UK CT & COIN Features – 14 April 2008

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A round-up of today’s newspaper articles covering the UK’s involvement in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations at home and abroad.

Cabinet Split on 42-day Terror Detention as Commons Defeat Looms
David Hencke, The Guardian

Cabinet ministers are split over the need to force through new laws to extend the maximum detention of suspected terror suspects from 28 to 42 days without charge – a month before ministers could face a bruising defeat by up to 30 votes in the Commons over the issue.

Jack Straw, the justice secretary, has privately expressed doubts about Gordon Brown’s determination to insist on 42 days because he fears it could lead to further tensions in the Muslim community and paradoxically could lead to less intelligence being supplied to the authorities from Muslim sources.

Jacqui Smith ‘Using Old Figures to Back Up Terrorism Bill’
Duncan Gardham, The Telegraph

Miss Smith was accused of repeating old statistics in a desperate bid to bolster the argument for extending the time for which terror suspects can be detained without charge from 28 to 42 days.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said yesterday: “The Government’s case for extending pre-charge detention looks less credible by the day. It is a sign of desperation that the Home Secretary is citing as ‘new’ evidence details given in a speech by the head of MI5 five months ago. In fact, Jonathan Evans did not even mention pre-charge detention when setting out the counter-terrorism challenges we face – either in public or private briefings.”

‘Betrayed’ Iraqi Staff in Test Case Over UK’s Refusal to Offer Asylum
Robert Verkaik, The Independent

Iraqi interpreters, clerical staff and labourers who face death threats and persecution after risking their lives working for British forces are challenging the Government’s refusal to grant them sanctuary in the UK.

A test case in the High Court will accuse the Government of abandoning former Iraqi staff who have fled their homes after being branded “spies and collaborators” by the Shia militias. Many have seen their homes bombed, family members killed or have received death threats.

All hoped they would receive help under the terms of the UK Government’s resettlement and compensation scheme set up last year. But their hopes have been dashed by what they say are harsh rules which have betrayed Iraqis who came to Britain’s aid when it needed them most.

This Government Has Lost Touch With Reality Over Foreign Policy, Terror and Human Rights
Bruce Anderson, The Independent

The allegations in the latest London terror trial should have reminded everyone of the threats we face. Yet last week, judges prevented the Government from deporting a foreign terror suspect. After that ruling, the Government has a clear task. David Blunkett once said that the Human Rights Act was the biggest mistake of Labour’s first term. He was right. That Act must be modified or repealed, so that the Government can perform its most basic duty: protecting the public. Salus populi suprema lex.

Gordon Brown would claim to be legislating along those lines in his Bill to allow terror suspects to be detained for 42 days. There is only one difficulty; an absolute absence of expert testimony in favour of this measure. No serious figure has supported it. Even Admiral Lord West, the Terrorism minister, said 28 days was enough, until he had breakfast with Gordon Brown, changed his mind (if that is the word) and ceased to be a serious figure.

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