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Showing posts with label Labour lies over Megrahi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Labour lies over Megrahi. Show all posts

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Utoeya, Oslo and racial profiling

When I replied to Hamira Khan’s defence of racial profiling of Asians at Glasgow Airport, both in the online Herald and in by blog, Racial profiling and Hamira Khan  on the 15th of July, I gave as the example, to highlight the logical contradiction of racial profiling, of a crime committed by a red-haired man. When the horrific news of the Utoeya massacre and the Oslo bomb broke, the usual anti-Muslim commentators immediately tried to lay it at Al Quaeda’s door, without a scrap of evidence, and then had to swallow some very sour grapes when the terrorist was revealed to be a tall, blonde, blue-eyed native of Norway with a far-right, anti-Muslim agenda.

My red-haired man had become a blonde, but we can safely assume that tall, blonde, blue-eyed men of Nordic appearance will not be subject to stop and search and general harassment by the authorities.

(Do I think Al Quaeda capable of such an atrocity? Of course, I do - the terrorist mindset crosses political, racial, national, religious and ideological boundaries.)

In the frenzy of analysis, recrimination and comment that followed, the sound of stable doors being shut after the horses had bolted were deafening. We have the same kind of thing after every outrage, with the same fruitless results, all avoiding the inevitable conclusion that there is no defence against random acts of terror, any more than there is against a lightning strike, that is to say, there is no defence that does not involve an attack on fundamental democratic freedoms that effectively increases the likelihood of terrorism. (For example, do we imprison people for what they might do, rather than what they actually do? The answer has notoriously been yes  in some instances.)

The increase in the number of terrorist attacks post 9/11 was a direct result of the invasion of Afghanistan, and subsequently the war crime of Iraq. We owe 7/7, the Glasgow airport incident, and other acts of terror, to the profoundly misconceived actions of Tony Blair and George W. Bush, among others.



 

THE EXPERIENCE OF ONE AMERICAN

After my blog, but before Utoeya and Oslo, I received an email from an American reader, and I now have his/her permission to reproduce it , which I have edited to protect his/her identity.

Edited extract

Thought you might be interested in an experience I had over profiling.  Was racial? I don’t know - mostly the motivation seemed to be to present a soft target to show the American taxpayer where their tax dollars were going I think.

I do a lot of international travelling mostly from (American city) in  (American state). For a period of time a few years back, the airport security lot had a great wheeze. After checking passports, they'd pull someone out ‘at random’ from the screening queue to go through special screening. That person was reduced to stocking soles, with pockets turned out (literally), carry-on bags completely emptied, stuff minutely checked, and laid out for the display to the other passengers arrayed in a semi-circular queue (easily up to 100 persons) around the hapless soul who was picked.

After five nabs on the trot at ‘random’ I opined that clearly I must fit the profile, to which the officer (in those days always very polite and affable) said with all sincerity that I was mistaken. I pointed out some basic maths to her and explained if the pick and choose was random then I should play the lottery that day 'cause the odds were shorter that I would win a chunk of change before being picked at ‘random’ that day - again.

My profile:

In those days I had a work visa (H1b) which could be rescinded at the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen. I am a citizen of a friendly (i.e. sycophantic) nation whose consulate was unlikely to do anything if I complained to them. I did not have a senator nor congressman to take my case on - in short, I was a foreigner.

I did point out, however, that I had an immigration lawyer, who was an American citizen, who did have both a congressman and a senator, and who would take my observation forward at my insistence. I asked the security lady to take note of my name and tell her supervisor what I had said. After that, I had no more random stop and searches. Funny that, I thought.

A question of de jure vs de facto? - if I've got my Latin tags right …

Anyway, all that said, don't get me wrong, USA's been very good to me and mine.

However, I do believe that all the searching and herding that goes on in airports really is more to do with trying to give folk the feeling that the authorities know what they are about and they are weeding out dangerous people from the traveling public.

(A commercial pilot of my acquaintance pointed out to me that they get even stricter screening when they turn up for work.  How dopey is that? )

The answer to all this is twofold: firstly, like the war on drugs, the airport security is now a big business industry and will never go away no matter how ineffective it is - just like the war on drugs.

Secondly, I'm sure the most effective screening is in intelligence gathering and analysis. I'd rather have the resources from the first diverted into the second but only if we want to be serious about safe travel.

MY COMMENT

My thanks to my anonymous correspondent. His/her account has the unmistakable ring of authenticity and real experience, and his/her analysis is spot on. I still entertain the probably vain hope that our intelligence services, police and politicians will learn something from these and similar experiences. We can certainly learn from them in Scotland, because we are not yet consumed by the blind paranoia and hatred of the other that characterises the war states of the US and the UK, and we have demonstrated our compassion, spectacularly and controversially, in the Megrahi release.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Alex Salmond on minority government, Megrahi and the calibre of Scottish Labour politicians

ON PREFERENCES IN GOVERNMENT

ALEX SALMOND: Obviously my overall preference would be to win an absolute majority, but short of that, I think that minority government has shown itself to be good for Scotland over the last four years. I’d like to have more than a plurality of one - I’d like a majority of more than one over our leading opponents, but I think minority government has been good for Scotland.

