Page 9 of the 19 January edition of the Gazette is worth framing in its entirety. Hands up, those among us, who were in the slightest bit surprised by the speedy initiative of MI5 director general Andrew Parker?
MI5 and others in the security services must, surely, be in a constant state of red alert for the kind of atrocity that occurred at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. After all, why waste such a good opportunity to rerun arguments that have so far failed to find full favour in the immediate wake of earlier crises?
On a closely allied subject, last Monday Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger quoted a former British counter-terrorism chief as saying: ‘Britain should be concentrating on what it is fighting for, not just what it is fighting against.’
In an effective and inspiring symmetry, immediately to hand was the Gazette leader on the threat to judicial review, and president Andrew Caplen’s perceptive and trenchant comment on the need to look to our individual liberties when the button marked ‘fear’ is pressed.
Principled detachment and a resistance to the itch to ‘do something - anything’ are surely what we as a profession owe it to society to deliver. This brings to mind the recent, thoughtful observation of Siegfried Ramel, who interpreted for various prominent Nazis at Nuremberg. His firm view was that neither the German nor any other peoples are immune from illiberal treatment of others. All it needs, in the short- or long-term, is for those in authority no longer to face robust challenge in our interests.
Moreover, the demand for increased powers never really comes with any offer of increased transparency. The evidence suggests an abundance of intelligence available upon the later perpetrators of terrorism, but that intelligence failed to trigger effective action. Increased accountability ought to be our demand.
With that kind of track record, why should we as citizens meekly submit to yet further intrusions upon our rights? And let us also keep firmly to the forefront of our minds the spectre of yet further ‘function creep’ should ‘they’ get their way.
Malcolm Fowler, Dennings, Tipton