Are you a terror suspect?

In a way this story is reassuring. I don’t have any objection to some extra attention being given to someone who fits a profile of a terrorist. But of course the potential helplessness in the face of bureaucracy is thoroughly spooky.

In this case nothing too terrible happened. But it’s just a matter of time. Or, more likely, plenty of indefensible and nasty things have happened already, but to people who are less able to articulate their concerns.

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saint
2022 years ago

I don’t know. It’s spooky to me. So the police made a mistake. But did they expunge records of his arrest and give him an official apology so he won’t be unfairly discriminated against in the future? (e.g. job applications requiring security clearance, applying for visas when travelling….). Doesn’t sound like it. Sure authorities should be able to approach those they deem suspicious. It’s what they do when they get it wrong that worries me more.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Yes Saint, you are correct. What happened to him was spooky. I was forgetting the bit at the end. I guess I was suggesting that most of his BASIC protections remained operative – but that leaves his protection from having his record properly amended to reflect what transpired.

Rafe
2022 years ago

It has indeed happened already and the person who suffered was not in a position to articulate his concerns because he had been shot five times in the head.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Yes, that guy’s basic protections got away from him.

Fortunately it could never happen here. The Prime Minister and the Premiers are making sure the package is altogether terrific before we’re allowed to worry our pretty little heads about it.

Very sensible too.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Actually, this story really alarmed me when it turned up on Slashdot a few weeks ago. I happen to know a guy with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high functioning autism.

He matches the profile almost exactly. He plays with electronic gadgets, fidgets and is unable to stop himself from pacing around for more than a few minutes. In London he’d be arrested quick smart.

A lot of geeks are like this, or share these mannerisms. High functioning autism is almost the stereotype of deep geekdom – Bill Gates is believed to be in this category, for example.

It’s very unfortunate that the profile fails to identify other alternatives to “OMG HEZ A TERRIORIST!!!1!!1”. Something along the lines of “these are also symptoms of certain forms of autism”, with more information along these lines, would have been helpful.

Mindy
2022 years ago

I think he got it wrong when he said the police consider him innocent. The police consider that they don’t have enough evidence to charge him, not that he is innocent. If he wears his jacket again, with a backpack, and acts in a manner suddenly considered suspicious he will discover exactly how uninnocent the police believe him to be. Ridiculous but true.

G. H. Schorel-Hlavka
2022 years ago

David Mery story ought to underline the dangers to give police such powers. Today they refer to terrorist, but tomorrow they will include any criminal matter, and before you know it, standing in your garden may be suspicious that you try to suss out the place to rob it.
Keep in mind that the Australian version has the heading “and for other purposes” and as such can be used for anything. Meaning, that it has nothing to do with anti terrorism but that if there is someone having done a robbery anyone in the area could be detained for up to 14 days, and up to 12 months in secret if ASIO considers you are not telling the truth (How do they know the trust if they detain you wrongly in the first place?)

Anyone who thinks that the anti terrorist legislation is only regarding terrorism obviously never bothered to real the draft bill. It has numerous sections in it that indicates that it can be used without being relevant to any terrorist activity or suspected terrorist conduct.
As such, the police now can avoid having to obtain a warrant to search someone’s property if they suspect someone has stolen property but can invade your place and detain you for up to 14 days, even so you may have purchase some item lawfully in a store and have a receipt to prove it, but because it happen to be an item simular to what was stolen some years ago, say a video recorded, and it could be used for taping something then it can be used for criminal purposes.
You think this is bizarre? Well, so was it when in 2001 I warned people that soon Australians might be detained and deported. It happened then and continued to happen!
If the anti terrorist laws were really designed to protect the general community then no secrecy would be needed.
Members of parliament are elected to represent the people, not that they now dictate the laws we are to be subjected to and in the process rob us of our constitutional and other legal rights.

Just keep in mind this so called anti-terrorism legislation is worse then Hitler Enabling Act provisions. So all we need is another Hitler (by whatever name) to implement the powers. And, we know what that can result too.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

“The police officer gives me a partial copy of the Custody Record (Form 57). It does not contain the inventories of the content of my rucksack or what they took from the flat. The detail pages are not numbered and do not include the ‘facts of arrest’. The Reasons for arrest is listed as: ‘Other offence causing a public nuisance. DP [detained prisoner] caused a major evacuation of three main line rail stations after his deliberate actions caused police to believe he had explosives’. To the best of my knowledge this is factually incorrect, only Southwark tube station was closed. I couldn’t find any mention of even one main line rail station being closed (if you’re aware of any please email me). On the form they note: ‘DP is calm on arrival [at the station], almost too calm’. Interesting to realise that being calm is something that disturbs the police!”

That bit really frightens me. It seems to be a deliberate distortion of the truth, and it remains on the record.

I would also not be feeling too casual if I thought that I could never enter the United States again, perhaps for the rest of my life.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Yes, I agree David, I was too casual in the post. But re being kept out of the US, if you answer ‘yes’ when they ask you if you’ve ever been a member of the Communist Party, then that’s it for you and the US. (I don’t know if that has been changed but I was asked that when I was interviewed to enter the US as a visitor about ten years ago). So given how capricious the US can be, I somewhat discounted the point – because you can find yourself on the wrong side of the US pretty easily. (I think they just hate our way of life!)

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I have a horrible vision of some immigration officer at LA airport googling people…

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

I just have a horrible vision of immigration control at LAX full stop.

The first time I encountered it, they sent me back to the end of the enormous queue to start over ‘cos I’d filled my form in with a felt pen not a biro. And that was pre-911.

And I was an upstanding and obviously well to do WASP male with a spotless record. I feel sorry for anyone win this new world who isn’t.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Yep, they’re a nasty bunch at LAX. NY isn’t too hot either, but it’s nothing till you get into the taxis.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I walked through the immigration control in El Paso and hitchhiked off down the highway with no problem at all. I just made jokes to the white goons about Mexicans. Mind you, that was a while ago.

David Mery
2022 years ago

All, thanks for the discussion.

Mindy, interesting point which had me checked again what I had written! It should be the same as in theory one is supposed ot be innoncent until proven guilty so “The police consider that they don’t have enough evidence to charge him” should be the same as them considering me innocent.

G.H. This gradual erosion of our civil liberties is effectively something I feel very worrying as well. And if we don’t do anything about it we are partly guilty.

I really hope Australians will be able to stop the bill being be passed. You really don’t want to get on this slope.

Re US. It’s not so much the fact that it is unlikely I can get a visa and trying to get one takes at least 5 months (plus 40 days getting a data subject access from the Met beforehand) that I find a serious concern, it is the fact that this may affect my carreer prospects. And there’s no recourse.

I stumbled upon this blog via spotting a link in the Barrista blog found via Technorati, ie I’m not a regular so if you feel I should revisit the comments or want any additional clarification, it’s probably better to send me an email (as well).

br -d

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Actually “and for other purposes” is pretty boilerplate stuff. The meaningful provisions of the Act are in the Act itself – the long title does not lend legal effect unless there is no other way to understand a contested provision. In such cases “and for other purposes” tends to be ignored because it is – as I said – mostly empty boilerplate.