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London Tube Dangerous for Technophiles? 971

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-look-suspicious dept.
TsukiKage writes "Traveling on the London Tube is dangerous these days, it seems - and not because of terrorists. Quick as ever to try and protect against the attack that has just happened, zealous police will detain you at the drop of a hat." From the article: "The next train is scheduled to arrive in a few minutes. As other people drift on to the platform, I sit down against the wall with my rucksack still on my back. I check for messages on my phone, then take out a printout of an article about Wikipedia from inside my jacket and begin to read. The train enters the station. Uniformed police officers appear on the platform and surround me ... They handcuff me, hands behind my back, and take my rucksack out of my sight. They explain that this is for my safety, and that they are acting under the authority of the Terrorism Act."
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London Tube Dangerous for Technophiles?

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  • by fishdan (569872) * on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:09PM (#13630869) Homepage Journal

    The MBTA [mbta.com] in Bostonhas instituted a search policy on the commuter rail and subway. They say the station I come into in the morning (North Station) has about 25000 people come in during rush hours in the AM, making it impracticel tosearch everyone. Ithink "random" searches are never random -- people gettargetted.

    The ACLU has a detailed page describing how to deal with a search request [aclu-mass.org]. One of the primary differences in the US and UK is clearly illustrated -- I don't mean this as a slam on the UK, merely pointing out a difference. In the US every ctizen is supposed to be immune from unreasonable search [cornell.edu]. Of course the definition of reasonable is opem to debate. But it's only by people pushing against crazy things like these train searches that we are able to defend indivual freedoms.

    With the recent supreme court ruling in the Hiibel case [epic.org] it's more important than ever that citzens defend the right that are given to them. I hope other Bostonians will print out a copy of the ACLU's advice page [aclu-mass.org] ann keep it with them when they travel on the T. If you are an American and live in a place that has unreasonable searches, contact your local ACLU and see what they advise.

    Regretting that you can't do something in the war on terror? Here's your opportunity. Defend civil liberties at home.

    • by networkBoy (774728) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:15PM (#13630924) Homepage Journal
      from TFA:
      "I am carrying a bulky rucksack, and kept my rucksack with me at all times;"

      This was deemed suspicious. (Aren't we told not to leave our bags out of our sight elsewhere?)
      -nB
      • by iamhassi (659463) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:30PM (#13632063) Journal
        "This was deemed suspicious. (Aren't we told not to leave our bags out of our sight elsewhere?)"

        well at least they gave him a lot of good reasons! In the US they would never explain why you're being arrested unless you happen to meet an extra nice officer, otherwise you'd be waiting to hear why from your attorney.

        They do have some good reasons:
        --they found my behaviour suspicious from direct observation and then from watching me on the CCTV system;

        --I went into the station without looking at the police officers at the entrance or by the gates;

        --two other men entered the station at about the same time as me;

        --I am wearing a jacket "too warm for the season";

        --I am carrying a bulky rucksack, and kept my rucksack with me at all times;

        --I looked at people coming on the platform;

        --I played with my phone and then took a paper from inside my jacket.

        think they left out "you're a male" and "you're between the ages 18 to 40" though.

        However I think the rest of what happens is absurd. Here's the quick run down:
        --they inspect all his stuff
        --they take him to the police station and book him (fingerprints, photos, DNA, etc)
        --they put him in a cell for hours
        --they search his apartment (WTF??) and take all his computer equipment (!!!!), private photos, address books, and other stuff they dont even know about
        --he's questioned for hours and released nearly 24 hours after first being arrested (!!) AND THEY KEEP HIS CELLPHONE!

        This should have stopped after the inspected his bag AT THE STATION and realized there was no bomb.

        Good thing i live in the US.

        • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Friday September 23, 2005 @04:03PM (#13632517) Homepage Journal
          --I went into the station without looking at the police officers at the entrance or by the gates;

          Uh. Yeah. MOST people I see on the London transport network try their best to avoid any eye contact with anyone, and seeing police in London is so common that they're hardly worthy any extra notice.

          --two other men entered the station at about the same time as me;

          Uhuh. Because that is really unusual at Southwark during the evening rush... For those unfamiliar with it, Southwark is the closest tube station to Waterloo East, and thus a significant interchange point along one of the main rail lines in/out of central London as well as being in the middle of an area with a significant number of large office buildings.

