Domestic Extremists

I think the essence of the current expose of our police state is in Mark Thomas’ piece-

The Metropolitan police circulated the card specifically for the Docklands biannual arms fair in London to help its officers identify “people at specific events who may instigate offences or disorder”. Which is such a flattering quote I am thinking of having it on my next tour poster. While being wanted outside the arms fair, I was legitimately inside researching a book on the subject, and uncovered four companies illegally promoting “banned” torture equipment. Questions were later asked in the Commons as to why HM Revenue & Customs and the police didn’t spot it. Though, in fairness, none of the torture traders featured on the spotter card.

It’s all about who is perceived as the enemy and who is not, and who has power and who does not. That we expect more of the police is testament to the effectiveness of corporate media and their incessant cops shows that eulogise mythic heroes with badges. They are doing a job and the job is what the people with the most capital tell them it is, now that shouldn’t be the case in a democracy.

All three units divide their work into four categories of domestic extremism: animal rights campaigns; far-right groups such as the English Defence League; “extreme leftwing” protest groups, including anti-war campaigners; and “environmental extremism” such as Climate Camp and Plane Stupid campaigns.

So as a vegetarian, anti-imperialist with an eco-socialist bent, it’s suspicious I get 3 out of 4. If I was pro-war, loved vivisection and ran a hedge fund this new secret police project would work out just peachy for me. A political secret police force, are we sure when the Berlin Wall came down that wasn’t actually a successful invasion by the Stasi? Seems only the EDL makes it as unacceptable right wing behaviour (although to be fair surely they would also qualify as special needs too? An issue for social workers as well as the police).

Concern about the environment (y’know that thing we all live in and without we’d sort of die) the beasties within it (that includes us) and a disliking of the propensity for some of the human beasties to kill and torture others so they can steal their stuff makes me a dangerous subversive, a domestic extremist. My conscience can sit a whole lot better with that than it could if say… I were a policeman. The warning from recent history is Neoliberalism leads to a police state, it can only survive through an authoritarian repression of the disempowered, poor and disenfranchised, dissent is necessarily crushed. The challenges that face the human race are vast, our own life support system is in danger but those who cause the worst damage also hold the most power and Change is naught but a brand for election marketing purposes. The repression of those with a vision of the future that is not just Mad Max writ large is suicidally stupid, but that’s not even in contention. What happens now happens because it keeps the ruling class & corporatocracy where they believe they should be and if that leaves the vast majority of the human race utterly fucked, well that’s where the whole police thing comes into play (and internationally the military). These reports show they are just diligently laying the groundwork to maintain control on behalf of the criminals who are causing this crisis, through ACPO & their familiars they are choosing to do this more enthusiastically then ever. As Chief Constables socialise with corporate CEO’s it is inevitable they identify with them, their world view and their solutions, not to mention the big wodges of cash to be had. I don’t think most people want it this way, I don’t think people of good conscience want to have to treat the police as a hostile occupying paramilitary force, just as rank and file ought to realise this is inevitable if this continues.

Prevent=Stasi

The government and police have repeatedly denied that the £140m programme is a cover for spying on Muslims in Britain. But sources directly involved in running Prevent schemes say it involves gathering intelligence about the thoughts and beliefs of Muslims who are not involved in criminal activity.

Read the rest, and look how the Quilliam Foundation earns its keep. (ht2 Dave)

Every Car Journey Logged By Police

The BBC have a new series Who’s Watching You, a filleted excerpt (sans establishment friendly ‘balance’) from the story they are leading with to promote it-

A national network of cameras and computers automatically logging car number plates will be in place within months, the BBC has learned.

A number of local councils are signing up their Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems to the ANPR network. As long as the cameras are technically good enough, they can be adapted to take the software.

John Dean, who is co-ordinating the ANPR network for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “It’s the finest intelligence-led policing tool we’ve got.

John Catt found himself on the wrong side of the ANPR system. He regularly attends anti-war demonstrations outside a factory in Brighton, his home town.

It was at one of these protests that Sussex police put a “marker” on his car. That meant he was added to a “hotlist”.

This is a system meant for criminals but John Catt has not been convicted of anything and on a trip to London, the pensioner found himself pulled over by an anti-terror unit.

“I was threatened under the Terrorist Act. I had to answer every question they put to me, and if there were any questions I would refuse to answer, I would be arrested. I thought to myself, what kind of world are we living in?”

Sussex police would not talk about the case.

