s point is incoherent. Most of the people resisting the Coalition in Iraqq and Afghanistan are not suicide bombers and he should know that. ”

I was more referring to the terrorist cells that have killed people from New York to London to Iraq and Bali. Fighting them as part of the war on terror is perfectly justified. Indeed it should be the main aim – the invasion of Iraq was a complete diversion. The war on terror did not start with Iraq ‘and you should know that’.

“Nor should it be necesary to observe”

Please, drop the patronising tone. I never said that I ever supported the Iraq war.

“If we do, then I think it’s incumbent on us to some degree to say we are not neutral and we would like the Coalition to leave Iraq with all due speed whether we are admirers of those fighting them or (more likely) we are not.”

Unfortunately the invasion and ensuing chaos caused the revival of racial tensions among the different groups in Iraq. If the troops were to leave tomorrow, how can the security of the various ethnic groups be ensured? It can’t be.

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7. ejh - November 7, 2007

I was more referring to the terrorist cells that have killed people from New York to London to Iraq and Bali. Fighting them as part of the war on terror is perfectly justified.

Fair enough, but perhaps that distinction might have been better made if you hadn’t written about them immediately after writing about the Coalition troops and in the same paragraph?

If the troops were to leave tomorrow, how can the security of the various ethnic groups be ensured? It can’t be.

No it can’t. Can it be ensured if the troops don’t leave? It can’t be. Why is that? Because the presence of the troops contributes to the tensions. (Among the reasons for this, though not the only one, is that Coalition forces back and fund some of the sectarians.)

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