          --I am wearing a jacket "too warm for the season";

          Except that it was a cold day...

          --I am carrying a bulky rucksack, and kept my rucksack with me at all times;

          Ok, so carrying a bulky rucksack a week after the failed attacks on the 21st was perhaps asking for some extra attention - and the way I understood it he wouldn't have complained if they'd let him go when having checked out his rucksack. But keeping it with him at all times? Anyone travelling regularly into London can more or less recite the security warnings that go out over the speakers at every damn tube and rail station every few minutes telling us in a few different wordings to keep our belongings with us at all times to avoid uneccesary security alerts or they might get removed or destroyed by the security services... Whenever I have a rucksack or suitcase with me, I hold on to it at all times - I'd rather not have my laptop blown up, thank you very much.

          --I looked at people coming on the platform;

          Hey, one of my favorite pastimes when waiting for a train. Waiting is boring. Looking around you is a fairly natural way of making time pass.

          --I played with my phone and then took a paper from inside my jacket.

          Seriously... That just describes about half the travellers on my route to work.

          But we agree that the rest of what he went through was ridiculous. Makes me wonder why I've never been stopped considering I've carried bulky rucksacks with me to/from work several times a week, but I guess being blonde and blue eyes they don't think I'm capable of doing anything bad.

        • Imagine if he had had encrypted files on one of his computers. OSX has a feature that 128-bit encrypts your home directory. Its pretty much automatic, you just turn it on. I used to use it (for no real reason other then novelty), but once they started the random subway search thing in NYC I turned it off. If something like this was to happen and the HDD was encypted they would never let you out.
    • by nubnub (795694)
      I come into South Station and for weeks after London my commuter train would get stopped in Norwood for about five minutes while police with dogs walked the aisles of the train. Not once did the searches inconvenience me or anyone else on my train in any form, not once were they violating anyone's rights. They mostly seemed to be looking for unattended bags. I think most of the police presence in South Station and North Station is for show, and the rest is to make sure the trains are searched between the
      • Yeah, we got the dogs in Salem too. I LIKE the dogs, because it's a meaningful, non-random search. And it's reasonable. My co-worker is Bolivian, and he gets stopped and searched on over 50% of the flight he takes. He's dark skinned -- and apparently that's enough to skew the statistics. That's non-meaningful, and apparently non-random, and thus, in my book, unreasonable.
        • by allism (457899)
          My blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned yuppie lawyer sister-in-law got pulled aside for a detailed check over half the time when she was commuting weekly between Kansas City and New Orleans over a year's time. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence.
        • HA - I wish the military gate searches where "random" like they say... I get searched, litterally, 10 times more than my wife. The german contractors love the fact that my car isn't sold in Germany and they like to look at it. They also know (from the sound) that I've played with it a little and like to look under the hood. Her car: A toyota Carrola - mine: Saturn SC2

          The fact that while I'm at work, I drive a van to haul equipment, I get searched almost everytime with that. I can partially understand that,
    • by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:49PM (#13631371) Homepage Journal
      Under Common Law in the UK, you generally can't be prosecuted for doing anything that any reasonable person might do. This was used very successfully by a man claiming to be the reincarnation of King Arthur, who had been prosecuted along with some of his "knights of the round table" for 'travelling together with a common purpose' - an action prohibited under the Criminal Justice Act. The Law Lords considered his defence that he couldn't go on quests under the CJA a better argument than the Government's.


      The TPA is supposed to have safeguards, preventing wanton abuse by the police - otherwise they'd just call everyone a terrorist and sort out who was what over the week they get before having to present some evidence. The police can't just arrest anyone they happen to feel like. Well, they can, they're just going to get bollicked by the courts if they try, as happened in the aforementioned case.


      This is no different from in the US, where anyone can physically be arrested by the police and subject to whatever searches the police feel like. The Constitution is just paper, it can't physically intervene. All a person can do is plead their case in court and hope for a sensible judge. (More than a few convictions in the US have been overturned on appeal, because the Miranda rights were violated - deomonstrating that it can take several rounds before anyone pays attention.)