The police say they do not know how many cameras there are in total, and they say that for operational reasons they will not say where the fixed cameras are positioned.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, whose job it is to protect personal data, has concerns about the lack of regulation. He said: “There’s very little monitoring. I mean, my office has very limited powers. We have very limited resources. We are not actively monitoring that area. You’re right to ask the question. No one’s checking it at the moment”

Note the repeating themes -the private corporation the Association of Chief Police Officers working with government, surveillance industry friendly surveys & implementation and the misuse of terror laws to harass dissenters. End stage neoliberal authoritarianism is shaping up nicely (even with the odd hiccup). Worth reading again- China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export. We have this myth put about that capitalism = democracy/freedom (not least by Edward Bernays) it is PR concocted by corporations, China is a capitalist as they come these days. We are converging towards endemic surveillance, it’s funny London will host the next Olympics. It’s all going to be a shiny happy corporate world and anyone who says different, might need to be watched, closely.

For Muslim Men The UK Is A Secret Police State Already

Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants. The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.

They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.

Three of the men say they were detained at foreign airports on the orders of MI5 after leaving Britain on family holidays last year.

After they were sent back to the UK, they were interviewed by MI5 officers who, they say, falsely accused them of links to Islamic extremism. On each occasion the agents said they would lift the travel restrictions and threat of detention in return for their co-operation. When the men refused some of them received what they say were intimidating phone calls and threats.

Two other Muslim men say they were approached by MI5 at their homes after police officers posed as postmen. Each of the five men, aged between 19 and 25, was warned that if he did not help the security services he would be considered a terror suspect. A sixth man was held by MI5 for three hours after returning from his honeymoon in Saudi Arabia. He too claims he was threatened with travel restrictions if he tried to leave the UK.

An agent who gave her name as Katherine is alleged to have made direct threats to Adydarus Elmi, a 25-year-old cinema worker from north London. In one telephone call she rang him at 7am to congratulate him on the birth of his baby girl. His wife was still seven months’ pregnant and the couple had expressly told the hospital that they did not want to know the sex of their child.

Mr Elmi further alleges: “Katherine tried to threaten me by saying, and it still runs through my mind now: ‘Remember, this won’t be the last time we ever meet.’ And then during our last conversation she explained: ‘If you do not want anything to happen to your family you will co-operate.'”

More @ The Independent 
Remember Bisher al Rawi, who ended up in Gitmo after he was approached, worked for MI5 and then subject to extraordinary rendition and torture when he was framed as a ‘terror suspect’ for having …a battery charger from Argos. It looks like they are using tougher blackmail & harassment tactics now that rendition and the black site prison network are more common knowledge. For young Muslim men in Britain this amounts to an almost apartheid condition, note they have gone to the papers with this suggesting the exhaustive avenues they took of normal redress were not so helpful. Even now the men arrested in Manchester are being denied their rights and the government looks to deport them -in a fit of pique (?)- after finding zero evidence. The NUS Black Students’ Campaign (or here) have passed a motion supporting these students and Hicham Yezza.

114 Arrested in Mysterious Police Action

Obviously there are no assaults, rapes or murders to be dealt with in Nottingham, they have time to surveil and then mass arrest climate activists before they do anything, note the corporation that runs the power station is working with the police…

More than 100 people have been arrested in Nottingham over a suspected plan to target a power station. Police said 114 men and women were arrested in Sneinton Dale on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage. Officers said they believed those arrested were planning to protest at nearby Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.

More than 200 police officers from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and British Transport Police were involved in the arrests at the Iona School.

Eon, which operates the power station, said it was helping the police with their investigation.

Residents in the suburb of Sneinton contacted the BBC with reports of a large police presence in the area. Tess Rearden, who lives near where the arrests were made, said she saw 20 police vehicles. She said: “It was all slamming of doors and van doors and all these vans were coming up here – police vans, riot vans. My son came out of his bedroom and he said: ‘Have you seen what’s going on out front? They were all up and down the roads here. It was bedlam, real bedlam.”

Residents said handcuffed suspects sang loudly as they were led away. Susan Lawson, 56, who lives opposite the school, said: “The police said to me ‘get in the house and don’t come out’. Then I saw them bringing people out of the school gates in handcuffs and putting them into vans. The vans kept coming back to pick up more of them. Police had big black and yellow bin bags full of something which they took away. I was shocked, I couldn’t get back to sleep afterwards. It was terrible.”

Speaking on behalf of Eastside Climate Action, Bob Andrews said: “We don’t know anything about the arrests last night. It wasn’t us and we don’t know who has been arrested. But if people were planning to shut [the plant] down like we tried to do two years ago then that is great news. We would fully support people taking safe and responsible action to stop carbon emissions. Ratcliffe is the third biggest single source of CO2 in the country; it has got to be closed down if we are serious about climate change.”

