Few people make the case against excessive security and defence expenditure quite as well as Simon Jenkins.

Here he is describing the British government’s new National Security Strategy (A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty):

“…one of the most bizarre documents to emerge from the ectoplasm of the MoD. It was a paranoid’s manifesto, a Matrix movie horror. Admittedly, the authors had a tough job. There is no Wehrmacht hovering across the Channel, no Napoleonic Grande Armée massing at Calais and no megaton missile with itchy communist fingers pointing at Britain. So how on earth were they to justify £45bn? They decided, in their tidy way, to group various so-called threats into three tiers of seriousness.

The first tier contains four threats, like a Russian doll. Number one, presumably the greatest, is “attacks on British cyberspace by states and cyber-criminals”. The second is international terrorism. The third is a “military crisis” between other states, one that “draws in” Britain. The last is “a major accident or natural hazard that requires a national response,” such as coastal flooding or flu.

The second tier of threats comprise “an attack from another state using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons”. Next come “instability, insurgency or civil war overseas,” that affect us by somehow “creating an environment that terrorists can exploit to threaten Britain”. In other words terrorism again. Next is a big rise in organised crime. Next is “severe disruption to satellite-based information, possibly deliberate from another state”. This is a repeat of the cyberspace threat.

Lastly we have the third tier of threats, the least serious. The first is “a large-scale conventional military attack on Britain” by an unspecified other state. The second, somewhat desperately, is terrorism again, the third is crime again. The authors clearly ran out of threats, but had to fill their threat quota. We are also threatened by immigrants and smugglers “trying to cross the UK border”. We are “threatened” by an accident at a nuclear site; by a conventional attack on a Nato ally, and by an attack on a British colony. Finally, we face a curious bundle of threats: fuel shortages, price instability, and “a short- to medium-term disruption to international supplies or resources”.

You may note that almost none of the above is a threat. They are crimes and catastrophes or, in the case of being “drawn in” to a foreign conflict, a matter of political choice. Many things on the list may make me feel a bit uncomfortable, but few are remotely to do with the security of the state. They are incoherent and repetitive and rather desperate, like a madman with a sandwich board crying, “They are coming to get you; the end is nigh!”

Yet this list was the basis for last month’s strategic defence review with its £45bn price tag. A set of threats that are almost entirely non-military is to be met by submarines carrying nuclear missiles, two new aircraft carriers and dozens of jet fighters.”

You can read the full-text of the article, which appeared recently in the Guardian, here. The UK National Security Strategy should be read in conjunction with Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The Safran Group is buying L-1 Identity Solutions‘ biometric, identity and recruitment operations for around 1 billion. According to DefenceNews, the move will make the French aerospace and defence group the world’s biggest biometric identification company, “ahead of NEC of Japan and Cogent of the United States” (see also Safran’s press release).

Meanwhile, BAE Systems is buying L-1’s Intelligence Services Group for $296 million. “Their capabilities will enhance BAE Systems’ existing knowledge and expertise and will better position us to offer our government customers the security and intelligence support they need to complete their missions, now and in the future,” said Linda Hudson, president and CEO of BAE Systems, Inc.

BAE’s press release adds that “The acquisition of L-1’s Intelligence Services Group reflects BAE Systems’ global strategy to enhance and grow its business in the area of customer support and services, which includes cyber and security as well as readiness and sustainment activities. For the six months to 30 June 2010, this area of the business generated 49% of BAE Systems revenues.”

As The Times (20.9.10) observes: “as defence spending in traditional areas of procurement, such as warships and armoured vehicles, comes under pressure, BAE has increased its exposure to the well-funded security market.”

Here’s a question: what do Monsanto, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and the Netherlands police have in common with the US Military’s European Command?

The answer, as Jeremy Scahill – author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army – explains in The Nation, is that they have all availed themselves of the services of one of the most controversial private security companies on the planet. Here’s most of the article…

Blackwater’s Black Ops | 22.09.10 | Jeremy Scahill | The Nation

Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation.

Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation. Officials from Total Intelligence, TRC and Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe Services) did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article.

One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the “intel arm” of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.