      It's also important to note we don't know ALL of the facts of the case. For all we know, British Intelligence may have tipped the police off that an attack was likely on that route, sometime soon. In which case, you're dealing with an entirely different scenario to one where the police were acting spontaneously, without due cause. All we can do, at this point, is guess as to the motives involved and the information the police had posessed. (I shall refrain from drawing inferences about the demonic nature of anti-terror squads that posess.)

      • For all we know, British Intelligence may have tipped the police off that an attack was likely on that route, sometime soon. In which case, you're dealing with an entirely different scenario to one where the police were acting spontaneously, without due cause.

        This makes it ok? Jesus Christ we are all doomed... What happened to this guy is NOT ok even if they knew for a _FACT_ someone was going to blow up a subway line. I would rather die free- killed by a terrorist- than live in the sort of society that con
    • by Pxtl (151020) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:06PM (#13631664) Homepage
      I'm a white Canuck who crossed the border on a trip by Greyhound (never again) to Chicago recently, and I don't know if they claim to do "random" checks or review "suspicious" people only or whatever.

      Let me be blunt: they go by race. Completely. Girl in line in front of me at customs seemed to be of indian or pakistani descent, but spoke English clearly enough that I assumed she was raised in Canada and was likely a Canadian citizen.

      Of course, they went completely through her bags and took quite a while with her. My wife and I went through quickly, as did several other non-middle-eastern folks. There was a family of 5 that simply took forever because they were quite obviously recent immigrants.

      Right or wrong, there is no doubt that "random selection" has become a euphemism for racial profiling.
      • by blincoln (592401) on Friday September 23, 2005 @04:23PM (#13632725) Homepage Journal
        Right or wrong, there is no doubt that "random selection" has become a euphemism for racial profiling.

        My experience is that it's not necessarily racial profiling, so much as whoever-the-agent-thinks-looks-suspicious profiling. For some of them, that is race, but often it's just whoever looks unusual and/or poor. In my experience, this tends to randomize whether or not I'll get hassled at all pretty effectively.

        I am a US citizen, but I went to university in Canada for three years, so I have a good chunk of experience going over the border.

        Taking Greyhound is a good way to fall into the "poor" category, even if you're not. Every time my dad took Greyhound to visit me, they would do a bunch of extensive searches. I took the Amtrak bus instead (because it was cleaner, and maybe $5 more for a ticket), and I don't think I was ever searched - including the time I had a 4 foot long duffelbag full of hard cider clanking around in it on my back.

        The only time I saw someone non-white get searched on Amtrak was a Chinese lady (as in a citizen of China) who not only didn't speak English and didn't have a travel visa, but her only piece of "ID" was a letter from the US government explicitly DENYING her permission to enter the country.
    • by rho (6063)
      This is what you will get when you have public transportation. If the government is involved in providing a good or service, and if the good or service is threatened, the government is the one that has to solve the problem.

      This will entail the intrusion of the government on your civil liberties in one form or another.

      Now, if you're willing to completely exonerate the government from wrongdoing--say by passing a law that says the government can't be held legally responsible for incidents or accidents tha

    • With the recent supreme court ruling in the Hiibel case it's more important than ever that citzens defend the right that are given to them. Rights aren't given. The government does not have the ability to "give" rights. It is intended to protect the inherent rights of every human being in its jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the American government has failed in this duty. It should be replaced.
  • Terrorism Act (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OctoberSky (888619) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:12PM (#13630892)
    Terrorism Act = Patriot Act? Its funny, they don't sugar coat it like the US does.
    • Re:Terrorism Act (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      Sugar Coat = Deception? It's funny, that you would sugar coat it like the US does.
    • what's in a name? (Score:3, Informative)

      by sammy baby (14909)
      http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html [epic.org]

      SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE AND TABLE OF CONTENTS.
      (a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the `Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001'. (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
      Sec. 1. Short title and table of contents.
      Sec. 2. Construction; severability.
      TITLE I--ENHANCING DOMESTIC SECURITY AGAINST TERRORISM...

      Et cetera, ad nauseum

  • And then... (Score:4, Funny)

    by HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:12PM (#13630899)
    After you are detained, you are taken to the ministry of love for evaluation.
  • by mangus_angus (873781) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:14PM (#13630916)
    Either you detain them and we get stories like this poping up, or you don't and once it is a actual bomber or something and people looking for someone to blame start asking "well he was clearly suspicious, he should have been stopped, detained, and questioned. Had that happend we wouldn not be dealing with one of the worse tragedies of our time." Sad but true.
    • Personally, I don't think the problem is that he got stopped. If the police want to check you out, there's no law against them asking you if you would step aside for a moment to speak with them. Even a search granted by a "terrorism act" is acceptable under extreme circumstances. But to then arrest him, take his stuff, ransack his home, and demand bail all without reasonable cause (there was no bomb in his pack!), now THAT is a problem.
    • by forand (530402) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:35PM (#13631161) Homepage
      People will die. The number who die in terrorist acts are extraordinarly small when compared to other high risk things most people in industrialized nations do everyday, like driving 2000 lbs or steal at 60 mph down a freeway within feet of other people in similar situations. My point is that stoping every person who "looks suspicious" is a subjective thing and always will be, subjectivity leads to profiling so you don't harrass the rich guy who is going to sue the station. The risks associated with not harassing everyone who "looks suspicous" are very small, why should everyone have to pay with their privacy, time, and freedom to theoretically reduce that risk?
    • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:38PM (#13631208)
      What did this guy do that was "clearly suspicious"?

      If you had read the article, you'd see that the cops grabbed him because of him using a cell phone then pulling out a piece of paper and a lap top while he was wearing a jacket and a ruck sack.

      This is what is known a "stupidity" because the next round of terrorist attacks will involve guys dressed in suits and carrying briefcases. That way, they will get past the idiots doing the "profiling" who don't have any idea how to profile correctly.

      It is easier to get past a badly done profiling system than it is to get past a system of random checks.

      If I were that guy, I'd do a quick test and wear the same outfit to a different station, do the same things BUT wear thick glasses and a yarmulke and see if he gets picked up again.

      If he does, then the cops are being consistent (even if they're doing it wrong).

      If he does not then the cops aren't providing ANY protection against ANY attack.
    • Insightful my ass. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bani (467531)
      You really think the next bombing will be people carrying cellphones, laptops and rucksacks? No. The next bombing will be people who are completely outside the narrowminded profiling the police are using.

      This actually makes the population less safe because police are focusing their attention on the wrong things and wasting precious resources chasing shadows. While they are busy jumping all over innocent bystanders, it will provide the real criminals the distraction they need.

      Way to go!
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:53PM (#13631430) Homepage
      Either you detain them and we get stories like this poping up, or you don't and once it is a actual bomber or something and people looking for someone to blame start asking "well he was clearly suspicious, he should have been stopped, detained, and questioned

      I think most folks are in favor of stopping and questioning suspicous people, and then checking their bags if necessary. It was the several hours of wasted resources and time after that fruitless initial search that was not only intrusive and rude, but a diversion of police resources from potentially stopping a real terrorist.
    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:31PM (#13632078)
      You're forgetting the fatigue that false positives bring. There are a finite number of non-terrorists that the police inspect before they develop a Pavlovlian fatigue and laziness ("The last 28 people we've investigated in the past two days were false alarms, why should this one be any different?")

      If this keeps up, it's only a matter of time before a third kind of story pop up: Suicide bomber was investigated and released shortly before detonnating himself.

    • "well he was clearly suspicious, he should have been stopped, detained, and questioned."

      Except this guy wasn't suspicious. You're really trying to tell me that not looking at a cop, looking at the people that go on the train, reading a piece of paper, wearing a raincoat, and checking your cellphone for messages is "suspicious"? This is gotten to be insane. Even added up they amount to normal everyday behaviour. If the police think they're going to stop terrorism like this, they've gone completely bonker
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:15PM (#13630927)
    the whole scenario just freaks me out... the prospect of the Police just detaining anyone who fits the "profile" and searching their home under the terrorism act... I'm innocent, but you can bet your last £ that something somewhere in your home or in your computer could be construed as being terrorism related...

    just wonder if I wiped that copy of "The Anarchist's Cookbook" I downloaded in curiosity five years ago from usenet... not to mention the fact that my education and armed forces experience gives me the capability of designing and building timer devices... and of cooking up explosives...

    • I'm thinking a tourist, prepared for the event, could have fun.
      1) look suspicious, but innocuiously so (like the author)
      2) get harassed
      3) scream for your consulate and turn it into an international fiasco.
      4) sell your 15 mins of fame for . . .
      5) profit!
      -nB
  • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:16PM (#13630930) Journal
    I'm not one to immediately yell "constitutional rights!" anytime a peace officer attempts to do their job. I think under the recent circumstances it reasonable for a police officer to stop someone and ask them what their purpose is, and assuming its done in a non-discrimatory manner to ask to look through your concealed possessions.

    However, the en-mass encirclement of a single person (unnecessary use of intimidation/force), and the incarceration (handcuffs!) of a citizen w/o any evidence of a criminal act is preposterous. I am unsure of the legal system available to those in the UK, but at the very least I would consult a barrister to confirm what you real rights are... many times police officers use their authority to intimindate people into compliance, even if their own behaviour is illegal.
    • I think under the recent circumstances it reasonable for a police officer to stop someone and ask them what their purpose is, and assuming its done in a non-discrimatory manner to ask to look through your concealed possessions.

      I guess it depends on where you live. To me, no officer has any business asking me what I'm doing if I'm not obviously doing something that warrants his suspicions. Then again, I'm a true American and not one of these post-9/11 dickheads that is scared to fly, drive, or cross the s
    • It IS illegal in the UK for the police to do this. At least, in theory it is. However, ever since the IRA started blowing things up in the 70's (thank you Irish-Americans of New York) there has been a yearly "renewal" of a bill of anti-terror legislation. Every year, and particularly in the last 4, it has been getting stronger and stronger. The upshot of this is that the police merely need to whisper the word "terrorist" and everything is nice and legal.

      Even shooting someone in the head 7 times because "h

  • by scovetta (632629) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:17PM (#13630951) Homepage
    How can you blame the police for searching you? You were reading a Wikipedia article. You might as well have been using Linux and p2p to trade government secrets with Saddam bin Satan.

    Seriously though, that's messed up. Were you reading the paper in a threatening manner? I can't see them doing that to people for *no reason* (sure, maybe for an *invalid* reason, but there's a difference...)
  • by Have Blue (616) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:18PM (#13630959) Homepage
    The presence of a slightly suspicious person shuts down a train for a few hours? It seems that an organized civil disobedience effort could keep the entire London tube system offfline indefinitely by wearing backpacks and using cell phones in carefully chosen stations and times. How long could that go on before someone realizes it's not preventing terrorism and it's more trouble than it's worth for everyone?
    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:15PM (#13631829) Journal
      It already has. A completely innocent man has been murdered in cold blood by government agents. Jean Charles de Menezes [guardian.co.uk] was shot 10 times, over a period of 30 seconds. Like the fellow in this article, he was doing nothing but his daily routine.

      Count that out. That's 3 seconds inbetween shots:

      BANG!.. one.. two.. BANG!... one... two BANG!.. one.. two.. BANG!

      And that's just 4 shots, there's no way this was anything but cold blooded murder. WAKE UP PEOPLE! You have more to fear from your own government than from terrorists.
  • Great New World!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teutonic_leech (596265) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:18PM (#13630962)
    I'm about to hit 40 next January and when comparing my life now with how things felt in the 80s and 90s I realize how much the country I live in (U.S.) and the countries I was raised in (all over Europe) have changed in the last two decades. Just go to downtown London or any British city: cameras and microphones everywhere!! Do they prevent any terrorist attacks? OBVIOUSLY NOT! Any of us could come up with a plot and blow up some public building if we put our heads to it. What's a LOT more annoying than the remote chance of dying in a terrorist attack is the increasing curbing of civil liberties for the sake of 'public security'.

    As Benjamin Franklin once argued: A nation that gives up freedom to gain security deserves neither.
    • by mpe (36238)
      Just go to downtown London or any British city: cameras and microphones everywhere!! Do they prevent any terrorist attacks? OBVIOUSLY NOT!

      Apparently they wen't even working at the time. Yet the response is that "more survailance is needed".

      Any of us could come up with a plot and blow up some public building if we put our heads to it. What's a LOT more annoying than the remote chance of dying in a terrorist attack is the increasing curbing of civil liberties for the sake of 'public security'.

      Which may
  • by TrevorB (57780) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:18PM (#13630965) Homepage
    ... at least the author wasn't shot and killed. [bbc.co.uk]

    I'd be scared to be wearing my mp3 player + headphones in the Underground. What if someone yelled "STOP!" and I didn't hear them?

  • by gowdy (135717) * on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:19PM (#13630968) Homepage
    On Thursday 7th July there were four bombers with backpacks.

    On Thursday 21st July there were four attempted bombers with backpacks.

    Are you really surprised that they were extra careful with people with backpacks on Thursday 28th July?
    • by Feyr (449684) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:23PM (#13631015) Journal
      people commited acts of terrorisms with backpacks
      therefore everyone wearing a backpack is a terrorist

      nice logic you got there, let me suggest you some more:

      drug dealers use cell phonse to sell drugs
      therefore everyone with a cell phone is a drug dealer

      gang members wear hoodies and bandanas
      therefore everyone with hoodies and bandanas are gang members

      clearly we must ban all backpacks, cell phones, hoodies and bandanas. only then will we succeed in having a truly free society!
      • The really sad thing is your second two arguments are just about word for word the policy of my high school when I was a kid. Pagers were for drug dealers, Baggy pants conceal guns! Some gang members wore shirts with only the top button fastened, with a white shirt underneath.. All of these were banned, among many others, because they cannot figure out that logic is not necessarily a two way state. A->B does not mean that B->A..
  • UK gone bonkers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anonieuweling (536832) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:19PM (#13630969)
    I do SERIOUSLY think the UK has gone too far. Taking DNA, fingerprints and more without serious reason (that was evident at the time of the 'arrest' in the story) is absurd, ridiculous and by all means totally out of proportion. If the arrest was valid and 'normal' in the UK the country is truly bonkers and out of whack. What will happen if the terrorism (not just the type done by the muslim fanatics) continues?
  • Victim's website (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:20PM (#13630975)

    This is also published on the victim's website. [gizmonaut.net] Also on there is a description of the suicide bomber profile [gizmonaut.net] the police use - which many geeks will also fit.

  • I just simply can't believe the British government would so unabashingly remove a British citizen's rights so quickly under an "Act". The British have always done this - the whole is more important than the individual. That is *exactly* the type of action that led to the American Revolutionary War when the Crown tried to tighten down more than the people were willing to let them.

    It is sad that Americans have now, slowly but surely, allowed a domestic government to do the very same things that we fought for independance from.
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:32PM (#13631124)
    I was in the UK in August, on my way to Heathrow Airport, when a police officer asked to search my suitcase. (Understandable, since it was a large suitcase, and had I been an Islamofascist, I could have packed quite a lot of explosive in it.) He was quite polite about the whole thing, it took less than two minutes, and then he gave me a note describing me and the bag I was carrying in case another officer wanted to stop me.

    Don't know why Mr. May had such a hard time of it. Sounds more like an abberation than a trend, and it's impossible to contruct a trend line from a single point of data.

    Crow T. Trollbot

  • Flood them (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ValourX (677178) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:35PM (#13631162) Homepage
    The way to overcome this, of course, is to have a day when everyone agrees to wear backpacks to work. When all 25k rush hour commuters are carrying something, the searches will eventually stop.
  • by hashfunction (861726) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:36PM (#13631175)

    The following is a beautiful quote which i find as relevant today as more than half a century ago...

    "In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." Quote by Martin Niemoller

    Here, most of the educated folk realize the folly of the patriot act (voted in, even though most of the voters had not even read the document). My professors, collegues, bosses, all educated people know the damage acts like the patriot act can do and are yet silent.

    As the article seems to imply, the day isnt that far away, when THEY come for YOU!

  • by pergamon (4359) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:36PM (#13631178) Homepage
    They took his BeBox? Inhumane they are!
  • Brave New World! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teutonic_leech (596265) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:37PM (#13631183)
    GREAT! First meddle in the affairs of poor but oil producing middle East nations for several decades. Don't worry about millions of people getting displaced and/or killed in the process. At the same time, prevent public transporation from becoming a viable alternative in your own country and build as many freeways as possible. Now, that your urban landscapes mostly revolve around the automobile and your citizens have to drive to the next city park to enjoy a few trees protect your 'investment' by building as many nuclear weapons as possible (120,000 to be mor precise). Don't worry about children suffering from asthma, one of three of your citizens dying from cancer, and a constantly diminishing amount of wildlife zones. After all, you've fought hard to earn the right to have your 18 year old daughter drive a Hummer to college. Soaring oil prices shouldn't worry you either too much - just invade another oil exporting country (Iran might make a good target), but be careful to not lose that stream of lower class mid-West volunteers by an unproportunal death toll. Come up with some publically acceptable enemy figure and a good cause: How about 'don't let the terrorits win' or 'they hate us for our freedom'.