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Sir Veiled

Makes you proud seeing out ickle country being reported like this [excerpts]-

McClatchy Newspapers– In an era when security is the top concern for officials in many countries — reinforced by November’s deadly attacks in Mumbai — it takes a lot to be labeled “the most surveilled democracy in the world.” In the case of Britain, the label is not necessarily meant as a compliment. Some — including the European Court of Human Rights — fear that the snooping has run amok.

“Britain is regarded as the society to avoid” for its pervasive surveillance and disregard for personal privacy, said Colin Bennett, a British-born author and academic at the University of Vancouver in Canada. He contends the surveillance culture is “out of control,” targeting not just suspected terrorists and criminals but millions of ordinary people.

Studies in the U.S. and Britain suggest the cameras are a limited deterrent in combating crime and terrorism. They appear to reduce crime when installed in confined spaces, such as parking garages, but are much less effective on open streets and plazas. Experts in surveillance suggest that the boom in camera use is partly driven by an aggressive private sector that pushes technology as the solution to social problems, and the insistence of insurance companies that businesses have cameras in place.

Cameras, however, are just the beginning of the surveillance drive. Having begun to issue national identity cards, the Labor government has also proposed a new law giving police the power to arrest anyone who can’t produce identity papers on demand.

If you’re in a big crowd in Britain, look up. British authorities now use miniature, unmanned “drones” carrying aerial cameras to watch crowds at large events.

A proposed national telecommunications bill allowing the government to monitor all electronic communications has been delayed due to protests from opposition politicians, but many experts predict it will ultimately be passed.

The latest big controversy centers on the database of DNA samples collected from anyone arrested by police. Murakami-Wood said there is “very little control” over the database, which includes a disproportionate number of black men and even children as young as 12, he said. The European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, France, agrees. It ruled unanimously Thursday that the database violates the right of privacy. According to the ruling, more than 1 million samples of people found innocent, among the 4.6 million in the total database, must be destroyed.

“Most people ignore it” when new surveillance cameras go up in their neighborhoods, said Fabien Cox, a 48-year-old consultant to the international water industry. Holding a pint of beer as he stood at the bar of Orwell’s favorite pub, the centuries-old Compton Arms, Cox admitted he was more accepting since a double-decker bus traveling his normal route to work was blown up during the 2005 attacks.

God help the international water industry.

Enemy Mine

NuLabour trying to sneak through massive surveillance? Why I’ve never heard the like!

You might suppose that the economic tornado hitting Britain would cause the government to focus its energy and resources very tightly on the political projects that are of undoubted value. This is not, after all, the moment to be wasting either political or financial capital. But you would be wrong. Faced with a crisis that it patently can’t control, the government is instead seeking to exert power where it still can: over us.

The state’s latest plan to watch us makes every other imminent intrusion seem limited. Next month’s Queen’s speech will contain a brief reference to an innocuous-sounding communications data bill. But what this means is the development of a centralised database that will track, in real time, every call we make, every website we visit, and every text and email we send. That information will then be stored and analysed – perhaps for decades. It will mean the end of privacy as we know it.

Except data mining doesn’t really work in the catch the eveel terrorist type way-

But the authors conclude the type of data mining that government bureaucrats would like to do–perhaps inspired by watching too many episodes of the Fox series 24–can’t work. “If it were possible to automatically find the digital tracks of terrorists and automatically monitor only the communications of terrorists, public policy choices in this domain would be much simpler. But it is not possible to do so.”

The report was written by a committee whose members include William Perry, a professor at Stanford University; Charles Vest, the former president of MIT; W. Earl Boebert, a retired senior scientist at Sandia National Laboratories; Cynthia Dwork of Microsoft Research; R. Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle’s police chief; and Daryl Pregibon, a research scientist at Google.

So the state is left with a huge unwieldy system that will however be useful as control-

We all have a gulf between who we really are and the face we present to the world. Suddenly that barrier will be taken away. Would a protester at the Kingsnorth power station feel quite so confident in facing the police if she knew that the minute she was arrested, the police could find out that she’d just spent a week looking at abortion on the web? Would a rebel politician stand up against the prime minister if he knew security services had access to the 100 text messages a week he exchanged with a woman who wasn’t his wife? It isn’t just the certainty that such data would be used against people that is a deterrent, it’s the fear. As the realisation of this power grew, we would gradually start living in the prison of our minds.

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