ON COALITION POSSIBILITIES

ALEX SALMOND: You asked me what my preference was, and my preference is that minority government is bestows a number of advantages. Am I ruling out a coalition? No, I’m not ruling out a coalition, but as a preference, we want to win the election, and if we don’t get a majority, then I think a minority government …

For example, if we win re-election, Gordon, (Gordon Brewer - Newsnight Scotland) then on some of the issues which the other parties combined to stop, you would have certainly a moral authority and a mandate to progress. For example, minimum pricing on alcohol … The rest of the parties combined to stop it. My judgement would be - if we win re-election - that is a policy we’ll be able to pursue in the next Parliament, with the support of the people behind us. A referendum on independence for Scotland would be another policy - with our fresh mandate, we’d have the ability to get it through the Parliament.

ON THE CALIBRE OF THE LABOUR OPPOSITION

Gordon Brewer: “Some things you’ve been saying recently, I guess boil down to saying - me and my pals are better than Iain Gray and his pals”

ALEX SALMOND: I’m not - I’d like to fight the election on the basis that we’ve got a cracking record as a government over the last four years, we’ve got a great team to put the next record into operation, and we’ve got a vision for the future of this country as an independent Scotland as an energy powerhouse of the European continent - and that’s how I want to fight the election.

We’re fighting on out record, the team and a vision - I think our team, yes, has more calibre than their team, and I think that most fair-minded people in Scotland would accept that.

Gordon Brewer: “Are you suggesting that Labour, somehow, isn’t competent to run the country?”

ALEX SALMOND:  Oh,  I think there  is a number of people in the Labour Party who don’t seem to me the sort of people I would trust to run the Country. The Health Service - who would you rather have running the health service in Scotland? Would you rather have Nicola Sturgeon or Jackie Baillie? I think most people in Scotland would say they would rather have Nicola Sturgeon.

Gordon Brewer: “I can understand that you would rather not have Jackie Baillie running the Health Service because you don’t agree with her policies - are you saying the Jackie Baillie and others on the Labour front bench are somehow not competent to do what your ministers would do?”

ALEX SALMOND:  “Well, if we take health - and I’ll try not to personalise this - I think the protection of the Health Service and the Scottish budget over the next few years is going to be extremely important. We know that the Labour Party has been, at best, equivocal as to whether the Health Service would have protection, as to whether it would be ring-fenced. I think it was on this very programme that Iain Gray failed to commit to that.

Therefore, a party which can’t protect the Health Service in my view, … shouldn’t be trusted to run the country, and the  health spokesperson of that party shouldn’t be trusted to run the Health Service.

Gordon Brewer: “From the nationalist point of view, the biggest problem  with your period in government, surely, is that the whole point of the SNP is to get independence, and you’re no nearer to getting it than when you became First Minister. That’s pretty shocking stuff, isn’t it?”

ALEX SALMOND:  Actually, the last opinion poll on Scottish independence was the highest for four years -

Gordon Brewer: “These things go up and down - there’s no substantial progress …”

ALEX SALMOND:  The substantial progress that we look for, in terms of achieving independence is twofold -

One, as a gradualist party, we seek to acquire powers and responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament to take us nearer the goal of national independence.

And secondly, as a democratic party, we wish to have a referendum to allow the people of Scotland the right to decide.

You say we are no nearer - I think, to have an SNP administration in a Scottish Parliament is dramatically nearer independence than we’ve been ever before in Scotland,  for  two reasons - one, there is a Scottish Parliament, which we didn’t have for about 300 years, and secondly, as an SNP administration, the party of independence, which we never had.

Ergo, we’re closer to independence than we ever were.

ON THE MEGRAHI AFFAIR

Gordon Brewer: “Do you have any regret about that? Are you really happy that the main thing, actually, probably that any Scottish Administration has done since devolution is let a mass murderer go free?”

ALEX SALMOND:  I don’t agree that it is the main thing that any Scottish administration has done since devolution, but I am satisfied that we took a decision based on good faith and due process. And when you get difficult decisions to take, that is what is the most most important thing to be able to say. Now, if you say to me, Gordon …

Gordon Brewer: “The most important thing is to get them right.”

ALEX SALMOND: Well, I believe we did make the right decision - that Kenny MacAskill did make the right decision according to the due process of Scots law. I believe that absolutely. But I think it’s even more important, incidentally,  for people to know that we made that decision in good faith, and I would suggest to you that everything that’s been published in this last week vindicate the position that the Scottish Government took - that we were taking a decision in due process, in good faith and for no other reason.

I think the revelation this week is that we now know, beyond peradventure, that the Labour Party in Scotland were guilty of the most outstanding hypocrisy I can remember in my period in public life.

