Waking the political dead
Serves me right for being a) provocative and b) naively honest about saying what I believe.
I have achieved the unique double of breathing new life into the decaying political corpses of both the Hackney Conservatives and Hackney Liberal Democrats (an endangered species down to their last 2 councillors) with my slightly hard line positions on counter-terrorism expressed here previously.
I now feature on the front pages of both parties' websites - the Tory one and Lib Dem one which judging by the similarities in text is being ghost-written by Labour-to-LD turncoat/Hackney-to-Islington carpet-bagger Meral Ece.
I'm braced for another exciting story in the Hackney Gazette.
For the record, my views as the strapline to this blog says "are entirely personal" and don't represent those of anyone else or any organisation I'm a member of.
I just happen to take the pragmatic view that there are some very dangerous people out there who want to cause mass casualty terrorist incidents (using CBRN materials if they can get them) that would dwarf 9/11 and 7/7 in scale. Security agencies have a good idea who and where some of those people are, but lack the necessary evidence to arrest and convict them using conventional law enforcement methods (or they live in territories where there is no conventional law and order, or a state that has a lot of law and order but is sympathetic to what the individuals want to do and hence unsympathetic to arresting and extraditing them). Hence the need to pick some of these people up extra-judicially and remove them to custody in another jurisdiction, known as extraordinary rendition.
Some of these people also turned up in battle or after it in Afghanistan, having been involved with the Taliban or al-Qaeda. They were not part of an army so were not conventional POWs. It would have been irresponsible beyond belief to let them loose to carry on with their terrorist careers. They needed to be kept somewhere where they couldn't escape from and where they could be interrogated about what they knew about al-Qaeda and its plans. Hence the need for Guantanamo Bay.
I believe that it is probable that many thousands of innocent lives may have been saved - perhaps some of them here in London - through the thwarting of potential acts of terrorism by the US Government's use of extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo Bay.
That doesn't mean, as Lib Dem Councillor Dawood Akhoon (known as the Invisible Man of Hackney Council so infrequently does he appear or speak in the council chamber) claims, that I'm "actually in favour of people being .... tortured". I believe that extraordinary rendition of people to countries where torture might be used is wrong. I also believe that the alleged use of extreme forms of interrogation at Guantanamo is wrong, not least because quite aside from moral objections to the methods used, it's a useless way of getting information out of people because they just say anything to get the interrogator to stop.
The onus on people who don't believe in extraordinary rendition is to explain how they would deal with people believed or known to be terrorists at large in third countries. Leave them free to carry on planning atrocities? It's also on people who oppose the creation of Guantanamo Bay to explain how they would have dealt with the influx of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters picked up in Afghanistan. Set them loose with a promise not to be bad after confiscating their Kalashnikovs?
I've no doubt the other political parties in my home patch will attempt to play a sordid game of communalism with my views on this come the 2010 council elections and will try to smear my Labour colleagues (despite the fact they as far as I know they all disagree with me). I've also no doubt that Muslim residents in my council ward are a lot more interested in my ability to get their lifts fixed or a new controlled parking zone set up, the job they elect me to do, than in my idiosyncratic but deeply held views on international issues. Far from my views having "outraged" Hackney residents as Cllr Akhoon claims, they only seem to be of interest to Lib Dem and Tory councillors - I've not had any ordinary voter raise them with me, though as I reported a couple of weeks ago, my appearance in the Gazette did bemuse/entertain some of my constituents.