Governmental recipients of intelligence services and counterterrorism training from Prince’s companies include the Kingdom of Jordan, the Canadian military and the Netherlands police, as well as several US military bases, including Fort Bragg, home of the elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and Fort Huachuca, where military interrogators are trained, according to the documents. In addition, Blackwater worked through the companies for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the US European Command.

On September 3 the New York Times reported that Blackwater had “created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq.” The documents obtained by The Nation reveal previously unreported details of several such companies and open a rare window into the sensitive intelligence and security operations Blackwater performs for a range of powerful corporations and government agencies. The new evidence also sheds light on the key roles of several former top CIA officials who went on to work for Blackwater.

The coordinator of Blackwater’s covert CIA business, former CIA paramilitary officer Enrique “Ric” Prado, set up a global network of foreign operatives, offering their “deniability” as a “big plus” for potential Blackwater customers, according to company documents. The CIA has long used proxy forces to carry out extralegal actions or to shield US government involvement in unsavory operations from scrutiny. In some cases, these “deniable” foreign forces don’t even know who they are working for. Prado and Prince built up a network of such foreigners while Blackwater was at the center of the CIA’s assassination program, beginning in 2004. They trained special missions units at one of Prince’s properties in Virginia with the intent of hunting terrorism suspects globally, often working with foreign operatives. A former senior CIA official said the benefit of using Blackwater’s foreign operatives in CIA operations was that “you wouldn’t want to have American fingerprints on it.”

While the network was originally established for use in CIA operations, documents show that Prado viewed it as potentially valuable to other government agencies. In an e-mail in October 2007 with the subject line “Possible Opportunity in DEA-Read and Delete,” Prado wrote to a Total Intelligence executive with a pitch for the Drug Enforcement Administration. That executive was an eighteen-year DEA veteran with extensive government connections who had recently joined the firm. Prado explained that Blackwater had developed “a rapidly growing, worldwide network of folks that can do everything from surveillance to ground truth to disruption operations.” He added, “These are all foreign nationals (except for a few cases where US persons are the conduit but no longer ‘play’ on the street), so deniability is built in and should be a big plus.”

The executive wrote back and suggested there “may be an interest” in those services. The executive suggested that “one of the best places to start may be the Special Operations Division, (SOD) which is located in Chantilly, VA,” telling Prado the name of the special agent in charge. The SOD is a secretive joint command within the Justice Department, run by the DEA. It serves as the command-and-control center for some of the most sensitive counternarcotics and law enforcement operations conducted by federal forces. The executive also told Prado that US attachés in Mexico; Bogotá, Colombia; and Bangkok, Thailand, would potentially be interested in Prado’s network. Whether this network was activated, and for what customers, cannot be confirmed. A former Blackwater employee who worked on the company’s CIA program declined to comment on Prado’s work for the company, citing its classified status.

In November 2007 officials from Prince’s companies developed a pricing structure for security and intelligence services for private companies and wealthy individuals. One official wrote that Prado had the capacity to “develop infrastructures” and “conduct ground-truth and security activities.” According to the pricing chart, potential customers could hire Prado and other Blackwater officials to operate in the United States and globally: in Latin America, North Africa, francophone countries, the Middle East, Europe, China, Russia, Japan, and Central and Southeast Asia

[…]

Through Total Intelligence and the Terrorism Research Center, Blackwater also did business with a range of multinational corporations. According to internal Total Intelligence communications, biotech giant Monsanto-the world’s largest supplier of genetically modified seeds-hired the firm in 2008-09. The relationship between the two companies appears to have been solidified in January 2008 when Total Intelligence chair Cofer Black traveled to Zurich to meet with Kevin Wilson, Monsanto’s security manager for global issues.

After the meeting in Zurich, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives, including to Prince and Prado at their Blackwater e-mail addresses. Black wrote that Wilson “understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto [brand] nameŠ. Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for.” Black added that Total Intelligence “would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto.” Black also noted that Monsanto was concerned about animal rights activists and that they discussed how Blackwater “could have our person(s) actually join [activist] group(s) legally.” Black wrote that initial payments to Total Intelligence would be paid out of Monsanto’s “generous protection budget” but would eventually become a line item in the company’s annual budget. He estimated the potential payments to Total Intelligence at between $100,000 and $500,000. According to documents, Monsanto paid Total Intelligence $127,000 in 2008 and $105,000 in 2009.

