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Is the West Building Its Own Iron Curtain? 337

New submitter pefisher writes "The British are apparently admitting that they track their citizens as they travel the world (through information provided by intelligence agencies) and are arresting them if they have been somewhere that frightens them. 'Sir Peter, who leads the Association of Chief Police Officer's "Prevent" strategy on counter-terrorism, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that those returning from Syria "may well be charged and investigated, but they will be put into our programmes".' The program seems to consist of being spied on by the returnee's cooperative neighbors."
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Is the West Building Its Own Iron Curtain?

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  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:35PM (#46076125)
    The Iron Curtain kept people from escaping from oppressive regimes. This article is just talking about prosecuting people who have been fighting for terrorists, and scrutinizing those suspected of hanging around with terrorists. It has auras of creepy surveillance, but definitely is not an Iron Curtain.
  • by SecurityTheatre ( 2427858 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:36PM (#46076137)

    In discussions about government spying and surveillance, there is often a vocal group who says "if you don't have anything to hide, then this spying should not bother you."

    The counter argument is that governments have tended to take information they are given and when the right person is in power, or the right sentiment strikes the public, those programs are expanded and distorted beyond their original intent.

    I'm sure in the 1970s and 1980s when these programs were first beginning to be set up, they had noble intentions of only ever targeting known criminals and spys, and eventually were justified by saying that if makes people feel more secure in a post-9/11 world.

    But the reality is, even without these programs, we live in the safest time that humanity has ever seen. The odds of dying of a freak accident like choking on a grape are more real to the average person than terrorism, or crime.

    This is not the right solution to this invented problem.

  • Re:No (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:39PM (#46076163)
    There are certain places in the world that if you go you should be setting off alarm bells.
  • Iron curtain? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:41PM (#46076179)

    The notion of this being an Iron Curtain is a bit silly IMHO.

    However every country on Earth has laws against their citizens defecting to the enemy, and serving as enemy combatants. Why should Muslims get a free pass, because it's currently unfashionable to call them out on antisocial and illegal behaviour (under the rubric of "anti racism")?

    You don't, as a Muslim or anybody else, move to the land of milk and honey, take advantage, and then go and wage war against your country's interests. If you do so, then your adopted country is well within its rights to deal with you as they would any traitor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:42PM (#46076185)'s_law_of_headlines

    Nuff said

  • The Iron Curtain's primary goal was to keep the information (about West's superiority) out — and own citizenry in.

    As long as the British are free to leave their country, things are Ok... Letz [], I believe, once said: "A country you can leave is the country you can live in."

  • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adam Colley ( 3026155 ) <mog&kupo,be> on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:49PM (#46076249)

    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength

    More seriously, it is getting a bit that way here and the idea that you can be held simply for travelling to a country the government of the day doesn't like is outrageous.

    For a start anything you do outside the country is none of their damn business. Secondly people may well have very legitimate reasons for going, perhaps they have friends/family there, perhaps they're working for an aid agency, amnesty, independent media or doctors without borders? This country is going to hell in a handbasket.

    Additionally, this scumbag government is trying to get rid of the human rights act and withdraw us from the european convention on human rights, the tabloid fodder they're using to justify it is that prisoners may get the vote if we stay in. (which they should have anyway, they're supposed to lose their liberty, that is all, not be tortured/raped/beaten in private prisons or detention centres and not disenfranchised.)

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @07:57PM (#46076303)

    Exactly. Like the United States. They start or get involved in many, may wars, spy on every other nation on earth and even track their own people like dogs with microchips under their skin.

    If you're traveling to the US your intentions surely must be questioned.

  • by julian67 ( 1022593 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:00PM (#46076323)

    There are British citizens or residents who, in a private capacity, engage in armed conflict abroad, often due to alliegance to ideologies and religious beliefs that deem their home country to be a target, and they come to the attention of the state, and other states who also fear being targeted by the same people for the same reasons. They may have to explain themsleves on their return home, and may be arrested if suspected of criminal activity. In the mind of some slashdot submitters and editors this can apparently be equated to the imprisonment of hundreds of millions of people, and the killing of many hundreds or even thousands simply for trying to travel abroad.

