The UK Government has just passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, a law permitting it to take a range of measures against
foreign [Updated: all] terrorist suspects, including detaining them indefinitely without trial.
In the future, it is absolutely inevitable that there will be an Islamic terrorist attack in the UK. We live in a fallen world. “Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” People will die. And the inevitable questions about prevention will be asked: Could we have done more? Should we have done more?
The answers to those questions must be the same whether we ask them now or we ask them then, and it is quite possible that they should be Yes – and No. There are always more actions a government can take to protect the citizens of a country, but it is not always right to take them.
Our Prime Minister said, in an angry exchange in the House of Commons, that he was protecting the citizens while trying to preserve civil liberties. This is wrongheaded. He should be preserving civil liberties while trying to protect the citizens. And this should be our attitude now and in the future – we should do everything within our power to prevent acts of terrorism, without being terrified into imposing unacceptable restrictions on our citizenry. I applaud the courage of politicians who stand up for these rights, at the risk of being cheaply blamed when the inevitable attack occurs.
So what can and must be said to the grieving families of the victims? We feel for your loss, and we thank you for your sacrifice. We will do everything in our power to hunt down and punish those responsible. But we could not have done more to keep this country safe, if we also wanted to keep it free.