Reached by telephone and asked about the meeting with Black in Zurich, Monsanto’s Wilson initially said, “I’m not going to discuss it with you.” In a subsequent e-mail to The Nation, Wilson confirmed he met Black in Zurich and that Monsanto hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and worked with the company until early 2010. He denied that he and Black discussed infiltrating animal rights groups, stating “there was no such discussion.” He claimed that Total Intelligence only provided Monsanto “with reports about the activities of groups or individuals that could pose a risk to company personnel or operations around the world which were developed by monitoring local media reports and other publicly available information. The subject matter ranged from information regarding terrorist incidents in Asia or kidnappings in Central America to scanning the content of activist blogs and websites.” Wilson asserted that Black told him Total Intelligence was “a completely separate entity from Blackwater.”

Monsanto was hardly the only powerful corporation to enlist the services of Blackwater’s constellation of companies. The Walt Disney Company hired Total Intelligence and TRC to do a “threat assessment” for potential film shoot locations in Morocco, with former CIA officials Black and Richer reaching out to their former Moroccan intel counterparts for information. The job provided a “good chance to impress Disney,” one company executive wrote. How impressed Disney was is not clear; in 2009 the company paid Total Intelligence just $24,000.

Total Intelligence and TRC also provided intelligence assessments on China to Deutsche Bank. “The Chinese technical counterintelligence threat is one of the highest in the world,” a TRC analyst wrote, adding, “Many four and five star hotel rooms and restaurants are live-monitored with both audio and video” by Chinese intelligence. He also said that computers, PDAs and other electronic devices left unattended in hotel rooms could be cloned. Cellphones using the Chinese networks, the analyst wrote, could have their microphones remotely activated, meaning they could operate as permanent listening devices. He concluded that Deutsche Bank reps should “bring no electronic equipment into China.” Warning of the use of female Chinese agents, the analyst wrote, “If you don’t have women coming onto you all the time at home, then you should be suspicious if they start coming onto you when you arrive in China.” For these and other services, the bank paid Total Intelligence $70,000 in 2009.

TRC also did background checks on Libyan and Saudi businessmen for British banking giant Barclays. In February 2008 a TRC executive e-mailed Prado and Richer revealing that Barclays asked TRC and Total Intelligence for background research on the top executives from the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) and their potential “associations/connections with the Royal family and connections with Osama bin Ladin.” In his report, Richer wrote that SBG’s chair, Bakr Mohammed bin Laden, “is well and favorably known to both arab and western intelligence service[s]” for cooperating in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Another SBG executive, Sheikh Saleh bin Laden, is described by Richer as “a very savvy businessman” who is “committed to operating with full transparency to Saudi’s security services” and is considered “the most vehement within the extended BL family in terms of criticizing UBL’s actions and beliefs.”

In August Blackwater and the State Department reached a $42 million settlement for hundreds of violations of US export control regulations. Among the violations cited was the unauthorized export of technical data to the Canadian military. Meanwhile, Blackwater’s dealings with Jordanian officials are the subject of a federal criminal prosecution of five former top Blackwater executives. The Jordanian government paid Total Intelligence more than $1.6 million in 2009.

Read the article in full in The Nation

Interview with Ben Hayes, part of the Transnational Institute series in the run up to the ASEM (Asia-Europe) summit and parallel AEPF (Asia Europe People’s Forum) in Brussels next month. See also Susan George interview, “European Union: most anti-democratic and neoliberal in history”.

What is the history of the European Union’s security strategy?

Security is one of the newest areas for the EU, as it didn’t have an overarching security policy until 2003. The strategy it adopted is called “A Secure Europe in a Better World”. It argued that Europe needed to change its way of looking at security. It needed to move from a traditional framework of looking at defence from attack that came from the time of the Cold War to being able to take on a whole new range of threats from organised crime to terrorism to uncontrolled migration.