    Dear fucking cretins at slashdot,

    here is a small hint: there was no equivalent of Heathrow or Gatwick airports or Dover or Southampton ferry ports in the DDR, the USSR, or any of the other "people's" republics. If you're British and you want to travel abroad do you know how hard it is? You go to the ferry port and get on a ferry. You need some money and some ID such as a driver's license. That's it.

    I'm pleased that people who train for and engage in murder and kidnapping are actually faced with the prospect of being held to account, whether they do it here or in Syria or Pakistan or Ulster or anywhere else.

    So if you think just getting on a boat or aplane and crossing a national boundary should amount to a license to do as you please and some kind of immunity then just fuck off and get a clue or if that is too difficult maybe you can ask mommy, but please stop whining and regurgitating your misunderstandings, half truths, and flat out lies.

  • Re:Irony (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:03PM (#46076341) Journal

    Well, George Orwell, who was British, wrote the novel.

  • by tapspace ( 2368622 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:05PM (#46076361)

    Spot on. I just lost my modpoints, or I wouldn't be commenting, I'd be promoting.

    Like all rational policy, there needs to be some sort of risk/reward analysis objectively performed on the "security" aparatus in the West. For 100 years of claiming superiority as the "first" world, we seem to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater at an alarming rate seemingly in reaction to the various growing pains in the "second" (and, in some cases, "third") world. What happened to our example? Even more frighteningly, what WILL happen? The massive security aparatus of the West (and, obviously, the US first and foremost) represents an enormous risk to future security of the freeman. And, it counters an absolutely miniscule risk in comparison. This is no sensible policy. I pray to God (literally) that this is reversible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:07PM (#46076363)
    After WWII, technology grew by leaps and bounds, and lots of naive optimism about how we'd have a leisure society or end world hunger. Instead we're regressing to how humans have always behaved: high school students with armies.
  • Iron Curtain? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:12PM (#46076391)

    Iron curtain, no. Stasi, maybe.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:12PM (#46076395)

    You forgot some pertinent facts: The U.S. has a long history of funding terrorists, supporting coups, and undermining democracies.

  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:44PM (#46076595) Homepage

    Yeah, this is no different than Americans traveling to Northern Ireland in the past, and having their finances examined when they get back to check if they gave money to terrorists.
    I say that as a Celtic-American with Irish Republican sympathies. I can imagine being on either side of this sort of issue, in the right circumstances. My country should check me out if I come back from a conflict region. That is simple and practical.

  • Re:Irony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @08:55PM (#46076673) Homepage Journal
    This Britain is where 2014 is actually happening, and is making 1984 look outdated, and optimistic.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Sunday January 26, 2014 @09:03PM (#46076733) Journal

    The U.S. has a long history of funding terrorists, supporting coups, and undermining democracies.

    Nation-state acts to further its own perceived self-interests. News at eleven!

    Oh, I'm sorry, did you want more than a sarcastic one liner? Geopolitics make for strange bedfellows. Democratic Finland allied itself with Nazi Germany during WW2. That doesn't make them Nazis. My country has done some very regrettable things throughout the course of history, some of which were understandable in the context of the times (particularly the Cold War, something few people around here can truly relate to), some of which weren't. Either way, we didn't do anything every other nation-state hasn't done and continues to do.

    Realpolitik is a bitch sometimes, isn't it? When you're fighting for national survival you're going to side with the despot that will ally with you over the democracy that won't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @09:41PM (#46076963)

    I pray to God (literally) that this is reversible.

    I see. Well, thanks for nothing. Some of us are trying to do something about it. Maybe you could help instead of chatting to your invisible friends about it...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @10:22PM (#46077173)

    How is this insightful? Sometimes a question is just a question, and the point is to have a discussion. If anything, ending this with "nuff said" shows just how intellectually bankrupt you are. I guess you just weren't fast enough to say "first post!", huh?

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @10:41PM (#46077287)

    "There are certain places in the world that if you go you should be setting off alarm bells."

