British Partliamentar Rebellion Against Suspect Detention Time

MPs belonging to all political parties in the British Parliament rose in anger at proposals from the government to double the time terror suspects can be held without charges being levied against them. There are fears the government may well expand the number of suspects twelvefold in the coming decade. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith insisted: “There is a clear trend of growing complexity, growing numbers of people involved, of international links, that make it at least likely that at some point, longer than 28 days may be necessary for police and other investigators to investigate, interview, sift the evidence, make the international links to be able to charge somebody.” She sprang a surprise on the MPs by placing into the proposed legislation authority for the police to use the new power in dealing with any criminal, not just terrorists. David Dawes of the Conservative Party argued the proposal, in effect, meant England was now in a “permanent, undeclared state of emergency” that could go on forever. Bob Marshall-Andrews of the Labor Party argued the government had so far failed to give “a single example, not one,” to justify the need for extending time to hold prisoners.

We live in the world of Bushmania in which governments can throw the word out of “terrorism” to justify any action against “suspects.” After all, someone who has been “detained” is not yet a convicted terrorist, they simply are a human who has been charged with a crime. If the history of the United States is cited, there are simply very few actual examples of “terrorists” being charged with crimes, let alone convicted.

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