Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This is what you get...

When you introduce legislation aimed at stopping terrorists.

That's right, legislation originally brought in to help fast track extraditions of would-be terrorists is now being used to combat white-collar crime. Or, more specifically, legislation bought in to make it easier for terrorists to be extradited to the USA is being used to combat suspected bank fraudsters.

So let's take a closer look at this:

First off, we have the inevitable yet quite wrong practice of using very aggressive law in an area in which it was not intended to be used. This is legislation accepted on the grounds that it is necessary to combat terrorism, a loss of freedom in some areas to supposedly safeguard freedom in others. So is it acceptable to use this law to combat something as mundane as fraud? No, it isn't, but tough, because the law is there now and isn't going to be repealed any time soon.

Secondly, we have the fact that it is now not necessary for the US to provide prima facie evidence in order to get suspects extradited. Let's leave the America bashing for a second, and overlook the fact that Britain still needs to give probable cause to get a suspect shipped the other way, and instead focus on the fact that British citizens can now be extradited for trial in a foreign country, for a crime that there is no solid evidence that they committed. Obviously the doing away with Habeas Corpus is not enough for the British and US governments; let's just treat suspects like cattle on the off-chance they are guilty and ship them off to America. Er, no. Perhaps, perhaps you could find a way to justify this in a case of suspected terrorism, but for fraud? It isn't what the legislation was intended for, and it's clearly using a forced-through law for political ends.

I said I'd leave the America-bashing alone. In fact I'll actually leave it to Boris Johnson:

They [the US] can, under the 2003 Extradition Act, Hoover over to America, as if by some electromagnetic power, people against whom they are not obliged to produce any prima facie evidence - whereas we have absolutely no such corresponding right to extradite to Britain suspects that we want to.


And finally, there is also the small matter of this suspected crime being committed by British citizens against a British bank, predominantly sited in Britain. The Enron link, and the fact that some portions of the crime took place in the USA and the Cayman Isles, should not be enough to counter the simple fact that this should be a domestic UK issue. Now, I'm quite sure the US legal system will treat them fairly, and that at the end of the day it probably doesn't matter which country they get tried in, but there is a principle here - British citizens should not be whisked off to a foreign country for trial, even if it is politically convenient to do so.

So yes, this is what you get for giving up your freedoms!

12 comments:

Bob Piper said...

Perhaps you could enlighten me. I couldn't find any record of Comrade Boris either speaking or voting against the Extradition Bill? Could you point us in the right direction so that we can all see how this beacon of civil liberties has been looking after our interests?

MatGB said...

Bob, it's a direct quote from the Guardian article linked to, I've been looking for it myself.

He's their MP, it's his job to get involved in such things, but a Very quick Google says he's been campaigning aginst it for some time.

Bishop Hill said...

Bob Piper will presumably condemn this though? Or is it just a case of diverting attention from his party's actions?

PaulJ said...

And anyway, it matters not whether Boris voted against the Extradition Bill or not - the Bill as is may well be considered a good thing if you're onbaord the 'giving up freedoms to stop terrorism' path.

The problem, as hopefully highlighted by my post, is that the legislation is now being used in entirely different areas. Something which someone who voted for it on its original pretences might find especially irksome and be resolved, even more so than normal, to be opposed to.

Bob Piper said...

Paul, sorry, I did miss your point. Are you really implying this law is OK if we use it against alleged terrorists (without having to bring a jot of evidence that they are a terrorist but that we shouldn't use it against bankers who allegedly, again, without proof, contributed to the biggest fraud in US corporate history?

Is bishop hill suggesting I don't represent my constituents? If so, you'r a complete twat and an uninformed one at that!Bring on your Anyone but Labour candidate! Let's see what the electorate think.

MatGB said...

Cllr, point by point.

No, Paul is most certainly not suggesting that, this legislation is wrong, and we both utterly oppose it. That's the point of the post; that legislation for one purpose gets abused; Walter Wolfgang is another, prominent, example, there are many others if you want them.

