UK Police Chief hints at internment
Abu Turab / Prisonplanet.com | October 14 2006
Last July, Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said that
another terrorist attack in London was inevitable. "I think there will
be further attacks" he explained, "in fact I know there will be further
His surety may be puzzling at first, but for those who believe that the
attacks of 9/11 and 7/7 were 'Reichstag Fire' style events, essentially
self-inflicted wounds designed to generate public outcry and allow the
pursuit of political goals that would have otherwise been impossible to
find widespread support for, his comments may be assessed in a much more
troubling light. (2)
Last week, Commissioner Blair, speaking at a closed private meeting,
reiterated his claims about future attacks and suggested that the
British people should "brace themselves for a truly appalling act of
terror". (3) According to details leaked by an shocked insider who was
present at the meeting, Blair suggested that following this act of
terorrism, "people would be talking quite openly about internment", also
giving the impression that he would be leading the pro-internment lobby.
This helps put the puzzling front-page stories from the mainstream
British media over the past few days into context. Frenzied rhetoric --
criticizing Muslim policemen, Muslim cabbies, and Muslim dress, to
describe just a few of the stories circulating -- has served to raise
anti-Muslim feeling among the public to such levels that MP George
Galloway describes as "almost a pre-pogrom atmosphere". (4)
Coupled with the suspicious silence of the national press about the
discovery by police of what is described as a record haul of chemical
bomb-making components, together with rocket launchers, extremist
literature and a nuclear biological suit (5) -- the story being confined
mainly to small local papers -- serious questions can be raised about
the underlying agenda of the press.
Unlike the other recent 'plots' involving chemical weapons, such as the
fictional liquid-bomb plan, of which many of the accused didn't even
have passports let alone tickets, and unlike the botched Forest Gate
fiasco where over 200 men were involved in the police operation to raid
a house, shooting a man in search of an imaginary chemical vest -- this
operation actually did find a haul of chemicals and weapons. However,
the culprits were white non-Muslims, which explains the lack of press
conferences from Home Secretary John Reid, and the absence of front page
Something sinister seems afoot.
Back in 2002, the Detroit Free Press ran a story entitled "Arabs in US
could be held, official warns". (6) The official referred to by the
article is Peter Kirsanow, an appointee to the US Civil Rights
Commission by President Bush, who claimed that in the event of another
terrorist attack, there would be "a groundswell of public opinion to
banish civil rights" since "the public would be less concerned about any
perceived erosion of civil liberties than they are about protecting
their own lives." Kiransaw warned about the possibility of internment
camps for Arab Americans. Other sources have reported that FEMA (the US
Federal Emergency Management Agency) has actually practised for such an
This scenario then, is what Ian Blair may be pointing to. Following some
new attack on British civilians (thereby providing maximum 'outrage
potential'), possibly involving biological or chemical weapons, the
media will be able to rouse the public to such an extent that talk of
internment -- the imprisonment of innocent citizens without trial or
charge -- will no longer be taboo among either the laity or the
Journalist Peter Dale Scott reported in February of a little-known $385
million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to a
Halliburton subsidiary, to provide "temporary detention and processing
capabilities." (8) He cites Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst
who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. military's account of
its activities in Vietnam, as suggesting that this is "almost certainly
[a] preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners,
Muslims and possibly dissenters."
This background makes recent laws passed on both sides of the Atlantic
all the more worrying. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (9),
recently passed by Congress, "authorizes the President to seize American
citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United
States" according to Yale law Professor Bruce Ackerman (10). And "once
thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers
or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights."
Meanwhile, following the liquid-bomb plot (which ex-ambassador Craig
Murray (11), and other experts (12) have exposed as a fictional but
politically useful propaganada diversion) Tony Blair is again planning
to push through legislation -- allowing detention without charge for 90
days -- that was rejected last November following a rebellion by his
Labour MP David Winnick has said that the move would be "totally
unjustified", but conceded that he fully expected ministers to use the
latest terror scare to push for a longer period. (13) "Going back only a
few years ago, police had just two or three days to release or charge
suspects and that figure has repeatedly been increased by Parliament
with little opposition", he explained. "The danger is that by increasing
it steadily, you get up to 90 days and then people will start saying 90
days isn't enough."
