VII A Personal Prologue
I’d like to finish this little series with a personal note, and an announcement, as by now it is probably clear to you that this subject, along with others related to it, is something I feel very strongly about.
Where I could I have tried to support some folks as they sought to build a new life for themselves, since there are no official programs they can tap into. Some have done so and persisted against all odds; others who initially sought my help have wavered, fearful of going against their families. When there is no official support, it’s not surprising they waver, and try to avoid angering the only other support they have, their families. They feel they are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. In these cases, I have stepped back; the decision is theirs and it is not my place to pressure them.
Instead, what I plan to do is to keep learning and hold myself to a higher standard of neutrality. On the basis of this learning, I also plan to continue to speak out against labeling people, many of whom are trying so hard to leave their past behind, and to speak out against dehumanizing practices and actions in general. In my view these have become more predominant as counter terrorism has moved away from a law enforcement approach based on the rule of law and become increasingly more militarized and less accountable. This I might add is exactly what al Qaeda wanted and relies upon for sustenance and growth.
I recognize here that militarization is an inadequate word, and in part puts more blame on the military than it perhaps deserves, as a significant part of the problem comes from militarized elements of intelligence, which operate outside judicial scrutiny and oversight. This is why, as I’ve commented before, intelligence should never have control over counter terrorism; although here I’d add neither should the military. (Again, this is a subject for another blog post). Sadly, it seems support for these tendencies has also taken root in parts of what pass for counter terrorism studies.
For these reasons, as I mentioned on twitter recently, I do not wish my blog to be associated with the ongoing metastasization of what now passes for counter terrorism. Lest anyone accuse me of going rogue, I’d refer you to Australia’s National Counter Terrorism White Paper in which there is no support for dehumanizing practices and actions, with a lawful, proportionate and accountable response that upholds democratic principles and universal human rights instead advocated.
To be effective, Australia must pursue a principled and proportionate response that promotes and upholds the values we seek to protect. The Government does not support the use of torture or other unlawful methods in response to terrorism. Terrorism is a crime and the Government will pursue terrorists within proper legal frameworks and in accordance with the rule of law. A response based on our democratic values and universal human rights serves to undermine the narrative of terrorist groups that seek to portray our actions, and those of our allies, as oppressive…
I can’t tell you how many times in dialogues I’ve ended up with nothing else left to say in trying to explain the ‘war on terror’ except for “but we’re not like that,” “we don’t torture,” “my country does not support these things.” Because of this, I’d very much like to see both sides of Australian politics grow a backbone and speak out more strongly against those in the international community whose response has and continues to operate outside democratic values and universal human rights, and in doing so impacts upon the security of our country too. Sadly, I don’t see this happening any time soon.
For all of these reasons, I have for quite a while now toyed with the idea of taking the blog down, or finishing it because I don’t wish it to be associated with what counter terrorism is now conceptualized as, associated with, has become, and looks likely to become. But after some consideration I thought it best to keep it up, keep undertaking more research and to keep speaking out, and to do so with a new title for the blog; the rather unoriginal but pointed name of The Blog Formerly Known as All Things Counter Terrorism.
It may not mean much in the grand scheme of things. But it is what it is: the protest of one former analyst turned academic and public commentator, who’s sick and tired of watching what are in my view amoral, legally questionable, and counterproductive practices that go against democratic principles and universal human rights being justified and enacted as “counter terrorism.”