[Reader-list] Here we go! (or "Encryption? Bad boy!")

Menso Heus menso at r4k.net
Fri Sep 28 17:41:12 IST 2001

BBC Radio interviewed UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, see:

For the original see:

Here is the rough copy & paste:

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says "naive" campaigners against stronger 
internet surveillance laws have hurt the anti-terror fight. 
He suggested that with stronger powers, the security services might have 
detected some of the 11 suicide hijackers who are now 
known to have passed through the UK on their way to the US. 

Mr Straw also repeated warnings that prime terrorist suspect Osama Bin 
Laden and his followers - whom he compared to the Nazis - could be 
planning further outrages. 

Working on the basis Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation was still intact 
"there continues to be a risk of them making further attacks", he told 
BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday. 

"We don't know exactly where. On the one hand, none of us wish to raise 
anxiety in the minds of the public, but we would be complacent and 
irresponsible not to warn of the risks." 

It was Mr Straw's successor as home secretary, David Blunkett, who 
disclosed that some of those responsible for the attacks on New York and 
Washington could have previously been in the UK. 

There is conflicting media speculation about the length of their stay 
and whether any associates are still on the loose in Britain. But Mr 
Straw reacted forcibly when challenged by Today over why the 11 had gone 

"Whenever I was arguing in favour of tougher anti-terrorist powers... 
I was told that this was a breach of civil liberties, almost that it 
was the end of civilisation as we knew it, that it was completely 
unnecessary and the beginning of the Big Brother society," he declared. 

It wasn't Big Brother government, it was government trying to put in 
place increased powers so that we could preserve our democracy against 
this new kind of threat

Mr Straw said he tried to give powers to the security services to 
de-encrypt commercially encrypted e-mails in case terrorists tried to 
use them to communicate with each other. 

"What happened? Large parts of the industry, backed by some people who 
I think will now recognise they were very naive in retrospect, said: 
'You mustn't do that'. 

"The pressure was so great that we and the United States... had to back 
down a bit.
"Now, I hear people saying 'why were these terrorists here' - well, the 
answer is not because of any lapse by the intelligence or security 
services or the police, but because people have had a two-dimensional 
view of civil liberties. 

"The most fundamental civil liberty is the right to life and preserving 
that and sustaining that must come before others." 

The Confederation of British Industry was one of the groups originally 
opposed to Mr Straw's de-encryption proposals. 

A spokesman said: "Obviously that debate took place in very different 
circumstances from now so we would want to consult members to see if 
their views had changed. 

"In the end it's about finding a balance between the fight against 
terrorism and maintaining the right to privacy for businesses' 
commercially sensitive information." 

The spokesman stressed British business "completely backs" the government's
fight against terrorism. 

The foreign secretary's warning of further attacks by al-Qaeda echoes 
Europe Minister Peter Hain, who said on Wednesday that "we are in a 
very dangerous situation". 

Mr Straw rejected suggestions it might better to open diplomatic 
contacts with such groups. 

"You can't negotiate with these people. 

"The best historical parallel, I'm afraid to say, is with those at the 
top of the Nazi regime - it wasn't possible to negotiate with Hitler, 
although some people understandably but naively thought that it was." 

Anyway, the :// part is an 'emoticon' representing a man with a strip 
of sticky tape across his mouth.   -R. Douglas, alt.sysadmin.recovery

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