Following the terror scare, John Reid (an ex-Communist 'enforcer',
according to Murray) also revealed that he is considering introducing
powers to put suspects (including British citizens) under house arrest,
without being charged or convicted of any offence. (14)
All this is in addition to the highly controversial Civil Contingencies
Act, passed in 2004, that allows police to enforce evacuations, restrict
travel, destroy private property without compensation and ban peaceful
protests. Planned amendments to the Act have proposed that police be
given the right to detain anyone in the ‘vicinity’ of a suspected
bioterrorist attack (which some suggest may be the type of attack the UK
is expecting next) and also the prospect of internment without trial for
British citizens. (15)
There's still more. Leaked documents, outlining a plan known as
'Operation Sassoon', (16) have detailed how the Government intends to
evacuate London in the event of a terrorist incident. (17) The plans
describe how citizens could be herded into "rest and reception areas" in
the Home Counties. Worryingly, mention is made of long term rehousing if
an attack makes an area uninhabitable, again raising the possibility of
internment. (18) The then minister for London, Nick Raynsford, told The
Sunday Times it was possible that areas of London could be evacuated
even before any attack had happened. (19)
If a strategy for the internment of citizens was in the offing, nearly
all the cogs and gears necessary to achieve it are already in place. A
new terror attack, conveniently generating a helpful wave of national
indignation, would be the catalyst needed to accelerate and seal the
plan, and would be used to sell the idea to the public. This is the kind
of outrage that needs to take place before the public mood is altered to
the extent that Commissioner Blair can come public with his ideas.
Internment is not something new in the history of Western democracy.
During World War II, the US forcibly interned thousands of Japanese
Americans, most of whom were citizens, into hastily constructed housing
facilities called "War Relocation Camps". (20) The British, apart from
the more recent and notorious policy of internment in Northern Ireland,
also interned many aliens, refugees, and even suspected
enemy-sympathisers who were British nationals during the war. (21)
Also interesting, are archived newspaper reports describing how Germany,
under Hitler, began with the internment of Communists in separate camps,
citing difficulties in finding enough available places in state prisons.
(22) Of course, as time progressed, these 'innocent' and 'justified'
internment camps became increasingly sinister, being converted into
death camps in which many people perished. It might therefore be
worrying to see many recent articles in the national media indicating
that UK prisons are close to reaching capacity, with the press calling
for novel solutions. (23)
History has a remarkable way of repeating itself. (24) The actors vary
but the struggles are constant. Our age has already seen a new Reichstag
Fire, followed by 'Enabling Acts' in both the US and the UK. It
seriously seems as though concentration camps and full-blown fascism may
be next on the agenda.
The head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist squad during the late 1980s
and early 1990s, George Churchill-Coleman, is not the only one that can
read the trends. "I have a horrible feeling that we are sinking into a
police state" he suggested, "and that's not good for anybody". (25)
Especially for Muslims, who could be amongst the first victims of such
nascent fascist police states, the first victims of a new open genocide
in Europe (26) and the first occupants of the internment camps that Ian
Blair might have in mind. But certainly not the last.
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out. (27)
(1) "Met chief warns of another attack"
(2) "London Bombings Data Page" -- see especially the excellent analysis
of comments by Peter Power
(3) " EXCLUSIVE: Sir Ian Blair Says New Terror Attack Could Lead to
(4) "The jackboots of our time"
(5) "Chemicals Find: Two In Court"
(6) "Arabs in U.S. could be held, official warns"
(7) "Foundations are in place for martial law in the US"
(8) "Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps"
(9) "RIP, Bill of Rights, RIP"
(10) "Torture Bill States Non-Allegiance To Bush Is Terrorism"
(11) "The UK Terror plot: what's really going on?"
(12) "Ex-UK Intel Official says Liquid Explosive Claims 'Fiction'"
(13) "Terror alert: Blair to force through 90-day detention"
(14) "Reid wants to bypass human rights law and intern suspects"
(15) "Blunkett plans jail without trial"
(16) "Operation Sassoon"
(17) "More Order out of Chaos..."
(18) "Martial Law"
(19) "London could be evacuated if attacked"
(20) "Japanese American internment"
(22) "Communists to be interned in Dachau" -- see date
(23) "Jails are full – what do we do with criminals?"
(24) "When History Repeats..."
(25) "Britain 'sliding into police state'"
(26) "The next holocaust"
(27) "First they came", a poem attributed to Martin Niemöller
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