    Now, eventually you might find yourself in the position of having to defend yourself from foreign nationalists bent on paying you back for some of the supression, meddling, back-alley dealing, intimidation, bombing, killing, etc.. that you got you to the top of the food chain in the first place. Well, all those nukes you built won't help you there - unless you find a single country to drop a few onto. But that country you just invaded provides a great launching point for even 'more' meddling and 'democratization' - it'll cost you a fortune but you're hooked on oil and after all, the end justifies the means. We're the mighty and proud United States of America after all - the land of the free!

    Damn, I'm so fucking pissed at this world - I could puke everytime I watch the news...

    • by bani (467531)
      the us has meddled in south american affairs orders of magnitude more often than in the middle east. we've been doing it far longer too. hell, by comparison we're only getting started in the middle east.

      if foreign meddling = terrorism then the US should be seeing south american suicide bombers daily in the US.

      so uh, where are they? (crickets chirping) uhh.. hello? (more crickets)

      you misunderstand the nature of this enemy. islamists are attacking people and countries who have never had anything to do with th
  • by razmaspaz (568034) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:39PM (#13631219)
    Were this mans rights violated? I did not see anything in the article that he wrote that would have violated American law. I do not know British Law. I also did not see anything that would have violated his basic human rights. Everything he owned was returned to him. He was not physically or mentally harmed or tortured. He underwent a little (in his mind a great deal of ) hassle, but he was not debilitated in any way. This comes down to the fact that he was acting suspiciously (at least under the given circumstances) and the police had a responsibility in the heightened state of awareness to follow up on that suspicion. They also have a right, and responsibility, to maintain records of their actions. The statements of the officers, as long as they are accurate and not purposely altered, are absolutely necessary to maintain an auditable account of the situation. He may be arrested again for something and find that those records insturmental in proving he has no prior record of wrongdoing. If they were maintained in his possession he would have a much harder time validating they are genuine. I think this case is a model of what should be done. Note he was not whisked away to some unknown location and denied legal counsel...in fact the article makes no mention of legal counsel being offered, requested, or denied. This is a fully acceptable and encouraging account of how a terrorist prevention system should work. The investigation was thorough, quick, and ultimately vindicating. He was let go in a reasonable time frame and the investigation was concluded. I am sorry for his inconvenience, but I think the officers were justified in their actions and were respectful of his rights.
    • by cowbutt (21077) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:15PM (#13631828) Journal
      Everything he owned was returned to him.

      As of 8 September (over a month after his arrest), some of David's possessions had not been returned. I don't know whether they have yet - he doesn't say.

      The investigation was thorough, quick, and ultimately vindicating.

      Maybe you have built up tolerance of bureaucracy, but I don't call 9.5hrs from arrest to release "quick", especially seeing as he didn't get to call his worried girlfriend until 3hrs later, and get a drink of water until 4hrs later. Further, he hasn't yet received a letter officially stating that he's off the hook.

    • He underwent a little (in his mind a great deal of )

      Being forcibly detained and held into the middle of the night is "a little hassle"? No.

      Being pulled aside, forced to answer some questions, and maybe missing the train, would have been "a little hassle". He was put in handcuffs and carried off by armed men.

      he was not debilitated in any way

      Christ. I guess that's the sorry state we're at now, eh? We ought to just be grateful the police aren't "debilitating" us. That would be bad.

      This is a fully acceptable an

  • Steady on (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:48PM (#13631362)
    Yes, this chap has been treated pretty shoddily so far, in having had his stuff confiscated. It should all have been returned when he was released, without a doubt. However, the events which lead to him being picked up in the first place is no big deal as far as I'm concerned. The police and tube staffn are understandably rather hyper-vigilant at present. Of course, I wouldn't want to be pulled off a platform and interrogated like this either (and as a matter of fact, I do have something to hide, namely personal consumption of recreational drugs. If this had happened to me I would presumably have been charged with possession of a quarter of skunk and a bad music collection :) but it is to be expected that some people are going to be stopped and searched. If the police are now doing this to random white middle-class geekboys rather than their more traditional targets, frankly it's about time! Perhaps white middle-class geekboys will make more racket, & therefore increase the likelihood of something changing. When hundreds of people with brown skin, who have escaped torture, imprisonment & brutality, and have lived here for years, are being marched onto aeroplanes and sent back *to be tortured again*, anything that increases the visibility of human rights abuses is to be welcomed.