    I see. Guilt by association is now okay? That's news to me.

    I don't give the slightest damn where people go. It's what they do when they get there that matters.

    While it might not be like an "iron curtain", per se, it certainly IS like a dictatorial police state.

  • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @11:26PM (#46077463)

    I always wonder what Milosevic and Mladi would be up to today if the US had just stood back and let Europe deal with the problem. How many millions would have died before someone summoned up the balls to do anything besides wring their hands and go "oh my, wont someone do something!"

  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @11:59PM (#46077613) Homepage

    Oh come on. Guilt by association has always been a part of the scenery.

    And so was burning of witches. But we got better.

    There are plenty of people in Syria, and they have relatives who live in other countries. Should those relatives be waterboarded in UK if they go to safe areas of Syria just to see their dying parents?

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ignavus ( 213578 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:43AM (#46077849)

    You forgot some pertinent facts: The U.S. has a long history of funding terrorists, supporting coups, and undermining democracies.

    Yes, but they are OUR terrorists, OUR coups, and OUR ENEMIES' democracies.

    And we are RIGHT!

    Moral choices are so much easier when your country is always right. It's practically like you don't even need to think.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:49AM (#46077885)

    You're being ridiculously blind to our actions, making a blanket statement they were necessary for the very existence of the U.S.A. rather than often bone-headed moves that not only were against our supposed morals (e.g., freedom, democracy, not-mass-murdering) but also ended up biting us in the ass and incurring loss of life that otherwise wouldn't have happened. If we actually acted as a country in a way that we say we believe in, we'd probably had a much better last 50 years.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ne0n ( 884282 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:02AM (#46078189) Homepage
    So true. Definitely not home of the brave after remotely bombing so many children and innocents. []
  • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @02:07AM (#46078211) Homepage

    Certainly they'll look at them and if they have dying parents that should be pretty much the end of it. It's reality and the world we live in.

    The reality of the world is that US or UK police cannot possibly prove or disprove that Mr. X went to Syria to see his relatives or to play a soldier. How do you propose to "look at them" if they were in a war-torn country? Should they just ask politely? What kind of an answer will they get?

    There is even no way to prove that someone from UK went to Syria. The border between Turkey and Syria is wide open, and you can take a taxi from one country to another. There will be no records, no visas, no stamps in the passport. Once you are out of UK you can go anywhere and do anything you want. Short of being photographed, none of that can be proven. Many fighters keep their faces covered (which is not a bad idea in a desert anyway.)

    The monitoring net, done poorly (as you can do it only poorly,) will only snag innocents who are stupid enough to admit that they went to Syria or other hotspots. The bad people will lie to you, and you can't do anything about it. As result, you not only have bad people against you, but also you push the innocents into the hands of bad people if you mistreat them. If you do not want people to go from UK to Syria, why do you admit Syrians into the country in the first place?

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:03AM (#46078551)
    Yeah. Witches before that. Should get good mileage out of the Terrism though. That'll be around a good while.
  • News at eleven (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:38AM (#46078639)

    > Geopolitics make for strange bedfellows [...]

    And we should approve of all this because?

    Listen. I can understand why a Palestinian who has lost half of its family to Israeli bombings blows himself up taking with him a bus of Israeli schoolchildren. *That doesn't mean that I approve of that!*. It stays an horrible act and shouldn't have happened.

    I can understand that Oliver North, Keith Alexander or whoever does the nasties he does. *But still, as a citizen, I stay firm that those are no-nos and they should be chased off their positions, because they're harming democracy*

  • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday January 27, 2014 @09:06AM (#46079571) Journal
    Why would they need to stage a coup? US elections are almost invariably won by the candidate who spends the most on advertising (one dollar, one vote, although I think at the last election is was closer to $10/vote, but that's inflation for you) and the Supreme Court recently removed the checks that made it easy to block foreign funding of candidates. It's still technically illegal, but it's now basically unenforceable. Given the amount of money the US hands out around the world, buying an election would probably be quite a good investment. The $5-10bn of up-front investment can easily be recouped with a couple of favourable trade deals.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell