Abuse of power is very old. King David arranged the death of Uriah to conceal the Kingâs rape of Bathseba.
Gordon Brown and his Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith say they want pre-charge detention of terror suspects to be extended from 28 to 42 days. The BBC reported the Home Secretary thus:
Ms Smith told the BBC there was a “serious and consistent threat from terrorism”.
She added: “In order to ensure we prosecute people who want to cause murder and mayhem on our streets, we may well need to hold them longer to do that.”
Ms Smith also said: “We need to legislate now for the exceptional circumstances that there might be in the future.”
We now know that there is and was no basis in fact for making these claims. The only support has come from Alex Carlile, a government appointee and Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, a man himself in need of political support and friends.
The proposal is a recipe for injustice. They are saying that they want to imprison people for up to 42 days while they search for evidence upon which they could charge them with an offence.
The claimed justification is an operational one. The preferring of charges is central to the operations.
The preferring of charges is the job of the Director of Prosecutions (âDPPâ?). The man with that job is Sir Ken Macdonald QC.
Sir Ken not only disagrees with Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith, he actually opposes them. He has no difficulty preferring charges within 28 days, the current limit and nobody, he says, has been held for longer than 14 days in the nine months prior to April 2008.
It is rumoured the Brown-Smith position is simply to draw a âfavourableâ? contrast between the Labour position on âsecurityâ? and the Conservative position.
Are there any standards by which to judge Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith?
Yes, and they are not moral. Jurisdiction aside, would they not be guilty of a breach of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1001(a), which makes it a crime for a person to âknowingly and willfullyâ?:
â¢ falsify, conceal, or cover up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
â¢ make any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
â¢ make or use any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry
â?in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States.â?
The punishment for violating section 1001 is a fine, imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.