‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, went to Washington where she participated in an International Leaders Forum on "The Transatlantic Bond in an Age of Complexity" at Brookings Institution. The event, moderated by Karen Donfried, President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), was jointly organised by the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) of Brookings Institution and the GMF. The Vice-President then met with Madeleine Albright, Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. Who says that the old ghosts don’t haunt today’s skies. The day after Federica Mogherini (on the left) met with Michael Froman, US Trade Representative. The specter of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) must have been present. Again the old phantoms are present in today’s business. (EC Audiovisual Services, 21/01/2015).

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, went to Washington where she participated in an International Leaders Forum on “The Transatlantic Bond in an Age of Complexity” at Brookings Institution. The event, moderated by Karen Donfried, President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), was jointly organised by the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) of Brookings Institution and the GMF. The Vice-President then met with Madeleine Albright, Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. Who says that the old ghosts don’t haunt today’s skies. The day after Federica Mogherini (on the left) met with Michael Froman, US Trade Representative. The specter of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) must have been present. Again the old phantoms are present in today’s business. (EC Audiovisual Services, 21/01/2015).

Only days if not hours after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in Paris, some governments and many politicians in Europe called for more and tougher internal security measures. Undoubtedly, such action would compromise the civil liberties of European citizens, but those governments and politicians don’t seem to mind. It seems that for them, further sneaking citizens’ freedoms and privacy is not a problem. If it’s not a sacrilege, a long-time friend and reader of Charlie would be justified to shout out that Charlie’s great cartoonists George Wolinski and Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac would have laughed at the face of those who want to further challenge our civil rights and liberties on the pretext of their death.

European passenger name records (PNR), more controls at borders and extra internet surveillance are just a short list of the extra security tools already in use or planned to be intensified in the immediate future. In reality, Charlie’s disaster is probably just a pretext to pass additional security measures from Parliaments. Even worse, in many countries such government action doesn’t need parliamentary ratification. A government or a ministerial decision or not even that is enough to curb the rights of the unwary citizen. On countless occasions it is reported in the press that various government agencies or private security businesses have surpassed their, albeit vague, legal limits.

Politicians and terror

The European Parliament though has been proved to be more sensitive over citizen’s rights than many national legislatives. Still, even the EU legislators must feel the pressure exercised by some mysterious quarters, which campaign for the introduction of more security tools, extra communications surveillance mechanisms and the installation of additional internal security infrastructures. European parliamentarian Claude Moraes (S&D, UK) chair of the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs commented that, “There has to be a balance between the safety of European citizens, and their privacy and fundamental rights”.

In many respects this is the heart of the entire internal security affair. However, where does this balance stand or how much does it have to slip every time an attack occurs? The answer is that during the last few years the balance always drifts against the people’s liberties and rights. It was not always like that. In the past, the politicians didn’t argue in favour of the introduction of large-scale internal security measures, despite the left-wing terrorism outbreaks of the 1970s and the 1980s in Italy and Germany.

It was not always like that

It seems that European leaders forget that for decades they didn’t pay much attention nor devoted government money to the lawlessness and delinquency problems tantalizing entire regions in our urban conglomerates. Housing, schooling, health, hygiene and social services and policing in large parts of many European mega-cities were and still are left to rot. Not to say anything about the non-existing employment prospects for tens of millions, living in the squalid parts of our urban conglomerates.

On the other side of the fence, after the 11 September catastrophe in New York’s twin towers, billions are spent on internal security. At the same time, citizen’s rights became an open space for everybody to fiddle. A huge brand new sector of private business has emerged and now prospers and expands at exponential speeds just by trampling on civil liberties. All European citizens now know very well that they are monitored, watched over and that their communications can be very easily intercepted by a large number of government agencies and private operators.

Skyrocketing securing spending

Actually, many European countries which have no apparent external enemies and their borders with neighbors are practically nonexistent, are nowadays devoting more government spending on internal security than on national defense. And those resources are not used to protect the citizens’ liberties and rights, but rather on the opposite direction, that is to spy over them.

A brand new sector of private business has then emerged in the internal security universe with one preferential customer; the government. Apparatuses and systems of any conceivable kind of control, surveillance, monitoring, eavesdropping and other innumerable devices, infrastructures and programs are being constantly developed and used by government agencies and private businesses. All that is being generously financed with public money or indirectly charged to customers.

Yet the world is less secure

In short the developed world, mainly the Atlantic part of it, has found a brand new ‘enemy’; its citizens. Muslim terrorism has offered to the West the justification base for political support, not only to undertake military action and wage wars all over the world, but also a rationale for internal security action and measures. All that offers at the same time brand new ways of enrichment for many. Unfortunately by the same token, our brave new world becomes every day a less secure place to live in and raise a family.

 

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