The EU, it said, needed to take on a strategic security culture, accepting that the first line of defence will often be abroad, intervening in failed states, taking proactive measures, developing security infrastructure. It was in many ways neocon-lite.  Politically, the main reason for the strategy was to justify a whole EU apparatus to do this.

What has this meant militarily?

People talked about a European army, and there were was talk of setting up battlegroups, but this has not got off the ground. There are 1.8 million soldiers in the EU member states (half a million more than the US) but – with the exception of Kosovo – the EU has not proved able to deploy even a 5000 person rapid reaction force. The EU has so far launched 22 security and crisis management operations, but only six have involved more than 1000 personnel.

NATO remains the dominant framework for military security in EU. Nearly all military missions are in some way dependent on US giving logistical support and most EU countries are happy to do that through NATO.

Would a European military framework be better than a NATO-based one?

There is an argument saying European values would be better represented in a European alternative framework, but there is a far more convincing argument that international policing should be done via the UN rather than the unilateral actions of a few powerful states or regional blocks.

The continued dominance of NATO, which has no democratic structure, is more  reflective of the fact that NATO states want to go it alone.

What elements of the European security strategy have been taken forward?

Within Europe, the focus has been all about counter-terrorism and border control, which has been used as a pretext to introduce surveillance policies that would have been unthinkable in the 1990s. Fingerprinting, communications surveillance, travel records, financial transactions – we now have mandatory surveillance on an unprecedented scale. Frameworks for global surveillance developed with the USA have also been set-up.

Outside Europe the main priority has been joint working on migration, in other words, trying to prevent illegal immigration by stopping immigrants in countries of origin or in countries of transit. This has taken the form of technical assistance, with many states in North and West Africa receiving help in shoring up borders, setting up asylum systems and detention centres, training border police in coastal areas – all to prevent departure from Africa to Europe. There has been a huge effort by the EU and its member states to make developing countries accept migration management clauses as part of trade or aid agreements, which are measures to prevent departure as well as obligations to take back illegal migrants.

In terms of investment, the EU has decided that it wants European companies to compete in the global marketplace for homeland security which is expanding rapidly into a market worth hundreds of billions of Euros. So the European Commission is providing subsidies for companies, mainly arms and IT companies along with some specialists and academics, to conduct research into technologies that will supposedly make us safer. Most of this research has surveillance systems at its core and includes companies who have been involved in arms deals that have resulted in human rights abuses.

I reviewed all of these security research projects for the report I wrote last year, NeoConOpticon: the EU Security-industrial Complex, and one of the most disturbing projects was one which funded research into combat robots for border control. Supposedly unarmed robots would be sent to intersect with people crossing borders illegally. The Polish and Israeli companies that received the funds do produce combat robots and drones. Much of the EU security research funding are subsidies for arms companies to put their wares in the EU shop window.

What are the consequences of the new approaches to security?

The easiest way of describing the EU or US overall approach is that security is starting to eclipse the rule of law. Policing used to be about responding to criminal acts; now it is all pre-emptive – maintaining security. and preventing crime, which makes its reach limitless. Under the guise of preventing terrorism, states have been able to introduce blanket controls with very little consideration of human rights. This has created big challenges for citizens who are keen to protect civil liberties or prevent criminalisation of social movements.

The huge expansion of targeted assassinations using drones, which is also a big area for European research, is an example of complete disregard for the rule of law. Rendition, torture and the use of secret prisons, all of which continue despite Obama’s arrival, amount to the same thing. The US and UK are the only ones using armed drones at the moment, but what happens when other states with less checks and balances start to use the same method to target their “enemies”?

Where does climate change fit into the EU security strategy?

Climate change is a slightly newer issue. In 2008, the EU came up with “Climate Change and International Security” strategy, which identified climate change as a threat multiplier, one that would exacerbate existing tensions and that could lead to political security risks that would directly threaten European interests. The strategy also pointed to statistics that suggested that the resulting environmental refugees could create massive human migration. The strategy stops short of saying what it will do about this, but it is likely to be a continuation of the current programme of preventing refugees leaving and outsourcing border control to Southern countries.

What should European security policy focus on?

What European security policy lacks is a focus on peace-building or conflict resolution strategies. It has done nothing, for example, to advance effective resolution of conflicts in the Middle East. The EU could garner support – and be seen as a counterbalance to US global military power – if it invested in these areas but it doesn’t. Instead it follows the US in pursuing a hard security doctrine that doesn’t address most causes of insecurity.

On migration issues, for example, why is there so little on why people migrate in the first place? Migration is a logical part of globalisation. So if we want to address the reasons people leave and respond in a non punitive way, we have to look at the conditions that force people to leave in the first place. Unless the EU changes track, we are heading the same way as Arizona.

How does Asia fit into European security policy? Will security issues come up in the ASEM summit?

I think the EU is primarily concerned with economic cooperation at the ASEM summit, although there may be some dialogue on security issues and the usual predictable declarations on fighting terrorism and organised crime. I know that the EU has provided counter terrorism assistance to Indonesia and  the Philippines. Sri Lanka was also one of EU’s targeted countries to prevent EU migration at source.

Beyond that European transnational companies will be hoping to cash in on the growing homeland security demands in countries like Malaysia and India. Most of this will be done bilaterally, as we have seen with the recent UK-India arms deal.

What do you think social movements should focus on during the upcoming AEPF?

I think the obvious priority is the way the focus on security is being used against protest movements and continues to be done so. We need to challenge the homeland security industry – who have become rich and powerful as a result of the outsourcing of the War on Terror and which one day could rival the military industrial complex. They have an interest in the endless expansion of the security-industrial complex, which has very serious implications for way the society is policed, and worrying implications for protest movements. While there are people within movements focused and working on this, I don’t think security and civil liberties at forums such as the European Social Forum or World Social Forum are high enough up the agenda.

Source: http://www.tni.org/interview/eu-security-industrial-complex

In July the Washington Post began its ‘Top Secret America’ series, examining the rapid growth of the USA’s heavily privatised intelligence establishment. Investigative journalism at its best, the series and its findings  should prompt those of us in Europe who care about such matters to start making the same kind of inquiries about our own security-corporate nexus.

The most alarming findings (summarised here) include:

* 1,931 intelligence contracting firms doing work classified as “top secret” for 1,271 government organisations at over 10,000 sites around the USA; 533 of these  firms were founded after the ‘9/11′ attacks.

* Contractors make up nearly 30 percent of the workforce of America’s intelligence agencies. At the Department of Homeland Security the ratio of contractors to permanent staff is 50-50. The Washington Post estimates that of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors.

* 18 government organisations contract 37 private companies to conduct psychological operations;

* 16 government organisations use 50 companies for “special military operations” (e.g., SWAT teams and unconventional warfare);

* 14 government organisations contract 50 companies for top-secret conventional military operations;

* 32 government organisations employ 36 different companies for counter-drug operations.

* The National Security Agency intercepts 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications every day and divides some percentage of these between 70 different databases.

* At least 263 intelligence organisations have been created or reorganized in response to 9/11.

Why does any of this matter? As the authors of Top Secret America point out: “What started as a temporary fix in response to the terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest — and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities”.

See Washington Post TSA series. Part one: “A hidden world, growing beyond control“, part two: “The secrets next door“, part three: “National Security Inc.” and Top Secret America blog.

The EU is also holding its annual security research conference this month, from 22-24 September in Ostend, see conference website.

SCR ’10 is focussed on the EU’s R&D programme (the security research component of FP7) and includes plenary sessions on “Halfway through FP7″,  “After Lisbon: The continuum of internal and external security” and “Security as a pre-requisite for prosperity”.

In addition, there are dedicated sessions on Maritime Security, Standardisation, CBRN, Cybersecurity, Transport Security, Security of the Citizens (sic), Security of Infrastructures, Restoring Security, Improving Security, Security and Society and the coordination of EU Security Research.

As with the Berlin security research conference, “ethics and justice” are squeezed into a single session (on Security and Society). The words privacy, human rights, governance and accountability do not appear anywhere in the conference programme.

