I noticed this week that the Transport Minister, Lord Adonis (anything but one), has announced that full body scanners will become compulsory at UK airports and if you refuse, you won’t fly. Full body scanners are like x-ray vision and show you up on a screen as though you’re naked. There are safe guards to privacy, but even so, appearing nude on a screen is a step too far? Now, I’m all for security and I take the threat of terrorism seriously and one we should fight. But I also take the threat to our civil liberties seriously too. A balance has to be struck between living our daily lives and taking the unnecessary precautions.
The success of terrorism is not always measured in gained territory, or a body count, but in the effect on a population. If a terrorist group can make changes to our daily lives, it considers that a success. If they can make us undergo embarrassing and evasive body scans, it’ll be another notch on the bed post. The question will be, what next, ID cards and then they’ll be laughing all the way home. As the only people ID cards will hinder are law abiding subjects.
Government is not easy, especially in the face of a terrorist threat. And it can’t be easy, they do have a battle to fight and if they get it wrong, it’s us who die. However, what will win the war against terrorism, is not phone tap evidence, house arrests, trials without juries, but actually funding and trusting our intelligence services. It’s quiet clear that what is stopping attacks, is not greater airport queues, but pre emptive strikes against cells, home and abroad.
However, with this Government you do have to ask yourself questions. Do they really mean it? Or are they just after the headlines? Does being tough on terrorism travel beyond the news cycles and that in reality they’re just trusting to luck like the rest of us, while throwing out a blanket of security with expensive gadgets and reassuring words. Surely a better use of the money will be to spend it on human intelligence assets (what used to be known as spies). But then, you can’t really issue a press release on that.
The Brighton Bomber once said, “we only have to be lucky once, you always have to be lucky.” I’m not too sure that what the Government is doing is buying us this luck. I think in typical fashion, it’s all words and no action. It’s a fancy smoke and mirrors exercise hoping that it may catch the casual bomber and may, just may, if we keep our fingers crossed make it more difficult for determined terrorist to blow up planes. But I suspect all it’ll do is notch up another bed post as our way of life is changed again, that another small freedom is gone by way of a ratchet and that ultimately we will win this fight for the terrorists by stop being the country they loath with traditional freedom, respect and liberty and become the kind of country they thrive in, of fear, shadows and terror.