Gordon Brewer: “From the point of view of families of victims, both here and in the United States - I mean, the politics of this are neither here nor there. what they want to say to you is, look, you let this man who was convicted of killing family members, out of jail, and he’s now alive - if not well - in Libya a year later. This is just wrong - it’s outrageous.”

ALEX SALMOND:  Gordon, I’ve got nothing but respect for the Lockerbie families, whether they’re in the UK or America, and 19 other countries which were affected by the atrocity. But you are wrong to suggest that all families have the same opinion. I’m not disputing that a lot of families, particularly in America, would have that opinion. I’m merely pointing out to you that many families, particularly in the UK, have a different opinion - who’ve supported the decision on compassionate release.

But I’ve got nothing but respect for the families, and I would always listen and pay attention to their point of view, and you’ll never hear a word of criticism from me of any of the views of any of the families, who are entitled to make their views known.

My criticism is solely designed and aimed at those politicians who attacked Kenny MacAskill and the SNP in Scotland, I believe in the full knowledge that their own colleagues in London were supporting release, not for due process, not for compassionate reasons, but for economic and political considerations.

ON A PUBLIC ENQUIRY INTO MEGRAHI

Gordon Brewer: “Given the whole silly history of this, why not do something positive with this. I know there are problems with jurisdiction, getting witnesses and all the rest, but why not say now - because the families in Britain who support what you have just said on the decision - have also been asking you to set up a public enquiry, so that we can at least try to get to the bottom of what actually happened. Why not say now that you will do that, despite all the problems it might have, it might at least have a chance of getting somewhere?”

ALEX SALMOND:  There would be manifest problems - but can I say to you I think more important than a public enquiry, in my view - which would be necessarily (?)in the full settlement(?) in Scotland be  hugely limited in what it could do - is the full publication of the statement of reasons of the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission made to the courts in Scotland. We’ve already made one attempt to have that published in full.

What I can say to you tonight  is that we’ll be introducing primary legislation to enable that report to be published in full. It was an investigation that took several years, and I believe the full statement of reasons - not answering every question about this affair  - nonetheless will shed substantial light and give information  that the families and indeed the general public are entitled to have.

Gordon Brewer: “So you will legislate in the Scottish Parliament so that those documents will be published?”

ALEX SALMOND:  Correct.

Gordon Brewer: “Will you follow on the publication of those documents … logically would be then to have an enquiry, dependent on what they come up with?”

ALEX SALMOND: I think, Gordon, they should see what the full statement of reasons of  the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission is. I still think there are difficulties with a public enquiry because it would be hugely limited in terms of the documents it could obtain, in terms of the witnesses, in terms  of the  nature and in terms of the international politics. We’ve already seen …

Gordon Brewer: “It’s something you could do, limited as it is. no one else is going to do it …”

ALEX SALMOND:  Can I just point out to you that, say as far as the interchange between the United Kingdom and the United States governments is concerned, then I think that Wikileaks, over the last few weeks, has shed more light on these exchanges, than for example and enquiry would be able  to do, since it wouldn’t be able to summon any of the witnesses, since now we know from Wikileaks what their true opinion was.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Megrahi, Labour Lies and Scotland - Iain Gray and Richard Baker knew ...

The full, appalling, cynical nature of the Labour Government's lies about their involvement with Libya, under Gordon Brown, over the Megrahi affair are now revealed. The utter hypocrisy of their public posture is stark. But the behaviour of Iain Gray and Richard Baker in the Scottish Parliament over the release, and their public statement brings hypocrisy to the state of an art..

They must have know what was going on, yet they huffed and puffed and postured shamelessly for political gain.

The behaviour of the media today, however, reveals their confusion when faced with some hard facts that vindicate Alex Salmond, Kenny McAskill and the SNP Government totally. They have desperately tried to suggest, in misleading summary after summary, that the Scottish Government tried to do a deal with the UK government over the Megrahi release. This is a patent lie, and to peddle it, they have deliberately ignored dates and years, and distorted the topics of discussion that pre-dated the medical verdict that Megrahi was terminally ill that led to his compassionate release.

We expect this from the unionist media, but even the normally impeccably accurate and objective Jon Snow on Channel Four News got sucked in. peddling the same distorted facts, and apparently immune to Alex Salmond's patient explanation of the facts, which are a matter of public record in Scotland.



As for the US - well, they don't pretend to understand the nature of Scotland within the UK, nor do they understand devolution. This will confirm their worst fears.

But Cameron, in releasing this information for political gain over Labour, may have scored an own goal in terms of the survival of the UK as a political entity. That is always assuming he cares, which I suspect he doesn't. After all, an independent England is likely to be a Tory fiefdom, isolated from Europe.



POSTSCRIPT - Midnight 7/8th February

Newsnight (despite Paxman) and Newsnight Scotland, with the sublime Isobel Fraser, went a long way to redeeming the media on this affair. But she also asked the $64,000 question - How will it play with the Scottish electorate?