Monday, 24 November 2014

From the Committee of Public Safety

I'm doing my bit for National Counter-Terrorism Awareness Week by trying to raise awareness of the level of threat we're living with. I can't better this piece by Paul Mobbs, so I'll just go with it:
The relative scale of the public's risk of fatality from terrorism was outlined in the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation's report published in 2012.

"During the 21st century, terrorism has been an insignificant cause of mortality in the United Kingdom. The annualised average of five deaths caused by terrorism in England and Wales over this period compares with total accidental deaths in 2010 of 17,201, including 123 cyclists killed in traffic accidents, 102 personnel killed in Afghanistan, 29 people drowned in the bathtub and five killed by stings from hornets, wasps and bees..."

... In my view our politicians concentrate on terrorism because it's the perfect "paper tiger". It's scary, and unpredictable, but by its very nature the success or failure of their policies are not subject to external assessment. The secretive nature of the agencies involved allow politicians to say what they wish, and justify their actions to some abstract threat, without any great risk of being proven wrong.
 The Politics of Terrorism

I've nothing to add, except the observation that the authoritarian politicians, securocrats and tame journalists who regularly pop up to tell us that we'll all be killed in our beds if we stubbornly cling to quaint old-fashioned notions like liberty, free expression and privacy, have lately taken to talking about the problems they face in a "post-Snowden world", where a few years ago, living in a "post-9/11 world" was the go-to excuse for whatever form of abuse or intrusion they had in mind.

The fact that they seem to see some sort of equivalence between the threat posed to their own power by a single whistle-blower and that posed to citizens' lives by a gang of psychopaths who crash airliners into skyscrapers, is a chilling insight into the institutional mindset of the people who boast about keeping us safe.