One quick follow-up to my commentary on the interrogation of David Miranda…I have to say something about how reasonable the UK’s left and liberal parties are. (I know, I spend so much time complaining about how my fellow left-liberals behave, this will come as a shock…but as I will demonstrate, there is much to be lauded in the official responses to the Miranda story released by both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.)
Here’s Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary for the official opposition Labour Party, referring to the Terrorism Act’s “Schedule 7” powers, used by the security officials to detain Miranda: “The public support for these powers must not be endangered by a perception of misuse.”
Here’s a statement released by the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the current Tory-LibDem coalition government, also about schedule 7 powers: “It is important that the police use these powers proportionately and for good reason. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has already asked for more information on this incident and we will wait to hear his conclusions.”
That is not the sound of people on a crusade against some fictitious Empire. That is what people who want justice sound like. I remain furious that in North America we have so few people in left and liberal parties who seem to be either willing or able to articulate these kinds of just demands. It makes me wonder what’s wrong with us over here.
The Labour Party is right. If there is a perception that these powers are being misused, and the government _allows that perception to grow_, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that eventually this will lead to the repeal of the Terrorism Act’s schedule 7 powers, and possibly even to the repeal of the Terrorism Act itself. That can’t be what a security establishment sworn to stop terrorism really wants. The Labour Party presents that establishment, then, with a clear choice: either respond transparently to people’s concerns, or watch them take those powers away. If you really care about stopping terrorism, the choice should be simple.
The Liberal Democrats are also right. The perception being pitched, in as heavy-handed a way as possible, by demagogues like Glenn Greenwald, is that security officials cannot possibly act in a proportionate way, or with good reasons. Obviously the key to winning the public relations game they have started is to make it clear that decisions made and carried out are indeed proportionate and have transparently good reasons behind them.
But we, on this side of the pond, embrace wrong after wrong after wrong. Either we side with the demagogues (and torpedo reform efforts in the process), or we can’t find our voice to demand and receive the kind of transparency that would render this demagoguery impossible in the first place.
Anyway, here’s to you, British lefties and liberals. May we learn from your example.