Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Terror Arrests and Political Popularism.

Political popularism is not new. It is nonetheless disturbing, especially when events such as uncovering of terrorist plots is used to introduce tougher anti-terrorist laws and increased surveillance. This week is a good week for this kind of popularism.

In Germany the Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is, according to this BBC article, proposing stricter anti-terrorist laws in the wake of the arrest of three men suspected of planning a "massive" terrorist attack. Schaeuble's statement that "[m]ore security cameras should be used where it is sensible" is particular appropriate in its meaninglessness.

On Tuesday in Denmark, the far right Danish People's Party called for tougher anti-terror laws after the Danish police similarly arrested two individuals suspected of planning a bomb attack. The party's justice spokesperson, Peter Skaarup, proposed that individuals who have made statements deemed to be anti-democratic should be denied entry visas, and called for more video surveillance. (For more see this Politiken article).

Luckily, the Danish government was not impressed by the proposal. The Liberal Party's(1) Birthe Rønn Hornbech made this sensible statement to the Politiken newspaper: "I simply don't understand the logic of tightening the law when someone is arrested. This shows, on the contrary, that the police has good opportunities to work within the existing law."(2)

Finally, the EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini is using the two sets of arrests to push for a EU-wide airline passenger data recording system similar to that of the US (For more see this Politiken article and this Forbes article).

(1) The Liberal Party is a right wing conservative party. In Europe "liberal" generally means to be for free markets and small government.

(2) My translation. The original quote is:
"Jeg forstår simpelthen ikke logikken i, at reglerne skal strammes, når der pågribes nogen. Det her viser tværtimod, at politiet har gode muligheder for at arbejde inden for den eksisterende lovgivning«


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