    Having said all that, the man shot at Stockwell was plainly murdered in cold blood, and I believe charges should be brought.

    ObDisclosure: I'm a Londoner (born), grew up elsewhere, spent my 20s there until moving away after 9/11. (A month before 911 I was working next to the Nat West tower... and I frankly admit that the WMD stories were frightening me. Still do, as a matter of fact; it's only a matter of time before amateur WMD of some sort kills 5, 6 or 7 figure numbers of people somewhere in Europe or the USA.

    PS final note - I was once jumped by the Special Patrol Group (wrong place/time), forced to lie on the ground with cuffs on, searched, briefly questioned and released. At the end they filled in a couple of forms & handed me reciepts, they explained that these were so that -they-, the police, could be identified if I wanted to complain about them; that the record of the stop & search would stay on file for six months, and would be destroyed after that. Assuming that this was accurate (which I think is probable) I think that's the way it should be. I now have a rather sensitive job; I'm not security cleared but others I work with are, and I may have to be formally vetted / sign the Official Secrets Act at some point. I don't expect the search incident to cause any problems with that. However, I've just realised I'd better post this anonymously...

  • W...T...F...? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xepherys2 (174396) <xepherys@xep[ ]ys.net ['her' in gap]> on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:49PM (#13631367) Homepage
    Are you people really serious?

    First of all, so what that the terrorists had backpacks? The next set could have bombs in the soles of their shoes (US Flight that had that happen after 9/11). So anyone with shoes is suspect? The terrorists could've had an egg salad sandwich. All egg salad purchases are suspect? This makes NO sense. How many people go through the Tube each day with a backpack? It can't be that few!

    Similiarties do not constitute guilt, and should not constitute suspicion.
  • by everphilski (877346) on Friday September 23, 2005 @02:49PM (#13631370) Journal
    ... and we've only heard one. Bear that in mind before you blame the police, or profiling, or whatever.

    -everphilski-
  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:21PM (#13631924) Homepage
    I kept re-reading the article over and over again, but I couldn't find the part where the writer was beaten to a bloody pulp, shocked with a cattle prod, and where he had his fingernails pulled out with a pair of pliers. I'll go back and re-read it again because I'm sure it's there...somewhere.

    After all, it would be just silly if everyone was so up in arms over the fact that someone was take aside, temporarily restrained, searched, and then allowed to proceed. He wasn't abused. No one beat a confession out of him. He wasn't shot.

    I have been selected for a random search when boarding airplanes over the last two years. Each time I thank the screeners, and I am quite enthusiastic about being searched. When the search is done, I thank the screeners again, for I know they're doing something to protect me. They aren't trying to trample my rights, they're trying to keep me alive.

    One thing conspicuously missing from the writer's "account" of the search was why he was handcuffed. This kind of thing does not happen to everyone who has a knapsack in the London Underground, but it does happen if you're belligerent when they ask to search you. Of course, if the writer was belligerent or combative towards the police, do you think he'd actually mention that fact? Of course not. That would get in the way of the agenda.
    • by crush (19364) on Friday September 23, 2005 @04:52PM (#13633052)
      Each time I thank the screeners, and I am quite enthusiastic about being searched. When the search is done, I thank the screeners again,
      I hope that you manage to actually orgasm during the experience? If not then I for one would be suspicious of your commitment to keeping the world safe from terrorism; you should also consider a cock-ring (make sure to get a metal one as that'll definitely set off the alarm) in order to ensure that you stay hard during the process and reassure the screeners that you really do like it. Thanks for your insightful post.
  • cause? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashkitty (21637) on Friday September 23, 2005 @03:43PM (#13632255) Homepage
    Traveling on the London Tube is dangerous these days, it seems - and not because of terrorists.

    I think the direct cause is terrorists. Or, have you forgotten about the attacks? They are clearly winning because you've turned on your own country.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

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