Metropolitan Police Manipulation of Jean Charles de Menezes' photo
It may seem a bit late to be writing a post about civil liberties now that the outrage over the death of Ian Tomlinson, G20 policing in general, Jean Charles de Menezes, Policing of Climate Camp, Omar Degayes, Moazzem Begg, Binyam Mohamed, Torture, and a host of other infringements of our civil liberties seems to be subsiding, but I have been reminded of it recently by several excellent essays by Gareth Peirce in the London Review of Books, an e-mail about an event held by the Haldane Society and reading Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault.
Gareth Peirce, is a campaigning solicitor who defended the Birmingham Six, the Tipton Three, the Guildford Four, former MI5 operative David Shayler, Abu Qatada (who has been called ‘Europe’s Al-Qaeda Ambassador’), Judith Ward, Mouloud Sihali, the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, Mozzam Begg and Bisher Amin Khalil al-Rawi, a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp. She was made famous in the film ‘In the Name of the Father’, where she was portrayed by Emma Thompson. She has published some excellent essays in the London Review of Books recently. In ‘The Framing of al-Megrahi‘, she exposes the whole sorry tale of Pan Am Flight 103 and the Lockerbie Bombing. In ‘Make Sure You Say That You Were Treated Properly’ she writes about torture, secrecy and the British State.
Those in power draw on traditions of deference and non-partisanship when it comes to security, making it unnecessary for governments to provide reasoned justification when security is said to be at stake. There is therefore a dangerous circularity to the entire process. Deference is fed in part by ignorance, and ignorance is fed in turn by claims that secrecy is indispensable. The public receives only the barest of justifications, which it is supposed to take on trust, while the government machine ignores or short-circuits normal democratic processes.
In ‘Was it Like this for the Irish?’ she considers the parallels between the British Government’s treatment of Muslims in Britain and the Irish in the 1970s and 80s.
If you are interested in some of these issues you could do worse than go to a meeting/lecture of the Haldane Society which is coming up on
The Right to protest: police violence, kettling, cover-ups:
Speakers are: Phillippa Kaufmann, barrister and counsel for Austin in Austin v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (House of Lords decision on “kettling”), and Paul Lewis, the Guardian journalist who reported on video evidence that showed the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests, April 2009
Thursday 22 October, 6.30pm, Room S102, 6.30pm – 8.30pm at the College of Law, 14 Store Street, London WC1E 7DE, nearest tube Goodge Street. All welcome. Free entrance.
If that all sounds like a bit too much work, you could watch the excellent film ‘Taking Liberties’ about Tony Blair’s legacy for UK Civil Liberties – Here on Google Video. Also keep an eye on the Guardian’s Liberty Central Blog
All this got me thinking that with the breakdown of Michel Foucault’s system of control through internalised discipline, perhaps we are seeing a return to the days of sovereign power, of the public spectacle, torture and excecution?