This blog post is the introduction to a series of posts on the topic of civil liberties.
Discussion about anti-terrorism legislation and other legal reform often centers around the issue of civil liberties. What I find rather lacking in public debate is any discussion of why civil liberties are regarded as important (or not).
As this debate is currently centered around preventing terrorist attacks I shall also discuss the risks from terrorism and how best to counter them.
There will be four posts in this series:
1) What abuses occur when civil liberties are lost?
In my opinion the core of the argument for civil liberties is that the political process, the judicial process and the trust in the state necessary for the proper functioning of society are all damaged when civil liberties are undermined. The rights of the individual are there to protect society not the individual.
2) What other problems occur due to the loss of civil liberties?
When police are put under pressure they cut corners. When judges make errors other judges are reluctant to overturn them. When mistakes happen politicians try to cover them up. Some problems are not the result of criminally minded and scheming individuals but the result of people trying to save their jobs.
3) What are the actual risks from terrorism?
The papers and the politicians both benefit from hyping the risk of terrorism. What are the true risks?
4) WMDs and terrorism.
We've been scared of the WMD menace before. Should we be worried?
5) How best can we combat terrorism (without losing our liberties)?
Some discussion on what current laws are really necessary and what other steps we might take to reduce the risks from terrorism.
The first posting in this series will be in a couple of weeks time so stay tuned!