Saturday, June 30, 2007

Congratulations and Thank You

Congratulations and thanks are due to the police who have made safe two car bombs in London.

An eye-witness reports a police officer climbing into a car to disconnect a mobile phone - possibly a detonation trigger. No one was hurt. Respect to those whose professional service saves life and limb.

On a side note, I can't help observing that for two car bombs, there was one parking ticket and one towing. A fairly average day in London to that point.

4 comments:

Peter said...

Hmmm... you read about a police man climbing into a car to dismantle a mobile phone bomb that could go off at any moment and you wonder about libertarians that want to restrict police powers of investigation that could stop bombs like this being set in the first place. Perhaps the officer should have waited for a civil libertarian to defuse the bomb.

No one wants a police state. But, by the same degree, no one wants bombs going off downtown. It's a careful balancing act to get the right mix...

Onyx Stone said...

Peter,

I think even the most libertarian views would consider "emergency response" a special case. Brave action in the heat of the moment may break a number of normal rules. What the libertarians object to is the right to search any car without specific reason.

More challenging to the libertarians in this case is that the bombers are likely to have been caught on CCTV (since London has more cameras trained on it than Britney in a wet t-shirt).

If the (failed) bombers are found this way, I think libertarians will have to say "Yes the cameras were useful, but on principle it is better that the bombers escaped detection than that everyone's privacy (to move about without being filmed by the state) was compromised."

I find myself accepting the libertarian argument, even though it is quite hard to pallet in this case.

Peter said...

It's a question of what defines freedom?

If the libertarians don't want camera surveillance, phone taps, etc then there will be more bombs in cars so are they prepared to be the one's to defuse them? Why should some policeman have to risk life & limb because it offends someones conscious to have effective measures in place to stop stuff like this in the first place?

I know it's one of the authoritarian arguments from Orwell's 1984 but, "If you're not guilty, what have you got to fear?"

The fear is that power will be abused. But if there are checks in place (like an independent judge reviewing police surveillance and issuing a warrant).

Do we want the freedom to walk in downtown London without fear of bomb attacks or do we want the freedom to plant bombs without detection?

When I visited the US last year I was interviewed by a news crew at an airport and asked what I felt about the increased security. I replied "It's a minor inconvenience, but you know you're safe."

Taking your shoes off and having them x-rayed at Heathrow does seem rather silly and overkill. It's a bit like having a lock on your house door. Locks keep honest people honest. If someone really wants to get in, they will. But then, who would go to sleep without locking the door?

In other words, even if it is ineffective, it's better than doing nothing. CCTV is only useful after-the-fact, but it is useful nonetheless.

Rather than infringing on my rights, it protects them.

Lord Nazh© said...

Still can't quite put my finger on how you can infringe a privacy right by putting a camera in a public place (not a hidden camera either) :)