The conference also includes a “brokerage event” and exhibition to “facilitate networking between companies, scientific experts, operators and policy makers”. More than one thousand participants are expected.

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the European Commission are co-organising a one and a half-day briefing tackling the “current state of play on security research, its challenges and its opportunities in the future”.

“SAFIRE” is a €3.6 million project funded under the European Security Research Programme, to which the EC is contributing €3 million. The project promises a “Scientific Approach to Fighting Radical Extremism” and has the goal of “improv[ing] fundamental understanding of radicalization processes and us[ing] this knowledge to develop principles to improve (the implementation) of interventions designed to prevent, halt and reverse radicalization”.

The SAFIRE consortium is led by the Dutch military research institute TNO and includes the RAND Corporation, the Israeli International Counter-Terrorism Academy (ICSA, which promises “to adapt the ‘Israeli Operational Philosophy’ to the most vulnerable of venues and complicated of local problems”), Compagnie Européenne d’Intelligence Stratégique (CEIS, the Strategic Intelligence Company, France), Bridge 129 (an Italian security company), several academics from Utrecht and Amsterdam, and the Instituut voor Multiculturele ontwikkeling (Dutch Institute for Multicultural Affairs).

According to the EC contract:

SAFIRE will develop a process model of radicalization, describing the process from moderation to extremism, based on a non-linear dynamic systems approach and a typology of radical groups. This is an innovative approach that has not been explicitly applied to this area up until now. Principles regarding interventions will be developed in close concert with the models, and will be applied in a longitudinal, empirical study. Important aspects of radicalization that will also be addressed are: the relationship between national culture and radicalization, radicalization on the Internet, and defining observable indicators of the radicalization process…

The results of this project will increase the understanding of both conceptual aspects of radicalization (e.g. the psycho-social dynamics of radical groups and individuals), and practical characteristics and modus operandi of radical groups (e.g. recruitment techniques).

The envisaged end-users are “policy makers, researchers in the field of radicalization and professionals who work with high-risk individuals”.

Leaving aside the wisdom of asking an industry dependent upon an ever-widening circle of threat to look at such a controversial and politically charged topic, several observations can be made about some of the alarming developments in the field of counter-radicalisation to date.

First, substantive research into the UK’s ‘Prevent’ programme, which was endorsed by the Joint UK Parliamentary Committee on Communities and Local Government, has highlighted the way in which the new ‘radicalisation’  agenda has been translated into the old doctrine of mass surveillance of ‘suspect communities’ by establishing “one of the most elaborate systems of surveillance ever seen in Britain”. See “Spooked: How not to prevent violent extremism”.

Second, the European Union has already adopted a far-reaching ‘radicalisation and recruitment programme’, including a detailed Action Plan, which it has kept secret. In the absence of precise information about how the EU intends to combat radicalisation, and in light of the experience of the Prevent programme, it is very difficult for civil society (which the UN has recognised as a vital actor in terms of counter-radicalisation) to have any confidence in its actions.

Third, as reported in last week’s Guardian, the EU has now tacitly extended its radicalisation programme to include political activists labelled as “Extreme right/left, Islamist, nationalist or anti-globalisation”, prompting outrage from MEPs. See Intensive surveillance of “violent radicalisation” extended to embrace suspected “radicals” from across the political spectrum.

Fourth, the premise of countering radicalisation on the internet has already led to widespread and entirely unregulated police surveillance of internet users, such as the EUROPOL “Check the web” programme.

As the Institute of Race Relations’ ‘Spooked’ report suggests, approaching radicalisation as a process in which people pass through some kind of prism from ‘liberal’ to ‘extremist’ (or indeed back the other way) is inherently problematic because:

the terms ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ are at times defined in practice by the degree  to which [people] support or oppose central government”.

And as the report concludes:

“in democratic societies, genuine trust can only come from the bottom up. So long as the government persists in a programme of imposing on its own citizens an ideological war over ‘values’ that is backed up with an elaborate web of surveillance, that trust will not be forthcoming. And those on the receiving end of such a programme will remain ‘spooked’ by fear, alienation and suspicion”.

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