I would like to congratulate you on your new job as Deputy Prime Minister.
Being someone who voted Lib Dem and actively campaigned for people to vote Lib Dem I am one of the people who is actually pleased that you teamed up with the Tories rather than Labour. This is not because I am right wing in any shape or form and I actually voted Labour into power in 97. However the last ten years has seen a massive rise in what I and many others call the “surveillance state” in Britain and Labour has led us down the path to a world in which:
- We are the most monitored people on earth by CCTV
- Our movements online and offline are tracked constantly
- Our right to privacy seems to be non existent
Whilst I commend you on your plans to introduce a freedom bill to restore many of our civil liberties I would like to know what you are doing about the installation of the naked body scanners at airports around our countries.
These privacy invading instruments have been rolled out under the pretext of fighting the never ending war on terror and whilst many people might not have any problem with being submitted to what amounts to a virtual strip search at the command of an airport official many others do.
Usually one must have been arrested by a police officer before they are subjected to a strip search however in this instance we are basically being told that we must submit ourselves to such a search any number of times a year before we can board a plane.
Whilst some people may feel that this a price worth paying for safe air travel I do not as there must be a line drawn somewhere otherwise why don’t we all just allow the state to install cameras in our houses or microchips under our skin so that we can be monitored 24/7.
If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear is the worst thought out phrase in history and is the sort of sentiment that allows Fascism into our midst.
Apart from the massive intrusion into our privacy that these machines will bring may I also bring your attention to the following points:
We have been lied to lready about the nature of these machines. We were told that they would not record or have the ability to print out the images taken of our bodies however this has been shown to be false.
We have already had many instances of airport staff abusing these scanners by printing out pictures of passengers. I can imagine that any famous person or politician would not wish pictures of their own naked body to appear online or in the papers.
There are serious concerns about the safety of these machines that emit x ray back-scatter into the bodies of passengers. A recent investigation reported in the Daily Mail showed that the amount of radition is up to 20 times higher than first thought. Obviously for people who fly a lot this is a major concern and for those people who have had cancer or worried about their health this is doubly so.
There is also the worry that once we accept the use of scanners in airports they will be extended to other public places such as train stations, government buildings (as they are currently being used in the USA), or attached to lampposts as leaked Home Office documents revealed:
Then there is the question of will they actually work?
This video is of a famous experiment televised on German TV that shows how anyone with a tiny amount of knowledge about how the scanners works could smuggle enough explosive material through the machine to make a bomb big enough to blow a hole in the side of a plane. If scanners are to replace the normal procedure of a pat down then this experiment shows the flaw in such an approach.
I know the terrorists aren’t fighting us because they hate our freedoms as some politicians may claim but if you chose to believe that argument then surely by handing our liberties away without a fight and building up a huge surveillance state around ourselves we are winning the war for them.
We are never going to beat terrorism as long as their is social injustice in this world and whilst we in the west chose to pick winners and losers across the globe. I cannot see how our current foreign policy is going to do anything to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks and whilst we chose to support the Bin Laden linked KLA in the Serbian conflict our last two wars have done nothing to prevent the resentment that grows by the day.
Seeing that we don’t seem to want to help ourselves by reducing the amount of people around the world with legitimate grievances against us this poses another question which needs to be answered. When will we know that the war on terror has ended?
Unlike the Cold War or any of the hot wars which end when one army is defeated by another we are fighting an idea, a tactic, a word from the dictionary that has no leader to sign an armistice or who can arrange a surrender for those that follow them. We may manage to stop one terror cell from blowing up a bomb but we will never stop all of them. There is no unified organisation that can be defeated therefore we must ask ourselves whether this is the perfect never ending war.
Not perfect for the victims, or the people who have to live in the surveillance state but perfect for the arms industries and those who profit from sales of munitions and armaments, security firms who come up with all these new ways to make us safe and all the big companies who make billions from contracts around the globe. It seemed too good to be true when the Berlin wall fell and the Soviet Empire was defeated and now it seems it was as we have replaced the threat of Communism with a threat that will reside for all time.
Therefore I ask you Mr Clegg whether you are serious about defeating “terror” as if you are then you would realise that the link between our civil liberties and the threat of an enemy that will never be beaten are inextricably linked together.
Your freedom bill will be a great step in the right direction and I hope to see a clause within the bill limiting the use of Body Scanner machines at airports or other places. We should only be subjected to the humiliation of a strip search if arrested or found to be carrying contraband and not at the whim of the state. I do hope that at the end of your time in power I don’t look back in the same way as I did with Labour and regret believing all the good ideas and words of change they brought with them.
Thank you for your time