And no, I don't think that's what BH said, I can't speak for what he meant, never met him, he's just another commenter. He asked a direct question; do you condemn this misuse of state power? Enacted by a party you support we hasten to add.

Oh, comments policy; ad hominem attacks discouraged. Also, I'm striking out the ABL remarks from my post; they were misleading, and for discussion on posts that mention them, sometimes online you can type somtehing that isn't clear; or, in hindsite, was wrong/ incorrect/ misleading. I'm sure you understand that.

MatGB said...

Clarify: "if you're onbaord the 'giving up freedoms to stop terrorism' path."

Neither of us are.

PaulJ said...

I think the law is a bad law regardless. However, I can see why people's paranoia about terrorism would make them think that the law was acceptable in it's original guise of aiding the war or terror.

The fact that it is now being used in a fraud case (even a very big one) shows how bad the law is - not only does it highlight the fact that evidence is not required to extradite suspected criminals which is clearly wrong, but it also shows that laws brought in to protct lives, are now being used to protect assets. That, I think, is a pretty bad use of 'terror' legislation.

I'd rather the law not be used at all though. I don't think much of a law which seemingly undermines British citizens because it is a good political move in the current climate.

Bishop Hill said...

"Is bishop hill suggesting I don't represent my constituents? If so, you'r a complete twat and an uninformed one at that!"

I'm struggling to work out how you manage to reinterpret a question on whether you condemn the Bill into an accusation of being unrepresentative of your constituents. Your schoolboy insults suggest that you feel unable to condemn the bill, but are too embarrassed to say so. You are therefore resorting to bluster.

Rather pathetic really.

Bob Piper said...

Actually, I have no problem at all condemning the Act - its not a Bill, its an Act, approved by Parliament. For those that accuse me of diverting attention from Labour, my question was just about whether the Bill was opposed. As I understand it, two Lib Dems at some stage did, but where were these other wise after the act people. Unlike you, Paul and MatGB, I actually think it is a bad law, not a law been 'misused by the state' or in your paranoia by the Labour Government. Pray tell me under what circumstances it is appropriate to deport British subjects to another country to be tried under their law, in their courts, without one jot of evidence being presented in Britain to justify it. That is what this Act does. I do see a difference between bankers been deported and tried, where in the case of the Enron 3 they will have the benefit of public US law, as opposed to deporting alleged terrorists to be incarcerated by the Bush regime, or worse, deporting similar people to Saudi or Pakistan. At the end of the day, I hope we agree... this is a foul law and people of all parties should be ashamed of it.

bishop hill... maybe the sequence of the comments caused the confusion. You appeared to be suggesting I condemned Johnson for representing his constituents. If you mean condemn the Act, yes, unreservedly, and ALL of those who allowed it to be passed

MatGB said...

Unlike you, Paul and MatGB, I actually think it is a bad law,
So do we, "This is what you get when you introduce legislation aimed at stopping terrorists" is to me a fairly clear condemnation of a law open to abuse.
not a law been 'misused by the state' or in your paranoia by the Labour Government.
New legislation being 'sold' as for one thing used for others. Not the first time it's been done; I repeat, do you need more examples?
Pray tell me under what circumstances it is appropriate to deport British subjects to another country to be tried under their law, in their courts, without one jot of evidence being presented in Britain to justify it.

It's not. Ever.

That is what this Act does.

Yup, and it's another example of legislation being passed without due scrutiny. A failure of the Parliamentary system, an example of where change needs to be made in order to attempt to prevent such laws in the future.

At the end of the day, I hope we agree... this is a foul law and people of all parties should be ashamed of it.
Agree completely. While I completely understand your distaste for certain ideas we've been discussing on here of late, would you be interested in at least discussing the idea of a review of the constitution as discussed at the blog of a fairly well informed member of the Labour party here?

Completely divorced from any tactical voting campaign that may also be on the cards.

Bishop Hill said...

Bob Piper said:

.. maybe the sequence of the comments caused the confusion.

That does appear to have been the case. All that swearing for nothing.

Glad to see that you condemn it though.